29 December 2011

Five Facts...Three Questions...One sentence

Happy Friday! Did you have a good Christmas? Mine was relaxing and filled with way too much food. In other words, a perfect holiday!

Today's guest on Friday Five...Three...One is Margo Hoornstra, a mother, author, grandmother, resident of the upper Midwest and my fellow author in The Class of 1985 series from The Wild Rose Press. She's here to talk about herself and her new Class of '85 book, To Be or Not.

OK, Margo, take it away...

  1. Favorite word: Snuggle. It’s a universal term for closeness and love at all age levels.
  2. First thing you do in the morning: Brew coffee. Drink coffee. And please don’t speak to me until I do.
  3. Favorite song to dance to: Head and Shoulders; Knees and Toes with my grandchildren.
  4. What constitutes a crime against nature: Abuse of an animal by someone they trust.
  5. Favorite destination: Anywhere on the water. Boating, swimming. Sunbathing, not so much.

  1. What book is on your nightstand? Not as romantic, but how about on my iPad? A Holiday to Remember a progressive contemporary romance written by several talented ladies of The Roses of Prose. www.rosesofprose.blogspot.com
  2. What would your mother say about today’s underwear choice? Whatever happened to good old fashioned white?
  3. What scares you most? Losing someone in my family.


Using these four words, write a sentence: Skeleton. Chocolate.  Spa. Files.

Fresh from a two hour workout at the spa, I scoured some computer files for my latest work in progress and allowed myself nibbles of the chocolate skeleton left over from Halloween.

Feel free to give us a teaser about your new book and information where to find you online.

Blurb: To Be, Or Not
Barry Carlson had it all, a successful career in professional baseball and the adoration of any woman he wanted. Except one. Forced to retire in his prime, Barry returns to his hometown of Summerville, New York to coach the Minor League Hornets.

Twenty years ago, Barry broke through Amanda Marsh’s trust issues. He melted her ice, won her love, then walked away without a backward glance to survey the wreckage. Now Amanda is the head of public relations for the Hornets and happily single—until Barry slides back into her life.

Still reluctant to trust, Amanda gives Barry another chance. But the announcement of their twenty-fifth high school reunion leads to an asinine bet between Barry and his old buddies, and threatens to ruin their newfound relationship. As scandals of the past and present converge, can Barry and Amanda get beyond their differences to find their second chance at love?

To learn more about Margo, visit one or all of these sites:
Blog:     www.margohoornstra.blogspot.com

Friday Five...Three...One... is a chance for guest bloggers to share a bit about themselves in a fun format of Five Facts, Three Questions and One Sentence. If you'd like to be a guest on Friday Five, Three, One drop me an email.

26 December 2011

To request or to return...that is the question

Today is the third busiest retail day of the year. It's the day when we take back all the gifts that didn't fit, didn't work or just didn't strike our fancy. News reports suggest a record $46 billion worth of merchandise will be returned.

$46 billion.

I find that number a bit embarrassing.

Does it mean we're a nation of 300 million ingrates? Yes, I know sometimes gifts don't work or don't fit... but I have a feeling it's often down to the fact that we just don't like something that someone else thought we would and we feel entitled to have exactly what we want in a gift.

And I must not be alone in my ambivalence to returning gifts. Although holiday returns are now an expected part of the gift-giving, a survey by American Express found that nearly 60 percent of gift getters won't tell Great Aunt Milly the fate of the red popcorn sweater she gave them.

Of course, as my mother would say, if you'd given me a list, you wouldn't be standing in line. But I find making a list equally problematic. As a child, it was fun and exciting. As an adult, it seems selfish and more than a bit presumptuous.

What do you think? It is better to ask for what you want and need or to stay quiet knowing you can join the hordes returning gifts after Christmas?

22 December 2011

Friday Five… Three… One

Happy Friday! I hope everyone is ready for the holidays.

Callie Hutton is today's guest. Besides giving us insight into her mother's opinion of underwear, she's also talking bout her new book, A Wife By Christmas from Soul Mate Publishing.

Callie, you're up...

1.     Favorite word: Tenacious
2.     First thing you do in the morning: Make coffee
3.     Favorite song to dance to: YMCA
4.     What constitutes a crime against nature: Abusing and/or neglecting animals
5.     Favorite destination: Home

1.     What book is on your nightstand? "Twice In A Lifetime" by Jennifer Jakes
2.     What would your mother say about today’s underwear choice? Why bother?
3.     What scares you most? Something happening to one of my children.

