Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Surprising Collaboration

What do you think of the young woman you once were? Do you respect her? Do you like her? Is
there anything she wants to tell you? Anything she wants you to do for her?

Until the last few years, I didn’t give much consideration to my young-adult self because, to be honest, I didn’t much respect her. I discounted her importance in my life.

Why didn’t I respect her? Well… she was young. She didn’t know much. She had some priorities I don’t agree with.

For example: she often confused the desire to be loved with actual love. That confusion got us into some relationships that now seem like a waste of time. She valued other people’s opinions too highly. She didn’t know how to take care of herself, and not taking care of her self meant not taking care of me. I’m kind of mad at her for that. She put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own.

I know what she would say in her defense. She was a teenager—of course teenage girls are all about what others think of them—and then she was the mother of young children. Mothers have to put their kids’ needs first, right? Yes, right, I get that. Also (more of her defense) she and my husband had a business that needed attention 24/7. I should be thanking her (she would say) for her hard work, because it contributed to the financial security that gives me time to write now. Well, yes, but still…
My kids are grown now, and I’m retired—except for this writing thing—so it’s easier for me to define and enforce boundaries than it was for her, but really I don’t think she even knew what boundaries were, and I don’t think she knew she deserved to have some.

Anyway, this young woman from whom I’ve been somewhat estranged, had at least one passion that was so strong she found time to indulge it. She wanted to be a writer. She wrote a few magazine articles that were published; she wrote a sort of Erma-Bombeckish weekly gardening column in the local newspaper; and she drafted three romance novels.

I have to admire her for that. When she drafted those novels, she was living in a one-room cabin with two small bedrooms for the children partitioned off behind the wood stove. (The bedroom she shared with our husband was an open loft above the rest of the cabin.) So she had no privacy, no quiet, and no time to herself. Still, she wrote. She wrote until one day the other demands on her time were just too great. She stashed all her manuscripts in a banana box and put them in the garden shed.

Those three unfinished novels sat in that banana box and were moved to various basements, attics and garages over a period of twenty-five years until a year and a half ago when I decided to dig them out and have a look at them.

I’d just finished work on a non-fiction book, Touching Bellies, Touching Lives (published under my married name, Judy Gabriel), and I missed writing, so I thought I’d see about those unfinished novels. The box was brim full with so many revisions all thrown in randomly, it was hard to see what I had. There were a few 3 ¼-inch disks (for those of you too young to remember, 3 1/4-inch disks were standard back then) at the bottom of the box. I bought a drive for those disks and began trying to sort through my old work.

It was odd to experience my material almost as if it had been written by someone else. I was impressed with Young-Me’s story-telling ability, but still I thought I could probably write better than she could. (Part of my lack of respect for her.) So I put the banana box back in the garage and began writing one of the stories again from scratch.
About thirty pages into the effort I was reminded that crafting a story is hard work. I decided I didn’t want to do that work all over again if I didn’t have to, so I went back to the old manuscript. My book, Escape from Behruz, published by The Wild Rose Press last spring, is the original story, as written by Young-Me, tweaked and in parts rewritten by Now-Me.

What happened while I worked with Young-Me’s writing is that I developed new respect for her. She wrote a beautiful story, one that only she could have envisioned. (Also, she was just back from living, working, and having a baby (!) in the Middle East, which is where the story is set, so the setting was fresh in her mind.) I love the story, and I came to love her for giving it to me. I realized I owed it to her to finish Escape from Behruz. When she packed those pages into that banana box, she was counting on me to do that for her someday.

So I did. I think we worked well together, she and I. When I hold the book in my hands now, I’m proud of what we achieved.

I’ve just finished a sequel, Midwife in Behruz (The Wild Rose Press, Nov. 1, 2017). This second book was written entirely by the woman I am now, but it would never have been conceived were it not for the inspiration I got from the woman I was then. I thank her for that gift.

