Saturday, March 15, 2014

"Way to go, Paula! Way to go!"

By Jamie Hill

"And they all lived happily ever after." I totally concur. I'm a nut for Disney movies, Hallmark movies, Lifetime movies...wherever I can find them, as long as they have a HEA (happily ever after) ending.

To sit through a movie for hours and have it end unsatisfactorily is a bummer for me. I want to see the couple get together in the end (if not sooner.) The bad guy should get his comeuppance, the mystery should be solved. Come on, people, don't leave me hanging. Those movies that end suddenly with a black screen and I have to ask my husband what the hell just happened... No thanks.

As a reader and lover of romance, of course I want the books I read to end HEA. When I started writing, before I knew many publishers wanted HEA, I wrote it anyway. It just felt right. First and foremost, I had to write what I liked to read.

(The big exception is when I write horror. Horror, I like to leave unsettled, hanging so you're wondering... huh? But that's a whole 'nother animal.) Romance, to me, needs HEA.

I don't mind HFN, though these acronyms are getting a little tedious. *LOL* HFN, or happy for now, is sometimes necessary. When I'm writing a short story that takes place over a matter of hours, it's not always feasible for the characters to fall in love. We settle for HFN, and know that they're going to give it their best shot and see what happens. Lots of movies end that way. We don't know for sure what's going to happen with the couple, but they're going to have fun trying to make it work for a while, anyway.

Two of my favorite movies have the best HEA endings. In An Officer and a Gentleman, when Richard Gere walks through the paper factory with the theme song pounding in the background, my heart melts. "Way to go, Paula! Way to go!"


In Pretty Woman, when Richard Gere (do you sense a theme?) climbs the fire escape to 'rescue' Julia Roberts, and she rescues him right back...sob. I could watch those endings over and over again.

My Blame Game series ends happily ever after. In fact, I follow the main couple's family for twenty years, and in the epilogue everyone gets their own HEA. If you like romantic happy endings as much as I do, I hope you check the series out!

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mama, the Record Player, and Simon Cowell

~ by Jenna Byrnes ~

When I was a kid I was the lip syncing queen of the neighborhood. My favorite song was "The Nights the Light Went out in Georgia," -- not the knock off by Reba, mind you, this version was by Vicky Lawrence, of "Mama" fame. (Have I dated myself yet?) All I needed was the record player, (oops, just dated myself again), my hairbrush (microphone) and my vanity mirror, to make sure I looked my best.

The reason I was so good at lip syncing was that I was so bad at singing. I loved doing it, and did sing in my high school choir. (With a group, I guess I wasn't so bad.) I used to think being a famous singer would be the Coolest. Thing. Ever. Kind of like I now think being a NYT Bestselling author would be the Coolest. Thing. Ever. LOL

When my kids were little and got fidgety in the car, I used to sing to them and they loved it. I'd substitute their names in songs, or maybe throw in Batman's name, and they thought that was great. I'm not sure at what age they they began telling me, "Mom, if you want us to behave then please stop singing..." but it was a heart breaker. I still love to sing.

A friend once told me that not much looked dorkier than someone driving down the road singing along with her radio. I told her then and still say now, "tough cookies." I sing along with my car radio and if there's nothing good on I hit the CD button where I'm guaranteed to find a sing-along worthy song. We have a 6-disc CD player, I get three choices and the hubster gets three. I don't complain about his "Wooly Bully" or "Legend of Zelda" soundtracks, and he doesn't dare mention my Gordon Lightfoot or Air Supply. (So much easier to sing along to than today's music.) I do not rap, BTW.

If I had to trade in my writing abilities for another skill, I'd choose a good singing voice. I'm sure breaking into the big time for singers is just as hard as it is for writers. I just think I'd enjoy being able to belt out a tune in public and having people go, "Whoa! That girl can sing!"

If they'd had American Idol back then, I probably would have stood in line all day at the nearest audition for that one shot--and hope my voice didn't squeak when I got up there to belt out my tune. I might have peed my pants with nervousness waiting for the judges' critiques, and I would have been crushed when the snarky Brit shot me down. But it would have been fun knowing I had my shot.

I wonder if Simon likes Vicky Lawrence?

