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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Playing with GIFs

My iPad decided it needed an update. It does that sort of thing on a regular basis. One of the lovely benefits that came along with the update was a simple shortcut to make a gif. This is fun and useful. I can now easily put together elaborate gifs to help in advertising my books. After all, it seems moving images are best at capturing people’s attention. But for now I decided to upload some of my short illustrated Scripture quotes. I take many photos, but every once in a while I get lucky and wind up with a photo featuring a good amount of fantastic sky or a wide expanse of wonderful water. To me, pictures like that beg for a quote. 

I have a collection of these illustrated Bible quotes at my Pinterest page. You can see all of them at — along with some I saved from other folks’ collections. Check them out! 

Thursday, October 03, 2019


One of my favorite poems by Robert Frost is "The Road Not Taken." (You can read it HERE.) This past weekend, I had the opportunity to test my driving skill on a road full of potholes. It was a road I would never have imagined to be so hazardous. Some of the potholes were more like craters. The photo above doesn't even hint at what that road was like. It looks all nice and peaceful and smooth. Ha!

It might have become my own road not taken. However, at the end of that road was the Bridge to Nowhere, which sounded rather intriguing. (Could there be a plot in there somewhere?) So I dared to ease the car through the obstacle course to reach the goal, coached by the calm voice of Daughter #2 who also wanted to reach the Bridge to Nowhere. She suggested walking at one point, but I didn't know how far that walk would be and whether my old knees were up to the journey. On the other hand, the car might easily have sunk into one of the craters, but it didn't.

We were fortunate, reached our goal, and took lots of photos. Even the photo above might make a nice painting.😀

It was quite an adventure. But maybe next time, we'll take the bicycles.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Filet Crochet Prayer Square Cross

I enjoy making prayer squares. They are small and I can easily carry them anywhere with me. I pray for the recipient of the square while I work. Our prayer shawl ministry usually hands out bunches of these during the Christmas bazaar at our church.

I have many different patterns but I decided it would be nice to try one in a filet crochet pattern. However, I couldn't find the sort of pattern I wanted. So I made up my own. It may not be written in proper crochet lingo, but it's free for anyone who wants it. Have fun!


Using a number 11 crochet hook (you can use a larger hook but the square will be larger), and crochet cotton thread size 10, chain 31.

Row 1: Dc in 7th chain from the hook. (This makes your first square.) Ch 1. Skip 1 space. Dc in next chain. Ch 1. Repeat until you get to the original ch 7 box, dc in the 2nd chain from the hook. You should have a total of 13 boxes. At the end of the row, ch 4 and turn.

Row 2: DC at top of the first Dc. *Ch 1. Skip one ch. Dc in next dc.* Repeat that to the end of the row, where again you dc in the 2nd chain from the hook. You now have two rows of 13 boxes each. Chain 4, turn.

Rows 3 to 9: For the next 7 rows *dc in the top of the dc, chain 1, skip one space, dc in next dc* 4 times. Then dc in the next 7 stitches. From there ch1, dc 4 times, until the last loop where you dc in the 2nd ch from the hook. Ch 4 and turn.

Rows: 10 to 12: For the next 3 rows, dc in the top of the dc, chain 1, skip 1, dc in next dc. (Two empty boxes) Then dc in 19 stitches. Ch1, sk1, dc, ch1, dc in 2nd ch from hook.

Rows 13 to 15: The following 3 rows are exactly like the rows 3 through 9.

Rows 16 to 17: The last two rows are the same as the first two rows.

To finish, single crochet all around the edge.

For the final picot row: Ch 5, slip stitch in 3rd ch, ch 2, skip 2 chains, slip stitch in the next. Repeat all around. Finish off.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Because we have to.

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

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

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

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Aunt Grace's Instructions On How To Catch A Man

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Guest Post: Valerie Goree with DAY OF RECKONING

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

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

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

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

Valerie loves to hear from her readers.

The exciting plot for DAY OF RECKONING:

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

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

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

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

And now for an excerpt!

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

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

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

Heavy footsteps slowed. 

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

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


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

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


Facebook author page:

Thursday, August 29, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

Or so I thought.

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

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

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

There's hope.

Maybe next year I'll have more flowers.


Thursday, August 22, 2019

What Writers Do

Image by rawpixel at Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Our Little Picnic in Barnegat

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 06, 2019


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

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

Here's a brief excerpt:

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

Buy the book! Click on the links below: 

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. 😆 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 déjà vu. Skye always smiled along with Mrs. Garrison’s crazy beliefs, but she didn’t go for stuff like déjà 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.👍

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.

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