Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015 from J.Q. Rose, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing Series Resumes, Giveaways

Happy New Year 2015 from J.Q. Rose
Happy 2015! Say what? 2015? I seem to recall the big scare from the media about breaking in to the new century in 2000 and everything going topsy-turvy. Where did fifteen years go?

A new year excites us with all the possibilities of change, making good changes in our lives with new plans, new goals, resolutions (that we cannot keep all year long!) How about you? What's your goal for 2015? 

I'll share with you my main goal and that is to submit my latest mystery, Deadly Undertaking: A Funeral Home Mystery, to a publisher and sign a contract. Fingers crossed!
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Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing
I am certainly looking forward to visits from romance and mystery authors to begin again on January 8. The holidays interrupted our series, but we are back on track with helpful tips on writing and inspiring words from authors. You'll also discover books you'll want to read and have the opportunity to enter the drawing for prizes every week!
Please stop back on Thursdays in this new year to meet and greet the following authors:

8 Sara Jayne Townsend
15 Joan Curtis
22 Helena Fairfax
29 J.Q. Rose

5 Heather Haven 
12 C. Hope Clark
19 Resources for Writers

Monday, December 29, 2014

Video: Christmas in St. Augustine

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. 

My DH and I shared the gift of travel from Santa this year. We visited historic St. Augustine, Florida, located on the east coast of the Sunshine State.

Flagler College, St. Augustine, Florida
We discovered the magic, beauty, and history of the city's tapestry woven together from the threads of many cultures.

In the video below, you can find out about this amazing place which celebrates its 450th birthday in 2015. Come along and hop on the Old Town Trolley with us. It'll be a great ride!

Video: Christmas in St. Augustine

UPDATE: Curious about the Chocolate Factory Tour? Join me on the tour here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Message of Love at Christmas

Merry Christmas image from by  nuttakit
What a marvelous, mysterious season of the year. The story of Jesus' birth is one I love to hear over and over again because it tells the story of how much God loves us. 

"This is how much God loved the world. He gave his Son, his one and only son....God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger at us, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again." according to John 3:16-17, The Message Bible

We have to take His teachings on love and put the world right again. Whether it is your world of family, friends, neighborhood, church, organizations, use love to find peace in your corner of the world. Can you envision peace like that? Love can do it,

Burt Bachrach's song, What the World Needs Now, isn't usually thought of as a Christmas song, but this year I am petitioning to put it right up there with Silent Night and Jingle Bells. Listen to Jackie DeShannon's recording of the song. 

Youtube Video: Jackie Deshannon ~ What the World Needs Now is Love (HQ)
Want to join me in nominating What the World Needs Now as a Christmas song?

Wishing you a joyful Christmas 
filled with the blessings of hope, peace, and love!

Merry Christmas image from by  nuttakit

Monday, December 22, 2014

Writers and Chocolate, a Sweet Relationship, Chocolate Factory Tour

Last week we visited St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest European continuously occupied city in the USA. The city will celebrate it's 450th birthday in September 2015. What a celebration that will be!

Today I'm sharing the TASTES we visited when we toured the Whetstone Chocolate Factory. The story of the establishment of this chocolate company reads like the American dream. A hard-working, dedicated couple, Henry and Esther Whetstone, first opened their small ice cream store on St. George Street in the historic business district of St. Augustine in 1966. Henry and Esther entered the chocolate market when they created a home-made fudge recipe in the family’s small kitchen.The kitchen was the original Whetstone Chocolate factory and the production crew was two hard working people. You can read more about their amazing growth at the Whetstone Chocolate website.


The tour costs $8.00 and is worth every penny of it, especially when Ty was our guide. He was an elementary school teacher for 36 years!  He brings all the energy and enthusiasm he used to teach kids to the tour presentation. Kudos to Ty for his fun tour of the factory. (Of course, how can you NOT have fun when eating samples of delicious chocolate?? We were pretty wired by the end of the tour!!)

Ty begins the tour on the factory floor. Information on the fine ingredients in this artisanal chocolate and the method used to turn cocoa beans into heavenly flavors of chocolate were explained in an adjoining room.

The factory. Yes, I was expecting conveyor belts, clanging bells, a frenzy of machinery, and lots of workers. But no, only about three people working at quiet machines that you will see below.

