Monday, July 6, 2020

How do you sum up your core identity?

Can tag lines apply to life as well to our writing?

We present faces to the world that match our roles: mother, friend, sister, boss. But in truth, who are we? Behind all your faces, who are you
  • What do you care about?
  • What do you want?
  • What cheers you, what causes you harm, or drives you?

What tag line sums up who you are?

I've thought about those questions. I've searched for answers, direction, and inner peace. In the distant past, I thought I was the only one searching for these answers. Turns out I do not have a monopoly on the questions. Everyone I've met has asked these or similar questions more than once in their lives.

We start as babies with a clean slate. People we meet, the circumstances of our lives, and all the actions we take, inscribe indelibly on the slate that represents who we are. But do we let the writing of others define us? Or do we search out our own identity? Can we learn from our histories?

Each of us is unique and our answers will be ours alone.

I don't pretend to have answers for you. I have found a few for myself. However, those answers shift with my mood, my circumstances, and my heart. I continue to search, to redefine, and add new purpose in my life. At seventy+ years old, I know certain truths about myself. I have chosen tag lines to guide my behavior.

In stories, I like a puzzle, struggling human characters, and an ending that offers hope. In my writing, I strive to offer those ingredients to my readers.

In my books, you’ll find stories about:

  • the puzzle of inner and outer identity
  • the impact of people and circumstances on my characters
  • the course of overturned lives
  • characters who find inner strength and skills to put things right in their world

In life, my frequent questioning about who I am, why I’m here, and how I can cope shapes my life. I seek to find answers for myself.

For stories, my tag line is:
Stories that set things right.... characters that find their way.

Here’s a tag line my mother taught by example.

Leave everyone and everything better than you find them.
  • When we ate at a campground on a road trip, she picked up trash left by others.
  • When we used a public washroom, she wiped down not only the sink she used but the others as well.
  • She picked up children who had fallen, held doors open for seniors, and smiled at people she passed.
  • Small actions that took moments but left things better than she found them. They may seem trivial, but like sands make a beach, small actions make a good life.

Her life might have also had this tagline

When you fall, get up and try again, and never turn down a good laugh.
For me, that line helps me stay focused and to make daily decisions in all areas of my life.
Learn, love, and share.

Writers - Do you have a tag line for your books?
People - Do you have one for your personal life story?

  • Is your purpose to help? Teach? Create? Fix? Build?
  • Which of your actions leave you smiling and joy-filled?
  • What is your daily intent? Can you sum it up in one line?

How would you summarize your life ideas into one line?

Sunday, July 5, 2020

Introduction to Saturday's Child by Rosemary Morris

To learn more about Rosemary's work please click on the cover above.

I enjoyed writing my new novel, Saturday’s Child, set in Brighton on the south coast of England during the Regency era.
My research included interesting facts about libraries, boarding houses, fashion and much more.
Before I began the novel, I spent hours thinking about the characters. Then, from the first paragraph to the last, Annie took me by the hand and led me through the challenges she overcame.

“After the Battle of Waterloo, motherless ten-year-old Annie travels to London with her father, Private Johnson. Discharged from the army, instead of the hero’s welcome he deserves, his desperate attempts to make an honest living fail. Without food or shelter, death seems inevitable. Driven by desperation Johnson pleads for help from Georgiana Tarrant, his deceased colonel’s daughter.
Georgiana, who founded a charity to assist soldiers’ widows and orphans, agrees to provide for them.
At Major and Mrs Tarrant’s luxurious house, Annie is fed, bathed and given clean clothes. Although she and her father, her only relative, will be provided for there is a severe price. Johnson will work for Georgiana while Annie is educated at the Foundling House Georgiana established.
Despite the years she spent overseas when her dear father fought against the French, the horror she witnessed, and recent destitution Annie’s spirit is not crushed. She understands their separation is inevitable because her father cannot refuse employment. Annie vows that one day she will work hard for her living and never again be poor. It is fortunate she cannot foresee the hardship and tragedy ahead to be overcome when she is an adult.”

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Death of King Charles II By Katherine Pym


First, a little about him…

King Charles II
King Charles II lived a life full of sex and sport. During his youth, he learned to keep his own counsel. He was kind natured, only allowing his need for revenge against a few of the regicides. Cromwell was one of these, even though already dead and buried.

Charles took a long time to come to a state decision. He’d put it off with a wave of his hand, and play with one of his women. He loved spaniels, and several romped in his private chambers, soiling the floors so that no one could walk across the room in a straight line.

