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Monday, December 31, 2018

3 New Year’s Traditions: are they worth the effort?


A Southern Tradition, traditionally called: Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas served with rice, pork, and seasonings. If you follow the full tradition, you’re to eat 365 peas. That’s a mouthful.

Thought to originate from Civil War days – Sherman on his march through the South left devastated crops, and not much beyond black-eyed peas and salted port, which were considered animal fodder. The reeling South was grateful for any bounty and the practice of eating black-eyed peas (with pork/bacon/renderings) was thought to bring about good luck. Sherman’s marching dates seem to discount this theory, but it’s another Southern story passed along. (Wiki-pedia)

Superstition or not – Black-eyed peas are good for you:

"Even though it's myth that black-eyed peas bring good luck, it's fact they can benefit your health. Just one cup of black-eyed peas delivers 20 percent of the daily magnesium, calcium and iron one needs, plus they are a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic." (Times Free Press)


This tradition is thought to originate from an Ancient Roman (8th century BC) Festival of Saturnalia. The party started mid-December and continued on for days. The midnight kiss is thought to be part of this celebration. This theory holds that the kiss was rather just a ‘thing that happened’; no particular significance. ( Personally, if I'd been partying for two weeks straight, I'm not certain that I'd remember one kiss at the stroke of midnight.

However, The Washington Post offers a couple of different theories:

According to The Washington Post, Europe’s Renaissance Masquerades were events where anything went as long as party-goers were masked. To cleanse from their decadence, those misbehaving revelers laid one on the first person they saw after pulling off the mask. Something about keeping the evil spirits at bay. (The Washington Post)


English & German folklore offered that the 1st person met/encountered in the New Year would set the tone for the upcoming year. Perhaps, these folks decided to tips good odds in their favor by kissing someone they liked or wanted to like them – rather like tempting destiny, I’d think. (The Washington Post)


That’s right. The shade of your panties, knickers, bloomers, thong could influence the upcoming year’s outcome.

According to the Underwear Expert, color matters.

Who knew there was an Underwear Expert????

Planning your last minute outfit? Don’t forget the color of your drawers:

Yellow: Prosperity, Wealth & Success
Red: Passion, Romance & Love (not exactly hard to figure out this one.)
White: Peace, Harmony & Happiness (also won’t show through the color of your garment for the evening.)
Blue: Good Health, Wellness & Tranquility (makes sense. Who doesn’t want to gaze at ocean blue?)
Green: Life, Nature & Well-Being (Mother Earth, I’m thinking.)
Pink: Luck in Love, Harmony (okay, ladies, decide if you want passion for 2019 or luck in love. Remember that those 2 goals are NOT the same thing. At least, not exclusively the same thing.)

However, you spend your New Year's, may the upcoming year be prosperous and filled with joy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

A Warlock Under The Mistletoe by S.S. Bazinet - book review

Are fantasies and fairy tales required for a happy ending? Or is true love the only necessary magic?

In S.S. Bazinet’s Christmas release, A WARLOCK UNDER THE MISTLETOE, heroine, Pippa sets out to prove to co-worker and friend, Adeline that real heroes are more than just a fantasy.

Readers, world-wide, will identify with Pippa, a heroine who believes in romance of the heart and has her very own true love: Chester.

Chester . . . Chester???? Can you really make a HERO out of a ‘Chester’?

If you’re author, S.S. Bazinet you can.
For doubting-Thomas readers, who believe there’s no conflict if the heroine and hero are already a matched pair, S.S. Bazinet proves that trite theory wrong.

By interjecting a sometimes cranky and always cynical co-worker into the mix, readers are treated to a full dose of the misguided friend and her attempts to prove to our heroine that: ‘People want believable stories, not some gibberish that’s all sweetness and fairy tale nonsense.’ (excerpt from A Warlock Under The Mistletoe, Chapter One.)

A bet, a dead-line, and a woman’s heart are all on the line as Pippa must confront her own questions about her fiancĂ©, their relationship, and romantic disillusionment.

Don’t be fooled by Chester’s steady-Eddy personality. Or Pippa’s ever-sunny take on life. There are bumps for these characters along this Christmas path. Change, even inside the most stable relationship, is bound to cause a bit of world tilting.

