Wednesday, September 19, 2018

When is a Good Time for a Ghost to Interrupt Your Life? Book Hooks Blog Hop #MFRWHooks: Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose

Book Hooks Blog Hop 
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. I'm sharing from my romantic suspense novel, Deadly Undertaking.
Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Cozy mystery
A handsome detective, a shadow man, 
and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.

Back of the book:
Lauren Staab knew there would be dead bodies when she returned home. After all, her family is in the funeral business, Staab and Blood Funeral Home. Still, finding an extra body on the floor of the garage between the hearse and the flower car shocked her. Lauren’s plan to return to her hometown to help care for her mother and keep the books for the funeral home suddenly turns upside down in a struggle to prove she and her family are not guilty of murdering the man. But will the real killer return for her, her dad, her brother? Her mother’s secrets, a killer, a handsome policeman, and a shadow man muddle up her intention to have a simple life.

Welcome home, Lauren!

Excerpt: Chapter Four
In this excerpt, the reader is introduced to Henry, the shadow man, a ghost character who interrupts Lauren's life--always at the wrong time. But really, when is a good time for a ghost to interrupt your life?

Gathering her wits about her, Lauren decided she needed to know if the dead man truly was Tony. If so, she and Piper had to find Stephanie.
She returned to her desk, uncovered Detective Richards’ business card from under the files on her desk, and called.
“Richards.” he answered as if he had no time for interruptions.
Lauren was taken aback for a minute, expecting a secretary or switchboard person to answer and connect her to the detective.
“Hello, Detective Richards. This is Lauren Staab, at the Staab and Blood Funeral Home where the murder occurred this morning.” She stalled for enough time to get her thoughts together.
“Yes, I’m quite aware the murder was at the funeral home, Ms. Staab. How can I help you?”
What an arrogant man. “I’m calling to confirm the identity of the person who was killed. I’ve heard several reports.”
“We’re not revealing the name of the deceased.”
“Well can you tell me if his name is Tony?”
“Sorry. I cannot.” His voice softened. “I’m not at liberty at this time to tell you. I completely understand your concern. Do you know Anthony—er. Tony?”
“Yes, I do. He’s my friend’s fiancĂ©.”
“I know the rumor mill is probably producing more names than this, but we have to be sure of the victim’s identity before we release it. Do you understand the situation?” Lauren detected a note of sincerity in his voice. Did the man have feelings after all?
“Oh, yes I understand. But since he was in our garage, will someone call me to let me know?” She couldn’t help using the snarky tone.
“Yes. I’ll be sure to call you as soon as we have a definitive identification. You have a good evening.” The phone clicked to silence.
“And you have a good night too!” She slammed the headset into the cradle, yanked the desk drawer open, and retrieved her bag. She didn’t like being dismissed like that.
She reached into her bag to find her pack of cigarettes, pulled it out, threw it back in, and pulled the beat up pack out again. So much for trying once more to quit smoking.
When she looked up, she glimpsed a smoky shadow hovering by the door. The pungent smell of spicy carnations wafted through the room, bringing on the three little sneezes.  She worked in a funeral home. She shouldn’t be allergic to flowers. Maybe she was allergic to him.
Lauren faced the silhouette of a man dressed in a long trench coat and fedora hat. He stood, arms akimbo, evidently looking straight at her.
She had expected the shadow man to show up sometime after the terrifying events of the morning. He lurked around the rooms in the funeral home appearing whenever he wished. Because no one else ever mentioned the apparition, Lauren assumed she was the only one he communicated with. At times she questioned if Henry was real or just her overtired brain playing tricks on her.
His timing for wanting to talk was usually bad. This murder was definitely a bad time. “Henry, I can’t talk now. I’m leaving to meet Piper.” She shoved the drawer closed with her foot.
“All right,” he said in his breathy voice. “I guess you’re doing okay if you can go off to meet your friend.” Then he was gone, slipping through a fold into another dimension.


Buy Links: Deadly Undertaking is available at your favorite digital bookseller.

Universal Link  for Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc.

Available in paperback and eBook at Amazon

Thanks for stopping in today!

