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Thursday, September 28, 2023

Well, That was Awkward by Bea Tifton

Filling in for the lovely and talented Beth Trissel. 

I am socially awkward, Dear Reader. No, I’m not on the autistic spectrum, nor was I raised by wolves.  Perhaps it’s because I’m actually an acutely shy person. I don’t enjoy cocktail parties, dances, or anything where I am squeezed into a room full of people trying to be witty and impressive. 

Most people have an occasional awkward moment. My college roommate was a smart, funny person, and she had a ginormous crush on this boy in her biology class. He was beautiful, with thick, wavy black hair and huge green eyes flecked with gold. They had been staring at each other for a couple of days when he came over to introduce himself. As he was walking away, she called out, “Thanks.”

He teased her about that for weeks after they began dating. For my roommate and I, “Thanks” became our go to phrase for any nerdy behavior either one of us exhibited for the duration of our friendship.

I was at one of those dreaded parties and I ended up, as though things go, standing with someone I didn’t know at all. We exchanged the requisite, “What do you do?” questions, and upon learning I was a librarian, he asked me what my favorite book was. I blanked out. I could not remember a single book I had ever read. Ever. Had I read a book? Could I read? I didn’t know. There was an awkward pause that lengthened, and then he smiled and drifted off.

I was seated next to my boss once at an awards dinner for the school district. She was an intimidating woman at the best of times and, although I didn’t dislike her, I would rather not have been sitting right next to her. I talk with my hands, and it was way too close quarters for that. You probably guessed what happened next. I knocked over her wine. I grabbed it before it broke and no wine actually got on her, but she even though she took it with good grace, I could tell she was annoyed and everyone teased me. I was mortified, but I laughed along and made some joke like, “And I haven’t even had any wine yet.”

That’s the key to awkward moments, I think. Keep your sense of humor and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself.

And try not to attend those awful cocktail parties.

 Photo Credits from

Sam Lion "Cheerful Woman with Cream on Nose and Cup of Coffee"
 CLOUD OF SHADE Photography "Smiling Couple Standing by Tree"
cottonbro studio "Four Women and Man in Floral Shirt"
Toni Cuenca "Woman Holding Her Eyeglasses" 
Alena Shekhovtcova "Cheerful Woman with Branch of Plant Sitting on Sofa"

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Inspired by Laura Hunsaker

 Recently I saw on Twitter someone complaining about reading books that utilize a popular actor/singer/famous person and the same day, unrelated to the tweets, I saw an author advertising her hero as inspired by Dean Winchester. I have to admit, I enjoy if there's an "inspired by" type of character in a book. I don't want a full-on knock-off of Taylor Swift as my heroine, but if there's a pop music superstar in a book, I'm not mad about it.

But the Dean Winchester thing got me thinking. I love Supernatural. The acting is fantastic, the characters are amazing, and the series has been around for so long, that obviously I'm not the only one! If you haven't seen the show, basically two brothers take over the family business after their dad goes missing. The family business? It's hunting monsters. 

I am a huge sucker for good Paranormal Romance (PNR). I love the monsters, the monster hunters, and everything in between! So if I see a book advertised as loosely based off of a show I like, it's not a turn off, and I'm apparently the target audience! (I will say that I don't mean fan fiction, no shade, but that's not what I'm talking about here). I want all the Sam and Dean Winchesters of the Paranormal Romance world, and I'm definitely going to one click that book if it's advertised as such. 

So as a reader, if you were to read a story where the hero is loosely inspired by an actor, or a TV or movie character, would that bother you? And if it does, what is it that bugs you? Is it that you don't want a pre-conceived image of the character in your head? Or is it that you may not like the character on the show/movie? 

Also, I'm sharing this image in case you don't know who the Winchesters are. And if you already know, just enjoy how beautiful they are, and how cool the Impala is.

In my Fatal Instincts series, while it isn't paranormal, there are monster hunters. My heroes are feds who hunt the human kind of evil. And if you want to read my latest, Dangerous Past, it's coming out soon! Jay Sutherland hunts monsters, they just aren't paranormal. And Lark is the daughter of a serial killer. Does that make her a monster too?

She’s running from her past…

Lark Seawell is the daughter of a serial killer. His reputation has long been a shadow looming over her since his arrest when she was a child. Especially since she’s the one who called the police. She has spent her entire life trying to live as anonymously and quietly as possible. She is not her father’s legacy.

He wants to be her future...

