Thursday, February 28, 2019

Reading and #Reviews (Wilson, Brockmann, and Henderson)

I'm a writer, but I'm also a reader. Each month, I'll share with you what I'm reading and some reviews. My available time to read is limited because I write, but I love to curl up with a book or a reader at night for the last hour of my waking day.

I tend to read what I write, but not exclusively. My current read is a Gothic Mystery Romance by Alicia Dean entitled Lady in the Mist. I'm only a chapter into it, but I'm thoroughly enjoying the read. I also read detective thrillers, WWII historicals, mysteries, and some main stream character driven novels.

Here are some of the books I've read recently. Maybe you'll discover a new book or author!

Candy, Corpses, and Classified Ads by J L Wilson
One thing, and there are many, I like about J L's books are the heroes and heroines have a little distance on them. They've had past romances or marriages, and they have some depth of character from life's experiences. In C, C, and C, JT McCord jilted Molly Lawford twenty years ago. She survived, married twice, but her first husband died and her second ran off with a hairdresser. JT is back and Molly wants to resist him. But there's a body, a marauding pig, and all sorts of  suspense to get them entangled since he's back as the Chief of Police. This is a lot of fun and a highly recommended read.

Amazon Buy Link

The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockman

After a near-fatal head injury, Navy SEAL lieutenant Tom Paoletti catches a glimpse of an international terrorist in his New England hometown. The Navy won't believe him because of his head injury. He has to take saving the day into his own hands with crew he brings together which includes the girl-next-door he left behind. The action is good and so is the romance. An entertaining read. By the way, this is the first book of the Troubleshooters Series.

The Treasure of Como Bluff by Alison Henderson
Something about a woman doing a supposedly "man's job" and being so good at it makes for a fun read. When Caroline convinces the handsome Nick to pose as the paleontologist...well it's just plain fun. This is a sweet western romance you're sure to enjoy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Bad Grammar Wicked to the Ears by Dee S. Knight #wicked #grammartips #romance


There are all kinds of chills, and bad grammar can send a few up my spine! Dee tells how.

While I was trying to think of something wicked to write for this post, an example of one of the most wicked things fell into my lap—a feature on a morning news program in which a national politician used some horrendous grammar. He isn't a young guy, either, which tells me that our educational system in the U.S. has been going downhill for a very long time. Despite secondary languages used by necessity, English is our predominant language. It seems very wicked indeed that our schools don't do a good job of teaching it anymore. I scream at the TV nearly every day, listening to people like journalists, politicians, and program stars butcher the most basic rules of grammar.

So, some examples? Using me, myself, and I. Would you ever start a sentence with "myself"? I don't think so. Myself is not a sentence subject.
Bad: Bob and myself (or Myself and Bob) went to the movies.
Good: Bob and I went to the movies.

Bad: Sally gave the dog to Bob and myself.
Good: Sally gave the dog to Bob and me.

That last example brings up another pet peeve that you hear all the time: when to use I and me. If the term is after a preposition, almost always use me. In the case below, the preposition is to:
Bad: The prize was given to Jen and I.
Good: The prize was given to Jen and me.

This last example is what I heard this morning, and it has to do with verb tenses. I don't remember the names of all the various tenses, but I remember how to use most of them. When I hear someone who should know better use the wrong verb, I cringe.
Present: I run daily.
Past: I ran last week.
Perfect: I have run for months.
BAD!!!: I have ran for months.

Present: I see you.
Past: I saw you.
Perfect: I have seen you every day.
BAD!!!: I have saw you every day.

Present: I go to work each morning.
Past: I went to work each morning last week.
Perfect: I have gone to work each day.
BAD!!!: I have went to work each day. (This is the error the congressman made on national TV this morning.)

