Wednesday, November 27, 2013


By Bethany Maines

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I feel it would be traditional to catalog the things I’m thankful for.  Currently, I’m thankful that I don’t have to pee. 

For those of you who aren’t Facebook friends or who missed the announcement, I am, what the old novels describe as, “in the family way.”  All the magazines these days describe it as having a baby bump.  I describe it as having someone jump up and down on my bladder all day long.

It is our first foray into parenthood and we’re looking forward to it.  Clearly, we’re not looking forward to it as much as our parents and some of our “Auntie” friends.  Which I figure is only natural – they get to have all the fun of a baby with none of the actual work.  My father, in particular, seems to be laying in stocks of sugary snacks, and cataloging noise making toys.  He’s taking grandpa-hood seriously and if this baby girl doesn’t think he’s the awesomest grandpa ever, it won’t be for lack of a well-organized campaign that includes flanking maneuvers, propaganda, and bribes. 

Meanwhile, my brother seems to be on permanent rant about which baby names are “stupid.”  As far as I can tell he doesn’t like any baby names.  Which is very freeing in the sense that any name my husband and I pick will obviously fall short of the extremely ridicu… er… lofty rules my brother seems to have.  Not that I was planning on obtaining his opinion on a name anyway, but it’s always nice to know where one stands.

All of which, leaves me feeling extremely grateful. For as annoying as my friends and family are, well, the fact remains that I have a whole truck-load of friends and family! How could I be any luckier?  (I could win the lottery.  Just throwing that out there God, in case you’re listening.)  Tomorrow, I will be baking pies and trying not to over stuff myself surrounded by people who love me and will also love my baby.  And that really, is pretty much the definition of a good thanksgiving.  I can only hope that you out there in Stiletto land will be as lucky.  And in appreciation for welcoming me onto your computers I offer up this extremely simple recipe that has replaced cranberry sauce at our house.

Cranberry Relish
  • 1 bag cranberries
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 cup sugar

Directions: Place all ingredients in food processor and chop finely.  You may need to quarter the orange to fit into the food processor, but you do not need to peel it.  Add more sugar and a touch of cinnamon if desired.  Keeps for at least 2 weeks in fridge, but it doesn’t usually last that long.  Also great on pancakes and toast.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A couple of weeks ago on my way to critique group I was involved in a traumatic incident. I was stopped at a light during rush hour traffic. I left plenty of room between me and the vehicle in front of me, but the guy behind me in a beat-up, rusted 1981 SUV was crawling up the tail pipe of my two-month old Honda Civic SI.
The woman in front of me rolled up a couple of feet though the light was still red. I didn’t move because there was no reason to, and I didn’t want the guy behind me to surge forward and hit my new car. He honked, and I ignored him. Then he bumped into my car, my new car!!!!

I grabbed a pen and the first piece of paper that came to hand then got out though I was pretty sure there was no damage. He’d been so close to start with, he didn’t have time to get up enough speed to hit me with any force. There was no damage, but I wanted to write down his license plate number just in case.

He rolled down his window and began yelling at me. “What the f*** are you doing? What’s the matter with you? Are you crazy? What do you think you’re doing? Get away from my car!”

He had no front license plate, so I started toward the back of his vehicle. “You hit my car!” I said as I passed him.

“I didn’t hit your car. You’re crazy! What do you think you’re doing? You’re a crazy woman!” Etc., etc.

I wrote down his license number, went back to my car and got in. But he was right behind me and started banging on my window. I hit the button to roll it down a crack, but it zipped almost all the way down. He reached in and yanked the card with his license plate number out of my hand, breaking my fingernail in the process. That piece of paper I’d grabbed was my business card. A madman had my name, address and phone number.

I was becoming very angry. I grabbed another piece of paper and got out of my car again. He followed me, screaming and cursing, and the other guy in his car got out to help him.

“We didn’t hit your car!” the second guy shouted. “You backed into us! I saw you! Get the f*** out of here, you b****!”