No spoiler here: I’ll not reveal how Pippa finds a warlock in her fiancĂ©, Chester, but I will remind all – and especially those who have truly loved another – that magical heroes come in all shapes and sizes and appear in the most amazing places: like under one’s own nose or mistletoe.

A WARLOCK UNDER THE MISTLETOE is a true sweet romance; closed bedroom doors only in this book.

Do today’s readers demand the edgy, steeped in reality, border-line harsh styled romance?
Or is there room on the shelf for a sweet read that’s just a really great story?

My holiday heart projects that readers will embrace A WARLOCK UNDER THE MISTLETOE.

Discover the magic of Christmas, as Pippa finds love in the strong arms of her Warlock under the mistletoe.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Snapping Photos?? Breathe LIFE into Writing . . .

I’m old enough that Kodak still means cameras to me. Instant camera was our phrase from the 60s & 70s. Of course, considering today’s technology, it’s ludicrous to think those were instant pictures.

1) First to film – The lucky owned a 35MM, which meant loading the camera was always a treat. Lining it up - perfectly - to catch the leading edge of the film reel (and hoping like crazy that you’d really accomplished that feat so you’d be taking pictures instead of just turning the hand crank). For the novice photo buff, it started with a Kodak Instamatic: a pop-and-click camera.

2) No do-overs -- As you shot the roll of film, it was framed or not. Blurry or not. Too dark, too light, the wrong angle OR not.

3) Film development – Then, budding photographers were off to the photo store to drop the precious roll of film.

4) Pictures – Finally, the film results were returned. Not just moments later, or hours later, but days later, the camera buff could enjoy their photo reward. Oh, and the sleeved negatives were the accompaniment, in case, a second print was required.

Stop & Consider:
How often did that picture actually match the remembered image in your mind?
The memory of the event, the landscape, the adventure?

Even today, with the serious advances in iPhones, Smartphones and photography equipment,
does the captured image provide a mirror testament to the moment?
Why not?

What’s wrong?

Why isn’t that image on our social media, in print, framed and hung on our wall, the perfect recreation?

Because – how ever good the photographer – memories are about more than the two dimensional image.

Memories capture:
1) Sound: sea rushing to shore, a child’s squeal, a seagull’s scream.
2) Smell: briny ocean, clean air, tempting scents of grilling hotdogs, smoke from a beach fire.
3) Feel: cold wind, warmth of the sun, slick of suntan lotion.
4) Taste: salt on the tongue, hotdogs slathered with chili & onions, chilly rocky road ice cream.
5) Sight: waves breaking against impenetrable rocks throwing mist high; sun illuminating a dad teaching his child to swim; clouds building, deepening, darkening, threatening until the brilliance of lightning splits the sky.

The photo can highlight one instant in time, but to truly capture the ‘Kodak’ moment, all senses must be enveloped.

As a writer do you store these memories to access when creating a scene? Building a character’s backstory? Designing real-life dialogue?

Life is more than a snap-shot.
It’s more than 3-D.

Life is meant to be fully dimensional. Writers, then, must create the moments, the experiences and breathe those images onto page.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions – and I commit to these sparingly – to develop pics from my camera phone (QUICKLY) then list one or more sensory memories on the back of the photo. I have several underutilized photo boxes (normally filled with junk I simply haven’t cleaned away – ooh, sounds like another worthy NYR). I don’t want to overcomplicate the process, so I’m planning to file under settings. Then as I write a beach scene, I can thumb through these Kodak memories and relive the experience, that slice of living in the moment.

The goal: no matter how good my sense of ‘senses’ can be during a writing session,

I always want to dig deeper,
bring more to the page,
breathe more LIFE into the writing.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Sunday Morning Construction

Why do those pesky 'small' fix-it or reconstruction jobs turn out to be so:

And HOW, oh HOW do we make them easier?

1) Read the directions
2) Don't be afraid to ask for help
3) Proper tools
4) YouTube Videos are your friend
5) Take pictures

As a serious do-it-all fixer, I've learned -- through my share of mistakes -- a few keys lessons that make installing . . . repairing . . . replacing . . . new construction a bit easier.