I'm not a grammar Nazi and I am definitely not perfect in grammar myself (correct use of myself), but knowing and using basic grammar is important. I was accepted for my last job because I was the first applicant in a dozen who could pass a basic test that included grammar and punctuation rules. Not using them shows a laziness and lack of pride in our language—something that helps bind us as a society. My main character in my latest book, Only a Good Man Will Do, is an English teacher. Daniel Goodman strives to instill in his students the knowledge they need to put themselves forward in the best possible light. For our real teachers and schools not to do the same with today's students is wicked indeed.

Daniel Goodman is a man on a mission. He aims to become headmaster of Westover Academy. For that he needs a particular, special woman to help him set high standards. Into his cut and dried life of moral and upright behavior, comes Eve Star, previously one of Europe's foremost exotic dancers. Her life is anything but cut and dried, black and white. Daniel is drawn to her like a kid to chocolate. Nothing good can come of this attraction. Or can it? He is after all, a good man.

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Author links:

Thursday, February 21, 2019

WIP Update A Writer's Life #WritersLife #suspense

puppy exuberance
If I keep on schedule, which I have not been doing of late, today's post should update you on the progress of my current manuscript. I've missed posting two Thursdays in a row, one of which should have been some rambling on what's happening in this writer's life.

first new tooth
But what's happening in this writer's life is exactly why I didn't have time to post. Between the new puppy and a couple of trips to the valley to help out my DIL, we've had medical things. FDW had rotator cuff surgery. This was a complicated surgery for him because it was the same shoulder he had the same operation on eighteen years ago. His chances were 50/50 on fixing it. I'm happy to say, he was in the right half of that 50/50 deal. Now comes the very painful recovery. He is unable to take anything stronger than ibuprofen. He's miserable. He has no use of the arm for weeks so I'm on call. This I-hate-to-cook wife is cooking every meal plus all the other stuff my wonderful other half usually does. Busy.

My medical issues were dental. I had the final steps of getting an implant tooth for the one I knocked out doing a face plant on the sidewalk seven months ago. Four days after
getting it in, it fell out. No kidding. Yesterday, I got another tooth. Let's hope he used Gorilla Glue this time!

Now...the reason I should be blogging today is where I'm at with my new book, working title Magpie MacKenzie, a Joshua, Arizona Novel.

At fifteen chapters in, I realized the book was not on track. Something was off. Magpie had taken a backseat to Zack. She also didn't have near enough angst. Where was her conflict? Why had she drifted off? I did a little ripping of my plot. I gave Magpie and Zack a good talking to. The sparks flew and ideas burned. I went back to the first ten chapters, added scenes, rearranged, and rewrote them. It was a bit of a nightmare. At one point a scene disappeared. I had timeline issues. But I finally wrangled it into shape. The ten chapters are now twelve. I'm happier with where the plot is and the trouble I've dumped on Magpie.

Time to get back to writing.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Only in New Orleans by Debby Grahl #NewOrleans #romance #magic


I absolutely love New Orleans. Debby paints a good picture. Please welcome my guest, Debby Grahl.

New Orleans, known as the Crescent City or the Big Easy, just celebrated its three- hundredth anniversary. It was first settled by the French, then taken over by the Spanish, sold back to the French, who then sold it to the United States.

My husband David and I first visited New Orleans in 1989 and fell in love with the city. I’m a history buff by heart so I found the old Spanish architecture with its wrought iron balconies enchanting. All you have to do is walk the streets of the French Quarter to feel the magic.

There’s a saying, “Only in New Orleans.” And this is so true. As I sat on our hotel balcony sipping a glass of wine and munching on a bag of voodoo chips, I could  see a musician setting up on the corner. Soon the clear sounds of his saxophone filled the night. The smell of spicy gumbo from the restaurant across the street wafted through the air.  The clip clop of a horse- drawn carriage passed beneath me, its driver thrilling his passengers with tales of the ghosts who haunt the city. A man, painted silver, walked along juggling oranges, while a bicycle cab pedaled by. On Bourbon Street, a second line band marched past. A group of laughing tourists carrying red go cups went into a bar, and the long low whistle of a paddle wheeler on the river could be heard.

