Thursday, June 30, 2011

And The Winner Is...

Congratulations Anne! You are the winner of one of Kate George's books. Please send me your email address and your book will be on its way. Thank you for commenting at our site.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Mr. Owl

I have seen the movie Saving Private Ryan many times. In fact I own a DVD of the movie. The story is about eight WWII soldiers who go behind enemy lines to find and retrieve a missing paratrooper, Private James Ryan, who's been ordered home because his three brothers have already been killed in the war.

To avoid a public relations fiasco, the Army orders that Ryan be found and returned safely to the USA. As the men make their way deeper into German held territory and encounter varying levels of resistance, they ponder whether their or others' lives are worth the risks being taken to find and save Private Ryan, a young man they don't even know.

Now this is not about that movie or saving a soldier. Instead it is about trying to save a baby owl who fell from a tree.

Mr Owl’s story started the day I had a job interview in Dallas. My first priority after the interview was getting rid of a tie which had a choke hold on my neck. Next was fighting the rush hour traffic back to Fort Worth so that I could change into more comfortable clothes and head to the park nearby with a nice cold drink. At the park, I stopped my car underneath the branches of a tall oak tree and sat there in the quiet for a few minutes before making a few phone calls and switching on the radio to listen to some of the crazy callers to Austin’s KLBJ talk radio.

The wind picked up a bit and I wondered if it might rain later. Texas weather is like that. It can change in a heart beat. Leaves dropped from the tree loosened by the wind and my gaze fixated on something that dropped out of the tree after one strong gust. I stepped out of the car and a large baby bird had dropped to the ground flapping its wings. Fascinated because I’d never seen this before, I looked closer. It was about fifty percent bigger than a fat dove and appeared to be some type of owl. I had seen baby birds who had fallen from their nests into the grass below but never one of that type or size.

I stood for a few minutes watching him. He tried to fly a couple of times. He flapped his wings going a few feet but never back up to the top of the tree. The wind gusts became more frequent and he shivered even though the temperature in late afternoon continued to hover around 100F. He could not fly back to the safety of his home in the nest. I knew the poor creature’s fate was doomed. The pretty grey bird would soon be dinner for a hawk or a neighborhood cat. Already, a Coopers hawk perched on a limb just to the left of my car.

I’m not a big animal lover or even a pet owner, but something that day made me get out of the car and stoop down to take a closer look at that grey owl. As I gazed down at him, his big yellow eyes looked back up. He made no sound in the ever blowing hot wind and I went back to my car preparing to leave him there. But I did not sit for long. I got back out and went back to him. I reached down with my hand and petted him a little. He did not squirm or try to flee. Then on an impulse driven by the need to soothe him I scooped him up. Maybe it was a feeling of compassion and pity, I still don’t know. I carefully got in the car and placed him in the passenger seat. He simply sat there and did not move. Maybe he was in shock, or tired, or scared.

Making my way slowly up the hill from the park, I pulled into my driveway and took the little guy inside. I tried to recall some of the things from the cable TV shows on nature and wild animals and tried to feed him. He sat on the counter by the sink as I chopped up some turkey with a little water. His beak remained firmly shut. The little owl remained silent looking up at me with his big yellow eyes. I got a bit sad and then worried. I wanted him to eat something and be okay, really better than okay. I had no idea what was involved in the care of him or how I could keep him until he was big enough to be on his own. Bringing him home was, again, some unexplainable impulse. There I was, a 51 year old man who really didn’t like animals with a baby owl in my kitchen. But I had a bird who needed care even if I had no real plan. He was this helpless little creature who otherwise would surely die.

I gathered my thoughts and did the only logical thing. I called my daughter, Jane, who majored in marine biology and loves all animals. She would know what to do with the owl in my kitchen. I pulled out my cell phone and called her. True to form she didn’t answer so I Ieft a detailed and perhaps desperate message to call me back. I tried once more to feed the owl the turkey mush and got a piece in his mouth which he would not swallow. He just looked at me again and made no sound in the quiet of the kitchen.

The phone rang and it was Jane. She asked me how the owl was and started telling me to call the Fort Worth Zoo and the Texas Wildlife Department who might be able care for “Mr. Owl” and save him. I then called the two numbers. Of course it was after 5PM so no one was available. Great, I thought as I picked up the phone to call Jane back while I looked at the still silent little owl.

Jane picked up and we talked more. My cell phone beeped with an incoming call, my mom of course, who it seems always calls when I am in the middle of another call or in the bathroom. Jane and her boyfriend were doing some web searches and got me a number of a local lady who apparently saved birds and other wildlife. I thought that was great. Perhaps there was now a real solution to saving Mr. Owl. I called the lady hoping for the best. But she said she could not take the bird that night since she was sick and lived over 30 miles away. Again, I thought the owl was doomed. But no, the lady gave me phone number of a friend just a few miles from my house. He said he would take Mr. Owl the next day at 9 AM. I hung up very pleased at what I had accomplished and sat down for my dinner. The little owl remained too quiet and I became concerned. Following Jane’s directions, I dug through the closet for a big shoe box and made a bed for him. Getting him to the man in Keller was my main priority.

I went to bed late since I actually stayed up watching the line of storms to the north which belched out sheet lightning that reminded me of a scene from Saving Private Ryan. In the movie the small platoon of soldiers put in for the night in the ruins of a church before continuing their search for the elusive and still unknown Ryan. Flash after flash of artillery lit up the clouds in the dark sky, the rumbles of the guns were like the distant thunder rolling across the heavens over my neighborhood. Quiet alternated with growls in the evening as the sky lit up. Quite a soundtrack to save the little owl.

Before I turned out the lights I checked Mr. Owl once more. He was sitting in the shoebox still silent and not moving much. I looked at him and he looked up at me. I wondered what he was thinking as I closed the box’s lid before turning out the lights.

The sound of thunder, strong wind, and pelting rain on the roof woke me at 3 AM. The storm sirens were going off, signalling the severity of the storm. I got a bad feeling then. It was not a feeling of fear about the storm, but instead a feeling of fear about Mr. Owl. I turned on the light in my bathroom where I had placed him when I went to bed, opened up the box and looked down. Mr. Owl was still. He was dead and stiff in the little nest I’d made for him with one of my T-shirts to keep him warm. Sometime in the five hours between turning out the lights and the storm, he had passed. Maybe he had some injury from falling from the tree, or died from shock but he was gone and I was sad.