“What if I get your license number?” the first guy threatened. “Huh? How’d you like it if I write down your license number? I’m going to get your license number!”

I shrugged and pointed toward my license plate, TXS SAL. “Go ahead.”

“Are you gonna call the police? Are you gonna call the police on me, ****? You think you’re gonna call the police on me?”

I tried to get past him to my car, but he blocked my passage.

I’m gonna call the police! How you like that? Whatta you think if I call the police?”
“Fine. Call the police. It’s 9-1-1.” I spoke very slowly because I realized his comprehension was limited.

Again I tried to move past him and again he blocked me. “Where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m leaving.”

“You’re not going anywhere!”

About that time a stranger stopped. “Do you need some help, ma’am?”

“You gonna take her side? Get the f*** out of here! She don’t need your help! She’s crazy!”

The Good Samaritan told me to get in my car and he’d call the police. I did.

Cops came, talked to both of us, got my business card back from the psycho and finally told me they’d keep him there until I could leave.

Using his license plate, I tracked him down, got his name and address. He lives only 5.4 miles from me, but it’s a significant 5.4 miles. I live with the old folks, he lives with the meth folks. His house (which he and several other people rent) is valued at $34,750. No, I didn’t leave out a digit.

An unfortunate incident that made me very angry as well as late to critique group. I have heard no more from the man, so I assume he didn’t make note of my address or phone number while he had my card. The incident was probably insignificant to him. But I intend to make him famous. See excerpt from my current WIP:

Amanda entered the room and saw, sitting on a metal folding chair among the dirty, greasy motorcycle parts, a dirty, greasy man. Actually he wasn’t really dirty or greasy, but he somehow gave off that aura, especially his eyes.

Even though he didn’t bother to get up when she entered the room—an inexcusable error of etiquette in Texas—Amanda could tell he was tall. Arms with stringy muscles protruded from his wife-beater T-shirt, and his gut strained against the thin fabric. Lots of workouts digging holes to bury people then celebrations with too much beer afterward?

His scraggly brown beard seemed an attempt to make up for the total lack of hair on his shiny head, and bushy brows protruded over small dark eyes.

“Can I help you?” she asked, remaining in the open doorway just in case she needed to back out fast.

The facial hair moved as if it was alive…or had small creatures living in its depths that were moving around. The man was, Amanda, realized, smiling, though his cold eyes weren’t. “You’re Amanda. Charley showed me pictures of you. I’m Ronald Collins. Me and your husband used to be friends.”

“I doubt it.”

The facial hair did another dance, moving in a downward pattern. Frowning? Scowling? Glaring? Threatening? His eyes remained flat and dead. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Charley didn’t have friends. He had enemies and criminal associates and scam targets. Which one were you?”

The moral of this story--don't mess with a writer. We can torture you with a pointed gerund, drag you down the street tied to a car with a dangling participle, beat you with an ellipsis, shoot you with an interrobang, murder you and tie up the body neatly leaving not a single trace of an unresolved issue.

Monday, November 25, 2013


by Dru Ann Love

I had nothing for this month’s post.  I couldn’t think of anything to write about until I saw it and I thought would make a great post. 


We all do it.  It helps us to organize our daily lives and keep us up-to-date.  However, during this time of year, the most interesting lists frequently pops up on the Internet and that is…”Best of” or “Top 5” list of 2013.  Below are some that I found.  Enjoy.

World’s Best Shopping Cities
  1. New York
  2. Tokyo
  3. London

Top 10 most popular Thanksgiving destinations
  1. New York City, New York
  2. Chicago, Illinois
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada

Top 10 Most Expensive Hobbies In The World 
  1. Dressage
  2. Flying
  3. Drag Racing

Top 10 Holiday Tech Gifts of 2013
  1. Apple iPad Air
  2. Pebble Smartwatch
  3. Sony PlayStation 4
The Best Gifts For Babies And Kids
  1. Paint Your Own Funky Rainboots
  2. Tetris Link
  3. Hello Kitty Airlines Play Set top 10 most-asked questions of 2013
  1. Royal Baby. What is the royal baby's name?
  2. Boston Marathon. Where was the Boston Marathon bomber found?
  3. Syria. Will the U.S. invade Syria?

