Friday, December 30, 2011

My Year in Review

A year ago, I posted three major resolutions here. And for a while afterward I wrote weekly progress reports so that the cyber world would see how successful I was at keeping them. But soon life got in the way and I slacked off. At least, that happened for two out of three. So I guess the usual thing to do would be to do a recap and then next week I'll start out with my new resolutions.

My three resolutions were simple: Write more, weigh less, and create stuff. The third resolution was designed to make me start using up the basement full of craft supplies. Seriously. My basement is FULL of fabric, threads, wooden pieces, paint and other miscellaneous items only crafters would get excited about.

The writing resolution became easy to keep because I started to go somewhere with it. I finally submitted a story to a publisher and it was accepted. That kind of opened the floodgates and I've been writing steadily ever since. I've had three stories accepted so far, so I can't complain about my lack of progress there.

Weighing less is another matter. I like to eat. I like to put off things I find unpleasant, like cleaning my house and editing my writing. Eating is a way of avoiding them. Also, my husband is a very good cook. I don't want to insult him by not eating the fabulous meals he puts in front of me. That just wouldn't be right!

Sewing is one of my favorite things to do. I make time for it by working with two charities, making fleece hats with one group and quilts with another. Tuesdays are my sewing days. I go and meet with these groups and sew. I feel good about that. But this isn't helping me get rid of the stuff in my basement.

What am I going to do? As someone wise once said, we all have the same number of hours in a day. And since I'm basically retired (sort of) and my kids are self-sufficient, there's no reason I can't handle these three goals. I'm going to make a new plan and see if I can't get a little more balance in my days. Next week I'll start on it and share my ideas here. Like last year, I think I'll be able to stay more accountable if I'm sharing my progress with the world (or whatever part of the world happens to come here).

Wish me luck!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

This year, our family will celebrate Christmas a week late. That's because our daughter and her family will be traveling several states away to spend the holiday with her in-laws, who are anxious to see their son and granddaughter. There are advantages and disadvantages to this. The biggest advantage is I have an extra week to get ready for the festivities. I'm almost done with my shopping, but I can take my time cleaning and wrapping, and I have more time to write. The disadvantage is that Christmas Day is going to be super quiet with just the hubby, our younger daughter, her dog, and me.

On the other hand, the quietness will be kind of nice. Everyone but me will probably nap. I will have the entire afternoon to myself. There are a million projects around here waiting to be finished. Sewing and craft projects, reading material, cleaning, and of course, writing projects. The difficult thing will be deciding where to start. Generally I just work on what needs to be done next.

So I guess my Christmas gift to myself is time to indulge in whatever I feel like doing. I have no idea what it will be, but it will be something I WANT to do, rather than something I HAVE to do. And I'm not going to feel guilty if something else isn't done.

I hope everyone has a fabulous Christmas and that the next year brings you every happiness.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! I have one last sample from my Christmas novella, The Christmas Phoenix. Hope everyone has a blessed holiday season!

Jess munched happily, enjoying her meal, realizing this was the first meal her son had prepared for her by himself. He had helped Doug fix her birthday and Mother’s Day breakfasts, but that was long ago. He really was capable of feeding himself. Her dad had mentioned Rory needed more responsibility.

“You’re spoiling your son,” he’d said. “He’s going to turn into a wimp.”

She’d thought he was being too hard on his grandson. “He’s only fourteen, Dad,” she’d insisted.

A part of her knew her dad was right. But it was so hard. She’d start to ask Rory to take more responsibility, and she’d remember him standing at his father’s grave, so lost. And then she’d do the work herself.

“Mom, have you ever heard of a phoenix?” Rory’s question brought her back to the present.

She swallowed her bite before answering. “Sure. It’s a mythical bird that lives for a long time and when it burns, a new phoenix comes to life from the ashes. Why?”

“We’re studying myths in Language Arts. We’re supposed to write about a myth that applies to our lives. I think the phoenix’s story is a lot like us.”


“Because we had to start over again after Dad died. It was really tough for a while, like the fire and the ashes. But I think we’re starting to make it.” He bent his head over his notebook.

