Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Celebrate Fall at the Harvest Festival, Excerpt from Arranging a Dream--Autumn's Lights

 Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!This week we are celebrating the fall season.

Fall leaves in Michigan

 In Michigan, fall means fresh, tasty apples, colorful foliage that brings cars full of leaf peepers to experience the amazing beauty in the Michigan landscapes, farm markets along the roadways packed with many varieties of apples, pumpkins, colorful mum plants, corn shocks, apple cider and donuts and harvest festivals honoring and thanking our farmers. 

Our town's harvest festival kicked off last Thursday, September 22, 2022. For me, the highlight of the weekend-long festival is always the parade. The event kicks off with the color guard proudly carrying our country's flag down Main Street. They are followed by the police and fire departments (what's a parade without sirens?), the mayor and city council, the high school marching band, boy and girl scouts, the harvest festival queen and her court. Many organizations, churches, schools, floats and lots of farm equipment that are so large they make the kids jump back up on the curb to get out of the way as they all march haphazardly down the streets. And I almost forgot the 100s of pounds of candy tossed from the floats with kids, as well as seniors, scrambling for the goodies. 

Some years the evening is warm and balmy, and sometimes a bit of rain, but that is unusual. Last week's parade, the weather was a bit nippy but bright with gorgeous blue skies and sunshine. 

I am sharing a video I made of the parade in 2018.

So if you weren't at the parade, enjoy a taste of it by watching this video.

VIDEO: Harvest Festival Parade, Fremont, Michigan

Video: Harvest Festival Parade

Below is an excerpt from my memoir, Arranging a Dream. I write about our first fall in Michigan and a fall day at the flower shop interacting with "leaf peepers" and with the previous owner, Frank.

An Excerpt from Arranging a Dream: A Memoir by J.Q.Rose Chapter Twenty-Six—Autumn’s Lights

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir
by JQ Rose

The warm summer weather turned into cool nights and sunny days. With the changing temperature in the Michigan landscape, Mother Nature traded the cool greens of her summer frock for her autumn gown of dazzling red, orange, yellow and gold foliage, offering a lively background for the apples ripening into rich yellow and scarlet fruit throughout the orchards.

The colors were so striking that “leaf peepers” from all over the country came to see the lakes and painted forests. Visitors traveled the two-lane highways and country roads to get a taste of the country, literally, shopping at the roadside stands filled with fruits of the season, apples, pumpkins, gourds, squash, cabbage, broccoli and more. Most ended their color tour with a glass of tangy apple cider paired with a fresh, glazed doughnut.

Curious visitors stopped by our flower shop since it was located on the main highway into Fremont. We welcomed the increased foot traffic after the slow days of summer. Visiting with the tourists brightened my day as did hearing the ring of the cash register.

“You have such a charming shop. I want to pick up one of every plant here,” an older woman said.

“This is exactly the color of the candle I’ve been looking for,” a young mother told me clutching her wriggling toddler on her hip.

“Can you tell us how to get to Gerber’s? We want to go through the plant tour.” The mother of three middle-grade boys asked while their dad sat in the car enjoying a cigarette.

“Where’s a good place to eat lunch?” inquired a stout gentleman.

The flower shop featured field-grown hardy mum plants on display outside in throw-away pots. Hardy because when planted outdoors they bloomed again after enduring the winter freeze.

In the shop, large pots of yellow and bronze greenhouse mums livened up the room. Dressed in foil with a fall-colored ribbon and decorated with cattails and wheat added a festive feel to the showroom.

The display cooler attracted the shoppers and continued the harvest festival theme with fresh autumn arrangements created with red carnations, rust-colored, bronze and yellow poms. While designing bouquets with the fall colors was a treat, using cattails, dried flowers, wheat and fall leaves preserved with glycerin added fall fun and rustic character to the pieces.

Using Hattie’s advice, I “tucked in” purple statice in the fall bouquets to add a spark to the lovely autumn colors. I smiled at the memory of her sharing that floral design tidbit with me. I welcomed the knowledge and experience that she passed on to me, but I bristled at times when she treated me as if I were a dumb kid.