1.     Using these four words, write a sentence: Wimpy. Dairy. St. Nickolas. Millions.
St. Nickolas is certainly not wimpy, delivering millions of toys to children and drinking their favorite dairy drink while munching on cookies.

Feel free to give us a teaser about your new book and information where to find you online.

High School Principal Max Colbert needs to get rid of that pesky History teacher, Ellie Henderson. Getting her married off is the perfect solution, except everyone he introduces her to doesn’t seem right.
In 1906 Guthrie, Oklahoma, History teacher, Ellie Henderson, has been a thorn in High School Principal Max Colbert’s side ever since he took over three months ago. When she’s not flying by his office, late for her class, with books and papers jumbled in her arms, she’s attending Suffragettes meetings against his orders.

Because of her family connections, he can’t fire her, but he can certainly find someone to marry her, and keep her busy in the kitchen. And far away from his school. Max soon finds that what seemed like a good idea can turn into disaster when Miss Ellie Henderson is involved. The woman is a master at getting into trouble.
With the Christmas season in full swing, he has many opportunities to introduce her to prospective husbands. However, the uncomfortable feeling is growing that no one is worthy of the minx…

 My website: http://calliehutton.com/
Buy link: http://www.amazon.com/A-Wife-by-Christmas-ebook/dp/B006H2A51E/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1324167458&sr=1-1 

Friday Five...Three...One... is a chance for guest bloggers to share a bit about themselves in a fun format of Five Facts, Three Questions and One Sentence. If you'd like to be a guest on Friday Five, Three, One drop me an email.

19 December 2011

Over at Savvy Authors Today

I'm talking about character development over at Savvy Authors today. Stop in and share your thoughts.


15 December 2011


Friday Five, Three, One. This is a chance for guest bloggers to share a bit about themselves in a fun format of Five Facts, Three Questions and One Sentence. If you'd like to be a guest on Friday Five, Three, One drop me an email.

Today I welcome Casey Crow, who's talking about herself and her new book, Can't Fake This from Loose, ID. I met Casey at RWA Nationals a few years ago and have been waiting for the release of her first book ever since.

Casey, take it away...

  1. Favorite word: Succulent. It's both pretty and sexy.
  2.  First thing you do in the morning: Hit snooze 5 times. I'm so not a morning person so I set my alarm 25 minutes early because I need that much time to drag myself out of bed. 
  3. Favorite song to dance to: Seriously? You ask a dance choreographer that? Jeeze, the pressure. Oh, alright, I LOVE "Sideways" by Dierks Bentley. Your body involuntary moves to beat whenever you hear it.
  4. What constitutes a crime against nature: Littering. It irks me to no end when folks litter. Lazy bums, they are.
  5. Favorite destination: The beach. Any beach.
  1. What book is on your nightstand? This week I'm reading the light contemporary Tangled up in Love by Heidi Betts.
  2. What would your mother say about today’s underwear choice? "Here's five bucks. Go buy something new."
  3. What scares you most? Something bad happening to my children.
Using these four words, write a sentence: Splash. Implants. Weed. Asset.
As I'm planting flowers today to create a splash of color and lovely asset to the window box, I noticed the weeds had overtaken the garden. 


A divorcee ready to reenter the dating world, Anna Ryan is determined to be the best “product on the market,” which requires a lot more experience so she propositions sexy police officer Chase Harris to teach her how to make hot, passionate love as opposed to just having sex. He takes it a step further, instructing each lesson based on The Twelve Days of Christmas.

Buy Kindle version on Amazon
Buy all versions at Loose, Id.
Visit Casey at http://www.caseycrow.com
See the CAN’T FAKE THIS book trailer
Follow on Twitter @caseyecrow and Facebook Casey Crow

Casey writes erotic and spicy contemporary romances with the tagline “Sexy, Southern & Sassy.” Visit her at www.caseycrow.com.  Follow her on Twitter – caseyecrow and Facebook – Casey Crow.

It's not what you know...it's what you feel

An interesting discussion came up on one of my writing loops this past week. How to find your "voice."

We all know that voice is one of those elusive, I'll-know-it-when-I-hear-it attributes.
In my opinion, voice is innate. It slumbers in a place so deep within us that we can't access, but...and this is an important but...we can create the condition that will wake it.