As I sat there taking it all in, I thought what a wonderful place to set a story. From its diverse people and cultures to its incredible food, such as hot sugary beignets, po boy sandwiches, and crawfish etouffee; every kind of music from funky blues to jazz, rock ‘n roll to country; and Voodoo shops, haunted houses, and above-ground cemeteries.

People claim witches and ghosts walk the streets, and I have to admit sometimes I believe it’s true. It was while touring St. Louis #1, the oldest above-ground cemetery in the city, standing in front of the tomb of the Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau, that the idea for His Magic Touch began. I swear she zapped me. I started feeling faint and had to leave the tour. Now, my husband will tell you it was because of the heat, but I felt fine until we approached her tomb. I think my version is more interesting. I began my research into local witchcraft and hauntings.

The Hotel Monteleone, on Royal Street, is one of the settings I use in the book. Not only known for its Carousel Bar, it’s also one of the most haunted hotels in the city.

I hope His Magic Touch brings a little of New Orleans to life for you, and you’ll get a chance to visit this unique city on the Mississippi.

The night before Jared Dupre's wedding, a specter warns him the demonic witch, Adam Montief, has kidnapped his brother in a centuries-old vendetta unknown to Jared. A powerful witch himself, Jared tracks Adam from New Orleans to a remote island off the coast of Connecticut where he's given no choice. He must rescue his brother and break his engagement to Kendra O'Connell, or they both die. After complying, Jared engages in a sword fight and believes he has vanquished his foe, but when he returns to New Orleans, he finds evil still threatens all he loves. Kendra, not knowing why Jared broke their engagement, devastated, finds solace in another's arms. With help from an ancestor's spirit, can Jared defeat the dark magic descending over the Big Easy while winning back the woman he loves? 

Angelique Montief flicked her wrist and set the bamboo ceiling fan spinning. Kneeling on a woven mat with sweat coating her body, she lifted a small wooden brass-bound casket from the bottom of a large trunk, inserted a gold key, and opened the lid. Inside two objects lay wrapped in thick cloth. She carefully unwrapped the smaller bundle to reveal a pentagonal mirror, a gift handed down to her by her grandmother, its ancient oak frame carved with tiny pentacles. She glanced over her shoulder at her locked bedroom door, then stared into the mirror and whispered, “Show him to me.”

When the glass remained blank, fear clutched at her chest. Again, she said the words, and the image of a plantation house engulfed in flames appeared. “No, please, he can’t be dead.” Tears blurred her vision. The fiery image changed to reveal a human form lying beneath flowering bougainvillea.

Hope rising, Angelique peered closer.

“Show me his face.”

She saw his indigo blue eyes blink open.

“I’m coming, my love.” He couldn’t hear her, but she hoped in his heart he knew she would find a way to get to him.

As the smoke in the room thickened, her time was running out. She rewrapped the mirror and placed it into the smaller casket among cloth bags of herbs and potion-filled vials. Relocking the lid, she hung the key on a chain around her neck, dropped a jeweled dagger into her pocket, and tucked the casket under her arm.


Debby Grahl lives on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, with her husband, David. Besides writing, she enjoys biking, walking on the beach and a glass of wine at sunset. Her favorite places to visit are New Orleans, New York City, Captiva Island in Florida, the Cotswolds of England, and her home state of Michigan. She is a history buff who also enjoys reading murder mysteries, time travel, and, of course, romance. Visually impaired since childhood by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), she uses screen-reading software to research and write her books.

Her first published book, The Silver Crescent, won the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers’ Choice award. Her second book, Rue Toulouse, a contemporary romance set in New Orleans, was a finalist in the National Excellence in Romantic Fiction Award and was selected as a May, 2016, ‘local read’ by Hilton Head Monthly.

Decorated to Death is a holiday mystery cozy. She also has stories in three anthologies, The Haunted West, Never Fear/Christmas Terrors; and Ebb and Flow from the local Island Writers’ Network.