Please click on a blog below to visit more authors and discover their stories written for you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The 5 W’s in C. Lee Mackenzie’s Sudden Secrets, Giveaway

The Five W's of Stories

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. This week talented author C. Lee Mackenzie joins us with the 5 W's in her newly released YA novel, Sudden Secrets. She's a talented author who loves to write for young readers, young adult and middle-grade students. 
Young Adult Novels by C. Lee Mackenzie

We met through the Insecure Writers Support Group blog hop. Their mission is to help writers overcome their insecurities and offer encouragement through the online community. In fact, the Writers Digest recognized them with the 101 Best Websites for Writers award. Lee and I have met so many helpful, generous, sincere bloggers in the group. Click here if you would like to find out more about IWSG.

IWSG Badge
IWSG-- a supportive group for writers
Lee is offering a generous giveaway--if you would like an eBook, just mention that in the comments below and she'd be happy to give you one. Thanks, so much, Lee! 
The offer ends on Monday, September 17, at 10:00 pm ET.

Now let's crack open the 5 W's in this YA mystery, Sudden Secrets.  
I love secrets, but I'm not too good at keeping them. How about you?

The 5 W’s in C. Lee Mackenzie’s Sudden Secrets

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee Mackenzie
YA Fiction


Sudden Secrets is about Cleopatra Brown (Cleo for short). She has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away, and the pitying looks from her classmates make her want to hide herself away, and her grades dive into the basement. When her mother moves them to a new town, Cleo vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid those pitying looks. From the first day In her new place, she knows there’s something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see. Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.


I like to explore what makes people tick—how they manage grief and loss, what makes them hide things or act out with hatred. In Sudden Secrets, I got to do all of that. Cleo, her mother and father, and her grandfather each deal with the loss of a beloved child differently. They have their own secrets, and they keep them tucked away from each other. When Cleo stumbles upon a mystery, she begins to unravel a secret that the small town she now lives in has kept hidden for years. It was interesting to peel away all of the secrets and shed light on them. I wanted that light to be healing for each of the characters.

The story takes place in a small but somewhat upscale town of Morgan Heights. It has some boutiques, public art, and an impressive museum by small town standards. The Brown move to a cul-de-sac in an older section of the town, and, on this street, there are two unique and rundown Victorian houses. One is where Cleo and her family live. The other is across the street and abandoned—at least that’s what everyone says. It’s this abandoned house that captures Cleo’s curiosity and that leads her to her discovery.

Sudden Secrets is set in contemporary small town USA. I suppose that will change over the years when cell phones are a device of the past or nobody needs a locker because every book is digitalized and on a portable reading device. When that happens, this story will be a slice of the “good old days.”


 This is my fourth young adult novel, and I wish I knew how an idea becomes a book. If I did, I’d be glad to share that here. As it is, I’m always amazed when the process starts and definitely when it ends. I can say that the books I’ve written have been triggered by items in the news, personal experiences, and dreams. And if any of those instigators keeps nagging at me, I can’t resist scribbling notes, that lead to a few pages, and then—about a year later—to The End.

One Secret
Cleo has struggled to heal after her baby sister’s death, but the flashbacks to the accident won’t go away. With the move, she vows to keep her tragedy a secret and avoid pitying looks.
One Mystery
Something’s strange about the abandoned house across the street—flashes of light late at night and small flickers of movement that only someone looking for them would see. Everyone says the house is deserted, but Cleo is sure it isn’t, and she’s sure whoever is inside is watching her.
Another Secret
In one night, Belleza’s life changes forever. So famous, her only choice is to hide her secret from the world so she can silence small-town bigotry.
Then Cleo happens.

Sudden Secrets by C. Lee Mackenzie
YA Mystery


I’m C. Lee McKenzie. I love to write for young readers, and I write both young adult and middle-grade fiction. Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative, and Sudden Secrets are my four YAs. My middle-grade adventure/fantasy series is now a trilogy: Alligators Overhead, The Great Time Lock Disaster, and Some Very Messy Medieval Magic. I also have a stand-alone MG fantasy called Sign of the Green Dragon. Italia Gandolfo represents me.

Author C. Lee Mackenzie
I’m very fortunate to have some great five star reviews from readers and reviewers. And I’m really pleased that I’m learning this business. Promotion has been my biggest challenge. I’ve had to learn how to schedule, so I can still write and do the promotion I need to do for my other books. It’s a full-time job.

When I’m not writing I’m practicing yoga, doing sun salutations in my garden (AKA weeding) or scratching my head over how all of this writing stuff started. I'm still not sure, but the ride has been exhilarating and so much different than I'd expected.