There were two other novel-length manuscripts in that banana box. One, although it has some merits, doesn’t interest me now. The other one, however, a story set in Mexico, is lovely. So there’s one more manuscript written by Young-Me waiting for my attention.

I’ll have one more collaboration with the young woman who grew up to be me: one more opportunity to know her and grow my respect for her and integrate her better into my life.

Judy Meadows

Escape from Behruz on Sale now for .99 at Amazon, Nook, and Itunes

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review:A Sweeter Spot

A spunky Librarian,  a former foot-ball star with a tween daughter, a status conscious grandmother, and an ex-fiance anyone would drop like a hot potato.
These are the main stars in Donna Simmonetta’s newest release from The Wild Rose Press, A SWEETER SPOT.

Magda “Maggie” Horvath bolts from her NY home and job when she discovers her fiancĂ© is doing the nasty with someone else. In all truth, Maggie’s never real felt she and Pierce were going to get a happily ever after of their own, but her domineering and social status conscious grandmother – who’s also Maggie’s employer – pushed the two into an engagement that was more a merger than a marriage.

So Maggie does the run-away-bride-to-be thing and lands in River’s Bend, Virginia to help her old college chum, Bethanne, who’s laid up on bed rest while pregnant. Beth’s the town librarian and Maggie agrees to run the library until Beth has the baby and in back on her feet. Beth’s husband has a business partner, Jeff ( the ex footballer) who’s more than a little gobsmacked when he meets Maggie. Jeff’s got a tween daughter, Samantha, and he’s always been worried about bringing any new females around his daughter. But when his attraction to Maggie makes him start rethinking that, Jeff makes his move.

Maggie’s ex, Piece the Prick, is not only a cheater, he’s a drug abuser. He needs to marry Maggie to settle some very extensive debts, and her leaving is in no way going to stop that marriage. Armed with a pistol and a serious drug habit, he follows her to River’s Bend.

I hate spoilers, so I won’t tell you what happens, but will Maggie and Jeff have a shot at true love? Will her obnoxious grandmother ever see her for the person she is and not some substitute for Maggie’s own mother? Will Pierce get his comeuppance?
All questions you’ll have to read this delightful book to find out.

I truly enjoyed A SWEETER SPOT. It was the perfect mix of romance, a little suspense, and a
whole lotta emotional growth on everyone’s part – my favorite kind of romance!

Do yourself a favor and get a copy. Then settle onto an old chair, get a cup of tea, and feel the warmth and love that flows through this book.

***I was given an arc of this book for an honest opinion and my humble, honest opinion is that it’s a goodie! 

Peggy Jaeger Writing about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can't live without them.
mmj122687@yahoo.com | PeggyJaeger.com

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Review: The Fountain of Youth

