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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Because we have to.

I'm giving a presentation at the library about formatting a book to upload it to Smashwords and Kindle. It was something I learned to do because some of my books became orphans. Either the publisher who held the rights went out of business or they had too many books and returned the rights to me. It has happened to other writers as well. Publishing is a tough business. 

I wanted to offer something hopeful at the end of my talk. I browsed through Pinterest and found the quote below. It was not a clear image so I went to Canva and sharpened it. 

The quote comes from Dani Shapiro from a blog post she wrote on June 21, 2012. You can read the entire post here.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Aunt Grace's Instructions On How To Catch A Man

This is a photo of Aunt Grace, my favorite aunt. Intelligent and out-spoken, she was my mother's sister and one year older than Mom. Aunt Grace suffered with a heart problem all her life, but that did not stop her from keeping up lively conversations.

An inveterate letter-writer, her letters were treasured by all. Of course, she always gave advice, whether anyone asked for it or not. Once, Aunt Grace wrote a letter to my mother concerning one of my sisters. Aunt Grace firmly believed it would be easy for my sister to catch a man using this technique.
Tell her to get a baby tiger, put it on a leash and walk down the streets of New York, or the boardwalk at Atlantic City. I guarantee if she does it every day she'll get plenty of attention. Tell her to wear an Angora sweater, a skirt with a slit up the back, highheeled slip-on shoes. Hair tousled "casually". Or maybe a little Corgi, a long red, or tartan cape, black stockings, a large red velvet beret, and a heavy upholstery fabric peasant skirt (I like this better--dramatic, yet with flair, and just right for her outdoors image). The floppy hat would work well with this second outfit. Then, of course, how about the long cape, a short tousled haircut highlighted with gold or titian, long earrings the color of her eyes, with matching junk jewelry. The cape over a bright blue leotard matching the earrings. Nothing under the cape, of course, but the leotard. 
I think I like this last idea best of all! What drama. This time she can forget the tiger or dog, and carry a knobby cane--the better to hit them with if they try to mug her. Again, locale is Atlantic City, or maybe Southhampton, or Harvey Cedars on Long Beach Island. There is money, big bucks in all those places. Of course in Atlantic City she'll have to take herself and her costume into a casino, and see if she can get eyes riveted on dice or the roulette wheel riveted on her. But, it seems like a good way to spend a couple of weekends. You can chaperone her from the rear just in case weirdos are attracted to these outfits. Frankly, I think she could carry all this off very well. It's a change from her job.
Now why didn't I do all this when I was young? I settled for turtleneck shirts. I'm so conservative in my dress today it's just plain disgusting. If something will be out of style in twenty years I don't buy it. Hence I have lots of clothing that dates back 25 years. Honestly.

Aunt Grace had a fantastic imagination! I miss her, but she left us a wonderful legacy in her letters.

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Guest Post: Valerie Goree with DAY OF RECKONING

My guest today is Valerie Massey Goree, an American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award winner. She resides with her husband on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula of Washington State.

After serving as missionaries in her home country of Zimbabwe and raising two children, Valerie and her husband moved to Texas. She worked in the public school system for many years, focusing on students with special needs. Now retired, Valerie spends her time writing, and spoiling her grandchildren. 

Her other novels include: Deceive Me Once, Colors of Deceit, Weep in the Night, and Day of Reckoning. The sequel to Weep in the Night, will be released August 30, 2019. 

Check Valerie’s website to learn more about her books:

Valerie loves to hear from her readers.

The exciting plot for DAY OF RECKONING:

International Retrieval Organization Agent Lela Ortiz is assigned the kidnapping case of businessman, Chuck Davenport. When her boss allows Jay Vashon, Chuck’s brother-in-law to assist, Lela accepts the help with reservations, especially when Jay prays at the most inopportune times.

Jay would do anything to help bring Chuck home, even work with feisty Agent Ortiz. As Jay and Lela decipher clues Chuck sends to his son with special needs, they are forced to work in close proximity. 

Can Jay break through the barrier Lela has constructed around her heart? Will Lela be able to overcome her distrust of men and God?

And Chuck? Can the pair locate him before the ransom deadline? 

And now for an excerpt!

Three shadowy figures closed in on Lela’s position. She held still as death. If the men found her, they wouldn’t hesitate to shoot. Her scars itched, but she couldn’t rub them. Instead, she mentally repeated the words that sustained her in dangerous situations. I am in control. He can never hurt me again. I have the skills to keep myself safe.The quivering in her leg muscles subsided.

One of the men stopped. Lela edged sideways behind the stout trunk of a human-sized cactus. Too close. Efficient as a scalpel, the stiff spines drew drops of blood that oozed down to her wrist. She bit her lip and made a fist.

A gravelly voice whispered, “Shoulda brought a flashlight.”

Heavy footsteps slowed. 

Sweat beads stung Lela’s eyes. She dared not wipe them away.

Another voice. “Are you sure you saw something suspicious?”


“You need glasses, ’cause all I hear is night critters. Come on. Let’s get back to the house.” 

Seconds stretched into minutes before the men shuffled away. Their muffled voices faded into the warm, starless night. Lela’s jaw ached. She relaxed her clenched teeth and peeked out. A dim light silhouetted three bulky shapes on the front porch of the ranch house. One man circled to the rear while the others entered the house and lights popped on in the side windows. 


