Friday, December 25, 2015

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Gift for You!

by Bethany Maines

It's the Christmas season.  A time to contemplate the things we're grateful for. (I'm grateful for awesome readers like you!) Meanwhile, you've been running around buying gifts for everyone. Isn't it time someone else gave you something?  In honor of the holidays, I have done some arm twisting and procured a coupon for you.

Go here:

Click buy.

Use this coupon:

And get High-Caliber Concealer for $2.99.  That's 63% off list price. Coupon expires on January 1st, so snap this up quick!  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

High-Caliber Concealer, the third Carrie Mae Mystery is now available for sale in print and digital formats. Join Nikki, Ellen, Jane, and Jenny as they take on their toughest mission yet – a vacation. Nikki’s quiet visit to her grandmother’s farm is disrupted by drug smugglers, her ex-boyfriend and the sudden arrival of her mother (who is obviously hiding something). When the girls and her CIA agent boyfriend, Z’ev Coralles, also land on her doorstep, Nikki begins to wonder if she’s in over head. Can Nikki stop the smugglers, settle things with her ex, and stop her mother and grandmother from starting all out war over the mashed potatoes, all without revealing Carrie Mae’s secret’s to Z’ev? Nikki may be a High-Caliber Concealer, but this time it might not be enough!

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

Monday, December 21, 2015

"What Writing Means to Me" By Kathleen Donnelly

I had the privilege of meeting Kathleen this year at Killer Nashville and was in the audience when she gave this inspiring speech as she accepted the Lisa Jackson scholarship, which allowed her to attend the conference. After hearing her speak with such eloquence about the gift of writing, I asked if I could share her message with you as my December post. Through her words, Kathleen has reminded me of all the wonderful possibilities writing brings to this world. Already, she is a great writer. I look forward to holding her bestseller in my hands as I wait in line for her signature. Thank you, Kathleen, for this gift you have given to us. Happy Holidays!--Paula Gail Benson

My name is Kathleen Mayger—or you can call me my pen name Kathleen Donnelly. Like most of you, I’ve written my whole life about many different topics, but deep down my passion is thrillers. I’m lucky to have a great day job with a company called Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines—a drug dog company for schools. I enjoy helping to keep schools safe with friendly canines.

When I first learned about the Lisa Jackson scholarship, I knew I had to apply. Not only was the conference amazing, but Lisa Jackson is one of my favorite authors and an inspiration. A few years ago, a friend and I met at a coffee shop to talk about the best subject ever—books. I had heard of Lisa Jackson, but never read one of her books. My friend told me to get one and read it. I followed her advice and bought the book, “Afraid to Die.” I couldn’t quit reading and I didn’t get any sleep for the next few days.

Whenever I love a book I go visit the author website. I like to learn more about the author and their journey. Lisa’s personal story was inspiring and she gave me hope and motivation to continue writing. But she also has a webpage for her causes and they are all amazing and great organizations. And that is where she became more than a best-selling author for me. So to win this scholarship was truly humbling and an honor. If you haven’t visited Lisa’s website, I encourage everyone to do so and see what she does to make a difference.

Writing means so much to me. To all of us or we wouldn’t be here this weekend. But I feel the gift of writing is something that should be shared, and never forgotten. I get up every morning at 5am because I love to write. I love immersing myself in a world, figuring out how to put my characters in tough situations and then find a way to get them out. I could go on and on about how that one to two hours every morning is the best part of my day, but then I go to work and sometimes it’s in our daily lives that we can be reminded of what writing means not just to us, but to the communities around us.

Last year around Christmas, I was cleaning out a closet and found some of my favorite books I read while growing up. I didn’t know at first what to do with them. I decided to donate them to a middle school I work with my drug dogs. I thought that school could benefit from a few more books in their library. When I took the books in, the librarian was so excited. I found out that she had a group of kids that she already knew would not have Christmas presents. She believed every kid should have a present over Christmas break and there was nothing better than a book. She not only bought books for the kids out of her own money, but when I brought in my box, she said, “Perfect. Now they each can have two presents.” I heard later that the kids were ecstatic not only to have their very own presents, but that the present was a book they could read over break. That was a reminder to me that writing and books are a gift.

So when I get hung up in the morning writing, thinking about passives, adverbs or this plot hole that I can’t seem to figure out, I remind myself that writing is a gift. Reading is a gift and I move forward. Because when I think about what writing means to me, I have to think past me and what writing means in the bigger picture. Remember that our writing does impact others whether it’s a kid who’s only present for Christmas is a book or an aspiring author who reads a book and says, “I want to write like that.” Books and writing give us the freedom to go anywhere. Last Christmas the kids who received those books traveled the world without leaving their homes. I hope that one of them will think to themselves, “I want to write.” I hope that one of them will realize the opportunity given to a writer by having the freedom to open their imaginations.

I encourage everyone, this amazing group of writers, to think about what writing means to you and then how you can impact your own community at home. Realize that your books and your writing do make an impression, that the hard work is appreciated. Also realize that if we can touch one life and change it, then our writing is a best seller. If we can motivate others to make a change in our community, then we can realize what writing means to all of us.

I can tell you that Lisa Jackson, Clay Stafford and everyone with American Blackguard changed one life right here. They have reminded me of my goals as an author, but also the bigger picture. They have given me a gift and I promise to pass it on. I will remember this conference forever and as I type away in the early morning hours, I will not forget what writing truly means to me.