Posted with permission from Midwest Book Reviews

MBR Bookwatch: October 2017
James A. Cox, Editor-in-Chief
Midwest Book Review
278 Orchard Drive, Oregon, WI 53575
Donovan's Bookshelf
It's rare that romance novels include more than surface passions, and even less common that they embrace issues of dementia, moral and ethical questions, medical conundrums, or the struggles of Alzheimer's patients. Mix all these issues with love and you have a strange blend, indeed.
But one of the special features of The Fountain of Youth lies in its ability to deftly weave all these seemingly-disparate threads into a unified, precise, memorable story line, making it a top recommendation for not just romance readers, but anyone interested in issues of aging, changed capabilities, and the impact a small thing (such as quiz book) can have in one's life.
In this case, narrator Robert Glickman is determined to defy a family history of dementia and his seemingly-inevitable decline by using a quiz book to test his facilities so he can do something about any decline before it really takes hold. In the meantime, he also lives life in Youth Fountain Senior Living Facility (termed "The Fountain of Youth" by its residents - an aptly named old folks' home, where he has an apartment), holds an infatuation with a retired therapist, faces a neurotic and mentally declining sister, confronts a possible hiding Nazi, and interacts with a host of characters who each struggle with their own uncertain lives.
The characters who inhabit The Fountain of Youth are somewhat reminiscent to those in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, minus much of the insanity. They are quirky, obstinate, sometimes defiant personalities who have their own perspectives of their pasts, presents and futures; yet are somewhat to fully cognizant of the fact that the Fountain offers anything but youth or longevity - only a relatively safe haven at the end of the long road of life.
As events and lives unfold, the unexpected happens: Robert's gruff, observational voice becomes a compelling chronicler of the process of facing not only imminent mortality, but the decline of one's connections to life itself. What opens as and seems like an observational piece about an increasingly limited world and abilities becomes a special window into the hearts, minds, and ethical issues facing the aging and those around them at the end of life.
Who has power and control over one's life? What happens when circumstance limits, then takes away, not only abilities, but personalities? The psychological depth belays any possible description of The Fountain of Youth as a romance novel. While many a reader may pick up the story for this element, most will be delightfully surprised at the depth offered by the evolving story, the quirky and fun personalities revealed behind the closed doors of an elderly facility, and especially the story's important message about the right to live - and die - on one's own terms.
What begins as a seeming romance or institutional probe becomes something much more: a compelling, engrossing story fueled by the passions, perspectives, and worries of Robert as he seeks to take back power in his world, keep his promises, and exert control over his own destiny and the quandaries life and death poses. It's very highly recommended for audiences seeking depth and insights from fictional stories.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Traveling in Australia

While flipping through some photos I came upon a file marked “OUR TRAVELS.
It was like a trip down memory lane, and I thought I’d share some with you in the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy them.

Here is the first.

Life on the road is fun. Two people, a caravan, a car, the open road. No worries, no commitments,
As novice caravanners, we had just made the big decision to retire and take to the road. We left Sydney and headed north along the Pacific Highway with a 7.3metre van, setting out on our big adventure; to see Australia with a large van and two small dogs.
Mimi was a 14-year-old miniature poodle. She had been our good mate for ten years, since we rescued her from the pound. The day we brought her home she was frightened, in need of a bath, and had a red and green ball clamped in her mouth. Her “security blanket"
I decided to nurse her on the trip home. She looked at me with trust in her eyes, put her head on my shoulder and cuddled up to me. She won my heart then and was able to wrap me around her little paw from then on. “Saved from death row,” said my friend Maria, “to live a life of luxury.

Lucy was a four year old Maltese-Shizu whom we inherited when she was two and had grown to love equally with Mimi. The two were good pals but Mimi never left any doubt as to who was top dog, a fact reluctantly accepted by Lucy.

On our second day out of Sydney we approached the White Albatross Caravan Park at Nambucca Heads. It had been a fast learning curve; travelling with a large and unfamiliar rig on one of the busiest highways in Australia. Now we looked forward to a few quiet days in this peaceful spot.

The entrance to the caravan park is not well marked. Peter mistook the turn off and went straight onto the fishing area next door; a narrow wharf with sea ahead, fence on the left and a row of cars parked on the right. No room to turn. No option but to reverse 500 metres. Not an easy task with only two days experience at maneuvering this leviathan!
With me, rookie navigator, trying to guide him in a straight line while two dogs barked encouragement from the back seat he finally extricated us from the dead end. When we reached our site and unhitched the van, he mopped his brow. “Well, I guess the locals enjoyed watching that and had a good laugh.”
A little later, Peter was chatting to another vanner, who remarked, “By the way, I must thank you for winning me $10.”
“Really? How come?”
“A group of us were watching from the tavern upstairs when you came in, and took the wrong road. It was obvious you were fairly new to backing a van. There was a lot of banter as to whether you’d be able to back up and turn or not. I bet $10 you’d make it. Thanks for that.”

Well, the only thing dented was Peter’s pride.

