Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Stand Out in the Crowd


The water lay calm as the sun dropped lower in the sky. Even in winter, there are footprints on the beach. It draws many who seek a moment of peace, calm, and reflection. For me, it is the perfect spot to consider the end of one year and the beginning of another. The vast empty future waits for memories to be left behind, like those footprints in the sand.

I don't make resolutions anymore, but I do have plans for 2017.  First, I intend to do all I can to stay well. Then, I hope to finish another book and get it published. I also intend to reissue my four Christian contemporary books originally published by Awe-Struck. I will continue to advertise, beg for reviews, and work toward selling more books, which is the most difficult of all my plans for the future. 

I had spent some time yesterday in the company of some fellow parishioners who did not know me. Ours is a large parish and since there are several Masses offered, those who consistently attend one Mass rarely meet those who regularly go to another. As I sat at a table with these almost strangers, I handed out my postcards and told them about my books. 

I explained that my books are not in the local Barnes & Noble, but they are online. 

Those folks proceeded to give me all kinds of advice on how I should ramp up my writing career. The most interesting piece of advice they offered was for me to get on the New York Times bestseller list. Sigh. 

That would indeed be very helpful.

Later in the evening, Daughter #2 and I chatted about the "herd" instinct of most people. Everyone wants to do exactly what everyone else is doing. Everyone wants to read the books on the bestseller list, but few are willing to sample a relatively unknown author. Everyone wants to see the hottest Broadway show, but there are many local shows offered for much smaller fees with unknown actors. 

Many people spend their vacations at the hottest resorts, too. 

It seems few are willing to be daring. Few are willing trust their own tastes when it comes to entertainment. 

For those of you who haven't made any plans for 2017, I say be bold. Read books your friends haven't read. See shows your friends haven't seen. Visit places your friends haven't visited. 

Then tell your friends about your new experience. Stand out in the crowd. Life is an adventure. Make it your own.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Only $0.99 Each!


Click on the Amazon links below! 




The books are also available at Smashwords, Kobo, Barnes & Noble! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Dollhouse


The year I turned eight, I wanted a dollhouse for Christmas. In those days, dollhouses were made of painted pieces of sheet metal with hard plastic furniture. Still, the houses were grand two story affairs, not at all like the converted bungalow where I lived. 

On Christmas Eve, I went to bed hoping Santa wouldn't forget my dearest wish. Sometime during the night, I awoke to hear my father fussing as my mother assisted him in putting something together. I lay very quiet in my bed and realized my parents were following directions to put a dollhouse together. Until then, I assumed Santa Claus brought everything fully assembled. 

As I continued to listen to Mom and Dad hastily placing everything  under the tree, I came to the conclusion that there was no Santa Claus. I wasn't sad or terribly disappointed. It all seemed very logical, but the special joyous magic of Christmas vanished. In it's place was the knowledge that Mom and Dad--despite all their hardships--fashioned a miracle for their children, created out of love.

I grew up a lot that Christmas and though I didn't believe in Santa Claus anymore--I still believed in miracles--but most of all in the power of love.  

May the miracle of love surround you this Christmas and bring you a bright New Year.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Love Always Hopes


NOW AVAILABLE! My third book of the year has been released.  HOPING FOR JOY, part of the "LOVE IS" series based on 1 Corinthians 13, is set in New Jersey in one of the small seaside towns with an amusement park. The heroine is frustrated because her fiancé keeps putting off their wedding and she doubts his love. 

The hero has a valid reason for his inability to commit to a date. He is trying to save his sister's life and assist his ailing father in raising his sister's daughter. In other words, the hero has a ton of trouble, which only gets worse. His sister dies and while his faith in God was lackadaisical at best, he becomes firmly committed to the belief that there is no God. 

I know many people who go through terrible trials in life and come to the same conclusion. On the other hand, there are those--like myself--who cling to their faith despite the slings and arrows of fate. Faith is believing even though there is no proof. Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NAB)

I cannot prove that God exists. Yet, I persist in my belief--even though I have lived through scary times--and if you read this blog on a regular basis you know about some of those. (Not all, but some.)

Everyone suffers through disappointments, failures, and loss. It is the human condition. There are those who tell me I am fortunate to have faith because it buoys me up through my difficulties. 

Yes, faith helps, but while it is a gift I still have to work at it. I must pray, go to church, read the Bible, and help others. Otherwise, my faith will falter. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NAB)

HOPING FOR JOY is based on the truth that the foundation of hope is faith. If I didn't have faith, I wouldn't have hope. 

Read HOPING FOR JOY and let me know what you think. Find it at Amazon!

Friday, December 09, 2016

The Reviews Are In For THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE!


                ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
The reviews are rolling in for THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE! Listed below are a few snippets from the Amazon reviews.           

"Who doesn't want to read about a rugged, God-fearing cowboy who comes for the damsel in distress!" 

"This is a fast read and a delightful one. Don't miss it."

"...the twists and turns of The Cowboy’s Miracle took me through the mad, sad, and glad standard for a super-duper book. And this one has it all!"

"The characters were complex and endearing...I thoroughly enjoyed this story! It’s one that I plan on reading over and over."

"The adventures of a cowboy with a past and a woman in need of saving is always a win."

"Love, suspense, and alpacas. A great Christmas read."

Warm up your holidays with a great adventure right now at http://a.co/eXPxVh8


Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Sing Old Songs


In The Cowboy's Miracle, Seth finds a battered, old guitar in the guesthouse and strums chords while singing classic western tunes. Mentioned in the book are songs like "Goodnight Ladies," "A Man Without a Woman," "Buffalo Gals,"and "Oh My Darling Clementine." Those songs are cultural gems--a link to our country's past history. Music chronicles historical eras in a very succinct manner. It is another way to bring past times into focus and make them easy to remember.

As a retired teacher, I worry the future of musical education. Often, the arts are the first thing to go when cuts are made in education. I always included music as part of my curriculum when I taught--especially in a closed classroom situation. My own daughters took piano lessons for years, but in addition our home is packed with music of all types.  

As a family, we often sit around the fire and sing old songs. Once, my younger sister questioned this habit. 

"You're singing the same songs you sang forty years ago," she said. 

I informed her that the old songs are the best songs. They've stood the test of time, but there's more to it. Those songs are references to our national cultural heritage. We must not allow them to fade into dust. 

Teach your children well. Sing old songs. 



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Ups and Downs


Hubby loves roller coaster rides. I do not. Life has enough ups and downs. While the ups are really wonderful, the downs can be hair-raising.

In October, the roller coaster of life gave me a new scare. I found a lump in one of my breasts. I didn't hesitate and called my gynecologist right away. After several mammograms and an ultrasound, a cyst was the probable cause of the lump. The cyst was aspirated. However, there were a few suspicious findings on the ultrasound and I went through biopsies as well. One biopsy showed I had an invasive ductal carcinoma, another biopsy diagnosed a ductal papilloma.

The biopsies were not easy to go through. Neither was the MRI guided biopsy. But my surgeon had planned to do a lumpectomy, and precision is important.  Markers were put inside my breast, and just before surgery, wires were inserted to the markers to guide the surgeon.

The surgery was the easy part. While all the removed tissues will be carefully examined, the surgeon was quite sure the lymph nodes were clear, which is as good as it gets. I will be receiving more treatment to eradicate the cancer.

The moral of this story is simple. Make regular breast self-exams part of your routine.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Release Day for THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE!


Here's a short excerpt from THE COWBOYS' MIRACLE. Enjoy!

     The door opened and Seth blinked in shock. A young woman with long, curly, coal-black hair and hazel eyes smiled at him.
     “You must be the vet.” She reached over to an oak coatrack and slipped into her jacket.
     “Yes, ma’am. I’m a veterinarian, but—”
     “I’m so glad you’re here. I’m terribly concerned about Harley.” She stepped onto the porch and closed the door.
      “Harley?”
      “ʻCall the vet,ʼ he said.” She laughed. “Of course, he didn’t say that exactly, but he meant it.” She hurried down the steps. “Come along. I know it’s the day after Thanksgiving, but our regular doctor is out of town—as is everyone else in the county it seems—and I had to do something. Harley was very insistent.”
     “Yes, ma’am, but where’s Mrs. Holmes?”
      “In the nursing home, as usual. I visited with her earlier and she’s doing fine, all things considered, but Harley’s the problem right now. He’s not himself. I’m so worried—”
     “Ma’am, is Harley Mr. Holmes?” He barely comprehended her. She spoke rapidly, without a breath between any of her words as he hobbled along in her wake.
     She halted for a moment and peered at him as if he possessed a substantial mental deficit. “Why, no. Harley is one of the alpacas. I believe I mentioned that detail when I left the message on the phone, though it is possible I forgot, I was—after all—a bit upset since no one would come out here and examine him. Mrs. Holmes loves the alpacas. I still bring them around to the nursing home on fine days and it cheers her more than you can imagine—calms her, too. Sometimes, she’s almost lucid when she touches their soft fleece.”
     His heart sank. Was his grandmother suffering from dementia? “Is Mr. Holmes here?”
     “Oh, I’m sorry. Didn’t you hear? Dr. Holmes died three years ago.”
     Doctor? Seth swallowed. “He’s...he’s gone?”
     “Yes, a massive heart attack. It was so...sudden...” She took in a ragged breath before
continuing. “He was the mayor for some time and practically a celebrity in these parts, though it doesn’t take much to be famous in Greenburg. Was he your professor? So many of his former students drop by on occasion. He’s still remembered fondly by many of them.”
     “I went to college in Colorado. What did he teach?”
     “English. Oh, how he loved Shakespeare,” she exclaimed. “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
     A cold chill slid up Seth’s spine. His father often used that quote—mostly because it invariably impressed folks. He realized he discovered a link, though tenuous, but at least one thing made sense.