In the movie and its fantasy setting Private Ryan made it home. But in my little part of reality Mr. Owl did not. I felt good about trying to save the little bird, and Jane reassured me I had done everything possible to save him. But I couldn’t help questioning why I felt so sad and had shed a tear over him when I gazed at his little dead body. Maybe the fact that the baby bird was helpless tugged at my heart. While I am not, by any means, humanizing Mr. Owl, he seemed to be saying “help me” with his gaze; I can still see his big yellow eyes looking up at me.

In the end I think this event showed me that in life we should try to save little things that cannot save themselves. And I too, just like Mr. Owl, am not so big in the universe. Maybe one day, I might need someone to save me if I fall out of my own warm, comfortable nest or tree.
Jeffery Turner is member of Greater Fort Worth Writers and has written two books.
Notes to Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories and Notes to Stephanie, Days Remembered. He is busy writing his third book. In his spare time he is a photographer and has his photos on Red Bubble

 His books may be purchased at Amazon  or Barnes and Noble

Thanks for stopping by. Have you ever cared for a wild bird or animal? Share your experience.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

As We Were Saying....: And The Winner Is....

As We Were Saying....: And The Winner Is....

And The Winner Is....

Wow! We had an exciting week with two great writers! But we can only have one winner today. Nancy Naigle is the winner of Linda Hall's book STEAL AWAY. Congratulations Nancy!
Come back on Thursday for the next winner!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Writing Successful Transitions

It's our pleasure to feature a post from Angela Ackerman. I first saw the article over on Robyn Lucas's blog.Angela  is a kidlit writer represented by Jill Corcoran of the Herman Agency. Her blog, The Bookshelf Muse, is home to several Descriptive Thesaurus Collections for writers, including an Emotion Thesaurus, which lists the physical actions for over 40 different emotions.
 If you find this post valuable, let Angela know by leaving a comment.-Ruby Johnson

Angela Ackerman
by Angela Ackerman

Writing itself is change, and within story structure, transitions are key to keeping things moving.
It isn't just about getting your character from scene to scene, it's also is about communicating ideas and making sure there's a smooth flow from one piece of information to the next.

Without deft transitions, the manuscript flow becomes herky-jerky. Characters seem to leap about in time and space, plot points can get dropped and instead of riding down the flowing river of the writer's consciousness with a pina colada in hand, the reader is riding shotgun in Monster Truck Crash Rally Death Match with an icy beverage all over their lap.

So how do we kick ass and take names as far as learning to transition well?

The plot and characters should always be in motion. Every action, every thought, every emotion should all draw the reader forward, deeper into the story. As you write, always think movement. Are the stakes rising, are the characters acting? Does each piece of information deepen the reader's understanding of what is at stake, and what the character must face? Each sentence should form part of the picture, contribute and naturally lead to the next. I'm not just talking sentence structure here, I'm talking about substance. Each word, phrase and idea must not be wasted. Select each one carefully, with intent. This will create a natural and compelling flow.

Transitioning Between Scenes
Not every scene ends with a chapter break, so we need to have a little bag of tricks to get characters from one place to the next. First and foremost, always know where the ending point of your scene is. Every scene should have a natural beginning, middle and end...the end being where the character resolves to take a new action or where he finds himself in worse trouble than at the start. We don't want those characters taking it easy, no sir. Bring on the hot irons of conflict & consequence!

When starting a new scene, be quick about anchoring the reader in the setting and let them know who's viewpoint it is, especially if your book has two or more POV characters. Nothing turns a reader off faster than not knowing where they are, and who is speaking/narrating. A new scene should never feel like Musical Chairs--the reader should always know which POV they are experiencing.

Angela's Tricksy Bag of, erm, Tricks

Keep a Weather Eye on Your Story: This is an excellent way to show a passage of time and get the character moving. No one can hang out at the park for long on a wintery January morning, not unless hypothermia is on the menu. Ditto with a character noticing how the cloud cover is stealing the sun's heat, a storm is brewing or how the sun's position changes as it crosses the sky. When your character takes note, the reader does too. Time is fluid.

Thinking Ahead: The character's thought process can easily allow you to skip ahead to a new scene. By letting thoughts (or worries!) drift to a later event (getting off work, meeting up with someone for a date that night, a ball game on the weekend, etc) at the end of a scene, it allows you to jump to that event without causing a ripple in the story's flow.

A Nice Fish Slap to the Face Remember those high stakes we talked about? Well, action and pressure often leads to mistakes, which leads to nasty, sticky consequences. A great way to transition to a new scene is to show the character having to face the result of an earlier bad choice.

Routine, Routine, Routine No matter how wild and crazy things get, some routines are rarely broken . The responsibilities of school and work, waking up, going to bed, mealtimes...if you need to, you can use these (but don't slow the pace!) to show a leap forward to a new scene. But remember some routines can be overused--starting a chapter with the character waking up--why not start them off brushing their teeth or heading out the door to school, instead? Don't let transitions become long coffee breaks, either. Each setting choice should contribute directly to story and character development and have meaning.

Tick Tock
There's nothing wrong with having a good old-fashioned ticking clock to get a character out of one scene and onto the next one. If your character is on a schedule (man, who isn't?) they will be self aware of the time and can easily communicate this. No one likes to be late, right? Again, just be aware of not overusing this to get in and out of all your scenes.

Changing POV
Obviously, this is only one to use if you're using multiple POVs. If you're at a loss over which POV to use in a scene, it should be told by the person with the most to lose or gain from the action & events of the scene.

Need some more ideas on how to use the world around your characters to transition? Check out The Bookshelf Muse Symbolism Entry on The Passage of Time .Previously posted by Robyn Lucas at

Thanks for stopping by. Have a question? Ask Angela .

Friday, June 24, 2011


Kate George
What We Are Saying...
It is our pleasure to welcome Kate George to our blog to share her book California Schemin'. She is excited to offer an ebook of either of the books here as a prize for commenting. She will be available during the weekend to answer questions. A winner will be announced on Thursday June 30th. So leave a comment for a chance to win a book.

What Kate George Is Saying...