Debby was featured in the January, 2016, Hilton Head Monthly article ‘Intriguing People of the Lowcountry’. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Florida Romance Writers, and First Coast Romance Writers.

Her latest book, His Magic Touch, was released December 5, 2018, by Wild Rose Press.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Desert Rose and Armchair Travel by J. Arlene Culiner #romance #secondact

Muse Monday

My guest today, J. Arlene Culiner, makes a great point. Through a book, you can travel the world!

Armchair travel? Nothing like it. No last-minute panic while getting out to the airport; no check-in, or security check; no obnoxious seat partner on the plane; no screaming babies; no lost baggage; no lousy exchange rate; no pickpockets; no struggle, no bad weather. But, snuggled into your favorite chair, or propped against your pillow, you open your book (or e-reader) and are immediately transported into another world. Not only that: unlike a real tourist, you get to see what’s happening behind the scenes.

Which brings us to Blake’s Folly, Nevada, the setting for my latest romance, Desert Rose, and the soon-to-be released All About Charming Alice (release date February 26). Blake’s Folly is a semi-ghost town in Nevada, a backwoods community of abandoned clapboard shacks, endless wind, and
scraggly vegetation with strange local names like snatch-it shrub and sticky snakeweed. Back in the late 1800s, Blake’s Folly boasted three mining companies, a railway line to Reno, a lot of money, many saloons, and quite a few brothels, but the glory didn’t last. It was soon clear that the silver was running out, and those sane enough to do so, pulled up stakes and left town.

But even half-abandoned, rusty trailer, semi-ghost towns can have great charm, and my hero, geologist Jonah Livingstone, takes great pleasure in sighting the other inhabitants of this flatland: mule deer, bobcats, mountain beaver, spotted bats, desert tortoises, sidewinders, rattlers, chukar partridges, and little gray lizards. Of course, there’s another attraction too: the lovely Rose Badger. But how does Rose see Jonah? She doesn’t seem to favor any one man…

Do you want to know more? Why don’t we go visit Blake’s Folly right now, do it via Armchair Travel, and this excerpt from Desert Rose:

     Rose looked up. “You pass by Blake’s Folly from time to time? Whatever for? This is the end of the world.”
     “The world has several ends, and I work in all of them. I’m a geologist.”
     “Ah, I see. Well, that explains it.”
     “That explains some of it,” he said, taking her in from head to toe with undisguised curiosity. “If this place is the end of the world, how did you get here?”
     “The easiest way possible. I was born here.” Rose glanced out of the window at the early evening light touching up a bleak, empty landscape that would never interest a city slicker; at the gentle snowflakes drifting lazily, as though they had no intention of ever reaching the ground.
     “And you stayed?”
     He was looking even more curious now — if that were possible. She couldn’t blame him. “I did leave Blake’s Folly when I was young. I stayed away for years and was absolutely certain I’d never return, that this place was the absolute pits. It’s funny: there’s nothing going on here. The greatest social event of the year is the Blake’s Folly Get-Together — and that’s just bad music, awkward dancing, and gossip mongering. There’s no cinema within reasonable distance, no shopping outside of Reno — and that’s a very long, boring drive away. Yet, this place has a strange pulling power. So I came back, decided to settle.”
     “Your husband is from Blake’s Folly too?”
     Rose’s eyes flicked back to his. Ah ha. So, he was interested and checking out the territory. “No husband.”
     He looked surprised. “An unmarried woman in such an out-of-the-way place?”
     What was he asking? If she was lonely? Desperate for male company?
     Rose laughed outright. “Oh, there are plenty of men around, believe me.” There were. They were out on the ranches, or climbing over the hills, or looking for gold, or photographing, or pounding along the history trail, or doing research, or taking care of animals, or looking for fossils, or stopping at the Mizpah Hotel and Restaurant for a drink, a chat, a meal, and a little human warmth out here on the lonely flatland. She’d always had her share of admirers too, although none lived in Blake’s Folly — they’d have to be half-mad to do something like that. This place was a rusty trailer, scrapyard, abandoned car, clapboard shack, sagging old house community: a dead end if there ever was one.
     He took the little gift-wrapped packet she held out, slipped it into the pocket of his leather jacket. Turned, looked out at the night, but didn’t move towards the door. Rose watched him, wondered why he was hesitating. Because he wanted to stay? Talk to her? Get to know her? Because he too acknowledged the buzz that was still hovering in the air around them, and he wanted to explore it, see where it would go?
     Then he shook his head, turned back to her, the smile still playing softly around his lips.
     “Well, I’d better be on my way. Looks like the snow isn’t letting up.”
     “No,” Rose agreed. “There have been blizzard warnings all day.”
     “Yes.” His eyes held hers. Warm eyes. Intimate eyes. Eyes that, in certain circumstances, could create havoc with a woman’s senses. “Nice talking to you.”
     “Nice talking to you too.” She meant it.
     He still wasn’t heading toward the door. “My name is Jonah. Jonah Livingstone.”
     “I’m Rose Badger.”
     He nodded. “Until next time, Rose.”
     “See you then.”
     He stepped out into the night, half-turned, just briefly, his hand raised in a half-wave, half-salute. Then, vanished into the falling snow and dusky evening.
     Rose shrugged. Next time, he’d said? What sort of next time? This was Blake’s Folly. People always said they’d be back, but they rarely were. Why return to a pile of clapboard shacks and abandoned trailers? This was nowhere. This was the end of the line, socially speaking. This was a has-been. This was home. 

Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of dead-end Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. With a disastrous marriage far behind her, settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship always mean predictability and boredom? Well… perhaps things might be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he is off limits for anything other than friendship. Even though, secretly, she’s deeply attracted to him, she knows he’s still entangled in a complicated past relationship. Besides, Rose has another secret life—one that she’ll never give up for any man.

The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. Though Jonah has also suffered a failed marriage, he can’t help being drawn to Rose—and he dares to hope she may feel the same for him. But is Jonah too independent to settle into a permanent relationship again? He’s leading his own very private life, as well…and secrets are an excellent protection against love. Will he do what it takes to hold on to his Desert Rose?

Author Website: 

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Story of a Special Friend, Amigo #rescuedog

Over three years ago, we lost Rusty. Our beloved friend had been a rescue dog from the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. We didn’t think we’d ever get another dog. Rusty was a friend, fishing buddy, household helpmate, and our soulmate dog. He was dubbed “the smartest dog in the world.” He helped me carry in groceries, picked dirty clothes off the floor and took them to the laundry, and reprimanded FDW when he couldn’t land a fish. We loved him as part of our family.

Amigo in his culvert home
Then a month or so ago, we decided it might be time. We knew we wanted a rescue dog, and I made the rounds of Internet sites. While checking on one dog, the foster mom told me about another dog we might consider. Amigo wasn’t even listed on the site yet. When we heard his story, saw his photos, and watched a video of him, we knew we’d found our next friend. And he was even named Amigo!

Here’s his amazing story:

A Blackhat Humane Society (serving the Navajo Nation) volunteer
Wiley and Amigo
noticed a blind dog on her commute to work in Gallup, NM for several months. He was living in an arroyo, in the wild. At some point, she also saw a younger dog living in a small culvert pipe who was the blind dog's loyal friend. She found out the homeless people in the area were feeding the dogs. She named the blind dog, who was three or four years old, Wiley. Perfect, huh? The younger dog, who was gauged to be between nine months and a year, became Amigo.

Amigo is rescued
After receiving permission from Blackhat, she set a trap to bring them in for rescue. Amigo was taken first. It took a bit longer to capture Wiley. Wiley was taken to a blind dog rescue site in Albuquerque. Amigo was taken to Colorado and the foster home of Linda.