1) Read the directions. And I do mean ALL the directions. Don't skip to what you think concerns you. Read them all. Especially, the WARNING section. If the directions say, wear PROTECTIVE anything -- do it.
I use plastic Barbecue gloves for a lot of my painting/refinishing jobs. They're CHEAP and the come in boxes of 500. Who cares if you strip off the pair every time you change sections of the project? Super useful if you're using that expandable insulator mixture. Comes in a can. Spray in the opening and then it expands. OH - word of warning - USE a very small amount of this mixture. It really, truly expands. READ the directions.

2) Don't be afraid to ask for help. Find a hardware store (NOT a supercenter) and ask for insight. Want to refinish a piece of furniture? Then go to the experts and ask for them to talk you through the basics. These experts will save you MASS amounts of time, frustration and expense. I have three different hardware stores, depending on my project, that I'll visit before starting, and I've been handling repairs for a number of years. But products change - there's always something new on the market. Maybe better. Maybe not. But the experts will know if those new products for my PROJECT are worth the investment. Finding the right hardware store has been key for me, and those are the smaller stores.

3) Proper tools. If you're just starting out your remodeling/refinishing/repairing project this can get expensive. (Again, asking the experts WHICH tools are a must can be a tremendous cost savings.) Purchase tools and supplies will be a must. A multi-head screw driver is an excellent investment and hugely helpful when you're stuck under the kitchen cabinet and suddenly realize that it's not a flat-head screw, but a Phillips head. One quick flip on the multi-head screw driver and you're back in business. Don't skimp on your paint brushes. Trust me, picking out the wayward bristles from your finished painting project is NO fun. But you can save money on the Cheap-O drop clothes. .99C at loads of stores. Spread out, use, and discard. Unless you're a professional, the Cheap-O versions are fine. If sanding, buy multiple grits. You must step down the sanding project from roughest grit to lightest grit in order to assure a smooth finish and no 'divots' in your sanding job. (Ask the experts.)

4) YouTube Videos are your friend. Recently, I purchased a new refrigerator. I paid for delivery, but as I wasn't eliminating the old, it needed to be moved. Into the garage - easy, right? Not so much. It was too wide and hauling it out the backdoor and a sizable threshold seemed like a bad plan. Then it was how to make big fridge fit through small door. Answer: take the fridge doors off. Wait, still not so easy. Water & ice maker in door and they were connected . . . WHERE? In came the YouTube videos. Which I watched no less than 10 times. Yep, because that lovely water hose didn't quite disassemble in the 1-2-3 fashion that the instructions promised. Nonetheless, brawn eventually won out and the old fridge is now in the garage, and the new is in place. YouTube videos . . . yep, watch them. And if the first one doesn't make sense or is leaving out steps, check out another then another if necessary until you find an explanation video that makes sense. Or you realize that this project is outside your wheelhouse and need to call in the professional.

5) Finally, take pictures as you go.
a) you'll want to document your success. Yes, you will. When completed, you'll want to post the 'Ta-Da' moment. It's worth celebrating.
b) if you're repairing - that normally entails taking the original apart - then you'll want to remember exactly how it CAME apart.
c) if you get so far into the project and need to visit the hardware store again, those pictures of the progress can be hugely helpful to the experts to advise you.

Not every project in your home should be a DIY. Experts exist for a reason. There's no shame in turning over a project to an outside source. But there's no shame in wading into the DIY world and handling 'fix-it' projects on your own.

Happy repairing/refurbishing/refinishing!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Grey's Lady by Natasha Blackthorne - Book Review

Grey’s Lady (Wild, Wicked and Wanton – Book 1) by Natasha Blackthorne

1st Spoiler Alert – this novel is Book 1 in a series. While there is a Resolution, there is NOT a conclusion to the story or with these characters. But no grousing! Author Natasha Blackthorne has this as a current KindleUnlimited download, and has the book marked as a ‘Prequel’.

While historical, author Natasha Blackthorne offers readers a more unique setting as this story line takes place in Philadelphia, PA, spring 1812, where the Port of Philadelphia is blooming.

