Celebrate This Blog!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Good Friday afternoon, all. 

The temps in Atlanta, Georgia are reaching for 100 degrees and higher, God forbid.
A cyper monster ate my website and the server's website so longer works.
I'm trying to edit my book and edit for other writers.
I'm trying to coral my daughter and the lovely friend who offered to brainstorm with me about ways to make contacts and brand my books. 
And the hound dogs are sick.
Well, uh, I don't have hound dogs,  but I figured they would add to the "Woe Is Me" country song aspect of my blog. These boys belong to my daughter and they are not hounds. (snicker)

We all know life gets in the way of our writing some days.  I need to rebuild my website as soon as I can get a new server, if I can do that with the other server unreachable. I'll make it work! We always make things work!

I have fans and can escape to my daughter's house or sleep downstairs, where the air conditioner works. Got that covered.

Corralling others isn't so easy, but I can blackmail my kid and forget the friend's offer for now. I want to Indie publish my newest book SOON!

FYI, 2 beta readers said they LOVED Margo's Choices, my soon-to-be-newest book, and couldn't put it down. 

 What kinds of obstacles is life throwing in your way now? I just raised this book back to $2.99, but I will give a free download to a commenter or I can offer a different book.



Barnes & Noble

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm the new girl!

I’ve just joined this blog and am so very happy to be amongst the wonderful ladies of the group and to meet their followers. As soon as I saw the site, I felt as if I’d found a home for my 99cent book My Cheeky Angel. When I watched the moving widget full of some of the most beautiful covers...nice  bright colours showing uplifting, light types of romances, I knew I’d fit in perfectly.

As we all know, it’s difficult to promote books without slapping people in the face with the cover and yelling “buy me”. But that does seem to be the way of it nowadays. Therefore, when a bunch of great authors decide to promote their books together—tastefully, I have to admire their determination. It’s every writer’s goal to have her work shared among as many readers as possible and it’s hard to accomplish such a thing by one’s self. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to both write and advertise in the way that would be necessary for that kind of exposure.

Plus there’s always the cost. It isn’t cheap to promote one’s work in the market today. The expensive ways don’t take as much work, but the budget can’t always be stretched. It’s a hard decision whether to give up the time to self-promote or the money. Either way, unless someone knows there’s a book out there, then all those hours of slaving over a computer would be for nothing.

When I saw how this group of ladies have worked around the problem, I decided that it was a great idea. So again, I say thank you for inviting me to belong and I look forward to sharing many blogs in the future.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Have any of you ever incorporated your family history into your writing? Do you like

to read books that are based, however loosely, on factual happenings?

My mom was the oldest of eleven children. She knew everyone in our family and how they were related. Because she and my dad grew up together in a tiny little town in southeast Oklahoma (their high school had a graduating class of twelve), she also knew quite a lot about his side of the family as well.

But when I was younger, I was not interested in the stories she told me. It was only later, when I was grown and had children of my own, that I began to wonder and ask questions, and by that time, her memory had already begun to decline.

If you have ever read the book, The Education of Little Tree, (by Forrest Carter) or seen the HBO movie, this story might sound familiar. When Andrew Jackson decided that the Indians were to be assimilated into the white man’s world, he put lots of plans into action that would take years to snowball and evolve into what they eventually became—a truly shameful period in the US governmental policies and procedures. One of Jackson’s plans, besides Removal, that was carried through into subsequent presidencies, was the idea of assimilating Native American children in white homes to integrate them more completely. The Native American children were taken from their villages and given to willing white families (along with a tidy little government stipend for their troubles) to raise.

My great-great-great grandfather was one of these children. We don’t know his real name. It was changed when he was delivered to his new “family,” a Presbyterian minister and his wife. Their last name was Walls. So his name was changed to Walls, and he was given the first name, David. Forbidden to speak his language, he was forced to forget all the ways of his People, and dress in white man’s clothing, go to white school. But he was never going to be white, and his place in the world was divided so drastically that he could not fit in anywhere. Eventually, the Rev. Walls sent David to medical school in Missouri. When he returned to the small town where he’d been raised, he was a doctor who rode to his patients on horseback. Later, he married and had children, but it was not a happy union and his son, my great-great grandfather, became an alcoholic whose own children, in turn, left home as soon as they possibly could. My great grandmother, his daughter, married at 13 (see picture at left--she was 25 when this was taken). Her older sister left home one day and never returned. No one ever knew what became of her.

I’ve often thought of these children that were abducted by our cavalrymen, and taken away to their white “families”, forbidden everything familiar and forced to adopt completely new and different ways, even down to their speech and childhood games—and their own names. Can you imagine it? To never be allowed to see your mother and father again. Siblings separated and “given” to different families, their heritage and connection with one another lost forever. How many tears must they have shed? And how lonely and separate they must have felt, how isolated, even into adulthood…so that most of them, I imagine, never were able to fit in anywhere in the world.

My short story, ONE MAGIC NIGHT, is based loosely on what happened to my long-ago

ancestor. This story first appeared in the Victory Tales Press 2011 SUMMER COLLECTION. Just this month, it was released through Western Trail Blazer publishing as a single-sell short story in the “dime novel” gallery for only .99. All my novels, short stories, anthologies and novellas are available here:

Cheryl's Amazon Author Page:

Dr. Shay Logan has just returned to Talihina, Indian Territory, from medical school in Missouri. Shay hopes to settle down and make a life for himself, but how? He doesn’t belong to either world, Anglo or Indian He's made the acquaintance of Katrina Whitworth at the July 4th town social, and the attraction is mutual from the very beginning. Shay begins to have hopes and dreams that may be out of the question…but Katrina seems to have stars in her eyes for him as well. Will she risk everything to be with him?