In the beginning, he stayed in his makeshift cave for comfort. After 24 hours, foster Mom, Linda, had to carry him out to relieve himself. Three weeks of care readied him for a family. We met her in Gallup, NM to bring him home.

We were a bit nervous making a 3 ½ hour drive to get him. What if he didn’t like us? What if we
Love at first sight
didn’t feel the bond? In spite of his story and photos, we knew if we didn’t all click, we’d leave without him. Luckily, and happily, that didn’t happen. He was all over us, and we loved him immediately.

He started out timid, but never aggressive. His reaction to every human he came in contact with was totally friendly. Dogs were
Sadi reading to Amigo
another story. Although, not aggressive, he was very scared. The second day we had him, our granddaughter, Sadi, came to spend the weekend. They fast became friends. She suggested we take him to the dog park. Greatest suggestion ever. After about an hour of tucked tailed and bared teeth, he was running and playing. He's quickly come out of his cautious, feral ways.

Amigo is sweet and lovable. I think he has a funny face. FDW
Warming up to the dog park
thinks he's cute and does not like me saying that. We’re still working on the come command, but he’s mastered sit and no. I think we made a good choice. I’m pretty sure if Amigo could speak, he’d agree.

For more information on the Blackhat Humane Society, CLICK HERE.

For the complete story of the rescue of Wiley as told by the Blackhat volunteer, CLICK HERE. Be advised, you'll see the first page of the story, then need to download the newsletter to read the rest.

Amigo knows how to relax

Hard to get mad at that face!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Singing Fearlessly by Fran Thomas #FearlessFriday #sing


Please welcome Fran Thomas to Discover... I don't know about you, but auditioning for a chorale would strike fear in my heart! 

I am an unlikely prospect to blog on Fearless Friday. I’d never in a million years consider something like skydiving. Yet, as a singer, I have done something that I suppose many might regard as scary. I’ve auditioned.

Although I am a founding member of the Symphonic Chorale of Southwest Florida, that doesn’t mean I don’t have to audition in order to remain a member in good standing. Every three years, I’ve had to select a piece of music that I feel confident I can perform. The chorus is on its second artistic director now, so I’ve had to get through this experience three times in front of two very different men.

For my most recent audition, I chose a piece in Italian. Mind you, I don't speak Italian; however, I can pronounce the words pretty accurately and have a nodding acquaintance with what they mean. I first learned this song when I took a voice class at a community college. Fortunately, the conductors I've auditioned for did not require the piece to be memorized. I was allowed to use the sheet music and had to bring an extra copy for the accompanist. 

Besides the prepared song, conductors usually expect singers to sight-read something. They’ll play you a chord to give you an idea what the key is and the first note of the phrase. Then you’re on your own. My current conductor also wanted singers to repeat a sequence of random notes. This isn’t too bad when there are three or four notes, but more than that is a real challenge. Somehow, I passed. I’ve got another year before I must go through this ordeal again.

Of course, all the years of singing gave me material to draw on in my latest book, Making Time with the Maestro.The idea for it actually came to me while I was on stage about to sing Mozart’s Requiem. You know, the one heard in the movie Amadeus? What can I say? Sometimes it gets boring up there waiting for the orchestra to tune up. I hope my tale of an opera company getting started doesn’t bore my readers.



On her first day as PR Director of the Edison City Opera, Alice Wright refutes the allegations of a lovesick violinist and demands a retraction from the city’s gossip rag. Oh, and becomes engaged to the impetuous maestro. 

Lorenzo Moretti could get any woman he wants with a wave of his baton. But his only passion is the exquisite music he conducts. A fiancée in name only will keep other women from ruining his concentration.

Soon, a more serious problem arises. Financial woes reach a crescendo that threatens to end the opera company before the curtain rises. With both their careers on the line, Alice and Lorenzo must work together to save the company. 
Will their duet continue when the curtain comes down?

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