Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Storytime Blog Hop: Mystical Manatee Park

Welcome to the Focused on Story blog by J.Q. Rose 

and to the quarterly Storytime Blog Hop!

Storytime Blog Hop
Founded 2015 by students of “How To Think Sideways: 
Career Survival School for Writer’s,” 
a writing course created by writer and teacher Holly Lisle

Storytime Blog Hop
Logo designed by Juneta Key

            MYSTICAL MANATEE PARK by J.Q. Rose

Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
Homosassa Springs, FL
Photo by J.Q. Rose

Nelda hefted her folding lawn chair and the six-can cooler out of the trunk of her old Buick. Placing the cooler on the gravel of the parking lot, she used her free hand to slam the trunk lid down. The loud whop reverberated through the riverside park, a place locals came to watch the gentle giants--manatees.
            Hmph—that felt good. She smiled at her show of strength. Still a tough old gal. Flashing a satisfied grin, she picked up her cooler and adjusted her hold on the lawn chair. She trudged across the brown, sparse grass to her favorite place on the narrow beach by the river.           
The park attendant sidled up next to her and walked a few paces with her. “Hey, do ya’ need some help carrying that stuff, sweetie,” he asked.
            Nelda stopped. Her back straightened as rigid as the soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. “No thank you,” she said lasering her gaze on the man’s bearded face. “And please, don’t call me sweetie.” She spit out the command using her best school teacher voice.
            His wide eyes registered his surprise at her come-back. “Oh, I, uh…” His tongue stumbled over the words. He nodded and stepped away.
            Nelda carried on without his company. Damn. Why do people think an old woman is incapable of carrying a chair and lunch box? I’m not helpless. She wrinkled her nose with disgust. And for sure, I’m not his sweetie.
            The grass turned into sand as she crossed the beach to claim her spot to set up for the morning. She opened her chair and angled it for the best view of the river.
            The Florida winter weather was on full display today with cool air and a breeze from the north—perfect weather for manatee watching. She wore layers of sweaters and a jacket which she would remove when the sun warmed her later in the morning. She pulled a knit cap over her short gray hair, fitted her arthritic fingers into her gloves and headed for the rail fence barrier between the river and beach.

