Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Marilyn Monroe - Happy Birthday Mr. President

This weekend I went to see Marilyn Monroe's iconic "Happy Birthday Mr. President" dress.  That dress marked a period in history, a moment that is now gone forever.  Yet, it's never been forgotten.

It's hard to believe that three months after she sang that song, Marilyn was dead.  Either dead by her own hand or by someone else's, that is all still up for dispute but what has been written leaves some fascinating speculation.  All I can say is that Marilyn didn't lead a dull life.  From beginning to end, she rocketed through.  Even those of us too young to remember the events of her life - know about Marilyn.

I was thinking about the stories I haven't forgotten.  The ones that stick in your mind forever.  I've read a lot of books and you remember some for awhile but the ones you never forget are definitely not the majority.  Those books all have one thing in common, they have to strike an emotion.  An example is East Lynn .  It was a book so old that its pages were a soft, delicate butter feel.  I grabbed it from my mother's stash on a rainy day with no other reading choices available.  It turned out to be the first book that ever made my cry and because of that, I'll never forget it.  Heidi, was the book of my childhood.  The unabridged edition that my mother found in a second hand store became the book that saw me through childhood.  I lost track of how many times I read that book and how many times I longed to live on that idyllic mountain toasting cheese and frolicking with goats.  But I was eight when I began my Heidi era, what did I know?  Then there was A Woman of Substance - a powerful book by Barbara Bradford Taylor.  That introduced me to the saga and I loved it.  There's more but the truth is that most books entertain us in the moment, we talk about them with our friends but they're not books that we'll remember in our twilight years that flag moments in our life.  Those books are special.  Like Marilyn's dress and the person that bought it - they've done things a little bit different.  They've been successful and in both cases beaten the odds - struck a chord and that has made them memorable.

So back to the dress.  How did all of this come about?  It was because of a man by the name of Jimmy Pattison.  He was born in a village in Saskatchewan during the Great Depression.  It was a time when everyone was bailing out of the prairie dust bowl so his family moved to Vancouver  He went on to become extremely successful.  Now, he's a philanthropist known for giving back to his place of birth.  So when he bought Marilyn Monroe's Happy Birthday Mr. President dress he brought it back to Saskatchewan.  And that is how I got to see Marilyn Monroe's "Happy Birthday Mr. President" dress in a local grocery store called - Save-On foods.   There with it's own RCMP guard in full uniform and a bevy of private security, was one of the most talked about dresses in history.  I don't know what Marilyn would say about her dress being in a grocery store but for me, it was a great experience to see the dress that made history.

There's a story everywhere - look at this blog.  In a few paragraphs there's a rags to riches story - two of them.  There's the love story or entanglement between the president and the star.  Did that song reveal something that led to her death three months later or was it just suicide?   So many questions - so many stories.

And now, I'm off to finish up the current story.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Desert Justice Delivers Sheik Defense

It's hard to believe that the fourth and last book in the Desert Justice series is on store shelves today, although the e-book isn't available, yet.  It's kind of a two step launch for while the paperback copy is available now, the e-copy has a week or so to wait.  You'll find the paperback at Walmart, Target, Superstore and other stores and, of course, Amazon.

That's my promotional schtick.  Let's get down to basics.   Desert Justice was the first series I ever wrote.  Really, stand alone was my thing until I discovered the beautiful world of series where those characters I grew to love can show up again in other books in the series.  Why didn't I visit the land of series before?  You tell me why not, for I don't know.  What I do know is how it feels to send the last in the series out into the world.   It's "an I can't believe that time is here already" kind of feeling.  Time sped up as each book in the series launched.  It was like each set of characters was in a rush to get their story out there.

Faisal, the last Al-Nassar brother to star in the series, didn't keep quiet even after I wrote the last word of his story.  He was in a rush to be reunited with the love of his life, Ava and he wanted the whole world to know about it - okay, he just wanted his book launched.  And that wasn't going to happen as long as his brothers had the stage in the three books that preceded his.  And while he wasn't willing to give up his snowboard and his single status he was definitely interested in a romantic reconnect.

