Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Gardening with a Greenhouse, This Week, Giveaway

Still waiting on spring? Yes, I can't wait till we see beautiful tulips in our yard. No color yet!
The sunny daffodils are welcome bursts of color in northern landscapes now.
If you are a gardener (or married to one like I am), you are chomping at the bit to get the garden going. My DH, Gardener Ted, is busy planting seeds in flats and pots hoping to get ahead of Mother Nature. No waiting for a seed to pop up in the garden, he'll be able to transplant the healthy seedlings as soon as heavy frosts are over...whenever that may be. He and the grandsons put up a greenhouse as soon as we returned from Florida in April.

The next day, it looked like this--

I must admit I'd never seen snow on the greenhouse, but then again, I had never seen snow on our deck furniture either!

Now he has the plants tucked in the warm greenhouse even if the overnight temps are 30 degrees. So keep your fingers crossed that warm temperatures will arrive soon, before the greenhouse has a ton of overgrown plants inside. I'll keep ya' posted. 

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This Week:
Thursday, May 1

Sweet romance author Helena Fairfax reveals her inspiration to be a writer. Helena is offering her award-nominated romance, The Silk Romance, as a prize to the winning commenter. Be sure to come back Thursday and leave a comment!

The Month of May:

Seeds of Inspiration Event guest authors:

May 1  Helena Fairfax
         8  Katie Carroll
       15 Susan Bernhardt

May 22--J. Q. Rose Birthday Giveaway!!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Seeds of Inspiration Author Conda V. Douglas and Giveaways

Welcome author Conda Douglas to the Seeds of Inspiration Spring Event. Conda is giving away a copy of her new cozy mystery, Starke Naked Dead. Release date is tomorrow April 25. You can be one of the first readers to enjoy her book just by leaving a comment for the drawing.  Drawing closes on Sunday at 12:01 a.m. EDT.

PLUS For everyone, her cookbook Starke Deadly Delicious Recipes is FREE today and tomorrow. It's a delicious taste of some of her favorite recipes along with a taste of the characters and world of Starke! Clck on the link for Starke Deadly Delicious Recipes at Amazon to get your copy! Thank you so much, Conda!

Conda Douglas grew up in the ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho. Her childhood was filled with authors and artists and other creative types. She grew up with goats in the kitchen, buffalo bones in the living room, and rocks in the bathtub. Now her life is filled with her cat and dog, permanent boyfriend, and writing.
Conda and pal, Puck
She’s traveled the world from Singapore to Russia and her own tiny office, writing all the while. She delights in writing her cozy Starke Dead creative woman mystery series with amateur detective jeweler Dora Starke. The more Dora discovers cursed jewelry, her aunt digging graves, and a rampant poisoner, the more fun Conda has—although sometimes Dora complains about her plight! Next up, Starke Raving Dead, in which Dora’s mad Aunt Maddie proves the aptness of her name.
When she’s not writing Dora into her quirky and quixotic mysteries, Conda writes the popular tween fantasy Mall Fairies series. The fairy inspiration for her Mall Fairies came from the sparrows that live in the Boise Towne Square Mall in Boise, Idaho. When not rescuing fairies from humans, cats, and themselves, Conda works on the last title in the Mall Fairy trilogy, The Mall Fairies: Destiny.
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Places you can find Conda:

My Wonderful Fifth Grade Teacher, Mrs. Loringer
by Conda V. Douglas

JQ's question about what inspired me to become a writer brought back a stupendous memory of my true writing inspiration. Thank you, JQ!

I grew up in the tiny odd town of Ketchum, Idaho. Odd because it's a mile away from the Sun Valley ski resort, filled with luminaries, including one famed writer, Papa Hemingway. In contrast, Ketchum at that time was the place where all the middle class people who worked in Sun Valley lived.

Ketchum's one and only school, the grade school, was understaffed and underfunded. For my fifth grade year, the new young teacher hire taught the advanced students of third and fifth grades. All 24 of us happened to be girls. All day scrunched in the same classroom with equipment so old that our desks had inkwells.

Mrs. Loringer's response to this bizarre configuration was life changing for her students. She must have figured that since she was teaching two grades two years apart, why not often let the students go at their own pace, spend time working on their own? It worked great.