With Bernie coming in to help me with wedding flowers, orders and silk flower arrangements for the front showroom, Hattie no longer visited the shop. She often voiced how much she looked forward to being completely retired, so I left her alone. I had finally achieved a cordial relationship with her, but after she asked Ted to leave the shop at Christmas time, he had no desire to warm up to Hattie.

Frank had stopped coming over to the shop to sit on the stool we had placed by the phone and talk to us all day. I didn’t want to be rude or disrespectful and ignore him, but I had to get my work done. He smoked his cigarettes, allowing the smell of smoke to drift through the shop. I was embarrassed when customers came into the shop and Frank was there sitting on the stool smoking and talking and wearing a sleeveless undershirt on warm, summer days. I asked him not to smoke in the shop and to wear a shirt. Clearly, he did not want to comply with my requests. I hated I may have hurt his feelings, but so relieved when I did not have to squelch my anger every time he lit up a cigarette or tolerate him talking to customers in that stretched, out-of-shape attire.


What's your favorite part of the fall season? Please leave your answer below in the comment box. 

Arranging a Dream
a feel-good memoir

Click the links below if you would like to read more about our first year of pursuing our dream to be entrepreneurs in the flower business. What were we thinking? We had no idea how to run a business, no experience in floral design or commercial greenhouses, no friends or family in the small town where we moved, and I was a new mom with no experience with babies!! 

The eBook is available at all major online booksellers

Paperback and Hardcover available at amazon


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Thank you for visiting the Focused on Story Blog!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

NEW Western Romance Time-Travel by Sandra Cox #westerns #newbookrelease, #romance


NEW RELEASE by Sandra Cox
Western Romance, Time Travel

Hello and Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog! An exciting day today because my honorary cousin, (cuz), Sandra Cox is here!! Talented storyteller, Sandra, just released her next Western Romance, Geller's Find! And let me tell you, after reading all of her Westerns, this one is my favorite. Call me fickle. I imagine the next novel she writes will be my favorite. 

Geller's Find by Sandra Cox

 Welcome Sandra! Please, tell us about your story.

Thanks for visiting with us, Cuz.

Sandra: It’s summer break and Dr. Luke Geller, history prof and part-time archeologist is in Nevada looking for potsherds. What he discovers is an antique rifle and a portal in time.

Janet: In case you're wondering what a potsherd is like I did,  I looked it up in the dictionary. I actually clicked on Google for the meaning. The definition from Oxford Languages is "a broken piece of ceramic material, especially one found on an archaeological site."

Sandra, please share an excerpt from the book so we can meet handsome Luke Geller and get a taste of this Western.

Geller's Find by Sandra Cox
Western Romance, Time Travel

Excerpt: Chapter One, Geller's Find


His heels caught in a patch of fuzzy green and gray weeds. Buried in their center was a large piece of chiastolite. Ancient markings all but obliterating the standard graphite cross that long ago was used to ward off evil. The hair on the back of his neck rose and his nerves twitched. He’d never seen anything like that rock before. He nudged it with his foot. When it didn’t budge, he bent to pick it up.

The ground under his feet trembled.

The chiastolite glowed. The markings shimmered.

What the hell?

He flapped his arms, trying to balance himself as the ground dropped an inch.  A perfect circle below his feet gave way.  The stone stayed in place.

He fell into a cylinder of rock and stone.

The bottom dropped.

His stomach flopped and he swirled down. 

The wind whistled in his ears as he tumbled into a deep black hole that went on forever. The chill in the air fell away. The further down he went, the hotter the air. The rocks around him began to glow. Good God. Either he was heading for hell or the earth’s core, and neither was where he wanted to be. His grip on the rifle tightened as he bounced off the hot stones that closed around him as he whirled in a tube of rock.

Time had no meaning. Seconds, minutes, maybe more passed as the cyclone of air spun him around. His stomach pushed up to his throat and he fought off nausea.

With a scraping sound, the spinning lurched to a stop.

Then as if an elevator button was punched, he started upward. Only unlike an elevator there was no floor, just rough rock gravity glued him against.

Up. Up. Up. Faster and faster. Then momentum stopped. His body quivered. A force thrust upward and opened.

He dropped.

Hard earth rose to meet him.

With a thud, he landed.

Facts about Luke Geller

Character Facts:

Doctor Luke Geller is a full-time history professor and part-time archeologist.

