MAY

HAPPY 7TH BLOG-O-VERSARY

05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Monday, May 28, 2018

Senior Tween

by Courtney Pierce


No one’s ever prepared for what can – and does – happen within a seven-year stretch of life. The big wave hits all at once, like that big ole freight train barreling toward me that I completely missed. Let’s take just 2016 to present: Divorced, single woman at fifty-eight. Then I meet the man of my dreams and became a new bride, a first-time mom to an eleven-year-old stepdaughter, career woman, and an author desperate to get my sixth book out the door.

Any one of these life events could be unpacked to fill an entire article, but with retirement close enough to touch, my falling in love is downright cathartic. Becoming a blushing bride at fifty-eight? Before we were married, the clock rolled back to adolescent butterflies in anticipation of a text, a phone call, or a surprise knock on the door. There’s something anti-aging about mutually desperate hugs with someone you love. In our case, we had to drop the baggage on the floor to wrap ourselves around each other.

Okay . . . hands down . . . the bride category wins my life-event vote!

This time around was purely about being a soulmate, a partner, a lover, and a best friend. The burn of climbing the corporate ladder of my youth becomes the yearn for my calves to ache on a climb of a mountain trail. Then we’ll bed down near a stream and roll out that sleeping bag for two. We don’t have to rack our brains on what to do to keep warm.

Mother Nature isn’t such a cruel parent after all. She allows us humans to fall madly in love without the driver of fertility hormones. Relationships are genuine when you’re knocking on the door of sixty (and beyond). That last 25% of life is for being private, open, charitable, and selfish. Sure, the mirror isn’t so kind in the light of day, but the dark holds its own expert plastic surgery. Flaws seem to magically disappear when only fingertips, hopes, and dreams are involved.

The only thing we can’t say is, “We have our whole lives ahead of us.” With that realization comes a sense of urgency for anything and everything, a hunger that can’t be satisfied. My husband and I have thrown out the rule book when it comes to starting over. At the end of the traditional career, our retirement will be a series of long steps on a climb fueled by impatience.

For me, writing will move up several notches above work to tuck under the title of wife.  Call me old-fashioned, but my life map gains clarity from there. Commitment is my energy for being an author. My husband has the security of knowing I’m by his side to support what he wants to accomplish. I know he's rooting for me too. He and I are a bit like When Harry Met Sally, so different but in lock-step at the same time. We came into the marriage with our roots buried deep in experience, the good and no-so-good.

My preconceived notions of what I wanted from life went out the window when I met this man. All my conventions were challenged. I didn’t marry for financial gain, position, or success by association. Those criteria were stripped away, eclipsed by a physical and psychological pull to someone who could complete my missing parts. Luckily, we fit together like two puzzle pieces.

On our honeymoon we camped in the Goat Rocks on Mt. Rainier. My husband leaned into me, with my hips in his grip, and whispered, “Shhhh . . . Do you see that?” His breath breezed my neck, and the passion behind his words made me shiver. He pointed to an elk, unafraid as it grazed along the stream. No matter how little, such gestures mean everything.

I’m coming up the one-year-married mark in June, which will officially ends my status as a
Photo: Overgram on Pinterest
bride. I step up to the title of wife because I'm a keeper, and so is he. What doesn’t end with the anniversary is my inner bride, the one that will keep me going to the end of my life. He walks through the door in the evening and I fill with light, a light so bright that it blinds my heart.

“Honey, I’m so tired, but I love you so much,” he says, and tosses his keys in a dish.

“Not too tired,” I say, “because I want my kiss and a hug.”

“We won’t have to do this too much longer, I promise.”

“Can't we flip to the next chapter, like in a book?”

And so it goes, this dance of dialogue about the future. My wise mother says, "Don't wish your life away". But it’s so close that we can reach out and touch it. I liken this period in life to a senior tween: we’re too old to be bossed around, but too young to talk back.



Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon, with her new family. She writes for baby boomers. By day, Courtney is 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, she 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. 

Check out all of Courtney's books at:
courtney-pierce.com and windtreepress.com. Both print and E-books are available through most major online retailers, including Amazon.com

The Dushane Sisters Trilogy concludes with Indigo Legacy, due out in summer, 2018. There's love in the air for Olivia and Woody, but will their family history 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. Will the Dushane sisters finally get the answers they've been seeking 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, May 26, 2018

Thank You!!!