Note: This post was originally published on the Oh, Get A Grip Blog in September, 2009, When Simon Cowell was still a judge on AI. I could NEVER sing in front of Keith Urban!  :)  ~ Jenna

Aging Not So Gracefully by Ginger Simpson

My sister and I were talking about growing old, and we both explained our feelings in the same way. We both woke up one morning and realized we were old. I'm not just talking wrinkles...although that's a big concern...I mean aches, pains, eye problems, teeth problems. If you're over fifty, you're probably in the beginning stages. I hate to tell you, it doesn't get any better. I'd like to meet those people who said, "Life Begins at Forty." They forgot to mention it comes to a screeching halt after ten more years. *lol*

Cataracts is a term I've heard, but until I was diagnosed with them, I considered they only affected senior citizens. I made that comment out loud, then realized, I AM A SENIOR CITIZEN. No amount of waxing, plucking, or whining is going to change that. My friend keeps telling me to be thankful for every day I'm on THIS side of the grass, and although I am truly grateful for each and every day...I'm finding it hard to deal with looking in the mirror.

It's like your body takes on a mind separate from your own. Everything shifts at will, elongates, expands, thins, disappears or freezes up on you. As evidence I offer whatever held up my "neck skin." Clearly what ever it was has left me! And did I mention PAIN. Getting up and down is now a chore.

No one told me that blood pressure medicine causes something akin to 'male pattern baldness.' I suppose I could elect to have a heart attack with a full head of hair or hang around a while and try to cover up this bald spot smack dab in the front of my head. I stopped my hormone replacement therapy to remedy the mustache and sprouting stray hair dilemma, what next?

I've been married to my second husband for almost twenty years, and the first picture was taken at my wedding shower, the second,a couple of years ago at a Starbucks. I went to meet a new galfriend I connected with on theInternet, and thought I looked pretty good. Imagine my surprise when an old hag showed up in MY picture. I'd like to say someone photoshopped it, but I think they probably would have used someone else entirely...or at least airbrushed the face a tad.

What happened in those years that have passed.? Egads. In my fifties, people always told me I didn't look my age. Up until a few years ago, they even told me that. Guess one is saying it anymore. I worried that since I married someone ten years younger, I would eventually really look much older than he, but I devised a plan to nag him at a rate that caused advanced aging. I checked him out today and it appears to be working. I might feel sorry for him if I wasn't so lost in my own self pity. *lol* I realize I was never a super model, but it doesn't matter how little or great the sacrifice... you either know what I mean or you will soon enough.

Oh, I know there are those of you who exercise, eat right, don't smoke, and will want to preach that you're over fifty and feeling fit and frisky, but that accounts for maybe one in fifty people. May I say...I don't like you much. *kidding.* I quit smoking in 1979, but I think the effects of the years I smoked just remained dormant until now. Those pleated lips I stopped to avoid still happened. It hardly seems fair when I didn't have an ample set of lips to begin with.  As my lips shrink, my hips grow, and my body is building a shelf around my middle for my boobs to rest on.  Who asked for it?  I don't recall putting in a request.

Honestly, I actually think God should have reversed the process. I don't mean to tell him what to do, but now that I'm experiencing the other end of life's spectrum, it just seems it would be easier to chalk up diminishing bladder capacity, poor eyesight, thinning hair, and holes in one's smile to being a baby. It's bad enough to watch old movies and realize that every one who starred in them is now dead, but every day, we face our own mortality  I've reached an age where loss is becoming commonplace...friends, not weight. Wouldn't it be wonderful, when you lose teeth and have fat rolls around your knees, to have someone come up and chuck your cheek and say how cute you look? Ain't happnin! I'm just saying that preparing for the end of your lifetime would be a lot less painful if you grew cuter and cuddlier every day.

Okay...that's my rant and pity potty for the day

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Writing First Degree Innocence by Ginger Simpson

I'd like to share a little information with you about one of my favorite books which is a far cry from my normal genre, historical western romance.

 When I first moved to Tennessee, and my husband was having a difficult time finding a job, I decided to see if I could locate something suitable. As I had just retired from the University of California after twenty-three years of working with students, I knew I possessed skill enough for any clerical job. Imagine my surprise when the employment office sent me to the White County Sheriff, and I ended up with a Correctional Officer position. Even when the Jail Administrator showed me a picture of himself beat to a pulp by an inmate, I never expected they would offer a woman my age, with no experience, a job.

