Monday, March 31, 2014

Callie Johnson speaks out

Hi, I'm Callie Johnson, heroine of All in the Family. I'm a cop. Well, I was a cop until the Mayor of Smytheville called and told me Jim Landry, the current Police Chief, was retiring and did I want the job. Did
I? Talk about a dream come true. I'd wanted to come back to Smytheville for some time. Big city life wasn't what it was cracked up to be. Besides, I missed my family, crazy as they were. So of course I accepted. 
I really thought coming back to Smytheville as the new Chief of Police would be a piece of cake. I mean, really, nothing much happens in a small town. At least that’s what I thought. Boy was I in for a surprise. One of the first things I ran into was my grandmother had been arrested. For murder, no less.
Not that the present chief believed it. Not for a minute. Besides Gram being a judge, the chief was sweet on her. He’d been trying to talk her into retiring for a long time, but Gram wouldn’t budge.
Of course, it didn’t faze her a bit bugging me to get married. Her, everyone, and their brother. Especially my aunts. One in particular. Aunt Beatrice Lulu. She fixed me up with every single man she came across. How she managed to talk them into meeting me, I’ll never know. Thing is, even though she vouched for them, she never bothered to check them out.   One was even married. Did that stop her? Not a bit.
No matter how I begged, she wouldn’t quit. Encouraged by her sisters, Aunt Emma and Aunt Lottie, she continued to insist I meet these men. Even after I told them I met someone, she still wouldn’t brought them around.
My aunts are something else. Actually the whole family is. From my grandmother, mother, to my sister. But the aunts, well, let’s just say they’re special. A more fun loving group you’ll never find. The things those ladies think to do. But I can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the book.
Back to me thinking being Police Chief was going to be easy – I couldn’t have been more wrong. From vandalism to kidnapping, from drunk and disorderly to murder, even an attack on me, I had my work cut out for me.
All in the Family is available from Amazon

To learn more about me and my books check out my website – or my blog –  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

ANGELICA'S DIARY, A character Blog

Angelica, patriot heiress, writes in her diary a few days after the American defeat at New York, 1776.
Originally published as Independent Heart.

I still can't believe what I saw from Aunt  Letitia's parlor window last night. The whole City, south of her house, was aflame. We were afraid, and the servants stood before the door with muskets. So much smoke blowing! We were coughing, and the whole sky turned red, while crowds carrying pitiful bundles of their possessions ran and wept, driving their poor cows and horses down the street! I hadn't believed that General Washington could be driven out of New York and that the British would rule here again, but that's what has come to pass.

My Aunt believes that American sympathizers set fire to the City, that the occupying British troops were not responsible. This morning it still burns, and we've heard that more than half of the buildings have fallen. Auntie and I had hot words on the subject at breakfast, but after what I've seen and heard already of this war, I confess I am truly not certain of what to believe. 

It's unimaginable, what my Uncle Ten Broeck has written of, the things happening up and down our once peaceful valley. There has been looting and burning, the cruel maiming of horses and cattle carried out by those who must have little but evil in their hearts. Everywhere, my Uncle says, men settle old scores with their neighbors, while hiding their shocking crimes behind the names of "Loyalist" or "Patriot."

Oh, why did I ever come to the City? I was tired of Arent's pursuit, but that seems so petty now. Arent is a kind man who is in love with me, but how can I ever marry anyone? I fear I will always be in love with my darling long-lost 'Bram! 

New York is become a dangerous place, exactly as my Uncle feared. I've been a great fool, traveling in the midst of this war! All I want is to go home, to sail up the river back to Kingston,  but I am trapped behind the lines of the enemy. My Aunt Letitia says that I--and my inheritance--are far safer here, that because my Uncle Jacob is a patriot and defies the British, he will be hanged and his lands forfeit to the Crown. It is better, she says, that I "not be involved in his folly and ruin."

She has gone back to her old plan for me, wants me to marry "a respectable English officer" and "leave forever this barbaric place".  She doesn't seem to understand that I am an American, bred in this land and to the bone. Even though General Washington has been defeated, I still believe that in the end--somehow, some way--our Cause will triumph, and that one day we on this continent shall enjoy the blessings of true liberty and peace.

Angel's Flight is the sister book to her award winning Genesee.