Sarah Raplee and Judith Ashley 

AKA The Blog Queens

Want to Thank the 

Genre-istas past and present and our awesome guests

but most of all we are grateful to

Each and Every one of You who has stop by and read our posts.

Your support means everything and is why we are

CELEBRATING OUR 

7th BLOG-O-VERSARY



Friday, May 25, 2018

My Fantasy Life at the Writers’ Police Academy


By Linda Lovely
In this month’s blog, it was suggested we talk about something that’s happened in our lives during the past seven years that readers may not know about. 

For me, it’s my involvement with the annual Writers’ Police Academy (WPA). This summer will mark my sixth WPA visit—my fifth as a volunteer staffer who helps organize the event.
The WPA offers a thrilling four-day immersion in all things law enforcement. It’s held at a real, internationally-accredited police academy. That means the facilities include everything from tracks and autos for mastering car chase maneuvers and “burn” facilities for firefighter and EMS training to live-fire ranges for long gun instruction and buildings for mock SWAT searches. 
Instructors are the same folks who train the professionals who protect and serve in police departments, fire stations, and other law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The teachers include former undercover cops, Secret Service and ATF agents, forensic psychologists, experts in bioterrorism, gang violence, martial arts, drug interdiction, constitutional law, and more.


This year is the WPA’s 10th anniversary and Lee Lofland has pulled out all the stops to make it the best ever. The 2018 WPA will be held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, from August 9-12. WPA attendees can choose from dozens of courses and High-Intensity Training (HIT) hands-on training options. The program offers not only technical knowledge but insight into the emotions law enforcement professionals experience in stressful encounters.

Once you participate in a Shoot-Don’t-Shoot scenario, you have a new appreciation of the pressure of making split-second decisions about whether to fire a gun. Will action or inaction cost lives? When you take part in a mock SWAT raid to clear a building, you understand what it feels like to know an armed suspect could lurk behind any corner.

Since I started attending the WPA six years ago, each mystery/thriller I’ve written includes insights, inspiration and information gleaned at the Academy. Have I whet your appetite to join in? Each year, attendees include authors, screenwriters, translators, and people who simply enjoy reading mysteries, thrillers and suspense. To see the full WPA schedule for 2018, click on this link: www.writerspoliceacademy.com

To celebrate the June 5 release of PICKED OFF, my second humorous Brie Hooker Mystery, I’m offering a FREE Writers’ Police Academy registration. (The FREE registration prize does not include hotel or travel, and it must be a NEW registration.) 

You can enter the drawing anytime between now and noon EST June 9. Rafflecopter will randomly draw the winner: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/92ed2c4c1/

Good Luck!


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Balancing Fantasy and Reality

by M. L. Buchman

So, I'm a participant in a fantasy book bundle that launched just a few days ago. And before I wander off to the "reality" of my thoughts on romance that this triggered, I'll first take a moment to talk about where the thoughts came from.

The Myths and Legends Storybundle (https://storybundle.com/fantasy) is an awesome collection! Monk's Maze is one of my early books, but it's one I'm still very proud of. Frankly,  I'm a little startled to be included in such a lofty crowd of fantasy authors.

And that's what got my thoughts churning (if you're still with me rather than off buying that fantastic, limited time bundle--just 2 more weeks then gone forever). If you didn't jump right over, please go there and just look at the covers, even if you don't read fantasy. Myths and Legends. Fantasy. Gods, dragons, magic carpets...and then scroll down until you see my title. It will leap out at you.

Go ahead,,,I'll wait.

See what I mean?

Why does it stand out so much? Because it's the only one with a realistic cover image--a person rather than a drawing. That is what got me thinking about what I write and how I write. That image is true to the story. It's set at the end of the Second Dark Ages. During the First Dark Ages, the monks were the once who preserved art, music, and literature. In the Second, I had them move off planet to preserve technology. Upon their return, humanity has moved on in several ways. And one piece that the monk brings back is the key to a Druid maze of power. It throws control over the shape of the future into one woman's hands. In this story, she must come to face her own power and find a solution that is uniquely hers. (Even back then I was writing about strong women.)