Let go.

What i mean by that is don't be afraid to put yourself out there along with her characters. Yes, we write fiction, and yes, our characters' fears, wants and needs aren't necessarily our own…but the want, the vulnerability, the doubts, the regrets, the passion, the pain…all comes from us, the authors.

The idea of write what you know doesn't have to do with the circumstances you're writing about--it doesn't matter if you've never been to Paris, never been a medieval warrior, never carried out a classified spy mission. What matters is that you've loved, lost, laughed and had your heart broken. Put what you know in the emotions your characters are going through.

Let go and write.


12 December 2011

Let there be light

The short days are getting to me.

I love the holiday with its festive mood and gatherings, but the days are too cold and too short this time of year for someone like me to call it the best time of the year.

I prefer the hot days of summer where midnight is as lively as noon.

What I dislike most, though, is the dark. The “black of night” seems blacker, and I find myself craving light. I’ve never been a fan of long nights, but since my visit to the Islands of Orkney a few years ago I seem to miss the light more.

When I was there, it was June, and the days stretched on forever as the summer solstice neared. Nights were lit by soft sunlight that disappeared only for a few hours.

The tour guide at Maeshowe , a chambered cairne build roughly 3000 years BC, noted that it was the opposite at the December solstice. A soft glow for an hour or two, then darkness.


We then hunched over and walked to the center of the tomb, which was pitch black and the guide shone her flashlight to recreate the Solstice sunlight. Whenever the lack of light really begins to bother me, I just flip to this website and remind myself it could be darker.

08 December 2011


Welcome, everyone, to my first Friday Five, Three, One. This is a chance for guest bloggers to share a bit about themselves in a fun format of Five Facts, Three Questions and One Sentence. If you'd like to be a guest on Friday Five, Three, One drop me an email.

And now...

My debut guest for the Friday Five, Three, One is LK Hunsaker, whose new book, Moondrops & Thistles, is out today. LK, thanks for being my test subject...er guest.


  1. Favorite word: This week? Absolutely! (It changes often.)
  2. First thing you do in the morning: Get dressed; writer-dressed, not going out dressed. Sweats, tee, slippers. I get up and go right to work so I dress for it first thing.
  3. Favorite song to dance to: That changes often, too. Recently, I Like It by Enrique Inglesia and Dynamite by Taio Cruz. I know, you asked for one, but these two are current obsessions.
  4. What constitutes a crime against nature: Wow, hard question. I’d say it’s when we thumb what we know is right and decent in favor of temporary satisfaction and fleeting pleasure, resulting in unnecessary pain and destruction.
  5. Favorite destination: Water! Beach, ocean, lake ... a nice swimming pool. I adore Italy and Scotland and would gladly go back any time. But, I also like being home and am always glad to return.
  1. What book is on your nightstand? Evergreen by Belva Plain, a recommendation from a friend
  2. What would your mother say about today’s underwear choice? Ha! She’d probably say I should find something cuter.
  3. What scares you most? The possibility of losing a child. I can’t imagine anything worse. My kids are my center.

Using these four words, write a sentence: Scream. Hangover. Sweat. Blog.

No need to scream at me; I’ll sweat it out and get my blog post written despite the nasty word hangover I already have from the twenty-thousand I wrote yesterday.

Feel free to give us a teaser about your new book and information where to find you online.

Daws is a stalwart soldier entrenched in his work.
Deanna is a fiery spirit on a mission.

Love. Honor.


Moondrops & Thistles

Website: http://www.lkhunsaker.com
Blog: http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com
Moondrops on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoondropsAndThistles

LK, I love the name of your book. What inspired it?

05 December 2011

If no one sees the lights, do they still twinkle?

I've started a morning exercise where I pull four words out of a jar and then write a sentence using those words. It's almost 4 p.m. and my four words are still staring at me...the sentence remains unwritten.

Instead, I find myself staring at my Christmas tree and wondering about the naked backside.

Yep, I said naked.

The faux fir is only half-gussied up for the holidays because I don't decorate the side of the tree that goes against the wall. I'm not sure why. It's not that I think it's too difficult--if I can clean the top of  my cabinets and scrub basements, hanging lights and a few ornaments can't be tough--nor do I lack enough decorations. I just don't see the point.

