Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Stress and Delight in Writing #IWSGbloghop #writing


Insecure Writer's Support Group BLOG HOP
Happy IWSG Blog Hop Day!
Happy December!
Happy Holidays!

What is the Insecure Writer's Support Group?
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database, articles and tips, a monthly blog posting, a Facebook and Instagram group, Twitter, and a monthly newsletter. To find out more, click this link:  Insecure Writer’s Support Group

The purpose of the group is 
* to share and encourage. 
* Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. 
* Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. 
*It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! 
You're invited to become a member of this supportive group. Click here to sign-up.
Thank you to our awesome co-hosts for the December posting of the IWSG Blog Hop- PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murray!

Question of the Month
Photo courtesy of geralt / 23304 images at Pixabay

December 1 question - 
In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?
Wringing my hands at the moment trying to decide what stresses me the most in my writing. I believe it is when I write the scene that I see clearly in my head, but the words on the paper do not convey the emotion I want readers to feel. Writing and re-writing it to be more powerful, more exciting, more romantic, more imaginative and not feeling satisfied with the result is stressful.

I am delighted, after putting away the ms for several weeks, my story reads better than I thought!
Insecurity x 10
It's too late to ask now, but for future promotions, I wonder about paying for ads for my books during the fourth quarter of the year and especially during this crazy Black Friday-Cyber Monday weekend. Do you think people are buying books during that time or will my ads just get lost in the noise? When is the time to sell romance novels or mysteries? When is the time to sell children's chapter books? 
I have heard people buy books in January because many have received new reading devices like Kindle, Nook, cell phones. Is there any truth to this?
And, finally, I am a Scrooge when it comes to paying to advertise a 99 cent book. I know I may gain some buzz for the book, but I have not seen reviews added to my page. Ewww, I just had a sickening realization, maybe the readers hated it and didn't want to say anything to hurt my feelings. 

Please leave a comment below with your thoughts on when, or if, to pay for ads. Thank you!

Click here to visit more bloggers in the IWSG Blog Hop!

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Don't miss out on the news from J.Q. Rose, articles, 
guest authors and giveaways!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

#Book Review: The Growing Season by Sarah Frey, the Pumpkin Queen #Thanksgivingpumpkinpie #memoir #entrepreneur


Memoirs and More

Hello and Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!

The fourth Wednesday of the month focuses on Memoirs and Life Storytelling. Today I am reviewing a heart-warming memoir, The Growing Season by Sarah Frey. I am adding this book to my favorite memoirs list.

Do you plan to have pumpkin pie on your Thanksgiving table? You can thank Sarah Frey for the popularity of pumpkins! Her story takes the reader deep into the pumpkin and cantaloupe fields and fresh produce markets and draws you into her family and their situation. Hers is a fascinating story of making her dream come true.

The Growing Season by Sarah Frey


REVIEW: The Growing Season: How I Built a New Life--and Saved an American Farm by Sarah Frey

Cantaloupe a.k.a. Muskmelons
Image by PublicDomainImages from Pixabay 

The memoir, The Growing Season, caught my attention when selecting audiobooks in the Libby app. We like to listen during our long 22-hour ride from Michigan to Florida. My hubby, Ted a.k.a. Gardener Ted (GT for short) is rooted deep in gardening. He loves it especially when the weather is perfect and produces fantastic harvests of vegetables and strawberries. I thought this story would be about growing vegetables. It was. But on a level much larger than GT’s garden!

The author, Sarah Frey who is known now as the pumpkin queen, grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois—a mismanaged farm thanks to her father’s addictions to alcohol and gambling served with a side of laziness and meanness. He pushed his kids to do all the labor on the farm so he could play the ponies and party away from home. They had plenty of kids and Sarah was the baby in the family, just like me. She worked alongside her older brothers who always treated her like she was one of the boys. Growing up in such harsh surroundings and working with her brothers shaped her never-give-up attitude and strong work ethic. Growing a business takes determination and passion. Sarah had both.

This feisty girl lived in the country, an isolated area where she spent her hours playing outdoors when she had her farm chores done. Her classmates considered her odd as she didn't associate with them preferring her farm and animals and gardens. Because she was so different from other kids, Sarah's school life was a struggle. She fought her way through school and won thanks to teachers who recognized her brilliance.

Sarah began her “business” delivering cantaloupe in their run-down truck with her mom when she was a kid. They sold the fruit from their farm to local grocery stores. When Sarah was a teen she took over the deliveries when her mother could no longer take on the responsibility. With her energy, brains and drive, she grew that small route into a billion-dollar enterprise.

Pumpkins growing in our garden. Note our grandsons' names carved into the pumpkins.GT did that when the pumpkins were small, and as they grew so did the names and the boys!

But why is Sarah the Pumpkin Queen? She has led the way in the produce industry making pumpkins popular year-round, not just in the fall for Halloween jack-o-lanterns or Thanksgiving day pies. She has also developed pumpkin recipes and a line of prepared food for sale.The pumpkins' bright color, taste and a large number of varieties attracted her. Her heart lifts every time she visits the fields spotted with the striking orange pumpkins growing on her farm. 

I enjoyed listening to Sarah narrate the plain-spoken story in the audiobook. Perhaps that’s why I fell in love with her story. She is not a lyrical writer, but she tells the story authentically to reveal her emotions and feelings. I engaged in her story because we share similar experiences and feelings.

Being a billionaire is in no way part of my life story, but I can identify with her dream of being an entrepreneur. We too dreamed of building a successful business, but ours was a floral and greenhouse business. She grew her products on her family farm, and we grew our plants in greenhouses.

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir
by J.Q. Rose
Follow Janet and Ted's inspiring story as they travel the path of turning dreams into reality.

I grew up with my mom, dad, my two older brothers and my dog, King, in a comfortable home. I could not relate to her childhood of poverty at all, but, like Sarah, I have older brothers I adored and admired. Family was (and is) important to her and to me. She involved her family in her business, and I “worked” in our family business, the funeral business, with my brothers and parents. I guess you could call dusting caskets and setting up flowers work?

As Sarah’s business grew, she asked her brothers to come back to the farm and help her "grow" her dream. We included our kids in our floral business. They still complain about only getting paid twenty-five cents to fill up a large bucket with water tubes. One rose is slipped into a tube of water to keep the flower fresh until it can be placed in a vase of water. The job of filling the tubes (and playing in the water) was perfect to keep little hands busy.

 My daughters were too young to realize how important this job was, but if the girls ever did figure out how they saved time for the designers to create floral arrangements instead of filling tubes, they may have demanded fifty cents a bucket!

Sarah’s memoir and mine are similar in dealing with motherhood and running a business. Balancing family and work is a challenge. A mom's feeling of guilt worrying about the business when at home with the kids, then worrying about the kids when at work is a universal concern and will be as long as there are working mothers.

I purchased the eBook because I enjoyed The Growing Season narrated by Sarah in the audiobook version. I'm anxious to experience reading the book and savoring the story in my own time.

Have you identified with an author who has shared her/his life story with you? Do you have a favorite memoir to recommend to readers? Please leave a comment below. Thank you!

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Don't miss out on the news from J.Q. Rose, articles, guest authors and giveaways!!

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir
Click here to download the eBook at your favorite online bookseller.

Click here to order the paperback at Barnes and Noble.   

Click here to order the paperback at amazon.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

George McDonnell is Dead! by J. Q. Rose #MFRWHooks #bloghop

Book Hooks--excerpts from novels

   Book Hooks Blog Hop #MFRWHooks

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog. 

Today we're joining the Book Hooks Blog Hop sponsored by 

the Marketing For Romance Writers Group. 

Each participating blogger shares an excerpt from their book. 

This is the time of year when the snowbirds fly south looking for warm sunshine and gentle breezes. So I am sharing an excerpt from Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, a story located in Florida in a community of snowbirds. Watch out!. It is a bit frightening, filled with mystery and the paranormal, as well as some quirky characters.

From an Amazon Reviewer-"Just read the whole book last night. Loved it! Lot's of twists and turns. Kept wondering what was going to happen next. Great book. Great story. Beautiful cover. Thank you! Keep em' coming." 

