Celebrate This Blog!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Keeper Shelf by Joan Reeves

Do you have a Keeper Shelf? You know, that shelf or perhaps even an entire bookcase filled with books that you love so much that you read them again and again?

I have a bookcase like that. This week when my husband had unexpected surgery, I found myself reaching for a comfort read. This time, I didn't have to wait until I arrived home to retrieve a book from my Keeper Shelf. With my Kindle, I have a digital Keeper Shelf I can carry with me.

Real Books Vs. Fake Books

A lot of people think that ebooks are a flash in the pan. That they're not "real" books. Does that make them fake books? Real books get respect. They get treasured. They get saved and sometimes find a permanent spot on a reader's shelf. They sometimes become "keepers" that are to be held and eventually re-read.

Chances are, if you read a lot, you have books on your Keeper Shelf. You probably re-read them ever so often. Many people don't understand this compulsion to read books that have already been read. How best to explain the desire to revisit a book after a year, or two, or ten?

Why Re-Read A Book

I read a wonderful quotation that focused on re-reading books that was attributed to the late William Robertson Davies, one of Canada’s most popular authors. Mr. Davies wrote novels and plays as well as dramatic criticism. He was also a journalist and a professor. Mr. Davies explained the allure of books on our keeper shelves this way: "The great sin is to assume that something that has been read once has been read forever."

Ah, we who stockpile favorite books on keeper shelves can attest to that. We have our favorites that we turn to again and again, and each time we discover something different in those well-read words. For my daughter, the book she reads every year is Dune by Frank Herbert. For me, it varies according to my mood.

In January, I re-read Watchers and Lightning, both by Dean Koontz. My mood changed, and I re-read A Rose In Winter and Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. (Read what I said about Woodiwiss's books.)

Will ebooks make keeper books a thing of the past? Definitely not. Readers will do as I have done and create a Keeper Shelf on their ebook device. One of the many things I love about my Kindle is that it makes my keeper shelf virtually limitless. I can store a thousand books and access them within minutes. I've actually been buying the ebook version of my favorite books so I can access them any time I want.

Digital Benefits

As someone who has moved frequently in her life, and has had to cull the library each time, I love knowing that I never have to get rid of a book again. No more do I worry about the weight of boxes or the imminent collapse of an overfilled bookcase. I carry my library with the books I've acquired in the last two years of Kindle ownership with me -- in my purse.

My print book keeper shelves in my office contain The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, just about all of Dean Koontz's work prior to 2000, the first 5 novels by Kathleen Woodiwiss, The Ninja by Eric Von Lustbader, Dan Rhodes Mysteries by Bill Crider, Panzer Spirit by Tom Townsend, most of the romances by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, the same for Linda Howard, O. Henry Short Stories, my 12th grade English Lit book, the Jane Austen books, and so many more.

Recently, I was flattered to receive an email from a woman who described herself as a "confirmed fan" of mine. She'd bought all my ebook romantic comedies and said they were keepers that she planned to re-read when she felt she needed a lift. You better believe that put a smile on my face. My ebooks are keepers to her. I hope she finds my latest book shown above, SCENTS and SENSUALITY, worthy of her digital keeper shelf too.

Mr. Davies used the example of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair in his discourse on re-reading. The book is usually required reading in college, but the book you read at 18 is different, you’ll discover, from the one you read 20 years later. The older you get, the more your vision of that book changes. The words have not changed, but the experience you’ve incurred with every year changes you, so what you get from the book will be different each time.

Post Script

I've often thought that reading a book again is like meeting an old friend after a long absence. In life, when this happens, we see the changes in our friends. In re-reading a favorite book, meeting that old friend again, as it were, we note, that the book has a different resonance. It affects us differently. Same number of pages. Same words.

The book has not changed.

We have.

(Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit Joan's Blog, SlingWords.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fate and Preordained Destiny

Are we prisoners of the past?  Have we created our own future by the deeds of our previous existences?  Is our destiny preordained?

Have you ever wondered if fate plays a part in the life you are experiencing now?  I do.