After our eventful day we both looked forward to a good night’s sleep. We settled down happily. But. Lucy decided in the wee hours that she needed to go outside.
Peter took her out and, after she had attended to her needs, he was shepherding her back inside when disaster struck. In the next van lived a fox terrier that chose just that moment to also heed the call of nature. He came past to our van, a situation not to be tolerated by Lucy.
With a loud bark, she decided to chase him away. Away they both went. How those dogs could run! We hadn’t nicknamed Lucy ‘the pocket rocket’ for nothing. Through the park those two dogs tore, calls from their masters totally ignored. In and out between the vans. What fun!
Finally two angry and flustered men collared their dogs and shoved them inside. Lucy happily settled down to sleep away the rest of the night, but we heard that foxie barking for the next hour.

I told you life on the road is fun!

A Woman of Spirit
just follow the sun and your own inclinations.

Monday, October 09, 2017


“My avocation was a spark ignited by sugar.”

Remember Candy Dots? Sometimes called buttons, those little rows of rainbow sugar were easily peeled off long white strips of paper. (I always ate the cherry rows first.) Penny candy and nickel chocolate bars were sweet rewards in my childhood. Neighborhood Groceries or “Dimestores” displayed glass canisters of candy that could be scooped into little bags for little cravers deliberating over choices like Atomic Fireballs, Tootsie rolls, Root Beer Barrels, Sugar Babies, Blackjack Gum, and Taffy squares in four flavors. I was lucky to get my fix for a dime…at a little red brick store
about half way (six blocks) between home and school. (Yes, I once walked a mile for a two cent box of candy cigarettes.)

So, as my mouth is now under construction for implants with three dead molars needing replacement, I’m shamed into recall. Did the origin of my porcelain decline begin with a landmark splurge after winning my first writing contest at age ten? A Western Union Telegram (remember them?) notified me of my win. A five dollar prize in the hands of a ten year old with a sweet tooth was dangerous. I blew it on Candy Buttons.

The win propelled a normally shy little redhead to the front of her class for Show and Tell. I like to imagine classmates were more awed by telegram proof of my new literary status than the candy strips I distributed.

Decades later, as I prepare a power point presentation for Book Clubs and organizations interested in the novel journey of a writer with a crammed portfolio and sore gums, I am reminded of those Candy Buttons and what literary lessons I might salvage from that bittersweet splurge:
Everybody loves a winner! True. It is easier to get noticed when you can show you have some credible awards and great reviews. This requires losing enough humility to put yourself out there. I try to do a lot of 21st century Show and Tell now that I’m an award-winning author working on my fourth book.

Marketing means spending to receive! So true. Candy was once a sweet incentive to grow attention. Not so much today. Adult readers in a market with more supply than demand crave discounts, free books, gift certificates or even trendy gadgets to win their attention. Book parties--online and off--feature incentive give-a-ways to promote a book. However, the price of those give-a-ways and necessary ads, as well as review and promo services, can take a bittersweet bite out of royalties. New novelists are like minnows swallowed up by bigger fish with a publisher or a unique platform that attracts schools of followers. I think of “50 Shades of Gray”—and turn 50 shades of green over the 16,000 reviews it garnered and how the book saved a Publishing House. No candy or freebies required?

Creative people need to promote creatively! Right. When a promotion works well, writers are encouraged to repeat the success and always think outside the box. Candy Buttons inspired celebrity a half century ago. Are they still sold—like candy cigarettes and tootsie rolls? I check online and find Minnesota’s largest candy store (a 90 minute drive away) sells new and nostalgic candy. In a historic town closer to home, I find a chocolate shop that also sells Candy Buttons. Five packages for $6.00 inflates the childhood price by about 1000%. Still, it’s a small price to pay for renewed celebrity and more readers. When I present my “Novel Road” power point to Book Clubs and aspiring authors, I’ll have a sweet reminder to give away with bookmark swag. It feels right—a nostalgic treat to promote a taste for my nostalgic brand of fiction.

“Sweet!” My eight-year-old granddaughter approves the idea with a high five and a toothy grin white as chicklets. She loves to read, but actually prefers veggies.