Katrina makes a social blunder, and Shay follows her into the woods to apologize to her, but when they return, Katrina's drunken father humiliates her. To make matters worse, her former beau shows a side of himself she had not seen before. Can Katrina and Shay have a life together that they so badly want? Here’s an excerpt for you.

As his hand started its descent, Katrina turned away. But Shay’s arm shot out, grasping Whitworth’s hand and holding it immobile.

“You will not.”

Three words, quietly spoken, but with a heat that could have melted iron, a force that could have toppled mountains.

Katrina’s father’s face contorted, his teeth bared, finally, as he tried to jerk away. He didn’t utter a word. He stared up into Shay Logan’s eyes that promised retribution, as the seconds ticked by. Finally, he lunged once more, trying to pull free, but Shay still held him locked in a grip of steel. Only when he released that grip was Whitworth freed.

“You presume too much, Doctor Logan, unless you are assuming the care and responsibility of my daughter.”

“Papa! Oh, please!” Katrina felt herself dissolving into a puddle of less than nothing beneath stares of the townspeople of Talihina. What had started as an exciting, beautiful evening had become an embarrassing nightmare. It was torture to think that she was the cause of it all. How she wished she had stayed home with Jeremy as she’d first planned, before Mrs. Howard had volunteered to keep him company.

Now, Papa was saying these things that she knew he would regret later. It was always this way when he drank too much. These accusations had gone beyond the pale of anything he’d ever said before. But Shay Logan wouldn’t realize that. He wouldn’t know that Papa would be sorry tomorrow.

Evidently, there was one thing Shay did recognize, though. She saw the very slight flare of his nostrils as he drew in the scent of alcohol on her father’s breath, and in that instant, there was a flash of understanding in his eyes.

“You’ve had too much to drink, Mr. Whitworth,” he said in an even tone. “I will overlook your behavior toward me because of that, but not toward your daughter. She has done nothing, yet you would strike her, and cause her shame.”

“She’s my daughter,” Whitworth replied sullenly.

“But not your property, Whitworth. Never that. You owe her an apology.”

“No, Shay, really—” Katrina began, then as her father whirled to look at her, she broke off, realizing her mistake. ‘Shay,’ she had called him. As if she had known him forever. As if she was entitled to use his given name freely. As if she were his betrothed.

“‘Shay’ is it, daughter? Not, ‘Dr. Logan’? Shay.” He spit the words out bitterly. He drew himself up, looking Shay in the face. “I’ll not be apologizing to her—or to you. And I’ll expect nothing less than a wedding before this week’s end. Do you understand me, Doctor?”

Shay had lost any patience he might have harbored. “You understand me, Whitworth. You will not dictate to me, or to your daughter on such matters of the heart. As I say, the alcohol has got you saying things you’re going to regret, and—”

“Threatening me, are you? Threatening me?”

“Truman.” Jack Thompson stepped out of the crowd and smoothly came to stand beside Katrina. “Let’s put this…unfortunate incident…behind us, shall we?” He confidently tucked Katrina’s hand around his arm. “I can see that the church auxiliary ladies have almost got everything set up for this wonderful Independence Day meal—” he frowned at Mrs. Beal, nodding at the picnic tables behind her. She jumped, motioning the other ladies to resume the preparation.

He gave a sweeping glance around the group of onlookers. “I, for one, am ready to eat! How about you all?”

Katrina was swept along at his side as he walked toward the tables, speaking to acquaintances and friends, laughing and…and seething with tense anger the entire time. She could feel it in his body, with every step he took and the tightness of his grip as he covered her hand with his. Katrina glanced back over her shoulder, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shay, but the crowd blocked her view.

“Smile, my dear,” Jack gritted into her ear. “I’m hoping we can still salvage your virtue, no matter what happened, really, between you and the good doctor. If I see him near you again, I’ll kill him.”

Have any of you ever used a bit of family history to build a story on? What was it?

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Pleasure of the End

Finishing an important task is a relief.
HA! The Beautiful End.
Finishing a book is a bitter sweet experience. It still involves an element of relief we experience as a writer, especially when it means meeting a deadline. But for me, writing the end means saying goodbye to dear friends.
I become attached to my characters while writing. I learn to know them well and understand their reactions. So when I type The End, I feel a twitch of pain at the thought I’m saying good-bye. That’s why I pay particular attention to my final scene and often add an epilogue. I want to know that the dear friends in my book will really live happily ever after when I let them go. I want to be sure they don’t need me anymore.

Mama says:
 "Take good care of my darling daughter or else..."
I feel like a loving mother kissing the bride and groom after their wedding and sending them on their honeymoon, but after this mom kisses her daughter a last time, she hugs again the new son-in-law and whispers in his ear, “Take good care of my precious baby or else I’ll twist your neck. Now you go on your honeymoon and be happy.”  
There is a French say, “Les gens heureux n’ont pas d’histoire.”

“Happy people have no story.”
 So it’s time to close the door and let them enjoy their happiness and lack of stories.