Download a sample to read more or buy it now at

AMAZON, BARNES & NOBLE, KOBO, SMASHWORDS, and iBOOKs!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The HEA...


A romance must have a happy-ever-after ending—known as the HEA among romance writers. Romance authors sometimes write those HEAs even when their own lives are in turmoil. It would be interesting to conduct a survey to discover how many authors have written some of their more successful books during times of crisis.

Many years ago this particular topic came up as a question at an NJRW meeting and I spent some time thinking about it afterward. I’m guessing that the majority of romance writers are idealists. I know I am—but coincidently I am also a realist. I am very much aware of life's ups and downs. Though the sun may be shining in my life today, a cloud is surely looming on the horizon.

Life is like that for everyone and there is no escaping it. However, when the going gets tough nothing cheers me up as much as sitting down for a little while and working on a story—a story where despite difficulties, the hero and heroine wind up as perfect for each other and everything is rosy--not that I don't create a considerable amount of havoc for my beleagued protagonists. They do have some big problems to solve. Yet, they will succeed. I make up my own wonderful little world and—in my mind at least—erase some of the gloom and doom of the real world.

I think this is better than drugs or other self-destructive behaviors. Obviously, if someone has a serious problem with depression, they should get professional help. But if you’ve been following along on this blog and you read between the lines you know there have been a host of disruptions in my life. If you're a friend of mine on Facebook, you are privy to more details.

Still, I never stop writing—except for a day or two when I truly don't have a single moment to spare. Most days I write even if I’m not feeling particularly happy, or romantic for that matter. My hero and heroine are going to get their HEA, no matter what. If something good is happening in my characters’ lives, I feel better.

It’s as simple as that.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Irene for President


Yesterday would have been my mother's ninty-fifth birthday. Irene would have made a great US President. This is a photo of her at her high school graduation. She had red hair and brown eyes. She was the daughter of a coal miner who had come to this country in his teens from a town near Prague, which was part of the Austrian Hungarian Empire at the time. Her mother came to this country as an infant. Irene was the second of their seven children--and their second daughter.

She supported herself while going to art school. When World War II broke out, she joined the Marines. Eventually, she came to New Jersey where she met my father.

She was compassionate and helped others less fortunate on a regular basis. She lived her Christian values. She was always willing to listen to other people's troubles and offer them helpful advice. She raised four children to be good citizens and encouraged them to go for higher education, which they all did.

When needed, she took on odd jobs to help out with family finances, but for the most part she managed to put good food on the table despite the income my father brought home as a journalist. The budget was always balanced and my parents were not in debt.

And Mom saw the beauty in this world. She painted and sketched--so that others could see the beauty in this world, too.

She was an extraordinary woman. Given the chance, she could have been anything--a lawyer, a diplomat, a senator, a governor, or the leader of our country. She knew what needed to be done and she did it. Always.

There are plenty of women today who would make excellent leaders of our country. They know how to balance the books. They know how to be diplomatic. They know how to be strong.

They just don't have a lot of money.

Unfortunately, this country is run by billionaires but it's the hard workers like my mother who would do a much better job at it.

Next time vote for someone like Irene.

Friday, November 04, 2016

Pre-Order Your Cowboy!


THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE is available for pre-order now! It will be released on November 18, 2016. Wouldn't you like a cowboy for Christmas? Find him at AmazonSmashwords, and Kobo.

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Autumn Scenery


On Sunday, hubby and I went for a walk in Cheesequake State Park. I  snapped several photos. Autumn is my favorite time of the year. The air is crisp and the colors of the foliage make for a stunning sight.

Of course, whenever I shoot scenery, I'm always hoping it will make either a nice bookcover or a nice painting. However, I was wondering if there are those who do not like photographic bookcovers. What do you think? Would you prefer a photograph or artwork for a book cover? Do you think you would be more attracted to a cover with people on it, one with just scenery, or something more abstract?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Always Thinking About My WIP



Above is Robert Smith's band arrangement of The Inferno. I heard it played last night at the Colts Neck Community Band's concert. (It's a great piece of music, though I do believe hell wouldn't be so melodious.) I should have taken a video of the band in action, but my mind went wandering--as if often does because I am a writer.