Charles' siblings with their spaniels
Even though he reigned in a Protestant country, while on the run in 1651 after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester, Charles was protected at their peril by Catholics. For a few hours, Charles hid in a priest hole, very snug and claustrophobic, while Parliament men searched for him. By the end of his trek through England and into exile, Charles had gained a high regard for Catholics and Catholicism.

But I digress.

While Charles reigned, he did not confide in many. He was considered an enigma by both his contemporaries and those who study him. He had a kind heart. His nature made people comfortable. They confided in him, wanted to be near him. But when Charles wanted to be alone, or was tired of the subject, he’d pull out his watch. Those who knew of this would quickly state their business, for soon their king would walk away.

Charles loved reading (not political or religious). He brought great strides to the theatre sector, and he enjoyed science. In 1660, he approved a charter for The Royal Society. The group of great minds, Isaac Newton for one, met at Gresham College in London City. Experiments took place there, including draining the veins of a dog into the veins of another dog. The results amazed those curious people.

So, we come to his death…

Cruel Medicine
‘He fell sick of a tertian fever’, but the official cause of death is: Uraemia (per—“a condition resulting from the retention in the blood of constituents normally excreted in the urine.”), chronic nephritis. Syphilis.

On the evening of February 1, 1685, Charles went to bed with a sore foot. By early morning, he was very ill with fever. His physician (Sir Edmund King) tended to his foot whilst a barber shaved his head. Suddenly, the king suffered apoplexy. His physician immediately withdrew sixteen ounces of blood. Sir Edmund took a big risk, and could have been charged with treason. The protocol was to get permission from the Privy Council prior to a bloodletting.

But they were learning. First microscope

For several days, Charles was tormented by his physicians. As a private man this must have been difficult. Surrounded by more physicians than could gain his bed, they attempted to remove the ‘toxic humours’ that penetrated his body.

He was bled and purged. Cantharides plasters were stuck to his bald pate. They caused blistering. They attached plasters of spurge to his feet, then red-hot irons to his skin. Besides the large number of physicians crowding his bed, His Royal Highness’ bedchamber was filled to the walls with spectators (family members and state officials).

They gave the poor king “enemas of rock salt and syrup of buckthorn, and ‘orange infusion of metals in white wine’. The king was treated with a horrific cabinet of potions: white hellebore root; Peruvian bark; white vitriol of peony water; distillation of cowslip flowers; sal ammoniac; julep of black cherry water (an antispasmodic); oriental bezoar stone from the stomach of a goat and boiled spirits from a human skull.”

After days of this, he apologized for taking so long to die, then added, “I have suffered much more than you can imagine.”

Finally, on February 6, 1685 “the exhausted king, his body raw and aching with the burns and inflammation caused by his treatment, was given heart tonics, to no avail. He lapsed into a coma and died at noon on February 7.”

His death is considered by historians as “iatrogenic regicide”.


I give thanks to Royal Poxes & Potions, The Lives of Court Physicians, Surgeons & Apothecaries, by Raymond Lamont-Brown.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Writing a Series - or a Series of Series by Diane Bator

I wrote this article for the June Sisters in Crime Newsletter and thought I'd expand on it a little and share!