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?
RIGHT NAME, WRONG MAN, 99cents at Amazon.
"Once you started reading the book you can't put it down"~Jet1512 | 6 reviewers   "This was truly a great book and I would definitely recommend reading this anyone who has any interest in romance novels or love stories! FairyTales4GrownUps 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Postcards by Stephanie Burkhart

When I joined the Army in 1986, I discovered I loved sending postcards – especially being stationed in Europe. I loved the picture on the front: Bonjour from Paris, Guten Tag from Berlin, Amsterdam, Keukenhof, Copenhagen, Budapest, Salzburg, sigh… With one picture you can capture the ambience of your destination and that's what I loved sharing with my friends and family back home.

I also liked the fact you could write a little ditty like: "thinking of you," "climbed the Eiffel Tower today," "smelled the tulips at the Keukenhof." Even today I still send out postcards to family and friends. Postcards are a great way to let others know you're thinking of them and missing them.

In my story, "Christmas in Bayeux," Aiden and Noel have stayed in contact over the years through postcards. Aiden's not a big writer, but he enjoyed sending Noel postcards. Noel treasures them, hanging them on her refrigerator. Postcards may be little and convenient, but you can tell from the way Aiden and Noel treat theirs, they mean a lot.

Question for you: Do you have a favorite postcard? What was the last one you received?

Enjoy this excerpt from my 99 cent story: Christmas in Bayeux:


5 Stars, Karen Michelle Nutt, Author
"Christmas in Bayeux is a tender romance sure to warm your hearts for anytime of the year. I highly recommend it."

5 Stars, Diane Craver, Author
"Christmas in Bayeux" is the perfect short romance to enjoy during the holiday season or any time during the year, and I highly recommend it."

5 Stars, Markee Anderson, Author
"This was just a wonderful and heart warming read."

5 Stars, Celia Yeary, Author
"You will enjoy this beautiful story, rich in history and appreciation of the past, while living and falling in love in the present. I highly recommend "Christmas in Bayeux."

BOOK TRAILER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-muZ0dhOvSE


Noel was surprised to hear Aiden Seward's voice over the phone. She had been an exchange student with his family years ago, and even back then, she had a crush on him, but she was young and he, while the same age, found her no more attractive than his sister, or so she thought. Now he was a man, tall and well built. His dark ebony hair fell in neat waves and curved against the nape of his neck. His sweet hazel eyes harbored such sadness, it almost broke her heart. She wanted to hold him, touch him, drive away those demons that haunted him, but she knew now was not the time. He had to be the one to reach out to her. He had not been so daring years ago. What could she expect from him now?

Noel also knew that men did not care to write letters, so when she left, she extracted a promise from him to exchange postcards. Surprisingly, he honored it. In fact, his last postcard hung on a corkboard in her kitchen next to the refrigerator.

They got into his rented car and Aiden drove off. "Which way?"

"Straight. St. Theresé isn't far. I took the bus in."

Thankfully, it had stopped snowing. Aiden and his family lived in Boston, Massachusetts. She was born in Bayeux. She was French to her bones, but when she stayed with Aiden's family, she might have considered living in the States if he had expressed interest.

"Turn here," she said. "Do you see the manor on the cliff?"

"That's Mont St. Theresé."

His lips parted just a little and his eyes filled with awe. "It's beautiful."


AMAZON: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-in-Bayeux-ebook/dp/B005BTLSI8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1326918404&sr=8-1

BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/christmas-in-bayeux-stephanie-burkhart/1104401603?ean=2940011371806&itm=1&usri=christmas+in+bayeux

SMASHWORDS: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/72100





Friday, June 22, 2012


Writing a novella is just as difficult as writing a novel. Yet some will say it's more difficult, because you have to give the same impactful story in fewer words.

The secret to writing a shorter work is to simplify the plot. Forget the subplots, and concentrate on the main characters. If it's a romance, you'll want the POV (point of view) of the heroine, maybe that of the hero, and possibly the villain's POV, but only if it's absolutely necessary.

When asked to write novellas, I definitely had to plot and outline in advance to know exactly where the story was going. You cannot wander in the wrong direction when you only have 25,000 to 35,000 words to tell your story. You must make every word count... yet this is no excuse to glaze over setting, description, or emotion. It still has to be there. And forget about telling. You still have to show (in dialogue and action), not tell. Once in a while, you may have an event happen off stage, and summarize it in a few lines of dialogue, but that's it.

This said, you treat the story just like any novel. It has to have a pacing curve. The characters have to evolve. If it's popular fiction, the ending has to be satisfying, in a romance, the couple has to end up together, in a mystery, the criminal has to be caught. All the loose ends must be tied at the end, unlike in some off the wall short stories where the ending is left for the reader to imagine.

The research is the same as with a novel. When writing COYOTE GORGEOUS, my shapeshifter romantic suspense novella, I had to research Native American legends of skinwalkers, Hopi legends of the Great Coyote, and the legend of the Chupacabra, etc. When writing A DESPERADO FOR CHRISTMAS, my border patrol romantic suspense novella, I researched the Arizona border patrol. When writing BOREALIS: BLACK DRAGON, a science fiction action romance novella, I still had to research and project the most likely style of life on a space station at the fringe of conquered space in the 27th Century.

While it takes me five months to write a novel of 85,000 words, it takes me three months to write a 30,000 words novella. Personally, I find it more difficult than writing a novel, but I like challenges.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nancy Drew Inspired A Generation

I was dusting the bookcases in the living room yesterday. (I hate dusting, and I don't understand why I have so much stuff that requires this hated chore. Usually, on any given day, I'd flunk a white-glove test.)