So, even writing fantasy, I stay very realistic in every way I can...at least every way that fits the story. Yes, there are swords and magic, but there are also politics, romance, and hours of research on things like the view of Edinburgh from the tower's battlements and I even made a trip to the lonely island of Iona from which Christianity swept over the Celts back in the 700s CE in a single decade, converting all of Scotland (as if by magic it happened so fast--an observation which gave me one of the core elements of this story).

I do the same with my romances. I have a number of military fans who tell me they are fans because I got it close enough to right that they can feel it. I even wrote a paranormal romance title (The Sum Is Greater) and managed to make it military romantic suspense in a very, down-and-dirty, realistic world.

Another phrase that comes to mind as I think about this is "The Art of the Possible" from the musical Evita. I want everything in my books to be possible or at least to seem that way. When I wrote about the Devil in my Deities Anonymous series, she's merely the Devil because she got the update and delete privileges on the Universe's computer system, while God was given the create privilege. Of course, if they had gotten along, the Universe would probably be a much neater place than it currently is.

I have friends (a number of whom are in that fantasy bundle) who live out in wild, wacky, fantasy worlds that I love to wander through...those aren't me as a writer. I think that's important to know about yourself. Maybe you're someone who straddles the fence. And sure, sometimes I take a walk on the weird and silly side, but there is still a deep realism to even my more fantastic stories.

Magic Realism is perhaps the best way I've heard to describe it. (Of course, there are a number of variations in how writers interpret that.) For me, Magic Realism means that it could absolutely be happening all around you and you couldn't tell. Not the dangerously overlapping worlds of Harry Potter and us muggles. Rather that I have no way to know if there is one seriously cool computer program running the universe, so maybe it is. Or maybe, St. Columba converted the Celtic hordes to Christianity not with his great piety and political savvy, but rather with the power of a lost Druid's Maze of Power, buried beneath the depths of Iona, Scotland, just waiting to be rediscovered and change the course of history.

...I have mentioned before that I love this job, right?
---


Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

SHE'S GONE COUNTRY!


There’s an old saying: “Hindsight is 20-20.” Looking back on my family’s move to a fairytale-beautiful acreage in the country, I must agree that the view from four years on is not at all what we expected.
Four years ago, Chuck and I and Son 2 and his family moved onto four acres of woods and pasture thirty miles outside of Portland, Oregon. The property sits on a hillside overlooking a small valley in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. This is one of the most beautiful spots you could ever find!
The original plan was that Son 2 and his wife would finish college (both were returning students) and build a house on the property. Meanwhile they and their four kids would live with us in the big four-bedroom house. Son 2 worked for his dad in his home-based consulting business and attended classes at a nearby technical college. Our daughter-in-law commuted to PSU in downtown Portland.
Chuck was the only one of us with any livestock experience. Although he grew up in the city, as a teenager he had a horse and worked off  boarding fees cleaning stalls and doing odd jobs at the stables. He also worked in a nursery and was in Future Farmers of America in high school. Thank God for that!


I’d always wanted alpacas. Chuck bought me three for Mother’s Day. He and Son 2 built them a shed in the pasture during a week of pouring rain. (I’m sure it was an omen.) We rented a horse trailer and went to get them.
My first inkling that alpacas weren’t exactly the animals I thought they were came when the lady we bought them from put on a raincoat “because they won’t be happy about getting in the trailer, and when they’re not happy, they spit—a lot!” She wasn’t kidding! Suffice it to say it took four adults to get them into the trailer.
Alpacas look like friendly, cuddly animals. They are more like aloof cats. Sometimes crabby, seventy-pound cats that may kick or body-slam you when you least expect it!