Choking on the lump in her throat, Jess couldn’t have responded if she’d tried.

Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out more excerpts at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I had dinner with my second eldest granddaughter last night. She's now eighteen and finishing high school. A huge difference between last year and this one is that she met me at the mall rather than me picking her up! She has her own car and works for a lot of the things she has. We talked about her college and career plans, as well as how her senior year is going. We shopped for her birthday gift and then she helped me find some Christmas gifts for her siblings. And then she drove herself home.

I've been taking her out for birthday dinners since she was about four years old, so I've watched this young lady grow from a precocious toddler into a strikingly beautiful, intelligent young woman. She's a caring individual, and to use an old phrase, "she has her head on straight." She's been through some great times and some tough times, but she's going to succeed, I just know it.

So I guess the point of this post is that I am so proud of my kids for raising such good kids. What a wonderful legacy. Life is good.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Here's another short scene from my Christmas novella, The Christmas Phoenix:

"I imagine youʹll be busy for the next month, with the

holidays coming up."

"I suppose. The orders are starting to come in, now that

some people have seen my work. But my sister Donna is expecting

me at her house in Chicago for Thanksgiving."

"That's next week."

Jake's hands froze. His jaw dropped, and his eyes opened

wide. "Next week? Oh, no. I've gotta go shopping. We're

exchanging Christmas gifts because she and her family are going

on a cruise in December." He put the bowl down and started to

pace. "I hate to shop. I never know what to buy." He looked up at

Jess. "What should I get her?"

Jess laughed. "How would I know? I've never met her."

"Well, no, but you're a woman. I thought…well, never


She took pity on him. "When do you leave for Chicago?"

"My flight leaves on Wednesday morning."

"You've got plenty of time. Finish your vases for the

banquet, and then if you want me to help you shop, call me. I've

got Monday off from the hotel."

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and check out the samples from other fine authors at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Guest Blogging

Today I'm a guest at Brea Essex's blog. I'm talking about strong women as characters. Come and visit - and leave a comment!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Chainsaw picture from Mike's Garden Blog
Welcome! Here's another scene from my newly released Christmas novella, The Christmas Phoenix, available at Astraea Press. Jake finds himself encouraging Jess' teenage son to get up and help his mother:
Rory shuffled into the kitchen, poured himself a glass of orange juice and took it into the den, where he plopped down onto the couch and picked up the television remote.
“Mom, the TV’s not working.”
“I know. The power’s out. That’s why I’ve been outside getting wood.”
“Oh.” He put down the remote and picked up a video game.
Jess’ phone rang and she excused herself to answer it. While she talked, Jake looked over at her son.
He was taller than his mother, and looked pretty healthy. Why was he sitting there on the couch while his mom did all the work?
"Hey, kid."
The boy's fingers stopped, but his head didn't move. It was difficult to see his eyes through the hair covering his face. He'd just have to assume he had the kid's attention.
"Your mom's been working pretty hard out there. Why don't we help her out?"
The boy didn't move for a while, and Jake wondered if he'd overstepped. Finally the boy shrugged, and stood. Jake stood almost eye-to-eye with him. He wanted to shake the kid and ask why he would let his tiny mom work so hard, but held himself back. He didn't have the right. Better to just suggest strongly and hope the kid got the message.
"If the power is out for a long time, you two will need a lot of wood. More than what she has out there. I'll start cutting, and you can bring it to the side of the house. Okay?"
His words were again met with a shrug, but at least the kid was up. Jake wondered what it would take to elicit a verbal response, but decided a shrug was better than a refusal. Best to pick his battles, he supposed.
He held his tongue again when the boy grabbed a sweatshirt before following him to the shed. Did he really think a sweatshirt was good enough to protect him from the sub-zero temperature? Well, the boy was old enough to know better.
Jake found the chainsaw and got it to work. He and Rory went around to the north side of the house.
Hearing a door open, he turned and saw Rory go back inside. He took a deep breath to calm his anger. How had Jess saddled herself with such an irresponsible punk? Grumbling to himself, he pulled the chain and started to cut. He had a dozen or so pieces cut when a pair of gloved hands picked one up. Ah. The kid had finally realized he needed to dress for the weather. He now sported a snowmobile suit and a pair of boots.
The suit was a few sizes too large for the boy. It must have belonged to his dad. But though it hung loosely, the arms and legs were just the right length for him. Rory apparently had his father's height. Must be the dad’s boots, too. Poor kid.
He went back to cutting wood.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to visit other great authors and their samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas Projects