Anyway, I digress. As I was dusting some old Nancy Drew mysteries caught my eye. These were books from the 1930's and 1940's that had belonged to my dear mother-in-law. They're not in very good condition, but I can no more part with her books than I can my mother's which now occupy most of another book case. I'm just a sentimental pack rat, I guess.

I pulled out the Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene, the first Nancy Drew mystery published in November 1930. Of course, if you're a writer or a mystery reader you probably know that Millie Benson was the author who was hired to write the books under the name Carolyn Keene. I read the Nancy Drew Mysteries when I was a kid. I have no idea which printing they were. I just know that I loved the books. I loved Nancy and her friends, and I wanted desperately to be just like her.

Mildred Augustine Wirt Benson

Millie Benson was an American author of children's books, in particular the earliest Nancy Drew mysteries. She was born July 10, 1905, and died May 28, 2002. I think it's fair to say that she was an author who had a profound effect on generations of women.

She was educated at the University of Iowa, and was honored by Malice Domestic with their Lifetime Achievement Award. When she passed in 2002, I read an article about her and did some more research, subsequently writing about her on my blog, SlingWords. What I learned about Millie was intriguing.

The late Ms. Benson created the spunk in the girl detective. I feel that Millie patterned Nancy after herself. (After all, writers are always told to write what they know.) When Millie was a child, she didn't like playing with dolls. She liked sports, especially swimming and golf. Back in the early part of the 20th century, that kind of behavior was considered odd.

Long Life, Well Lived

When Millie Benson died at the age of 96, she had just finished writing her weekly column for the Toledo Blade newspaper. 

(Photograph of Millie posed next to Nancy Drew poster can be viewed at Toledo Blade. Click to read their in-depth article about Millie Benson.) 

I think Millie had to have created Nancy as a reflection of herself. When she was young, Millie often had dived off a bridge into the Iowa River. She never gave up adventuring or sports. She continued to swim and play golf even past the age of 90 when most people are thinking a rocking chair on a porch is physical activity.

What A Woman

She outlived two husbands. She was the first person to receive a Master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Iowa. When she was 59, instead of retiring, she learned to fly and traveled to archeology digs in Central America. She never retired from life, especially never from writing.

Under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene, Millie wrote 23 of the first 30 original Nancy Drew books for Edward Stratemeyer, the book publisher behind the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys too. She signed a non-disclosure agreement and kept her word, never revealing to anyone that she was Carolyn Keene. The contract was a work for hire meaning she had no rights to the books; she was just paid a fee for each book.

In 1980, she came forward and testified in a lawsuit about the matter of who wrote those first Nancy Drew books. Millie believed strongly in honesty in everything, especially in journalism. You see, the Stratemeyer Syndicate had celebrated Nancy Drew's 50th birthday that year. Harriet Stratemeyer Adams claimed that she and her father, Edward Stratemeyer, had written those early books. That statement was reprinted everywhere, and that's what got Millie involved. She set the record straight and discussed the style, tone, and voice of the early books compared to the later ones created by Harriet Stratemeyer Adams.

In her testimony, Millie said that the newer books removed the "spice." She said: "I was probably a rough-and-tumble newspaper person who had to earn a living, and I was out in the world. That was my type of Nancy."

In her last years, she began to get the recognition she so richly deserved. In 1993, the Nancy Drew Conference at the University of Iowa honored her achievements.

Today's girls probably don't know why Nancy Drew was so important to previous generations of women. Nancy was one of the first females to take on crooks, explore secret rooms, and always solve the mystery in the end.

When my daughter was a tween, the new Nancy Drew books weren't nearly as intriguing as the old ones. In fact, my daughter read a couple of the new ones then read all the old ones I'd collected over the years.

Millie Benson said it best herself. She wrote about her memory book from high school and college. It was "a reflection of youthful career ambitions in an age when girls weren't supposed to have any." From her memory book itself: "Give life your best shot – if achievements fall short, the satisfaction of having tried will be its own reward."

Not only did Millie Benson create a heroine girls could admire but she also created a female role model that valued strength, courage, intelligence, and other characteristics usually reserved for male characters. In fact, I think, with the heroine she created, that she planted the seeds for women's liberation. At the very least, she inspired girls to grow into strong women.

Post Script

Who's the real heroine here? No, it's not Nancy Drew. It's the remarkable author who created the feisty heroine and gave her to a world of women who needed a strong female role model, and who then lived her life like a spunky heroine. Thanks, Millie!

(Note: My contemporary romances are available at all major ebook sellers. Thank you for thinking of me the next time you shop for a book. I hope you'll visit me at my website and blog: http://www.JoanReeves.com and http://SlingWords.blogspot.com.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Stalking after Divorce or Separation

I had a kindly older woman tell me I picked heavy duty topics for the three stories of The Lake Willowbee Series. I didn't start out that way. I didn't even start out to write a series. The first book, Divorce, Interrupted was supposed to be a single short story. But I learned that series are doing well in self-publishing so I decided to make it a trio of short stories.

Divorce, Interrupted dealt with infidelity; of the wife. I didn't know that was going to be such a hot button topic when I wrote the story. I've had some amazing feedback from people who were totally unsure about the subject but fell in love with the characters anyway. Yeah!

Dare To Trust deals with being a former abused wife and learning to trust the new man in her life to not be the same as the old one. I dug up some interesting info in researching for that story.