Thanks for guesting on the Focused on Story Blog, Lee!
Circle September 25 when my next guest for the Five W's event is mystery author, Susan Calder.

 Follow by Email so you won't miss the next blog post on the Focused on Story blog!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

IWSG Blog Hop: Self-publishing or Traditional Publishing?

IWSG Badge
IWSG Blog Hop---the first Wednesday of every Month.

Hello and welcome to the Insecure Writer's Support Group 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 to join.

September 5 question - What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

I sent out 24 queries for my book for middle grade girls in 2009-2010 and received 24 rejections. Still believing the book was (and is) an inspiring book for girls, I decided to self-publish my first book. Let's just say, I've learned a lot about self-publishing from that experience. It's hard to sell books when you are all alone. 

Being part of  a network is an essential part of selling books because it helps to have many voices shouting about your book online. My first traditional publisher met me thanks to the network I joined when participating in an online course. I was blown away when she chose my first mystery story for her publishing company. After joining this publisher, I learned that a built-in network is a perk when one is published traditionally because all the authors in the house join together to promote each other. 

Meeting folks here at IWSG is also networking. These helpful writers share experiences, offer information about writing publishing, and marketing, as well as support each other with friendship and promotions.

If you have a strong network, then you'll have an easier time selling books, so you may consider self-publishing. You can build a network, but it takes time. In my case, with traditional publishers, I've had lots of support instantly from fellow authors.

Today I'm a "hybrid publisher." My mysteries are with a traditional publisher, Books We Love Publishing, and my non-fiction books are self-published. I'd say I have the best of both worlds!

# # #
The 5 W's of Story Guest Authors Event
Looking forward to hosting more guest authors this month and sharing the Five W's of their stories! Come back and discover authors and great reads. AND, You may win a giveaway from an author.

You're invited to be my guest on the 5 W's. Send me an email at jqrose02 (at) gmail (dot) com.

12           C. Lee Mackenzie
26           Susan Davis
Follow this blog-- Focused on Story 
The IWSG members blog the first Wednesday of every month The list of bloggers is always available so you can hop around to the author blogs filled with humor, advice, and thought-provoking topics on writing and publishing. Find the list of participants at
Alex's IWSG page

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Facebook LIVE Challenge, Back-to-School, Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Call me crazy! On a whim, I signed up for the Facebook LIVE 5 Day Challenge, the course designed by Georgia Lee London. Click here for the link to the Group Page if you want to join in on the fun!

You know video is the new popular marketing tool in every industry. People will watch a video rather than read an entire page on your website.
J.Q.Rose Facebook Page

Facebook LIVE goes one step further though by having the opportunity to interact with viewers IF you schedule the time you will be live. I haven't tried announcing the date and time...yet.

I must tell you, it's pretty simple to do once your nerves settle down and just do it. I'm having a problem with lighting, location, sound, but I hope this course will help me iron out those hiccups. And since Georgia requires participants to post a FB LIVE every day, it means I have to put on make up and do my hair every day! Now that's going above and beyond for me.

I just posted my video trying to up my performance from yesterday's fail. Although, I did get yesterday's posted, but it was pretty pitiful. Today we had to post in our own FB page, not in the safety of the group's closed page. I wasn't quite ready to go public with this experiment, but, hey, I can only get better, I think.

You can find my FB LIVE video on my J.Q. Rose author page. But I am experimenting with my blog to see if I can actually post it here too--trying to re-purpose this one attempt. So take a peek at it here on the blog and then the next 3 posts will be on my FB author page. Don't let this one scare you away!!

FB LIVE Video--Day 2 Finding Word
Copy and paste the link in your browser window if it doesn't work when you click on it. Thanks.

Hmm, I guess just the link will show and you'll have to click on it to see this dynamic attempt!

Click here to go to my Facebook page and if you haven't already, please like my page. I'm trying to make it to 500 likes! Thanks.

Leave me some feedback in the comment section please. Thanks.
* * *

Back to School

Like I say in the video--Hope you have a FANTASTIC School Year 
and/or a Successful year of writing!!