I'm no Martha Stewart, but I love to make things for Christmas. One of my holiday traditions is to make stockings for each of my children and grandchildren. They're not huge stockings - just big enough for a candy cane and several pieces of chocolate. The kids always take their stockings home, so I don't know if they're kept or not. But they've learned to expect their stockings, and I'm happy to make them.

Another annual project is fleece hats. I belong to a group called Warming Ears Ministry. Twice a month, four friends and I bring our sewing machines to my friend Diane's home and we spend six hours or so creating warm fleece hats in various styles and sizes. Most of them are given to charities - shelters, food banks, and other missions. Others are given to schools and others places expressing a need. Though most of the hats are distributed in the wintertime, we sew all year long. This year the six of us made over three thousand hats!

Last year, the Warming Ears Ministry had a last minute request for hats from a local charity. We had enough started, but they needed finishing. I offered to take them home and asked my two oldest granddaughters to help me complete them. I explained to them who the hats were going to, and they both readily agreed. We spent a fun afternoon sewing, cutting fringe, and tying knots. They shared their school experiences, and we finished the hats in no time at all. They felt good about themselves, and I was so proud of them.

I think the best gift we can give our children and grandchildren is the spirit of giving. The gifts don't have to be large or expensive, but when given with love, they benefit not only the receiver, but the giver. When we do that, we begin to understand the miraculous gift that is the basis of the holiday we call Christmas.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Eagle picture from Images in Ice
Welcome to my blog! I am so excited about my new release, The Christmas Phoenix, available now at Astraea Press! You can click on the book cover at the right for ordering information. But to give you a taste of the story, the scene below is the second meeting for my two main characters—Jess, an overworked mom, and Jake, a world-weary ice sculptor:

The huge, glass-covered building had to be the hotel. That was the only convention-sized building on the block. He pulled into the circular drive, where a shivering doorman directed him around to the service drive. Jake pulled around and found the correct entrance, and parked. He took out a sturdy collapsible cart and carefully loaded his sculpture onto it.
Now, he had to find the "Wolverine Room" and get this eagle to the Audubon Society Banquet before it started to melt. He entered the building and followed the signs to the banquet rooms.
His cart suddenly jerked to the right and he reached out a hand to keep his sculpture from falling off.
A red-haired sprite lay in a heap on the left side of his cart. White linen napkins covered the floor all around her.  She looked vaguely familiar.
"Are you okay?"
The sprite picked herself up, not making eye contact with him. "Yeah, I'm fine. I need to look where I'm going." She started picking up her napkins. I'll need to re-wash these and fold them again. Looking at his cart, she perked up. "Wow, this is fabulous! I hope I didn't break it."
Oh, drat. He'd been so worried about the sprite he'd nearly forgotten. A quick inspection revealed a feather broken off from one of the eagle's wings, but it was barely noticeable. "No harm done. I'd help you with those napkins, but I need to get this delivered. Which room is the Wolverine Room?"
"Huh? Oh, it's the next room down the hall on your right. The manager, Max, should be in there. He can help you."
Wheeling the cart toward the banquet room, Jake realized the sprite had the same husky voice as the snowplow operator. He turned around to get another look at her. She presented an enticing view as she bent over to pick up her napkins.
No, it couldn't be the same person.

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and then visit other authors and read their samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

To read more about The Christmas Phoenix, visit my "Release Party! Mini Blog Hop" page (click on the tab above). Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of this story!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Author Spotlight: Iris Blobel

Growing up, I loved reading about people in faraway places and wondered what they were like. In the movies, I watched actors like Paul Hogan and Olivia Newton-John, listened to singers like the BeeGees and Dame Joan Sutherland, and cheered on athletes like Evonne Goolagong Cawley. I devoured every article I could find about their fascinating country. I'd still love to visit Australia someday, but for now I'm thrilled to make the acquaintance of a real live Aussie, Iris Blobel. She's a fellow Astraea Press author, and she has a brand new novel called Journey to her Dreams. Iris is here today to share with us a little about how she creates her characters,
Thanks, Patty, for having me today on your blog.

