Monday, July 24, 2017

Summer? Ugh! by Brenda Whiteside

We've had a few posts this summer about summer. I'm not a fan of the season. Not when I'm spending it in Central Arizona. The temps are high and now that the monsoons have moved in, the humidity is relentless. The good thing about Tonto Basin is we're really almost in northern Arizona. A thirty minute drive gets us to Rim Country. The Mogollon  (pronounced mug-e-own) Rim is pines and cooler temps. It's amazing how the weather changes in that short thirty minute drive.

We leave our RV parked in Tonto Basin. It's our base. This year, it's not moving. Lots of reasons why, but that's another post. The
Half-way done
owners decided to expand our space. We were thrilled, but it sure would've been nicer to do it before the monsoons hit or in October. We won't complain. We have so much room now. It's just been hot working outside to get it looking good. We're part way there, but I have more plans...a little each day. At least the mess is gone.

Getting there
Today we need to empty the storage shed, clean it, and reload. A large bottle of balsamic vinegar exploded...sticky mess everywhere. That's how hot it gets here. See why summer is not my season?

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Currently, they split their time between the pines of Northern Arizona, the desert of Southern Arizona, and the RV life. Wherever she roams, she spends most of her time writing stories of discovery, suspense, and the tangled relationships of life. 

Visit Brenda at
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at
She blogs about life’s latest adventure on her personal blog
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Summertime...and the livin' is...Well, You Decide, Part II by Margo Hoornstra

Ah yes, the Gershwin song, Summertime from the musical Porgy and Bess. The opening line goes like this. Summertime…and the livin’ is…easy

Last time I wrote on these pages I opened with that, and pointed to those lazy, hazy days of Summer. Warm, tranquil days full of sunshine and fresh breezes. Days, and nights, to sit back, relax and soak in the quiet. Enjoy doing whatever we want, or nothing if that’s our choice.

I championed my Calla Lily blooms...okay bloom...

I mentioned the Adirondack Chairs we purchased for the front yard.

And a glider swing to go with the rocker on the back deck.

Then lamented the fact I only wished I could use them more.

To paraphrase the great Mr. G – I noted, in my world, it’s more like Summertime…and the livin’ is…busy!

With a novella, For Money Or Love...

in the six story anthology, All In For Love...

Promo going on through Author Promo Pal for my own three book anthology, Saturday In Serendipity...

A soon to be given release date for Book One in the Brothers in Blue series...On the Surface...

Nearing completion is Book Two in the Brothers in Blue series...On the Force...


Then....they started digging up our road about a week ago. We live on the very end of a dead end, so getting out and about can be a challenge. What with a ten feet wide, by twelve feet long by fourteen feet deep crater between us and the nearest highway.

This is a picture of the view out my front bedroom window these days.

And that's just the beginning. They are putting in new water and sewer lines. Fun! Fun! Fun!

Then....this morning, we awoke to water dripping, ominously, I must say, down a wall.

To their credit...the plumbers, two of them, arrived within an hour. Diagnostic...estimate...both time and cost. Thankfully a one day, albeit 8 hour+, job and an estimate that won't exactly break us...but...

I'll spare you pictures of their endeavors. Think bathroom sink and vanity removed, drywall as well. More drywall, plus part of the ceiling cut out in the bathroom below. Items under the kitchen sink...didn't know that space could hold so much...gotten out of their way...pipes out...pipes in...pipes out...pipes in. (More in than out, I'm hoping.)

Although I am taking a little time off to attend the Romance Writers of America® National Conference. My husband's going with me. What a sport, huh? I think so.

It'll be nice to get away...

So, tell me. What about you? Are you indulging in a vacation this year? Or are you as busy as the rest of us?

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Message for my son on his wedding day ~ Leah St. James

As this message posts on our blog, my son’s wedding is mere hours away. I tried to think of something else to write about, but my brain is too crowded with the seemingly endless details that even the MoG (mother of the groom) must attend to. More than that, my heart is too full of emotions I’m afraid to let loose. (You might recall how I sobbed just THINKING about the mother/son dance.)

Like many writers, I deal with emotions by setting them to words. So I write this a few days in advance, lying in bed while my husband snores softly beside me, and I think about our wedding day several decades ago. I remember that first joyous kiss as husband and wife, then turning to face our guests and thinking, “It’s us against the world.”

We’ve had our ups and downs and made mistakes (who hasn’t?), but those hills and valleys, joys and sorrows, have made us who we are today--far from perfect, but happy together. 