Taken from Ask.com website:

Stalking Statistics:
During a 12-month period an estimated 14 in every 1,000 persons age 18 or older were victims of stalking.
  • About half (46%) of stalking victims experienced at least one unwanted contact per week, and 11% of victims said they had been stalked for 5 years or more.
  • The risk of stalking victimization was highest for individuals who were divorced or separated—34 per 1,000 individuals.
  • Women were at greater risk than men for stalking victimization; however, women and men were equally likely to experience harassment.
  • Male (37%) and female (41%) stalking victimizations were equally likely to be reported to the police.
  • Approximately 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking such as e-mail (83%) or instant messaging (35%).
  • 46% of stalking victims felt fear of not knowing what would happen next.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 stalking victims knew their offender in some capacity.

If your ex-spouse is stalking you, your first reaction maybe to “give it time.” Many men and women make the mistake of thinking that time will take care of the ex’s anger and need to control. Time may take care of the issue but, in the interim it is best to protect yourself. Knowing your states stalking laws and filing a restraining order is the smart thing to do if someone is stalking you.

Luckily Dare To Trust is fiction and a romance so it has a much happier ending than the real-life situations in the world.

The last book in the series, Defend My Love is just about ready to go live. In it a woman returns home to her husband and little girl after serving four years in prison for a crime she didn't commit. Like I said, heavy duty stories with women doing the best they can in the situations they find themselves.

Jill James, author of Tempting Adam
and The Lake Willowbee series.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Corner Cafe - One In Almost Every Town

Almost every city or town has at least one neighborhood cafe, which is a fixture in the community. It's a family type place that feels almost like home. People go there often and keep wanting to come back. It's comfy, the owners are friendly, and the food is varied and tasty.

The two short stories I contributed to The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories depict such a cafe.

In "What Nice Blessings," a young adult and her family are relocating to a new town. Before they leave, they visit the Corner Cafe for a hearty send-off from their friends.Then, unexpected tragedy occurs, testing the young girl's mettle.

In "The Closing of The Corner Cafe," I describe the opening of a Corner Cafe, its rise in popularity, and why it closes.

Here's an Excerpt from "What Nice Blessings" -
After a late lunch on the house, Suze, clutching her leftovers from the Corner Café, followed Mom and Dad to the BelAir out front. The grand adventure had begun!
Mom’s eyes shone with pride and Dad’s with hope, as everyone who’d been inside joined them outside to wave goodbye. After a year of unemployment, Dad had landed a store manager’s job five hours away in Wagonia.
“Godspeed, and phone me when you get there,” Mom’s friend, Betty, called out, blowing a kiss. Mom, looking stylish in her blue checked shirtwaist dress, with matching neck scarf, blew a kiss back to her friend before climbing into the passenger seat next to Dad, who always dressed like Ward Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver.
Suze, comfortable in her white blouse, black pedal pushers, bobby sox and new saddle shoes, snuggled between the pillows and comforters in the back.
Mom wiped her eyes with her handkerchief as they drove off.
“Let’s hear some music,” Dad said, trying to lighten the mood.
The cheerful sound of Ritchie Valens’ La Bamba filled the air. Before long, the three of them were singing along, though Suze had to guess at some of the words.
Dad chuckled afterward. “Well, we’ll never make it to the Top Forty.”
Knowing full well he was right, Suze laughed. It was a known fact that tone deafness ran on both sides of the family.
Laughter turned to silence. Suze frowned, thinking of what awaited her. “I can’t believe in three weeks I won’t be starting high school with my best friend, Natalie.”
The thought of not knowing anyone at a brand new school made her roll down the window to gulp at some air.
To Read More of This Story, Morgan's Other Story, Plus 16 Other Short Stories, The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories is available for 99 cents at http://amzn.com/B0085YDO7E

Morgan Mandel

Before her 2 contributions to The Corner Cafe: A Tasty Collection of Short Stories, Morgan Mandel wrote 4 full length novels: Forever Young: Blessing or Curse, Killer Career, Girl of My Dreams and Two Wrongs.

Excerpts and Buy Links to her full length novels are at:

Thursday, June 14, 2012


By Caroline Clemmons

Writers use universal truths to create stories that (we hope) entertain. True, most of our stories hold moral lessons. We champion the good in men and women, and punish the shallow and senseless.  Not that the lessons can be obvious. Nope. Our goal is to sneak them in when readers are concentrating on the plot. ☺

While I try to vary storylines with each book, my books tend to have several common themes: redemption, good defeats evil, love overcomes obstacles, and main characters achieve personal fulfillment. But I don’t want readers to dwell on theme. When all of the above happens, my desire is that readers fall in love with my characters. I want readers to think of them as real people, as they are in my mind, and yearn to read my next book. Nothing makes an author happier.  

One of my most popular books dealt with good triumphing over evil. Often evil doers believe themselves above the law and unconquerable. In my books, those people are always caught...eventually. I wish that were always true in life, but it sometimes happens. Let’s go with that, shall we?

THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE is about a marriage of convenience that blossoms into a true love match. The idea for the book came from a tiny kernel in the form of a story my grandmother once told me about a girl in her hometown who quit school because of all the rumors and teasing she was forced to endure. Although my grandmother didn’t know what happened to the girl, I wanted the poor girl’s story to end well. Each of us deserves happily ever after, right?

If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know there are no secrets. Sometimes a person with evil in his heart forgets that fact and does terrible things to conceal a fact everyone already knows.