Kirkus’ Best Mysteries & Thrillers of 2013 (Listed are the ones I’ve read)
  1. Breaking Point by C.J. Box
  2. Never Go Back by Lee Child
  3. The Shadow Tracer by Meg Gardiner
  4. As She Left It by Catriona McPherson
  5. Silken Prey by John Sandford

Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2013
  1. Sea of Hooks by Lindsay Hill
  2. Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright
  3. Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield by Jeremy Scahill

Library Journal – Best Books 2013: Mystery
  1. Cries of the Lost by Chris Knopf
  2. Nightmare Range by Martin Limón
  3. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny

Best Job in America 2013
  1. Biomedical Engineer
  2. Clinical Nurse Specialist
  3. Software Architect

So, what’s on your 2013 list?
Can you think of any other lists that you've seen?
Have you read any of the "best of books"?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Memories that stick!

The French have an expression for someone like me—“a woman of a certain age.” I like to say I’m at the leading edge of the baby boom…and you can do the math. Yet, both expressions underscore the fact that I was a freshman in college 50 years ago, when President Kennedy was assassinated.

I was at lunch in my dorm cafeteria when someone ran in, screaming that JFK had been shot. Many of us rushed off to view the one TV set for 300 young women.Then I threw over my Friday afternoon classes in favor of sitting in my dorm window and watching for my roommate Carole to walk up the street. When she did finally arrive and saw me in the window, we exchanged mournful looks. I can put myself there still. Visualize that window. Carole in her fall jacket. The eighteen-year-old I once was.

The Houston Chronicle solicited its readers’ memories of where they were on that dreadful day and published many of them today. Here is the one that I found to be the most moving:

I am a retired Delta Airline pilot, and I was on my trip from Hobby (Airport) to New York on November 21, 1963. I was about halfway to New York when the controller told me I could not change altitude because Air Force One would be passing under me southbound. I saw him coming, and I asked the pilot how they were doing. He said, "OK, just fine." I asked him how his "first-class passenger" was, and he said, "Just fine, looking forward to going to Texas."
The next day, I was flying back to New York. When I was taxiing to the runway, I was told JFK was shot. We were about halfway, when Air Force One came on the radio, saying they were going to Washington. It was the same pilot, and he could hardly talk.
Jim Shannon, Houston

Oceans of water have gone under the bridge of time since that assassination. Millions of words have been written about it—perhaps even billions—and still that day and that event resonate with those of us who will always remember where we were when we learned the sad news. Unfortunately, there have been other bad events that stick in our minds in a similar way, but none seem to conjure a loss of hope and innocence the way a shotgun blasting at a forty-six-year-old charismatic President of the United States did.

Where were you? What do you most remember about that time? 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Marriage Made in Heaven? "Go Blue!" vs. "Roll Tide!"

Marriage Made in Heaven?  “Go Blue!” vs. “Roll Tide!” by Debra H. Goldstein
The University of Michigan was ranked #1 in football the week I moved to Alabama.   The day I walked into my office a new Birmingham colleague asked “who is the top college football coach?  Being a Michigan football ticket scalper and newspaper poll reader, I said “Michigan is #1 so it has to be Bo Schembechler." 

Wrong answer. My colleague enlightened me that in Alabama, “school colors are red and white, houndstooth is a fashion statement, blood runs crimson and no matter what the newspaper says, Bear Bryant is God.”

I was confused.  Although there had been a few jokes that Alabama football is an all consuming religion that divides families, influences marriages and even impacts promotional opportunities, because I grew up in New Jersey and Michigan I didn’t realize what underlying controversy the possibility of a mixed marriage of maize and blue and crimson red could provoke.