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
Frightening, Mystery, Paranormal

BACK OF THE BOOK:  Rescuing a naked woman lying in a geranium bed? Investigating mysterious murders Not the usual calls for first responder Jim Hart. He expects slip and fall accidents or low blood pressure emergencies in his retirement community of Citrus Ridge Senior Community and Golf Resort. The ghastly crime scenes turn the wintertime fun into a terrifying season of death and mystery when the authorities cannot track down the predator responsible.

 Jim and his wife Gloria could escape the horror and grief by returning to their northern home, but concern for their friends and residents keep them in Florida. With the entire community in a dither over the deaths, the Harts participate in the normal winter activities of golfing, dancing, and pool parties with their friends to distract them from the sadness and loss.

 Can Jim and Gloria work with the authorities to discover who or what is killing the seniors on Sunshine Boulevard and stop the increasing body count?

EXCERPT: Chapter One

Gloria Hart burst through the double glass doors of the large multi-purpose room of their park’s community center. She was delighted to see all of the ladies still standing in groups around the large room instead of poised to begin the exercise class. She was running late. Although a resident of Citrus Ridge Senior Community for more than three years, she’d driven along Sunshine Boulevard, the main artery around the park, and missed the turn-off to the community center.

Gloria re-shouldered her heavy bag holding her water bottle and barbells, and moved her rolled exercise mat under her arm to keep it from crushing against her chest. She dropped her bag on the floor and unrolled the mat in the spot she always claimed at every class meeting. Like pew seats in a Sunday morning church service, each person staked out her favorite “place” to exercise and kept it.

She hustled over to join the big circle of friends in their usual space in the room. The ladies shifted a bit to make space for Gloria in the circle. She breathed a sigh of relief knowing she wasn’t late again. Being late was a sign of disrespect, but Gloria respected every gal in this room for exercising their bodies and joining in the group. Perhaps they didn’t all do the moves like their limber instructor, Bridgett, but at least they tried.

Gloria noted several circles of women around the room. A flashback to eighth grade when her clique of classmates stood in the hall before class. Memories danced through her mind of best friends, gossip, and popularity contests. Odd how things were still the same nearly fifty years later.

 “Good morning, everyone.” She smiled widely as she greeted her friends. But instead of the usual happy chorus of “Good morning Gloria,” her friends in the circle weakly smiled with the acknowledgment of her presence. Silence fell over the group. Everyone’s eyes lasered in on her. Gloria felt uncomfortable. What were they waiting for?

Finally, her friend Pamela asked, “Well, are you going to tell us about George McDonnell?” Her voice a higher pitch. “Did Jim hear anything yet?” Pamela’s voice ratcheted even higher.

Gloria turned to face Pamela. “No, I haven’t heard anything. Why? Is he sick?”

“No, he’s dead.” Rosemary, Pamela’s best friend, waited a beat for Gloria to absorb the news. “Jim’s one of the first responders for the park. Wasn’t he called to the scene yesterday?”

“Uh, no. We were gone all day.” The unexpected news slammed her like a wild pickleball, nearly knocking her off her feet and stinging her heart. George was younger than she was for Pete’s sake. He couldn’t be dead. That was incomprehensible to her. She and her husband had just visited him last week. He was a healthy man for his age. Tears stung her eyes when she remembered how excited he was about a fishing trip he’d planned.

Pamela gave her an understanding smile, flashing her perfect teeth—all her own—and touched Gloria’s back.

Gloria studied each woman’s face, hoping one of them would explain further while her mind tried to process the news. Many of the residents in the senior community mistakenly assumed Jim attended every call because he was the volunteer co-captain of the First Responders Unit, but Jim wasn’t on-call yesterday. She hadn’t heard the latest happenings in the park because they’d shopped most of the day at the flea market and relished a delicious fish dinner at their favorite restaurant, Magoo’s, arriving there just in time to get in on the early bird specials.

A flash of guilt surged through her mind. Should she and Jim have checked on George? Maybe they could have saved him if they had stopped by his house before they’d left for the day.

“I can hardly believe George is dead. I had no idea he had heart problems. He seemed to be the picture of health,” Gloria said.

“Oh, no. Nobody knows yet if it was his heart or what killed him,” Bonnie, another woman in the group, announced.