Here’s the blurb from THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE:

Wanted: one completely improper bride.

Even if Drake Kincaid had placed such an advertisement in every paper in the country, he couldn’t have found a better candidate than Pearl Parker...which is fine with him. After all, his parents’ will stipulates only that he marry by his thirtieth birthday, not that he marry well. And no one--including Drake’s grandfather, the man determined to hold him to the ridiculous provision--could possibly think tall, bossy Pearl with her ragtag siblings and questionable “cousin” Belle will make a good wife. Until Drake realizes that in her startling violet eyes he sees a beautiful woman with a generous soul...

Their life together may not have started with hearts and flowers, but Drake and Pearl will soon learn that real love--with a breathtaking dose of passion--will make their marriage a true romance.

Excerpt from THE MOST UNSUITABLE BRIDE Set up - Drake left his wife and her younger sister living in town with his Grandpa and snobby Aunt Lily while he and her brother went on a cattle drive to Kansas. After six weeks, Drake returns home to find things are nothing as he expected.

     On the road, he slowed his horse and tried to think. Storm had been right, Pearl apparently got fed up with Lily. Why hadn't he seen it?
     Maybe he should have made different arrangements for her before the cattle drive. Damn, it looked like a man could depend on his wife waiting for him. All she had to do was just bide her time. How hard could that be?
     When the ranch house came into view, he slowed even more. It looked different.
     Apparently Storm saw it too. "Things been fixed up some."
     Drake noted the gate now hung straight, bright flowers bordered the walk and porch. A bushy fern stood on the porch near the rocker he liked to use of a summer evening. He dropped the reins over the hitching post and bounded up the steps. The door opened before he could reach it.
     "Señor Drake, how wonderful you are home.” Maria beamed her cheerful smile at him. "Señora Pearl will be so happy."
     Inside the front door, Drake stopped in his tracks. Three people sat on a bench in the foyer, a bench that hadn't been there when he left. As he entered, they stood and nodded their heads in respect.
     The eldest, a man he recognized as Vicente's father, spoke. "Welcome home, Señor Jefe, Chief. Your trip went well?"
     "Yes, very well. Vicente brings our remuda and men back. He and the rest of the men will be home soon.” Feeling as if he overlooked an important factor here, he asked, "Is there something I can do for you?"
     The three shook their heads in unison. "No, Señor Jefe. We wait for La Curandera."
     Maria hastened forward. "Señora Pearl has helped so many with her medicines. People come from all over the county to see her. She lets them wait here until she can see them."
     Storm said, "She likes to help people. Pearl's real good with her healing."
     Close to snapping, Drake spoke slowly and clearly, "Maria, where is my wife?"
     Surprise showed on the housekeeper's face. "Why, she is still in town at her restaurant, of course."
     Hoping he hid his own surprise, he said, "I see.” But he certainly did not see. Not at all. What restaurant?
     Still beaming at him, Maria continued, "At this time she's still serving lunch to her customers. You can find her there, but she usually comes home about four with Señorita Sarah. Shall I find lunch for you and Señor Storm?"
     "Yes, please.” Storm said.
     "No.” Gesturing to his brother-in-law, he said, "You go ahead, Storm."
     "Señor Storm, my Carlotta will find food for you if you will go into the kitchen. Or, you could come with us to see the changes in your home. Come, let me show you the many things Señora Pearl has done for you.” Maria tugged at Drake's arm, leading him on a tour of his own home with Storm trailing along. "You see how she has used the pieces stored by your family to make this place welcome you. She has worked very hard.”
     He took in the rugs on the floor, the additions to the furnishings. He noticed little things like the placement of serving pieces on the buffet that used to sit in his mother's dining room--until she hired that fancy decorator. Drake had always liked that old furniture better than the ornate stuff the decorator ordered from all over the world. He wandered through the house taking in the changes as Maria chattered on and on reciting Pearl's virtues.
     In the door way of his study, he stopped dead in his tracks. The old rocking chair made from cattle horns stood waiting beside his desk. Though wood comprised the rockers and supported the thickly padded seat and back, a craftsman had used matched pairs of horns to form the legs, arms, splats, and a decorative fan across the top.
Not the same, but a cattle horn
rocking chair similar to Drake's
     Maria smiled and patted his arm. "Ah, I knew that would please you."
     "I thought Mother had it burned.” Although he and his father loved that chair and laughed about the eccentricity of it, his mother had called it an abomination and refused to have it in her house.
     Maria adopted her inscrutable mask. "It is possible Miguel misunderstood her. He stored it in a barn with other old furniture and covered it with heavy cloth to protect it." She shook her head. "Then, it seems, he forgot about it. But Señora Pearl found it. Oh, she laughed and laughed when she saw it."
     "She--she laughed?"
     "Oh, sí, yes. She said it was perfect for a rancher's home. I told her how you used to sit in it when your feet were barely long enough to touch the floor, how you would laugh at your longhorn chair.”
     Damn. Who would have figured her laughing? Just like he and his father had. Who could understand the woman?
     Storm sat in the chair and gave a push to start it rocking. The boy had a silly grin on his face.
     With a shake of his head to clear his brain, Drake turned and left the room.

THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE is Book One of the Kincaids, and is available for only 99 cents from Amazon
http://www.amazon.com/MOST-UNSUITABLE-WIFE-Kincaids-ebook/dp/B004OR1VOO/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1338514599&sr=1-7 and from
Smashwords at

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Free Books!