Ava on the other hand, had more important things to think of - survival for one, especially in the beginning.  Although she did dream of Faisal, how it was, how it might have been...

Okay let's dispense with my fantasy and move on to theirs and how it really happened.

He's the one she can't remember, she's the one he can't forget… 
Tossed overboard, Ava Adams had been left for dead, drifting at sea. But security specialist Faisal Al-Nassar was determined to find her. He owed her father a great debt and had never forgotten the connection he and Ava had once shared. Yet after rescuing Ava he discovered she barely remembered him
Amnesia had left Ava uncertain of who had tried to kill her. She did know, however, that Faisal was a man she could trust. The sheik's embrace was familiar and enticing…and possibly even more dangerous. How could she succumb to feelings for her protector when what she didn't know could get them both killed?

Excerpt from Sheik Defense:

“It was less than an hour since Faisal had received that fateful call that Ava was missing. Now he looked long and hard at the face of the young woman who lay dead on the cold steel of the examining table. Her hair was long, almost to the middle of her back. She was brunette and a few years older than Ava. After that, the similarities stopped.

He’d insisted on viewing the body in the hope that the similarities would somehow give him a much-needed clue. Now he didn’t know why he’d bothered. It was depressing and frightening all at the same time. Looking at her frightened him for Ava and saddened him for the deceased woman’s family.
“She may have been asphyxiated,” the coroner said.

He listened as the coroner went into some detail on why he believed that could be a possibility.
“Her eyes are bloodshot. Classic sign of asphyxiation.”

A chill ran through him like none he’d felt before. He’d stood in this position many times but never had he felt the haunting fear that the person before him could have been someone he knew and loved. He almost took a step back. That thought combined with the cold steel and sharp smell of disinfectant that depersonalized death was almost too much. This wasn’t Ava but someone had loved her.

Regret and anger snaked through him as he thought of how this young woman had died unnecessarily, how it could just as easily have been Ava on that slab. The reality was as disturbing as it was unthinkable. Whether they could prove it or not, he was sure that this woman had died of unnatural causes. It wasn’t right or fair. And he knew it happened much too often. He’d thought of adding a branch of investigations geared solely to violence against women. He’d seen too much of it in his work. But now wasn’t the time for such considerations.

Five minutes later, Faisal was heading across the hospital parking lot to a charcoal 1967 Mustang he kept in Miami for his rare visits to the city. He slipped behind the wheel and leaned back against the plush leather, the keys in his lap, his arms crossed and a frown on his face.
A woman who supposedly should have been Ava was dead. The fact that the decedent had been in Ava’s room and Ava was still the registered patient indicated that Ava was the target. Now there were questions that needed to be answered, and quickly.

Where had Ava gone? He tamped down the panic he’d felt at losing her when he’d only just found her.”

Pick up a copy at Walmart, Target and other stores, as well as 

online bookstores including Amazon.

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What If You Quit?

The question the Insecure Writing Group has for the first Wednesday of June is:

Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Did I ever quit writing?  Yes for about fifteen minutes.  Long enough to grab a cup of coffee and come to my senses.  Truly, I can't quit writing, that's who I am. 

It's tough especially when the rejections come or the sales aren't there.  But I don't know who I'd be if I didn't write.  On my writing journey I've discovered so many authors who have held out a hand and helped me.  That's the crazy thing of this business, all the support we give one another.  In a business made of hopes and dreams, support is a fantastic thing and with all of it around you - how could you quit?

Along for the ride at the grocery store - what if?

