Today’s virtual tour brings me to the Mixed Book Bag. Drop by and see the five places I’d love to travel to learn about the native cuisine.
Category Archives: female friends
Just in case you missed any of the tour stops for week 2, here’s a listing with links. Be sure to drop by, leave some love, and be entered for a chance to win an Amazon GC at the end of the tour.
Monday, October 2 Danita Minnis
Tuesday, October 3 Up ’til Dawn Book Blog
Thursday, October 5 Nancy Fraser
Day 5 brings me to ROMANCE NOVEL GIVEAWAYS where I’m discussing walking the walk and talking the talk when it comes to stuff in books. You can’t just make stuff up, you know! Heehee. Stop by for a chance at a $25 AMazon GC.
I retired in 2015 when I got a book contract. I’d worked for about 150 years as a nurse in varying specialties, then as a contact lens technician. By the time I left the nursing profession I was dog tired, emotionally wrung out, and psychological drained. Having a full time job that could be at the same time uplifiting and soul-sucking was difficult. I figured retirement – and the oppportunity to write full time – would be much more relaxing and enjoyable.
What’s that old saying? You make plans and God laughs?
yeah…story of my life.
I figured writing full time would be a cake walk. Hey, I didn’t have to get dressed in professional clothes everyday any more, do my makeup, hair, and coordinate my wardrobe. I could stay in my pj’s all day and not even put on deodorant if I didn’t want to. ( I do, just for full disclosure here!)
That easy, carefree life of a writer I imagined? yeah..not so much. A few months ago I did a blog piece about a simple question my husband asks me every day at dinner: “So, what did you do today.” My usual response? “Worked.”
One night I figured he really needed to hear what I actually do under the definition of “work,” so here’s what I told him.
4am, Finally got out of bed after lying there for an hour, wide awake.
405am – 530 am Checked email, answered 16 messages. Wrote 2 blogs, uploaded one then posted on social media outlets and HootSuite for the day. Social media sites included uploads of blog on twitter, Triberr, Tumblr, Linked in, Goodreads, google+ and Pinterest. Hootsuites were posted for every 2 hours.
530-6. Got hubby up, ate breakfast. Got ready for the day. Made bed.
630-930 am Gym, followed by grocery shopping for the week, Target, the post office and the bank. Got gas and went to the dump.
930-1030am put the groceries away then started laundry, vacuumed bedrooms and living area. Started dishwasher.
1030-1pm wrote in current wip; worked on Copyedits just received for Book 3 in new cooking series.
1pm-130pm ate lunch then answered emails and checked social media sites. Changed laundry and started another load.
130-500 worked on wip; and worked on Copy edits for book 3 in new cooking series, plus plotted out book 4. ) Folded dried laundry and put it away. Ironed shirts.
5-545 walked on treadmill and read current NetGalley book for review. Folded the remainder of done laundry, put it away.
545-630 cooked dinner, cleaned up the kitchen, set table, worked on copy edits.
630-7pm dinner and conversation ( questions!) with Hubby. Cleaned up the dinner dishes.
7-830 worked on wip, answered email, worked on blog posting for the morning. Did a few pages of the copy edits for book 3
830-10 read Netgalley again
Midnight-2 am. wide awake in bed, reliving yesterday, planning today.
Now, mind you: I have no children at home who need to be tended to, ferried places, or shown love and attention. I don’t currently, have a pet. My friends all work at full-time jobs out side of the home, so ladies who lunch is not on my menu. I don’t get manicures, pedicures, or have spa days. The last time I went to a mall my daughter was in college and I had a panic attack from the crowds. I simply write all day long.
But there’s nothing simple about a day in my life.
So, how do you think the other authors in this blog challenge spend their days? Find out by clicking on the links below
PASSION’S PALETTE, book 5 in the MacQuire Women series, releases on 8.4.17.
Blurb: Talented and witty portrait artist Serena MacQuire is successful in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivaled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.
But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. After he left his professional football career to become a veterinarian, his bitter wife ended their marriage. Now, as he starts his life over in a new town, love is the last thing he’s looking for. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.
Will he be the man who finally unlocks and claims her heart?
Standing before her, his hands in the back pockets of his jeans, he wore a look of bashful sheepishness. “I guess I owe you an apology,” he said, tilting his head to one side. The sun was full force on his face, one eye winked closed from its glare.
“You don’t look apologetic. You could have told me you were David’s partner,” she said, cringing when she heard the whine in her tone, “instead of allowing me to believe you were one of the moving men.”
