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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: 

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Writer’s Eyes

Those are my dilated eyes without any makeup. I went to the ophthalmologist today for my usual checkup. I don’t particularly like getting my eyes dilated but it does help the doctor see inside my old eyeballs. All is well this time around, but I did need a new prescription, which I suspected because my eyes were getting more tired than usual. I use my eyes constantly—reading, writing, editing, drawing, painting and crocheting. 

I like being busy. πŸ˜† But since all of my favorite activities involve my eyes, I do my best to take care of them.

I had a scare some years ago when I saw flashing lights in my eyes. The problem turned out to be a posterior vitreous detachment, which is common for anyone over fifty years of age. The flashes went away, but left me with floaters in my eyes, which can sometimes be annoying.  

Still, I always go to the doctor for my regular checkup and try to follow the other suggestions for good eye health. Check out the list at

Getting new eyeglasses is the fun part. Maybe I'll be transformed. LOL!


Wednesday, July 24, 2019


At long last, HEAVEN'S BLUE is available once more in a digital format with a brand new cover designed by Taria Reed. The book garnered EPIC's eBook Award for Best Inspirational way back in 2005. Now you can download it not only on the Kindle, but at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and several other ebook distributors.

But best of all, HEAVEN'S BLUE is also available in a new paper edition! Isn't it beautiful? I'll be giving away TWO of the proofs of this book. One has little notes written in it by me, but otherwise it's in good shape. Although, as a proof copy it has a gray bar right across the heroine's face. 😒

If you'd like to win one of the proof copies, sign up now at Make sure you write HEAVEN'S BLUE in the comment box so I know you are hoping to win one of the books. The drawing will be held on August 16, 2019. The winners will be contacted at that time.

Many of the reviews from the original edition are long gone, but I saved them all in a folder. 😊
One of my favorite reviews was written in Romantic Times. The last line of that review said, "Marzec's inspirational novel is a wonderful blend of hope, love and belief forged in the fire of adversity."

I'll be lowering the price of the ebook edition to $0.99 in the next few days. It will be featured in Bargain Booksy on Saturday, August 3, 2019, and in Ereader News Today on August 4, 2019. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Do You Like Bumper Cars?

That's hubby back in 1976 in a bumper car at the Keansburg Amusement Park. I am not fond of wild amusement rides, but I always enjoyed bumper cars. Our daughters rode the bumper cars, too. We used to laugh and say that's where they got their driver's licenses.

The bumper cars in Keansburg were ancient even in 1976, but they worked. The smell of ozone always lingered in the air from the sparking metal ceiling. Hurricane Sandy destroyed the Keansburg Amusement Park, but it was renovated and there are new bumper cars in operation now. The updated bumper cars are sleek and modern.

They are still great fun.

What are your favorite summertime amusement rides?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Not-So-Ancient Migrations

Uncle Henry and his father sitting on the hay in Poland.
When Ancestry had a special price offer for a DNA test, Daughter #2 and I decided to give it a try. My uncle had taken the test several years ago. His results were just about what everyone expected—except for a touch of Viking--though even that should have been expected. After all, my uncle is half Irish and the Vikings undoubtedly visited Ireland on a regular basis.

When Daughter #2 and I received our results, it was also much as we expected—except I didn't have even a tinge of Viking, which was disappointing. However, there was a long smear reaching out into Asia. Interesting! I always wondered if there was a bit of Genghis Klan in our family line or maybe a little Attila the Hun. My mother’s family had some mighty high cheekbones--and hubby's father had those same high cheekbones as well.

Daughter #2 became engrossed with ancient migrations. I had books to write, edit, and reissue.

Meanwhile, hubby continued to go through his family’s photo albums with his mother and when it comes to not-so-ancient migrations, the Polish side of the family has done quite a bit of traveling around. 

On the farm in Poland
Hubby's Polish paternal grandparents lived in Detroit where their sons were born. When the Polish Republic was established after World War I, they decided to return to Poland. When World War II became imminent the two oldest sons, hubby's father and his uncle returned to the United States. 