His specialty is Native American artifacts.

Instead of a gun, he carries a Hopi throwing stick.

He likes cats, horses with a sense of humor, and women who aren’t looking for a commitment.


Buy Link for Geller's Find


Thanks for being my guest this week. I love shouting about your entertaining books.

Click Sandra's book titles to take you to her other posts on this blog.

Keeper Tyree

Mateo's Blood Brother

Gwen Slade, Bounty Hunter


About Sandra:

Sandra, who also writes as S. Cox, is a vegetarian, animal lover and avid gardener. She lives with her husband, their dog and

Author Sandra Cox
cats in sunny North Carolina.

An award-winning author, her stories consist of all things Western and more.

She spent a number of years in the Midwest chasing down good Southern BBQ. By the time she moved to North Carolina where Southern BBQ is practically a staple, she’d become a vegetarian.

Pineapple is a must-have on pizza, along with black olives and onions.

She loves pumpkin waffles. Pumpkin cream cheese, not so much.

Connect with Sandra:

Sandra's Author Page 

Cowboy Trivia 

Do you like to read Westerns? Time travel stories? Do you have a question for Sandra about her writing? Please leave a comment below.

Thank you for visiting Focused on Story!


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Filled with photos, updates, freebies, new book releases and more!

Thank you.













Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Book Marketing: Tips on How to Create a Book Trailer #booktrailers #bookmarketing

Movie Projector
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

Hello and Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!

Today I am sharing a writerly topic--book marketing with book trailers. 
They're fun to make, a bit time-consuming, but a real plus when it comes to book marketing. Everything is going video these days. Just look at FB live, reels, Youtube (second only to Google in Searches), plus more video channels coming every day.

Before we begin, a I have a couple of events to share with you:

My Interview--Who's That Indie Author at the Book Mom Club site.
Click here to catch this fun interview with website owner Barbara. 
Great Questions.

Geller's Find by Sandra Cox

My Guest next Wednesday, September 20, is my honorary cuz, Sandra Cox.
 We'll be talking about her newly released Time-travel, Western Romance 
and FOOD! Yee Haw!
Ya'all come.


 Book Marketing: Create Your Own Book Trailer and Share It by J.Q. Rose

I love putting together a book trailer, but I have to remind myself to have patience. Looking for the just-right photo (FREE of course) to convey the mood of the story and the content of the book can be challenging and time-consuming.  But I'm an optimist. I believe the book trailer will be a worthwhile tool in my book marketing bag. Studies show videos are popular with viewers and they will attract and retain viewers on your page.

Let's get started:
  • Begin by writing the copy for your video. Actually, your book blurb or back of the book piece you produced for the sales page is great copy for your video.
  • Photos are the main feature of the video trailer so selecting the right ones to tell your story is crucial. You can download your own, buy them or find some excellent images online. Google "royalty free" free photos and you will have a lot of sites to choose from. Most sites allow you to use the photo, but request an attribution to the site and/or photographer. I use Pixabay and Unsplash free photos and combine them with my own photographs for images. To add some fun and interest, I use Giphy to find gifs, video clips, to insert in the trailer.  Just plug in the topic you want in the search box e.g. ocean, and you will be presented with many, many, many choices.

via GIPHY Sunset Ocean GIF

  • Save all images to a file for quick and easy access when creating your video. I save mine in photos and usually name it with the book title like this, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Book Trailer.
  • I use PowerPoint to make the video. Be sure to save everything as you work on it. You can use the auto-save function to be sure.
  • To turn the slides into a PowerPoint video, click on the File Menu>Save as>Windows Media Video (* .wmv). This is the file type that can be uploaded to Youtube.com. You definitely want your video on Youtube. Search Engine Land shared this research on their site--"YouTube is arguably the second largest search engine on the Web. It is the third most visited site on the Web, according to Alexa and SimilarWeb." 
  • The length for book trailers is no longer than two minutes. A little over a minute is ideal. If they are too long, your viewer will not finish the trailer.
  • You may want to use your own videos in your presentation too. Easy to do now with so many smartphones with video recorder and microphone right in your hands. 