Attic-borne, Elizabeth (Beth) McConnell and wealthy merchant and shipping owner, Grey Sexton set the sheets on fire with their torrid meetings. If readers are searching for hot and heavy on page, then Grey’s Lady feeds that desire.

Beth, deserted by her first Gentlemen lover – and in her belief, her true love – finds herself trapped in a traditional woman’s role, and stifled under society’s expectations. Wanting, needing release, Beth embarks on a series of dangerous one-time encounters with other Gentlemen. To Beth it is about selectively choosing risks that will curb her sexual needs, then leaving those men after only ONE encounter. The men are left craving more, and Beth can never be ‘truly’ deserted, if she is the one who starts, ends, and controls the assignations.

Author, Natasha Blackthorne, deals with what is seldom considered during historical stories: were ‘ye olden women’ simply free of rampant sexual desire? Natasha Blackthorne takes on the task of answering that question as she weaves Beth’s character.

Grey, in his youth married a society belle, only to discover that name and rank were all that interested his wife. While a son is the result of their union, Grey finds himself in a cold, solitary bed. When his wife dies, Grey swears to keep his relationships to straight sex – a mistress – and not become entangled again.

Beth’s choice of Grey as her newest sexual conquest opens the story, and readers don’t wait long for the first carriage-bump-and-grind between these characters. Instead of Beth’s normal ONE AND DONE excursions, the two are drawn together again and again. Rather like the moth to the flame, but which is the moth and which is the flame is what keeps these sexual rendezvouses hot.

If wanton is a reader’s taste, then Grey’s Lady will satisfy the palate.

However – 2nd Spoiler Alert - readers need to be aware that these characters spend a great deal of their time ‘angry’ on page. Beth and Grey seemed trapped in this one predominate emotion and the characters miss an opportunity to develop more 3-dimensional attributes that could deepen the storyline.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance - book review

Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance is a lovely, sweet read.

How many times has a novel left you wanting to ‘thunk’ the historical heroine in the head, and say, “Take control of your life, girl. Stop waiting for the inevitable.”? Too many times for me. Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance is a great change of pace from that normal historical and often, hysterical female character. While staying true to the period, Ms. Richmond has linked two characters—one confined to rank by constraints of birth and one a true victim of circumstances beyond financial control—who find themselves on the outside of the TON plate-glass window looking in. If the protagonists are guilty of a bit of bemoaning their fates, they don’t dwell on it, but rather find ways to survive and then thrive.

These are my favorite types of characters: the pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootlaces characters.

Ms. Richmond also does a wonderful job of setting the scene for subsequent stories. Not to the degree where the reader is lamenting the fact that characters are introduced and then left hanging. No, it’s much more handily accomplished. Just a tease to know there’s more to come from this time period and this delightful author.

While some novels are meant to be deep and dark, full of plot twists, and crammed with villains, others are meant to provide a gentle respite from the world where heroes are obvious and the happy ending is guaranteed. Arietta Richmond has provided just such a delicate escape in Giving a Heart of Lace: Sweet and Clean Regency Romance.

Chasing Destiny - The Donovan Legacy, Book 2

As I'm currently working through edits -- CHASING DESTINY -- and always on the look-out for snippets to share during release, here are a few that caught my Tuesday morning muse.

My favorites for the day . . .

Garrick glanced toward the unopened bottle and glasses. She seemed far too at home, too at ease in his house. How long had this lovely stranger been living here—alone—with his father? “Enough of the cat and mouse game. Who are you?”

Some strange woman, with endless mahogany eyes, was making herself quite comfortable. He would have his answer, and now. Sultry voice and cooking skills included, she could be a dangerous distraction for any guy, and certainly for an older man who happened to be worth a large chunk of money.

“Your daddy warned me that you were the difficult type.” There was strain in her face now, the smile not quite as bright, the eyes more reserved. “Pit bull persistent with a touch of cynicism thrown in for good measure. Looks like he was right on both counts.”

“If you have nothing to hide, then there’s no reason not to tell me.”

A tiny worry frown creased her brow. Laying the plates on the table’s edge, she resettled the ball cap and studied Garrick for several minutes. “I’m the graphic designer who’s going to save your GQ fanny on the capitol’s restoration campaign.” She looked pointedly at the bottle. “Now, are you going to open the wine?”