Wictionary defines Fate as:

  1.  The cause, force, principle, or divine will that predetermines events.
  2. The effect, consequence, outcome or inevitable events predetermined by this cause.
  3.  Destiny (perhaps connotes death, ruin, misfortune, etc.

Many religions view fate as preordained. In ancient Greece, the unseen power that rules the destinies of men was personified by the three sisters Moirai, or Fates, whose names were Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos.  Fate is sometimes  described as having unlimited power over gods and men, while at other times the gods, especially Zeus, are described as the rulers of human destiny, or as having the power to change the course of fate.

With the Moirai the Romans identified their own Parcæ or Fata.

Various religions suggest fate is founded on the doctrine of God’s absolute decree and of predestination and that man exists under the weight of incalculable series of former lives.  In essence, we are the product of our own Karma. 

I wrote a very short horror story dealing with this very thing.

Follow the link:

P.L. Parker is the author of two 99 cent ebooks – Riley’s Journey and Fiona.

Buy Links:
Riley’s Journey

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Polish Easter Traditions

By: Stephanie Burkhart

Easter is a time of year that's celebrated by millions all over the world. Growing up as a young girl in the 1970's my family embraced several traditions. Now, as an adult, I appreciate that love of tradition instilled in me. When Victory Tales Press put out a call for a Spring/Easter anthology, I was excited to write them a story. Drawing on my Polish roots, I set my tale in Warsaw, Poland. American Darrin Riverton is an architect who travels to Warsaw, Poland to help with the construction of the National Stadium and meets Sofia Buraczynski, an interpreter. Can Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?

I enjoyed researching the story. Since Sofia and her family are preparing for Easter, they're putting together their family Easter basket to be blessed on Holy Saturday. The food placed in the basket will be used for the Easter feast the next day. Because it's blessed, it all has to be eaten. Some favorite foods include: hard boiled eggs, breads, potatoes, kielbasa, ham, salt, butter, sausage, and fruits. Oh, and don't forget the pussy willow. I discovered pussy willow was used as "palms" in the old days since they didn't have palms in Poland.

Question: How many of you prepare Easter baskets? Do you have them blessed? I'd love to hear about your Easter traditions.

Enjoy this excerpt from "A Polish Heart:"
99 cent contemporary/international/inspirational novella. 


Dracek crossed his arms and glared at Darrin, jealousy laced in his eyes. "Because of Sofia?"

"Yes," Darrin said.

"You will only break her heart, American. You will go back to your country and leave. I see how she looks at you. It's you she wants."

"Not you?" asked Darrin, tersely. Anxiety coiled around his limbs.

"I have known Sofia since we were children. I just want her to be happy, but I am not convinced of your sincerity."


"Sofia and Darrin's story is a heartwarming one. Totally enjoyable read." - Tara Manderino, Amazon Reader



BARNES &NOBLE:http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-polish-heart-stephanie-burkhart/1111503774?ean=2940033247875


Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Dead End Job

Before I was thankfully laid off, I was stuck in a dead end job.

A very long time ago, during my high school years, for some odd reason I was fascinated with the thought of becoming a secretary. Along with liberal arts classes to prepare me for college, I took typing, shorthand and transcription. I excelled at shorthand, which, ironically enough, is now a dead skill.

Anyway, my part time secretarial position during college turned into a full time one afterward, when I continued on there at the same law firm. After seven years at that firm, I changed to another, where I stayed even longer, not having the sense to change careers into something more interesting. Talk about being stuck in a rut! As I grew closer to retirement age, the urge to leave grew stronger. Could I wait those few years?

Then the economy and a shift in the firm's structure made the decision for me. A partner left, and two of us secretaries were laid off in the process. After almost 39 years at the same place, I was stunned. After recovering from the shock of being at loose ends with no job to go to everyday, I felt relieved. Losing that dead end job as senior secretary at a small law firm was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Why do I mention this? In retrospect, I can easily see that my romantic suspense, Killer Career, written during the last few years I worked at my day job, was born from the depths of my frustration.