One thing we could do was write poems, short stories and essays for extra credit. I did that so much Mrs. Loringer finally told me that I had an A+ in English. I didn't need any more extra credit. I burst into tears. I'd lost my audience. An audience of one, but at age 10, I believed that "real" authors were gods, like Papa, not a little girl living in Ketchum, Idaho. Mrs. Loringer gently teased out the problem, in between my sobs, and then she said, "You're a good writer. Good enough to become an author, if you want."

My tears vanished. That my beloved teacher had validated me as an author made my writing career possible. My first acceptance! I've been writing ever since. In honor of the first in my cozy mystery series, Starke Naked Dead, being released from my publisher, Muse It Up, I'm offering a copy of it free! Please note that currently it is only available in various eBook formats and PDF. Starke Naked Dead is set in a tiny mountain town that is about to be Idaho's newest ski resort, hmmm...

Back Cover
The gossiping women of the Widows Brigade in the new ski resort of Starke, Idaho love a good scandal—this time it’s a murder mystery, and a stark naked corpse!
Jeweler Dora Starke believes creating her own jewelry line with no money and no time is her biggest problem. She’s mistaken. When her recluse dad shows up and thrusts a stolen, cursed jewelry piece worth millions at her and demands she sell it or he’s dead, she knows this must be her biggest problem. She’s wrong. When she pursues her father to his Idaho mountain cabin and instead of dear old dad, discovers a stark naked corpse, she’s certain she’s found her biggest problem--whodunit. Nope. Dora’s problems are just beginning…Follow Dora as she becomes an amateur sleuth to solve the mysteries of cursed jewelry and murder, in this, the first of the Starke Dead women sleuth cozy mystery series.
MuseItUp Publishing 
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Thanking a million teachers float in the 2014 Rose Parade
Finally, a huge thank you to Mrs. Loringer and all those other teachers out there who make such a great difference.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Things Change, This Week, Earth Day, Giveaway

No my peonies are not blooming, but they are budded up
and the tulips and daffs have pushed their way out of the ground. Spring is coming!!
We enjoyed a lovely spring day for Easter yesterday. Our kids and grandkids came over for breakfast at our house, then we attended the contemporary service at our church.

Yes, contemporary service means rockin' songs with a praise band and a nod to the young folks in our church. Lots of energy and spirit. You should have been there to sing Christ the Lord is Risen Today with a rock n roll beat and the alleleuia with a kick. LOL. I loved it and love the modern songs that speak to the people of today.

Things change. There's no way the message of God's love and forgiveness would be understood if we were still singing Gregorian chants at church! I appreciate the old hymns too and enjoy singing the oldies, but the oldies just don't capture the interest or make sense to the new generation.

Do you remember Easters when you were a kid? Women wore their hats--Easter bonnets--and white gloves and black patent leather shoes. Men wore their suits and ties. Colorful corsages adorned the dresses or coats of the ladies. No longer. Although things change, Easter remains a celebration of the resurrection of Christ, never losing the power of mystery and the awe-inspiring vastness of God's love.

This Week:

Earth_day : Human hand holding green globe with leaves  Vector  Stock Photo
Tuesday, April 22--Earth Day--Be mindful of taking care of our environment. 

Thursday, April 23--Author Conda Douglas visits with her story of inspiration for her writing. And Conda is giving away a copy of her mystery, Starke Naked Dead. I"ll see ya' then!

Do you notice changes from generation to generation? Has anything stayed the same for you?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Easter, Happy Spring, This Week,

Happy Easter!

By Grant Cochrane from free digital
Wishing you a joyous and blessed Easter and a beautiful Spring!

The Seeds of Inspiration Event will continue on April 24 with author Conda Douglas.
Check out my guest authors for this spring event and join us every Thursday to discover what inspires them.
Prizes awarded every week! 

24 Conda Douglas
1 Helena Fairfax
8 Katie Carroll
15 Susan Bernhardt

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seeds of Inspiration Spring Event: Multi-Genre Author Gail Roughton and Giveaway

Welcome my friend and Southern author Gail Roughton to the Seeds of Inspiration Spring Event.  Please be sure to leave a comment to enter your name in the drawing for Gail's mystery/romance, Vanished. Winner will be drawn  after 12:01 a.m. on Sunday.