 I left the interview, went home, and found a message asking me to report to work the following morning. Color me shocked! If I was younger, I would definitely try to re-establish myself in that field. It was probably one of the most exciting and interesting jobs I've ever had.

 Most of the fodder for First Degree Innocence came from the year I spent working with the inmates, even those sentenced to extended stays, but boarded with us because of lack of space in the prison system. If you believe what you hear, everyone there is innocent. My heroine is patterned after so many of the incarcerated women I met there, and those I booked, searched and assigned cells to. Writing Carrie's story in FDI was easy because I drew on the frightened faces, trembling legs and horror-filled eyes when the reality struck that for the women arrested, jail was a reality.

 Most women are incarcerated because they made poor choices in men. That wasn't the case with Carrie, but her sentence was just as real. And as in every walk of life, bullies exist within the population. Jet was fashioned after one trouble-making wench who kept us all on our toes. I considered I was one of the nice guards, but believe me, there were more than enough to go around who considered it their duty to continue to punish the inmates. I think law enforcement sometimes brings out the worst in some. Those who have no control in their own personal lives need to control what they can, and jail/prison gives them a great place to exercise that right.

As for me, I considered the inmates had already been given their punishment by the judge. I was there to see to their needs and follow the rules. I had no problems with the fact I think they liked me.

 Here's a glimpse into what Carrie felt when she was booked into prison despite her innocence:

 Excerpt: “Okay, Lang, strip!” The guard’s bark made Carrie’s stomach roil. She cowered in the corner of the women’s processing area, shivering under the blast of cold air from the ceiling vent.

 “I said strip! Don’t make me have to tell you again.” The pudgy, uniformed female slapped a baton against her palm in a constant rhythm. In the empty room, the sound bounced off the depressing gray cement walls and echoed in Carrie’s head.

 She forced herself to take a faltering step out of her shoes. Her frigid fingers fumbled with the buttons as she struggled to remove her favorite pink cotton blouse. She unfastened her jeans and let them drop to the floor, then gazed through bleary eyes at the other woman, praying she didn’t require the removal of anything more.

 “This is all a big mistake. I shouldn’t be here.” Carrie’s voice trembled. “Honestly, I’m innocent.”

 With deeply-furrowed skin and graying hair, the guard looked well past fifty. She walked closer, stopping when her face was only inches from Carrie’s. “Do you have any idea how often I hear that in here?” Her breath reeked of cigarette smoke, and Carrie wrinkled her nose and turned her head. How could someone she’d never met hate her so much already? Was there even an ounce of compassion buried beneath that deep sneer?

 The older woman pressed the edge of her baton against Carrie’s jawbone and forced her face forward. Her stomach clenched. Evil gleaming in her eyes, the guard delved the wooden stick under Carrie’s bra strap, slowly guiding the silky string off her shoulder and down her arm. Gooseflesh peppered her skin and she shivered. “Stripping means everything, inmate Lang. Panties, too, sweetheart. Move it! I’m a busy person, so quit wasting my time.”

 The matron strode to the other side of the room, leaned against the wall, and ogled Carrie while she finished undressing. Lowering her head, she dropped her bra atop the pile on the floor then kicked her panties off next to it. Feeling the cold invade every pore, she wrapped her arms around her upper body. Threatening tears blurred her eyes, but she squeezed her lids together and tilted her head toward the ugly pipes snaking across the ceiling. "Oh Lord, what did I do to deserve this? Please, help me. You’re my last hope."

 “Praying are you?” the gravelly voice taunted. “It’s a little late for that. Put those hands down to your sides and look to the front, missy.”

 Carrie opened her eyes and swallowed hard. Did the woman expect her to know what to do? “N-Now what?” she asked in a quivering voice. Just a short time ago, she’d been frisked, photographed, and finger-printed for the second time in her life. Her initial arrest had been horrifying enough, but she at least made bail for a time. Now this? She gazed down at the black ink smudges still visible on her hands. Why was this happening? Never had she felt so humiliated… and disbelieving. How could the judge have sentenced her to ten years in prison?

