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:
Also Barnes & Noble:

Monday, September 26, 2016


 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.


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.)


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:

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