FBI agent Jay Sutherland is visiting a friend in a small mountain town when free spirit Lark asks for help with her injured dog. He is instantly enamored with her, and their one night stand stays with him far into the next morning, though Lark is long gone. When his partner realizes that she is the daughter of The Highwayman, Jay refuses to believe Lark is anything like her father.

What happens when she stops running…

When a trail of dead bodies follows Lark on her cross-country drive, the FBI believes she’s the killer. How can the sweet woman who rescues injured animals and makes him feel things he hasn’t felt in years be a murderer? The bodies don’t lie. Jay knows there’s more at play. If he’s wrong, and Lark is as much a monster as her father, he may be the next target…

Sunshiney heroine, gruff hero, one night stand leads to more…

Saturday, September 23, 2023


 by Judy Ann Davis                                                

Hello Fall!
Someone said not to sweat the small stuff. But as a writer, I think we have an obligation to sweat the small stuff. I believe all the little things we do—from editing a chapter for the fifteenth time to standing at the kitchen sink and thinking to ourselves that a conversation we’ve already created won’t work for a particular character—is part of our desire to strive for excellence and perfection in our work. We owe it to our audience.

 Everyone is aware the ease of self-publishing has caused an explosion of poorly written fiction being dumped into the marketplace. We’ve all downloaded a digital book to our Kindle, Nook, phone, or tablet that was filled with bad grammar, misspellings, incorrect punctuation, and was horrendously embarrassing and painful to read.  And we’ve all hit the “remove from device” link and sent these books to a junkyard in cyberspace far, far away.

But recently, I’ve been amazed with the amount of poorly written copy coming from not only fiction writers, but also writers in newspapers and magazines and (oh, my) writers on the internet. Put aside the fact that they are not checking facts, more and more people are just content to spit out their opinion or construct lazy gibberish on websites and in comment boxes with little regard to how they are shredding the English language.

 “So what?” you ask. “Everyone makes mistakes, right?”

 Do you want your accountant to make a mistake by a few decimal points or a few hundred dollars? How about if your doctor wrote (heaven forbid) a prescription for the wrong drug—or maybe the right drug, but the wrong dosage? Or what if your lawyer sent out a letter on your behalf filled with spelling errors? Even better yet, your plumber decided the joint he connected and sealed in one of your drain pipes is just good enough. Would you be pleased with any of these behaviors?

I believe writers have the same obligation as any other worker in any other occupation. It’s time we take the time to strive for excellence as we string words together for our readers.

James Michener said, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” And that’s the secret of good writing. So, I am going to sweat the small stuff. I’m going to take the time to do the best job I can even if it I have to write and rewrite, and rewrite again and again—even if it takes longer than I planned or hoped.

 Now tell me, what bugs you as a writer reading the written word in print or digital? 


A Historical Western Romantic Mystery!

COURTING BETSY – Ashmore Brothers Book 3  

 Kindle version and print now available on AMAZON: 

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Down the silence solemnly... by Liz Flaherty

This is old. I'm sorry, but my creative brain is...resting this week. I wrote it in October of 2015. Since I still feel the same way about fall, and since I actually read this at a writers' group meeting just this week...

The title of this post is from a James Whitcomb Riley poem called "A Dream of Autumn" that sang to every sense I possess.

I had a writers' group meeting last week. We wrote about the senses and autumn. Since I don't have anything original to offer here, I'll show you part of my assignment. (We don't have letter grades there--a good thing, too!)

My office is in the garage and its door is probably 50 feet from the back door of the house. I make this walk upwards of 10 times a day. More if I’m restless or if the words are hiding from me. Less if my fingers can’t keep up with them.

Coming from the house, I look toward the east and west horizons to see if anything has changed since the last time. Are the beans out of the field? Did they spread manure—I can tell when they do. Are the suet feeders empty?

Going back to the house, I look down. For season-predicting wooly worms. For the nasty little black worms that come out in fall. To see if the cats’ bowls are empty. Again. To make sure I see the step that hasn’t moved in 10 years or so but still manages to trip me from time to time.

When I hear the noises, I know where to look to see the waving magic carpet of murmurations of starlings or the honking, straining vee of geese heading out for their long flight.

What I don’t hear will call my attention just as quickly, and I still know where to look. The deer will be sauntering through the lower slope of the side yard, slurping up water released by the geothermal system that keeps our house comfortable in all seasons. The cats will run down to join them, silent in their reminder that this is their yard, after all. The deer nod their heads in greeting—or so it seems to me—and go on drinking.