Their younger brother, who stayed in Poland, joined the Polish resistance and was shot by the Germans in front of his parents. However, the parents remained in Poland. 

Making butter the old-fashioned way in Poland.
Hubby never visited his grandparents, but in the 1960s, his parents and his uncle went to Poland to visit with hubby's grandparents, now elderly but still working on the farm. The photos on this page are from that time. When I first saw them, I thought they looked like they were from the late 1800s. 

Daughter #2 and I still know very little about the Polish line of the family. The country was overrun by other countries on a regular basis and during World War II it is estimated that six million Polish citizens perished--three million ethnic Poles and three million Jews.

Yet hubby's grandparents made it through the war and were able to see their older sons before they died. Those people were amazingly resilient. 

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Cover Reveal for HEAVEN'S BLUE!

It's perfect! My book, HEAVEN'S BLUE, has a new cover designed by the awesome Taria Reed. The book was originally published by Awe-Struck Publishing in 2004. It won the EPIC Award for Best Inspirational Fiction in 2005. It will soon be available once again in digital versions and in a new print version. 

This Christian romance is the story of Samantha Lyons, a research scientist, who has finally come home to Clam Creek, a sleepy little town on the marsh in New Jersey, but she needs an assistant to complete her mosquito research if she wants to continue living at Field Station Number 37, the first real home she has ever had. When David Halpern drives into town he is out of options. Robbed and on the run, he and his son find sustenance in the basement of Holy Redeemer church and a job offer from Samantha. David assumes he’ll be safe from discovery in the backwater town and accepts the position. Then Samantha discovers David has kidnapped his son. She knows she isn’t likely to get any other help so she aids David in his deception, never suspecting she might lose her heart. 


Thursday, June 13, 2019

What’s Your Favorite Book Size?

When Pelican Book Group updated Daddy Wanted, the book was released in a different sized paper edition. The original was six inches by nine inches. The updated version is eight inches by five inches. I like the smaller size. It’s not as small as a typical mass market paperback, but it can still fit quite nicely in my handbag. Most important to me, the print size isn’t as small as that in a mass market paperback.

What size paperback do you like best?

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The Best Beach Days

I've lived at or near the Jersey Shore most of my life. I love the beach. I enjoy walking along the edge of the water, picking up shells, and unusual pieces of driftwood. I like the beach in the fall, winter, and spring. In the summertime, it can be far too hot for me to feel comfortable sitting on a blanket on the sand.

The water is nice, but the temperature of the water is still rather chilly in June. It's better at the end of July--but then the jellyfish float in.

Once, I went to Maine where the water temperature was around fifty-five degrees, but it was a hot day in the lower nineties. I went into the water and came out numb, which wasn't bad since the air was close to unbearable.

On summer days, when it isn't too humid or too hot, I will sit on the beach for a while, though not for long. Sometimes, I bring my sketchbook along and try to capture the image of people at the beach. Invariably, whoever I am sketching will move. They rarely hold still, unless they're asleep, which is the best time to draw them. But I really enjoy the challenge of penciling in a rough outline of people in various poses. I reminds me of the contour drawings I used to do in Dr. Walker's class ages ago.

I often bring a book along to the beach--always a romance, of course.

The beach is a peaceful place to be, but it can be even more peaceful when the weather is cooler and only the locals folks are there.

How about you? What do you like about the beach? Do you like the beach when the weather is cooler?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Guest Post: Gail Pallotta with STOPPED COLD

My guest today is award-winning author Gail Pallotta--a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s a former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, a 2013 Grace Awards finalist and a 2017 Reader’s Favorite Book Award winner. She’s published six books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. To learn more about Gail and her books visit her website at

Her latest book is STOPPED COLD. It's gotten terrific reviews. What's it about? Well, things aren't what they seem in peaceful Mistville, North Carolina.
Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school swimming and hanging out with friends—until the day her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking steroids. Now he's lying unconscious in a hospital.
Anger sets a fire for retribution inside her, and Margaret vows to make the criminals pay. Even the cop on the case can't stop her from investigating. Looking for justice, she convinces two friends, Jimmy and Emily to join her in a quest that takes them through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture they discover deep in the woods behind the school. Time and again they walk a treacherous path, and come face-to-face with danger.
All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

Now for an excerpt. Enjoy!