Facebook author page:

Thursday, August 29, 2019


My sister, the horticulturist, has given me many, many plants over the years. Her yard is lovely. Of course, she waters her flowers regularly and pulls out the weeds.

I am a bad plant mom and hope for rain so I don't have to water the flowers. I weed a bit when it's not too hot. I struggle with the over-abundance of hungry deer who eat everything I attempt to grow—even the plants that are poisonous. And yet, the deer don't always win because some of the plants are indomitable.

 In the top photo, you can see where the deer nibbled away at the green leaves of the Lilyturf. I was surprised when the flowers appeared despite the leaves getting chopped off.

The deer nibbled the echinacea down to about three inches. But while the flower isn't as lush as it could be, it bloomed anyway.

My sister had given me seeds for brown-eyed susans years ago. For a while, I had lots of those bright flowers. But the deer enjoyed the taste of them as well, leaving me no seeds to gather.

Or so I thought.

Brown Eyed Susans
One brown-eyed susan plant came up this year between the blacktop and the edging beneath the hedges. I left it there and surprisingly it bloomed.

Montauk Daisies
Then there are the Montauk daisies. I bought root hormone and nurtured the baby plants and when the roots appeared I put the small plants into the ground. The deer came along and bit them down to the dirt.

So I figured that was it. Then after one rainy week, I noticed the plants were doing their best to recover from being pruned by the deer.

There's hope.

Maybe next year I'll have more flowers.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

What Writers Do

Image by rawpixel at Pixabay

I've been writing for a long, long time. I started at the age of nine. I write out my daydreams. To me, and to other fiction writers, that is a normal activity. I do not take it for granted since there have been times when I could not write--not because I didn't have ideas but because I was suffering from grief or going through some other difficult time in life. But most of the time, I enjoy sitting at my keyboard and typing out--letter by letter, word by word, page by page--the story in my head.

Last weekend, I chatted with someone who is an avid reader. For a while, we discussed other authors' books we both read. Then she asked me to tell her about my latest book. So I did. I gave her more than a blurb. (Hint: Next time stick with the blurb.)

She expressed amazement and wondered where I got my ideas. (Big sigh.)

I began to wonder if only writers have story ideas--or if everyone else ignores the ideas that are all around them. Life is complex, challenging, and emotional. Everyone goes through a myriad of experiences at various stages in life. Plus there are historical events that are intriguing to dive into. I find reading the daily news fills my mind with all sorts of notions.

All anyone has to do is invent a few characters, drop them into a thorny situation, and then record--letter by letter, word by word, page by page--everything that happens to those imaginary people. It takes time. There are days when the writing does not go well, but with a heaping dose of persistence the story will come to an end--nicely packaged into a bundle of adventures that make a whole lot more sense than incidents in real life.

That's what writers do. I consider it a blessing and a lot of fun.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Our Little Picnic in Barnegat

This is the view from the boardwalk in Barnegat, New Jersey. Hubby is a member of the Happy Days String Band. The band had a gig lined up last Saturday in Barnegat. I take photos of the band to post on their website and Facebook page. I don't go to every gig, but I go when I can. I decided to join him for the Barnegat gig, but I had a prayer shawl meeting earlier in the day and had to hurry to join hubby for the drive. Members of the band must arrive early to set up. We had no time to eat. We just packed some food in the cooler and headed south. 

Fortunately, we didn't get caught in any traffic jams so we had time to enjoy our little picnic dinner before the gig started. Sitting on a bench and looking out at Barnegat Bay was so peaceful and relaxing. I realized that was the first time we picnicked outside this summer. Of course, the weather happened to be extremely pleasant. The heat for most of the summer has been oppressive--and we've had a lot of rain, which is not conducive for picnicking. 

Hopefully, we'll have a for more nice days to eat outside and stare at some lovely view. 

Below you can see the band play one of their favorite tunes. Fun for everyone!

Tuesday, August 06, 2019


Please welcome today's guest, Carol Raj. She has been writing short stories for children for several years. Curiously, The Curious Prayer Life of Muriel Smith, a woman’s contemporary, is her first novel. Born and bred in the Midwest, Carol now lives in New England with her husband of 40+ years. They have three grown children and five grandchildren. Her website is under construction. 

Here's the blurb: One unlocked car door, one glance to the left, and suddenly seventy-one year old Muriel Smith is hurtling down the road at an alarming thirty miles per hour. Will the teenage boy who carjacked her really shoot to kill? Muriel can’t die yet. Not till she’s accomplished something on earth. Not till she’s seen her great grandchild. But if Muriel Smith’s survival depends on her driving skills, she may not live much longer.  How could God have gotten everything so wrong?

Here's a brief excerpt:

    "The ramp’s coming up, Mrs. B. Put your turn
signal on. What’s the matter with you?‛
     The ramp was only feet away. Muriel took a deep
breath and stepped hard on the gas pedal. She zoomed
past the entrance to the highway.
     "What? You didn’t even try to turn!" Kevin’s head
swiveled as the entrance ramp disappeared.
     "I did try to turn, Kevin. Honest. I tried really
hard. I just couldn’t do it. I told you. I don’t merge. It
scares me."
     Kevin’s voice went up half an octave. "Merging
scares you more than my gun? Are you crazy? Didn’t I
tell you I’d shoot? You can’t just say you don’t merge.
You have to do what I say. That’s how it’s supposed to

Buy the book! Click on the links below: