Saturday, May 27, 2017

Fleshing Out Your Story by Betsy Ashton

Every time I speak to book clubs, I hear the same question: where do you get your ideas? It usually comes halfway through the talk and before the reading. I don't have a stock answer, so I'm going to walk you through how I built a character for a new series.

Back in grad school when dirt was young and dinosaurs were slowly fading away, one of my friends got into trouble with her family when she started dating a guy named Sa-Li Ma.

Hmm, great name. I filed it away at a time when I never thought I'd write one book, let alone plan out a series. Fast forward to now.

I decide to set a novel in Roanoke, VA. I want a stranger in town, someone who will stand out and not fade easily into the local population. I want him to have a prominent position in law enforcement. And I want him to be called Sa-Li Ma.

I have a name. It's a Chinese name. What does this skeleton of a character look like? Well, he's tall because his ancestors come from an area in China where most were horsemen. Why horsemen? Because "ma" in Chinese is horse. He has black hair and eyes, is muscular in a lean sort of way. His face is a land of planes, not at all round.

Good, this name now has a body and a hint of a profession. Let's make him a DEA agent leading a multi-jurisdictional task force charged with slowing or stopping the opioid epidemic sweeping through many southern states. It's an important job, prominent, dangerous.

His age? Ah, he has to be around forty-five. Not much older. Is he married? Here comes a chance for character development and conflict. His wife is dead when the series opens, an FBI agent killed in the line of duty a month before he shows up in town. Does he have children? One. A daughter aged five.

So, where are we? We have a widower in a dangerous job with a princess for a daughter. What opportunities to humanize the tough guy when he has a tea party for her birthday, plays knight-in-shining-armor, and reads her to sleep at night. He needs someone to take care of the little girl, whom we will call Maggie Rose (named after a fellow writer who lost her battle with cancer a few years back). Enter his sister, who has no name right now. Having a Chinese woman living in his house opens the way for misunderstandings about her role in the family.

With this, we have a protagonist who can carry a single novel or multiple novels. His first challenge will be...

Oooh, that would be telling.

Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story, "Midnight in the Church of the Holy Grape," in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The green cave

We are full-on into summertime mode here in the Midwest. The world has greened up nicely, my gardening is on its way to Bloom Time, and the #*(@ bugs are out in force.

Right about now is when I go into the Green Cave. You see, our house sits *far* back from the road, and between me and the road are trees. Lots of trees, mixed with a few shrubs. Many people don't even realize there's a house back here. I can barely see the road for the trees, and as to seeing the neighbor's house (50 yards or so away, somewhere behind me) -- I have no idea if they're home or not. Can't see a thing.

I prefer wintertime. I like the cold and the feeling of "better stay inside, it's too cold to go out" so it's an excuse to be indoors and do the indoor things I like. But there's something to be said for my green cave. I can see the hummingbirds at their feeder; the woodpeckers at theirs; the other flyers at theirs. I see flowers, shrubs, and trees, and ... not much else. It forces me to focus on my keyboard, so I guess that's a good thing.

If you have a holiday weekend coming up, I hope it's a pleasant one, however you celebrate it. I plan to write, relax, attend a memorial service (a yearly tradition), barbeque, and do some more writing ... in my green cave!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

All In For Love

For three days, May 25, 28, and 31, The Roses of Prose is happy to spotlight a most exciting anthology for a great price and a chance for our readers to win a prize. The big release date is June 1. So read to the end and then check back in on the 28th and 31st!
An Inn Decent Proposal By Sharon Buchbinder
Perfect Odds By Lashanta Charles
A Ghost To Die For By Keta Diablo
Raising Kane By Kat Henry Doran
For Money Or Love By Margo Hoornstra
Take A Chance On Me By M.J. Schiller

Six award-winning authors bring you six *sweet to sensual* romances filled with suspense, thrills and maybe even a ghost or two—for less than the price of a cup of coffee—99 cents!

Welcome to La Bonne Chance Resort & Casino!

With thousands of people passing through the casino’s doors on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that a variety of lives and loves are on the line there. It’s said that you’re more likely to lose your heart at La Bonne Chance than a hand of poker. Whether you are the Director of Casino Operations or the guy who created its software, a jilted bride or a black jack dealer, a past guest’s ghost or a sous chef--when it comes to love, the stakes are high.

Thank goodness what happens at La Bonne Chance, doesn’t always stay at La Bonne Chance….

Ready to roll the dice?