 Something urged me to go inside (the hospital chapel.) Maybe it was because I had nowhere else to turn. Maybe it was because Reverend Hopewell’s visit made me believe God would do something about Sean’s condition if I kept asking him to.
A cinder of hope sparked inside me as I walked in the tiny, narrow sanctuary with mahogany paneling and one pew. If only God would make Sean well and lead me to the drug dealers. Did God do that sort of thing? Maybe I didn’t know enough about God to be in here. He wouldn’t approve of all the hate I had for the drug dealers. Jesus preached a Gospel of love. My heart beat so fast.
How could I explain my deep despair to God? Did He care about Sean and me? Through the blur of my tears I peered at the stained glass cross embedded in dark paneling behind the altar, the soft lighting washing over it. I didn’t need to tell God how sad I was. He already knew. Of course, He cared. He sent His only son to die for Sean’s sins and mine.
But did I know the right thing to say to God, especially in my angry state? Reverend Hopewell’s prayers sounded so eloquent when he said them for the youth group. If I ever wanted a prayer to be good enough for God to answer, it was now.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Condolences on the Beach

My father's brother was a Marine in World War II. He was killed by a sniper during the battle for the coral atoll of Palau.

A considerable amount of time later, my father, a sergeant in the Air Force, had just waded onto a Philippine beach 800 miles west of Palau when the officer commanding his advance party came up to him with an envelope. He opened it and handed my father an American Red Cross message reporting the death of his brother. Then, while troops and equipment kept coming ashore, the officer handed Dad a cup, opened a whiskey bottle and poured it into the cup.

After a few words of condolence, the officer moved away and Dad went on with his work but he never forgot that brief moment of empathy shown by his commanding officer. 

Pray for peace.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Artistic License ... Or This is the Way I See It

Spring is in full swing. Nice weather reminds me of the fun I used to have on sketching expeditions with my mother. I sketched this picture of a rickety old dock in Belford the last time we went out sketching together. Dad had come along to read his newspaper while we drew. My daughters were there, too. Everyone insisted I had invented the bird at the top of the pole, but I was equally insistent that he had been there for a little while, but flew off.

My drawing is not a masterpiece, just a sketch. The fun was not so much in the finished product but the company--along with the fresh air and sunshine.

My daughters looked at the same scene, but each of their sketches came out quite different. My mother's was not the same as mine either.

That's the way it is with anything artistic. What's important to the artist is what ultimately winds up on the paper. Every artist can view the same scene, but one may concentrate on a boat in the foreground, another may concentrate on some coil of rope hanging on a nail, and someone else--like me--won't miss that bird on the top of the pole even if he's only there for a minute. That was the way I saw it.

In many ways, drawing is like writing. The creative process is similar. Every writer comes at a story from a different angle.

I write romances and there are plenty of other romance authors. Nevertheless, while we write in the same genre, we all have a different voice, a different way of handling the story. We see particular details, emphasizing those that are significant to us and our characters.

There is no formula for a romance other than a relationship and a happy ending. No two romance books are the same and that's because each writer is recording what is important to him or her in their story.

Artistic license is not only for painters. Every artist sees the world through a unique pair of eyes. El Greco did not paint like van Gogh. Eloisa James does not write like Hannah Howell.

The world is full of variety and that's part of the fun.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Guest Post: Katie Clark with Whispering Tower

Today my guest is KATIE CLARK. She started reading fantastical stories in grade school and her love for books never died. Today she reads in all genres; her only requirement is an awesome story! She writes young adult speculative fiction, including her romantic fantasy novel, The Rejected Princess, a supernatural survival series including Shadowed Eden and Whispering Tower, which is available now, and her dystopian Enslaved Series. You can connect with her at her website as well as InstagramFacebook, or Twitter.

What's Whispering Tower about? It's the story of Skye Humphries who is stuck in London for one of her mom’s work trips. Skye can’t help holding a grudge when she ends up roped into a summer tour group with Philip-who-crushed-her-heart. But when Skye and Philip find themselves barreling through time after unsuspectingly opening the veil between the past and present, they’re thrust into a world where Skye’s very life is in danger. If she’d known her choices were between summering with Philip or being sacrificed to the god of the skies, Skye might have changed her attitude. Now she must figure out what’s most important to her—getting even for the past or having a future.

Now read an excerpt!

Present Day 

Skye stared at Big Ben in the distance, watched it tick away the time, taking her life with it. A few blocks from her hotel window, the London Eye Ferris wheel rose toward the sky. Tourists and locals mingled in the streets around it, preparing to start their day. Too bad she wouldn’t be starting hers down at the London Eye, instead of with breakfast in the hotel restaurant. 
“You’re not ready yet?” Mom’s impatient voice came from the door between their plush hotel rooms. 
Skye kept her mouth shut. She hated these trips, but she tried not to take it out on Mom. Most kids at school would kill for a parent who travelled the world and took their teen along, but long hours away from home, while Mom worked eighteen-hour days? Not fun. At least at home, she had the soup kitchen where she volunteered and the people who volunteered with her. The people who had become her friends. 
Here? She was on her own. Dad had offered to let Skye stay with him, and she’d almost said yes. Almost. 
“I’ll be ready.” She turned back to the window, her gaze going back to Big Ben. 
“Still working on homework?” Mom moved into the room. She glanced over Skye’s shoulder. Skye looked at her laptop screen. She’d been working through a lesson on ancient Mesopotamia from Mr. Kilpatrick’s class. Now, that was something to smile about. The rituals of the ancient peoples fascinated her. She’d gone over the information a few dozen times with her history teacher. He was great about video chatting with her, delving deeper into the customs, languages, and religions used four thousand years ago. He’d even helped her narrow down the best college choices if she planned to pursue archeology. Someone had to help her, since Mom never had the time. 
“I’m about halfway through.” Really, she should have been done hours ago. The time difference between Tennessee and London had jarred her, and she’d been awake forever. Besides, last time she’d slept was on the plane, and she’d had a bad dream she didn’t want to repeat. But Mom had mentioned breakfast with her business partner and his son, Philip Matthews, and Skye was hoping Mom would let her skip if she hadn’t finished her school work yet. 
“You’ll have lots of time to finish it later,” Mom said. OK, not skipping breakfast. “Go get ready,” Mom called over her shoulder as she moved back to her own room. 
Skye stayed put, her gaze going back to that clock. Big Ben, telling time for a hundred and fifty years. If only those fancy clock hands could wind backward. Back to a week ago, when Mom had announced the London trip. Back to just before she’d told Dad, and he’d invited her to stay with him and his new wife, Gloria. She’d asked Mom, and Mom had freaked. Yeah, she definitely would stop herself from asking that question. 
Besides, Dad had only invited her out of pity. His eyes had been anything but welcoming. She winced at the painful memory and quickly turned back to her laptop. After saving her work and shutting down the computer, she moved to the bathroom for a shower. Thick, plush carpet softened every footstep, and floor to ceiling windows lined an entire wall of her room. Three different shower heads blasted steamy water against the fancy tiles, and Skye took a deep breath. She would make it through this breakfast. Make it through this trip. As always. She’d already contacted All Nations Church, for whom she’d done benevolence work on past London trips. Keeping busy was the best way to keep her mind off of things like Mom yanking her around, and Dad patronizing her. And staying on the same hotel floor as Philip Matthews—for an entire summer. 
The hot water was good at burning away the bad feelings, allowing her body to relax and her mind to wander. Steam swirled through the bathroom, and Skye took another deep, cleansing breath. Everything would be fine. The billowing steam fogged up the mirror. It reminded her of something. Billowing sand? She frowned. The dream. She had been somewhere dry and dusty. Alone? No, not alone, but she couldn’t remember who had come. Mrs. Garrison, one of the women who frequented the soup kitchen where she helped out back home, would call Skye’s dream dΓ©jΓ  vu. Skye always smiled along with Mrs. Garrison’s crazy beliefs, but she didn’t go for stuff like dΓ©jΓ  vu. Seeing into the future--or past? A little too hard to believe.

Check out the book at Pelican Book Group, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

I Finished!

I finished my Christmas novella. The story starts with a lone figure skater on a lake--in New Jersey. It's a contemporary romance. 

I sent the manuscript off to the publisher. Now I have to wait. That's the hard part. However, I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy in the meantime. 

Inspired by Daughter #2 and her Marie Kondo method, I cleaned out half of the junk drawer in the kitchen. I got rid of plenty of extraneous stuff. But not everything. I discovered my husband had a collection of 3 prong to 2 prong grounding adapters for wall outlets. I didn't think I should throw them out. There have been times when I have needed one of those things. I decided to put them inside a box inside the junk drawer. At least, I know where they are. 

In anticipation of cleaning out the other half of the junk drawer, I bought some small, plastic storage boxes which I found in the Dollar Store. That way, if I come across another collection of odd objects I can put them all together. Marie Kondo would throw them out--and maybe next time I clean the junk drawer I will. But for now it will be organized.πŸ‘

I also have a talk to prepare about plot driven or character driven inspirational stories. I've got a bit more than two weeks before the talk. That should keep me out of trouble. 😁

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tidying Up Letters--Or Not

Daughter #2 bought Marie Kondo's book a few years ago. Using Ms. Kondo's guidelines, she cleaned her apartment by getting rid of the clutter.

Daughter #2 is on her spring break and is now using Ms. Kondo's principles to clean out her room in our house. When she moved out, she only took a few boxes of stuff with her. The rest of it stayed here. So now, she is cleaning out her high school memories, books, and papers.

Meanwhile, I read parts of Ms. Kondo's book and--inspired by my daughter--decided to tackle some of my own clutter. I had several accordion files filled with emails from way back. There were full-sized letters from our daughters, my sisters, and my parents. Back in the day, we used to print out the emails because there wasn't enough memory to keep them. At least, I think that was the reason.

Yesterday, I went through one accordion file of emails. I read many of them--or skimmed some of them. I tossed out about half of them. But it was hard. It was delightful to remember those days. Everything in those letters was history--family history--detailing a specific time when two of our daughters were in college, when my sisters were bringing up their younger children, and when my parents were still with us.

The old email letters were printed out in the time of Netscape, when we had dialup service for the Internet. Nowadays, My sisters call or text me. My daughters call or text me. My sister-in-law is the only letter writer left--though at Christmastime we receive letters from some other friends.

There are others like me who find letters too precious to pitch in the recycling bin. There are suggestions about putting them in a scrapbook, or actually making a book out of the letters. Both of those ideas are great possibilities.

It is good to get rid of clutter and I agree with Ms. Kondo about many things--but not my letters.

What would you do?

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Guest Post: Erin Lorence with DOVE STRONG

Erin Lorence
Today my special guest is Erin Lorence, another Pelican Book Group author. She lives in Bonney Lake, Washington with her husband, Brian, and their two daughters, Brooke and Savannah. Her lifelong love of reading, her gratitude to God, and her enjoyment of hiking in Central Oregon all inspired her to write the Dove Strong Trilogy. 

Here's the book blurb:

Dove Strong loves God. She loves standing chin up, fists clenched when facing Satan’s attacks. But there’s one thing she doesn’t love—other people. So when this spiritually-gifted, antisocial teenager is chosen to join other believers in a trek across Satan’s territory, rattlesnakes and evil-intentioned Heathen aren’t her biggest challenges. But failure isn’t an option. In a month, the Christian Councils will decide the Reclaim, a vote on whether there’ll be a war between Christ’s and Satan’s followers to take back America. It is up to Dove, God’s messenger for peace, to reach her Council in time. Because if she doesn’t, things could get bloody.

And now for an excerpt!
With a gasp, I leaped over to the spot next to my shoes—the place I’d left my clothes. On all fours, I patted around on the hard—now puddled—white squares. As if my missing tunic shirt and pants had somehow become camouflaged. 
I whirled around, searching. I pried open a small door next to my legs and stuck my head into its dark, cluttered depths. 
Slowly, I shut it, rolled back onto my heels, and hid my face. 
My clothes—they were gone. Completely. Utterly. Gone. 
I crouched there for about five seconds. 
Then I got mad. 
It took me another few frustrated moments to figure out how to wear the one towel in the room that wasn’t maple leaf sized. No matter how I tried, it wouldn’t cover all the skin it needed to. I wrapped the towel under my armpits and around my wet underclothes, which left my shoulders, arms, and the lower half of my legs still showing. 
I yanked open the door, expecting to trip over Melody. 
I didn’t. 
She’d vanished. 
Not my biggest problem right then. 
“Where are my clothes?” My hands death-gripped the towel while I stormed at Wolfe. He sprawled on a cushioned bench, holding up a skinny, rectangle electronic. Then he dropped it. The whistling died. 
Where are my clothes?” I was ultra-conscious of my gangly, fish-belly white legs and arms. A startling contrast to the deep tan of my face and hands. 
He stared. 
Rage boiled up, staining the room red. A snarl started deep inside. I began to shake. “Where are my clothes?”
He eased upwards and backed away. “Whoa, bird girl. Relax.” His hands went up. “It was just a...a...I’m washing them—they’re in the machine. Hang on.”
In two strides, he left the room. His head reappeared. “By the way, seriously nice tattoos. Uh, right.” 
A minute later he returned holding a dripping wad of brown material. He handed it to me with a cough. “They’re a bit damp still. Should I throw them in the dryer?” 
My anger drained away. Leaving me with a hole in my chest. 
I shook out my tunic shirt—a hand-woven, goodbye gift from my mom, aunt, and grandma. The fibers were created from special plants grown on our property. The Breastplate of Righteousness design stitched on the front tilted lopsided. Pathetic. 
My traveling outfit hadn’t only been a surprise but a tribute to the Armor of God from the Bible. The one my family knew I loved. And the only tangible reminder of my family I’d brought with me. 
“They were all stiff and brown. And I—"
“They’re supposed to be that way.” 
“See, they’re still good.” He snatched the crumpled pants and flattened them. “They’re not ripped or nothing.”
Under his hands, the symbolic belt around the waist frayed and twisted like old corn silk on a compost heap. 
I took them back and lurched toward the white room to put them on. 
I will not cry over pants. I will not
“That,” he spoke from closer than I’d expected, “is the most wicked sword tattoo I’ve seen in my life.” 
I slapped my left hand over my right arm, hiding part of the ornate Sword of the Spirit that ran from shoulder to elbow. 
He leaned over me. “What’s that on your other arm? Oh, it’s a shield—nice, the way it wraps around. I wouldn’t have taken you for the inked type. Hey, I can see part of one above the towel. Something gray?”
I yanked the damp cloth up to hide the Breastplate of Righteousness no one was supposed to see. 
But the moisture at my eyeballs dried. I still had Trinity’s more permanent reminder of herself and home. 
God gifted my cousin with the ability to create beauty out of anything. Out of nothing. 
She told me once that when she met an object, her mind automatically saw its potential. To her, a body was a blank canvas. She’d been adding artwork to her own body for years—something her mom was OK with. My mom wasn’t so supportive of tattoos. 
Of course, that hadn’t stopped me from accepting Trinity’s offer a few months ago. I couldn’t pass up a permanent reminder of my spiritual protection and weapon. All guaranteed by my Lord’s mighty power. 
“Your ma and pop OK with so many?” 
“Where’s Melody?” 
“Ha! I didn’t think so. My grandma didn’t do the conga either when I got mine. Did you see it? I’ve only got one. On my back. Not as cool as yours but...OK, OK. Don’t go all postal on me again. Bite-sized screamers right outside. See? Through the glass there? Those are her boots behind the woodpile. She’s staring at the clouds or something.”
I nodded, not bothering to check. That girl was obsessed with sun sets. Every night, she’d watched the blue horizon melt into oranges and pinks while I’d set up camp. But tonight’s sky was way too thick with gray clouds for color. 
“It took her roughly, oh, one millisecond to bail on you when she realized it was only her and me.” He flashed a hangdog expression, which I didn’t buy. “I don’t think she likes me.” 
“Try not tackling her so much.”
He was still cracking up when Melody screamed.