“Now, hang on a sec,” he said, moving closer to her. “You were the one who assumed that. I never told you I was one of the movers. In fact, you never gave me a chance to tell you who I was. You just assumed. Incorrectly, it turns out.”
“You could have said something,” Serena blurted, her lower lip pouting outward.
Check out the other authors in this Book Hook Blog Hop:
So the last time I blogged I was waiting for my flight to leave, bound for Orlando, Fl, and RWA 2017. The wifi in the airport was primo.
After a long, hot, sweaty, and annoying wait for my shuttle car to arrive at airport pickup, I finally arrived at the Walt Disney Resort- Dolphin Hotel. Answer honestly: does this look like a dolphin?
This is the sister hotel, the Swan.
Yeah. Aptly named, I think.
Anyway, I digress….
I arrived safe – sweaty – but sound, checked in and went to dinner with some of my chapter mates from NHRWA. To bed early and then a big day to start the conference off with a bang. Right away Wednesday a.m. I registered to make myself official.
This is me, all official: Sorry that my eyes look crossed. I never know where to look when I take a selfie! Hee hee.
A few workshops that first afternoon and then an evening to network. The Swan/Dolphin resorts are linked to what’s called The Disney Boardwalk, so a few of my chapter mates and I again went to eat. Lots of walking and eating at this conference! I got in my 10,000 steps a day, PLUS. It’s Dinsey, so of course, we paid through the teeth for a simple Italian themed dinner, but, oh well. Like I said, it’s DISNEY!
I’m going to do individual blogs for the next week or so to let you know some of the highlights of the trip. Here’s some hints: the blogs include using your creative brain – and not for writing, and total fan girl moments that changed my life!! Hee Hee. Hope you’re intrigued.
Off, now, to do six loads of laundry then grocery shop for the week because, you know….life.
On August 4, 207 my fifth MacQuire Women book, PASSION’S PALETTE gets released in the romance book reading world from The Wild Rose Press! I’m so thrilled. I want to share another little snippet from the pages with you today to whet your appetites ( I hope!)
Portrait Artist Serena MacQuire is talented, witty, and successful…in everything but love. Her gift for capturing people on canvas is rivaled only by her fiery and legendary temper. A tragedy from the past keeps her heart securely locked away, preventing any man from getting close enough to claim it.
But Seamus Cleary isn’t just any man. Relationship-shy and dedicated to his work as an animal healer, the last thing the divorced Veterinarian is looking for when he moves to town is love. The more he tends to Serena’s horses, though, the more he realizes her own heart needs tender care and healing as well.
Will he be the man who, finally, unlocks and cures her broken heart?
Gingerly, Serena traced the scar lining his mouth down to his chin with her finger, then replacing it with her lips and tongue.
His breath hissed at the touch. “Serena—”
“How did you get this?” she asked.
Sighing, he laid his forehead against hers. “It’s a stupid story,” he said.
“That just means it’s embarrassing,” she said, grinning. “Tell me.”
He rolled over on his back and curled her into his side, her head resting on his chest.
“I was helping my dad and mom renovate another house when I was fifteen. They’d given me the job of restoring the banister leading to the second story. It was a lot of responsibility, and I was determined to do a good job since they’d put their trust in me.”
“I get the feeling you were always a responsible kid.”
He considered it for a moment. “Maybe. But we’d moved around a lot by then and I think I really just wanted the house to be so perfect they would finally settle and put down roots. It was hard, always packing up and moving, changing schools. Luckily I had football, was good at it, so wherever we’d wind up I always had an entrée.”
“I can just picture you,” she said with a grin. “Tall and gangly. All arms and legs. Like a monkey.”
His mouth pursed into a thin line. “Do you want to hear this or not?”
With a giggle, she kissed his chin. “I do.”
He took a deep breath. “Fifteen year old boys have two things on their minds ninety-nine percent of the time.”
“I know one is food,” Serena said “My sister’s, well I guess you can call him her step-son, Cole, is fourteen and he eats without stopping. David’s like a teenager, maturity-wise, so same goes.”
Nodding, Seamus trailed his fingers down her bare arm. “That’s one.”
“And the other?”
He didn’t answer her for a moment and she sat up on an elbow to stare down at him. “Oh, my God, are you blushing?”
He rolled his eyes. “Men don’t blush. The other is girls. Or more specifically, sex with girls.”
Her laughter flittered up to the canopy above them. “You have to tell me the rest of it now, or my imagination’s not going to let up.”
He squinted up at her and in one fluid motion, rolled both of them on the blanket, landing on top of her.
“What a horrible name.” She laughed.