Gail has spent almost forty years in a law office as a legal secretary/paralegal. During those years, she's raised three children and quite a few attorneys. She kept herself sane by writing books, tossing each completed novel in her closet. She's been cleaning out the closet for the last few years, as well as producing new works never stored there. A multi-genre writer, her books span the spectrum from humor to paranormal to romance to horror. Sometimes even in the same book. None of that's planned, it's just what happens when the characters start talking. Even she doesn't know what to expect next! Come chat at 

Turning Memory into Story by Gail Roughton
As a reader, have you ever read a novel that seemed so real you could smell baking bread, feel the heat of the sun beating down on your head, hear the roars of a crowd? If you’re a confirmed reader, one who always has a book going (usually one in each room), you almost certainly have.  Because it’s those moments, those scenes, those books, that make reading so much more than a pleasant diversion and turn a casual reader into a book addict.  Those moments, those scenes, those books—they take readers to another world, another place, another time and introduce them to characters they feel they know, folks they’d like to sit down with over coffee.  Or beer.  Depends on the time of the day, I guess.
So here’s the Sixty-Four Thousand Dollar question.  How does a writer write such scenes, such books?  Not that I’m saying I do, mind you.  I’d like to think so, at least occasionally, and I know that while I’m writing, I myself am in another place and time. But not because I’m using my imagination to create them.  Because I’m tapping my memory to reproduce them.  Not exactly, of course.  Not the actual moment, the actual event.  I want the feel, the flavor, the taste, of that memory.  And I want it to come through to the reader.  But even more than that, I want to put that memory into words that I can take out and visit with whenever I so choose. Bet you didn’t know that, huh?  That basically, writers are selfish people who in the final analysis, write for themselves and not for others.  Which isn’t selfish at all, really, because by doing so, they create those scenes that turn readers into book addicts.
In other words, there’s always a story behind the story.  Always.  My “darkest” work came from a real-life ordinary moment.  In a law office.  In my early twenties, I worked for a lovely, lovely gentleman, an older attorney known to all in Macon as “the Judge”.  One day the phone rang, I answered like a good little secretary and explained that the Judge was currently out of the office, might I take a message?
“This is Jim Smith (not really, I don’t remember the real name, it was a long time ago) at Riverside Cemetery.  Please ask him to call me at xxx-xxxx.”
Okay, I was in my early twenties but I was possessed by the devil on occasion even then.  I wrote up the call and under “About” added:  “Has a vampire in one of the mausoleums and would like him evicted.” 
The Judge came back, read his message, went “What?” and we all had a good laugh.  But the idea never left me, the idea that this would be an hysterical short satire, a “Night Court” sort of satire, wherein the poor vampire had to defend his right to live in the family mausoleum.  I mean, his family paid for it, after all, for the use of dead family members.  By what legal remedy would you evict a vampire?  He’s family.  And he’s dead.  Sort of.
Somewhere along the line, the story line ceased to be humorous and it dang sure ceased to be short.  Final product:  The Dark Series – The Color of Seven and The Color of Dusk.

Now, while I was writing that “darkest” of my works, I took a break at a point where I knew I had to do something I most emphatically didn’t want to do.  (Yes, eventually I did it anyway.) Enough dark.  I needed light.  I thought it’d be fun to write an historical romance but I didn’t want to do the research

. BUT—if I sent my heroine through the Bermuda Triangle, I wouldn’t have to research a thing. My world, I could do what I wanted with it.  Where did that idea actually come from? Well, I traced it back. It all started with The Three Stooges, I kid you not.  I was five, and Daddy took me on a Daddy-Daughter date to the drive-in movies. (Yeah, drive-in, I’m that old.)  It was a Three Stooges movies, and while I have no actual memory of the movie and don’t, in fact, even recall if it had a “space-travel” theme, ‘cause I guess it could have been a preview of a coming attraction – five was a long time ago.  Anyway, I remember looking up at the stars out of the car window on the way home and thinking that somewhere out there, there was another world.  And that I had a double on it.  Yes, I was really five.  Final result:  Vanished.