Hot Texas summer storms marched across open prairie with less impact than an angry Garrick Shapiro.

The man quit the kitchen with a pivot turn that would do the military proud, only to return a short time later in his casual attire.

Without a word, he left the house and headed across the wide lawn.

Jaycee had known better than to follow.

If she learned anything with four brothers, it was that men needed their thinking space.

And God help the woman who infringed when their poor little brains needed room to expand.

“Does this mean,” Garrick patted the sagging office couch, apparently intending to ignore her sarcasm, “that you’ve decided I’m too difficult to live with?”

Jaycee rested against her desk and clarified, “I wasn’t living with you.”

“So, is that a yes or no to the difficult part?”

“Who are you?” Abandoning her casual lean, she rolled up to her knees on the office carpet and squared off with him. His eyes twinkled, and she’d bet her last Oreo he was funning her. “You’re certainly not the same guy who came home from London.”

“Jet lag. I get a little…”

“Cranky?” she finished.



He quirked an eyebrow at her, but answered, “Perhaps.”

“How about down-right scorpion-stinging, cactus-poking ornery?”

“You made your point.” He offered an olive branch. “Truce.”

Jaycee considered the tapered, but not pampered, extended hand. She was lousy at staying mad. It simply took too much energy, and at the moment she was desperately short of energy. Shrugging, she placed her palm against his then sucked in a fast breath when his fingers tightened, enclosing her in warmth.

Unfortunately, it's time to return to my other job . . . the one that pays most of the bills . . . so I must leave Jaycee & Garrick for later in the day.
But rest assured, they'll be jelling in my mind.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Teaching an Old Dog (writer) New Tricks. Secrets to Better Writing.

The Donovan Legacy (HARM'S WAY - current release) actually started with a prequel.

CHASING DESTINY was written a year in front of HARM'S WAY and then promptly buried among all my floppy disks. Yep, that long ago.
Having recovered my earlier works, I realized the characters of CHASING DESTINY (Garrick & Jaycee) deserved their own release.
To that end, the rewrites began.

The process has been enlightening: good & bad. And that tenuous, often painful, process deserved to be shared as well. Producing better writing is hard work. Short cuts are not generally the answer, but you can learn to be a smarter writer by following some of these writing tips.

New eyes on an old manuscript allowed my editor’s eagle eye to find:

1) Uh-oh, are all those TYPOs really mine? One editing pass or a dozen, some TYPOS are hard to spot because it’s often not about spelling. Becomes or becoming. Too or to. They’re or there. A new read will often find what’s actually written on page.

2) Wow! These characters are witty. How much more life can I breath into the page if I capitalize on that trait?

3) Grammar is an on-going learning process. The rules don’t change, but my ability to better utilize them evolves.

4) I will habitually overuse the same words. It’s as though my writing needle is stuck in the same vinyl groove.
This problem leads me to #5.

5) Use a word recognition program, which will highlight most commonly used or abused words in a chapter or scene. I use, but that’s my preference. There are other options – quite a few inside of Microsoft Word itself. See my blog: Turning actual words into ‘art’ never gets old for me. Writers are visual creatures; it’s how we bring black-n-white to full-life color. A program for generating ‘word clouds’ is a positive editing experience, and it’s just plain fun.

6) Older MS means newer, less experienced, writer = some written words are just drivel. My Southern editor says, “Just dump the dang drivel.” My professional editor says “Discard the dreaded drivel.” Whichever editor shows up for my proofing session, she is right. Don’t be afraid to eliminate writing that slows the pace, is redundant, or is sophomoric to your current style. Again, being a better writer is often about what should REMAIN on page - not what was originally written.

a. Don’t be afraid of ‘white’ page space. If the writing is awful: cut it/chop it/lop of its head – okay, almost a bit slasher movie language but the point is valid.
b. Read the older MS aloud. This is the quickest way to find trite dialogue or slow narrative. It also highlights redundancy. Your eyes might skip over the same phrase, but when read aloud, your editor’s ear will hear it.