Ty introduced us to Miss Nan (forgive me if I don't have her name correct). She is bagging their delicious foil-wrapped candy shells and placing them in the boxes.

The machine is making white chocolate. Stirring is an important aspect of making delicious candy. I learned white chocolate does not have cocoa powder as an ingredient, but does contain the cocoa butter.

Milk chocolate machine. The difference between Whetstone's fine chocolates and the Over the Counter kind, as Ty referred to the cheaper manufactured chocolate, is the amount of lecithin, an emulsifier. Cheaper chocolates use none or less lecithin in the product.

Dark chocolate.
Yes, they push the health benefits of eating DARK chocolate.

Ty demonstrates how the hollow chocolate football is made. A measured amount of chocolate is added to the plastic mold he is holding.
A worker continually turns the liquid chocolate leaving a thin layer on the mold. In order to make it evenly shaped, it takes 35 minutes of hand turning to do it right!

The mold and the finished product, a hollow football complete with white chocolate laces!
Beautiful! No,Ty did not make this one....

Miss Nan revs up the machine that wraps foil around the chocolate shells.

Miss Nan loads the shells into the machine. Ty explained the path the candy took through the gears and belts with a patter that a rap star couldn't have done better! 

Success! Look at the parade of red foil-wrapped candy which Miss Nan will bag later.

Yes, we re-enacted the candy wrapping scene from the I Love Lucy Show.
You can't tell I have the candy stuffed in my mouth and down my bra, just like Lucy. LOL!!

The real actors in I Love Lucy. Have you seen this episode? It's a classic.
The chocolate factory scene from the I Love Lucy Show
Hope you enjoyed the tour. Are you hungry for chocolate now? Do you like dark chocolate?
I bet with the holidays upon us, you'll get many chocolate treats whether candy or desserts. Take time to really taste them and feel the joy this small morsel can bring to us.

Wishing you joy, peace, hope, and love this Christmas season and for the Happy New Year 2015!

UPDATE: You're invited to come along for the video tour of St. Augustine. Watch Christmas in St. Augustine now.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: FREE IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond

Hello and welcome to the series, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing. I hope you have your shopping done and the frenzy of the holidays under control. In case you still have gifts to purchase for friends and family on your Christmas list, may I suggest a good book? This series certainly has hosted great writing talent and amazing mysteries and romances. Take a peek back through the pages to discover the titles and links to purchase published every Thursday this fall and winter.

Today as we close in on Christmas, I gave my authors (and me) some time off, but that doesn't mean I don't have great writing tips for you. In fact there are hundreds of them in The Insecure Writer's Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond. (Yes, I'm happy to say one of my tips is in the e-book.) Here's the information from the IWSG website
Pick up your FREE copy now!

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey.

ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE
Find it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads.

Book trailer for the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond

Monday, December 15, 2014

Future Readers, This Week, FREE Writing Tips Book

Once our words are inked to paper, they continue to speak for generations to come. A writer has an infinite voice that travels through time, impacting those who wish to hear it. 

Photo by J.Q. Rose

Future Readers by J.Q. Rose
When I read Susan Hornbach's quote above, I got goose bumps. I've had my nose in my WIP trying to "fix" plot holes, enhance my characters, and decide on a satisfying ending to the story. I never thought about the longevity of my writing. Susan is correct. Whether our books are in print or e-books, once we as writers let them go, they are "out there" for the generations to read.

I doubt Shakespeare looked into the future and believed his plays would be performed in the 21st century. Do you think Mark Twain ever imagined folks would still be laughing at the shenanigans of Huckleberry Finn today? To think my great grandchildren, yet unborn, might pick up a book that I wrote boggles my mind. I'm sure they will be reading or listening on some contraption not yet invented. 

Have you ever thought about how your stories will impact both present and future readers? This question drives me to develop the best stories I can write and to believe in the message I am sending through my words. That's a whole lot of responsibility to shoulder. 

As we come to the close of this year, many of us choose goals for next year. Will you choose to write the best stories possible with messages that will resonate with generations to come? 

This Week:
Thursday, December 18--Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing has over 100 writing tips for you in The Insecure Writers' Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond. One of my tips on marketing is included.