~Juliet Waldron~
See all my living, breathing historical novels at: 
And at Books We Love:

The Inciting Incident - By Rita Karnopp

     The first time I was exposed to ‘the inciting incident’ was a movie by that title.  I’ve been fascinated by it ever since.  So what exactly is this ‘inciting incident’ and how does it affect a story?
     Inciting comes from the Latin word incitare which means “to put into rapid motion, urge, encourage, and stimulate.” And that’s exactly what your inciting incident is; it’s an event that triggers your hero to “go into motion” and take action.
     Here are other ways to conceptualize the inciting incident:
  • it jolts your hero out of his everyday routine
  • it is the event which sparks the fuse of your plot
  • it’s something that MUST happen in order for your hook–your book’s special premise–to kick in
     So if the inciting incident is the crucial event—the trouble—that sets the whole story in motion - when should it happen? Usually, your inciting incident occurs within the first ten pages of your book, after you’ve introduced the reader to your hero, shared what his everyday life is like, and a few important things in his life that need fixing.
     Then the inciting incident occurs and it starts to change the dynamics of your hero’s life. He (or she) will react to the inciting incident, maybe even resist it. Your hook kicks in and your hero commits to taking the journey (either physical, emotional, psychological or a combination of these) sparked by the inciting incident.
     With some genres, the inciting incident is almost always the same. For example, in a romantic comedy, the inciting incident is the “cute meet” where the two romantic leads meet each other for the first time. In a mystery, the inciting incident is when the first dead body is found.
     Also keep in mind that each of the protagonist’s attempts to resolve the initial and subsequent inciting incidents must end in failure. There can be partial victories, but once an action ends in success, the story is effectively over. Success, in this case, means that all the problems are resolved. That cannot happen until the final scene of the story.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Typical...ouch! Jamie Hill

According to Wikipedia (so it must be true) : The word "rejection" was first used in 1415. The original meaning was "to throw" or "to throw back". Makes sense to me.

Every author has a tale about that first rejection. I've told my story numerous outrageous, 120K manuscript and 27 rejection letters...I barely knew what I was doing back then. That book didn't get published until I knocked it down to a tight 60K.

Instead of rehashing that tale, today I'm going to talk about reviews. Obviously the word rejection shouldn't go hand in hand with the word 'reviews', but occasionally, ouch. In my defense, I've received many more good and decent reviews than negative ones. But those first few bad and so-so comments stuck with me.

There was the man (I'm picturing a middle-aged, paunchy man) who didn't care for my first romantic suspense novel and said it read like a romance novel intended for women. Huh? Excuse me? He was obviously not my target audience.

Some reviewers haven't liked my sex scenes, thought the supposedly sexy dialogue was cheesy, and didn't think I'd rounded out my characters enough. These are all points other people/reviewers have loved about my writing, which goes to show taste is subjective. An early reviewer rated my story in an anthology very low, suggesting it smacked of incest because my ghost was acting promiscuous in front of her ghost father.

Oops. My ghost bad. Okay, that one's not available anymore.

A while back I opened my email to another review. I'll share the last line with you.

It is short, which made it easier to get through and fans of the author’s writing may enjoy this story, as it’s typical of the writing and plot of her offerings.

Typical. Ouch.

One of my critics said, "That's just not the type of book I like to read." (I hate to break it to you, Mom, but that's the kind of book I like to write.)

Fortunately, there are people (and reviewers) who like my work and seem to get what I'm trying to do.

Some of my favorites include:

The talented Jamie Hill creates a story of romance and suspense that is both sensual and realistic. 

A short story that will have readers seeing the light that is Jamie Hill.

Jamie Hill is at the top of her game with her new release and I look forward to reading more from her in the future!


Bottom line for me...rejection sucks. It stings, but I try not to sweat the small stuff and take joy where I can find it. The 'light that is Jamie Hill' line brings a smile to my face every time.

Find all my titles here: and if you've enjoyed something I've written, please leave a review on Amazon.

Go ahead, make my day.

~ Jamie

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jude Mason Interviews Jenna Byrnes

From Jude Mason's Blog: Welcome Jenna Byrnes

This week I'm very pleased to welcome my co-author and good friend, Jenna Byrnes to my blog. Jenna is special people and I hope you give her a warm welcome.  

1.  How long have you been writing? What inspired you to pick the pen up one day and create characters that capture the imagination? 

I started writing when I was about ten, because I loved to read and loved to make up stories. Those first scribblings were really awful, but I'm sure they helped hone my skills as far as who I am today. I began writing seriously about twenty years ago and five years ago actually got my first stories published.

2.  What genre would you like to try that you haven’t yet?

I've been tempted to try young adult (under another name, of course!) There just aren’t enough hours in a day.