“Her name could have been Attila the Hun for all I cared. She was seventeen, built like a Playboy bunny and had legs that went from heaven and back again.”
“I hate her already.”
“Yeah, well, at the time I was seriously in lust with her. Her house was next door to the one we were rehabbing and she would come over whenever I was there working, to talk.”
“Well, she talked. I stared. Open mouthed, most of the time. At her breasts.”
“I really hate her now.”
He grinned down at her. “She had world class breasts. Even at seventeen.”
Serena socked him in the bicep. “Back to the scar, Romeo.”
Wanting her more with every passing second, he said, “I was sanding the banister, getting all the old varnish and stain off it, when she came by. She had on a bikini top and Daisy Duke cut offs shorter than most underpants. My hormones were blasting. I shut off the electric sander and, not thinking, plunked it down on the saw horse I had on the staircase with me.”
“This is the stupid part. The sawhorse wasn’t very stable and I forgot about the hammer sitting on the plank. When the sander bumped next to it, it kind of careened the hammer up into the air.”
“Oh, my God.”
“I know it all happened in a few seconds, but it seemed like hours watching the hammer take flight, twist and come at me, the jagged edge facing me. It caught the corner of my mouth and as I tried to move out of the way, it tore at my face.”
“Seamus. Good grief, what did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything. I must have been in shock. My mother, unfortunately, watched the whole thing happen and couldn’t stop it. She screamed for my father and they hustled me into the car and to the nearest emergency room.”
Serena’s fingers came up and traced the scar again.
“Thirty stitches later and with a stern warning from my folks about safety and paying attention, here we are.”
“What happened with Carolyn Needleman?”
He smiled, slowly, remembering how she’d come by his house the next day bearing ice cream and, in an attempt to make him feel better, allowing him to play with her exceptional breasts.
“I don’t like the implications of that smile,” Serena said. “Tell me.”
He shrugged. “She went off to college in the fall and I never saw her again.”
One eyebrow crawled dangerously close to her hairline. “Why am I not convinced that’s all there is?”
“It’s my story and I’m sticking with it,” he said, bringing his lips down to hers.
and when I’m not writing, you can find me here:
Today, something a little different. I’m turning my blog over to one of my Wild Rose Press sistahs, Karen C. Whalen, for the day. Karen has new book out in her culinary cozy mystery series, the dinner club murder mysteries, titled NOT ACCORDING TO FLAN. As a writer, Karen is going to talk to you today about that wonderful thing every writer needs to establish in their stories and between their characters: CONFLICT.
She’s also giving you a litte sumthin’ sumthin from her book, so stayed tuned to the end!
Please welcome, Karen C. Whalen.
Conflict has been called the most important element in fiction, an essential crafting tool every writer must master. Novels demand conflict and tension to compel readers to keep turning the pages.
Adding conflict was the subject of a writing exercise in a workshop I attended a few years ago. The first step was to jump to the middle of our WIP (work in progress). My middle was at page one-hundred. Then, we were instructed to add conflict on that very page by having the characters argue. They were not to have a nice, gentlemanly disagreement, no. The characters had to insult each other and call one another names. The instructor required a knock-down fight of the blow-out variety, not a puny squabble. When I started the assignment I wondered how in the world my main characters could argue. They were friends in a cozy gourmet dinner club in a cozy murder mystery. How was I going to toss in the kind of verbal exchange that would endure to a final draft?
I started reading the scene on page one hundred. Even before I finished the page, an argument popped into my corrupt and depraved mind. I let it all hang out, the taunting and the mud-slinging, all of it. The scene was much improved. The conflict added depth to the dialogue, enhanced the theme of the book, and brought the characters to life. Even I wanted to read to the end to see how the characters resolved their issues.
Why? Because in real life friends do not talk to each other that way. Friends don’t insult each other; they don’t call each other names. Friendships, in reality, are fragile. But friends think those angry thoughts, they just don’t say them out loud. Not if they want to stay friends. Admit it, you’ve played such an argument out on the pages of your imagination many times. The reader’s fantasy is fulfilled in the conflict on the written page.
Not only do readers crave the conflict, they need a satisfactory resolution as well. End results are impossible to control in real life, but the creator of the characters can control the outcome. At the end of my new and improved scene, the first character apologized to the second character who said, “No, I totally see your point of view.” Not every clash of character is going to resolve this way, nor would we want it to. At least not every time. But, hey, wouldn’t our lives be wonderful if we could resolve our arguments so happily?
That’s not reality. That’s why it’s called fiction.