I am giving the romance and mystery authors a break for the holidays. 
Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing series will resume January 9, 2015

We'll resume the series on January 8 when mystery author Sara-Jayne Townsend offers her writing tips and advice. Sara's newly released title, Dead Cool: A Shara Summers Mystery, is second in the series of the Shara Summers Mysteries. Find it at amazon, MuseItUp Publishing, and all major online sellers.

They were dying to be famous.
And someone was prepared to kill for it.

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Take a break during the holidays 
with this quirky, entertaining short story from J.Q. Rose.

The Good Neighbors.

The Good Neighbors
Jim and Gloria Hart, snowbirds from Michigan, always help out the neighbors in their Florida retirement community when asked. 
Who knew being good could turn out to be so bad? 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Humorous suspense author Kathy McIntosh, Giveaways

Hello and welcome to the series, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing. I scheduled this series on writing tips for the fall months, but I have had such wonderful response from romance and mystery authors, the guest blogs are now scheduled into February! So you may have noticed I changed the poster, taking out "this fall" since we are now into the holiday season. I hope you are gathering some great tips you can use in your writing, meeting and getting to know authors, and discovering great reads.

Needless to say I'm having a wonderful experience with authors and readers during this series. Thank you so much for supporting this event with your views and comments.

This week I am happy to introduce you to author Kathy McIntosh.  Kathy is generously donating an ebook copy and audio book of her first book, Mustard's Last Stand, in the Havoc in Hancock humorous suspense series for door prizes. Two winners! Please leave a comment to enter.
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Kathy, thanks so much for guesting on the Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing series.
Thanks for a lovely opportunity!
1  What is the best advice for writers that you have received?
The first but definitely not the last time I heard this hint came when Ridley Pearson spoke to Murder in the Grove (a conference I co-founded). He advised writers to keep our butts in our chairs. It later inspired me to write the following as a winning contest entry:

Make writing a whole body experience. Keep your chin up, your feet on the ground, your mind limber and open to new lessons and ideas, your heart set on the goal of becoming a published writer, and your butt in the chair. 

Great advice for sure, but oh some days, it is impossible to do! 

What is your writing tip on Editing?
Alliteration, rhythm and cadence can help you create a memorable voice in your writing. However, these must be added with intention and a light hand. Novelists whose books you can’t put down may have used the rhythm of their words to enchant you. Books that get thrown across the room may have inadvertently abused or overused these devices.
I'm fond of alliteration, but it is easy to fall prey to too much. Do so and the rigorous reader will wish you wouldn't. Giving your characters names that start with the same letter is a form of inadvertent alliteration that can easily confuse your readers. Barney, Bert and Bartholomew are all fine names, but let them appear in separate manuscripts. Even when used for humorous purposes (the triplets, Martha, Margaret and Maeve) you risk confusion. A confused reader may not pick up the book again.
What's going on in your book can influence your choice of rhythm or cadence. Short sentences using short words work well in fast-paced, high tension scenes. Longer, leisurely sentences can set a quieter pace and add a sumptuous tone. 
Alternating short and long sentences changes the rhythm of your words. It's my opinion that you don't find your rhythm in a first draft, but rather recognize it and change it intentionally in second and subsequent drafts. One great way to discover the rhythm (or lack thereof) of your words is to read it aloud. You can also use text to speech software programs such as NaturalReader or Ultra Hal TTS (I love that name) or Text2Speech or TextAloud that will convert your text to spoken words. Most have free versions.
Rhyme works well when you’re creating a slogan or a tagline or a poem. However, inadvertent rhyme in serious writing can bump your reader. I’d chat more about rhyme, but I haven’t the time.
Next time you’re editing an article or some pages from your fiction, take the time to make your words memorable by adding alliteration, rhythm and rhyme.
But remember:  a smidgeon of these devices suffices.
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Kathy McIntosh writes about 
wacky characters seeking justice, 
environmental balance 
and great scones in North Idaho.  
Back of the Book:
Havoc overtakes a peaceful North Idaho town when feuding brothers combat a proposed safari camp. Mustard's Last Stand is the first in the Havoc in Hancock humorous suspense series.
 BUY LINK          