When darkness has fallen, its velvet cushion of quiet is often broken by sounds from the high school. We’ll hear the band on Friday nights when there are home games, kids shouting at other times. It never ceases to amaze me how loud and clear the voices are from two-point-three miles away. We laugh, Duane and I do, about our remote control bleachers.

Sometimes we are in the real bleachers when our grandson plays or our son-in-law coaches, or in lawn chairs at soccer matches where a younger grandson runs and kicks with unbridled glee and without mercy. There is much said about youth sports being too competitive, but the memories that are made on fields and gym floors and ball diamonds are not ones I’d want to give up. They are ones I still hear and feel and see and smell in the soft-crisp nights of autumn. Those memories are like the scent of burning leaves and the snap of fresh apples in their sweetness.

I have walked between the house and the office twice already this morning and am getting ready to make the third trip. The grass is still an optimistic green beneath the scattering of leaves, the marigolds and the mums raucously bright reminders of the brilliance of fall. The cats mutter as they eat the morning food they had to remind me at least three times they were waiting for.

The grain trucks are already rumbling over the roads this morning. The air smells of harvest time and makes me want soup and something pumpkin and desserty even though I haven’t had breakfast yet.

Soon I will walk on the Nickel Plate Trail. The leaves will crunch beneath my feet. I’ll laugh out loud and alone at the book I listen to as I walk. The air will smell so good. Feel so good.

It is fall in all its glory.

Although Life's Too Short for White Walls isn't new, Joss Murphy and Ezra McIntire's story is a favorite with me. It's set in a rural Kentucky campground, written with some of the sounds and not-sounds of above nestling in my writer's heart. They're in new places in their lives, battling the scar tissue we all carry after our worlds go wrong. 

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Hark! Autumn Approaches by Joan Reeves

In less than a week, the autumnal equinox will occur. Thank goodness!

Summer was long and HOT with little rain here in Houston. In fact, we've been under water restrictions for three weeks.

I love Autumn. It's my second favorite season with Spring being number one. 

The change of seasons is of course a natural phenomenon caused by the Earth’s axis tilt and its orbit around the sun.

From ancient times to today, the changing of seasons was celebrated with festivals marking its importance to life. We're no longer an agraian society, but in many countries, autumn is a time to celebrate traditions from bygone days like Oktoberfest, Halloween, Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Bonfire Night, Thanksgiving, and others.

Autumn Adventures

1. Take a walk on fallen leaves or have a leaf fight which is similar to a snowball fight. Even better, after the fight, take a break and kiss the one you love.

2. Seasonal changes have an impact on many parts of life, including agriculture, weather patterns, and human behavior. You may find yourself wanting to sleep more. Go ahead and give in to that. You'll feel more energy  afterwards.

3. Each season has specific colors associated with it. Autumn's colors are red, orange, and gold. Bring some of those colors into your home with some new throw pillows on the couch or napkins on the dinner table.

4. Attend a Harvest Festival or Oktoberfest. Many of them have dances, craft fairs, food, food, and more food! Take the whole family. You'll have so much fun.

5. Animal migration has already begun. The most common type that everyone sees is the V-shaped formation of migratory birds. Tell your kids about this and watch the skies together on a Saturday afternoon.

6. Fall into Love is Hallmark Channels celebration of romance in Autumn. Enjoy an afternoon of romantic movies—no testosterone allowed if they make fun of chick flicks.

7. The use of the word "fall" as another name for autumn goes as far back as the 1500s. Of course, the word makes sense because it is the time when leaves fall. This seasonal change marks the climate change when we spend more days indoors. This is the perfect time to read more.

To encourage you to read more, I have a romantic comedy on sale that will brighten even the cloudiest autumn day.

STILL THE ONE is only 99¢ this month.Burke Winslow needed a wife. But he didn't have his ex-wife in mind for the position.

He stands at the altar, ready to marry his business partner in a marriage of convenience. The minister solemnly asks: "If anyone here knows why this man and this woman shouldn't be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace."

A rain-soaked, bedraggled Ally Fletcher, Burk's ex-wife, limps down the aisle and shouts, "Stop the wedding!"

What follows is a funny, sexy romp that proves when there's love, passion never dies, it just smolders away until you toss some gasoline on it. Burke and Ally provide that gasoline when they find themselves locked in a marriage of—inconvenience.