For two days my contemporary romance Oceans Between Us is available free on Amazon along with a fantastic selection of other great reads in the Summer Sizzle Free Par-Tay. There's something for everyone, so go and check it out!

Oceans Between Us

He's a wealthy Italian celebrity used to dating beautiful women. She's a guesthouse cook without a penny to her name. When tragedy brings them together for a few weeks, an unlikely romance blossoms. But he has commitments that take him back to his jet-setting life, while her future lies in a remote English village. Is it possible for two people from such different walks of life to find a way to be together?

Also included in the Summer Sizzle!

He's Her by Mimi Barbour-Paranormal Romance

A Vegas casino owner's spirit resides in the body of a shy & naive school teacher, much to his disgust and her horror! The antics are hilarious while love solves the problem.

Fated Hearts by Pat Mason-Paranormal Romance

A girl, afraid to take chance, now about to risk her life.
A mysteriously compelling guy who just may be her fate.
Who is he? What is he? Could loving him be her end?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Paper Dolls, Sears and Roebuck Catalog, and the Accidental Author

Many authors have said the urge to write was natural and a life-long goal. In fact, it seems that most writers “always had a dream.” This often made me wonder why I don’t fit the mold. Of course, I had an imagination, but don’t all children have one to some extent? Playing make-believe is as natural to little girls and boys as is breathing.

I grew up when paper dolls were popular. When I had a fifteen cents or a quarter, that’s what I bought—a paper doll book. My little sister and I spent many hours of our childhood cutting out the dolls and their clothes. Each piece of clothing had little tabs to fold over the doll’s shoulders or around her waist. We had boxes of paper dolls—Victorian ladies, teenage girls, little children, mommies, and Western cowgirls. We gave each a name, a personality, and emotions.

Shoe boxes held our paper doll sets, and heaven forbid we should ever mix up the dolls and their clothes. If my dolls became intermingled with my sister’s, that was cause for all-out war. The shoe boxes also made very nice homes for paper dolls. For a house, though, we needed beds, refrigerators, stoves, tables, rugs, and chairs. Mother gave us last year’s Sears and Roebuck catalog and we became the nation’s first recyclers. Never threw away a catalog. They furnished our doll homes perfectly. True, everything lay on the floor of the “home,” but that was all right because we played “make believe.”

The paper dolls lived in a world of grand adventures. Why, they went to parties, rode on trains to big cities, married, went shopping, roped cattle and rode horses, met kings and knights, and became princesses and beauty queens. So, perhaps I carried the idea of inventing stories in my head and heart, after all.

Another writer I know calls herself The Accidental Reporter. Well, I suppose I’m The Accidental Author. The first pieces I wrote were scientific research papers and lab reports while attending school. Nothing else, not even a diary. After early retirement, I began to “dabble” in this and that, and one day, I accidentally began to write a story. I say “accidentally” because I only intended to add to my miniscule store of knowledge about the computer, especially WORD 2002. Thus, many weeks later, I had a 90,000 word novel stored—yep, you guessed it—written in stiff, correct, scientific language. The first editor who rejected it said—“this reads like a textbook.”

Oh, I had much to learn, but fortunately, I have an attribute perhaps all authors have—persistence. Also, I’m a fast-learner, and most often, a self-learner. That first novel is still available at The Wild rose press. Title? TEXAS BLUE.

BLURB from 99cent Dime Novel: Charlotte and the Tenderfoot
~*~ While driving home in her buggy, Charlotte Dewhurst discovers a man lying by the road. William Montgomery, an attorney, was passing through the area when accosted by two hoodlums. The resulting court case keeps Will in town. His attitudes confuse Charlotte as he seeks her company, yet proclaims he will soon be moving on. But Will may be the most confused one of all.~*~*~*~
“Hi,” he said, as he came to her. “I hear the violin and guitars tuning up.”

She couldn’t help but laugh. “Fiddles, Will. The instrument might look like a violin, and perhaps sound like one if played in such a manner, but here? They’re fiddles. Plain and country, but wait till you hear them play.”

He chuckled. “My mistake. Only one of many since I’ve arrived in Trinity Hill. I’ll get the hang of these western ways yet.”

But probably not here, Will. You’ll be leaving soon. Remember?

Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

So Many Books, So Little Time

I spent the month of May traveling and visiting my children and grandchildren, then several uncles, aunts, cousins, and later the in-laws. The first things I packed were my laptop, kindle, and cell phone. Not to forget the chargers. Whether in VA, NY, NJ, MA, I never felt isolated or disconnected from my writing world, loops, blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook... How did we live without full-time Internet a few years ago?
On my Kindle I loaded some hundreds ebooks and enjoyed the flights and long drives, the endless waiting and delays in airports.

Soon we will have a special treat for readers with the Book Lovers Buffet– It starts June 8th and goes through the 22nd. Over 150 e-books have been reduced to 99 cents.

Three of my contemporary romances are featured in Contemporary and in Romance. All hot & humorous romance comedies set in exotic places.


A second chance at love with the help of a baby.

What’s a girl to do when she whispers another man’s name in her fiancé’s arms?

HER GREEK ROMANCE Falling in love with the defendent is a bad idea.   http://tinyurl.com/6lnbcuv

After long reflection, I came to the heart-wrenching decision that my handsome Greek hunk has to be sacrificed, annihilated, and eliminated from my book cover. Apparently he has caused too many heart-attacks in sweet old ladies who swooned at his sight. So off he goes.