Happy Labor Day 2018!
Wishing you a safe and happy Labor Day weekend
 celebrating and appreciating talented, hard-working Americans!
Happy Labor Day 2018!
Wishing you a safe and happy Labor Day
 celebrating and appreciating talented and hard-working Americans!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

The Five W's: Diane Burton's Numbers Never Lie, Giveaway

The Five W's of Stories
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. This week fellow West Michigander author and friend, Diane Burton, shares the 5 W's--who, what, where, when and why--in her brand new release, Numbers Never Lie. I'm thrilled to help her get the word out about her latest romantic suspense. It just happens I love reading and writing romantic suspense, and this book, which takes place in West Michigan, is waitng for me on my Kindle. Sounds like the perfect way to wind up my summer fun.

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win Numbers Never Lie or your choice of Diane's books. Deadline for entry is Sunday, August 26, 10:00 pm ET.
Numbers Never Lie by Diane Burton
Romantic suspense
The 5 Ws for Numbers Never Lie by Diane Burton

Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Janet. I love this concept of the 5 Ws. That’s the essentials of a good newspaper story. In fact, I just used that comment in my work-in-progress, a science fiction romance. But today, we’re going to concentrate on my newest release, NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a Romantic Suspense.

The story has three main characters: Jack, his sister Maggie, and his best friend Drew. The three were childhood friends. Jack only appears in the first chapter, but he’s the impetus for the rest of the story. In her teens, Maggie had a crush on Drew. Because of his friendship with Jack, Drew never followed through on his own desires—hands off his best friend’s baby sister. Both have been married in between. Drew’s ended in the death of his wife, Maggie’s in divorce. Now, they have a second chance at happiness. Their reunion, so to speak, came at the hands of his fourteen-year-old daughter. She begged him to help Maggie chaperone her group of friends on a weekend camping trip. Because he’d been concentrating on work, he thought she meant a little hike in the woods. Wrong. For a man who hates being dirty and sweaty, Drew was in for a big surprise.

Jack’s car crash. The sheriff claims nighttime fog coupled with speed, Jack not wearing his seatbelt plus the lack of airbags led to his death. Maggie is certain the crash was no accident. Because Drew is with her when she got the news, and he sees how determined she is to discover what really happened, he’s reluctantly drawn into her quest. More clues that it wasn’t an accident plague Maggie. Break-ins indicate someone is looking for something. The more Maggie digs into Jack’s crash the more someone is determined to stop her. Drew is equally determined to help and protect her.
Lake Michigan
West Michigan, from Muskegon to Grand Rapids. Since I live in west Michigan, and have written other stories set in the area, I chose to set this story here, too. Lake Michigan has a powerful influence on the weather. Fog in the summertime is common. I’ve woken up to fog so thick I couldn’t see the neighboring houses. So, fog contributing to Jack’s crash is believable.

Current day. I’ve set books in the future. Science fiction romances, always with a mystery and a relationship, are so much fun. And I’ve written a series of cozy mysteries also set in current day (and along the Lake Michigan shore). Although I enjoy reading some stories set in the past, I’ve never had the inclination to set my stories then. The components of NUMBERS NEVER LIE make it a story set in present day.

At first, I thought the “why” should be the characters’ motivation in the story. But I already answered that above. Then, I thought maybe readers might like to know why I wrote this story. I started writing it over fifteen years ago. Life intruded (as Life does), and I set the story aside. Thinking the story was almost finished, I picked it up this winter. It wasn’t, and it took longer than expected to complete. NUMBERS NEVER LIE (the third or fourth but final title) was originally about the camping trip. I’d been a volunteer with Girl Scouts for many years, so knew about the outdoors. I’ve never been fond of camping, though, so I could empathize with Drew. As I got back into the story, it became obvious that Jack’s car crash was most important. Fifteen years ago, I worked as an administrative assistant and had a lot of contact with accountants. One in particular was of immense help with my learning Excel. He’s the reason I made Jack an accountant. Of course, he wasn’t too happy when I told him the accountant dies in the first chapter.