Kate George says she was discussing Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series with two of her friends when she had the audacity to say that “I could write that.” Called on her bluff, she had to follow through or eat her words. With two books published, and two more in the works Kate is indebted to her friends for making her put her money where her mouth is.

She is  the author of the Bree MacGowan Mysteries; Moonlighting in Vermont and California Schemin’. A third Bree novel is in progress, tentatively titled How Much is the Dead Guy in the Window. Kate  also writes light paranormal romance. According  to those in the know, she currently lives in Vermont with her husband, four children, three dogs and a mentally unstable cat.

Back Cover Copy...

It’s mystery with a side of laughter in this sequel to Moonlighting in Vermont. A Californian vacation sounds like a great idea to Vermonter Bree MacGowan, until a dead woman falls into her life, she’s abducted from her bed and her boyfriend disappears completely. It’s enough to make a girl wish she’d never heard of California.

A rugged undercover federal agent is determined to keep Bree from becoming a casualty in his latest case. Unfortunately Bree is less than cooperative. It could be it’s because she doesn’t know he’s on her side, or maybe she’s just plain hardheaded. Either way, it’s enough to make a guy wish he’d never heard of Bree MacGowan.

California Schemin’ Excerpt...

She was falling, plummeting toward the river. Her skirt billowed then wrapped around her as she tumbled. I watched her through the viewfinder. An unnaturally pink anomaly in sharp focus against the grey background of the bridge. I'd never be able to look at that color again without feeling the horror of seeing a woman plunging from the Foresthill Bridge. Half my brain followed her descent with my camera while the other half was in a blind screaming panic.

"No!" I tossed the camera into my camp chair and sprinted upriver.

The riverbank was rocky, stone ledge mixed with large rocks, boulders and pebble beaches. My heart pounded as I slipped and teetered, skidding over the smooth surfaces, tripping over loose stones. I scanned the river as I ran, watching for a splash of pink. Twice I stopped myself from falling by steadying myself on rocks and my hands were stinging. I sucked air and held the stitch that developed in my side as I made my way up stream. The fall appeared horrific, could she have survived? Please, let her be alive.

I was forcing down panic when I saw her floating toward me on the current. She was face down in the water, the pink skirt dark and clinging to her legs. I waded waist deep into the water and grabbed the back of her shirt as she floated by, towing her out of the rapids into a calm shallows at the shore. I needed to get her face out of the water but I knew I wasn’t strong enough to lift her. Blood mingled with the blonde hair feathering around her head in the slow water. A fresh adrenaline rush flooded my brain and I began to panic. I had to get her air and stop the bleeding.

Reaching across her body I grabbed the shoulder of her sleeveless blouse. I was able to pull her body part way out of the water but the fabric slipped from my grasp and she was face down again. I took a deep breath and tried to calm myself. Use two hands, Bree, I told myself; you can do it if you use two hands. Then it hit me that I might have better luck if tried to roll her from underneath. I slid my hand under her, feeling for her arm. I caught what felt like her elbow and tugged. She floated into me. I pushed up on her near shoulder as I used her arm to pull her underside up. The movement of her shoulder started her rotating and she flipped.

I saw I needn’t have bothered. A hole in her temple oozed blood into her hair. Drowning had been the least of her problems and the best I could hope for now was to get her out of the water so she wouldn’t float away. I lurched from the river and lost my breakfast in the trees lining the riverbank.

My name is Bella Bree MacGowan. My friends call me Bree, and I’m not exactly a stranger to dead bodies. It hadn’t even been six months since I found my boss dead. I’d come to California to “recover” from the experience and here I was chasing down another emergency. I hoped I’d be able to pull her from the water when I did find her. I’m only five foot six and don’t have too much heft to me. Luckily I’m strong. With brown hair and eyes I like to tell people I look like Rachael Ray without the benefit of a stylist.

My last dead body had thrown me for a loop, but it hadn’t been nearly as bad as this. Maybe it was because I didn’t actually see Vera die, but discovered her afterward, that I was able to keep my stomach under control. Somehow this was different. The fall combined with the bullet hole was more than I wanted to deal with. I looked over to where her blonde hair drifted on the water. The blood was still mixing with the river water. Had she already been dead when she fell? I glanced up to where she’d fallen and saw the glint of reflection off glass. Someone was watching.

A chill went down my spine, but I waded back into the water anyway and pulled her to the shore. I hefted a couple of rocks onto the woman’s skirt. I didn’t want her floating away when I went to call for help. The sun was warm and I pulled off my soaking hoody as I scrambled back to where I’d left my stuff. I pulled the cell from my pack and punched 911. Unlike in Vermont, I always had cell service in California. Even out here at the bottom of a canyon, I could see the cell tower on the rise above the bridge.

I finished the call and made my way back up the river to the body. I sat on a fallen tree where I could see her, but didn’t have to look at her. Closing her eyes crossed my mind but the last time I’d touched a dead body I’d ended up as the only suspect in a murder investigation. Bree, you’ve already touched her, it wouldn’t hurt to close her eyes. Yes. Yes it would. My fingerprints would be on her eyelids. That’s just creepy. Besides, I don’t want to lose what’s left of my lunch.

It would’ve been peaceful by the river if it weren’t for the body. I turned so I wouldn’t see her staring at the sky, but I felt like she was staring at me. Feeling ghoulish and creeped out, I slid down the side of the fallen tree until I was sitting on the ground. I knew it was childish but there it was. Not even dead people could look through trees.

Visit 's Kate George Page and shop for all Kate George books and other Kate George related products (DVD, CDs, Apparel).

Thanks for stopping by,  please leave Kate a comment and enjoy the movie trailer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

More Of The Best Writer's Tips

We all  want to know what other writers have done that will make our attempts to put those words on the paper with a little more ease. These are just a few more tips to help you get there.

Create Compelling Characters

C.Patrick Schulze, author of Born To Be Brothers

1) . Create protagonists and antagonists  from the inside out.

2) Use setting to reveal characters physically, mentally and emotionally.

3) Prevent sagging middles by adding conflict, not just action.

4)Keep the reader hooked by creating a character with emotions, fears, prejudices with whom the reader can identify.

.Scene And Sequel--Put Emotion In The Right Place

John Foxjohn, author of Code of Deceit

 A Scene has the following three-parts
1. Goal



A Sequel has the following three-part parts:



Don't have a reaction until you have a disaster. Your character would not have internal dialogue (reaction) before the disaster happened.  You'll have the reader saying,"huh -- ?"