Erin's website:
Buy Links:

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Free Books--One Reader's Opinion

There has been some discussion as of late about whether offering books for free helps authors to snag new readers. As an author, I have offered several of my books for free on Smashwords for a limited time. Many people downloaded the books. Have they bought my other books because they enjoyed the free ones? I don't know and I doubt it because sales of my other books did not go up.

I am not just a writer. I am a reader who just happens to have some special privileges. One of my special privileges is that I can get free books from other authors in the hope I will write reviews and post them on Amazon.

This is like handing crack to a cocaine addict. Am I always delighted to get free books and add them to my formidable to-be-read pile of books.

The little gif above shows some of the books I received at the Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference. Would I buy one of the author's other books because I got one for free? The answer is a qualified maybe. I have so many books to read and I am continually acquiring them, that the possibility of me buying another one of the author's books is remote--although, I have to say that if the book was in a series, there is a better chance I will buy another one in the series.

I always do my best to support other writers in my community. I have bought many, many books by other authors. Unfortunately, I haven't gotten around to reading all of them. Does this stop me from buying more books? NO!

I buy plenty of used books, too, at library book sales, yard sales, and flea markets. I buy ebooks on  Kindle on a regular basis. Ebooks are inexpensive. Why wouldn't I buy them?

I still buy paper editions from Barnes & Noble, too. Friends and family know I am crazy about books so I often get gift cards to Barnes & Noble. (Yes, let the world know you have a serious reading habit and they will happily help you drown in books.)

As a reader, I love free books but I also spend money to buy the books I want.

As a writer, I really believe all authors should be paid for their work.

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

What About Music In a Novel?

Photo by stevepb on Pixabay
I learned the words to many songs when I was young. My mother sang all the time--mostly the songs of her generation, but some even older than that. I took piano lessons for a short time, paid for with my babysitting money. My middle sister took guitar lessons, so I learned a bit about the guitar as well. I sang in the madrigal choir in college. For many years, I sang and played an accompaniment with the guitar in the folk choir at church. Then I married a man whose main hobby was music. Our daughters took piano lessons for years--until they went to college.

While I am not an accomplished pianist or guitarist, I have memorized the lyrics to a gazillion songs from the past, though I don't know much about current popular music. However, sometimes when I'm strolling through a store, I might hear a nice tune playing through the speakers as I load my cart with groceries. Then I'll go and search for it. If it really touches me, I'll buy the sheet music.

Surrounded by an abundance of musical scores, I have sometimes included the mention of a number of songs in the books I write. In The Cowboy's Miracle, I used several ancient western ballads. In my upcoming book Patriot's Courage, I have made references to the song "Amazing Grace," one of my favorite hymns. It was first published in 1779 by John Newton. (There's an interesting conversion story on John Newton that you can find at

I am well aware that a writer must be careful about using lyrics or songs in their stories and not only because it is difficult to secure the copyrights on the songs. Using song titles often dates the story and since songs go out of fashion quickly, future readers may never have heard of the song you are referencing in your book. See Jason Sanford's blog post:

Writer's Digest has a very succinct post about using song lyrics:  Jane Friedman has a longer and more detailed guide:

In my current WIP, I was tempted to use the titles from a playlist for EMTs and paramedics. Instead, I made vague references to the heavy beat of the songs and the way the protagonist reacts to the music. That's the safe way. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What Have You Memorized?

Dieter_G at Pixabay

Many year ago I read Two Years Before the Mast. While I’m still not sure about which sail is which, I found the book to be a fascinating history. One of the passages that has stuck in my mind is the one where Richard Henry Dana, Jr. reveals how he kept himself awake and alert on the night watch by reciting from memory an incredible array of facts as well as pieces of literature.

Here is the quote from the book.