3.  Most people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous. What’s your take on this? Can you tell us something unglamorous you did within the last week or so?

Scrubbing toilets? Waxing my eyebrows? Authors are regular people, we hop up in the air and put our pants on both legs at the same time just like everybody else.

4.  Plotter or pantzer?

Speaking of pants, I'd have to say pantzer. I try to plot but usually end up flying by the seat of my you-know-whats. Except when I co-author with Jude Mason- plotting is a must when writing together. She only slaps me occasionally when I don't stick to the plan!

5.  What do you do when you’re suffering writers block?

Whine and moan to whoever will listen *cough* Jude *cough*  then go work on my website or do some other kind of busy work. The writing eventually comes back. Not always as quickly as I hope, and not always the story I had in mind. But it eventually works out.

6.  What would you like to share with new writers? Any suggestions or advice?

Be patient. Nothing happens quickly in this business. Learn the rules of the publishing house you're submitting to. Follow those rules to the T. Polish, polish, polish. Have someone else read your book before sending it in. When you've shined and polished that first book and sent it off, write another one. Never stop writing. The best way to sell a book is to write another one. Promotion is important, but there are too many things online that can become a time suck. Make sure you allow plenty of time for writing.

7.  What do you enjoy doing with your spare time, your non-writing time? 

I wish I could say taking long walks or another form of exercise, but I'm a classic couch potato. I love watching all types of movies and crime drama TV shows.

8.  If you found that, for one reason or another, you couldn’t write anymore, what would you like to do instead?

Something in the business. Publish, edit, review. . .anything to be around books and writers.

9.  What kind of comfort food do you like best?

Italian food comes to mind. Pizza, pasta, lasagna—anything cheesy, gooey, and yummy! Followed by something chocolate, of course.

10.  What do you hope to achieve in life and when will you know that you have been a success?

I have some pretty wonderful kids and a great husband, plus a nice collection of books with my name in the author spot. I'm very comfortable with what I've achieved and definitely consider myself a success!

An Excerpt from the Boxed Set Hot Under the Collar by Jenna Byrnes
Heads or Tails

Jeff Roberts' life is all planned out for him. He's engaged to the boss's daughter, and eventually he'll run the construction/real estate company he works for. It'll be the perfect life.

When Kurt Lacey joins the construction crew, Jeff is suddenly fighting urges he'd forced himself to repress. There were male lovers in his past, but deciding that wasn't what he wanted, Jeff proceeded to 'go straight'. Kurt has other ideas, and one night together has Jeff rethinking his life. Does he want to be secure, responsible and boring? Wild, exciting and nontraditional seems like lots more fun. It all comes down to the flip of a coin—and whether Jeff chooses Heads or Tails. (m/m erotic contemporary romance)

Chapter One

It wasn't the best sex he'd ever had, but it was decent. Any sex is good sex, his friends would say, and Jeff Roberts tended to agree. But lately, something was different. He rolled away from his fiancée, pretending to be asleep.
When he heard her steady, rhythmic breathing, he rolled back over. Lana Birdwell looked peaceful in slumber, and much quieter than she ever was when she was awake. Long, blond curls framed her face, giving her a deceivingly angelic appearance. He bit back a chuckle at the thought—no one who knew Lana would ever confuse her with an angel.
A 'bubbly personality' was how her father described her, and that was putting it mildly in Jeff's estimation. She was an outgoing, opinionated girl who liked to hear her own voice. Her slight stature might indicate frailty or shyness, but he knew she was tough as nails—a real saleswoman without a shy bone in her body.
But what a body, he thought, glancing at her round, perfectly formed breasts. They sat high atop her slender torso, which also sported bikini-worthy abs. Her legs were long and shapely, converging at a neatly trimmed apex of soft blond hair. Jeff looked at the V-shaped patch of fuzz and wondered why the sight didn't arouse him as much as it used to.
With a flick of his wrist, he tossed the sheet and covered her body. Lana sighed and snuggled into her pillow without waking. Jeff rolled over and tugged the sheet up to his neck, willing sleep to overtake him.
"Rise and shine," Lana murmured in his ear, planting a kiss on his temple.
Jeff opened his eyes, unsure of when he actually fell asleep. The last time he noticed the clock it was three a.m. He'd tossed and turned half the night, and now felt like hell. "Ugh," he grunted.
"Didn't sleep well?" She stood, fastening a large earring on her left lobe. "Seemed like you were up a lot."
"Yeah." He threw one arm across his forehead.
She went to the dresser and picked up her other earring. Looking in the bureau mirror, she put the hoop on and glanced at him. "You always stress out about month's end. Running all the paperwork, making sure everything balances—which it always does, by the way. I don't know why you worry so much."
He started to say it wasn't month's end bothering him, but then she'd want to know what was. Jeff wasn't sure he could answer that question, so it was better to let her believe it was work. "Yeah," he answered noncommittally.
Lana double-checked her appearance in the mirror one last time before turning to face him. "I've got to go. I have a seven-thirty appointment to go over some real estate listings, and I want to pick up coffee and rolls first."
"See you later." He waved one hand in the air, and she grabbed it and squeezed.
"You bet you will. Want a bearclaw? I can leave it on your desk."
"Sure." Jeff tried to muster enthusiasm he didn't feel.