FRONT OF OUR HOUSE
Soon we added free-range chickens and three baby goats to the livestock. The chickens were fun to watch and the eggs were wonderful, but they dug up the flowers and pooped all over the porch.
In fact, dealing with poop—alpaca, chicken and goat—occupied a lot of our time. It’s the hardest part of having livestock, in my opinion. The only thing harder for me was worrying about the livestock because to me, they were pets.
I worried about coyotes attacking the alpacas down in the pasture all the time. The only defense alpacas have is running away and bleating an alarm call. Put them in a pasture, and they can’t even run away. Luckily, the coyotes stayed away. But false “alarms” had me running down to the pasture every other day. They bleated at the neighbor using her walker to go down to her mailbox. They bleated at people walking and cycling on the main road. They bleated at the garbage truck. Never once did they bleat at anything dangerous!
I worried about the goats eating something poisonous, because the people who lived on the property before us had landscaped with trees, bushes and flowers that are poisonous to goats. At night, we kept the little goats in the barn in the woods above the house. The alpacas wouldn’t let them into their shed in the pasture. So every morning we had to walk the goats down to the pasture past all the tempting poisonous plants, and every evening we had to take them back up to the barn.
Galen’s family helped with chores, but he and his wife were gone most of the time and the kids soon tired of farm life. Before long they realized they are city folk at heart. They moved back to Portland.
VIEW DOWN TO PASTURE BY ROAD
Business took a downturn and we learned Chuck needed knee replacement surgery. Most of the livestock chores fell to me. I didn’t think we could hold onto the property financially, or that we could handle the work load. We sold the livestock and consulted a realtor. Our dream of life in the country was in tatters.
Luckily, we made it through the winter and Chuck recovered from surgery.
Then my disabled daughter and her husband and grown daughters moved out from Iowa. After a while, my daughter and her husband moved onto our property in their fifth-wheel trailer. They pay a little rent and our son-in-law helps a lot with chores. One of our granddaughters and her husband rented the basement from us for a year. We were able to refinance the house. We made it through!
Business is good again and we are even considering getting two goats to help clear out the brush in the woods. This time we will know what we are getting into! They will live and ‘work’ on the same area of the property. I true country fashion, we’ll re-purpose a playhouse to be their goat shed.

VIEW OF BARN AND TREE HOUSE 
Since “going country”, so much has happened that we never expected! We were city slickers for sure. But we have wonderful helpful neighbors, friends and family to support us as we learn to “live country.”
Have you ever moved from the city to the country, or visa-versa? What did you find most surprising?

I'm Sarah Raplee, Paranormal Romantic Suspense Author of Blindsight,Psychic Agents Book 1.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Preview of The Forgotten Heiress by Kristin Wallace

I'm very excited that the third book in The Heiress Games series debuts next week on Tuesday, June 5th. The Forgotten Heiress wraps up the 3-book installment, with some final reveals. I really love this book. Bailey Tenant is so fun and quirky, and Jackson Stone makes for a swoon-worthy hero.

What's it about?


Eccentric heiress, Victoria Armington, has died and left her vast fortune to her pet pig, Matilda. Now three Armington descendants have been chosen to compete for custody of the pig…and control of the money. Then there’s the lawyer in charge of overseeing the competition, and his two best friends, who arrive to make sure nothing goes wrong. 

Welcome to The Heiress Games…

Heiress #3: Bailey Tenant – The Forgotten Heiress

Once upon a time, songwriter Bailey Tenant’s mother was cut off from the Armington family for daring to love the wrong person. Bailey doesn’t want anything to do with them now, but she has a mountain of medical debt, and without that fortune her grandchildren could still be paying it off. When Grammy-winning singer Jackson Stone shows up to escort her to Palm Cove, she agrees to compete. She just never expected the most dangerous aspect of the competition would be losing her heart to Jackson.

Jackson Stone lost his fiancé in a fiery plane crash and then he lost the music. He has to find a way to reawaken the muse and helping his friend oversee The Heiress Games might work. Soon, Bailey Tenant is reviving his buried heart and tempting him to see forever again.

Bailey and Jackson have both vowed to avoid love, but sometimes there’s no choice but to surrender to the promise of a fortune in love.


ALERT! In Book 3 of The Heiress Games, you’ll see the same events unfold as in Books 1 (Least Likely Heiress) and 2 (Not Quite An Heiress), but now comes the conclusion of competition and the reveal of the saboteur. 

AMAZON      ITUNES      BARNES & NOBLE     KOBO


Kristin Wallace is the USA Today Best Selling Author of inspirational and contemporary romance, and women’s fiction filled with “Love, Laughter and a Leap of Faith”. She is the author of two best selling series, Shellwater Key Tales (sweet contemporary romance) and Covington Falls Chronicles (inspirational romance). 

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