7) Protect the white space! After I’ve exiled drivel to the junk folder, I’ll type the simple phrase – ‘something wonderful happens here’. I’m not required to know – in that one instantaneous instance – what the wonderful will be. Nope, I just need to give my MUSE time to think of what’s best to do with the white space. Maybe, it’s nothing. The deletion may lead to a better tightened scene or conversation. Or, maybe, there’s an actual point – an ‘Ah-ha’ moment – that needs to happen on page. On that page. Giving my MUSE time to consider the options can lead to effective writing.

8) Wordy internal dialogue. I talk to myself. Argue with myself. Sometimes silently. Sometimes . . . yep, aloud. When the house is empty, I’ll have detailed conversations. I’m brilliant with an argument after the fact. The point: most of us have an internal voice going on in our heads at any given moment. Characters will as well. But it’s not necessary to prooooooo-long the internal conversation.
*****Think it doesn't happen in big name, well-published authors' writing? Then think again. I have read more than one NYTimes Best Seller during the past year, who committed the same infraction. So, newbies & established indie authors take heart. Even the most experienced writer can commit this faux-pas. The point is to be aware of the tendency, find the offenses, then cut them out.*****
This sent me back to my own re-vitalized WIP with a figurative red pen.
1. Did my characters drone on for 10 sentences when 2 would do?
2. Did my characters ‘rehash’ the same point over and over again. Remember, we want our heroes and heroines to be SMART. (TSTL is never a good review)
Character emotions take time to develop; character attitudes – just like ours – will evolve over the course of the book; and character behaviors will adjust as he/she learns. But if my heroine is rambling on with the same internal argument on page 200 as she did on page 10, then I’ve committed the writing sin of prolonged internal dialogue.

I’m happy to report that my current hero & heroine are well on their way to becoming brilliantly succinct.

As my older MS is still a work in progress – very much so – I’m certain there will be more lessons learned from a new take on old work. I’ll share any tidbits of writing wisdom with you. We, as writers evolve; so, too, should our writing. Remember, better writing means happier readers.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Book Review - Tempting Mr. Townsend by Anna Campbell

Suffering from historical fever? Burning to read about past-times filled with heroes & heroines?

Then an Anna Campbell romance is the perfect cure.

In TEMPTING MR. TOWNSEND, author, Anna Campbell once again captures the incurable romantic heart. In this dashing widow selection, Lady Deerham has known and lost true love. Comfortable in her widow’s shell, Fenella’s resolved to raise her son alone and spend her remaining years without the comfort of a man’s presence. That is . . . until a bear of a man burst into her quite proper drawing room, and conveys her cross country to find her son.

Anthony Townsend has never wanted a woman as he does Fenella, and he’s determined to storm her carefully shielded heart. Mr. Townsend will use all his remarkable negotiating tactics to convince, cajole, and even seduce the proper Lady Deerham into his life – forever.

Author: Anna Campbell

Book Review - Michael's Blood by SS Bazinet

Michael’s Blood by SS Bazinet, is a unique exploration of angels – amongst us – and re-incarnation.

Have you ever turned your head just right, cut your glance quickly to the side . . . and believed that there was another presence over your shoulder? Surrounding you? Then you have already stepped across the threshold of guardian angels.

How about those tingles along your spine when you simply knew something – no true explanation for that insight, that glimpse of fact or feelings, but in your deepest soul, you knew them to be accurate?

Author, SS Bazinet takes readers on a journey into the concept that past-lives are more than New Age language, and might easily explain the fabric of our everyday world. Carefully woven into Michael’s Blood is the presence – warm and comforting – that none of us are truly alone as guardian angels stand the test of our stubbornness and never forsake their ‘keeps’ through the ages.

Michael’s Blood – the Vampire Reclamation Project – is so much more than another simple fantasy story.

When vampire protagonist, Arel, is given the gift of angel’s blood, his troubled past filled with tortures, old fears, and years of horrific abuse must be cleansed. In the process of Arel’s journey, which takes him from present to past to present again, he begins to build a new family. SS Bazinet breathes life into hero, Arel, as a complicated, scarred, stubborn, and needy soul: all identifiable characteristics in today’s world.

If you are searching for a story that crosses genres and dimensions, then Michael’s Blood is a read for you.