Manatees swimming in the river
Photo by J.Q. Rose
            Nelda stood along the waist-high fence and searched the waters. The manatee did not disappoint her. She spotted three adults and a calf lazily floating nearby.
            She sighed, wishing her husband, Ralph, was standing next to her relishing the sight of his beloved manatees. Looking skyward, she said, “Hey, Ralphie, are the manatees as beautiful in heaven’s rivers as they are right here on earth?”
            The manatee park was the one place she felt closest to Ralph. She missed him now just as much as she missed him after he died nearly two years ago. She blinked the tears away and sniffed.
            The couple had retired to Florida to escape the cruel northern winters. But they were as giddy as children when the temperatures cooled down the gulf waters forcing the manatees to enter the river leading to the warm springs in the Weeki Wachee River.
            “Beautiful day for manatee watching, eh?” A man’s cheery voice in her ear interrupted her reverie and startled her. She clasped her hands to her chest and faced the man.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you.” He bobbed his head and blinked his eyes.
Nelda wiped her eyes with her gloved fingers and studied the tall gentleman. He wore a navy blue jacket zipped all the way up the front of him with the collar turned up to protect his neck from the cold breeze. His cheeks glowed red from the cold as he stood with shoulders hunched and hands in his pocket to keep warm. Light blue eyes peered at her under his snow-white brows.
Nelda was ready to tell him to bug off and leave her to her memories, but something in his kind eyes stopped her.
“Oh, that’s okay. Guess I was mesmerized by those magnificent manatees.” She smiled and waved her hand toward the river.
“Magnificent is the word for them. Some folks believe God has a sense of humor when they see a manatee.” He chuckled quietly at his own joke.
“I guess you could say that. The manatee is quite an odd-looking creation.”
“I figured you must love them as much as me. Seems like every time I come, I see you here.”
 “I thought you looked familiar.”
He cleared his throat. “Well, um—“
“Nelda,” she said with a friendly smile.
“John.” He dragged his hands out of his pockets.
Nelda offered her hand, and he grasped it with a tender but firm handshake.
“Nice to meet you,” he said.
She covered his hand with hers. “Glad to meet you too.” She meant it because she sensed she had a genuine, meaningful connection with John.
The next morning was another cool one, perfect for manatee watching. She packed up her chair and lunch and drove out to the manatee park.
Her trip was worth it. When she walked to the fence, she saw five manatees and two babies in the river.
“Good morning, Nelda.” She jumped at the sound of his voice behind her.
“Hey, you’re going to give me a heart attack scaring me like that with your greeting.” She turned around with a radiant smile on her face.
His delightful laugh rumbled from deep inside him. “I brought my chair today,” he said. “May I join you?”
“Why that’s a wonderful idea. I just happened to pack a big lunch today too. I’d be glad to share it with you.”
Their friendship grew as they met each day at the park sharing stories. Although Nelda had to admit she talked more than John. He truly was a good listener.
Eventually, the southern winds blew in warm breezes and the sun warmed the gulf waters. One morning the manatee didn’t come up the river
“Spring is in the air. I can feel it today.” He rubbed his thumb and forefinger together as if actually feeling it and made a silly face.
“Ralph would get that gardening bug this time of year.” Nelda looked at John. “I’m sorry.”
He looked surprised. “Sorry? Dear Nelda, what do you have to be sorry about?”
“I talk about Ralph all the time to you. I miss him so much.” She leaned toward John. “Thank you for being such a good listener.”
“I like to hear about you and Ralph.” He turned in his chair toward her and grasped her hand.  “Actually, I know Ralph.”
“Damn, you knew him?” She jerked her hand away from him. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
Her eyes narrowed. “What are you up to?” She stood up from her chair, her hands on her hips, waiting for an explanation.
John raised his tall frame from the chair and confronted her. “I know this is difficult to hear or even understand.” He spread his arms. “I know Ralph. He asked me to come here to be your trusted friend.”
Nelda felt light-headed. She balled her hands into a fist. Don’t faint now. Don’t faint now.
She squeezed her eyes tight and when she opened them, the park seemed flooded in pastel light. The air quivered with energy all around her. She heard no children’s laughter, no birds singing spring songs, and the breeze no longer ruffled through the palm trees.
She turned around in a full circle absorbing the uniquely peaceful moment. Her heart burst with joy.
Nelda’s gaze met John’s. “You’re here to take me to Ralph. Is that right,” she asked in a hushed voice.
“Yes,” he said. “It’s time to go. Can you trust me enough to go with me?”
Nelda’s body glowed. She held out her hand. “Yes, I’m ready.” Out of habit, she turned to fold up her lawn chair. “Damn. I guess I won’t need to take that with me, will I?” Her eyes twinkled with delight.
“No. You’ll have everything you’ll need, including Ralph.” John squeezed her hand as they stepped together through the portal to heaven.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Meet Gloria in the Paranormal Mystery,Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Excerpt

MFRW Authors Blog Hop
Hello and welcome to the MFRW Authors Blog Hop event! Every Wednesday authors can participate in this hop to introduce readers to new and favorite authors and discover their books. Please check out the list of bloggers who are sharing their books below and hop along on a journey to find great reads by seeing the book covers and reading excerpts. A whole wide world of adventure and romance awaits you!

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard for giggles and chills
Paranormal mystery
Excerpt from Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose

Scene--Gloria Hart has just arrived at her exercise class at the Community Center

Gloria re-shouldered her heavy bag holding her water bottle and barbells, and moved her rolled exercise mat under her arm to keep it from crushing against her chest. She dropped her bag on the floor and unrolled the mat in the spot she always claimed at every class meeting. Like pew seats in a Sunday morning church service, each person staked out her favorite “place” to exercise and kept it.
She hustled over to join the big circle of friends in their usual space in the room. The ladies shifted a bit to make space for Gloria in the circle. She breathed a sigh of relief knowing she wasn’t late again. Being late was a sign of disrespect, but Gloria respected every gal in this room for exercising their bodies and joining in the group. Perhaps they didn’t all do the moves like their limber instructor, Bridgett, but at least they tried.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gloria was puzzled as she saw the looks of horror exchanged by her friends.
“What happened?” Her eyes widened with concern, and then realized she had been drawn into the gossip like everyone else.