The difference is the character in the story, not satisfied with being a successful attorney, didn't sit around and wish for something else. She took steps to make her dream happen. Unfortunately, all sorts of obstacles, including a law partner she cares for and hates to hurt, as well as a sexy, but ominous mentor, along with some dead bodies, get in the way of achieving her goal.

Can she get what she wants or will she die trying?


Julie McGuire gazed intently from her table in the filled-to-capacity dining room of the Wyndham Hotel. The Love To Murder Mystery Conference had saved the best for last. New York Times bestselling author, Tyler Jensen, now approached the podium.
His entire bearing commanded attention, from his shoulder length wavy chestnut hair pushed back behind his ears, to his sexy sideburns and piercing hazel eyes. She guessed him to be thirty-five, about five years older than she. Clever, rich, tall, and handsome, Tyler Jensen looked the embodiment of any woman’s fantasy.
 “Many of you have killed,” Tyler said, pointing to his audience of two hundred plus.
Julie stared. What did he mean?
“Yes, you’ve slaughtered your creativity. You’ve squashed your dreams in favor of immediate gratification.” 
My God, he knew. She ignored the tinkling sound, as a waitress placed a carafe of ice water on the table.
Julie stared, transfixed, at Jensen. His every word spoke to her. She’d taken the easy way out and become a lawyer instead of following her heart’s desire to be an author. The decision ate at her. After six years in the practice, she’d saved enough money to get by. She badly wanted to claim her dream and step forward into the world he described. 
All too soon, he’d finished his speech. “Any questions?”
 Julie shot up her hand. Jensen’s knowing hazel eyes fastened on her, as if assessing her straight blonde hair and tall, slight frame.
He nodded. “Yes, second table.”
On suddenly stiff legs, she rose. “What makes you write mysteries?”
“I have an urge to voyeuristically experience atrocities. I’ve no idea where the fascination comes from. Perhaps I was a criminal in a former life,” he said with a self-deprecating laugh.
Julie swallowed. His answer filled her with a vague uneasiness, but she didn’t know why. 

Amazon Kindle Buy Link: http://amzn.com/B002PDOPPG
Buy Links for all other sites and print version:

Thanks for letting me share.
Morgan Mandel

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Every picture tells your story


You know by now that  I like to take my pictures. :)  I visited the Dunedin History Museum in Dunedin, Florida, last month and found many nifty items that of course will work into Caitlin's next books (whether the follow up to The Artist's Inheritance, I don't know since that one's already finished and in the hands of my critique partner. :)) But! I found this nifty spinning wheel.

Friends of mine work on spinning their own yarn so I couldn't help but snap it for her. No, it's not the best picture, but ...oh well. As you can see, the wheel's kinda jammed into a small space. I've been working one into a new story I'm writing or two (one that I've planned to submit to The Wild Rose Press. :)). I'm researching/thinking now to see how I might be able to work something like it into the follow up to House of Cards, (Reign of Tarot #1) I'm working on. I could see such a hero's daughters or sisters working on such a wheel, couldn't you? Just like I can see Rumplestiltskin spinning gold from one, or Sleeping Beauty nicking her finger on its spindle! Ouch!

This particular spinning wheel I gather--or one like it--would've been used during the time of the Civil War. It might even have been used right there in ye ole Dunedin. Who knows? Pictures can be puzzling and inspiring at the same time. My Caitlin learns that, more than once, in her new life in Florida.

Anyway, the visit to the museum was an off-the-cuff idea a few weeks back but so productive, plot-wise. :) It's a really neat place too if you're ever in the neighborhood, check it out.

So...that's my snapshot. So what about you, ladies and  (and so let's include the gents here too if there are any among our readers)? Has a picture ever told you a story, or inspired a story of your own?

And for the readers, you can take a peek at my stories to see how they worked out for me. In the meantime, think of the picture above. If you lived back before the Industrial Revolution took hold, when hand spinning on such a wheel as the one above was still a prevalent art and way of bringing money into the family coffers, do you think you'd want to try it?