Smartphone--Photo courtesy of Pixabay
  • Gone are the days of searching and searching for the just-right music to accompany the video and then adding it to your trailer. Youtube offers a large selection of music to fit the feel of your book trailer. When you upload the trailer to Youtube, a little message asks if you want to add music. Say yes, and a list of music appears. Choose a genre from the box and listen to ALL of them or just a few. Click the one you wish and it will automatically accompany your images in the trailer. Be sure to save it.

Add music to your book trailer.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
If you can't find the perfect music, Kevin McLeod at Incompetech has a wide selection of Royalty free FREE music for you to explore. 
  • Be careful you don't pick annoying background music. The longer the trailer, the more chance the music will become unbearable unless you choose more than one tune.
  • Be sure to SAVE your work as you go! I know I am repeating myself. It takes a lot of time to put this work together, so you don't want to lose it if there is a hiccup in the system. --Yes, I'm speaking from experience.
  • Once you are happy with the trailer, you are ready to save it and download to YouTube or several other options. I don't use the recommended file for publishing it on YouTube because it takes forever to upload. It is such a big file, I worry it will not load quickly on websites, so I use the 960 x 720 selection.
  • Now you are ready to notify your friends the trailer is up, and let them know you are open to suggestions for fine-tuning the presentation. This is the time to find embarrassing spelling errors, typos, awkward captions, and length of slides. You definitely want to have enough time for viewers to read captions and credits.
  • Shout about your book to the world via social media, your websites, and even send your family an email about your accomplishment. Your trailer will get eyes on your message.
PLEASE NOTE: Whatever music or images you use for your trailer, be sure the music and images are "royalty-free." However, I learned royalty-free doesn't mean you can use them free. Royalty-free means you do not have to pay royalties to the artist for the use of their work.  If you have to pay nothing for the art, usually you need to add attribution in order to comply with the license.

After all this information, I must add that I am not a professional movie-maker. Technology is evolving. Let me know if you have found a change in what I have posted here.
What programs do you use to make book trailers? Have you tried Canva.com? Yes, they have introduced tools to make videos. I use it all the time for images for my social media.

I would appreciate any feedback on this article or the video I have shared below. 

If you want to see more of my book trailers, travel and teaching videos, please click here to visit my Youtube home. 
  • One last suggestion for book marketing--add your videos to your social media, website, amazon author page, Goodreads. Make your efforts in creating the book trailer work for you to get reader's attention! We need everything we can use to break out from the crowd of ebooks and paperbacks available to readers. I think videos are the way to go.
So, are you ready to tackle your own trailers? Go for it! 
* * *
Youtube VIDEO: Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Book Trailer
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Thank you.

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

IWSG Blog Hop: The One Genre I Would Never Write #IWSGbloghop #writing


Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop

Hello and Welcome to the IWSG Blog Hop!!

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 and/or to visit the bloggers this week.

Thank you to our awesome co-hosts for the September 7 posting of the IWSG--Kim Lajevardi, Cathrina Constantine, Natalie Aguirre, Olga Godim, Michelle Wallace, and Louise - Fundy Blue!

September 7 Question  
What genre would be the worst one for you to tackle and why?

I love reading historical fiction, but I have not tried writing it--other than my memoir. Sad to say it's historical because it takes place in 1975-76, but not fiction!

I admire those who spend hours or years researching the eras they write about. I have the fear of writing about a time, but using words that don't belong to the times e.g. "cool" meaning something is "in" or a person is "calm." You would never hear cool used in a conversation in 1850! Nothing turns off a historical fiction lover like finding an error in the author's information of the time.

Do you like reading historical fiction? Why? Please leave your comment below.

Thanks for stopping in today. 

Click here to hop on over to bloggers who are participating in the blog hop!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

What Do Gardening and Writing Have in Common? #vegetablegarden #writingstories #tomatoes #growingvegetables

 Hello and Welcome to the Focused on Story Blog. I am JQ (Janet) Rose, your host.

Photo by JQ Rose
We have been enjoying some fantastic vegetables from our garden with an abundant crop of
tomatoes at the moment. GT, (Gardener Ted), made 1.5 gallons of tomato juice yesterday!

The question is:

What Do Gardening and Writing Have in Common?