Stop Using Weak Or Passive Verbs

A journalist in one of my early critique groups told me to go through my novel and remove all passive verbs such as: was, were, has, are. Then go through and look for the "to be" phrases and words and replace them with action verbs. They add nothing to the sentence, and tell the reader not much more. Try to use body language, or dialogue cues to show instead of tell.
Cindy Davis says to watch your pronoun usage. If you have lots of  he's and she's in a scene, try removing some. Visit her at  (

 Don't Put  In Too Much Backstory
The reader doesn't need to know immediately what happened before the story started. Too much backstory and the reader starts skipping over parts to get to the action or worse, never finishes the book.Tell backstory in dribbles throughout the novel but not every other sentence. That can slow a story down just as much as whole chunks or chapters of backstory.

Would you share any tips you've learned  during  your  writing career? I’d love to hear them.

Monday, June 20, 2011


What We Are Saying...

Linda Hall
 Linda Hall is an author who draws from her love of the sea  to write mysteries. She grew up in New Jersey where she says her love and passion for the ocean was nurtured. In fact, most of her novels have something to do with the sea.
An award winning and twice Christy-nominated author she has written eighteen novels of mystery and suspense, plus many short stories. When she's not writing, Linda and her husband sail the St. John River system and the coast of Maine. In the summer they move aboard their 34' sailboat aptly named - Mystery. For the past few months, she has been in the process of re-writing and bringing up to date some of her older books. Steal Away is one of these books, and she’s excited  about  its release as an eBook.  When you finish reading, leave a comment for a chance at winning a e-book copy of Linda's book. 

What Others Are Saying...

This novel will STEAL AWAY the reader from the ordinary world and transport them into the pages of this fascinating tale of portrayal, redemption and second chances. Without getting preachy, this mystery within a mystery focuses on the premise no sin is too big to be unforgivable if the person genuinely regrets what they have done (difficult to accept for many people). The protagonist is a likable person who does her job without alienating others and has such an honest personality that people open up to her. This is the first installment in what looks like a good mystery series- Harriet Klausner, mystery reviewer

The mystery will grab you and keep you guessing until the very satisfactory ending. Personalities spring to life throughout this book, each of them with their own set of problems and secrets, which build the escalating mystery to a fine pitch. This is the best book I've read in years. I can't wait for Ms. Hall's next book.- An Amazon reviewer

I cannot wait for another mystery with sleuth Teri! Pamper yourself: pour some fresh-brewed tea and curl up with Linda Hall - sure not to disappoint!-Don Pape, editor

Back Cover Copy...

Steal Away is book one of the Teri Blake-Addison private investigator series. Teri's specialty is finding people, but Teri often finds a lot more than her clients want! In Steal Away Teri is hired by a well know evangelist to find out what really happened to his wife. Five years previously she was in a sailboat accident with two friends. Their bodies were found. Hers wasn't. The minister wants to get married again yet is troubled by "ghosts of the past" and he wants to put to rest once and for all what happened to his wife.

What took Ellen away from her famous husband yearly, to the cold windy coast of Maine? Piecing together the life of an unhappy minister's wife, private investigator Teri Blake-Addison trails the wreckage to a remote Canadian island. When murder rocks the community, she realizes the puzzle may not be as simple as it had seemed.

Steal Away was a Christy Award finalist, a Daphne finalist and was given top honors by The Word Guild. As well, it was the 2004 Beacon Award winner for Best Inspirational Novel, the Winter Rose Award Winner for Best Inspirational Novel, and it was given the Award of Excellence from the Colorado Romance Writers.


It took her three days to dig the grave. Exhausting work, and made more so by the fact that it could only be done at night. She could not risk Audrey finding out. Better if she didn’t know. Better if she lived the rest of her small life not knowing.

“She is gone. She’s just gone,” is what would be said to the child.

There was no coffin, no satin lined casket, no memorial service broadcast on national television, no flowers; just a body wound in a new blanket and hidden behind the foundation stones at the back of the house. She had toyed with the idea of taking the body out to sea. There was a wooden dory pulled up on the shore below the cliff. At high tide she could heave it down to the water, place the body inside and row out as far as she was able. But that presented its own set of problems. Could she manage to slide the body out of the boat without capsizing it? And what if the body, instead of sinking and burying itself in the layers of bottom mud, washed up on some distant shore, a product of these unpredictable tides and swirling currents? There would be fingerprints, hair and cloth fibers. There were things they could do now, things they could discover. DNA. She had no idea how these things worked, but she couldn’t take the risk. There was Audrey to think about. No. Burial in the earth would be a comfort, she thought. No one deserves to die at sea.

The site she chose was a hundred feet up the hillside, protected by trees, and offered a view of the bay. She had walked the length of these, her woods, that bordered the craggy foggy cliffs, and all was sea swept and harsh, save for this one sheltered space. Flowers actually grew here in the summer, and the ground was pliable for digging.

There was only once in all of those three nights that she thought she heard a scratching in the underbrush. She had turned, alarmed. But, it was merely a deer who looked up at her.

“You will keep this a secret, will you not?” she said. The sound of her own voice startled her. These were the first words she had spoken aloud in many days. Even to Audrey.

The deer turned and bounded away.

At the end of each night’s digging, her hands would be blistered and raw, and sweat would be drizzled down her face despite the cold. When the hole was almost waist deep the woman climbed out and shook off the dirt. But by now it had crusted in the folds of her skin and she breathed it in through her nostrils with every breath and tasted it with every swallow. She wondered if she would ever forget that peculiar humid aroma of fresh earth.

Down at the cottage it was silent. Audrey would be asleep, her mouth opened, perhaps; maybe even jerking a bit in dreams, as she did, calling out her unintelligible words. But Audrey was silent tonight, still, and the woman did not know if this bode ill or well.

She bent over the girl’s bed, straightened the quilt around her, and with the corner of it swabbed a smear of drool that had settled on her chin.

“Dear sweet one, rest,” she whispered. “Mama’s here. Mama will always be here. Everything will be all right now.” The girl whimpered, but did not waken. The woman closed the door soundlessly behind her.

It only remained to carry the body up the hill to the grave. The tide was in, and though she couldn’t see the ocean, she heard it, a roar in her ears.