I commenced a deliberate system of time-killing, which united some profit with a cheering up of the heavy hours. As soon as I came on deck, and took my place and regular walk, I began with repeating over to myself a string of matters which I had in my memory, in regular order. First, the multiplication table and the tables of weights and measures; then the states of the union, with their capitals; the counties of England, with their shire towns; the kings of England in their order; and a large part of the peerage, which I committed from an almanac that we had on board; and then the Kanaka numerals. This carried me through my facts, and, being repeated deliberately, with long intervals, often eked out the two first bells. Then came the ten commandments; the thirty-ninth chapter of Job, and a few other passages from Scripture. The next in the order, that I never varied from, came Cowper’s Castaway, which was a great favorite with me; the solemn measure and gloomy character of which, as well as the incident that it was founded upon, made it well suited to a lonely watch at sea. Then his lines to Mary, his address to the jackdaw, and a short extract from Table Talk; (I abounded in Cowper, for I happened to have a volume of his poems in my chest;) “Ille et nefasto” from Horace, and GΕ“the’s Erl King. After I had got through these, I allowed myself a more general range among everything that I could remember, both in prose and verse. In this way, with an occasional break by relieving the wheel, heaving the log, and going to the scuttle-butt for a drink of water, the longest watch was passed away; and I was so regular in my silent recitations, that if there was no interruption by ship’s duty, I could tell very nearly the number of bells by my progress.

I know I could not do that. I could rattle off the times tables, the Ten Commandments, and hopefully most of the states and their capitals. I had a knack for memorizing facts when I was young. I did very well in recalling word-for-word the Baltimore Catechism. The nuns figured that out quickly enough and seldom called on me when I raised my hand. While I cannot toss back the answers to all the catechism questions anymore, I have retained most of the basic knowledge of the Church—probably because I still belong to it.

When I got to high school I had no problem in memorizing the periodic table. However, I promptly forgot it once I no longer needed it.

Obviously, back in the old days, people relied on memorization far more than we do today. Socrates believed that people would stop memorizing once they started to write things down.

Today with the internet at our fingertips, we never have to memorize anything. Just type it into Google and you’ve got the information you need instantly.

Nevertheless, it is interesting to think about what I would do if I had to keep myself alert on a night watch, I would probably recite my Rosary—but that wouldn’t take up too much time. I could sing a lot of songs and hymns as well as recite a few short bits of Scripture. There are a few poems I have loved and remember. Having spent much of my career teaching little children, I have committed an inordinate amount of children's books to memory. I suppose I could go through the times tables, the Ten Commandments, and every state with its capital city.

But what else?

What do you have in your memory that would keep you awake and alert on a long night watch?

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Irish in Me

That's little me sitting with my paternal great-grandmother. She came from County Mayo in Ireland as a domestic worker and she married a man here in the USA who hailed from Roscommon. At least, that's what I've been told. Together they had nine children. One child died in infancy and another was later given the same name and afterward was referred to by all as "Brother". My grandfather was their oldest child. My great-grandmother died before I was old enough to really get to know her.

I was told my great-grandmother was offered the opportunity to go back and visit Ireland in her later years, but she said, "What would I want to do that for?" I have to assume that at the time she left Ireland, conditions were rather desperate.

Subsequently, some family members have visited Ireland. My uncle went many years ago and searched for the town where my great-grandmother's family had a farm. My uncle looked at the land and commented, "They must have been farming rocks."

Yet, for all their hardships, the members of that family maintained a certain type of wit that I think of as their Irishness. There are many examples of this, but a good one is here. One of my favorites on that page is by Sean O'Casey, "All the world's a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed."

So true. πŸ˜‰

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

How Writers Prime the Pump

Photo by MoreLight

According to Collins English Dictionary the definition of priming the pump is:

How did the definition go from the most efficient way to work a pump to an economic stimulus? 
I don't know. However, I do remember the need for adding water to a pump to get it going. So I can understand how the same principle can be applied to the economy.

I believe the same theory can be applied to writing as well. After all, a writer feeds ideas into the mind to stimulate the flow of words. Writers read other authors' books and do research on various topics. Writers visit new places to gather ideas for plots. Writers will sometimes just sit and watch people or listen to them--or both. Writers are always collecting information that might be useful in a story.

So remember to prime the pump and stimulate your mind to get the words flowing. πŸ˜€