Scrubbing a bathroom - what if?
A story begins with what if and then it's a lot of perspiration to find out how it all ends.  I know life gets in the way; kids and parents, jobs, all it.   I've found that you can make those day to day obstacles work for you in the inspiration department.  There's ideas even in a store.  The other day I was following a parent on her grocery expedition and while she shopped I thought what if this, or that or the other thing happened - what a story that would make.  That same what if comes up when I'm in the middle of cleaning a bathroom or two.  Of course that's when I use the dullness of the task to fill in the blanks as  there isn't much inspiration in the back half of a toilet.

What if?
Actually, this time, while I was spraying and scrubbing I was thinking of that book on serial killers and how all that information is going to come in really handy for a future book.  What it will be about - well serial killers for sure.

More importantly, there's the readers.  Whether you have one reader, a hundred or thousands - it only takes one.  There's nothing better than knowing that someone read your story and liked it, maybe even forgot how tough real life can be - at least for a time.

Quit writing?   

In the words of one of my favourite authors, Stephen King:

"Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."

I don't know how true that quote is but I do know that if you quit, you'll never succeed as a writer.

So I write - stopping only to ask the occasional "what if?"

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Trap is Set as Bullets Fly!

So all in the name of research, or really - just a cool thing to do on a lazy Sunday afternoon - I made my debut at trap shooting.  Actually, it was my first time shooting a shotgun which I was told after the fact, was too big for me.  My aching shoulder and burning cheek thank you for that information - a little too much, too late.

It really wasn't the day for anything outdoors but when things are planned in advance, the weather often doesn't cooperate - at least not on the prairies.  We're known for weather that is so unpredictable that often one thinks that the weatherman really just rolled the dice on the last prediction.  Today, the wind was crazy strong and there was rain in between.   Weather aside,  I learned a lot 25 shots later.   Like, on my first shot - lean into the gun and you won't plant your foot squarely on the instructor's foot, hard enough to bruise, when the kick throws you backwards.  Or, on the second shot, the fact that the empty shells actually spit out with a bit of force when you empty the gun.  Again, as I rub my cheek, who knew!

So with a simple call "Pull" - let the bullets fly so you can take that clay pigeon down.  Look at that - I'm already into the lingo.  Now, it's just a matter of getting that trap.

All in all, I think with a few more attempts I have a good shot - pun intended - at winning most improved.  In the meantime, while I wait for my most improved medal or maybe while they get one made, it was fun.  I met some interesting people and yes, this is fantastic research.  I'm already thinking of the possibilities.  And given the chance, I'd try it again.  Although wild things - like the squirrels I feed regularly or the geese that landed in a field on the way home - breath easy, any shooting will be strictly at inanimate objects.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Desert Justice Series - Son of the Sheik

Today is release day for the third in the Desert Justice Series - Son of the Sheik.  It's always exciting knowing that your book is out there.  The story I envisioned so many months ago, the characters that came to life and surprised me on more than one occasion are now hopefully entertaining others, like they were meant to do.

Someone is threatening to expose Sara Elliott's secret.  After draining her bank account, she flees to Morocco to face the one man she fears, the only man who can protect her son.  Sheik Talib Al-Nassar has money and power, but nothing could prepare him for seeing his ex, especially in his homeland.  Though suspicious of this reunion, he would do anything to shield her and her little boy from further danger.  He welcomes them to his family compound, but Talib's shelter has a price of its own.  Like Sara's blackmailer, he desires only one thing:  the truth about her son...

Buy Link:  Amazon

Excerpt from:  Son of the Sheik:

Desert Sands Hotel - Marrakech, Morocco
"Over here," Talib commanded and with those two words made it clear that not only was he back in her life, but he was also taking charge, at least for now.  And, at least for now, she would let him.  Later--she hadn't thought that far.

This had been a journey of desperation.  And now, despite having come all these miles to find him, she wanted to run--take her son with her before it was too late for both of them.

Instead, she looked up at him.  "I can't believe I ran into you in the midst of this.  But Im glad you were here to find--"

"What are you doing here, Sara?"  He cut her off with hint of anger in his voice.

The conceited donkey.