The Artist's Inheritance
The balance between good and evil can be an art... or a curse.

Trevor and Caitlin were once happy newlyweds, profiting from Trevor's art. Until Trevor inherits his brother's house, and with it, his part of a family curse. Now, Caitlin will stop at nothing to save her beloved husband from insanity and suicide, even if it means she must embrace her destiny and become a witch.

Caitlin's Book of Shadows
Though their fame became legend, a rumor cropped up about the Fulmer family: Something terrifying stalked Caitlin and her beloved Trevor. Something the bits and pieces she left claimed she had to make sense of. When the curator of their collection finds Caitlin's long forgotten diary, she wonders will it tell the whole tale? Will it tell why Caitlin seemed so determined to tell the difference between reality and nightmare even as she continued the fight to defend her family from evil? Will it explain why she thought her world twisted? If she really became a witch?

Perhaps the answer lies between the lines of her story, one of lessons, struggles, and hopes for each new year. 

The books if you'd like to check them out are available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and The Artist's Inheritance also at Smashwords.

Juli D. Revezzo has long been in love with writing, a love built by devouring everything from the Arthurian legends, to the works of Michael Moorcock, and the classics and has a soft spot for classic the "Goths" of the 19th century, in love of which she received a Bachelor's degree in literature from the University of South Florida. Her short fiction has been published in Dark Things II: Cat Crimes, The Scribing Ibis, Eternal Haunted Summer, Twisted Dreams Magazine and Luna Station Quarterly. She also has an article and book review or two out there. But her heart lies in the storytelling.Visit her at: http://julidrevezzo.com

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Five-star medieval novel for free! by Vijaya Schartz

Free today and tomorrow in kindle.

Curse of the Lost Isle Book 2


If you like edgy, realistic medieval series, this one is for you.

 From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.

810 AD - Alba (Ancient Scotland) - Queen at last, Pressine brings victory to her beloved Elinas and prosperity to their growing kingdom. But she has to contend with the intrigues of Charlemagne's bishops, spurred by her Christian stepson. She also fears the curse that could bring her downfall. For the love of Elinas, she will tempt fate and become with child. But when her indomitable passion challenges the wrath of the Goddess Herself... can she win that battle?

Read the entire series to date:

Find all my books on Amazon HERE 
Find my books at Barnes & Noble HERE

Happy reading! 

Vijaya Schartz
Swords, Blasters, Romance with a Kick

Monday, March 11, 2013

Telling A Story "Movie Style" by Joan Reeves

I've been so busy lately that I almost forgot to blog today. I guess we can file this one under "Better Late Than Never."

What Kept Me Busy

Well, it's all to do with my latest book SCENTS AND SENSUALITY which should be "live" any day now. I hope you'll look for it on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes -- in fact, just about anywhere ebooks are sold. I'm sure it will go live as soon as all the digital publishing platforms grind around and get it up.

In the meantime, let me tell you about my book in a little movie. I've gone completely nuts over making video book trailers. They're great fun to do and even more fun to watch. I've done 3 so far. You can see them all on YouTube. Click the name below or the cut and paste the link in. I hope you'll take a peek and click LIKE. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.



The latest one is SCENTS AND SENSUALITY which I am embedding here. Just click to play.

This book took me longer to write than any book ever due to so many interruptions: planning and putting on a wedding, producing 7 audiobooks, remodeling a house, coping with several sinus infections, and just generally feeling exhausted all the time. At long last, it's published.

Post Script

Now I can relax for at least a day or two.

(Joan Reeves writes Sassy, Sexy Contemporary Romance. Her books are available at all major ebook sellers with audio editions available at Amazon, Audible.com, and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and Wordplay, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Info? Visit Joan's Blog, SlingWords.

Friday, March 1, 2013


We’ve all heard the old adage about judging a book by its cover. Do you? There are authors whose books I read regardless of the cover because I know they deliver the kind of book I love reading. But I admit the cover makes a lot of difference when I select a book by an author whose work I haven’t previously read.