One of the writers' credos is the maxim to write everyday. While I know this is sometimes impossible, I do try to adhere to this practice--even if I only write one hundred words or so when life gets crazy as it often does.

When writing a book, I find the everyday rule keeps me focused on the story. So even if I am driving somewhere, doing laundry, or attending a concert as I did last night--my mind wanders off and I begin plotting or editing in my head. That's a good thing. 

Last night, as I listened to the band play The Inferno, I realized I could have added a detail to a scene in my current WIP which would give it more emotional impact. Was it the tone of the music that caused me to put that thought together? I don't know. However, if I hadn't written the scene before I went to the concert, I doubt I would have had anything to fix in the manuscript.

Write everyday. Even if it's only a little bit. Keep your mind in your story.

And then go do some laundry or attend a concert. :-)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Guest Post by Jenn Nixon!

Please welcome Jenn Nixon, today's special guest. She's got a great series and a great sale happening this week. Don't miss out on this exciting offer. 


Fan Favorite, Baldwin Bates, finally gets his own story and HEA in book three MIND: The Reckoning.  To celebrate the new release, books 1 & 2 are both on sale for the rest of the week! You can find all three books here: www.amazon.com/Jenn-Nixon/e/B002BLNBBQ MIND: The Beginning .99c, MIND: The Emergence $1.99

Baldwin Bates has only wanted one thing since joining MIND, to take care of his friends and keep them all safe. While the Meta-Alien Investigation and Neutralization Department is busy monitoring an emergence of human psychic and alien activity, Bates takes his first solo assignment searching for a woman who claims to see the future, only to botch it up and let her get away.  

After helping to destroy an alien device called the Transcender, Lexa Quinn wakes from a two-week coma a very different person than she was before. While her abilities grow stronger, her feelings for Bates begin to interfere with the MIND team's mission, putting everyone at risk. Secrets from her past threaten the present and future, forcing Lexa to decide who she is and where she belongs. 

When a powerful, ancient enemy lays claim to the Earth and brings his judgment upon the population, Bates, Lexa, and the entire MIND team must do whatever it takes to save the human race before the reckoning is complete.

Excerpt from THE RECKONING:

As Bates bypassed the crafters and artists, the scent of Asian BBQ wafted through the air. He grumbled along with his stomach and hoped a few of them stuck around so he could pick something up on his way out.

"How’s it going?" Dina Ranger asked via his earcomm, jolting him.

"Shit! Forgot I had this bloody thing in," he replied, taking a breath and shutting his eyes for a second. 

"Have to get used to it if you want to be in the field...alone."

"Unlike your brother, I need some me time, Sherlock." This time, he chuckled when he felt her brush his mind with calming thoughts. "How’s Lexa? Any change?"

"No, nothing. Never changes. I...just don’t get it."

"Me either," he said with a sigh, quickly putting it out of his mind to maintain his focus. "I just got to the park. I’ll check in before I leave."

"Okay. And whatever has you so hungry bring some back. Talk to ya."

Shaking his head, Bates waited for the static of the comm to fade before pushing farther into the park, eyeing the tables and tents, but mostly their occupants, searching for a face. Miss Takashi had a pretty face, although older now, since the photo from the collective Meta-alien Investigation and Neutralization Department database was almost one hundred years old. 

When he neared the end of the first row of vendor tents, he took in the sight of the city across the river, and then found the second and final row of vendors left to search. 
He politely declined several offers to purchase various items like candles and potholders, wondering why his ‘blah face’—a term his new friend Kim called his usual stern façade—wasn’t working.

Toward the middle of the second row, Bates slowed, eyeing a colorful booth, shrouded in light purple curtains, and a sign that screamed for attention. When a face-painted toddler, followed by a frantic parent, came running out of the booth, he barely sidestepped out of the way. The parent offered Bates a weary shrug. He nodded politely and carried onward, finally seeing a sign for "Madam Takashi" two booths down.

Author Bio: Jenn Nixon’s love of writing started the year she received her first diary and Nancy Drew novel. Throughout her teenage years, she kept a diary of her personal thoughts and feelings but graduated from Nancy Drew to other mystery suspense novels.
Jenn often adds a thriller and suspense element to anything she writes be it Romance, Science Fiction, or Fantasy. When not writing, she spends her time reading, observing pop culture, playing with her two dogs, and working on various charitable projects in her home state of New Jersey.