Gloria was puzzled as she saw the looks of horror exchanged by her friends.

“What happened?” Her eyes widened with concern, and then realized she had been drawn into the gossip like everyone else.

Bonnie puffed up her chest and pulled her elbows back as she leaned forward to deliver the big news. “His neighbor, Lottie Carpenter found him. She smelled him rotting in his house.” She wrinkled her nose in disgust.


Thanks so much for stopping by today. Do you enjoy stories with quirky characters and humor? 

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD Terror on Sunshine Boulevard now for $1.50 during the Half-Off Holiday Sale at Smashwords. 

Click here to visit bloggers participating in the #MFRWhooks  Blog Hop!


Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Tools and Tidbits for Writers: Autoresponders and Growing Email Lists #toolsandtidbitsforwriters #growyourlist


Tools and Tidbits for Writers
by JQ Rose

Hello and welcome! 
Today on Tools and Tidbits for Writers, we're talking about building an email list filled with folks who are interested in you as a writer. But why bother? How do you find people wanting to be on your email list? Once you have the list, how do you send a large number of emails without getting in trouble?

Well, let's dive in. Feel free to ask questions and/or share your experience with email lists in the comments section below.

Why do you need an email list?
I thought having an email list was not necessary until many experts explained that the connections I have on Facebook or Youtube and my free blog could easily be broken because I don't have any real estate on those sites. What if FB or YouTube went out of business? Just this summer, Blogger which is the home of this blog, decided to abandon using RSS feeds to let my subscribers know when a new blog post was published. That hurt. I have installed follow.it hoping subscribers will come back and follow me again.

About 2 years ago, I signed up with mailerlite to be my email responder, also known as an autoresponder. I send my monthly newsletters through mailerlite thanks to a heads-up from my author friend, Juneta. There are so many companies that offer this service with a free membership up to a designated amount of emails. Once the list hits their maximum, such as 1000 emails, they will charge for the service.

Constant Contact, Aweber, Mailchimp, sendinblue and more are some of the most recognized names for emailing, landing page creations, promotions, etc. Autoresponders could be another blog post topic!

Once you decide you do want to offer a monthly or weekly contact with friends, family, readers, you can join the autoresponder company, and they will compile the addresses. This connection is usually in the form of a newsletter. 

The Rose Courier

I suggest you not refer to it as a newsletter. Another newsletter filling up the inbox will erase the idea of subscribing to another one. The title of my surreptitious newsletter is The Rose Courier. Think of something catchy to get their attention and curiosity stirred up, and not a reminder it is actually a newsletter e.g. Jan's Newsletter or Newsletter from Jan.

Newsletters can be fun to put together and an entertaining piece that is fun for readers to enjoy photos, articles, jokes, quizzes, polls. It doesn't have to be a dry old letter shouting "buy my book." 

I know, it was a puzzle to me too as to how to direct people to join the list. Don't worry about that. The autoresponder directs you through the setup. Then gives you a link so when people click on the link they subscribe to your list. This does take some study and watching tutorials, but I believe having the ability to connect to readers whenever you wish is worth the effort (and even the hair-pulling!)

TIP: You probably have friends' and acquaintances' email addresses. Do not add people to your list without their permission.

Once you have your friends and family on the email list, how do you grow that list? That is the question! 

1. Many experts in the field suggest giveaways, also referred to as freebies, lead magnets, reader magnets (or bribes) to connect with readers. A giveaway can be about anything pertaining to your writing, teaching, speaking, business. Just don't make it something you spend hours and days on creating. It can be a checklist, an article, an excerpt or a chapter of an eBook (such as the first in a series of books). When sending the freebie, a note will accompany the gift inviting the person to join your newsletter. So, in exchange for the gift, the person gives up his/her email address.

A lot of testing is needed to discover what giveaway works in getting readers' attention. So, create more than one. You can have several giveaways going at once.

I must admit I have not done this giveaway idea because experts explain that a lot of the email addresses are just there to get a freebie. They will probably not be active, so if you are paying the autoresponder to send an email, you are wasting your money. What is your experience with giveaways?

2. Authors XP offers a paid program for growing email lists. Click here to find out all the ways they can help you build your list.