Copyright © 2011 Jenna Byrnes

Jenna's Bio:  Jenna Byrnes could use more cabinet space and more hours in a day. She’d fill the kitchen with gadgets her husband purchases off TV and let him cook for her to his heart’s content. She’d breeze through the days adding hours of sleep, and more time for writing the hot, erotic romance she loves to read.

Jenna thinks everyone deserves a happy ending, and loves to provide as many of those as possible to her gay, lesbian and hetero characters. Her favorite quote, from a pro-gay billboard, is “Be careful who you hate. It may be someone you love.”

For the latest news, visit Jenna’s website at

and find her Books We Love Boxed Sets here:


Monday, March 17, 2014

The Importance of Critiques by Ginger Simpson

Being a member of a critique group can be both a blessing and a pain the arse.  You have to make a time commitment to critique the work of others, and depending upon which stage of writing the author has achieved, you might be looking at a lot of effort on your part.  Similarly, others may consider your work time-consuming despite you feeling you're nearly a master.  Personally, I don't know how anyone could ever feel they've mastered writing as the rules change daily, and house-to-house. The challenge is deciding if the rules are right or merely something being passed along by an editor who learned at the knee of another publisher.  Critiquing is a tricky business.

The hardest part of being in a group for me is deciding which suggestions to take to heart and which to ignore.  Trust me, you'll get lots of friendly recommendations, but bear in mind that here again, people are at various stages in writing and may pass along their bad traits.  You have to be careful to pick and choose those comments which apply to your writing, enhance the story and flow, but don't change your voice.  There is something unique about all of us, and we don't want to lose that.  If you happen to be in a critique group with authors who dwell in England, you'll be surprised at how differently they write...lots of "to phrases" and all those extra "u" spellings, such as colour, favour, etc.  You have to keep in mind that writing styles do vary from country to country and what you think is true may not be elsewhere.

I cannot express my appreciation enough to the members of my past and current groups.  They have given me suggestions for improving the story flow, corrected errors, and asked questions that make me stop and think about how better to word something.  One author, in particular keeps me mindful that taste, touch, hear, and smell are just as important as seeing. The senses play an vital  role in “showing” a reader your novel  So put the reader in the character’s shoes even if the story takes place next to a water treatment plant. *smile*

There is one thing you should do before you join a critique group.  Develop a thick skin.
If you plan to submit your chapters for dissection, then expect they will be.  Critique groups aren’t in place to hold you hand, tell you lies about your work, or hurt your feeling, and you do want the truth, no matter how hard it is to take at times..  Honestly can sometimes be painful, and you may just discover that your manuscript needs more honing than you expected.  As said above, the task falls to the author to determine which suggestions to follow and which to ignore.  You'll often get conflicting critiques, so if the “tip” works use it, if it doesn’t, ignore it.

Not everyone critiques in the same manner. I, for one, do a line-by-line because that’s the only way I know to share what I’ve learned in the writing process.  Some skim the chapter, looking for missing commas and misspellings, and others just comment that your story is lovely.  There are some who obviously don’t want to rock anyone’s world with a negative comment. But that’s okay…these types are helpful, too.

Time is important in our industry, so if, after doing a few chapters, I notice the person is not taking note of my suggestions, then I cease offering my help. I don’t mean to infer that I know more than anyone else, but experiences have taught me much more than I knew before.  A good rule of thumb…if more than one person zeroes in on something, then you’d best listen.  Of course it seems like new rules crop up weekly. The ones I share are the ones that make the most sense to me.