I didn’t start off with a plan to write one series, let alone four so far. My first novel, The Bookstore Lady, began as a stand alone book, but when I pitched it to my agent at the time, she asked me to give her some ideas for two to three other books that she could submit to publishers. Just in case. I had to think fast and write some blurbs for what later became my four book Wild Blue Mystery series.
What I love about writing a mystery series is that I am able to push characters further in each novel and give them even more depth, including the minor characters. As they go through mystery after mystery, they grow as they move forward while they reveal a bit more backstory. I’ve written books where I’ve had readers ask what happens to their favourite characters next, writing a series gives them the opportunity to find out. If they don’t like what happens, they don’t hesitate to give feedback.
I have learned a few tricks to help me keep things straight, which evolve as I go. Since I’m a tactile person who prefers paper to e-book, I keep a binder as well as a file in my computer where I keep specific information about my series.
·       A series summary that includes titles and blurbs for each book. Once they’re published, I also keep ISBN numbers, images of the cover, and any other information I will need.
·       A list of all characters including the protagonist, villain, secondary characters, and suspects. I make a new, updated one for each book. These include name, age, hair colour, eye colour, occupation, height, weight, birthdates—all of those little things that we can easily forget, particularly for minor characters.
·      A list of settings that includes descriptions and names of locations, character homes and places they hang out like coffee shops, restaurants, and police stations for mysteries.
·       Images from websites of characters, settings, paint colours, news stories, and links that I find interesting or important to my story or research.
As far as having one main protagonist for an entire series, I end up following my character's lead. In my Wild Blue Mysteries, it seems to be couples that take front and center. Katie and Danny, Christina and Leo, and so on. For my Gilda Wright Mysteries, every book is in Gilda's POV. It's her life story and she gains more strength book by book. My newest series, Sugarwood Mysteries, will be Audra Clemmings' perspective. Unless I get overtaken by another character.
My Glitter Bay mysteries have taken me by surprise. Where my plan was for the books to be in Laken's POV, her sister Sage has shanghaied the second book and wants to tell her own story. Since she's been keeping me awake at nights to do so, I'll go with it. I kind of like where it's going.
 When it comes to ending a series, I’m not so sure I can follow in Janet Evanovich or Sue Grafton’s footsteps and write over twenty books in one series. I think at some point I’ll need to end one series to focus on others or I'm worried I'll get tired of one set of characters and feel the need to find a happy ending for them.
How am I going to do that?
I’ll have to get back to you when I figure it out!

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Update on shed and Emma's Comments about Time To Love Again

US Leisure 10 ft. x 8 ft. Keter Stronghold Resin Storage ShedFinally, the part for the shed came. Not just one, but  two of the same part. So now I have a spare part. Not just that, but each box contained 2 panels. We only needed one panel, so now we have 3 extra panels. Guess we'll keep them just in case. So, we now have a whole shed. Yay. 
Now from Emma: 

Time to Love Again by [Roseanne Dowell]
Rose Asbury is my sister – sorry, was my sister.  After I passed away she became a recluse. Not that she doesn’t have reason to, mind you. We lost our parents within months of each other and Rose and I clung to each for support during our grief. Of course our husbands helped, but Rose and I understood each other.

We were finally adjusting when Rose’s husband passed away suddenly. Poor Rose fell apart, not that I blame her. I would have reacted the same way if it had been my husband.  I was just getting Rose to come out of her shell when bam, I was gone.
That did Rose in. She went to pieces and to make matters worse, her kids moved three thousand miles away. She ignored all of her friends, except for Louise. That’s only because Louise wasn’t about to let Rose ignore her. But everyone else gave up. After all, you can only call people so long and have them ignore you, not return your calls and won’t talk to you, before you quit calling. So that’s what everyone did. But, Louise wouldn’t give up . 
She marched right over to Rose’s house and read her the riot act until Rose gave in and at least went to the store. At least now Rose visits Louise and started to come to grips with life. Not that she has much of a life. 
Stephen Daniels the man next aimed to change that – or so it seemed. Good looking man, too. Anyway, he moved in to take care of his granddaughter while her parents did their tour of duty in the Mideast. He kind of took a shine to Rose. Not that Rose gave the poor man the time of day. Most she did was nod at him. Amazing she did that.
Well, that’s all she did until that day. I can’t help but giggle thinking about it. She fell on the ice and splat, groceries went flying everywhere. Okay, I admit it, I kind of tripped her. I had to do something. The woman was the most stubborn person I’d ever seen. Always was.
 Stephen came to her aid – or tried to. Rose, true to form, ignored him. That’s when I’d had enough. Someone had to talk some sense into Rose. I had to take drastic action.  
Of course, she tried to ignore me, too, but I wasn’t about to let that happen.  I was more stubborn than Rose. Always was.  Nope, it was time Rose started to live again. She was much too young to waste her life away. So I put in an appearance. Scared the heck out of my sister, too. At least in the beginning. She tried to imagine me away, but I wasn't about to let that happen. Oh, no! Rose was going to acknowledge me one way or another. 
Now it seems Stephen’s granddaughter, Sarah, saw the whole thing and had other ideas, too. She didn’t care for the way the old lady ignored her grandpa. Yeah, all kids think anyone over 40 is old. What can I say, we thought the same things.
But I digress. 
Sarah devised a plan to get Rose to talk to her grandpa. She talked her friends into playing in Rose's front yard and building a snowman . You’d think that wasn’t a big deal right? I mean what harm could a snowman do?
Of course, Rose, being the neighborhood grouch –at least that’s how the kids pegged her – had a fit.
After that things got real interesting. If you’d like to find out more about Rose, you’ll have to buy the book, Check out Time to Love Again and Roseanne Dowell’s other books at Books We Love.