Patty had a wonderful post on her blog a few weeks back called “What a Character” where she had asked fellow Astraea Press authors “If you could become any one of your characters, which one would it be, and why?". It was a great post and you should hop over and have a read ... not now though!
Anyway, the post made me think about how we/you/authors choose their characters, their personalities, faults, looks etc. Do they have a certain person in mind?  Or is it indeed all a “creation”?
I sat back and thought about how I “shape” my characters. I wondered whether they were part of me or whether they were something I’d like to be. After considering and thinking and head scratching – no, they’re not like me. Would I like to be like them? Probably a little bit. I suppose deep down inside I’m hoping for the readers to be able to relate to my characters because “they’re real”. They should have flaws, yet know the right from wrong. 
In my latest book “Hollie” is my main character. I really like her. She’s loving, loyal and strong inside, but she gets easily hurt and takes the safe road.  My male characters are usually (and hopefully) sexy and charming and the counterpart sexy as well, yet with a flaw I don’t like in a man at all. It usually is an interesting balance.
Thanks Iris!
         Here's the cover, blurb and order information:

Would you travel around the world to uncover the reason for your dreams? 
Hollie, a young woman from Tasmania does, and during her journey to Ireland, she is determined to find out what is behind those dreams about “the other woman”. Yet, during her quest for answers, Hollie finds more than just the reason for it.
Journey to Her Dreams is now available at every major online book store or here:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Thanks for coming to my corner of the blogging world. If you've been here before on Saturdays, you may have already met Jess, a widow with a snowplowing business, a waitressing job, and a teenager who doesn't help much. This week I'd like to show a little about Jake, her handsome, rugged neighbor:

           The snow in front of the house had no paw prints. Charlie was probably in the back. Jake went out the back door and whistled, and soon the little bundle of energy raced around the house to greet him.
            Jake had learned to come prepared with something to play fetch. He drew the neon green tennis ball from his pocket and tossed it as far as he could. Charlie raced after it and Jake laughed as the puppy bounced around in the deep snow, looking for the ball. After a quick search, Charlie brought it back. Like the well-trained animal he was, he set it gently down at Jake’s feet and stepped back. Jake picked up the ball and prepared to throw it again.
            Just as he raised his arm, a succession of cracking sounds pierced the air. Jake froze. For a moment he was transported back to Iraq. All around him, men fell, screaming from their wounds. He sank to the ground and started in surprise when his face hit the cold snow.
            Snow? In the desert?
            Slowly, he lifted his head. He wasn’t in the desert. There were no soldiers falling around him, but the cracking noise continued. Firecrackers.

Thanks for reading! The story now has a title: The Christmas Phoenix, and it's been accepted for publication at Astraea Press for this holiday season! As soon as it's available, I'll have a link above where you can order it.

Be sure to check out more great samples at Sweet Saturday Samples!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Author Spotlight: Jean Joachim

I'm learning that self-promotion takes up a lot of time I'd rather spend writing, or working on my crafting hobbies. For people who are self-publishing, promotion is even more important. So I'd like to introduce one of those self-motivated people who not only writes, but takes care of ALL the tasks that go into producing a book, as well as promoting it. Meet Joan Joachim, who is the author of two romance series as well as a brand new Thanksgiving novella. Since most of these books have been published in the past year, I asked her to tell me about herself and how she managed such a huge output.  Here's her answer:
"I live in New York City, am married, have two sons and a pug dog named Homer. My writing career started with non-fiction. My first book was “Beyond the Bake Sale, the Ultimate School Fund-Raising Book” published by St. Martin’s Press. I had two active boys and was heavily involved in their activities, running the PTA, fund-raising, coaching soccer, leaving little time or energy to write. I progress to writing a movie review column for parents, which I have been doing for the past 11 years. Once my youngest went off to college, I had the time to start writing fiction and all the stories that had been piling up in my head came tumbling out. So I’ve been prolific this year, four novels and there will be four novellas by the end of the year. But two of those books I wrote last year. I have two more from last year I am editing and another I wrote this year with a partner that is almost finished. I write fulltime and find it hard to stop to make dinner. Sometimes, I don’t!"