 The guard laughed, drawing Carrie’s thoughts back to reality. The evil cackle indicated delight in her predicament and turned the room even colder. Ms. Ogden, as her name tag read, placed her black baton under one arm and, with the other hand, reached into a pouch on her utility belt to retrieve a pair of plastic gloves. She slowly pulled them on her age-spotted hands, leering at Carrie the entire time. When she finished, she put the baton into a special holder on her belt then stood with her hands on her hips. “Now, lift up those breasts so I can make sure you aren’t smuggling contraband.”

 Carrie’s cheeks burned, but she did as she was told. With her eyes squinted shut, she turned her face away, trying to halt the sobs wracking her insides.

 “Okay, now bend over and spread ’em.” The matron’s snicker was the final stab of humiliation. Aghast, but shaking with fear, Carrie bowed at the waist, letting her hands dangle just above her toes. The welling tears now fell, splashing against the darkly tiled floor. Her breath seized when the cool feel of plastic touched the skin of her buttocks, daring to invade places that should remain private from prying eyes and strange hands.

 “Okay, that does it,” the guard said, stripping off the gloves. “Now get in the shower. There’s soap on the ledge and shampoo in the big plastic bottle on the floor. It’s a ‘lice’ preventative, so make sure to give your hair a good wash. We don’t want any more critters around here than we already have.” She turned to leave.

 Carrie crossed her arms over nipples erect from the cold and cursed the legs that didn’t want to support her. She paused for a moment before entering the stall. “What do I put on when I’m done?” Her voice was a mere whisper.

 The simple question brought another evil guffaw. “Oh, don’t worry. I’ll bring you a pretty little matching outfit and a new pair of shoes.” Ogden pulled a towel from a hook by the door, threw it in Carrie’s face and left.

 The heavy metal door slammed with a clank. Carrie glanced around the empty room, listened to the stone silence, and fought the nausea bubbling up from the pit of her stomach. Her legs felt leaden with each step toward the faucet, and with trembling hands, she somehow managed to turn on the tap. At least the water was warm. She stepped beneath the soothing stream, feeling the heat spread across her chilled skin. With her face raised to the pelting shower, she prayed for divine intervention. Her remaining tears bubbled to the surface, mingled with, and washed away in the shower spray. She muffled her sobs against her fist, daring not to tarry.

 After her shower and shampoo, she toweled off, wrung the excess water from her long brown hair, and forced herself to don the prison-issued dirty-gray panties and equally disgusting sports bra. She’d ignored the grating of the door as it opened and closed during her shower, and now spied a uniform hanging on a wall hook. Her skin prickled at the thought of how many people before her had worn the bright orange shirt and pants. Once on, the uniform’s baggy fit completely hid all of her feminine attributes, and the accompanying well-worn shoes felt disturbingly strange. She pictured all the previous feet that had molded the cracking rubber of the brown slip-ons, and an appropriate saying crept through her mind. Walk a mile in my shoes.

 Had prior wearers been this petrified? Dampness from her hair spread onto her shirt. She shivered at the coldness of the cement bench, hugged her knees, and waited.

 ***** First Degree Innocence is published by Books We Love and available on my Amazon author's page. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE WITH GINGER

Monday, March 10, 2014

Character Blog from Trouble Comes in Twos

I’m Katherine Wesley, but everyone calls me Kate and I’ve recently returned to my home town of Twinsburg, Ohio after five years of living in self-imposed exile. Okay, it wasn’t really exile, I left because my fiancĂ© jilted me two da
ys before our wedding. Can you believe he didn’t even have the guts to tell me in person? Oh no, he left me a note and took off to Las Vegas. 
I left town shortly after, because I couldn’t stand the looks of pity from everyone. I know I wasn’t the first, and I probably wouldn’t be the last, but that doesn’t help when it happens to you. So I fled. I built a new life for myself. I even opened a very successful flower shop in Clyde, Ohio.