The stiffness had gone out of the corpse and it felt strangely light, as if no longer weighted down by soul and emotion and heart and will. There was a sweet odor about it, which caused the woman’s eyes to water, whether from the smell of it or with tears, she couldn’t tell. Perhaps both. She cradled the body like you would a child and carried it slowly around to the back of the house and up the path.

At the place between the trees, she stood for several moments and looked into the hole, considering. She laid the blanket wrapped body on the ground and climbed into the grave herself, then she awkwardly pulled it in after her. She laid it out at the bottom, straightened the limbs and folded the hands across the chest and covered the face with the blanket. Her movements were instinctive, her thoughts elsewhere. She was eight years old and she and her father were burying a dead bird that had flown into the picture window. That’s all it was. A dead bird. She had cried then, and her father put his hand on her head and said it was okay. All things in God’s timing. But she remembered the blue of the feathers, the way the wings folded forward and around the bird. A sparrow falling. A woman dead.

She climbed out, and began pushing shovelfuls of dirt into the body, slowly at first, but then more quickly. By the time the gray lights of morning were breaking over the sea, it was done.

She knelt for a long time and smoothed the grave over with her hands, smoothing, smoothing her garden. She spread leaves and moss over the top of it and scrub brush, working, raking the clods of earth through her fingers, until only the most astute observer would notice the seam where the earth had been peeled back.

Something should be said, she thought, at the end of this, some memorial, some service. She was openly crying now, sobbing as the magnitude of what she had done came to her. She flung herself across the top of the grave and wept.

My God, my God, why hath Thou forsaken me?

A long while later she rose, wiped her eyes with her dirt scorched hands and walked down the path to her house; the sea, a pool of molten lead in front of her.

In the kitchen she stripped off her filthy clothing and stood naked on the stone floor, the muddy jeans, the flannel shirt in a heap at her feet. She stepped away, then took a rag and drenched it in the cauldron of water on the back of the wood stove. She sopped it over her shoulders, her back, her neck, her face. Her movements were careful, slow, and she wept while she did this. For a long time she wept.

She unclipped, finally, the pins that held up her hair and lined them on the edge of the sink. She ran her hair; long, thick and mostly gray, through her fingers. Clots of dirt and bits of branches fell to the floor. With the remainder of the water, she washed her hair, getting rid of the last stink of death and dirt. When it was clean she combed it, plaited it and it hung in one long wet braid behind her back. This one act had sealed it for her. She realized that. She would cry no longer. This would be her life now.

And from this day forward she would mark her times and seasons by the rhythms of the tides and Audrey’s risings and lyings down. She would spend her days repairing the foundation of her house, poking in rocks and logs to keep it from crumbling. She would climb to the top of the lighthouse and sit and look at the sea. She and Audrey would gather mussels and dig for clams at the edge of the water when the tide was low. They would fish in the pond behind the house. She would make bread from the flour, butter and eggs that were delivered weekly from town.

In the spring she would plant flowers on the grave, and each fall the blossoms would die away to be covered by snow. And each spring she would plant them again.

This would be her life now.
Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to leave your name and email address this week for a chance to win Linda's e-book.  A winner will be announced on Sunday, June 25th.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011


Nancy Naigle
What We Are Saying...
Welcome back to Nancy Naigle. Today she will share her book SWEET TEA AND SECRETS. After reading please leave a comment for Nancy.

What Others Are Saying...

5 of 5 stars at ..Sweet southern suspense... hometown characters to die for, a big ol' dog for a companion, and a mystery to unlock. Throw in a little romance, and what more could you want? Enjoyed every minute of Sweet Tea and Secrets. Read the whole review here.

5 of 5 stars from Alicia Legg(reader) ...before you know it 100 pages have whizzed by in a flash. You know it is a good book when life becomes a distraction while you wonder what is going to happen next in Adams Grove. Naigle's writing is reminicent of Harper Lee with the small town southern charm mixed with a modern day romance and suspense similiar to Nora Roberts.
SIZZLING HOT BOOKS says:: In Sweet Tea and Secrets by Nancy Naigle, you get to experience the town of Adam’s Grove. It is a town that I hope to get to visit again. The story of Jill Clemons and Garrett Malloy is an exciting and fun story. I really enjoyed Sweet Tea and Secrets. I am a Southerner and I loved the way it represented life in a small southern town. It was very accurate.)

Barbara Vey's PW Blog:: WW Ladies Book Club Blurbs (Read by Kym):: ...I found this book to have a small town, welcome home feel. Adding in the love of Grandma Pearl and suspense of finding out if Jill and Garret’s relationship works out, and will their lives be in jeopardy, made this book a page turner and a must read!

Back Cover Copy...
Sweet Tea and Secrets

Adams Grove is mourning the loss of Pearl Clemmons, known for her award-winning chocolate pecan pie and the best unsolicited advice in the county.

When Jill returns to settle her grandmother’s estate, she’s greeted by a Clydesdale-sized guardian dog who doesn't seem to be earning his stripes (although he drools on them pretty well), and Garrett Malloy, the ex-fiancĂ© she left behind a year ago.

Jill insists on staying at Pearl’s amidst a string of break-ins that have sleepy Adams Grove wide awake and locking its doors. Jill’s past with Garrett becomes the least of her worries when she learns that their lives are in danger. She is the only person standing between a desperate conman and a secret from Pearl’s past.

Will Pearl’s past kill any chance of Jill and Garrett’s future together?


Jill Clemmons started each morning with Grandma Pearl’s favorite advice in mind: Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says, ‘Oh shit, she's awake!’

Sometimes that was harder than it sounded. Like today.

Even though Jill was thrilled to be half way home to Adams Grove for Pearl’s surprise party, the trip hadn’t come without its own set of hurdles. Bradley was unhappy about her dropping everything to make the trip up from Savannah to Virginia. He’d stomped around and mumbled about it being just two weeks before the big fundraiser and putting the timeline at risk. But Jill was in charge of that timeline and, aside from Bradley’s foul mood, the Kase Foundation wouldn’t suffer one bit by her being gone for one day.