An Inn Decent Proposal, Sharon Buchbinder
Can an hotelier with a past and a chef with a future revive the grand dame in a neglected old inn?

Perfect Odds, Lashanta Charles
When a jilted bride meets the man of her dreams, will she embrace the new plan, or cling stubbornly to the old one?

A Ghost To Die For, Keta Diablo
She didn't believe in ghosts...until one showed up in her room.

Raising Kane, Kat Henry Doran
Funny how a night in jail will change a woman's outlook on life.

For Money Or Love, Margo Hoornstra
She's the one woman he can't afford to lose.

Take A Chance On Me, M.J. Schiller
Who do you count on when the chips are down?


To add to the fun, we are giving away one gambling themed handmade item to ONE lucky commenter who will be selected by a Random Number Generator.


What happens at La Bonne Chance, doesn’t always stay at La Bonne Chance. Are you ready to roll the dice?
Excerpt from An Inn Decent Proposal by Sharon Buchbinder
After the hotel auction, a stunned Jim Rawlings and excited Genie King go to Sips, a local coffee house. Overwhelmed with self-doubts verging on buyer’s remorse, Jim begins to question his sanity. Genie, on the other hand, is bursting with enthusiasm and ideas…

“Why did you want this place?”
“The old girl called to me, begged me to save her.” He gave Genie a wistful smile. “Do I sound crazy?”
“You call the Inn ‘she,’ too?”
“Yes, she’s like a grand old dame who’s fallen on hard times.  Remember the parties? The famous people who stayed and played there? Celebrities came to the Inn because they knew their privacy and secrets were safe with us. If those walls could talk!  Every day was new and exciting. I would love to bring back her glory days.”
Genie leaped up, ran around the table and hugged him. “I have the same dream. We can do it.”
He hesitated for a moment, then returned the gesture, his hands unable to resist lingering on her luscious curves just a tad too long. Genie’s inviting cleavage made him wish they were somewhere private. He could scarcely breathe and had to shake his head to dispel naughty images of nuzzling her soft breasts. “We can do what?”
She sat down again, but clung to his hands. “I’ve done the research. The Inn should be in the National Park Service Historic Registry—but it isn’t. If we can get her added to the Registry, there are laws and standards about how we make the rehabilitation. We can bring it up to modern codes, but have to use certain treatments—”
“I hate to burst your bubble, but where will we get the money to do all this?” He wasn’t sure he could afford too many more big gambles like this last one.
Her face flushed and her sapphire blue eyes sparkled. “If we can get her added to the Registry, we’ll qualify for special low interest loans. And for a major tax credit. And we have a million dollars in equity.”
“Pretty, smart—and you say you can cook? If you can do all that, you are a genie.”
She released his hands, pulled her shoulders back, and inadvertently gave him a better glimpse of her bosom. Genie gave him a scalding look. “Are you challenging my cooking, Mr. Rawlings?”
Uh-oh. He never dreamed of Genie having a little temper. He couldn’t resist tweaking her. “I’m sure you’re a solid cook.”
She stood, almost knocking her chair over. “Solid? What the hell does that mean? Average? Good enough to make the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner for the family—but not good enough to cook for guests? Tell you what, Mr. Critic, you come to my house for dinner tomorrow night.” She scribbled her address on a business card and threw it on the table. “My food makes men go weak at the knees.”
Hypnotized by the sway of her voluptuous ass as she stalked out of the nearly empty café, Jim bet it wasn’t just this saucy woman’s cooking that made strong men weak.

About Sharon Buchbinder
Sharon Buchbinder and her husband used to breed and show Egyptian Maus and Color Point Persians (formerly called Himalayans). If you’ve ever seen the mockumentary, Best in Show, you have an idea of what life was like 24 out of 52 weekends a year for this wild and crazy couple. When Sharon returned to school for her PhD in 1986, she decided a doctoral program plus a toddler plus a full time job was more than enough and they placed all their cats in good homes—including their own.
* * *
Excerpt from Perfect Odds by Lashanta Charles
Callista is meeting her fiancé at the airport so they can fly out to N.Y. where they're supposed to get married, but it seems plans have been changed without her knowledge. 