But now I’m back and I opened my own florist shop here. Problem is, my ex is back too. Not that I care. I mean seriously, I’m over him.  The fact my heart beat a little faster the first time I ran into him didn’t mean a thing. Heck, it thumped twice as hard when I met my client’s brother. Not that I’m looking for a guy, believe me, I’m not.  Good grief, I’m happy just the way I am. I don’t have to answer to anyone, and no one has to answer to me. Nope, I’m quite happy, thank you very much
Life was fine until I visited my Aunt Kate’s grave, well mostly fine. I mean my ex and Emma’s brother seemed to be vying for my attention. I never had that happen before and, quite honestly, I could live without it. Talk about uncomfortable. But the florist shop was doing well for just having opened. Emma’s wedding helped that. So there I was, minding my own business, going to the cemetery, and that’s when I found a dead body.

Well let me tell you, life turned upside down, backwards, forwards, and inside out. Between my ex, Emma’s brother and the dead body, let’s just say things got real complicated.

To make matters worse, the twin sister of the victim showed up in town. If you don’t think that made life real interesting, well think again.

You’ll have to read Trouble Comes in Twos to find out what happened. Released from Books We Love Publishing, it’s availablefor 99 cents at Amazon for a limited time. 

You can find out more about my books at or check out my blog  at


A shadow passed over the doorway, and Kate realized she wasn’t alone.
Adam stood in the doorway, a cocky grin on his face. “Now that’s settled, how are you, Kate?”
Kate couldn’t believe it. Couldn’t he take a hint? “What do you want, Adam?” She didn’t care if she sounded angry. He deserved angry.
Adam came into the work room and stood in front of her. “You look great.”
Kate looked away. So did he, but darned if she’d tell him. He looked too damn good. What was the saying? Fool her once, shame on him, fool her twice, shame on her. Nope, she didn’t need him or anyone like him.
 “So what do you want? I gave you all the information on Emma. Shouldn’t you be out investigating?” She picked up a flower and set it in a vase. Her heart beat so hard, it surprised her that he didn’t hear it.
“Look, I know you’re still upset about the wedding, but give me a chance to make it up to you. How about dinner tonight?”
“I’m busy.” Still upset? The man had no idea. Like she’d pick up where they left off? Was he kidding.
“Tomorrow then?”
“I’m busy tomorrow, too. Look, Adam, just go, okay. I don’t want to have dinner with you. Not tonight, not tomorrow, not ever.”
“Come on, babe, don’t be like that.” Adam moved a strand of hair behind her ear. “I don’t blame you for being angry. But damn, it’s been five years.” He ran his finger along her cheek. “The least you could do is give me a chance to explain. Not that I’m sure I could. I’m not sure, even now, why I took off. Cold feet, I guess.”
Kate trembled at his touch. A spark of something familiar tumbled in her stomach. She pushed his hand away. Try as she might, her anger shattered.
“How dare you walk in here like nothing happened? Like we’re going to pick up where we left off?” Kate spoke through clenched teeth. What she really wanted to do was lash out and hurt him the way he hurt her, but a customer might come in and screaming wasn’t going to help anyway.
Adam stared at her, a look of confusion in his dark eyes. He just didn’t get it. He really didn’t see anything wrong with what he did. Took the coward’s way out and left her to deal with canceling all the wedding plans. What a jerk. “Look, just go.” She turned back to her work and picked up a vase to fill her next order.
Adam ran his hand through his dark, wavy hair. Hair she used to love to run her fingers through. She could almost feel the soft, silkiness of even now.
“Give me a break, Kate. Let me make it up to you.”
Part of her wanted to give in, and part of her wanted to throw something at him. Stay strong, get rid of him. No way was she picking up where they left off.
The bell rang again, and before she had a chance to react, Mark stormed in. Kate’s stomach did a flip at the sight of him. What was wrong with her, reacting to these men this way? For five years men had no affect on her. Now in the course of an hour, the two of them managed to get under her skin, causing feelings deep within she hadn’t experienced in years. Feelings she didn’t want to feel.
Mark stared at them for a second. “I don’t know what the two of you have going, but why aren’t you out looking for my sister?”

Kate shuddered at the angry tone of Mark’s voice. “There’s nothing going on between us, Mr. Westfield. I just suggested the very same thing to Detective Shaffer,” she said just as angry. “Now if the two of you will continue this outside, I have work to do.”

Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...