Website: www.jennnixon.com
Facebook: facebook.com/JennNixonAuthor
Blog: www.jennafern.blogspot.com 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jennnixon
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jenn-Nixon/e/B002BLNBBQ/

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Love of Horses


According to the American Horse Council in 2009, New Jersey had 83,000 horses. Wyoming had 99,000. Of course, New Jersey has a lot more people than Wyoming. Despite the expense of keeping a horse, the Garden State has many horse lovers. While horse racing is popular and there are several tracks, there are also many beautiful trails and parks where horses and their owners can go riding.

I went horseback riding a few times while I was in college. The horses I rode took advantage of my good nature and absence of handling skills. If the horse saw a particularly appetizing clump of grass, the horse stopped to eat it. I could not encourage the horse to move along. One time, a friend who had gone riding with me, fell off her horse. Fortunately, she was not badly injured, but it was scary. Horses are rather large and it's a long way to the ground.

I learned quickly that horses have minds of their own.

Nevertheless, one of our daughters developed a love of horses in her teenage years. Horseback riding lessons are expensive, but she saved her money and took as many lessons as she could.  She became a volunteer in the SPUR program just so she could be around horses. She truly enjoyed the company of the massive beasts with their ravenous appetites for carrots. (Carrots disappeared from our refrigerator on a regular basis.)

Our daughter was too young to drive at that point, so I wound up taking her to her horseback riding lessons and taking her to the local SPUR facility. I found it difficult to watch her ride because I was always afraid she would fall off the horse! Still, I did not mind being in the stable and watching the horses--who were always watching me and hoping for a carrot.

Due to that experience, horses wound up being channeled into my books. In THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, the Brants have a farm in New Jersey with horses. They went into debt to build a stable. In the story, that debt is threatening their livelihood. In THE PIRATE'S WRAITH, the heroine meets up with a horse on an island. There's Smialek (Polish for daredevil) in THE BEAST OF BLACKBIRCH MANOR and in PATRIOT'S HEART, there is another horse. In THE COWBOY'S MIRACLE, which will be released in December, there's Navigator, an aging but trusty companion for the hero.

I have as much fun naming imaginary horses as I do naming my imaginary ships. :-)

I'm sure if my daughter had not been so enamored of horses, there would be no horses in my stories. But--thanks to her--there are. I once heard Mary Higgins Clark speak about writing and she said, "Everything is grist for the mill." She was right. :-)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Win A Reusable Shopping Bag!


This lightweight, reusable shopping bag could be yours! It's adorned with the new cover for my December release, The Cowboy's Miracle, from Prism Book Group. If you're feeling lucky, comment below. I'll select one winner on Friday, October 28, 2016. So be sure to sign up now.

If you win, you'll have a cowboy to carry your groceries home for you. :-)

Friday, October 14, 2016

One Sleazy Man and a Notebook


There are sleazy men in the world who grope women when they can, who feel entitled to do it, who don't think it's a big deal, and who think women enjoy it. I met one of those sleazy men on the Red & Tan lines when I was commuting to college.

I went to Jersey City State College, which has since been renamed New Jersey City University. Most of the time, I rode the bus to Journal Square from Cliffwood Beach--five days a week. My father had taken the same bus, with the same bus driver. The same people rode the bus back and forth everyday--except on Fridays and Mondays when it was crowded with weekenders.

Back in those days, there were no backpacks. Everyone carried their books in their arms, except for those who were lucky enough to afford a briefcase. I wasn't one of the lucky ones. Although, I discovered that was a good thing.

I got on the bus to go home one day and sat by the window as I usually did. A man in a business suit sat next to me. I didn't know him. He wasn't one of the usual passengers. Once the bus really got rolling on the NJ Turnpike, the man caressed my thigh. (Those days, short dresses were the style--short coats, too. And this was before the dress code was abolished.)

I was mad. I was not going to take it. I opened my notebook forcibly and slammed his hand. He got the message, but for me the rest of the ride was very uncomfortable. Still, I knew the bus driver and half the people on the bus. So if the man beside me didn't behave himself, I figured I had backup.

I was lucky. I was in a safe place. Some women aren't as fortunate.

I am really angry about all this recent talk of men grabbing and forcibly touching women. IT'S WRONG! Sleazy men should be prosecuted--and I don't care who they are.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

What's Your Favorite Season?


Two weeks ago, I walked down this stairway on a trail in Cheesequake Park. The leaves hadn't  changed color. Abundant, lush green foliage was everywhere. The chipmunks dashed about in the underbrush. It was still warm.

Yesterday, as I was driving around I noticed many of the maples had taken on their bright autumn hues. When I woke up this morning, it was forty-six degrees on our back porch. It seems we went from summer to fall in a matter of days. I don't mind. I love the cooler weather. This is my favorite season. Crisp, cool air energizes me.