My pet peeves are word echoes, redundancy, and chapters that do nothing to propel the story forward and are filled with wasted information and copious descriptions.  And nothing is more annoying than unneeded tags to identify two people in a room having a dialogue.  Continued use of “he said, John said, Mary said, she said,” drives me nuts.  Readers are pretty smart.  They can easily keep track of the speaker with a minimal of hints.  Still feel the need for a tag?  Use action…a phrase that identifies the speaker by something they’re doing.  “It’s rather cold out today,” John said.  might be better read, “It’s rather cold out today.”  John moved to the fireplace and warmed his hands over the crackling flames.  Besides just telling the reader about the coldness, you're showing them a warm and crackling fireplace.

The hardest question is how do you relay those peevish habits to an author without making an enemy?  There is never a need to be cold and cruel, but sometimes even a hint of negativity will send a newbie fleeing from the site.  You have to be prepared to get as good as you give, and that’s the truth.  I’ve never been very good at candy-coating, and I doubt I’m going to start now.  I don’t always like the critiques I get back, but I consider each and every one of them and I’d say I use 90% of the recommendations.  I’m still constantly amazed at the minor issues overlooked by so many pairs of eyes.  I don’t think it’s possible to ever have a “perfect” manuscript...I’ve never seen one, at least.

I hope my post has inspired some of you to form or join a group.  Critiquing can be one of the most helpful tools around, but only it you use the opportunity wisely and honestly. I just rejoined my Historical Critique Group to help me with Yellow Moon.  I just submitted the first chapter today, so we'll see what comments I get back.

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!

Find all my titles at:

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.”

Friday, March 7, 2014

Let's Talk About Dialogue by Rita Karnopp

 “Stop describing every little thing.  I get it.  I do have a voice and the reader has an imagination,” the character said.
“Well, that’s rude. I just wanted you to feel the hot, dry, skin-cracking, desert air.”  The writer clenched her teeth and swallowed hard.
The character shook her head.  “I get it, but why don’t I just say, ‘This desert air is killing me.  Look, my lips are bleeding.’ Dialog is active and involves the reader. It falls in that overused line, ‘show - don’t tell.’

Okay – so you get my point, right?  Don’t you just hate reading paragraph after paragraph of description or information?  If you’re like me you start skimming until you find dialog.  That should never happen.

Let’s face it – a story is all about interaction – which is dialog.  And if you’re honest, you know when you’ve gone on too long with descriptions, flashbacks, or even thoughts.  Dialog is the action maker.  Dialog keeps us connected with the characters.  Dialog reveals personality and exposes what is going on around him/her without author intrusion.

We can feel our story slow down when there isn’t enough dialog.  Your story should flow with a consistent amount of thoughts or descriptions.  Long paragraphs of filler creates a great place for the reader to ‘stop’ reading.  Boy – you don’t want that.

Use ‘dialog’ to describe a scene, rather than narrative to describe it.  Every chance you get – use dialog.  Don’t tell how angry your character is – show how angry he/she is with dialog.
Do the same with happy, sad, scared, depressed, etc.  Use dialog as your shining light – leading the reader down the dark hall, revealing what’s ahead with each step and each word.

I went to a RWA conference many years ago and an actress shared with us how she works out a scene by physically going through the actions before writing the scene.  Once you feel the actual action, use dialog to share what you experienced and the scene will come alive.  Let’s compare for a minute -

            Lily stepped into the crime scene noticed her partner nearly vomited.  She took the scene in.  It wasn’t a pretty sight. The small bathroom appeared to have been painted in blood.  The naked victim lay in the dry shower.  It was impossible to count how many times he’d been stabbed. He’d been shot in the head once. It had to be a crime of passion.
            “It’s going to be one of those days, Jordan,” she said, moving toward the victim.

Let’s rewrite this scene – using dialog to learn what’s going on.
            Jordan stepped beside her, a cloth to his mouth.  Lilly gave her partner a stern glance and shook her head.  “Damn, what do we have here?”
            “A stinking mess, if you ask me.” He cleared his throat and swallowed hard.
            “What are you trying to tell us, Lance Johnson?” She inched toward the naked victim lying on the dry shower base.  “I’d say the doer used that towel and smeared the victim’s blood on all four walls. Why?”
            “You asking me?  Hell, I don’t know.  Killer is making a statement.”
            “I agree, but what is that statement?  He means nothing.  Maybe he smeared someone’s name, demeaning them.  This is payback.”
            “Could be.  Head shot looks after-the-fact.”
            “I noticed there wasn’t any blood near the wound, I agree.  Another reason it’s a crime of passion.  I’d say the killer’s a woman.”
            “Doesn’t look like a woman’s MO.”
            “Normally I’d agree, but this one reads a woman scorned.”
Nothing – absolutely nothing can replace dialog.  It’s better to share information in dialog than in the character’s thoughts.  But, don’t get caught up creating short back-and-forth exchanges.  If your dialog doesn’t advance the story – you’re stalling. Don’t do the;
            “Good morning, Jana.”
            “Good morning, Sue.”
            “Have a great day.”
            Sue smiled.  “You have a great day, too.”