About Kathy:
Kathy McIntosh, a recent voluntary transplant from Boise, Idaho, to Tucson, Arizona, is enjoying the change in scenery from cottonwoods to cactus.
She recently saw three javelinas strolling through her neighborhood! She assures her concerned readers that she can still write about Havoc in Hancock, her humorous suspense series set in North Idaho, and will finish book two, Foul Wind, as soon as she rappels from the stack of moving boxes! Read more at Kathy's website 
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Don't forget to leave a comment. Two winners will be chosen from the commenters after 9 p.m. on Sunday evening. Good luck!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to Choose and Care for a Poinsettia, Amaryllis, The Good Neighbors Short Story, Giveaways

Traditional red poinsettia

Hello from Elves Headquarters. This little elf has been decorating the house for Christmas. Outdoor lights, Christmas tree, and Christmas plants. Nothing brings Christmas to life like a live Christmas plant. 

Red poinsettias are the traditional plant of the season, but so many other colors are now available including solid pinks and creams and combinations of those colors in one plant. 

How to Choose and Care for a Poinsettia
The former florist in me has a few tips for plant buyers:
  • Please note the little yellow flowers in the center of the poinsettia in the picture above. Yes, those are the flowers, the red "petals" that are distinctive of the poinsettia are actually the bracts or leaves. Do not buy a poinsettia plant unless the center flowers are in it. The plant will last longer if the "flowers" are still there. 
  • When bringing this beauty home, wrap it to protect the delicate flowers and leaves from the cold air.
  • Place the plant in a brightly lighted room, not close to a cold window or near a hot fireplace or register.
  • If you leave the foil on the pot, poke a hole in the foil on the bottom of the plant so water will drain through. If the water collects in the foil, the plant will be over-watered and die.
  • Feel the soil before watering. If it's dry, water it. Place a saucer under the plant to catch any water that may flow through the hole in the bottom. Don't let the it sit in water for hours, so dump the excess water out of the saucer after an hour.
  • In Florida, after Christmas,  we can plant the poinsettia outdoors after the threat of frost is over. All those years in Michigan we struggled to grow poinsettias in pots, but in Florida they grow like bushes as tall as a man.
  • If you are in a colder climate and you want to keep your plant for next year, there is a way to do it, but you have to plan ahead to have a poinsettia turn red in time for Christmas. The hours of daylight are key to the turning. Here's a good article on how to do this  turning-poinsettias-red-again/
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We always have a poinsettia for Christmas, and this year we have re-instituted the tradition of growing an amaryllis. When the kids were growing up, we always had an amaryllis. Kids love watching them grow. 

This thick-stemmed flower graces a home with wonder and awe when watching it stretch its long stem elevating the bud above the pot. The lily-like flower opens into a large blossom and stands tall in all its glory.
Red Amaryllis
Photo courtesy of by By franky242

I am amazed every year at this miracle. From a dry bulb to an elegant, graceful bloom. It reminds me of the wonder and miracle of Baby Jesus birth at Christmas. 

I have taken pictures to give you an idea of how quickly this plant grows. I'll update you when "Amy" blooms in all her true beauty. Yes, the amaryllis is always named Amy.

Taken the day after Thanksgiving November 28 breaking out of the bulb.

Taken December 3

Taken December 6 shooting up in the air growing almost an inch a day!

Just a few Merry Christmas tips for you. I hope they help. What do you think of poinsettias that are not the traditional red color? Leave a comment below. We love to hear from you.
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Speaking of Christmas. Check out my Christmas short story based on characters in my novella, Sunshine Boulevard.

Jim and Gloria Hart, snowbirds from Michigan, always help out the neighbors in their Florida retirement community when asked. Who knew being good could turn out to be so bad?
Review from Conda Douglas
Delightful Short Story--I wouldn't have believed that a retirement community in Florida would be a fascinating setting, with intriguing and fun characters. But J.Q. Rose's short story delivers exactly that--I also believe it is an excellent taste of her mystery novel, Sunshine Boulevard, with the same setting and characters, and if so, I'm certainly off to read Sunshine Boulevard! More, please. 

The Good Neighbors is available at Amazon for 99 cents!

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PS--Sunshine Boulevard was chosen to be bundled together with three other mysteries from MuseItUp Publishing. The bundle of books is called, Sirens on Death, Starke Boulevard. A lot of great reading for only $1.99. Hurry and get yours at MuseItUpPublishing, amazon and major online booksellers.