I hope we’ve set a more positive than negative example for our son as he starts out in his own marriage. Still, if he were here right now (instead of off at his bachelor party!), I’d want to share some thoughts and "learnings" with him.

I’d tell him that marriage isn’t easy, even under the best conditions. I’d tell him that it takes work, it takes trust...and lots of love to pull it off. It takes  biting your tongue and compromise and saying “I love you” when you really want to tell your spouse to go .. well, let’s not go there.

I’d tell him that as of this day, he and his bride are a team, unbreakable by their shared vows of love and honor. 

That means having her back, in public and in private. It means protecting her, being loyal to her. It means cherishing her as if she is the one woman, among the millions in the world, uniquely meant for him.

I’d tell him he needs to be strong for her, but to let her see his vulnerabilities. And to let her be strong for him, too.

I’d let him know that when they argue, as I’m sure they will, he needs to consider her point of view, really consider it, because she is half of their team. And when those hard times fall, because they most likely will, to draw closer together and work on figuring things out, together.

I’d admonish him to work hard for his new family, but to play hard as well. His bride is a young woman, full of enthusiasm for life and the world. Go out together, see that world. Plan day trips. Save for and take vacations. Try new foods and recreate them in your kitchen. Go to local museums, plays and concerts. Go bowling or play golf. 

Enjoy each other. Enjoy life.

Happy wedding day to my son and his bride. May this be the first of many days and years of joy,  together. 

Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the very real power of love. Learn more about Leah’s writing on her website. Or visit her on Facebook where she posts about life in general. She loves meeting readers!

Friday, July 21, 2017

Going to RWA

I have been busy packing for the RWA Conference in Orlando.
With the new rules on baggage, I'm limiting myself to one bag for five days. sounds tricky, huh? It is. I need three pairs of shoes and underwear along with nice clothes for the conference and one special outfit for when I speak on a panel on Saturday morning.
So here I am writing my speech about an invisible disability. The panel is about giving your characters disabilities and making them real. If you're going to be there, come and listen. We have lots of handouts.
I'm excited about going. I need the enthusiasm. I always learn something new or am reminded of what I've forgotten.
I'm also looking forward to seeing friends I chat with on-line. this year I have an extra task. My local chapter wants to host on-line classes again and I'll be asking for help. If you're interested in doing a class let me know.

Please follow, friend or like me. I love to hear from my readers.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Making Promo Fun? by Alicia Dean

So, I think we all agree, promo is a necessity, but sometimes a necessary evil. Like exercise, I think the key to sticking with promo is making it fun. (Don't get me wrong, I haven't figured out a way to make exercise fun :()

But, there are a few ways to make promo fun. I haven't tried all of these, but here are some thoughts about fun stuff to try AND some questions/thoughts about marketing in general.

1) Videos - Let your readers see you live and up close and personal. This is something I haven't done, but a weekly video chat on Facebook with your readers is a great way to promo. You can talk about your writing, read a short excerpt, ask them questions, talk about your life (just a little, not too much sharing). You can announce ahead of time and invite readers to join you.

2) What are you interested in, other than reading and writing? For me, it's Elvis, MLB, TV, NFL. Pick a topic unrelated to writing that interests you and write a weekly blog or Facebook post about it. You'll probably be more likely to write about it each week, because you love it. (Gardening, animals, scrapbooking, hang-gliding, etc)

3) Cross-Promo with other authors. Learning about other authors and sharing for them can be lots of fun.

4) Play games - maybe give away a book to one of the commenters. You can play games like, which of these lines is from so and so book. You can play games with other authors, let them share something on your Facebook or blog that readers can guess. Or, just have readers list their favorite book, movie, food, actor, animal, etc. Give away a book to one lucky commenter.

I wouldn't try all of these, it would be too time-consuming, but they are just some suggestions for potential things to do that might be more fun than pure drudgery. :)

A few questions/comments...

1) I'm starting to wonder about my Facebook Fan Page. It's difficult to get exposure/interaction, although the promo group Jannine and I run has helped to increase that a little. However, I wonder if maybe I should just use my regular profile page. That way, there would be a mixture of personal and book things. What are your thoughts?

2) I recently tried an Amazon ad, and I felt it was quite successful. I took Alison's advice and listed a ton of key words, searching for authors and books similar to mine. I also added key words as I went along. One tip I learned from a marketing expert I met in May was to bid a higher price, like maybe 75 cents per click, for more common key words so that when readers search that, your bid should make you float to the top. Have any of you tried Amazon ads? What was your experience like?