Author: SS Bazinet

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Breathing new life into an older manuscript brought me back to


Do you want to know your most commonly used words in a chapter?
In a Blog post?
In a letter to your editor?


'WORDLE is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. You can tweak your clouds with different fonts, layouts, and color schemes. The images you create with Wordle are yours to use however you like. You can print them out, or save them to your own desktop to use as you wish.' is a FREE Service that doesn't demand any Google Chrome EXT additions.

However - WORD ON INSTALLATION - you'll need Java RunTime in order to access Wordle, and you will need to download the 32bit version (actually, shows as X86 on the Java download site, which is old school for 32bit). My laptop is roughly a year old and the Win 10 version on my system is 64bit. Just be aware that you might need to handle this conversion depending on which version of Windows is loaded to your desktop/laptop, and which BIT size as well. If Java is currently downloaded to your system, Wordle should open. Also, there is a Wordle trouble-shooting help guide. I used Internet Explorer - not EDGE - just good ole Explorer to access Wordle, and it worked perfectly. Hopefully, these install tips will ease your Wordle path.

Pssst - any program that demands a Google Chrome EXT needs to be handled with extreme caution.
Check for reviews or malware alerts on these programs before you complete install and allow the EXT full access.
You might find your browser taken over by the EXT . . . never a good result.


Through the Wordle process, my nemesis of 'back' revealed its ugly redundancy,
and I dived into the chapter to obliterate its overuse.

The point of this exercise is to make certain - that you, the author - are fully aware of the most commonly used words, and phrases, in your writing.
Does the Wordle picture reflect the language that should float to the top like wonderful cream?
Or have you fallen into a vocabulary trap where the same tired words appear over and over?

Wordle is a bit of visual creativity to color our written world of black-and-white.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Book Review - Magic Harvest by Mary Karlik

Magic Harvest (Fairy Trafficking) by Mary Karlik

Want to push aside the FAIRYTALE veil,
and see what really happens between the pages of Once Upon A Time and Happily Ever-After?

Then Magic Harvest is a definite read for you.

Author, Mary Karlik, has woven a wonderful tale that intertwines magical creatures with the human world. The story is filled with elves, trolls, dragons, a band of law enforcement Investigators, and a host of fey people. And just like real-life, some of these folks are good, and some, not so much.

Magic Harvest is a dedication to a sister’s love, and the sheer determination of sibling to let nothing keep her from affecting a dangerous and dimension-spanning rescue.

Mary Karlik has breathed life into these fantasy beings until the pages flutter like so many faerie wings.

Think you have read the best of ‘quest’ books? Then think again, because Magic Harvest reminds readers that each of us is filled with self-doubt when facing our enemies, fear is universal, and bravery can be found no matter what your size.

This story kept me up until the ‘wee’ hours of the morning, and will bring me back to Mary Karlik’s author’s page again and again.

Fairytales do exists and sometimes the ending is even better than Happily Ever-After.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Perfect Phrase

Writers need to be voracious observers.
Listen carefully.
Read anything, everything.
Watch behaviors.
Stare at the sky, the landscape, even the cars in rush hour.
Nuggets of gold can be mined from the most unusual places.

I watch America’s Got Talent. Sometimes to prove how out-of-sync that I am with the rest of the population. More often, because I’m continually awed by the gifts of so many.

AGT comedians for the most part – entertain.

The ones that truly earn my out-loud guffaws are those who keep it every day simple, say grocery store adventures.
No, I’m not specifically referring to Wal-Mart shoppers. Those would be an article all of their own.
Remember your last grocery store trip.
Funny stuff happens.

Men, who are perfectly capable of driving on the right – correct side of the road – seem to become lane-confused when in the store. They’re always on the wrong side, or pass incorrectly, or block the aisle, and then are terribly confused when they receive death glares from their female counterparts.

Teenagers, who clearly believe in the grocery stork, are completely lost and will wander aimless – and always in your path – when searching for an item.

The woman on her phone – you’ve seen it too – who is so engrossed in her conversation that it’s impossible for her to shop.

AGT Comedians don’t find these encounters aggravating.
Well, maybe they do. But they turn said encounters into comedy.
Laugh-makers, I term them.
The real world with a twist.