Cj Fosdick still craves chocolate, but gleans sweet rewards from her Romantic Suspense/Time Travel www.cjfosdick.com and http://amazon.com/author/cjfosdick
novel series that began with “The Accidental Wife.” Follow her on FB, Goodreads,

Friday, October 06, 2017

Sometimes It Is All About The Destination

The day we arrived in Charleston she was underwater, as she often was, after every drenching summer rain. It was disconcerting, dodging the hordes of tourists, umbrellas braced against the downpour, winding our way around knee deep water at every intersection. Charleston, I’d thought, would be a proper setting for my story, rich with history and culture, but looking around at the drenched crowd, now I wasn’t so sure. Scouring the travel logs, it had seemed far more exotic than rural, dusty Ohio (although the two ended up melding seamlessly into not dissimilar small towns).
Charleston, it turned out, had everything I was looking for, and I was hoping for just a little bit of this city to rub off on me, so I could take it home and pour all her little details back into my story. I hadn’t expected the cobblestone streets, or the crushing crowds, the smell of horses mixed with sweat, or how close the stately mansions were to the Battery. Or how close the ocean was to everything. Experiencing this first hand changed everything in the book in subtle ways. In better ways.

I discovered some great new settings for book two; King Street shopping area was trendy and busy and I’d have never thought to include it in a book unless I’d actually walked up and down it. Standing on the Battery at sunrise helped me fine tune my character’s reaction during a confrontation she had on that very site. The wedding cake antebellum mansion, now a B & B on Meeting Street, turned into perfect house for my bad guy, while driving the roads north of the city helped me create a realistic travel timeline for my heroine. The smells, the feel, the taste of the city all were translated, in some small way, back into the book. None of which would have been possible sitting at my desk.
Now the only question is how soon until I can go back?

L. A. McGinnis

Thursday, October 05, 2017

Welcome to Lynn's Lair

Does marketing and promo give anyone else hives? No? Just me? K…

I’m an introvert who extroverts on occasion, so my release day was both exciting and terrifying! Thanks to a unicorn named Lisa Dawn, and the amazing support of my fellow TWRP authors, the terror went from a 20 to about a 7, and the excitement had me downing two bottles of sweet red, half a bottle of mango prosecco (thanks, Trader Joe’s), and an indeterminate number of truffles…and that just covers my consumption until noon. #DontJudge

Now that my baby, Between You and Me, is officially out there in the universe (SQUEEEEEE!!!), I thought it would be fun to share something light with you all: My writerly space!

I don’t have an office (my husband snagged it first, so he can do his Dexter’s Laboratory thing without tiny humans getting into his mustache-twirling world domination plans), so I have a little nook in my bedroom that I dub, Lynn Central.

While I love coffee shops (and bagel shops, and donut shops…stop judging), it’s cheaper and cozier to write at home. I’m usually a nomad with my lap desk, writing in bed, on the couch, or even outside, but with the addition of my shabby-chic chaise, I’ve been using my nook a lot more, dahling.

My little ficus is made of silk, on account of I can’t keep anything green alive, and cats can't eat it. My favorite inspirational quotes (back of photo), and a shadow box containing my debut novel (right side of photo) adorn the walls.

I have lots of sunlight coming in from the back yard, and I can multitask on weekends—writing and keeping an eye on my tiny humans.

Currently, this is where I #AmWriting my new interracial contemporary romance (coming soon), tentatively titled Pas De Deux. It’s an enemies-to-lovers (ish), ballet - to- Broadway romance between a contemporary choreographer/ playwright from the Bronx, and Paris’ newest superstar ballerina.

Where Between You and Me is sweet, this one has a bit more sass. Though the chemistry is there from the beginning, these two will bump heads a lot. Head over to my blog, http://lynnturner.me/blog/ for the blurb, and a sneak peek at the first two chapters!


Post script - To Cindy Davis (my lovely editor for BYaM who possesses the patience of Job, Jesus, and Moses altogether): If you’re reading this, you’re dope. (Metaphorically, not literally.)

Lynn Turner