Boring for sure.  It doesn’t add anything to the scene or the situation.  Of course had you written something like this – it changes everything.

            “Good morning, Jana.”
            “What the hell’s good about it?  Johnson just fired me.”
            “No possible way.  Did you tell him you were being harassed?” Sue leaned over and hugged her friend.
            “He didn’t believe me.  Said either I could forget about the whole damn thing or I was fired.”

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Give Your Character A Meaningful Name

This is a post Rita shared on "Dishin' It Out.  I think you'll enjoy it. 
I don’t know about you, but I think choosing a name for my character is one of the most exciting steps of writing!  It’s like naming a child.  I’ll admit, I’ve chosen badly a time or two and just had to change it.  If you name your character Bob . . . and he behaves like a Heraldo . . . you must change it.  Bottom line – a name must ‘fit the character.’

A few things to keep in mind when picking names;
1.   nationality
2.   Personality
3.   Name meanings
4.   Time-frame of story
5.   Genre
6.   Research – research - research
7.   Don’t name characters starting with the same initials (Lisa, Lora, Lana…)

If I’m writing a Native American 1800s story I know my names must fit the nationality and the time-frame I’m writing.  Names mean something, and in the Blackfeet world, a man can perform a great coup and change his name each time.  Tribe members can also give someone a new name.  Puts a whole new perspective on naming conventions, doesn’t it?  You have to know the history of the person you’re naming.  If you don’t, be prepared for a savvy reader to point out your mistake.

Popular mystery writer Elizabeth Sims (the Rita Farmer Mysteries) shared seven great rules for choosing character names.  I read this checklist to remind myself of the importance of naming my characters.  Consider each of these rules before you start naming your characters.
1. Check root meanings.  It’s better to call a character Caleb, which means “faithful” or “faithful dog,” than to overkill it by naming him Loyal or Goodman—unless you want that for comic/ironic purposes. Some readers will know the name’s root meaning, but those who don’t might sense it.

2. Get your era right. If you need a name for an 18-year-old shopgirl in a corset store in 1930s Atlanta, you know enough not to choose Sierra or Courtney, unless such an unusual name is part of your story. Browse for names in the era you’re writing. A Depression-era shopgirl who needs a quick name could go by Myrtle or Jane; it will feel right to the reader. Small public libraries will often have decades’ worth of local high school yearbooks on the shelves. Those things are gold for finding name combinations from the proper era.

3. Speak them out loud. Your novel might become an audiobook or an e-book with text-to-speech enabled. A perfectly good name on paper, such as Adam Messina, may sound unclear aloud: Adam Essina? Adah Messina?

4. Manage your crew appropriately. Distinguish your large cast of characters by using different first initials, of course, and vary your number of syllables and places of emphasis. Grace Metalious (a great name right there) demonstrates this in her blockbuster Peyton Place, as do any of the successful epic writers like James Michener and Larry McMurtry.

5. Use alliterative initials. Employ this strategy to call special attention to a character: Daniel Deronda, Bilbo Baggins, Ratso Rizzo, Severus Snape.

6. Think it through. You might notice that in most crime fiction the murderer rarely has a middle name or initial. Why? Because the more you explicate the name, the more likely there’s a real person out there with it. And reading your story they might become upset and try to sue you or come after you some night with a bayonet.

7. Check ’em again. When writing my novel The Actress, I needed a name for a Japanese-American criminal defense attorney, and the name Gary Kwan burst upon me. I loved the name and used it in the book. Only thing was, as soon as the thousands of copies of hardcovers were printed and shipped to stores, I heard from a reader who pointed out the simple fact that Kwan is a Chinese surname. I cursed loudly and decided: a) that I would ALWAYS check name origins, and b) that Gary Kwan had a Chinese grandfather who adopted a Japanese orphan who became Gary’s father. Or something like that.

Naming characters just right is a challenge, but give it some time and thought, and you’ll start to find the fun in it. Study the names great authors have come up with, let your mind loose to play, do your research, and above all, trust your ear.
And if worst comes to worst, here’s hoping you’re like Oates and lucky enough to just bump into your character in a dream—where you can ask him yourself.

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