Can the ex-husband fall for his ex-wife? Can Burke and Ally stop fighting long enough to peel away the layers of the past and discover the truth about their love and passion? Will the truth free them or put them asunder?

Get your sale copy of STILL THE ONE today!

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If you do, then you know I offer free ebooks and exclusive content just for subscribers along with information about sales and new releases.

You're not a subscriber? Here's your chance to sign up for I LOVE READING.

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GIVEAWAY: 1 free ebook copy of STILL THE ONE.

To be eligible to win: (1) in Comments, tell me what your favorite Autumn tradition is (2) leave your email address in the comment (write it out don't make it a hot link) (3) Giveaway closes at midnight, Sept. 20 (4) winner notified by email no later than Sept. 24. 

By the way, one last way to celebrate Autumn. Stream the old song, Autumn Leaves. This  song has been recorded in many languages and by many singers and musicans like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Edith Piaf, Roger Williams, Eric Clapton, and many others.

Listen to the romantic song and and slow dance with the one you love while it plays.

Thanks for joining me this month. Have an autumn as glorious as the colors of the falling leaves.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

By a Hair by Bea Tifton

There is one rather unfortunate hairstyle that I had hoped would go out of fashion. Alas, it seems to be here to stay. I refer, of course, to the man bun. Some perfectly nice, decent men wear them, but it just looks ridiculous to me. Can’t help it. Not that I should be judging anyone by their hair.

One of my grandmothers had thick auburn hair until the day she died. The other little old ladies at her assisted living home were always pulling my mother aside and asking her to be honest. Was it her natural color, a wig, what? But it was 100% natural. My other grandmother had thin hair. Her hairstylist teased it over her head, white candy floss with pink scalp showing through. And guess which side of the family I take after. 

When I was a toddler, I was as bald as an egg. That was before someone designed those cute little lace headbands, so my mother would tape a ribbon to my skull. When my hair did come in, it was wispy. As a child, I had that super straight 1970s hair, so fine you could see my ears poking through. A woman at our church had thick, lustrous hair she wore in a thick braid that reached down to her rear. I poked my mother and said confidently, “That’s how I’m going to wear my hair when I grow up.” Mom smiled, but inside she was thinking, Oh, bless your heart. 

And then there were the perms in the 1980s. Remember those? Sitting for hours in a room thick with that horrible sulphur smell as my hair sizzled from the chemical burn. I looked terrible, as many of us did. And it didn’t even help my hair appear thicker; it just looked frizzy and odd. 

As an adult, I have what my friends call Pandemic Hair. It’s longer than it has been in decades. Just after I brush it, my hair looks thick and healthy, but it only takes a few moments for it to settle into flat, baby thin hair. We’ve had a particularly brutal summer so it’s been up most of the time, anyway. I’m about to finally give up and make a major change of hairstyle.

Maybe I’ll get a perm.

Photo Credits:
Rene Asmussen "Braid on Woman Back"
Igor Kirillov "Baby in Pink Dress and Headband Sitting on a Rug"
Amarilis Arroyo "Smiling Woman Holding Dress in Hand"
David Brown "Close Up of White Poodle"
Pixabay "An Elderly Woman"

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

That One Hobby~Sherri Easley

When I hear the doorbell ring, I peek out the curtain to make sure it’s not the camera crew from Hoarders- the TV series.

If she who has the most fabric, vinyl and leather or most sewing machines wins (I have 13); I own a gold medal.

I used to say I sewed for therapy, but at this point in my hobby, I could be seeing Dr. Phil.

People laugh when I say these things with no idea how close to the truth it is.

I have been sewing since I was 5 years old. My first project was a short crop top out of a feed sack on my grandmother’s old Adler knee pedal sewing machine. I immediately wore it, spilled chocolate milk on it and threw it away because the stain would not come out.

I am one week away from Fiber Fest- at the Irving Texas Convention Center. This will be my first three-day show. It will be September 15-17. These will be long, tiring days of selling my wares. I am not as spry as I used to be when I did trade and craft shows in my thirties, and I swore I would never do it again, and here I am sewing until the wee hours of the night, after a full day of work at the corporate job.

Because I am out of the loop, I set my booth up in my living room. It is a bit sparse but, hey; I have 7 more nights before I have to set it all up and go.

My three dogs and 2 cats are over it. They expect sleep at a specific time and when that doesn't happen, they sleep at the foot pedals of my sewing machine to the point, I can't even move my chair. 


Do you have that hobby besides writing you can’t seem to shake?