“James? Where are you? They’re boarding everyone now,” I say when I answer.
            “I’m not coming,” he says.
            I pause in making my way to the attendant station. Surely I heard him wrong.
            “Hang on a sec, let me ask them how long we have before they can no longer wait. If you’re here already it shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll just need to hurry. Like, sprint through the airport or maybe get one of those guys on the carts to give you a ride somehow.”
            The attendant smiles at me and holds her hand out for my boarding pass. I move to give it to her, but hear James speaking again.
            “Cali, you’re not listening. I’m not there. I’m not coming,” he says.
            Pulling my boarding pass away from the attendant, I force a smile and step away for privacy. “What are you talking about, James? I’m here waiting for you.” As if he doesn’t know that. He helped me load our luggage into the car before I left this morning. Is this some sick joke he’s pulling right now?
“I’m not coming, Cali,” James repeats for the third time.
            I stare numbly at the ‘now boarding’ screen above the attendant. I heard him the first two times. It makes as much sense now as it did then – none.
            “I don’t understand. You can’t not come. I can see if they’ll schedule us for a different flight. I’m sure it’s not too late. We’re getting there early enough that one day won’t really matter,” I tell him.
            He lets out an exasperated sigh. He’s annoyed? We’re two weeks away from our wedding and I’m at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, sans fiancé. I battled an hour and a half of traffic to get here and get us both checked in two hours early, lugged all our suitcases – overweight, I might add – only for him to call when it’s time to board the flight to New York and tell me he’s not coming, yet, he’s the one who’s annoyed?
            “I don’t know what else to say, Cali. I’m trying to do right by you here. We both knew this wouldn’t end well.”
            I splutter. Try as I might, I can no longer get the words to flow from my mouth to have this conversation. We didn’t know anything of the sort. Do right by me? How is standing me up for our wedding doing right by me? I didn’t ask to marry myself. I didn’t insist on us having a short engagement or me moving in with him. I definitely didn’t count on any of this.

About Lashanta Charles
So I don't really have anything too witty, but I have a 6-year-old with a sharp tongue. One of the things I always tell my kids is that mommy and daddy knows everything. So one day I'm taking my daughter to the store to buy toys with her birthday money. This is how the conversation went:

Her: So, who gave me this birthday money?
Me: Poppy (Grandad)
Her: Oh, I really miss Poppy. I want to go see him.
Me: Well, you have to wait until this summer, when you're out of school.
Her: Why?
Me: Because you have to learn things in school and if you miss a day, you'll miss what you need to learn and then you won't know everything.
Her: Ohhhhh, you mean like you and daddy don't really know everything even though you say you do?
Me: *speechless*

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Little R and R by Margo Hoornstra

As you read this, I'll be unplugged and taking a little R and R. For a while, anyway. And not completely unplugged. **shudder** That would be too horrible to contemplate. Though the internet service may be sketchy, my trusty iPhone will still be working. Unless I hit a No Service area. **double shudder**

The graphic I found to lead this column doesn't really tell the whole story. You see, I won't be taking a break from my computer, oh no. That indispensable laptop of mine is going with me. As is the laser printer that fits neatly on the floor of the backseat.

After a busy few months, surgeries for both hubby and me, another hospitalization for him, a novella, For Money Or Love, finished for a box set, All In For Love, coming out June 1st, a final galley for, On the Surface, the first book in my new Brothers In Blue series proofed and returned to my editor to forward to my publisher for release this summer, we're going camping to take a little break.

Beautiful scenery.

Quiet times by the campfire.


Oh, wait. Cancel. Cancel. Not that kind of wild life. Although my husband did once scare up what must have been a bobcat - what he thought was really a rather large kitty - on one of our many walks.

This kind of wildlife.

Much better.

Can't forget the walks. Lots and lots of walks.

But...there's something else. Oh. Wait. I know what it is. A completed manuscript to critique for CP Extraordinaire. Got my Track Changes up and ready. Really ready!

Then there's the second book in the Brothers In Blue series, On The Force to finish and send in. Oh, and book three, On the Make, of which I have one chapter under my belt.

Yikes! My little R and R time is dwindling. And fast!

Guess I better get to it.

My days to blog here are the 11th and 23rd. For more about me and my stories, please visit my WEBSITE

Monday, May 22, 2017

Happy birthday, Hercules ~ by Leah St. James

Hercules the Kitten turned one year old this past week. With that milestone out of the way, he can now officially be called Hercules the CAT. 

He can now join the ranks of the mature (read: more sedate) creatures of his species–you know, the ones that sprawl peacefully in splotches of sunlight splashed across the floor. The ones that leap onto your lap, perform a few pressy-paw moves, circle a bit, then settle down for a nap. The ones that have learned the ways of the world—what is prey and what is not.