Author Deborah Sharp, author of the wonderful Mace Bauer series, immediately honed in on the issue in
her comment that was randomly selected  to dictate this week's blog.  Deborah, whose writing, especially in her newest book Mama Gets Trashed, demonstrated a wicked understanding of irony and humor, was interested "in reading how a transplanted Yankee hooked up with a hubby whose blood runs crimson."

The truth is that when I met Joel, I wanted no part of him.  His cousin, a friend of mine, thought we’d be perfect for each other, but he was slowly coming out of a divorce.  In my book, a divorced guy is not dating material until he has been divorced for a year.  Until then, he is just plumb crazy.

Because of his cousin’s nagging, Joel, who hadn’t been on a date in twelve years, got up the courage to call and ask me out for the following Saturday night.   Happily, I had other plans.  Refusing was easy.  Not to be discouraged, he asked me out for the next day.  I was about to concoct an excuse when he suggested we go to DeSoto Caverns, one of the few tourist places near Birmingham I had yet to visit.  Free dinner and my way paid into the Caverns outweighed my natural instinct to say no.

We never made it into the Caverns because just as we got out of the car, it began to pour.  We ended up at a roadside café having coffee and apple pie.  I loved the pie, but learned more than I ever wanted to know about his kids, his ex, and the fact that he was a diehard Alabama fan with little to no love for the University of Michigan.

Don’t ask me why, but I accepted a second and third date followed by one that his five and seven year old children came along on.  Even after that date, which is a story unto itself, I continued to see him.

When I realized he was getting serious too fast, I decided to slow things down by only agreeing to date him on either Friday or Saturday night.  The other weekend night, I insisted he ask another girl out.  To make life easier for him, I gave him a list of 20 names.  After a number of weeks of this, he jokingly asked if we had reached the point where he could stop dating girls from the list.

“It depends,” I replied.  “Who have you gone out with?”
He pulled the list from his pocket and handed it to me.  Several names had been carefully marked out.  “I can understand this one,” I said, pointing to a name.  “This one, too.  But this one?  She’s so sweet!  Just the kind of girl I would want to marry myself.”

“But not the one I want to marry.” 
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Debra H. Goldstein is the author of the 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue (Harlequin Worldwide Mystery Selection for May 2014), a murder mystery set on the University of Michigan’s campus in the 1970’s.  Her newest short story, “A Political Cornucopia” is the November Bethlehem Writers Roundtable featured story at

Based upon her post being the randomly drawn one from my last Stiletto Gang blogpost, Deborah Sharp won a copy of Maze in Blue and the right to select this blog’s topic.  Not only does she have a perfect name, she is the author of the hilarious Mace Bauer Mystery series that includes Mama Does Time, Mama Rides Shotgun, Mama Gets Hitched, Mama Sees Stars, and Mama Gets Trashed.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Books We'll Never Forget

Books We'll Never Forget
By Laura Bradford

On Friday, Barbara Parks, the author of the Junie B. Jones children's series, passed away. And while I never met Barbara, I was well aware of her work.

I'll never forget Daughter #1 coming home from first grade with the latest Junie B. Jones book she borrowed from her classroom library.  She was a relatively new reader (in terms of "bigger" books) and we'd sit on the couch every afternoon and read together. Her baby sister loved this time, too, because it meant more books (her favorite way to spend a day). The baby would sit on one side of Daughter # 1, and I would sit on the other, and we'd listen to Junie B. Jones' latest antics.

At first, I wasn't wild about the character's attitude--a bit too fresh, a bit too spunky. But, in relatively short order, Junie B. won me over with her crazy view of life as a kindergarten kid. At times, I laughed so hard with some of the tales, I had tears rolling down my cheeks.

Those books made reading fun for Daughter  # 1 and gave the three of us some wonderful memories (not sure what the baby--my now 15 year old--remembers of it, but that's okay...I remember her in the equation).

So then I got to thinking about some of the other books (children's and otherwise) that have touched my life in one way or another.

