Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Diary Writers of My Traveling Man by DeeDee Lane

Writing My Traveling Man got me thinking about times in my life when I kept a diary. As a young girl I was enthralled by the notion of having a small pink covered book, latched by golden clasp, and opened with a miniature skeleton key. Yes, I was enticed but never owned one of these super-secret thought holders. Looking back I’m sure I suspected in my family of six privacy was not a given, I’d most likely lose the key, and what thoughts were so precious I had to record it thus?

 As a college student I took longhand notes and this practice morphed into 6 X 9 ½ inch notebooks where I recorded my thoughts. But my journey as a diarist started in earnest when I began to travel as a young adult. Usually I was on my own and the journal became a place to share with a “friend,” record the daily news, and remember the important events of my trip.

Like many others I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and faithfully wrote my morning pages for a good stretch of time. This daily action inspired me to read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards so my morning pages became morning drawings.
Because a diary is so central to the story of My Traveling Man I wondered if we ever write our journals with the expectation they may be read by others. In this novella I set out to celebrate the journal writers, diarists, and note takers who traveled the Oregon Trail between 1846 and 1869. Their thoughts and notes provide the everyday person’s mindset of pioneer’s traveling this arduous trail. Additionally, they give us an idea of natural landmarks used to mark the passing of miles. For example, an experienced wagon master believed he must get his train to a certain large rock by the fourth of July to be ahead of winter snows. The rock became known as Independence Rock and you can still see many emigrants’ names carved in it if you travel the trail in Wyoming. Some of the diaries published today are actually packets of letters sent back to family in the east as the pioneer traveled west.
Though I do not believe my diaries should or will become public, I do believe in this note taking communing with self. At this stage my diary is a large notebook, not pink and no key. In it I write small passages but more often tape photos, ticket stubs, love notes from my husband, letters from my friends, or small mementos. I don’t suspect it will be an historical document one day but the action of writing, taping, and remembering gives me pleasure. In this I feel a bond with the diarist of the trail.
DeeDee Lane

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My dysfunctional Family novel by Dee Gatrell

When I finished writing Sweet Sunset, my husband read it. He decided he knew who my characters really were. I told him no, he
did not. So okay, one gal is an enabler, like one of our daughters. One gal got punched in the eye and was married to a crazy man, but nothing else is like her. My one son always had the habit of picking the wrong women, but now is married. I truly think he had a neon sign that lit up and read, “if you are crazy, I’m sure I’ll love you.” Well at least for a while.

I think when you write a novel people you know sort of pop out of you. Like my mom who had dementia. She was asked to move out of the senior’s apartments. She blew up cans in the microwave, she burned food and she did break handles off ceramic cups. We never did figure that one out.

As for Zack, he’s a total figment of my imagination. My cousin Betty, who is widowed, wants the real him. The gay boy was once a friend of my granddaughter’s. I have no idea what happened to him once he grew up, but I wanted him to be happy.

Life has happy times, and sad times. I like putting humor in my stories and hope they make people laugh. We all need to laugh to keep us going. A friend of mine told me about her mom being upset with her stepmom and told her how evil she was, spilling her soda on the table. And of course, June in the episode of the moms going to lunch, I had to tell the story about her “yankee” neighbors, because the real June was a Southern lady who told us tales like that.

I do hope if you have a chance to read Sweet Sunset you’ll enjoy spending time with Myrtle Sue and her dysfunctional family.

Sweet Sunset
Dee Gatrell

Monday, December 05, 2016

Drawing Inspiration From Real Life

I'm frequently asked where I get my story ideas. In the case of my holiday novella, Love's In The Cards, it was an actual job experience. For a year before I moved to Ohio, I worked for a well-known greeting card company store, which also had a considerable amount of gift merchandise in addition to greeting cards and ornaments. There were two six-foot plastic nutcrackers that we had to maneuver outside each morning from mid-November through Christmas, and bring them in each night. Some of the teenage girls made a game of it, pretending they were dancing with the nutcrackers. We worked hard, but had a lot of fun. My favorite thing to do was to straighten the cards as I watched them dwindle in quantity each day. When I moved to Ohio, I got a job as a merchandiser, going into big and little stores and putting out new card displays for another well-known card company. It wasn't as much fun, but I still got to straighten out cards and make them look pretty again. I quit this job several years ago, but to this day, if I find myself in the card department of a store, I have to straighten out the cards.