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

“Oh, my word.” Gloria covered her mouth and wanted to gag as if she smelled poor George. “That poor man. I cannot imagine…”

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
Published by BWL Publishing

Click here to find this e-book at these popular digital booksellers.

The Blog Tour continues!!
Please join me at my next January stops.
Thursday, Jan 25--Diane Burton--Click here to join Diane, author of romance and adventure, and me. Leave a comment to win a PDF copy of one of my mysteries.

Saturday, Jan. 27--Ellen the Cynical Sailor spotlights Terror on Sunshine Boulevard. Click here to visit her amazing blog as she lives her life in a boat!!
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Now please continue your reading journey through cyberspace by visiting these participating bloggers. Have fun!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard 2018 Blog Tour Kick-Off Today, Honoring Martin Luther King

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story Blog by J.Q. Rose!
Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Winter Warm-Up 2018 Blog Tour
with J.Q. Rose

Squeeeeee---Today is the kick-off for the Blog Tour!!! 
Author Sandra Cox is hosting my first guest post for this winter's tour. Brave gal, eh? 

I really love doing blog tours. I get to work with old friends and meet new ones as we prepare for the guest posts together. The support and generosity of all my hosts warms me all over in this miserable winter filled with freezing weather, fires, mudslides. 

My prayers are with all those who are suffering through the tragedies and prayers for those who respond to these emergencies. I hope my book will allow an escape from reality for readers and bring some entertainment, perhaps a giggle, and perhaps chills not caused by cold weather.

Hop over to Sandra's blog today, Monday, January 15, to enter to win a PDF copy of Terror on Sunshine Boulevard. The article on tips on flower arranging will inspire you to bring in some colorful flowers to brighten those wintry days.
Today!! Click here to visit the Sandra Cox Blog
Wednesday, January 17--hop on over to the Nan Pokerwinski Heartwood Blog. You'll learn a lot about the book and my writing process and you can enter to win a PDF copy of Terror on Sunshine Boulevard.
# # # #
Please read on to find an excerpt from the paranormal mystery. The excerpt is a scen with the sweetest dog, Jingles, and his master, Mr. Tweeble.  They live in the beautiful Florida senior park, Citrus Ridge Senior Community and Resort on Sunshine Boulevard. 
Mr. Tweeble's dog, Jingles, in paranormal mystery, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard
Excerpt: Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
A few nights later, Mr. Tweeble woke up with a start when his dog Jingles began barking loud enough to wake him even if he wasn’t wearing his hearing aids.
“Jingles! Jingles! Hush up, will you? It’s three o’clock in the morning. You’re going to wake the neighborhood with your barking.”

He remembered Jingles barking and whining like that when he drove his electric scooter near George McConnell’s house that afternoon. He had finally picked up the feisty terrier and put him on his lap to join the other curiosity seekers near the house. The dog jumped off and raced the other way until he was brought up short on his leash and howled until his master turned the cart around and left the area.

Jingles’ pitiful yowling broke into Mr. Tweeble’s memory.

Fearing his dog was sick, Mr. Tweeble rolled himself out of bed, fumbled putting on his glasses, and shuffled into the kitchen. Using the night light in the hood vent over the old stove to see the dog, he discovered the animal scampering back and forth near the back door.

“Jingles, come ‘ere, boy. Are you sick?” Mr. Tweeble picked him up and gently held the dog close to his chest. He switched on the ceiling light and studied the precious face he dearly loved. He checked Jingles’ brown ears and his brown and white furry body for any injuries and then cradled him to his rotund belly.

“It’s all right, little guy. Come on. Come on to bed with me. You must want to go out to chase a rabbit, eh?” As he slowly shuffled his way back to his bedroom with the dog, he wondered what was wrong. Mr. Tweeble made a mental note to check behind the couch for an “accident” in the morning.

He lay down on the rumpled bed and enfolded the trembling dog in his arms. Suddenly Jingles wriggled free and sprang up barking non-stop. He leaped from the bed and raced out of the room. A flash of searing yellow light filled the room blinding Mr. Tweeble, and the smell of his own scorched flesh burned his nostrils.
# # # #
Just click on the blog name and pop on over to have fun and win prizes!!