Technically, Pearl’s birthday wasn’t until June 27th, after the fundraiser, but keeping a secret from Pearl was next to impossible. If Pearl’s friends succeeded in surprising her, it would be the first time anyone had. There was no way Jill was going to miss this, even if it did mean making the trip up and back in one day. Pearl’s party might not be one of Bradley’s priorities, but it darn sure was one of hers.

The tension from the week evaporated as Jill got closer to Adams Grove, the place she considered home.

She could hardly believe a year had passed since she’d packed all her stuff in Piggly Wiggly bags and hit the road in her little red pickup. Jill never thought she’d live anywhere but Adams Grove. But on the rebound from Garrett Malloy, accepting the fundraiser position with the Kase Foundation had been a no-brainer. In fact, getting away from Garrett by moving to Savannah had been one of the biggest perks of the job. The only downside was being away from Pearl.

As Jill took the exit off I-95, she turned the air conditioner up a notch then fumbled for the button to lower the window of her new BMW. She’d never been one to give two hoots about a fancy car, but fancy cars, big houses and appearances were the be-all, end-all to Bradley Kase. Since he’d become more than just a boss over the past year, she’d let him talk her into trading in Ol’ Red for something he considered more appropriate. She missed that truck and its trusty crank-down windows.

Jill turned on Horseshoe Run Road and a bittersweet smile eased across her lips. She inhaled the scent of honeysuckle and mimosa that filled this stretch of road every summer. When the wind blew downriver, even Farmer Young’s smelly pigs couldn’t drown out the fragrance.

The gentle slope of the terrain had a way of making things seem to appear out of nowhere, but Jill had lived here her whole life so she knew the lay of this land. Just around the curve, the church steeple came into view. Stately oaks lined the road and colorful wreaths dotted headstones between the mighty trunks that framed the old cemetery next to the church.

Gravel crunched beneath her tires as she turned into the church parking lot.

Aunt Milly’s mission was to get Pearl to the party under the guise of preparing for a reception later that evening. They’d park near the kitchen entrance and, hopefully, Pearl would never be the wiser.

Jill pulled around to the far side of the church, near the fellowship hall, and parked among the thirty or so other cars already there. She grabbed a bag from the passenger seat, went to the locked door, knocked, and waited.

A pretty blonde girl Jill didn’t recognize opened the door, and rushed her inside. “Sorry. We’re trying to be sure Pearl doesn’t sneak up on us.”

“Good thinking,” Jill said.

“I’m Brandy,” the girl said and whisked Jill into the room. “I recognize you from the pictures Pearl showed me. I just moved here not long ago. I work for Floral & Hardy. That’s how I know your grandmother.”

“Well, welcome to Adams Grove. I’m sure you’ll love working for Ted. We go way back.”

“I know. Like everyone knows everyone around here. I love that. Well, I think I do. Anyway, it’s really nice to meet you.”

Jill scanned the room. A banner that read ‘Happy early 85th Birthday, Pearl’ was duct-taped above a long table filled with home-baked casseroles and desserts. Bright helium filled balloons flanked the banner and so many soared above the chair-of-honor that they threatened to lift it right off the floor.

The thought of her tiny grandmother whizzing around the room above all the guests made Jill laugh.

Brandy pointed out a stove-sized box heaping full of nonperishables set up near the cake. The food drive was Pearl’s pet project, and the cans, a perfect gift.

“She’s going to love this.” Jill hitched the bag up on her hip and added the canned goods she’d brought to the pile. “All this food’ll feed dozens of families for a good long while.”

“It was the best idea ever,” said Brandy, then hurried back to stand guard at the door.

Jill set a brightly wrapped package next to the cake, then took her camera from her purse and snapped a picture.

Mac’s Bakery had outdone themselves. This cake had those creations on Food Network Challenge beat hands-down. The three tiers stood over two feet tall. The top layer looked just like one of Pearl’s award-winning chocolate pecan pies; the bottom layer like a knitting basket full of colorful fondant-wrapped balls of yarn. Knitting needles rose high above it with a blue ribbon the size of a dinner plate attached. Just like the one Pearl had won last year. That honor would be up for grabs at the annual Festival Days Bake-Off on Fourth of July weekend. Everyone in the county vied for the coveted award, but Pearl’s pie had won the last three years in a row.

The room buzzed with excitement. Jill took pictures and exchanged hellos with old friends she hadn’t seen since she moved a year ago. Suddenly, the room went dark and a hush settled.

Jill wondered how good an idea it was for fifty people to yell ‘surprise’ at an eighty-five year old woman. But then Pearl wasn’t your average old lady either.

Aunt Milly and Pearl’s chatter echoed from the kitchen. Everyone listened intently for the magic moment. Then, 3-2-1, the door swung open. “Surprise!”

Pearl’s mouth dropped wide. She wagged a crooked finger across the crowd of friends lined up in front of her.

“You little devils,” Pearl said. “You sure know how to scare the puddin’ out of an old girl.”

Everyone cheered. Two young girls bounced up and down, still excited by the anticipation of it all.

Jill hung back, taking in the pleasure of seeing Pearl revel in everyone’s delight. She had her doubts that Pearl had been surprised, though.

“Oh, my. Is this? It is! You know the way right to my heart.” Pearl headed straight for the bin of food. “This will feed so many.” Her eyes twinkled as she turned around. “Thank y’all...all ya’ much.” She swept a tear from the rim of her glasses.

Pearl’s eyebrows shot up when she spotted Jill.

Now that was a surprised look. “Surprise,” Jill said.

Pearl marched over to Jill and kissed her on the cheek, leaving a bright magenta smudge that Pearl quickly rubbed in with her thumb. “Maybe I should smooch the other side and make it even.”

“It’s fine.” Jill hugged Pearl. “It’s so good to see you.”

“I knew it was going to be a perfect day today. There was only one contrail across the sky when we drove up,” said Pearl.

“That is good.” Jill and Pearl had made it a practice to count the condensation trails behind the jets that soared across the sky. Less than three or four was a rare and lucky day.

Pearl clapped her hands. “What are you doing here? You have that big shindig coming up. How did you get away?”

“Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. I can’t stay over though. I’ll be heading back tonight.”

Pearl raised a penciled brow, and tsked. “I’m not surprised. You work way too hard, my dear, but I’m delighted you’re here now.”

“I’ll be back once the fundraiser is behind me. I can’t wait to spend some time with you.”

Pearl squeezed Jill’s hand. “I’d love that.”