That’s why my husband and I recently changed the cover for HAPPY IS THE BRIDE. This book is only 99 cents, and has sold well. We’ve never been happy with the cover, though. The old cover is a photo my husband took of an historic church near us that is now privately owned and still used for weddings. Recently, when looking for cover art for another book, I came across the perfect image for HAPPY IS THE BRIDE. You probably heard me yelling “Hooray” from wherever you live. ☺

New cover
The story is one I wrote when under contract to a major New York publisher. I was contracted to write a novella centered around a June wedding. No further instruction. I wrote a novella for this anthology, but the editor didn’t like it because it had murder and kidnapping in it. When I asked what she wanted instead, she said a historic wedding version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Telling me this before I started writing would have been helpful, right?

For me, seeing a bride’s veil catch on fire or her falling into her wedding cake is so not funny. But, money is money and a contract is a contract, right? So I wrote the novella. But, taking a cure from Frank Sinatra, I told the story my way.

In my opinion, Beth Pendleton and Mason Whittaker make a wonderful couple. He has been in love with Beth all his life. She thinks of him as her best friend, like a brother. Brother? That’s not what he wants from her, but he’s willing to settle for her friendship. But are her feelings only friendship? 

This was a fun story to write. I asked friends for their wedding horror stories. Oh, my stars, some of the things people endured to please family and friends with a huge wedding! Many anecdotes, even though true, were unbelievable. 

You know what Tom Clancy said: “The difference between fiction and life is that fiction has to make sense.”

By the time the editor told me what she wanted, the deadline was only a few weeks away. I grew frantic. Never in my life had I been late for a deadline for newspaper stories or books. I had to come up with a new storyline, characters, and write quickly,

Friends at my Yellow Rose Romance Writers of America Chapter (especially Geri Foster and Brenda Chitwood) pitched in and helped me plot this book at our first annual retreat. That year we’d rented a house in Glen Rose, Texas and had a terrific weekend. I took the weirdest believable stories, added some fictional events, and wrote HAPPY IS THE BRIDE. I promise the less believable parts of the story are the true horrors shared by friends. Truth often is stranger than fiction.

Here’s a blub for HAPPY IS THE BRIDE:

Beth Pendleton is tired of the gossip her three failed engagements—each arranged by her pompous father—have created. She knows she’s not a jinx, an Ice Queen, a snob, or any of the other hurtful labels slapped on her. She takes food to the ill, serves the community in numerous ways, and is active in church. For her twenty-eight years she has tried to please her demanding parents. Neither her mother nor her father has ever had an encouraging word to say to her. Spiteful comments from her only cousin incite Beth to take charge of her fate. She proposes to Mason Whittaker, her lifelong friend and champion.

Mason Whittaker is a hero after any woman’s heart. Carrying on his father’s ranching tradition, he has strong family ties. Unlike Beth’s critical parents, Mason’s mother and father are loving and kind and he has a close knit extended family. As long as Mason can remember, he’s been in love with Beth. The only time he loses his temper is when he hears someone speak ill of her. But he’s learned to count to ten—or twenty—to curb his anger. He never believed he’d be able to marry her. Her proposal astonished and pleased him. But wait...did she mention love?

Will Mason marry Beth and put an end to the gossip? And what about that silly bet Beth made with Cousin Rachel that Beth would be wed by the end of June? What will Mason think if he learns of her impetuous gamble? But Beth’s bet is not the only hazard to their wedding. Murphy’s Law is working overtime as Beth and Mason battle outside forces to create their happily ever after.

The old cover - an historic
church near us still used for weddings
I hope that if you haven’t read this story, you’ll give it a try. HAPPY IS THE BRIDE is a comedy, but also is a sweet, heartwarming story. This time, we also released it in print at Amazon.

At Amazon it’s 99 cents for the e-book and $5.99 for print:

If you judge a book by its cover, I’m sad to say Kobo still shows the old cover, but the book is here:

Please let me know what you think of the new cover. Do you judge a book by its cover?

Thanks for stopping by!