Kathleen Donnelly
Passionate about animals and the outdoors, all of Kathleen’s interests end up in the written form one way or another.  Her experiences being a part owner and handler for Sherlock Hounds Detection Canines, a private pro-active drug dog service that works primarily in schools, has been the subject of much of her writing. Check out the website at: She is currently working on a book with a female protagonist who's a K-9 handler for the National Forest Service. Kathleen lives in Johnstown, CO with her husband and all their four-legged friends.

Friday, December 18, 2015

A Room of My Own

by Linda Rodriguez

This holiday season is a time of excitement for me. I am about to get that room of my own that Virginia Woolf warned all women must have to write: “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

How can this be, you might well ask? I have written and published six books and have five more in various stages of the publishing process. Surely, I have had a room of my own in which to do all of this. And yes, I did have a lovely workroom that covered half of the upstairs floor of my house. Large and airy with many windows and a balcony, which I never used because I had so many bookcases in front of the door to the outside.

This room was half writing office and half fiber art studio. (At one point in my life, I was a professional fiber artist who made her income from commissions and sales of her creations.) The fiber art studio was well-organized with shelves full of baskets and boxes of spinning fibers, yarns, quilting fabrics, spindles, a sewing machine table, a cutting table, a quilting frame, two spinning wheels, several small looms, while downstairs in the living room sat a large floor loom in place of a couch. The office had a small antique desk with drawers used as a computer and printer desk set at right angles to a huge, sturdy cherry dining table used as my main desk. It also had a wheeled office-supply cart, two large bulletin boards, two metal file cabinets, many large bookcases, stuffed full of books and overflowing the room to range throughout the house. Off in one corner sat an old exercycle that I could use for a break from writing or sewing or weaving. I loved this room.

I have always had a problem with keeping a space all to myself. Most wives and mothers will identify with this, I think. Our children and husbands want our attention. They want to be where we are. And so, too often, when I had carved a little space out just for myself, my husband and children eventually, bit by bit, encroached on it until it was no longer mine. But when I set up this workroom, I was ruthless. Children were grown, and my husband had promised to stay in his own, even larger, office across the hall. And it worked for six books.

Then, breast cancer invaded my life. At the very same time, my youngest son moved back home after getting his Ph.D. in Iowa. He moved into part of my husband’s office, and my husband had to move many things over to my office where he threw them on my big desk—“only for the moment.” It was a very good thing that my son came home to live with us during this time since he was able to take part of the caregiving load off my husband. But he brought all the belongings that had furnished a large two-bedroom apartment in Iowa City. Much of it wound up added to the pile on my big desk. My son moved my computer and replaced it with his own on the computer desk, as he began his desperate job search. I wasn’t using it at the time since I was in the middle of my own desperate battle.

Somewhere during that time—I’m not sure when—my son broke my comfortable, over-twenty-year-old desk chair, and the combined weight of all the “stuff” piled on it broke my big dining-room-table desk in half, split right down the middle. Eventually, I grew stronger and needed to go back to work, but my lovely workroom had been destroyed. The things piled in the room were much too heavy for me to pick up or carry (probably why the desk gave up the ghost under their weight). My son was. by this time, adjunct teaching full-time at a university an hour’s drive away from our house plus the online classes he’d committed to teach before that job came open, but he said he’d get me a new office chair and a new desk and fix up my workroom when the semester was over. However, he was hired as permanent full-time faculty at that university in that other town and immediately put in charge of some key aspects of their accreditation, which was imminent. He had to move down there immediately so he could work seven twelve-to-fourteen-hour days a week for over a month. My trashed workroom stayed unusable. I wrote two more books and most of a third on a laptop in my recliner, not an ideal situation.

Now, for Christmas, my husband and sons are cleaning all the heavy mess out of my workroom, giving me a new office chair, and repairing my great old desk (my choice over a new one because it was such a wonderful workspace). I am looking forward to the new year in my comfortable, organized workroom where everything is within reach, and I can switch when I’m stuck in my writing to some fiber art project, which always shakes loose the solutions I need in my novels.

Virginia Woolf was right. “A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”

REPLIES TO COMMENTS because Blogger...

Thanks, Margaret! It's time for you, as well. Virginia was right.

Debra, you're so right! It is just what the doctor and the muse ordered. Happy holidays to you--and to everyone else, as well!

Thank you, Judith! Enjoy the holidays with all of your new books. I recommended your novel to one of my developmental editing clients recently.

Yes, Kaye, it is lovely. I'm so looking forward to getting this workroom back in functional order. Merry Christmas to you, too!

Mary, you're so right! I've often asked for help with some big project around the house, especially in later years as my health and strength have waned, but my boys would rather give me things. They're very generous. My oldest has given me for Christmas a freezer when I wanted to replace my old one and a washing machine when I needed that, and my youngest totally surprised me with a big-screen TV and a machine to run Netflix (which he also gave me for a year) for my birthday a couple of months ago--because he had seen how much his helped me when I had bad nights during the cancer surgeries and broken wrist and decided I needed one. But household projects, usually not. I think it's a time thing. They both find it easier to find money than time. So I'm really thrilled that they're doing this.