EXCERPT from Time to Love Again:

Doesn’t that man ever stay in the house? Rose slammed her car door and tried to ignore the man next door. Just once, she wished he’d let her get away without trying to talk to her. But why should this time be any different? Lowering, her head, she hurried toward her house. Right now she wasn’t in the mood for conversation.  At least not with him.

“Hello, Rose, uh... Mrs. Asbury.” He dropped his snow shovel, grabbed something from the garage, and hurried toward her.
His relaxed, tall, lean body in a denim jacket and jeans caused a stir of excitement in her. Even his graying temples aroused something in her that she found way too familiar. Stirred up feelings she didn’t want stirred up. She barely glanced at him, yet felt a tug on her heart.
Damn! Rose threw the scarf around her neck and pulled her coat close against the cold wind. Why didn’t he just leave her alone? You’d think by now he’d realize she didn’t care to talk to him. Her stomach fluttered, a feeling she hadn’t experienced in a long time. Hunger pangs, she dismissed it. Nerves, that’s all. She nodded a hello, like always, and hurried to her house. What was it with him? Why did he keep bothering her? Couldn’t he see she wasn’t the least bit interested?
Suddenly, her feet slid out from under her. Splat! She landed on her butt, fell back, and hit her head. Groceries flew everywhere. Oh crap, just what she needed. She looked up to see the man leaning over her.
“Are you all right?”
Heat rushed to her face. Other than humiliated, she was fine. A bit sore, but she didn’t think she had any broken bones. She tried to sit up.
“Wait!” He pushed her back down. “You may have broken something.” He ran his hands gently across her ankles and legs and up toward her thigh.
 A smoldering heat started deep in her stomach. She held her breath, let it out slowly.  Even through her slacks, the heat from his hand sent tingly sensations down to her toes.
That’s it, enough. She pushed his hands away, sat up and managed to get to her knees. The man tried to help her. Ignoring him, she got to her feet and brushed herself off. Heat radiated from her face. Damn, it probably turned as red as her coat.
She bent down and picked up her groceries. She still hadn’t spoken to him. Why didn’t he leave? She could manage just fine without his help.  He picked up some of her canned goods and put them in the bag. She reached for it.
“Here, this is for you.”
“For what?” She looked at the flower in his hand.
“It’s a yellow rose. It means friendship.”
She could see it was a yellow rose, she wasn’t a nitwit. And she knew what it meant. Frank used to bring her roses every week. She took it from him. “I...uh...” Hell, she didn’t know what to say. Why would he give her a flower?
“I saw it and thought of you.” Stephen ran his fingers around his shirt collar.
“Here, let me help.” He took the bag of groceries and started walking toward her door.
 She grabbed the bag from him and ran into her house, too humiliated to speak, leaving him to stare after her.


 Stephen stared after Rose. Damn woman made him feel like he did something wrong. Worse than a kid getting scolded by the principal. Why he bought that damn rose was beyond him. It seemed like a good idea when he saw them in the grocery store. Especially when he saw their meanings. Now he wished he hadn’t.
Crabby, old woman, she could have at least said thank you. Okay, so it’s cold and she fell, but she did the same thing in the summer. How many times had he seen her working in her yard? Yet when he came out, she jumped up and hurried into the house. You’d think he tried to attack her or had some horrible disease.
All he wanted was some friendly conversation. He shook his head. Don’t know about her. Obviously she didn’t want anything to do with him. Too bad, she’s an attractive woman. Not that he was looking for anything more than friendship. Hell, he lived here over a year and she never did more than nod at him. Bet she didn’t even know his name.
Crotchety, old biddy.
So why did he bother with her? He really didn’t need more friends. He had the Senior Center and the neighbors a couple doors down, Len and Millie Fisher.  Why he insisted on talking to Rose Asbury he’d never know.
Still, he hoped she wasn’t hurt. She had taken a nasty fall. Bet she’d feel it in the morning. Bet she’d have a good black and blue mark too. He chuckled. Served her right, rude old coot.
Something about her, though. Not sure why, but he wanted to break through that tough reserve. He shrugged and walked back to the garage, put the shovel away and went into the house.
Oh well, can’t say he didn’t try.