He'll soon be replaced  by a hot romantic couple.
I'm changing the title too.

So here is my updated ebook cover.

( Previously titled Her Greek Romance)
       Attorney Ashley Sheppard comes to Greece to fulfill the wishes of her ailing grandfather. He wants her to save the Pink Villa he jointly owned with his lost love.
       To build a luxurious resort, billionaire Stefano Kostapoulos wants to destroy the crumbling house that brought only heartache to his late grandmother. But he will check out the opposition before he faces her in court. Using his middle names, he arranges an introduction and convinces her to take a sunset ride on his yacht.
      Sparks fly during a first encounter that leads to a memorable night of passion. When Ashley realizes she’s slept with the enemy, she’s ready to shred Stefano like lamb and serve him up with mint jelly.
     Will the heavens align for the grandchildren of thwarted lovers?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kickass Chicks Wanted

I write funny, sexy romance novels that have a chick lit attitude. In my writing, I begin with an exploration of the female archetypes. Many writers do this whether they consciously analyze the archetypes or not as they create women characters.

These archetypes are usually defined as: Nurturer, Crusader, Librarian, Waif, Free Spirit, Spunky Kid, Survivor, and Boss.

You'll notice there's not a listing for Warrior. In my opinion, that's because a warrior lurks within each female archetype. Pop culture finally discovered that, and kickass heroines have taken over movies, television, and books.


The origin of the warrior woman in contemporary culture didn't start with Buffy in the late 1990's. Look backwards a bit. Edgar Lee Masters in Spoon River Anthology wrote about a woman who “hated with the hate of Jael when the white hot hands went seeking the nail.” Jael was a woman in the Bible who killed a man by hammering a nail into his head. Now that's a warrior woman.

Contemporary References

Let's leave Jael and Joan of Arc and many others in the past and move forward to Honey West, a woman who first appeared in the 1957 book This Girl for Hire by G. G. Fickling, a pseudonym used by Gloria and Forest Fickling who wrote many mysteries including 10 about the girl detective. In the 1960s, Aaron Spelling brought Honey West, starring Anne Francis, to television.

Spelling was inspired by the British series The Avengers, with cool, calm, and collected Emma Peel, a spy who wore haute couture, caught bad guys, and never broke a sweat. Diana Rigg was born to play Emma Peel who could handle anything as well as or better than a man.


Then Sigourney Weaver made movie history in 1979 as the first woman action star in the original Alien, a movie that scared me witless. Weaver as the intrepid Ripley kicked alien butt and in the end blew it out the hatch into deep space. She reprised her role in 1966 and should have left it there because the other installments weakened the franchise and were more woman as victim than as warrior.


Joss Whedon brought Buffy the Vampire Slayer to television in 1997. Sarah Michelle Geller made you believe that this petite blond high school slacker could more than hold her own with the bloodsuckers. Buffy really kickstarted the whole butt-kicking female trend. Until her stint as vampire slayer, popular opinion seemed to be that women warriors on television would alienate male viewers and readers and possibly a lot of the females too.

Actually. I think Buffy had as many male fans as female. Sure, maybe the men were looking at Buffy and Faith in terms of hot chicks, but I think those two made being tough, strong, and indomitable hot.


When Angel, a spinoff of Buffy, came along in 1999, the show costarred Charisma Carpenter as Cordelia, a chick who grew from self-absorbed to selfless with a lot of stages in between, most of them requiring her to fight demons and other assorted bad guys.

Let's just give it up for Joss Whedon who has a thing for warrior women. He absolutely knows how to create a strong woman character. He did this in Firefly, a short-lived series thanks to Fox TV, and in the 2005 movie Serenity in which all the actors from Firefly reprised their roles.

Women of Firefly

Notable as the captain's sidekick and right hand man was a woman – Zoe, a gorgeous warrior woman portrayed by Gina Torres. Firefly and Serenity also had Kaley, as portrayed by Jewel Staite, the vulnerable but horny female spaceship mechanic. For the exotic, there was Morena Baccarin as the companion Inara Serra, a woman who commanded men in a different way but who also knew how to fight. River Tam, the emotionally damaged teen rounded out the female cast. River was a killing machine trying to be sane and was played so well by Summer Glau.


In the movies we had Lara Croft in 2001 and 2003 as portrayed by Angelina Jolie, who also played Mrs. Smith to Brad Pitt’s Mr. Smith in 2005. Those two kick butt roles are possibly the most realistic – when compared to the assassin she played later in Wanted or Grendel’s mother in Beowulf.

Jennifer Garner also played a warrior, the comic book heroine Elektra, but that was after she'd made a name for herself as the tough as nails agent Sydney Bristow in Alias which ran from 2001to 2006.

Real Life Warrior Women

I like to write warrior women, and I do that with each book. You may have noticed that none of my heroines are vampire or demon slayers. In fact, they're not even close to those images. They are real life versions of warrior woman. That means that they are strong, assertive, and comfortable in their own skin. Sure, they may have problems, but they're dealing with them, and they have staying power. They don't give up. They're also unwilling to be anyone's doormat.

Post Script

Celebrate the warrior inside. Live strong. Be strong. Pass it on to your daughters, and teach your sons to value and respect that aspect of a woman's identity.

(Note: My contemporary romances are available at all major ebook sellers. Thank you for thinking of me the next time you shop for a book. I hope you'll visit me at my website and blog: http://www.JoanReeves.com and http://SlingWords.blogspot.com.)