Her two newest books are Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny and The Marriage List. Read on to find out what they're about:
Now and Forever 2, the Book of Danny is the second in the Now and Forever series. In the first book, Now and Forever 1, a Love Story, you met Callie Richards and Mac Caldwell and watched their love story evolve. This second book is the story of Danny Maine, brother to Callie’s fiancé lost in Iraq as well as the continuing story of Callie and Mac.
Danny Maine leaves the Army after becoming an expert sharp shooter, killer and womanizer. He hopes a job teaching English at Kensington State University will propel him into a normal life.
On his first day, he meets Eliza Baines, a beautiful widow, and is smitten immediately. Danny works to overcome post-traumatic stress syndrome and make a new life when his drunken and abusive father is released from prison and seeks him out. Struggling to leave his horrific past behind, Danny attempts to forge a new path that includes love, success, friends and having his own family but dark forces and emotional obstacles block his way. The Book of Danny is a poignant story of love, loss and ultimate triumph that will touch your heart.


I asked Jean to tell me why this book was so special to her. She said:

"What's so special about The Book of Danny is that the main character is an ex-Army man, raised by his brother, Kyle, who was subsequently killed in Iraq. Kyle’s death filled Danny with rage, so he went there to get revenge but ended up losing some of his humanity.
"He came to me and told me his story of love and loss and I was compelled to write it. Danny is an imperfect man, sexy as hell, smart, educated, but stuck with the horrors of war messing up his life. With help from friends, family, a counselor and the people of a small town, he is able to break through and overcome the obstacles keeping happiness out of his reach. His return and search for the right woman, fulfilling work and a place to settle feels very real. I think Danny will grab your heart in a way no other hero will. He did mine."
In addition to The Book of Danny, Joan has a Thanksgiving novella out called The Marriage List. Here's the cover and blurb for that story:

Can happily ever after start with a list? Grey Andrews thinks so. After ten years of working, saving and investing, Grey finally achieved a level of wealth that allows him to do what he wants with his life. He needs a woman to share it with, but not any woman, the perfect woman. A woman who has the three essential qualities on his marriage list. But after three years of searching he isn’t any closer to finding her than he was when he started out.
 Carrie Tucker, an aspiring mystery writer and divorcée struggling to make it in the world of advertising, turned her focus from men to her career after dating too many creeps and losers. She’s finally earned her big break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the first female creative director in a hot New York ad agency. So what if it means working nights and weekends? It’s not like she has a social life anyway.
Is the marriage list a failure or will a chance meeting at a fiction-writing conference prove the list to be the key to Grey’s happiness after all?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Today I'm sharing a sample from The Legacy, a novella available at Astraea Press.

       She stepped into the motel office to find Jenna sprawled in her office chair, snoring. A tiny black and white television was tuned to the local nightly news.
       "Jenna, wake up."
       The snoring stopped, and Jenna's eyes blinked. A mop of shaggy, strawberry blonde hair shook as she woke up and tried to focus on her.
       "Leigh, it's you! Did you get bored and come to keep me company?"
       Leigh instantly felt guilty. She and Jenna had been good friends in high school, but after graduation they had gone in different directions. Jenna had married, and had two children in two years. Now divorced and living with her mother, she worked the third shift at the motel to make ends meet. The arrangement allowed her to be at home with her children during the day, when her mother worked.
       "I guess I can stay and talk a while, Jenna," she told her friend. "But I'm going to need a room for the night."
       Jenna frowned. "Again? Leigh, you've got to get out of there. One of these days your step-dad is going to force himself on you. You won't be able to get away. And it won't be pretty."
       Jenna was the only person who knew about her father's problem with alcohol and had first-hand knowledge of the way Frank took his troubles out on Leigh.
       "I'm working on it, Jenna. It's just that mom—"
       "—will be able to take care of herself," her friend insisted. "She's always gone, anyway. There are a couple of apartments open where mom and the kids and I live. They're affordable, too. It'll be fun, Leigh. Why don't you check it out? Tomorrow."