ARE YOU MY MOTHER? by P.D. Eastman was one of the first to pop into my thoughts. I remember my  mother reading me that book...and the great big deep voice she'd use when she'd give the crane's answer to the little bird--SNORT!  I still smile at that memory.

THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein is at the ready in my mind, too, simply because of the way that story resonated with me, even as a small child.  The notion that this tree would give and give and give, while the boy would take, and take, and take...has stuck with me through life.

As I began to move up through the self-reader ranks, I was introduced to my favorite series of all--the Little House books.  I got my boxed set as a present from someone at my First Communion and I read those books as many as ten times each (probably more). I wanted to be Laura Ingalls.

When I hit fourteen, I came across Mary Higgins Clark's WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN.  I read that book in my bedroom, hunched over my desk, completely oblivious to the world around me. It was at that moment, I became hooked on suspense novels.

And then there was Mary Higgins Clark's A CRY IN THE NIGHT that eventually convinced this then writer-wannabe to try her hand at mysteries.  I still have my original copy of this book. It's yellowed, falling apart (and even signed now), and it will always hold a special place on my "life books" shelf.

Which shoots me ahead (or back, I suppose) to the books I read as a mother...

My girls loved their books as they were growing up. Every night, before bed, they'd each pick two books for me to read aloud. The bookshelf (stocked full) was there favorite place in the house. We read at bedtime, we read in the morning, we read in the afternoon.  My youngest would spend hours plucking books off the shelf and carrying them over for me to read (she is still a voracious reader, even now). We read many books, many of them earning special places in our hearts for various reasons. But my favorite book to read aloud to them?

YOU ARE SPECIAL by Max Lucado.

I can't remember how we came upon this book, but I'll never forget reading it to them for the first time. I literally sobbed when I got to the last page because of how beautiful the message was--for them and for me.

About four years ago, the girls' amazing childhood book collection was sold--for pennies and nickels a book, no doubt--without their permission. Although sad for them (and me), I am slowly but surely picking up some of those old books and storing them in my hope chest. One day, when they are mothers, they can read those favorite books to their own children. They may not be the actual books they touched as babies/little girls, themselves, but they'll be close.

So what are some books that have grabbed a place of honor in your heart over the years?


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thanksgiving Past and Present

It's that time of year again--Thanksgiving is right over the horizon.

I always have plenty to be thankful for and I think I'll start with the actual Thanksgiving holiday. I have so many wonderful memories of Thanksgivings past--ones growing up at my grandmother's house in South Pasadena--back when our family was still small. (Mom and Dad had no idea how their two daughters would expand the family.)

After I married, and hubby and I had our own home in Oxnard (also California), we hosted Thanksgiving several times--we had to put tables up in the living room. Later when we moved to Springville (still California), I was the one who always hosted Thanksgiving. Bigger house, more room, and relatives came from southern California bringing their signature dishes.

Now many of those relatives have passed away--my grandparents and parents, auntie--but our family has increased in size. My sister hosts her own large family in Las Vegas, NV. My daughters who live in southern California will be having Thanksgiving with their own offspring. We're going to have a large bunch here.

I'm fortunate to have two children who live nearby as well as some of their children and grandchildren. I'm thankful that I can still and enjoy cooking--and I have a new stove this year. My old stove I had for 32 years finally gave up the ghost. Everyone is bringing something, so we'll have plenty to eat.

In the last few years, we've had a new tradition come about. While some are watching football, a group of us have enjoyed playing board and card games.

And I suppose to sum all of this up, I'm truly blessed by having a big family.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I hope you'll share some of your Thanksgiving memories or your plans for this year. I'd love to read about them.


Monday, November 18, 2013

From Idea to Finished Product

One late night at a McDonalds, a group of writer friends sat chatting after a book signing. As the evening wore on, the subject of how we start a book came up. (Yes, writers are a wild sort. I even had chicken nuggets to snack on while we talked.)