What do gardening and writing have in common? You may smile at that question because that sounds absurd. But, after much consideration, I realized they are very similar.

GT in our garden

Perhaps you’re wondering why I would even think about such a comparison. It’s because my husband, Gardener Ted, is the gardener in our family. I am the writer. These two topics are foremost in my mind in the growing season.

Read on to find out what similarities I see in gardening and writing in preparation, planning, nurturing and harvesting. Can you think of more?

*Preparing a garden for planting—Before a gardener can plant the garden, she has to turn the soil over to get rid of all the dead plants, leaves, and detritus in the plot. Perhaps the garden needs added nutrients to grow the plants, so a soil sample sent to the County can help determine what is required to grow plants. A water source close to the plot is ideal so one does not have to carry buckets of water every day.

A writer prepares to write by gathering the seeds of inspiration that try to root in our fertile brains.  Select one, then focus on that one. It seems that ideas fill the writer’s brain while walking, in the shower, or in the middle of the night when one does not have access to writing down those brilliant ideas for characters, settings and situations.

Gardening and Writing

*Planning a garden—Before doing any planting, the gardener sits down and sketches the layout of the plot to determine how much growing space she has. This will help her decide where to put the plants and how many she needs for the season.

In my case, as a planner, not a pantser-style writer, I make notes about the story I am going to write. Some writers outline their story, make a storyboard or sketch scenes that they see clearly. Then there are the pantser writers who write by the seat of their pants with no planning. I have tried that, and I made more work for myself because I had to remove a LOT of words that did not move the story forward.

*Planting the garden-- One does not haphazardly decide to throw seeds in the garden or plant seedlings anyplace without considering the shade and sunny areas. Read the back of the seed package to discover when to plant the seed and how many days it will be for harvesting. Be practical and realize the size of the area you have for a garden. Don’t buy a ton of plants with no room to plant them!

Planting for a writer is putting words on the page. Beginning a story can be difficult for those who are perfectionists. Don’t be paralyzed by trying to get the perfect beginning to the story. From experience, I realize the beginning usually has to change once the ending is written. The first draft is written knowing there will be changes to make a tighter, stronger story in the second draft, and the next and the next... Ernest Hemingway said, “The only writing is re-writing.”

*Nurturing the garden—I love gardeners. They are optimists. Every spring when they plan and plant the garden, they always look forward to a great harvest. Even if last year’s crops were pitiful, they plant with happy hearts seeing only a productive, tasty outcome. But they do not plant the garden and then leave it to grow on its own.  It takes work to get results--caring for the plants by weeding, fertilizing, and fighting pesky insects’ invasions as well as, protecting the plants from hungry rabbits and deer. Because Mother Nature likes to play tricks on gardeners, they are always watchful of temperature changes and rainfall.

A writer doesn’t write the story and then leave it alone either. There must be many readings to edit for the flow of the story, character development, grammar, punctuation, making sure your character has blue eyes and drives a red car throughout the story and a satisfying ending that wraps up loose ends.

*Harvesting the garden—The reward for the hard work is a crop of delicious vegetables brought from the garden, washed, prepared and eaten at the gardener’s table. Another unexpected reward is the smiles on neighbors and friends when the gardener shares her vegetables with them.

Much like sharing the harvest, the reward for a writer is finishing the story, poem, novel or essay and sharing it with others. I know many write for the joy of telling a story but keep it locked in their computer, a drawer or hidden under the bed. I encourage you to read or tell your stories whether reading them to a friend or group or publishing them for the whole world to enjoy.

Another reward I didn’t know about until I was a published author is meeting other authors/writers along the way. I have met so many generous, kind writers through the Internet. Many I call friends even if we have never met in person. The whole world opens up to you when you join the amazing folks who are writing their stories.

Wishing you lots of tasty vegetables from your garden

and a feast of stories to write and enjoy.   

Are you a gardener? What is your favorite vegetable? 
Please leave your answers in the comment section below.
Thank you for stopping in today!!

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Filled with photos, updates, freebies, new book releases and more!

Thank you.

Celebrate Fall at the Harvest Festival, Excerpt from Arranging a Dream--Autumn's Lights

 Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog!This week we are celebrating the fall season. Fall leaves in Michigan  In Michigan, fall mea...

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