Rose set her groceries on the counter and rubbed her hip. Gonna be sore as hell tomorrow. Bet it turned black and blue already.  Stupid klutz! Talk about the epitome of embarrassment. Bad enough she fell, but why did he have to see her. She made a fresh pot of coffee, picked up the rose and smelled it. Something about the fragrance of the flower made her think of Frank.
“You could have been nicer to him,” a voice whispered.
Rose jumped back. What the hell? “Who’s there?” She spun around the small kitchen. Shivers ran up her spine. She didn’t see anyone, yet sensed a presence. Cold air brushed past her and settled over the room. She gripped the counter. What the hell’s going on here? “Who’s there?” she yelled again.
“It’s only me.” A shadowy figure appeared in front of her.
Rose backed up and bumped the refrigerator. “Ouch, Damn it.” She hurt bad enough without making it worse. “Who the hell are you?” Damn, it sounded like ....
“It’s me. Don’t you recognize me?”
Rose peered at the shadow. “Recognize you, I can hardly see you.” She rubbed her eyes. This was ridiculous.
“He did help you, Rose. You could have invited him in,” the voice went on.
“I didn’t ask for any help. I could have managed on my own. Besides, I don’t like the feelings he arouses in me.” Somehow she couldn’t help answering aloud. Good grief now she was talking to herself.
“Why not? Frank used to stir those same feelings. Quit acting like you’re dead. Wake up, live. You’ve become a recluse. There’s a big world out there that you used to love. You enjoyed people. The man was only trying to be friendly.” The voice didn’t let up.
Something about the voice sounded like her sister, Emma. But Emma had been dead for several years.  She wished it would leave her alone. She poured a cup of coffee and pulled her sweater tight, trying to block the cold rushing through her.
Rose hurried into the living room, set her coffee on the table, and turned on the television.  Winter weather advisories crawled across the screen. She glanced out the window. Already a thick blanket of white covered the trees and bushes.  She used to love snowstorms, but it seemed like ages ago.
Memory of when her kids were little and she went outside and helped build snowmen or had snowball fights made her smile. Those were the days. They had loved the first big snowfall. But time passed and kids grew up. She sighed.  Grew up and moved away. Now snow was nothing more than a nuisance. She hated driving in it, but at least the road crews kept the main roads pretty clear. They even salted and plowed her street more frequently than normal.
A thumping noise against the house interrupted Rose’s thoughts. “What in the world?” She got up and limped to the door, rubbing her hip. Damn, already it hurt.
Just as she pulled it open, four little pairs of legs raced around the bushes into the next yard.
“Little monsters,” she mumbled. “Go throw snowballs at your own house.”  Shaking her head, she slammed the door.  What’s wrong with kids now days? Her kids had been taught to respect people’s property. Not that they were saints by any means, but they showed adults proper respect, or she’d know the reason why.
If any neighbor had corrected her kids, they damn well better have listened. Today, kids acted like they owned the world. Don’t give a darn about people’s privacy. And for God’s sakes don’t tell their parents. “My little Johnny would never do that,” they said. Yeah right, their little Johnny was usually the ring leader.
“Oh, for heavens, sakes, Rose,” Emma’s voice returned. “What’s the matter with you? People have been like that for ages. Even back in your day there were a handful of people that believed their kids could do no wrong. You were a teacher; you ran across that all the time. That’s not the norm, and you know it. You’re not that old. Can’t you remember what it was like to be a kid, you certainly were no angel.”
Rose jumped at the sound. Where was it coming from? Suddenly a shadowy figure appeared on the chair opposite her.
The shadowy form didn’t move. Rose put on her glasses and looked closer. Nothing. Damn, now she was imagining things. No angel, “harrumph”.
No, she guessed she wasn’t. She chuckled at the memory of childhood days. Oh how she, her sister and brother had prayed for snow so they could earn money to buy Christmas gifts for their parents. They shoveled snow, but they fooled around a lot too.
 “And threw snowball at the neighborhood grouch’s house,” the voice said.
Rose looked at the chair. Again, the shadowy form presented itself. It looked sort of like Emma. Rose peered closer, and it disappeared.
“Okay, we did, so what? And if you’re going to talk to me, at least have the decency to show yourself.”
 Dear God is that what she’d become, the neighborhood grouch? Rose stood up and went to refill her coffee cup.
“Well so what if I am a grouch? I’m not hurting anyone. Why can’t everyone just leave me alone? I’d have nothing to bitch about.” Rose wanted to get rid of the voice, even if it was Emma. Besides, she didn’t believe in ghosts. Her imagination that’s all it was.