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and be sure to find and read other samples by going to Sweet Saturday Samples.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Mozart Effect

Recently, a fellow author posted a request on facebook. She wanted us to compare our writing output when in silence to writing while listening to Mozart. A few people took it a step farther and recorded their results while listening to a different genre of music. The consensus? It was very inconclusive. Some people wrote more listening to Mozart, and a few found their results were poorer. I was one of those people.

Because I've spent so much time listening to and performing music, I feel it's difficult for me to relegate it to "background noise." Often, when I listen to instrumental music, I remember myself sitting in an orchestra, playing the notes. I rarely listen to music without really hearing it. It's worse when there are lyrics. As I'm typing this, my husband has his Pandora Station (set to Josh Groban) playing on our television. I just listened to Josh sing a wonderful melody from his latest album, and now I'm listening to "All I Ask of you" from Phantom of the Opera. I'm trying to type, but I find myself listening to the quality of his voice, and the words to the song. If this were suitable background music, I wouldn't be able to name the music, it would just be—there.

I downloaded an album called "Creativity" by Steven Halpern. It's instrumental music, but there are no recognizable melodies in it. That seems to work best as "white nose" for me. I'm not humming along with the vocals because there aren't any. I'm not "playing along" with the instruments, because I'm not familiar with the tune.

Does this make me a strange duck? I hope not. I think it just means I'm wired differently than a lot of people. I love to listen to Mozart - in a concert hall, or any time I can devote my attention to him. But when I write or do anything else that needs concentration, I need to listen to soft, dreamy stuff that blocks everything else out.

Sorry, Wolfgang.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! Once again, I'm sharing a scene from my work-in-progress, which I hope to have finished this weekend! Jess, a widowed mom, is struggling to make ends meet. Here, she finally finds a chance to rest—at least she thinks so!

            She grabbed a glass of water and went to her favorite recliner. Leaning back, she put her feet up, and closed her eyes. Ahh. All her thoughts blended into a pastel haze. Her hubby was back, taking care of her, massaging her feet, telling her not to worry. And then he dropped a rock. A rock? A whole bag of rocks, and they bounced across her floor. He kept picking them up and dropping them. Why did he keep doing that? Rory was there now. He was talking to someone. Someone with a deep voice. And then he yelled.
            She tried to open her eyes, but her lids wouldn't move.
            "Mom, there's a guy here."
            A guy?
            "Mom!" Rory sounded worried now. She felt his hand on her shoulder, shaking it.
            "Mister, I don't know what's wrong with her. I gotta call 911."
            "Has she been sick? Is she on medication?" Who did that deep voice belong to?
            "No, I don't think so. I don't know. She was okay when she took me to school this morning. She was mad because I forgot my books and stuff again. Mom, wake up! I promise I'll do my homework. Right now. Wake up!" His voice sounded frantic now.
            She tried to answer, she really did, but all that came out was a groan.
            A large, warm hand felt her forehead, and then her cheek. It was a rough hand, the thick callouses scratching her skin, but curiously it felt comforting, reassuring.
            "She's not feverish. That's a good sign."
            She finally pried one eye open. "Hmmm?" She still couldn't form any words.
            "She's waking up! Mom, what happened?"
            Two faces came into view. One a familiar dear face. Her son. Her baby boy. He looked worried. The other face was vaguely familiar. Rough and rugged. But equally concerned.
            She took a deep breath. "Who rr you?"
            "She said something! What did she say?"
            "She wanted to know who I am. I think.”
            "There’s a glass of water on the end table. Here, mom."
            The rugged one took the water from Rory. "Wait just a minute." He brought the glass to his nose, sniffed it, and tasted it. Then he held it to her face.
            "I'm not drinking that." Finally, her tongue started to work.
            "Why not?"
            "You drank out of my glass."
            "I had to make sure it was water, and not - something that would put you back to sleep."
            Rory's face looked less worried now. More stern. "Mom, have you been drinking?"