He thought she was here because of him.  She looked at her son in his arms and that was the only reason she didn't lose it then and there.  Unfortunately the truth of it was that what he was implying, what he'd left unsaid..he was right.  She was here because of him, just for none of the reasons that the arrogant fool thought.

What she was here for was much more serious than any romance ever could be.  And despite what he thought, and she knew very well what he thought, it was hard to deny the truth.  He was a magnet for women, but no magnet to her.  Not anymore.  Those days were long over.  But despite not needing him romantically, he was right about one thing.  She did need him, she needed him very much.

For without him she was terribly afraid she was going to lose her son.

" American woman, her young son and his unsuspecting father, a Moroccan Sheik.  There was just enough adventure/intrigue mixed with sexy love scenes to keep me
 turning the pages."  Michelle A.


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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Social Media - Author - Frances Caballo

Today I'm welcoming author, Frances Caballo.  Frances is currently on tour hosted by Goddess Fish Promotions.  The tour is for her latest book, Social Media Just for Writers.  I've gotten a chance to read the book and found it full of invaluable advise for anyone trying to get a handle on social media.  But my review comes later, first let's introduce the author.

Frances Caballo

Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers.  She's a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference.  In addition, she's a contributing writer at and blogger and Social Media expert for BookWorks.  She's written several social media books including The Author's Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day.  Her focus on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books.  Her clients include authors of every genre and writers' conferences.

The intent behind her book:
"You wrote your book and sold copies to everyone your know.  But you have goals that extend beyond the dozen copies you sold.

How do you achieve your dream of selling books around the world?  With social media, you can build your platform and reach readers in locales you never imagined possible before.

In this book you'll learn how to:
-  Create a Facebook fan page and actively engage with your readers.
-  Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
- Tackle Instagram, Tumblr, and SnapChat.
- Build and optimize Pinterest pinboards for SEO to maximize exposure of your books, blog, and other landing pages.
- Improve your blogging.
- Excel on Twitter.
- Create images for your blog and social media posts.

The second edition of Social Media Just for Authors is both a primer for authors new to social media
and an advanced study of platforms that weren't widely known four years ago.   Whether you write romance, historical fiction, young adult or steam punk novels, you'll find help in reaching your online audience of new dedicated readers.

An excerpt:

Chapter 1

Not sure how to approach social media.  CARE about your readers.

Among all the rules you'll find online- the 80/20 rule (only 20% of your posts should be about your books or blog posts while 80% of your posts should contain content from other sources), the admonitions against using social media as a bullhorn, the warnings about over automating - there's also an unspoken tenant.

The tenant isn't a rule that comes up on the blogosphere.  Instead, it's more of a system of approach and an acronym that I created while preparing for the San Francisco Writers Conference.

If you follow the approach I'm about to explain, you can be sure that all the time you spend on social media will generate the type of engagement with readers that you want to have.

Once you start to use social media, be prepared to CARE about people.  I know that it seems evident to care about people online but give me a moment to break down the acronym.

  • C - Communicate with your readers.
  • A - Answer your readers' questions.
  • R - Relate to your readers.
  • E - Educate with stellar content.

And most of all simply care about people.

Joanna Penn devised the term social karma.  If you want book sale, buy books.  If you want book reviews, write reviews for all of the books you read.  If you want people to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, like your readers' and friends' Facebook pages and follow them on Twitter.

Reciprocate actions.  And just as you might offer money to a homeless stranger, smile at a person walking down the street, or invite a new family from your church over for tea or dinner, take the types of actions online that will help you to get to know the people who follow you and want to connect with you.

In other words, be kind online.  Be inquisitive.  Be open to meeting people and revealing parts of your life.

Let's look more closely at CARE.