And as for the other story line in Love's In The Cards, I had my own Del in my life. Back when we were in kindergarten, we had nap time after lunch, where we laid on towels or blankets for twenty minutes or so. This little boy would always lay at my feet and draw on the soles of my sparkling white shoes with a purple crayon. My mother got so angry every night when I come home with purple crayon on my shoes, and never bought the explanation that it wasn't my fault. I take some consolation in the fact my Del became a high school art teacher, and pride myself on my contribution to his success, but I've never quite forgiven him.

Becky Lower
Love's In The Cards

Available from the Wild Rose Press
and other online retailers

Saturday, December 03, 2016


You'll be hearing a great deal about this new author!

I was given an ARC of Haunting Highland House for an honest opinion and review, and I am so thankful I was because Kathryn Hills' debut novel is definitely a winner.

Set in New England in the present--and 100+ years prior-- this is a story of a love that survives the vestiges of time, war, death, and change.

When Samantha Merrill arrives at Highland House as the new event manager, she feels a tiny sense of familiarity and a little niggle of uncertainty. Has she been here before? Things look familiar, but they...don't and aren't. An orphan raised by two much older adoptive parents, Sam knows nothing of her life before the age of 4. Pretty soon she starts to doubt her sanity when she's confronted with what she thinks is the ghost of Robert Pennington, the original owner of the now historic museum. But he's not a ghost. He's a living, breathing, powerful man. And he wants Samantha; almost-- if not more than-- she wants him.

Sam's life quickly spins out of control, traveling back and forth through time to meet with Robert, his family and friends. When she discovers a terrible event will befall his family, she wrestles with telling him and potentially changing the future, or allowing events to proceed as they already have.

I don't like spoilers so I leave the plot line there, but this book utterly captivated me from page 1 until the very last page. And what a last page!!!!! I'm usually fairly good at knowing how a book ( or TV show!) ends, but Ms Hills' ending totally blew my mind! And in a great, great way.

Mark my words, you 'll be hearing a lot about this wonderful author from now on.
Haunting Highland House gets 5 well deserved stars from me!
submitted by Peggy Jaeger

Available from The Wild Rose Press
and other online retailers

Friday, December 02, 2016

In Defense of "Fluff" by Katherine McDermott

A friend recently shared a devotion with me from Deeper Walk. The October 17, 2016 page was written by a romance author (unnamed) who said, "Many people viewed her scratchings as 'fluff.'" But the author defended her writing by concluding after prayer and Bible study that God is a romantic! When he saw how lonely Adam was he created Eve. "Then the Lord God said: 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement'"(Genesis 2:18).

I would add that God was interested in finding Isaac the "right" girl and indicated that she would be the one who offerred to water his camels which is exactly what Rebecca did. Jacob, later called Israel, was so in love with Rachel that he worked a total of 14 years for her father, who first tricked him into marrying Leah, but later gave him Rachel as well. And what about the patriarch Abraham. His wife Sarah's name meant princess. No one can argue that Song of Solomon is not one of the most romantic and poetic books in the Bible. And Jesus uses the analogy of the groom returning for his beloved bride to describe his second coming.

If you feel called to write Christian romance, do not be ashamed that you are not writing deep theology or delving into erudite explication of Scripture. Write from a basis of knowledge of God's word, experience, and heartfelt emotion.

Katherine McDermott

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Murder He Wrote by Joe Cosentino

I’ve watched every episode of Murder She Wrote, The Hardy Boys, The Nancy Drew Mysteries, Miami Vice, Hart to Hart, Moonlighting, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. There’s nothing more fun than being faced with a murder, a group of suspects, a puzzle, and a time limit to guess whodunit and why. It sharpens the little gray cells and makes me feel warm and cozy. Add in exotic locations, romance, humor, and snappy dialogue and I’m in heaven.

So the next Jana Lane mystery, RAG DOLL, takes place in 1985 with Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote being all the rage on television. Jana stars in a new television mystery series, The Detective’s Wife, opposite Chris Bove, the hunky detective who got away in Satin Doll. Guest starring on the show is young ingĂ©nue Christa Bianca, a rags to riches story who has flooded the press. Life imitates television as Christa’s loved ones are murdered, and Christa and Jana could be next. Once again it’s up to Jana to use her knowledge from her days as America’s most famous child star and save the day before the lights fade to black.