Janet, thank you again for inviting me to your blog. I enjoyed sharing my story with your readers.
Photos courtesy of Diane Burton.
# # #

A Romantic Suspense
By Diane Burton
Release Date:  July 9, 2018
Length: approx. 80,000 words
Click Amazon to download a sample or order Numbers Never Lie.
Free with Kindle Unlimited

Back of the Book

A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack's an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that--an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


Slinging the laptop case/briefcase over his shoulder, Jack checked the room assigned to him for the audit to make sure he hadn’t left anything out. He shut off the lights and locked the door behind him. He still had much to do. Sure, Ben said he would finish the audit. That wasn’t the way Jack worked. When he started something, he always finished.
“Working kinda late, arncha, Mr. Sinclair?”
Startled, Jack looked over his shoulder.
The janitor leaned on his mop. “It’s after midnight.”
“No rest for the weary, Max.” Jack pocketed his keys.
“You be careful going home, Mr. Sinclair. Fog was rollin’ in off the lake when me and the missus drove in to work.”
“Thanks for the heads-up.” Jack saluted the affable worker and headed down the hall. The doors to the other offices were closed. Only the cleaning crew remained.
Hazel, Max’s wife, stopped dusting the receptionist’s desk. “’Night, Mr. Sinclair. You best be careful. Noticed you parked all the way down at the end of the parking lot. The light there is out. Saw that when we came in. The company that takes care of our lights won’t come out ‘til Monday. You want Max to get a flashlight and walk out with you so’s you can find your car? What with the fog and all?”
Jack forced himself to smile. In the five days he’d been auditing the books at the plant near Muskegon, he often worked so late that he ran into the older couple. “I’ll be fine.”
“’Night, then. You be careful, now. Ya hear?”
Even before he pushed open the heavy glass door, he saw that Max and Hazel were right. The solitary light at this end of the parking lot barely penetrated the fog. Maybe he should have taken Hazel up on the offer of a flashlight. He wasn’t worried about finding the Blazer in this pea soup. It would be a wonder he didn’t trip on the curbs.
The flashlight on his cell phone. Duh. He should’ve thought of that. Jack clicked it on, but it only shone a foot or so in front of him.
He heard a soft skitter near the dumpster. Rats? He shuddered and clicked his remote. From fifteen feet away, his head- and taillights barely penetrated the mist.
It would be a slow drive back to Grand Rapids. He should get a motel room for the night. Finding a vacancy anywhere along the Lake Michigan shoreline would be next to impossible in the summer and even more so late on a Friday night.
Weary beyond belief, he dragged himself to his car. He needed to return tomorrow—make that later today. He had to do more digging in the company’s files. He couldn’t believe what he’d discovered so far. This went way beyond anything he imagined. The implications—
Startled by the familiar voice, he dropped the keys. His phone slipped out of his fingers and skidded away. The fog gobbled up the light, and he lost sight of it. He peered in the direction of the sound. The figure stepped away from the dumpster’s hulking shape.
“We need to talk.”

Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.

Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win Numbers Never Lie or your choice of Diane's books. Deadline for entry is Sunday, August 26, 10:00 pm ET.

About Diane:

For more info and excerpts from her books, 
click here to visit Diane’s website: 

Connect with Diane Burton online

Sign up for Diane’s new release alert:

Coming Up:
Click here now to go to the Books We Love Insiders Blog to discover the "stoopid" thing I did.--a cautionary tale. 
September 1-3--Labor Day Weekend in the USA
Wednesday, September 5--Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop

The 5 W's of Story
Wednesday, September 12--Guest author C. Lee Mackenzie

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Travelogue: Trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, Anne of Green Gables Park

Travelogue Time
Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog. Today I'm sharing the second part of our Nova Scotia Adventure which I originally published in July 2015. Part One covered the south shore of Nova Scotia. We had such a great trip that summer in June-July 2015, I decided to re-post the video, in case you missed it. I hope you enjoy tagging along with us in Part Two. If you 'd like to watch Part One about the Southern Shore of Nova Scotia, click here.

In this episode of the travelogue, we continue driving through the Pudnico area to visit a turn-of-the-century Acadian Village, up into Prince Edward Island to see the *actual house with green gables made famous world-wide by Lucy Montgomery's series, Anne of Green Gables, and a drive along the PEI National Park shoreline. Gardener Ted and I are anxious to get  the tour started. Let's go!


* To see more photos we took at Green Gables, please visit my earlier travelogue on the Green Gables Park on the J.Q. Rose blog. 

Thank you for stopping in. Please leave a comment below about a road trip you've taken. Sign up to follow this blog so you don't miss out on more travelogues coming up in August!

Update August 15,2018: I plan to share our June 2018 trip to England and Amsterdam with you. I'm working on figuring out what pictures to choose for the presentation. Stay tuned!

Connect online with J. Q. Rose