Jill lifted two plastic champagne flutes of sweet tea from the table. She took a sip from one and handed the other to Pearl. “Not as good as yours,” she whispered.

“No surprise there. We know the secret.” Pearl said, and then turned her attention to the voices blending into the best round of Happy Birthday ever. Only two candles stood tall on the cake. An eight and a five.

“Thank goodness someone was thinking. We’d need the volunteer fire department here if we had eighty five flames on this cake.” Pearl blew out the candles.

Everyone cheered.

Pearl picked up the knife, then stepped back. “This cake is almost too pretty to cut.”

“I’ve got pictures,” Jill said, raising her camera. “Dig in.”

“Don’t have to ask me twice about desserts.” Pearl cut the first slice, and everyone lined up to get a piece of cake.

A loud knock from the fellowship hall door interrupted the moment.

Everyone’s attention spun in that direction.

“We locked that so you wouldn’t sneak in on us,” someone shouted. “I’ll get it.”

Pearl plopped a piece of cake on a small plate. “That’s probably Garrett. I asked him to come help move tables. I thought we were setting up for a reception.”

Jill froze. “You didn’t.”

Pearl licked frosting from her fingers and then wiped her hands on a napkin.

Jill leaned in. “I knew your hair looked a little too perfect. You knew about this party, didn’t you?”

Pearl didn’t deny it.

“You knew I was coming, and you didn’t invite Garrett to move tables, did you? You’re matchmaking again.” Jill turned to walk away but Pearl grabbed her by the wrist.

“Oh come on, dear,” she pleaded. “It’s my birthday. You two have to talk eventually.

What better time than over cake? It’s a party. Wait right here.” Pearl scurried toward the door.

A warm rush heated Jill’s cheeks. Maybe she was overacting. Maybe it wasn’t even him. Maybe it was just someone who was late. A singing telegram. A stripper. Anyone but Garrett.

But it was him.

She sucked in a breath. Why did he have to look so good?

Her heart pounded so hard the room began to swim. She turned and high-tailed it down the hall to the sanctuary without looking back until the door clicked behind her.

Out of breath, she stood clutching her chest.

Nancy's book may be purchased in print version or as an e-book from Amazon.

Friday, June 17, 2011


It is our pleasure to have Nancy Naigle visit with us and talk about her book Sweet Tea and Secrets and her road to publication. Congratulations and thank you for joining us on our blog  It's such a pleasure to have you.
 Nancy, what was this journey like for you? What kept you going?

 This was one eye-opening experience for me. Let me explain. You see, by day I’m a Senior Vice President with Bank of America. I’m used to planning what I’m going to do to achieve success, then following that plan. That’s all fine and good except that the publishing business is not like any other I’ve ever worked in. It moves S-L-O-W and, at the same time with the advent of e-pubs, is changing in ways folks never imagined. But I’m no quitter. I have my pile of rejections, but I learned from each one and knew that every bad news email was one step closer to the “yes” I’d eventually get. I firmly believed that as long as I didn’t quit, I would be published. I think you have to believe in yourself before anyone else will. It was about six years from the point in time that I decided to really focus on getting published and my contract.

 And you believed in your character's story or you couldn't have kept going. Could you share a bit about your books and characters?

 I write love stories from the crossroad of small towns and suspense. My characters have flaws just like you and I. They’ll probably even feel familiar. The quirky characters are probably going to remind you of that crazy aunt or the black sheep brother of your best friend in college. Hopefully, they will tickle memories of people from your own past, and you’ll feel like you already know them.

 I grew up in a small town. Not sure I'd ever want to go back to everyone thinking they know everything about you.What inspired you to write about life in a small town?

 I was born and raised in Virginia Beach, but in 1994 my husband moved out of the city limits. We now live on a goat farm. I love how folks in small towns still borrow things. How they check on you when they hear you’ve had bad news. They stop by to see if you want to buy some of the homemade sausage their hunt club just made up. It’s sincere, and it fills my heart. So, I write about those things because they make me feel good. It’s where I want to escape when the technology and crazy pace of work get me all unraveled. I hope readers will find a similar escape or at least a feel good moment or two by reading my books.

Could you discuss the challenge of developing your characters to the point that readers want to cheer them on?

Yes. I can totally speak to this one. Sometimes I do too good of a job. I’ve actually had quite a little challenge with beta-readers about one of my characters in my book that will be out this fall. You’ll meet Cody Tuggle in OUT OF FOCUS. He’s a country-western singer and folks love him so much that a couple of them got mad when they realized he doesn’t end up the hero in that book. But, I can promise you that his big heart will be back in his own story soon after, and it’s even bigger and better than his pivotal role in Kasey Phillips’ life. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Let’s talk about writing a series. Your second book takes place in the same location as the first book. Which is more important in your books, character or plot? Did you outline the entire series before you wrote the first book?

The truth is I’d written another book titled AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT that will never see a bookshelf. But that’s okay because out of that book I did get some pretty awesome characters that are now showing up in SWEET TEA AND SECRETS and OUT OF FOCUS. Adams Grove just kind of built up around them. Now, it’s the town that drives the need for more characters, and that links to situations and well … it keeps me busy.

How did you get started in writing?

 I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Not the mechanics of writing, but making up the story. When I was a teenager, my best friend and I ditched school to go hang out at the airport. We sat in the terminal and made up stories about all the people coming and going. Oh yeah, we pretended we were on a layover from Australia (yes, we talked with Aussie accents) on our way to Hollywood. Yes. I have a little bit of a wild imagination.

What ignites your passion and galvanizes you to write?

Writing fulfills my creative spirit. I’m very technical and structured in my business life. Writing creates the balance I need to be healthy and happy.

What do you find most rewarding about your writing career?

 Meeting people who love the same books that I do. Most disappointing? Seeing really good writers become discouraged and give up their dream. I’m a glass-half-full kind of gal. I know if they just stuck it out…it would happen. That breaks my heart every time.

If you could give writers one small piece of advice, what would it be?

Be patient. Don’t take too much advice. Do what feels right (or should it be write!) in your heart. FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!

What tools do you think are invaluable for new writers?

 My favorite tool is one that I picked up from a comment that Barbara Delinsky made once on a blog. The J.I. Rodale “The Synonym Finder.” I keep it on the left top corner of my desk for two reasons. One, because it’s a great tool. Two, because it’s red and the left corner is the wealth spot of your desk. I figured it can’t hurt.