Except it seems Hercules still has some maturing to do.

He does have the napping thing down. In fact, he naps all day. Our theory is that he does this so he will be alert enough to wake us each morning when his tummy signals it wants food. That seems to be about 4 a.m., and he has developed a two-step process which is alarmingly (hahaha) effective!

First step: Jump onto my dresser, lift up on hind legs and start scratching the crap out of the mirror hanging there. (It’s the mirror that my grandparents bought when they were first married. I estimate its age at about a century! Imagine the bad luck if that sucker shatters!)  Result: Me and hubby instantly awaken and groan.

Second step: Wait for one of us to stumble out of bed and approach the dresser, at which point Hercules leaps to the ground and races out the door to head downstairs (where his empty food dish awaits filling).

What seems to surprise him daily is when we slam the door shut after he leaves, forcing him to wait outside the door until we feel like getting up.

I know what you’re thinking: Why don’t they just keep the door shut to begin with?! We have tried that! But he seems to take it as a sign to scratch the crap out of the door until we get up and open which point he runs in, jumps onto my get the picture.

For some reason sitting outside after the dresser interlude doesn’t start him scratching. I don’t understand why. I guess he is a creature of habit.

As to the rest of the expected attributes of a mature feline?

He doesn’t sleep in patches of sunlight. He pounces on the shadows they create. His latest favorite spot is in our dining room and its big window with blinds. With the blinds open, the sun throws horizontal lines across the dining room walls. If one of us walks across the room, the beams and shadows will mix, making the perfect action scene for Hercules’ attention. 


Sometimes he just stares at the blank wall. The first time it happened, we thought he was seeing insects (ugh) or ghosts (yikes!). But no, just shadows playing across the wall’s landscape.

He doesn’t cuddle, at all...unless it’s cold out. Then he might sleep on our bed at night, curled into the curve of one of our body parts.

As far as prey...anything and everything is game to Hercules. Paper–any and all types. Aluminum foil. Cardboard. Dental floss that misses the trash can. We have covered every scrap of paper in the house that we don’t want shredded. Stacks of printer paper now huddle under a winter blanket for protection. (I’m not kidding.) My husband says the cat is part billy goat. 

Check out the lower right corner.

For his birthday we gave him the unused lid to a paper carton. He has now chewed one side off. Hey, it makes for cheap gift-giving. (And all the extra vacuuming burns calories!)

Here he is this morning going nuts over a mesh apple bag.


So maybe Hercules will never quite grow up, but that’s okay. We love him just the way he is.


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. She blogs here on the 6th and 22nd of each month. You can find her posting occasional pictures and videos of Hercules on her Facebook page, along with other tidbits of her daily life. She loves visitors. Learn more about her writing on her website.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Blogging today

Blogging can get hard over the course of months, sometimes years of keeping the blog active. I participate in three blogs,
My own Barbara Edwards Comments, Paranormal Romance and Roses of Prose. Each has its own personae. 
I find myself searching for topics. I finally realized that subjects I wrote about three years ago can be recycled. 
The audience has changes. Readers and followers are interested in tons of subjects and seem to love articles with
I couldn’t think of a new topic so I’m posting a variety of subjects.


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Another peek outside my writing window

In the past year and a half, I've had the pleasure of seeing many wonders outside my writing window. I often find myself saying, "oh" and have come to realize how many intonations the word has.

Since I'm a terrible photographer and often too slow to grab the camera in the first place, these pictures barely represent all the wildlife I've seen. There's a beautiful red fox that is quite camera shy, but I'm determined to get his picture one day.

I added this next photo, taken last winter, of my sons standing by the creek in order to show its normal size. Note the bank is mostly grassy.

Then on April 29th, the entire area was flooded by torrential rainfall. Water completely covered the concrete picnic table. The swollen creek also crept, way too close for comfort, up toward my house.

 The force of rushing water was so noisy it sounded like a waterfall right outside my window. The power of it took out our footbridge, which had stood for over half a century. It also swept in deposits of rock and left them here and there along the creek bank. 
The size of some of the stones washed in is unbelievable.
The road to the east and the low water bridge to the west were completely covered with raging floodwater. We were unable to leave home for several days.

So, how many variations of "ah" did you experience while looking at my pictures? 

R.E.Mullins: author of romantic paranormal.  
check out my webpage for upcoming releases and buylinks.