The story behind Country Justice?  Where did Turkey Creek, Rockland County, Georgia come from?  What inspired the characters? I know the places of Country Justice because I live there.  I know the characters of Country Justice because I’m part of them and they are part of me.  Every small town, southern or not, are microcosms of society, a miniature little world wherein everybody knows everybody else’s business, heritage, secrets, what they had for supper, their usual bedtime.  It’s a patchwork quilt, sewn together into a sturdy fabric, stitched by the sturdy thread of familiarity.  In many ways Country Justice holds my heart. It always will. How could it not, when so much of my real world went into it?

My most popular books, much to my surprise, have been the four books in the War-N-Wit, Inc. series, a rollicking series of short novels revolving around the adventures of a private investigator/bounty hunter who just happens to be a warlock and his wife. Of course she’s a  witch, but did she have a clue until she met her warlock? No, she did not.  Talk about a game changer. With this series, one thing just keeps leading to another. And another.  And though I say with the completion of each one that it’s the last of the series, another one just keeps raising its head up over the horizon.  But where did they come from?  I am honored to say that one of my work-friend’s mother became an avid fan, back in the days when nobody read my books other than a few work-friends because (a) I didn’t tell too many folks I wrote; and (b) what I wrote for sure hadn’t been published. Or mostly submitted, even.  And she sent me a message via that friend.  “Tell Gail to write something funny on purpose. Because she’s so frequently funny even when she doesn’t intend to be.”  Enter War-N-Wit, Inc. and all the whacky characters that live there.

So, gentle reader, the next time you read that disclaimer, the one writers throw in the front of their books stating “this book is entirely a work of fiction”—you might want to take that with a grain of salt.  Just sayin’.

For a list of Gail's books and where to find them, please visit Gail Roughton's Amazon Author Page.
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If you're a writer, do you use memories to help write your stories? If you're a reader, what genre do you prefer reading? Gail can spin a fascinating tale in so many. (I'm sure all the authors are readers, so you can answer this too!) Remember to leave a comment to enter the drawing for Gail's book Vanished.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Reflection on Rejection, This Week, Giveaway

This weekend my DH and I traveled to Central Michigan University where our 13 year old grandson and his Destination Imagination team competed in the State Finals. The team won the regionals last month and continued to work hard perfecting their presentation for the state judging. When I talked to him last Tuesday, I asked how the practices were going and he said, confidently, "We're ready!" He was sure they would "knock it out of the park."

Saturday night at the awards presentation, he and his team discovered they did not win the tournament or even place in the top three. Their time and work was not enough for thejudge to awad them the trophy. Talk about being rejected. Their enthusiasm and excitement was gone like a deflated balloon. Now they have to process what happened and move on.

Do you remember your first rejection? Was it from that cute boy in your class? an art/music contest?
The one I remember the most is when our high school junior class built a fantastic float for the homecoming parade. Three of us designed it and were in charge of the construction. We were so sure we'd win, but no, I believe the freshmen won that year. Now that really is the pits to have those freshmen win. Talk about rubbing salt in the wound. 

I hope your first rejection wasn't from an editor, agent, publisher when you submitted your story for publication. I think all the rejections we receive as we grow up prepares us to have our writing rejected. It's not easy to take, but hopefully we have developed some tools to allow us to take it and move on. 

I told my grandson that winning first place is not the most important thing. As time goes by, he'll discover he won a lot by participating on the team and competing. Of course at 13, that's not what you want to hear. In fact, at any age, rejection is hard to take. 

As a writer, my work was rejected. But instead of burying my head and wallowing in self pity, I decided to work harder and write a better story or article. 

If your work has not been accepted, please don't give up. Keep writing. We learn something with every experience. Just like my grandson, process it and move on. You're a winner when you sit down and write words on the page. 

Tell us about the first rejection in your life. Did you learn from it? How do you accept a rejection of your work and move on? Leave a comment below. It may inspire someone to keep writing and working on their WIP. Thanks.
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This Week

Thursday, April 10--Paranormal and humorist author Gail Roughton takes a turn at the Seeds of Inspiration Spring Event. She tells us what inspires her stories, and there are many entertaining ones in her collection. Come back on Thursday, leave a comment to enter the drawing for her latest e-book, Vanished.

Romance, mystery, humor

Of Brides and Blooms by J.Q. Rose

Book Hooks--excerpts from novels      Book Hooks Blog Hop  #MFRWHooks Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog. Today we're joinin...