Monday-Today-Sandra Cox Blog

Wednesday, January 17 Nan Pokerwinski Heartwood Blog - a blog about cultivating creativity, connection and contentment wherever you are.

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Honoring and Remembering Martin Luther King
Honoring Martin Luther King

Thank you to Dr.King and those brave people through our history for trailblazing a path to freedom, equality and justice for all. 

Only in the darkness can you see the stars.--Martin Luther King

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DIY MFA Book Club Challenge, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Blog Tour Begins Monday

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog!
Are you writing today?
How are you doing with your writing goals? Don't lose your determination to get that story or book out of your head and onto the paper.

"Many writers struggle with finding time to write, maintaining their motivation, or keeping that pesky inner critic at bay," said Gabriella Pereira at DIY MFA. She has a plan for smacking down those obstacles by helping writers build writing momentum and bust through mental blocks that are getting in your way.  She is launching a new program called the DIY MFA Book Club Challenge.  Click here for more information about the Do-It-Yourself Master of Fine Arts Book Club.

I decided to be more proactive in my writing process and join the challenge. How about you? I'll be sharing some of my writing prompts Gabriela gives us during the month. Here's the first one.
DIY MFA Book Club
Prompt: How did you become a writer?
How did you become a writer?
Writing is a superpower and every superhero has an origin story. What’s yours? When did you realize that you wanted to write? What motivated you to get started?
I became a writer when I was in second grade in order to stay out of trouble. I was an innocent player in an unusual situation during my second grade year in my small town grade school. Our second and third grade classes were filled with more kids than usual, hence the term “baby boomers.” Not quite enough kids in each class to hire two teachers, so the school decided to have a combined class of second and third grades in one classroom. And who was the lucky teacher assigned to handle this double workload? My mother.
Yes, I had my mother as my second-grade teacher. Talk about a predicament for both of us. I was always aware of my "special standing" in the class.  Did the kids treat me differently because our teacher was my mother? Perhaps at times, but I never felt it caused a problem with friends.
Do I call mom Mrs.or just Mom? Actually, I didn't address her at all during school time. 
Could I hug her when leaving for recess? No, I didn't do that, but plenty of hugs after school. 
In fact, my mother and I had a special relationship which I cherish to this day. I don't know if being her student for nine months may have contributed to our closeness as I forged through my teens and beyond.
Many years later, after I was married and had my two daughters, Mom told me how difficult that year was for her. She never graded my tests, but instead opted for having the other second-grade teacher do it. She didn’t want anyone to think she was giving me A’s because I was her daughter. She was stricter with me than with the other kids in the classroom for fear of being accused of favoring me. She struggled all year to find a balance between being my mother and being my teacher. As a 7-year-old I had no idea.
I admit I was one of those kids who loved to talk to students sitting near me so I would get in trouble a lot for doing that. In order not to invoke the wrath of my mother on me, I learned I had to keep busy so I wouldn’t talk to my classmates when I finished my assignments. Since I was always done earlier than anyone else, I decided to write stories.
My writing pencil.
I remember scrawling those stories, mostly about animals, on a tablet (way before electronic tablets were available) using a #2 lead pencil. I wrote so many stories, I developed a “writer’s bump” on the middle finger of my right hand. I still have it. Not only did I love creating those tales using my 7-year-old-experiences as a starting point, I especially loved reading the stories to my class and watching them smile and laugh because of what I wrote. Seeing their enjoyment hooked me so I continued to make up stories and still do to this day!
 Are you a writer? When did you begin? How ARE you doing with those 2018 writing plans? 

Are you a reader? When did you fall in love with reading? 

Please leave a comment below. We'd love to hear your experiences.

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Winter Warm-Up Blog Tour with J.Q. Rose

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard Winter Blog Tour
Join us for book giveaways, prizes, mysteries, and fun!
Excited to begin my Blog Tour for my newly-released paranormal mystery, Terror on Sunshine Boulevard. Author Sandra Cox kicks off the tour on Monday where I share tips on arranging cut flowers. (In case you didn't know, I was in the flower business with GT for 20 years.) Thank you, Sandra, for hosting my first stop!