For me, it’s setting. My bull rider series is set in a little fictional town based off a real small mountain town nestled in the Idaho Mountains and the site of the first local rodeo of the season. I wrote a book about a woman who didn't know her witch heritage set in a bar that has an uncanny resemblance of one where I spent many a night playing darts.  And I have a story floating in my head that starts with a lonely dock in a secluded cove on a lake near McCall, Idaho. The place just radiates magic.

It probably won’t surprise you that Guidebook to Murder started with a picture--one I shared with you in my introductory post. I love the way the fence is part wood and part wire.  The cheerful yellow and white paint contrasting against the dead tree and overgrown yard.  The place spurred a question or two - Who would live there? Why is such a cute house in such bad shape?

And when writers have questions, we fill in the blanks with story. 

I took this shot one spring break while I was vacationing at my sister’s house in central coastal California over a decade ago.  This became the touch point for Miss Emily’s house in Guidebook to Murder.  And now, the entire town of South Cove has been built around the idea.

That one picture spurred the series.  But now I have a new picture to share for South Cove.  Guidebook to Murder, Book 1 of the Tourist Trap Series is available for pre-order on fine digital stores everywhere. Can’t wait for April when you all can visit South Cove too.

Which leads me to my question –do you read books because of the setting?  

Guidebook to Murder – A Tourist Trap Mystery
Available – April 17th, 2014

In the gentle coastal town of South Cove, California, all Jill Gardner wants is to keep her store--Coffee, Books, and More--open and running. So why is she caught up in the business of murder?

When Jill's elderly friend, Miss Emily, calls in a fit of pique, she already knows the city council is trying to force Emily to sell her dilapidated old house. But Emily's gumption goes for naught when she dies unexpectedly and leaves the house to Jill--along with all of her problems. . .and her enemies. Convinced her friend was murdered, Jill is finding the list of suspects longer than the list of repairs needed on the house. But Jill is determined to uncover the culprit--especially if it gets her closer to South Cove's finest, Detective Greg King. Problem is, the killer knows she's on the case--and is determined to close the book on Jill permanently. . .

Friday, November 15, 2013

Home Again, Home Again

My youngest son has moved back home, and much as he loves us, he’s not happy about it. He finds himself in the position in which so many young people who’ve done everything parents and society have told them to do find themselves—well-educated with excellent grades and college leadership experience and no jobs. And heavy student loans.

Joseph’s lucky. He had full scholarships In undergraduate and fellowships in graduate school, so his student loans are nowhere near as large as those his friends are carrying. But he spent one full year studying abroad and went to England on several research trips, as well as traveling to national conferences to present scholarly papers (all an absolute must anymore if you’re looking for an academic job), and his scholarships didn’t cover all of that, so he had to take student loans.

Universities have been phasing out full-time, tenure-track faculty positions over the last decade or two. Where part-time, contingent faculty used to make up less than 30% of faculty nationally, now they are over 70% of the teachers at universities and colleges. Even as tuition has gone sky-high, the students paying it are being taught by part-time adjunct faculty who usually have no campus offices or telephones and are paid less than the lowest level clerical worker at their schools, having to cobble together multiple classes at several universities to make a minimal income (with no benefits) and racing from one place to another each day and week.

My son is also looking for non-academic jobs, but there he runs into a twin difficulty that’s almost an oxymoron—he has no applicable experience yet he’s considered overqualified. And again, a whole generation of young people are facing this same double bind.

This leads me to wonder how we as a country came to this point of failing our children. As individual parents and as a society, we’ve stressed to them, “Work hard. Stay in school. Go to college. Get good grades. That’s the road to success in life.” So what do we say when our kids have done all of this, and they’re faced with jobs that require they also apply for food stamps?

I don’t have any answers to these questions, but I know they’re questions we need to be asking and finding answers to as a society. If all we want is a nation of underpaid fast-food/TargMart /AmazGiant warehouse workers, what are we turning ourselves into? And why do we even bother with schools of any kind?