To me, Christmas decorations are for the viewers' pleasure, and no one is going to see the "other" side of my tree. But I sense I am alone in this philosophy. Of my friends who answered the quick question on FB, the majority decorate all sides of the trees.

What about you? Do you decorate the side of the tree no one sees? Why or why not?

02 October 2011

Where do I live?

One of the great things about being self-employed and working from is that you can live wherever you want--within budget, of course. The queen isn't going to have me for a neighbor anytime soon. But the trouble with being able to live anywhere I want is...I want to live everywhere.

So I found a website to help me find a spot. It makes you think about what you dislike in a hometown vs. what you cannot live without. I cannot live without sunshine and places to walk. I could go the rest of my life without seeing snow.

After walking me thought my thoughts on crime, traffic, education, geography, religion, etc., the site did its magic and spit out the top places for me to live.

And the number one place?

Little Rock, Ark!

Surprised? So was I. In a million years, I'm not sure Little Rock would've shown up on my radar.

I'm not packing to move. Florida offers more beaches, Ohio has family and South Carolina is just God's country, but the site has given me a list of places to visit over the next few years.

21 September 2011

Do you know the secret of great character development?

Hi, everyone. I'm teaching my Dirty Little Secrets of Character Development workshop for the Outreach International Romance Writers' workshops.  

The workshop runs Oct. 1-31. Cost is $20 for OIRW members, $25 for the rest of us. 

“The Dirty Little Secrets of Character Development” is an interactive workshop that leads participants through fun, inventive exercises that will help them root out their characters’ deep, dark secrets and desires, as well as show how to use these secrets to further plot, conflict and—of course—the romance.

During the course, we’ll cover:
·       Why we keep secrets
·       Types of secrets
·       Learn how to use this knowledge to propel the plot forward in a logical, engaging manner.

Deadline to sign-up is Sept. 30.

Questions? Contact the Campus Coordinator.

03 September 2011

I'm reposting this from a friend's blog. It's a moving tribute to all our men and women in uniform


People say all small towns look the same. The old brick buildings guarding the streets silently speak of the past, when they were new and full of life. The traffic light on Main Street measures the slow pace of life in increments of green, yellow and red. Most times, the Christmas decorations go up on the streetlights after Halloween and don’t come down until the first warm day of spring.

The flag at the courthouse is no odd sight; flags in small towns are common and patriotism runs high along with societal values. The speed limit is no more than 35, and everyone knows that. There’s no reason to rush, anyway.

My first clue that something was different about Madill that August day was the sign. On the very far northern edge of the “city” limits someone had placed a huge banner by the side of the two-lane highway. It stood unfurled between two wooden poles.

“A TRUE AMERICAN HERO,” the lettering read, and below that, “2ND LT. JOE CUNNINGHAM.”

Red and blue magic marker starbursts filled the white void of the background around the letters, leaving no doubt that the banner had taken hours of loving, painstaking precision to create.

And the rockets’ red glare,
The bombs bursting in air…

The banner stood as the beginning of what was to be a somber twenty miles of driving for me that day. Only a few feet from where the banner had been placed, small roadside flags were planted in the parched Oklahoma soil. There had been no rain for weeks, and with our record-breaking number of triple-digit days, I could only imagine how hard it must have been to push those small, fragile twelve-inch sticks into the rock-hard ground at such measured intervals.

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know Saturday mornings are the liveliest, busiest times of the week. Not so on this Saturday morning. As I topped the hill and the main part of town came into view, my heart skipped a beat. I had never seen such a profusion of color. Red, white and blue—everywhere. Flags flew from every porch, every small business, every conceivable place visible…and that could only mean one very tragic thing.

Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there…

I slowed down to twenty-five as tears blurred my eyes. A car pulled out in front of me a little further down the road, and I looked to my right. The side road had been blocked off. There were at least two hundred motorcycles parked beside the First Baptist Church. The Patriot Guard Riders had come to pay their respects—and to be certain that everyone else did, too, should a certain crazed group of fanatics from Kansas decide to make an appearance.

Across from the motorcycles, a huge, beautiful American flag was unfurled, the field of blue lending its stars to heaven, the stripes perpendicular to the ground. In front of that flag stood perhaps fifty lawmen of every type, a mix from both sides of the Red River, Texans and Oklahomans.