Like everybody else I had a best friend growing up. We were best buds from grade school to high school to college. We swore we’d always be best friends. And you can guess what happened. She said I said something that hurt her feelings. I don’t even remember saying what she said I said. As I said, friendships are fragile. And how I would like to rewrite that dialogue!
And I can.
I can create my own comfy world in my own cozy murder mysteries. My characters are friends, good friends. When they argue, they kiss and make up (usually) and the reader keeps turning those pages to make sure.
In the last part of the writing exercise, we were instructed to examine every page of our WIP, every single page, not just every scene, and add conflict to each page, to create a page-turner, can’t-put-it-down novel.
When I heard that, I wanted to punch out that instructor. Not really, because he was so right. And besides, I live in reality where people restrain themselves most of the time. But in fiction, there are endless opportunities for confrontation and clash…and conflict.
Jane Marsh wants to shake off the empty nest syndrome, plus the notoriety of the death of her first and second husbands, by starting over in a new place. She sells her family home to move to a far northern suburb of Denver. At the same time, Jane’s dinner club is undergoing a transformation, and a new man—a gourmet chef—enters her life. But, things turn sour when, on the day Jane moves into her new home, she discovers a dead body. She cannot feel at home in this town where she’s surrounded by cowboys, horse pastures, and suspects. Not to mention where a murder was committed practically on her doorstep. How can she focus on romance and dinner clubs when one of her new friends—or maybe even her old ones—might be a murderer?
Slam! Chink. The brown packing box fell off the dolly with the tinkling sound of glass on glass. Jane sighed as the mover stacked the box labeled “kitchen” back on the dolly and thumped down the basement stairs with it.
Never mind. She’d sort it out later. She slipped outside into the warmth of the early September, blue-sky, Colorado day to check on her puppies sniffing around their new territory in the backyard. Leaning over the deck railing facing the lot to the east, she gazed into the bottom of an open excavation where a basement was being poured. Someone had parked a tractor down in the dirt, and near it a white cowboy hat lay on the ground. A man’s hand stretched toward the hat’s brim. Had someone fallen into the pit?
Jane bounded down the deck stairs and out the wooden gate, only stopping for a moment to secure the latch. She rounded the corner of her new house and rushed to the adjoining lot, pausing near the edge of the concrete that formed the basement’s foundation.
A man was shoved against the corner of the foundation wall. His torso and legs were partly covered with dirt. The cowboy hat concealed the top of his head. His left hand almost touched the brim, as if he were about to take off his hat and say “Howdy do.” A large manila envelope lay a foot or so away from his other outstretched hand.
On the envelope tall, block letters spelled out: “Jane Marsh—welcome to your new home.”
Jane’s hands flew to her throat. “Ethan,” she breathed.
Her eyes took in the three cement walls rising out of the dirt floor and at the rear, a crumbling slope of dirt spilling into the pit. Starting toward the back slope, she hesitated. The soil might not be stable. She lifted two planks, plunked the long ends of the boards into the pit, and climbed down.
The smell of turned earth filled her nose as she skirted the tractor, a small, front-end loader. Falling to her knees, she lifted the cowboy hat, then dropped it. She felt the man’s wrist for a pulse. It wasn’t there. Then her hand moved toward the envelope with her name on it, but she drew back.
After yanking a cell phone out of the back pocket of her worn jeans, she punched in 9-1-1. “A man fell into a construction pit… I’m pretty sure he’s dead…no, he’s beyond help.” The dispatcher asked for the address, and she gave it to him in a shaky voice. “Yes, I’ll stay on the line.” The makeshift bridge was harder to get back up than it was to get down. After making it to the top, she crossed the lot and rushed through her front door.
“Yeah? Whatzup, Mom?” Her grown son appeared from the kitchen. He was almost a foot taller than she, but with the same slim build and a cap of the same rich brown hair.
“Ethan Valrod. The construction manager for the builder. He fell into the basement pit next door. He’s dead.” Breathless, she took a deeper breath to stop her ears buzzing and her heart pounding.
“What the?” Caleb’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open.
“Ethan Valrod’s dead. I’ve called 9-1-1 already and they told me to stay on the line.” Jane lifted the phone to her ear, but the operator was silent. Legs shaking, she led the way, and Caleb followed her out the door.
Her son stationed himself on top of the foundation, hands clenched to his sides, while taking in the sight below. She plucked at his sleeve. “Are you going down to look?”
He nodded his head and descended the plank. In only a few moments he was back, dragging her by the elbow over to the concrete curb where they sat together facing the street.
After hearing a voice spluttering from the phone, Jane spoke into it. “I’m all right. I’ve got my son here with me now. We’ll wait together.” She hit the mute button and shifted the phone from her right hand to her left.