 I 've never heard of the wealth spot on your desk. I'm moving my Rolodex right now! What is something that you often see beginning writers doing wrong?

 Spending more time talking about writing than actually writing.


What is a little known fact about yourself?

 This will be my sixth year as master of ceremonies at the Virginia State Fair Meat Goat Show. It’s a two day event and lots of fun. I really enjoy watching the 4-Hers and FFA exhibitors reap the rewards of their hard work all year.

 Fantastic! What book are you reading right now?

 By the time this interview posts, this will have changed a hundred times. How about I respond to this question in the comments. Ya’ll can share what you’re reading in your comments, too.

If you could have a beer, coffee, or tea with a literary luminary living or dead, who would it be and why?

 Wow. This is the impossible question. I love talking to everybody. Preferably the alive folks ;) I don’t think I want dead people talking to me. How about a pick one per beverage.

A beer with Carl Hiassen. His books crack me up. Now, that guy can write some characters. If you haven’t read one of his books you are missing out. He seems to have had an interesting life and career. I think I’d enjoy having a beer with Carl.

Coffee with Jayne Ann Krentz because she’s from up there in the northwest near coffee land ;) Last year, I had the great honor of winning the Jeannie Gray Golden Friendship Award. I talked about how one of Jayne’s books inspired me in a really difficult time in my life. I’ve got shelves full of her books. She’s a wonderful storyteller. I remember feeling so stronger and more hopeful after reading one her books and thinking ... wow, I wish I could make someone feel this. I’m sure coffee with her would be like being swept away into a tale of its own.

And a cup of tea with Debbie Macomber. Harney & Sons Paris tea...because it’s my favorite. Debbie writes wonderful stories and she seems so down to earth. I listen to one of her RWA keynotes in my car over and over. She nearly brings me to tears when she talks about how she hoped for that first deal. I love her “value-add author” philosophy, too. Yes, tea with Debbie would be pretty darn awesome.

Finally, where can we find you on the web? On the contact page there is a spot to sign up for my e-updates. You can also find me on twitter @nancynaigle and on facebook.

Nancy, thank you so much for spending time with us. Readers, tell Nancy what you're reading right now.
And please do come back tomorrow for an excerpt of Sweet Tea and Secrets.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Member Spotlight
Susie Sheehey is the President of Greater Fort Worth Writers. She is a former Medical Distribution Sales Representative and now is a stay at home mom who writes contemporary romantic fiction full time. If you like her post, please leave her a comment.

courtesy wikimedia commons
Journey vs. Destination… Which Are You?
By Susie Sheehey
I’ve realized there are two kinds of people in this world: those in it for the journey, and those in it for the destination. I know, you hear it a lot, but have you actually realized which of these YOU are?
If you’re more the ‘destination’ oriented person, you probably shouldn’t become a writer. I’ve discovered that writing is about evolving. Going through scenes like phases in adolescence constantly changing, highly emotional, combative, and potentially scar-inducing. An ugly roller coaster. But writing provides moments of enlightenment that are supposed to make you better, broaden your imagination and strengthen your skills. And as long as you value the lessons you learn along the tumultuous path of writing, and not really care whether or not you get published, then you’ll be successful.

But if you think being published is the only way you’ll be successful, i.e Destination driven, you may end up disastrously depressed. Or at the very least disappointed and disgruntled. Almost feel like you’ve been ripped off.

And I realized something else, too. I’ve gone through most of my life as a Destination Oriented person. Making the class, making the grade, making the degree, making the meet, earning certain scores/awards, making quotas, milestones, etc, on and on, so on and so forth. There’s always been a mile marker to reach or goal line at the end of the field. (Metaphorically, obviously I never played football). And with every ‘destination’ reached, I’ve felt accomplished and that my life has been meaningful.

I’ve always enjoyed writing through school years and into adulthood. But this last year has been primarily focused on writing (writing as my profession, that is, although I’ve never earned a dime from it). Hence, I learn that writing is definitely Journey oriented. To which they measure success on an entirely different stick. So when I set goals for myself when I first started this past year and having to reach certain milestones, and thereby NOT reaching them, I feel like a failure. I start to doubt myself, call myself a horrible writer, not worth a lick, and blah blah blah. (I’ve always been my own worst critic.) I don’t like to be a glutton for punishment. But I don’t like thinking that I’m not good at something. I don’t have to be great, I don’t have to be the best, but I at least want to feel that I’m GOOD at something.

Why else would I bother my time with something? You want to spend your life, your precious time (that you don’t have much of on this Earth) doing something meaningful, valuable, and productive? So when I don’t reach my goals, or am seriously delayed in crossing a milestone, there’s an itch in the back of my mind that makes me think is this right for me? Am I failing those I love who’ve supported me in this endeavor?

And then I step out of my ridiculous ‘destination’ shoes and BACK UP. I go to the people I love, the ones I respect, and they force me to ask the RIGHT questions.

Do I love to write?…………….. Hell yes.

Have I learned something? ………… Hell yes.

Do I want to continue?…………. Well, yeah.

Will I disappoint anyone by stopping?….. No.

Will I disappoint anyone by writing?….. No. (At least, not the ones I love.)

And my answer was blatantly obvious. I haven’t failed at anything. And because I love to write, and constantly try to make myself better, I can call myself a writer. And so I put on my ‘Journey’ shoes.

People love to call themselves ‘Journey’ people when its crystal blue skies and beautiful green countrysides. But change to ‘Destination’ people when they run into dark and winding roads, so they can keep hope that there’s something meaningful at the end of the tunnel. Either way, you have to wear the right shoes.

And what do ya know, you can be both a journey and destination person at the same time. It’s chaotic at times, painful even, but its doable. Even enjoyable. But only by those who can pull off the look. Can you?

Thanks for stopping by. Let us know your thoughts by leaving a comment. 

Related articles

• Writing Is A Journey Not A Destination (

• Writer vs. First Draft (

• Journey to “One Destination” (

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


The winner of Jenna Bennett's A Cutthroat Business is Pen Mettert. An email is making its way to you already with instructions on how to download the book.
Thanks for reading Jenna's excerpt.

Ruby Johnson
Blog Coordinator

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