3. Use a sign-up sheet at events such as author talks, book signings, festivals, any in-person events, but be sure the person knows they are subscribing to your newsletter with the ability to unsubscribe after receiving it.

4. Include the link to the newsletter in your email signature.

5. Spread the word on social media.

6. Make it easy to sign-up on your blog.

7. Be a guest on a blog, podcast and YouTube shows.

8. Swap newsletters with an author who writes in your genre or field.

9. The old-fashioned way of getting the word out--word-of-mouth. Ask friends to tell their friends about your newsletter.

And yes, reaching out to people to sign up for your newsletter is similar to marketing a book. Use all the resources you have.

Thank you for stopping in. 

I just happen to have the link to sign up for the Rose Courier below. I'd appreciate a chance to deliver it to your inbox once a month. In fact, this Friday is delivery day. You can unsubscribe if it is not for you.  Thank you for your consideration.

The Rose Courier

Click here to sign up to receive 
updates, articles, freebies, photos and fun in the Rose Courier. 

Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women
by J.Q. Rose

UPDATE: Girls Succeed! The paperback edition is now available in COLOR!  And it is gorgeous. 
Thank you, Amazon, for offering authors the opportunity to easily publish paperbacks and hardcovers in color. 
The inspiring book is for middle-school girls. I know they will appreciate the colorful photos of the amazing women within the pages.
The paperback is available in black and white or in color. Click here to order a copy this Christmas for the girl in your life. 

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Thank you.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

IWSG: Problems with Creating a Book Title and Blurbs #IWSGbloghop


November IWSG Blog Hop #IWSGbloghop

Hello and Welcome to the November Insecure Writer's Support Group with our outstanding co-hosts Kim Lajevardi, Victoria Marie Lees, Joylene Nowell Butler, Erika Beebe, and Lee Lowery! Thanks so much for co-hosting!!

November 3 question - What's harder to do, coming up with your book title or writing the blurb? Both are challenging to write. In fact, I must admit I did not come up with book titles. What blurbs I wrote, my writer's group re-wrote. Is that cheating??? 

I loved my writer's group. We brainstormed on everyone's titles and blurbs. Why is it so much easier to help write another author's blurb and figure out a catchy title? I was disappointed however when they turned up their noses at my title for my memoir about the floral business and motherhood--Rose Petals and Baby Poop in favor of Arranging a Dream: A Memoir. Can you imagine that? 😄 ( I think I mentioned this before, so you know how badly my feelings were hurt...)

Janet, Wendy, Esther,Theresa
My group, the Koffee Kuppe authors.
When we started the group, noone was published.
Now, we are all published authors. Unfortunately, two of the gals have moved from the area,
and the other is not writing at this time. I really, really miss our brainstorming. Times change. 

Stepping away from your manuscript to get a bird's eye view is necessary to write the blurb. We know every detail of every inch of the manuscript. We are zoomed into the pages, but friends who have helped to shape the story can study the arc of the story from a distance and pick out the BIG story. It's okay to get help like I did. And much more fun than agonizing over a title or blurb while sitting alone facing the keyboard by yourself. In the end, you must make the decision what to use.

Titles? The best advice I can give is what another author told me. Wait until you are done with the book, article, blog post, etc. The title will be inside the pages, usually near the end. 

Do you agree? Please leave a comment below. Thank you.


Smashwords Sale

My mysteries and memoir are on sale for $1.50 at Smashwords during the Half-Off Holiday Sale . Grab some great reads from the authors at BWL Publishing. Click here to download now.

The Rose Courier
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updates, articles, freebies, photos and fun in the Rose Courier. 
Once a month delivery to your inbox!

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Thank you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Armchair Travel: Ohio Amish Country #travelohio #roadtrip and Hocus Pick It Scavenger Hunt #coffeetimeromance


Some of the Ohio towns we visited plus Berlin, Ohio, artfully engraved in this brick wall.

So, get on your walking shoes, sunbonnet, sunscreen and off we go!!

Stress and Delight in Writing #IWSGbloghop #writing

  Insecure Writer's Support Group BLOG HOP #IWSGbloghop Happy IWSG Blog Hop Day ! Happy December! Happy Holidays! What is the Insecure W...