Then I pop over to my critique buddy's amazing blog, Heartwood, on Wednesday where I answer questions Nan Pokerwinski has cooked up. Please join us. Just click on the blog name and go to have fun and win prizes!!

Sandra Cox Blog

Nan Pokerwinski Heartwood Blog - a blog about cultivating creativity, connection and contentment wherever you are.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

IWSG: Plan for Writing in 2018, Celebration of Chrys Fey's New Release, Flaming Crimes Mystery

Hello and welcome to the J.Q. Rose blog. 
Time for the monthly meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group(IWSG) blog hop! 

Internet Writers Support Group Blog Hop
First Wednesday of every month.
What is IWSG? Founder of the  Insecure Writer’s Support Group and author Alex J Cavanaugh explains the group's purpose 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.

The group blogs 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. You can find the list of participants at Alex's IWSG page. I hope you'll take some time to visit the diverse list of bloggers.

IWSG Question for the Month
Question:  What steps have you taken or plan to take to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?
I plan to continue with a scheduled time every day for my writing. I learned when I was penning Deadly Undertaking a few years ago, the only way to get the story done was to sit down every day and write. I set aside 15 minutes after lunch to just write. NO Internet. The 15 minutes usually turn in to one or two hours when I am on a roll. 

This year I'll be working on a memoir about the first year we were in the flower business, so I plan to escape back to 1976 after lunch every day.

I've not made a plan for marketing other than contacting bloggers to host me on a blog tour in January and February. (Anyone have a spot for me on your blog?) 

I'm planning to create a LOT of marketing images for Facebook and other social media using That's fun for me. I haven't scheduled an appointment with myself to carry this through. Perhaps I should.

Have you made a plan for 2018? Let us know in a comment below. Thank you.
                                                                         # # # #
I am thrilled to be celebrating the release of Chrys Fey's fourth book in her Disaster Crimes series, Flaming Crimes by participating in a Blogfest. 

Chrys invited bloggers to answer this question--"What is something ridiculous you would save if there was a fire?"

She added the following note."Now, when I say ridiculous, I mean something that is important to you (something worth grabbing), but other people might find odd. After your family, pets, and important items are safe and sound (that includes anything writing related), what is the one odd thing you’d want to grab from your home?"

Flaming Crimes Blogfest
Flaming Crimes Blogfest
January 1-3-2018
My Answer--If youre' a reader, you may not think my choice is a ridiculous item to save when you are racing away from a fire.

I would save my Kindle because:
Would you save your Kindle?

1.It's small and I can grab it right off my night stand as I dash away from the approaching flames. (You can tell I'm picturing a fire in the middle of the night.)
2.I can check in on FB and email on the internet to keep in touch while I watch the firemen,women save my house.
3.I can type easily on the Kindle. (I hate typing on my phone.)
4.I'll have all of my books on hand so I can read to give me a short break from the reality of dealing with the problems a fire would bring to my life.
# # # #
Flaming Crimes by Chrys Fey
Book #4 in the Disaster Crimes Book Series
Series: Disaster Crimes #4
Page Count: 304 
Digital Price: 4.99 
Print Price: 16.99
Rating: Spicy (PG13) 


BACK OF THE BOOK: Flaming Crimes by Chrys Fey
Beth and Donovan are now happily married, and what Beth wants more than anything is a baby. Her dream of starting a family is put on hold as fires burn dangerously close and Donovan becomes a victim of sabotage.

Donovan escapes what could've been a deadly wreck. Their past enemies have been eliminated, so who is cutting brake lines and leaving bloody messages? He vows to find out, for the sake of the woman he loves and the life they're trying to build.

Amidst a criminal mind game, a fire ignites next to their home. They battle the flames and fight to keep their house safe from the blaze pressing in on all sides, but neither of them expects to confront a psychotic adversary in the middle of the inferno.

Their lives may just go up in flames…

Author Chrys Fey
About the Author: Chrys Fey is the author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept blending romance, crimes, and disasters. She’s partnered with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and runs their Goodreads book club. She’s also an editor for Dancing Lemur Press.

Author Links:
Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

You're invited to visit the list of bloggers participating in the Flaming Crimes Blogfest by clicking the links below.. I wonder if you'll agree with the items we have chosen to save from the fire. 

Would you save your Kindle? Please leave a comment below.