Thanks for stopping by! Please leave a comment, and find other great samples at Sweet Saturday Samples!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Mother's Guilt

My daughter recently write a blog post about balance. She and her husband recently started a blog dedicated to recording their journey toward financial independence. Both of them work full time, and they own a cute little house (a nice little starter home in a well-kept urban area) and have a beautiful eight-month-old daughter (I suppose I'm a little biased, but grandmothers are allowed to be!).

Anyway, she wrote that one of the hardest things for her is being away from her daughter. She's experiencing the same feelings of guilt that plague working moms everywhere. Guilt at having days when she spends more time at her job than with her daughter. Guilt at enjoying her job. Guilt at making financial security a priority, taking away from quality time with her child.

Having been a working mom, I wanted to reassure her. I responded under my pseudonym and made no references that would identify myself as her mother. I empathized with her feelings, because I had felt them when I had left her with others. I tried to make her see that Little Miss B is happy and healthy because her mother took the time to choose the right person to care for her. And I reminded her that she and her sister have grown into happy, confident adults.

I'm not sure if my daughter has seen my response. I hope so. I'd like to think that I was able to a little bit toward assuaging her fears and concerns. Those concerns are valid, but she's making the choices she needs to make. If, someday, their circumstances change, she may re-evaluate and move in another direction. And I'll be there to cheer her on. Because I'm her mother.

But for now, hopefully, my words can make a difference.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! This week I'm sharing a scene from one of my works-in-progress, which I hope to have completed and submitted soon! Jess is a widow, working hard to keep her husband's snowplowing and lawn care business going, while keeping her sanity as a mom intact.

She found "old Jerry's" house, which thankfully had a short, straight drive. She plowed it, left a bill in the doorway, and made her way back home.
Rory was on his way out the door when she pulled in. She held her hand out to him, and he grimaced but gave her his backpack to check. It was nearly empty.
"Where are your books?"
"Didn't have any."
"You had your math book when you came home last night."
"Oh yeah."
"Get it. Did you do your work?"
"I don't know."
She sighed. He was going to miss the bus again.
They tracked down the book, under his desk. Sure enough, he hadn't done his work. She got him some notebook paper and sat him down at the kitchen table to finish his assignment while she made his lunch and changed clothes for her day job. 
They packed up, loaded into the truck and got to the school building with two minutes to spare. Like a good, invisible mom, she dropped him off on the opposite side of the street and refrained from giving him a goodbye kiss.
Then she drove on to her waitressing job, already feeling like she had put in a full day. Things had to get better, soon.

Thanks for stopping by! Please a comment, and be sure to read more great excerpts. You can find the links for them at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Mother and son picture from

Friday, October 28, 2011

Our First Conference

Last Saturday I went to the "I've always wanted to write a book" conference hosted by the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group. It was held at the Radisson Hotel just north of downtown Grand Rapids, and was our group's first effort at hosting such an event. I haven't seen any numbers yet, but my overall impression is that it was a success. There were several new faces there (by new faces I mean people I didn't recognize from either of the writers' groups to which I belong), and a few expressed interest in coming to our meetings. The agent who accepted pitches made several people very happy by asking to see chapters and/or full manuscripts. The panels I attended generated lots of good questions and detailed answers. And we had enough attendees to break even. Wonderful!

As with any conference, there were times when I had to miss something that interested me because another session took precedence. But the ones I went to were great. I attended (and moderated) Maris Soule's presentation on writing mysteries, and then went to Margaret Yang's time management session. The keynote speaker, Jacqueline Carey, followed this. Then we had a delicious lunch in the hotel's restaurant. After that, I went to a panel on e-publishing, followed by a Young Adult panel. This was followed by a Q&A session with an editor and agent, and then the book signing. That wasn't so successful for me (I sold exactly ONE book!), but it was fun schmoozing. I sat by Dr. Sandra Portko and we had a nice chat.

So, what did I learn? Actually I had a few things drummed into me that I knew but probably didn't want to accept. I waste a LOT of writing time. I need to make adjustments in order to grow and succeed. I am VERY lucky to be published by a publisher. I don't want to self-publish. I feel like I'm already putting myself out there more than I would like, and wouldn't want to spend even more time working on it. I learned that, should I decide to try and make the move to traditional print publishing, I must know my niche. Right now I seem to be all over the place. I have a long historical and several short contemporaries. Some of those lean toward mystery, and some are straight romance.