Do you have any young people in your life? What do they feel about what they’re facing economically? What do you think about it?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Villains are people too

by Maria Geraci

Last night I attended my local writing group. It's composed of 8 or so lovely ladies, all of whom write very different things (I'm the only one writing romance). We have a group leader who's very smart. Very savvy. Terrific editor and terrific teacher. So we sit down to eat and I discover our topic is villains. Or in my case, antagonists, since I primarily write romantic comedy and I don't have a typical "villain" per se.

So, we're discussing what makes a terrific villain and although I know all this stuff (or have heard all this stuff before) it suddenly occurs to me that the reason I'm having a bit of sticky time with my current work-in-progress is that the antagonist who creates trouble in the last half of my book isn't completely fleshed out. I mean, what does she want really? Other than to cause trouble for my heroine? What are her hopes and dreams, her strengths and weaknesses? Until I discover that, she'll just be a cartoon character. Which means, back to the laptop for me.

Then I get home and I get a text message from my oldest daughter. Guess who's getting her own movie? Maleficent! Oldest Daughter's favorite Disney flick was (and still is) Sleeping Beauty. But she was terrified of Maleficent. Now that's she an adult we joke about it all the time.

So I text her back, Wait. The movie is called Maleficent? Shouldn't it be called Sleeping Beauty?

Nope, she answers, because the story is told from Maleficent's point of view. And she's being played by Angelina Jolie.

I think the Universe is speaking to me.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sore Muscles

By Bethany Maines

Writing is hard. 

I started out this blog with an eloquent soliloquy on the nature of writing and deleted it in favor of the truth.

Now, you might be thinking, “One word in front of another – how hard is that, really?” 

It’s not.  The question is, are those the right words, in the right order, at the right time?  Perhaps my statement ought to be, “Writing well is hard.”

But, no, I stand by original statement.  I sat down last night to write something fresh.  I’ve mainly been doing revisions for last few months and as I attempted to write something new I thought, “Dear God, this is like pulling teeth.  Didn’t I used to be able to do this?  In fact, didn’t I used to do this daily?” 

Apparently, I’m out of shape.  I feel like a fat ex-marathoner on a treadmill, all wobbly and confused about why things aren’t working the way they should.  It made me long for the good ol’ days when I could write a blistering pace and could sometimes finish whole chapters in day.  Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in this spot.  I’m the yo-yo dieter of writing.  I admire people who never seem to get out of writing shape.  But I find it very hard to do revisions and write at the same time. They exercise such different mental muscles that doing both is… well, it’s probably an excellent form of cross-training, but mostly it’s just hard.   So today, to avoid pulling a hamstring, I will be doing some warm up exercises of six-word short stories.  Feel free to post your own in the comments. 

3 Extra-Short Mysteries:
  1. He died; she went to Cabo.
  2. Postman rang once, but fired twice.
  3. Insurance paid out – like she’d planned.

Bethany Maines is the author of the Carrie Mae Mystery series and Tales from the City of Destiny. You can also view the Carrie Mae youtube video or catch up with her on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Let Me Tell You a Story...