What's your favorite season, and why?

Friday, October 07, 2016

My Birthday Card for Bruce Springsteen

This is a photocopy of a card I made for Bruce Springsteen's fortieth birthday. The local newspaper ran a contest and I entered it. I wrote a poem inside the card, which I neatly lettered by hand in calligraphy. My friend, a former music teacher, collaborated with me and set the poem to music. She recorded it on an audio tape. We sent the card and the tape to the newspaper. We didn't win, probably because the poem was so corny and dreadful, which is why I'm not including it in this post.

The front of the card is supposed to be me, the forty-year old housewife, cleaning while singing Bruce's songs. I was born five days after Bruce Springsteen--so we are almost the same age. I've never been to one of his concerts, though my youngest sister had been to one.

My son-in-law-to-be gave me Bruce Springsteen's autobiogaphy, Born to Run, for my birthday at my daughter's suggestions. (He's very smart!) It's not autographed, but that's fine with me. I haven't finished reading the book as yet, but I am enjoying it. There are plenty of interesting details and I can relate to them. Bruce grew up in Freehold, I grew up in Cliffwood Beach, about fifteen miles away. The atmosphere was similar. The times were the same, though my circumstances as a child were different.

NPR's Fresh Air interviewed Bruce Springsteen. You can listen to the interview HERE. However, if you grew up in New Jersey in the same era, you should read the book. :-)

Monday, October 03, 2016

Name That Book Contest


FUN, PRIZES GALORE, 
and specially priced 99 CENT books through October 7th.

Fill out an entry form now at:

I will be giving away a $5 gift certificate to Amazon at
8 p.m. on October 7, 2016

There will be MANY prizes offered by other Prism Book Group authors. 

Make sure you LIKE Prism Book Group's Facebook page at:


 One of the books published by Prism Book Group which will be on sale this week for 99 cents is my own. 


​Download a copy now at 




Thursday, September 29, 2016

Jonas the Pig


If you haven't read PATRIOT'S HEART, you haven't met Jonas--an extraordinary pig. He had been pierced by a Tory's musket ball, but Agnes dug out the bullet and with the use of healing herbs the pig's life was saved. He became more of a pet after that. 

One reader noted "...the twinkle of humor that sparkled throughout the pages." A lot of that twinkle comes from Jonas. 

At Amazon: https://amzn.com/B00I9PCMFO
Also Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/patriots-heart-penelope-marzec/1118482506?ean=2940148134831

Monday, September 26, 2016

Recipe for SMOTHERED CHICKEN

 I found this recipe in a community cookbook, which I bought at a flea market. It's simple but a true treat for the tastebuds. I always serve it with brown rice.

SMOTHERED CHICKEN

1 8 ounce bottle of red Russian dressing
1 8 ounce jar of apricot preserves
1 package of onion soup mix
8 chicken breast cutlets, thick sliced

Mix dressing, preserves and soup mix. Pour over chicken in a glass baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

(Hint: I usually double the sauce because it's so scrumptious.)

Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dealing With Grief


Four months ago my father died. Last weekend the hospice team held a memorial service for those who lost loved ones this year. I decided not to attend the service. The hospice team was wonderful and I truly appreciate all they did for my father. I wish I had asked for their help earlier than I did. (Daughter #3 was the one who told me call them.) But I didn't want to go to the memorial service because I knew I would cry. I don't want to cry anymore. Yes, my father was 94 when he passed away and he lived a good long life, but I still miss him--and I still get choked up now and then.

One of the members of the hospice team subsequently called this week to ask how I was doing. I told her I assuaged my grief by becoming a crochet addict. It's helped me, not only because it keeps me busy but because I am making prayer shawls and baby blankets for those who are ill and in the hospital. Perspective is everything.

She also asked if I had people I could talk to--and I do, but again if I talk to them I'll get upset. So I keep busy. She gave me the phone number of a counselor in case I need it.

Grief hits people in different ways. I know this because I've gone through it several times. My way of dealing with it is similar as on previous occasions. I just get busier.

When my brother died at the age of twenty-five, I was twenty-four. I was already driving up to Jersey City twice a week because I was taking courses towards another degree as well as working full-time. However, after my brother's death, I joined a singing group, adding another level of activity.

My grief-stricken mother reacted to my brother's death in a different way. She started going to garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets. She bought Depression glass for next to nothing and then started collecting other antiques. She became quite an expert in old stuff. Unfortunately, after she died and we had to move my father, I had to get rid of all that old stuff. That sure kept me busy!