Caleb slid a folded piece of paper out of his tight jean pocket and handed it to her. “I forgot to give you this.”
In a tremulous voice, she read out loud, “Mrs. Marsh, I stopped by to give you a welcome packet with the keys. I’ll come back later.” Ethan Valrod’s signature was scrawled across the bottom. She gazed into the distance for a moment.
Caleb lifted his hands, palms up. “It was on the counter when I got here. The movers set a box on top of the note, and I didn’t want it to get lost, so I put it in my pocket.”
“Okay, thanks.” Swallowing hard, she darted a quick glance over her shoulder, but no one else was around. “It looked like someone used the tractor to cover the body with dirt.”
“I noticed. And there were marks on the ground, like someone rolled his body into the corner first.”
“Did you see the blood on the tractor bucket?”
“Yeah.” Caleb gave his mother a pop-eyed stare and she returned the look.
Her ears seemed sharper than usual. The dogs barked from the other side of the fence. A plane’s engine droned from overhead. Police sirens approached from the next block.
Book 1: Everything Bundt the Truth
Book 2: Not According to Flan
Karen C. Whalen is the author of a culinary cozy series, the “dinner club murder mysteries.” The first three in the series are: Everything Bundt the Truth, Not According to Flan, and No Grater Evil. Her books are similar to those written by cozy authors Jessica Beck and Joanne Fluke. She worked for many years as a paralegal at a law firm in Denver, Colorado and has been a columnist and regular contributor to The National Paralegal Reporter magazine. She believes that it’s never too late to try something new. She loves to host dinner clubs, entertain friends, ride bicycles, hike in the mountains, and read cozy murder mysteries.
You can connect with Karen here:
Just read an article about a group of men who are super pissed that many theaters around the country hosted WOMEN ONLY screenings of the new WONDER WOMAN movie this weekend. I don’t want to copy the article in its entirety, so here’s the link. Men were tweeting that this is discriminatory and that they think someone should sue the theater chain holding the all female screenings for sexism, gender discrimination, and male bashing which they equate to a hate crime.
With all the horrible shit currently happening – the Manchester and London bombings, North Korea’s nuclear tests, the US’s pullout of the climate accord, not to mention healthcare, welfare, hate crimes, and EVERYTHING ELSE important, some men are complaining because a movie about the first and only FEMALE SUPERHERO is catering to a female-only clientele? For real?
My only comment to these misguided, misogynistic men is, get a friggin’ life!
Male superheroes abound. Every weekend of the summer it seems a new male superhero movie opens up. Tony Spark (Ironman), Thor, SpiderMan, Batman, Captain America, the list goes on and on. And lest these knuckleheads who are protesting say something stupid like “what about Black Widow? She’s a superhero.” Yeah – a SECONDARY CHARACTER superhero. THAT’S IT! There’s no movie in which Black Widow is the end all- be all. No storyline that a major movie company funded for her.
The back story is hers. She’s female, she’s the protagonist, the movie was directed by a woman, and the cast features some of the baddest-assed women in entertainment today ( Anybody watching HOUSE OF CARDS want to debate that point about ROBIN WRIGHT?) This movie is showing girls everywhere, all girls – from toddlers to teens to middle aged and beyond – that girls have power. Girls are smart. They can think deductively. They can make a difference through their strength, their intellect, their courage, their compassion. This movie is a prime example of female empowerment in its purest form – and it relies on Diana Prince’s sense of inner humanity and her desire for the downtrodden of the world to have a voice. SHE is their voice.
I can’t possibly believe these men feel threatened in any way by the movie houses catering to women only for this release. Men, unfortunately, still rule the world in every way. They make more money than women for doing the same job, they hold the vast majority of political offices in the US and abroad, they manage most of the major corporations on the planet. Why are they so pissed off about a movie theater chain catering to a women-only audience for a few days?
Do they think that the message in the movie — that WOMEN — can fend for themselves, physically, economically, emotionally, and defensively without the help of men, is true? That a society where women rule with peace and understanding, yet physical acumen, is a threat? A potential future event? Are they so scared of a woman who believes it is her duty to right the wrongs generations and eons of men have thrust upon the world, is a bad thing?
Or are they just acting like bratty children who want something someone else has and can’t have and feel left out?
I’m gonna take a wild guess and say those same male protestors didn’t vote for a woman in the 2016 election…. just saying.
Oh, and BTW, the movie grossed $100,000,000 + in its opening weekend. That’s a huge chunk of change. Hollywood ( male dominated and run Hollywood) take notice. Again…just saying.