By Laura Spinella
Today I'm celebrating the release of PERFECT TIMING, my second book!  Here's a little behind the scenes peek at how this novel came to be:
Backstory often ends up being the most interesting part of publication. Of course, while it’s happening, the author never realizes backstory is backstory. In the thick of things, backstory is the malaise of the process—or, more accurately, the one step forward, two steps back shuffle of book writing. There's amazement and achievement when a novel clears all the hurdles, the hard revisions, and labor intensive rewriting of pages that were briefly, dreamily deemed perfect. But after a book sells and edits are finalized, there is time to reflect. Traditional publishing comes with a wait time of a year or more. And it was in this holding pattern that I started to think about backstory, how and why I ended up writing the book I did. While my first novel, BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, was a product of past environment, PERFECT TIMING is anchored to my present. I’m almost as fond of its backtory as I am the result. In a phrase, this is the story of the little trunk novel that could.
Draft readers are important readers, and PERFECT TIMING had more than a few. Among them was my oldest daughter, Megan. She was this book’s first fan, and Aidan and Isabel remain her favorite characters. Her interest fueled a lot of drive during the novel’s rough “I can’t do this” stage.  Yes, Megan listened to her fair share of whining as I wrote, and rewrote, this book.  But she also insisted that if I was malevolent enough to create such heart-wrenching conflict, I’d better come up the right resolutions to see things through.
(Since PT contains a few steamier scenes, I should mention that Megan is 24) Writing to satisfy her demand was a challenge, and winning her approval an achievement. She’s a tough editor and a scrupulous critic. In the end, I believe she got the book she wanted. I know she's pleased by its dedication page. There was the trial and error of two manuscripts after BEAUTIFUL DISASTER, at which point Megan insisted I revisit the story and characters she found so endearing. Clearly, sometimes, you should listen to your kids.
At a glance, it’s true that PERFECT TIMING’s protagonist is a rock star. That part is intended to take the reader away from the ordinary.  And I do think, in his element, Aidan Royce earns his ovation. But that’s not what this story is about; it’s about the rhythm of lasting friendship, and the beat of a love story subject to incredible odds. It’s about family and figuring out what makes you truly happy, then being brave enough to embrace it. PERFECT TIMING is relationship fiction set to the sometimes extraordinary and always precarious tempo of life. 
When I look at this book's perfect cover, there is still the awe that comes with a second book, the surprise that it even exists. But I'm also pleased and confident in this story's backstory and the way life influenced PERFECT TIMING.

Laura Spinella is the author of the newly released PERFECT TIMING and award-winning BEAUTIFUL DISASTER. Visit her at 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Whew! It's Over (for now)

By Evelyn David

So the good news is my guy won.

Local elections were held last week. I thought there was a real difference between the two candidates, so had no trouble pulling the lever for my guy. Although sadly, with electronic voting, there is no actual lever to pull; no curtain to hide behind as I make weighty decisions. I'm old school and quite frankly, standing at a little kiosk to color in an electronic ballot too closely resembles taking the SATs. To finish off the event, I fed my ballot into what was the equivalent of a bank ATM.

But what the days leading up to the election taught me most was the desperate need for election reform. This was a county-wide election. The area population is a little less than a million. The ads and signage must have felled several forests. But what drove me absolutely insane were the robo-calls. Day after day I'd receive multiple calls, all for the same candidate. I kept begging to be taken off the list – to no avail.

I was sorely tempted to sit out the election as some form of protest – but good citizen that I am, that wasn't an option. Eliminating my landline wasn't an option either. I prefer the sound quality of my landline. I have caller ID on some of my phones – but not all, so there were times when I grabbed the phone without first checking to see if I recognized the caller.

If it's this obnoxious and intrusive for a local election, I shudder to think about the barrage of TV, radio, Internet, and mail ads, not to mention the constant phone calls for the mid-terms in 2014 and the Presidential election in 2016. As my mother, the original Evelyn would say, OY.

The Do Not Call registry never covered political phone calls. To be honest, the DNC registry is a bit of a joke anyway. When it's not election season,  I'm getting constant calls for new credit cards (no thank you) and to change my electric provider (also no thank you).

You can't physically invade my home without my permission. You can't harass me on the street. I can block spam from my inbox. But phone calls on behalf of democracy in action, seems like I just have to grin and bear it. But you can bet "my guy" is getting a letter offering my congratulations – and instructions to never call me again.

Marian, the Northern half of Evelyn David
Evelyn David's Mysteries 

Audible    iTunes

Audible    iTunes

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries - e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Twister - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Missing in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah - trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 - I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 - A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 - Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back Kindle - Nook - Smashwords - Trade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- Kindle - Nook - Smashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords

Love Lessons - Kindle - Nook - Smashwords