This Week:

Thursday, December 11--Humorous suspense author Kathy McIntosh shares her writing tips on editing and more on the Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing series. Kathy is generously donating an ebook copy and audio book of her first book, Mustard's Last Stand, in the Havoc in Hancock humorous suspense series for door prizes. Two winners!

Enter to win prizes through December 13!
12 Lucky Holiday Winners 
from MuseItUp Publishing

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Author Marsha R. West with Tips on Dialogue, Setting, and Editing, Giveaway

Hello and welcome to this Thursday's writing tips in the Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing series. Mystery author Marsha R. West shares her writing tips on dialogue, settings, and editing. Marsha has brought along an e-book copy of her mystery, Truth Be Told. 

Win the drawing for a copy of Truth Be Told by subscribing to Marsha's blog. Hop over to the Marsha West blog after reading all her great tips here today. 

      Hey Marsha, thanks so much for bringing tips for us today. What are two of your favorite information-packed writing books? 
There are many, but two that I have are post noted, highlighted, and dog eared (yes, I have the paperbacks) and are great helps with editing. I’m embarrassed to say a couple of judges from the first contest I entered suggested I get these. They also suggested I get one on Goal Motivation and Conflict. (I really knew nothing about the craft of writing fiction, especially genre fiction.) Here are the first two:
THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by William Strunk, Jr. & E.B. White

Whether you have a publisher who provides an editor for your manuscript or you hire an editor (And you are doing that, right?) because you’re Indie publishing, you will be ahead of the game to send as clean a copy as you can possibly get to your editor.
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Thanks so much. Now read more of Marsha's writing tips below.

DIALOGUE: Read your work out loud. That’s the best way to see if it sounds natural. Try to have the characters each have specific characteristics to their speech. In one book, I realized everyone said “hell.” I decided to give a certain swear word to each  of the main characters to help differentiate them. Thank goodness for the “Find” button! I fellow writer, actually had a hero who spoke in really short sentences—like 4 to 6 words! It really worked for her and for him. J

SETTINGS: I’m drawn to settings. I may even start with that before I have the characters. Helping the reader get a real “feeling” for the locale of the story is important to me. I had a friend who wrote a thriller set in one of the hottest on record Texas summers. The heat became almost a character in that book affecting everyone’s actions.

   EDITING: I first learned about Throw Away words from Margie Lawson. I tend to be wordy.
(My first book had 145 thousand words before I began cutting, getting it to 100K.) And this was when agents and publishers were looking for 80 to 90 K. No one would look at such a long book. I had a great story, but no craft skills. The idea of eliminating any of my wonderful words made me ill. Time passes and now I write 75-90 K books. Much tighter than when I began. I got there by using a list of 75 words and phrases I (and others) over use. I’ve added to the original list of about 30 words as I’ve discovered my favorites.
Quick look at my favorites: that, some, little, bit, (as in a little bit), even, began to, tried, just, really, thing(s)
Omit these words to help keep you in deep POV: think, thought, thinking, mused, wondered, see, seeing, looking, believe, considering, hearing.
Not: He thought he heard a noise.
Better. The large crash threw him from his bed.

After I’ve finished all the re-writes I go through doing a search and find for the words. I study each use and decide if I can make it better. If it’s unnecessary, I hit delete.
Most of the time, contrary to what you might be thinking, your word count may go up rather than down when you use more specific language than saying “things.”
I’d be happy to send you the complete list. Then you can add your own favorites. I’ve noticed with different books, I’ll pick different words to over use, so I add those to my list. That’s how the list has grown.
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  SWAT member teams with her brother's former homicide detective partner to stop a blackmailer. 
Falling in love wasn't one of their strategies.
 Buy Link for Truth Be Told 

About Marsha:
 Marsha R. West writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. MuseItUp Publishing released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE in July 2013. Marsha released the print version of the first book in the fall of 2014. Her second book, TRUTH BE TOLD,  was released by MIU in May 2014.  She’ll release her third book, SECOND CHANCES, in February 2015, the first of a 4-part series. Find out more at She’d love to hear from you.

Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream, Happy Mother's Day, Working Moms

YouTube VIDEO: Mother's Day Excerpt from Arranging a Dream Hello and welcome! I wanted to pop in to wish you moms, grandmoms and those w...