The parking lots for the businesses in the immediate area were full to overflowing, even though none of those businesses were open. Signs filled the windows under where the flags flew: “CLOSED. BACK AT 1:00 P.M. REST IN PEACE, JOE.”

I stopped at the light on Main Street. The courthouse flag was, of course, flying at half-mast. There were no other cars on the road. The one that had pulled out in front of me earlier had turned off a block back, at the first available parking place, a long, half-mile hike away from the church. I was driving through a ghost town.

The signboard at the Grab & Go read, “OBAMA MAY BE PRESIDENT, BUT GOD IS STILL IN CHARGE.” Any other time, I might have smiled, but not with that small picket of flags that still sporadically lined the road, reminding me of the terrible loss this town was reeling from.

Another hand-lettered sign by the road: “WE’LL MISS YOU, JOE. GO WITH GOD.”

I drove out of Madill, headed for Kingston, another small town, a few short miles away.

Small towns, close together, are usually rivals on the high school football field and in most other things, but when all is said and done, we remember that we are, all of us, citizens of the same wonderful country, and that’s what matters—more than who wins the game on Friday night, more than which town has the best point guard on the basketball court, and more than which quarterback has better chances with the big college scouts. As Americans, we all have equal ‘bragging rights’—we are Americans, and no other country pulls together as we do when the going gets tough.

I couldn’t think of anything, anywhere, any time being tougher than losing even one of our young men to war. A bright smile that would never be seen again, coming through his parents’ door; two arms that could never open to hug his best girl again; the echoing sound of emptiness forever where once his steps fell—an aching, empty hole in the lives of every person he ever knew that could never, never be filled.

My thoughts rolled over one another as I drove. I wondered about him, about his family—about what he’d left behind, and how the people he’d known would ever manage to survive without him in their lives forevermore.

I was on the fringes of Kingston when the roadside flags started up in earnest again—though they’d never completely stopped. But now, it looked as if someone had planted a beautiful garden of red, white, and blue flowers in the cracked, dry Oklahoma soil.

As Kingston came into view ahead, flags fluttered in the wind at every business. Some buildings had bunting on their storefronts.

It doesn’t take long to cover the few miles from one end of Kingston to the other. But with every inch of ground I traveled, there was no doubt that 2nd Lieutenant Joe Cunningham was remembered, respected, and revered.

As I drove out of town, yellow ribbons tied around several branches of a tree in someone’s yard caught my eye.


No small town rivalry, now. As Americans all, we share only a unified, joint loss of a shining star; the precious, irreplaceable light of someone’s life.

He was 27. He loved to hunt and fish. He had dreams of becoming a highway patrol officer and finishing his degree. He always wore a smile.

I will never drive that sad stretch of road again without remembering a man I never met. A hometown hero is gone forever, but he will never, never be forgotten. 

26 June 2011

Saw this and must post...

Discipline is the bridge between a goal and accomplishment.

12 January 2011

Where is Amtrak when you need it?

I’ve got my annoyance on.

I’m sitting in the near-empty Philadelphia airport nursing a Mountain Dew and a splitting headache. Around me are the familiar grumblings about cancelled flights, lack of information, and airline representatives who act as if they’d rather be in traction.

Of course the reason I’m in Philly is because of my own recent airline customer service fiasco. In short, I needed to drop one leg of a recent flight, and USAirways wanted to charge about $600 for letting me keep the seat I already had on a Charlotte to Chicago flight.


I’ve flown USAirways since it was Piedmont Airlines not because it was always the cheapest or most convenient airline, but because its customer service was always good and always helpful whether I was a Gold Preferred or no level at all on their miles program. USAirways treated me right, so I flew it whenever I could.

Apparently those days are in the past. According to the 5th customer service rep I spoke with over several days, what they can do or can’t do to help customers has “really tightened up.”

In other words, lower your expectations.

Well, they're lowered.

The conversation also put me in a mood, as my mother would say. So for the next week, I’m holding a contest to solicit opinions on various airlines. I’d like to hear your best horror stories about airline travel. Name names. Share details. Make me laugh. Make me cry. Let me know if the airline made it right.  Then share this link so I can hear even more stories.

The best story will win a $20 Amazon gift certificate from me, and I’ll use all your tales to review airlines and pick the one most likely not to leave me with a splitting headache, which will be the one I'll fly.

Or maybe I'll just take the train.