At any rate, I'm doing well. Waves of emotion hit me at times but I manage to distract myself. My father was an amazing man and I know he wouldn't want me to be unhappy on his account, but I do miss him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Feasibility Study--Or How Much Yarn Does It Take To Spin a Good Plot


Sometimes, I waste hours doing feasibility studies--with crocheting and with writing. For instance, I had some lovely old yarn with subtle shades and sparkly highlights and I wanted to see how far I could go with it. Could I make a baby blanket?

It didn't take me long to figure out that my small amount of yarn wouldn't go far. Disappointed, I went to the store to see if I could find more yarn like it, but there wasn't anything close. I placed a sample next to other yarns to see if perhaps I could find something of a similar texture and weight so I could use what I had for a granny square afghan.

I didn't have any luck. I could make a baby hat or baby booties, but a blanket takes yards and yards and yards of yarn. For a whole, cohesive blanket it's best to start with many, many skeins of yarn--more than enough to finish the project.

I believe this process is similar when making up a plot for a book. There has to be enough plot to fill the pages and that includes the right amount of characters along with a difficult problem which cannot be solved easily. It's also necessary to have a sufficient number of scenes in order to lead the protagonists into more trouble. While it's nice to enjoy a happy ever after, there should be a whole lot of worrying about coming to the end of one's rope (or ball of yarn) before the ending is tied up into a neat knot.

I've been doing a lot of research for my historical Patriot's Courage, which is set in 1794 in Ohio Territory. The research isn't really part of the feasibility study. Since the book is a going to be a romance, it's more about the characters than the setting. That's the tough part. :-)

But it's fun. I love spinning yarns.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Street Fairs, Book Fairs, Author Talks, Advertising, Newsletters--What Works for You?

I haven't been out at a street fair trying to sell books for quite a while. I haven't given any library talks for a year or so. Whenever I tried one of those venues, sales were few or none. I had fun when there were other authors with me because I got to chat with them. However, attempting to get passersby to pick up a book is discouraging.

When giving a solo talk, I enjoyed answering questions from the audience, though most of the time the people who came to the book talks were fledgling writers who wanted to have their own books published. They came not to buy my books, but to ask how it's done. I don't mind giving out information on publishing, but it would be helpful to be compensated. If I sold some books I could at least make up for the cost of the gasoline I had to put in my car to get to the event.

During the past year, I really had very little time to go off to book talks or street fairs. Instead, I started advertising more. I've posted ads on my Facebook fan page on a regular basis, but I've found the most successful ads are the ones I've placed in book newsletters like Ereader News Today. I haven't gotten into Bookbub yet, but authors who have claim it is definitely worth it. I've tried BookSends and Fussy Librarian, too.

I was unimpressed with the sales figures when I enrolled a few of my books in Kindle Unlimited. I even bought a Kindle ad, which was expensive and did not seem to make any difference in sales. 😖

Many authors rely on their own list of fans and send newsletters to those individuals.

How about  you? Do you buy ads? Do you rely on your own fan newsletter to get out the word about your books? Do you pack up your books and head out to a street fair, book fair, or other reader event?

What works for you?


















Monday, September 12, 2016

A Friendly Insect

As I pulled into a parking space, I saw this praying mantis on another car. I came up close to take a picture of him but the insect was clearly suspicious of my advance and inched away. I worried about the creature since it could be injured or worse if the owner of the car came along and sped off without knowing the bug was hanging on so close to the wheel.

When I was young, in the 1950s, I was told that it was illegal to kill a praying mantis--not that I would do it. I was told they eat so many other insects that they were invaluable.

Now that we have the Internet, I looked up the legality of being the cause of the demise of one of these large, but not dangerous bugs. According to several sites, there has never been a law against killing the insects. So why did everyone think there was? Maybe it was one of those things that was passed along and passed along until everyone believed it to be the truth because they had heard it so many times. (Always Check the Facts)

I said goodbye to the praying mantis and wished him well, hoping he would go look for lunch in the grass instead of on the edge of a car.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

$0.99 for DADDY WANTED on September 9, 2016

Below is the book trailer for Daddy Wanted! On September 9, 2016, you can download the book for only $0.99! This special sale won't last. One reviewer called it, "...a charming, lighthearted tale of friendship and romance layered with many somber realities faced in the dating world today."



You can read more about it at:

http://www.prismbookgroup.com/DaddyWanted.html

While you're there, check out the other fine books at Prism Book Group. I'm sure you'll enjoy every one of them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Give Your Characters Scars


Everyone has scars. The scar pictured above is on my knee. When I was young, the closest small grocery store to our house was within easy walking distance. Still, there was a shortcut through the woods which everyone used--a well-worn path with a few rocks along the way. 