As I DVR my select AGT favorites, I often watch these snippets again and again.
Who doesn’t need a laugh pick-me-up after a tough day?

I practice this same repetitive behavior with books.
A familiar book will feed my sanity-starved soul.

Most of us have ‘keeper’ shelves. Some of us are a bit obsessive and mark favorite pages . . . passages . . . the perfect turn of the phrase.

Use that behavior to your writing advantage.

Is the narrative in your current WIP detached? Guilty of telling rather than showing? Borderline boring?

Is your dialogue flat? Uninspired? Wasted page space?

Then start your own page of ‘keeper’ phrases, lines, and great passages.

When I began this exercise, it was with the thought I’d capture a couple of memorable one-liners and then share.

The more I read the talented, the more I find to KEEP.

I’ve listed a few here. If you haven’t read these books, I’d suggest a trip no further than your local Amazon store. Any of these titles in hardback or paperback, I own the permanent copies.

1) Because writers need to be voracious observers.
2) Because reading makes me happy.
3) Most importantly, great writing hones my craft.

I hope you enjoy my list.

‘It’s for his own good. Odd how the gods and humanity used that so often to justify brutality.’ Sherrilyn Kenyon, UPON THE MIDNIGHT CLEAR.

‘Howard Roark laughed.’ Ayn Rand, THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

'She was the dream he lost at dawn . . . his dream of everything . . .' Suzanne Elizabeth Phillips, THIS HEART OF MINE.

‘Caitlin mustered up all her courage – all one and a half ounces of it – and walked up the stairs. Stopping at the closed door, she risked a side-long glance at Mr. Mountain Man.’ (the bouncer of a BDSM club). Sayara St. Claire, HURT ME, HEAL ME.

‘ “Because when I pray, I say your name first, and I say your name last. When I breathe, I breathe for you. Every kind thing I say, every good thing I
do, I do because I know you’re in the world and I . . . I love you.” He smiled at her with his mouth, his eyes . . . his soul.’ Christina Dodd, DANGER IN A RED DRESS

‘People who wanted to challenge the status quo didn’t get to have temper tantrums. They had to be smarter, and calmer, and faster, and better. Beyond reproach, beyond critique. As perfect as a human being could be, because you could whine about fair and unfair all you wanted, but at the end of the day, you did the extra work or you failed.’ Kit Rocha, DEACON(Gideon’s Riders)

‘He’d wanted her. Out of all the women in the world, he’d wanted her. Wanted, hell, she thought, grinning now. Pursued, demanded. Taken. And while she could admit all of that was exciting, he’d gone one step further.
He cherished.’ JD Robb, BETRAYAL IN DEATH

‘ “An ‘usband should be plain enough to sit at his settle, and simple-minded enough to accept the stew on his plate, rather than looking round ev’ry corner for a more succulent chop,” she declares.
Maud nods in agreement. “She sounds very wise.”
Aye, she was full of wisdom; but mostly gin!” ‘Emmanuelle de Maupassant, THE GENTLEMEN'S CLUB

‘When he touched her, the sensation was like going over the tip-top of a roller coaster and speeding right toward the ground. It was scary, and awful, and grand all at once.’ Christina Dodd, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

‘His silence welcomed her as surely as another’s man greeting, for his eyes glowed and a smile flirted with the stern line of his mouth.’ Christina Dodd, JUST THE WAY YOU ARE.

‘Pride was how one behaved when others were watching. Honor was what a man did when there was no one else to see.’ Mary Jo Putney, THE RAKE

‘Her presence had been palpable since she first arrived and now he could feel only the ghost of her essence, echoes of her laugh.’ J.S. Scott, THE BILLIONAIRE'S OBSESSION

‘. . . real happiness and joy, those don’t tend to come without some risk. Those things are worth it.’ Lexi Blake, PERFECTLY PAIRED

Lexi Blake summed up my attitude. Good things don't come without risk. They also don't come without effort. In order to be a better writer, we need to observe, first-hand and in detail. We need to read great authors and pay careful attention to the turn of a phrase.

If 'due diligence' is given . . . then some day, it will be our words highlighted on blogs, with Post-it notes, and in literary discussions.

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