3) I've heard some discouraging things about Facebook ads. I was thinking of trying one, but what I've heard has put me off. I understand that the supposed price you are charged always goes up. You spend more money than you expect, and that your ads aren't necessarily getting the exposure you thought they would. I found it a little confusing with the targeting and such anyway. Do you guys know anything about FB ads?

Would love to hear feedback on any or all...thanks!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Help Us Choose Our First Line! by Jannine Gallant

It's that time of year when the Roses of Prose start thinking about our holiday stories. As we have for the last several years, we will be posting short Christmas stories throughout the month of December. The only common denominator is the first line. That's where we need your help. We've had a LOT of first line suggestions this year, and we want to narrow the pack to the ones our readers think have the most potential before the final vote. Please leave comments telling us which lines are your favorites. Listed in the order they were received:

1) It was done. And she would lead the Christmas Parade down Main Street wearing nothing but a smile before she did it again.

2) She couldn't wait for Christmas to be over. Last night she'd dreamed she was being chased around the kitchen by a diabolical gingerbread man with glowing, red-hot eyes.

3) Pulling this off would take a Christmas miracle.

4) The eggnog was definitely spiked.

5) There was something about Santa no one had ever told her.

6) Stuck in an elevator on Christmas Eve...

7) Red really was his best color.

8) The only Christmas card she'd gotten and it was signed "Your Secret Admirer."

9) Her effort to steal Christmas failed.

10) She never liked Christmas when she was a kid.

11) Naughty and nice were never a problem for her.

12) What would Santa think about her last move?

13) There stood Santa, naked except for his black boots and his hat hanging on...

There are some definite contenders in here that get the creative juices flowing! What do you like in a first line? Long or short? General or specific? Pick your favorite line or two and leave us a comment. We'll announce the winning first line when we get a little closer to Christmas. Above all, don't forget to come back in December to read our stories!

And now for a book plug since it is my day to post... My BORN TO BE WILDE series is still on sale throughout the month of July. Check out my WEBSITE for direct buy links to all retailers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

My Daily Writing Life by Betsy Ashton

We all get the same questions. What is your daily routine? Do you write every day? How do you budget your time? Do you like promotional activities? Wouldn't you rather just write and not do anything else?

In order, my daily routine. I rise relatively early and am at my desk by eight. I put in three or more hours writing or editing, depending on where I am in my book journey. Right now, I'm in the death throes of editing my serial killer novel, which I plan to have out in early fall. I have a big fall festival in mid October...

I work in relative silence, meaning no music or television when I'm editing. Unless it's golf or tennis. I can edit to either sport and only glance up occasionally.  I clear my desk to edit the old-fashioned way. Pen and paper. I can't edit electronically, even when I use Narrator and listen to my book read back to me. Keying my changes is an additional "edit" because I focus on each word. If the word/sentence/paragraph/chapter does not move the story forward, it goes into the parking lot, never to be seen again in the book.

When I'm writing, I can have music on in the background. If music plays an essential role in setting the tone, I note what I'm listening to so that I can go back and recapture the mood during the editing process. When I write a new piece, I push as many words onto the page as possible. I have to get it all out, even the backstory that will never see print. I have to know what my main characters carry in their pockets or purses.

I'm a 10-15 draft editor. Not the entire manuscript, but I rework many sections until I think I have it right. Only, sometimes, to be reminded by readers that I'm still not perfect, but they'll give me a hall pass.

During the final edits, I fact-check, sleep with the thesaurus, and am never move than two inches away from Chicago Manual of Style.

When I need a break, I take fifteen minutes to play on social media. I look at kitty videos, add pictures to Pinterest, transfer a pic or two from cell to Instagram, and throw out snarky comments on Facebook and Twitter. Fifteen minutes could turn into hours if not for the hour glass I keep in the bookshelf next to my desk.

Afternoons are set aside for walking to clear my head, short naps or yoga to refresh body and soul, and setting up and executing promotional campaigns.

I do not work after six in the evening. I don't go on Facebook et al after I leave my desk. My cell is nearby for emergencies, not for playing games or watching more kitty videos. I read at night.

My goodness, that's a boring daily routine, but it works for me. I fancy myself a professional writer and must keep to a regimen or I'll slip back into casual, hobby writer. Can't, because I always see to have a deadline looming, though.

I'm going to skip the promotional question for now. That warrants another post later this month.

Lastly, would I rather write and not have to worry about promoting my books. Who wouldn't? But until I'm as big as Diane Fanning, Patricia Cornwell, or David Baldacci, I'll work every afternoon to promote my books and generate interest. I hope.