Jana’s amazingly resilient, old world Hollywood, incredibly funny, and loyal agent, Simon Huckby, is back. The other suspects include Jason, the young prop man with a secret; bit players Karen and makeup girl Cindi who have their eyes on Christa’s guest starring role; two couples in supporting roles who have a conflict with Christa and Christa’s husband/manager, the domineering Andrew Bianca; Christa’s calculating agent Stu, and her Uncle Nick, trying to stay in show business on Christa’s coattails.
Christa is a beautiful, talented young woman who escaped her impoverished small town life and embarked on a successful film and television career. As one reviewer wrote, I used my knowledge of show business to devilish ends. Actually, I used my background in each of the Jana Lane novels, since I know the ins and outs on a movie set, television set, and theatre stage. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my shows. I’ve been told the television shooting sequences in RAG DOLL are realistic, exciting, and fun to read. I’m sure that’s because I know my way around a real television set, and I tried hard to incorporate that knowledge into those scenes.

Though Jana and Brian are happily married, you can’t blame Jana for being attracted to handsome, muscular, smart, food-addict Bove, starring opposite her in The Detective’s Wife. After what they’ve gone through together in Satin Doll, they can be totally honest with one another. Their banter is very funny but also warm and precious. Since Jana is not available, their attraction for each other needs to stay at bay, which is quite difficult for both of them at times. I think they put that frustrated energy into solving the case.

Once again as an actor in film, television, and theatre, working opposite stars like Bruce Willis, Nathan Lane, Rosie O’Donnell, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards; I used my knowledge and experiences to write RAG DOLL. Again as an avid mystery buff myself, RAG DOLL is a page-turning mystery with clever plot twists, engaging characters, romance, and lots of clues leading to a surprising conclusion. Since coming from a funny Italian-American family, humor also plays role in the novel.

So settle back on the sofa, get the remote and popcorn, and turn on the television for the next Jana Lane mystery! BTW, I want to play Simon Huckby in the TV series!

 RAG DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery, published by The Wild Rose Press
by Joe Cosentino

Monday, November 14, 2016

Which Fictional Characters Best Reflect You?

Last month, one of my Facebook friends posted a challenge to come up with four fictional characters that I identified with. It was great fun putting my list together. You should try it. It's a great way to tell your readers more about who you are and what you enjoy reading or watching. I am a brand new cactus rose. Following are the ones I selected as most like me.

Jo March in the novel Little Women--Like Jo, I grew up in a financially challenged home. Jo works outside the home to help support her family. I worked at any job I could get—babysitter, tennis instructor, car hop, waitress, store clerk. Jo and I are both strong and determined; although I am better at controlling anger than she is. She spends some time in New York City. I worked there for twelve years during my thirties and forties. Jo is a writer. I am, too. It wasn't my profession, but I wish it had been.

Jing-mei Woo (June) in The Joy Luck Club—I remember identifying with June throughout the novel, notably when her mother praises her for never taking the best quality crab. I try to respect the needs and wants of others which includes bypassing crab claws for body meat, or taking the smallest piece of cake on the plate. Like June, I was pushed to excel (at school rather than piano). My mother and Suyuan Woo were both critical mothers. Mine was especially critical when it came to socially acceptable behavior and physical appearance. I came to realize this wasn’t because she was mean, but because she wanted the best for me and my sisters. I know she loved me, and I loved her with all my heart.

Mary Richards in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”--A single woman who, at age 30, moves to Minneapolis after being jilted by her boyfriend of two years. I, a divorced woman of 30, moved to New York City after being cheated on by my husband of seven years. Mary ends up with a career in TV; whereas I worked in the apparel and cosmetics fields. Mary becomes friends with her next door neighbor in the boarding house she lives in. I became friends with one of my roommates in the New York apartment I rented. We are still friends to this day.

Anna from the movie “Frozen”--Although I am the oldest of three sisters rather than the younger of two, Anna is as devoted to her sister Elsa as I am to my sisters Karen and Susan. I am also optimistic and caring like she is and have her never-give-up attitude. I, too, was separated from my sisters for a long time, not because we had grown apart, but because I lived across the country for many years. Now we spend as much time together as we can.

Ginger Dehlinger