I learned that there are a lot of great people out there who are willing to help me succeed in my drive to have a writing career, but that I have to put in the time and effort. This goal of mine is starting to become more and more attainable. It's been a dream that kept getting pushed farther and farther back. But someday is now. I will do it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What a Character!

With Halloween right around the corner, people all around me are deciding what character they want to become for the evening. I asked my fellow Astraea Press authors this question: "If you could become any one of your characters, which one would it be, and why?" Take a look at their answers. If you find one you like, you can click on the author's name to read more about the story and find ordering information.

So please allow me to introduce my newest friends who have graciously shared their idea of a Halloween makeover!


Kay Springsteen, author of Lifeline Echoes and Elusive Echoes: I would be any one of the McGee women in the Orson's Folly series, because once their men fell in love with them, there was no one else in the world for those men. But of all of them, I admire Sandy Wheaton McGee (sexy bar owner and singer) the most because of her self-confidence and resilience.


Meg Mims, author of Double Crossing: If I could be a character in Double Crossing, I would be Lily Granville -- young, wealthy, and adventuresome. I am NOT any of these, LOL. I tend to be a "stay-at-home" and plenty chicken. Which is why I love writing characters who are so different and who live exciting lives!


J. F. Jenkins, author of Vala: Agendas: If I could be anyone from one of my stories, I would have to say it's a tie between two characters. First would be Jewl from "Vala: Agendas" because she's already a lot like me, but more importantly I think it would be super awesome to be a summoner. I'd probably have a little too much fun with that one. My other character of choice would be one of the flying dragons from the Dragon's Saga. Who wouldn't want to fly through clouds for a day and see the world?


S. G. Rogers, author of The Last Great Wizard of Yden: I've always admired artists; so much of what they do seems so otherworldly. So if I had the chance to be a character from my novel, I'd be Jon Hansen. His wicked artistic talent translates to something even more fantastic on the magical world of Yden...everything he draws comes to life. How awesome is that?


Sherry Gloag, author of From Now Until Forever (coming soon!): I'd like to be the heroine, Melanie Babcot, in my upcoming Astraea press book, From Now Until Forever, because she is a fighter, sassy, loyal and when she gives her heart it is for keeps.


Chynna T. Laird, author of Blackbird Flies: Of all my characters, I think I'd want to be Payton from my YA novella, Blackbird Flies. The story is actually based on one of my real-life experiences but Payton made much better choices than I did in the same situation. He's stronger, more focused and surrounded with more goodness than I'd been. I love him. =)


Linsday Downs, author of Emily Dahill, CID chose her canine hero. When asked why, she had Dakota answer for her: Patty, come on get serious, to start with I’m sexy as all get out. Check out my beautiful soft brown eyes. Eyes that any woman could and would lose herself in.

Besides being every woman’s dream guy, I’m smart as all get out, have a great sense of smell. I can also out run and out think just about any human except Emily.

Let’s put it this way folks, I’m the best hero any author ever came up with. Oh, and I work for table scraps, as long as the morsels are sirloin or porterhouse steak tidbits.


Iris Blobel, author of Sweet Dreams, Miss England and Journey to Her Dreams: The character I like most in my books is Daniel, from Sweet Dreams, Miss England. He’s a wonderful character, the Peter Pan of today – he’s charming, thoughtful and kind. An Irish man who loves to live life. I’d like to be like him (though I’m getting better at being Peter Pan-ish).


Joselyn Vaughn, author of Hauntings of the Heart: I want to be Minnie Schultz, from Hauntings of the Heart and CEOs Don’t Cry, when I grow up. She’s strong, fit and confident and happy with where she’s at. And she’s a heck of a lot of fun.


Many thanks to my fellow Astraea Press authors for introducing us to their favorite characters! As for me, I'd like to be Francie, one of the main characters in Aegean Intrigue. As soon as I get the cover, I'll share it!