My parents lived from paycheck to paycheck. Whatever we needed during the week was put on an account at the little store. At the end of the week, Dad cashed his paycheck and paid the bill. My brother and I were sent on frequent errands to purchase groceries. We didn't carry money, only a signed note from my mother listing what she wanted along with her signature. 

One day on one of those errands, my brother decided to race me. He was a year older and I was left behind in the dust. Though I tried valiantly to catch up, I tripped and fell. My knee hit one of the rocks. I had a bleeding gash on my leg and my brother was nowhere in sight. 

One of the other kids in the neighborhood came along and helped me hobble home. My mother cleaned up the wound and put an oatmeal pack on it. Mom had great faith in her oatmeal poultices which were made of hot oatmeal mixed with sugar. She put a huge dollop of the stuff on my knee and wrapped it with clean strips of cloth. The goo stayed there until it was dry. That way it drew all the poisons out. (Don't try this at home.) I didn't get stitches and fortunately I didn't get an infection. I was a bit angry with my brother though. 

It's only one scar. I have others and each scar has another story that goes with it. (You can read about another one HERE.) 

We all have scars. For the most part, scars are good things. We heal. We learn to avoid dangerous situations. The painful experience can change us, but usually in a positive way. Getting injured teaches us to be more compassionate toward others. 

Scars change us. 

Some emotional scars cannot be seen but they are just as painful. With help, those can be healed, too, though it often takes more than a glob of hot oatmeal.

As a writer, I always give my characters scars--of one sort or another. Scars define characters and make them realistic. Behind every character's scar is a story, just as there are stories for my scars. 

Scars change our characters and make them who they are. Give your characters scars and give them life. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Talking Love With Susan M. Baganz


You would think the author of countless romance stories would find it easy to write one out of her own life. But it’s not.

Growing up, I would walk home and look up to heaven, spin around, and wonder if God was taking my picture. Did He care for my overly-sensitive, hurting and lonely heart? All a teacher had to do was look at me wrong and I’d burst into tears until sixth grade when I learned to hide my pain.

The sweetest love story is when, after years of sensing God’s call to me, I finally understood that I could respond. That he was waiting for me to do so! James 4:8 says “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (NASB)” Really? He wasn’t some distant King high on a thrown beyond my reach. I first came to understand this at a Campus Life/Youth for Christ meeting.

For weeks I had begged some friends to let me come to a meeting. They seemed happy. They had something I didn’t. And they would go to concerts for groups like . . . Petra, who I had never heard of. Finally, I was invited and we had a conversation about misconceptions people had about Christianity. I was raised knowing about God and taught to fear Him, so I was fully engaged in the conversation. Then the biggest misconception hit me—that people didn’t understand that they could have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Whoa. Really?

I prayed right then and there and my entire world shifted.

I went out and bought a Bible and started devouring it. Opposition came but I clung to Christ. To a hurting, lonely fifteen-year-old, the fact that the God of the universe wanted me—Me?—was a huge revelation. When depression plagued me, I was told I was trying to manipulate people. The only reason I never attempted to take my life was because of the love of God.

Thirty-five years have brought me through many trials and triumphs, deep pains and sweet moments. God has been there by my side through all of it. I wish I could say that I’ve been as faithful to Him as He has been to me. It’s hard when people have wounded me deeply to trust the God who allowed it to happen. Yet I wouldn’t be here without Him. He’s led me, grown me, matured me . . . and I’ve learned that in Him I have more strength than I could ever have on my own. Some trials I look back on in wonder at how I was able to respond the way I did. That couldn’t have been me, could it?

Only God.

Through abuses, betrayals, heartache, He has been my constant. My one true love. When I write my romances my hope and prayer is that at some level the reader will understand the love of God that underlies the journey’s my characters take.

God is faithful. He has never abandoned me. The fact that He gives me the opportunity to put some of those experiences into my stories to bless others is just another example of His love for me.


Check out Susan’s contribution to Prism Book Group’s new Love Is series…



The Baron’s Blunder
“Love does not delight in evil …” 1 Corinthians: 13:6

Fighting evil has been a hobby, but fending off marriage-minded debutantes—a chore.

Lord Charles Percy fends off a land pirate robbing a carriage in broad daylight. Noting he has rescued a beautiful debutante, he lies about his title claiming to be a mere mister.

The Honorable Henrietta Allendale isn’t convinced Mr. Percy is who he claims to be. But after he admits to one blunder can she ever truly trust what he says? Especially about the evil threatening her? Who is the Black Diamond anyway and why would he be after either of them?

One intrepid debutant and one bumbling Baron soon join forces to defeat evil. But to do so might mean they have to sacrifice the one thing they’ve each held as most important—their single status.

Can the truth set them free to love?