(end of excerpt)

My review of Social Media Just for Writers:

Social media plays a large role in promoting for today's author.  But are you using social media as efficiently as you could? Are you using the right sites?  If you're an author, unless you're a social media guru, this book is for you.  The most popular sites, from Facebook to Snapchat. Goodreads, Twitter and more, are laid out, analyzed for their advantages and disadvantages - what works best and what might not work at all.  The author reveals invaluable nuggets of information such as the 80/20 rule where twenty percent of content posted should be about your books, the other eighty percent from other sources.  Shorter is better and of course, then there's the pictures.  On social media, pictures rule!  Referencing such terms as social karma, the author explains how your actions directly affect your sales and goes through the step by step process from setting up to wielding the sites like a pro.  It is a clearly written manual that will help you connect with your readers easily and efficiently.  Well written, well researched - well thought out.  This book is a must have!

Reviewed by Ryshia Kennie

Frances can be found:

Frances will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN gift certificate to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

To enter:  


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Check out the remaining tour stops for the rest of May here:

May 15: Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
May 16: Readeropolis - review
May 17: Notes From a Romantic's Heart - review
May 18: The Avid Reader
May 19: Straight From the Library
May 19: Mixed Book Blog
May 22: The Reading Addict - review
May 23: Books Direct - review
May 24: Edgar's Books
May 25: Booklove - review
May 26: Laura's Interests

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Desert Justice - Sheik's Rescue

While the paperback released mid-April - this week the e-book of Sheik's Rescue is available.  What's to say about the second in the Desert Justice Series that may not already have been said - quite a bit...

For one, Emir Al-Nassar's twin is a fairly laid back and easy going hunk of a sheik.  While he wouldn't admit to the last part and his actions rather dispute the first, that's how I saw it, at least in the beginning.  But as every author knows, sometimes the story and especially the characters take on a life of their own.

The setting was like going home, not home to the prairie but home just the same.  I've driven through Wyoming so many times that it was like I was along in the backseat with Zafir and Jade - at least some of the time.  Being a love story, it begins with Zafir being knocked on his, so firm -you want to grab it, butt; when he sees Jade.  And all of that is in the midst of a "so-called freak spring snow storm" which everyone who lives anywhere on the North American plains, knows isn't such a freak thing.  Add to the inclement weather, an instant attraction and the character of a very strange Moroccan royal that they must protect - then, toss and stir with a dose of evil.  Okay, I admit, he was kind of a fun bad guy to write, at least in the beginning.  Fun in the fact that he was suitably creepy, if there is such a thing.  But, I do love my bad guys creepy.  So writing what he was thinking or feeling was a chilly bit of work.

An inside scoop  - Jade Van Everett is probably the hottest of all the heroines in the Desert Justice series.  She's also got a mild gun fetish and is more than a match for Zafir.

Zafir?  Well I'd say that he was the hottest too but he's an identical twin and even without that he's got some pretty stiff competition with his other brothers.   While the story takes place in Wyoming, there was a point that things turned for the worse and we headed to foreign shores - Morocco where the characters meet their fate, hopefully stop the evil and maybe, just maybe - find love.

Things looked pretty rocky to begin with.  Jade had barely picked up her strange client before things fell apart.  Here's an excerpt:
She pushed up over the balcony, looking left and right down the street.  A movement to her left; she watched with bated breath.  It was nothing but a jackrabbit that had made its way into the city.  The hare took its time.  It seemed to lope, hopping this way and that, stopping to sniff the air.  Finally, it disappeared between two buildings.  The street was again empty.

She sank below the railing as she put the Colt down and pulled her phone out of her pocket.
“Zafir,” he answered with a concerned tone, for this number was never used except in case of an emergency.

“Code red,” she said simply.  “I’m pinned down at the client’s apartment.  Shots from across the street at the client’s balcony.  The client’s secure.”
“Last count?”
“Unknown shooter.  Three shots fired.  Four, if you count mine.  He has a silencer.”  She looked where the planter used to stand.  “It’s been quiet for over two minutes.”
“Did you see…”
“Nothing,” she interrupted.  “No visual.  Like I said, I got one shot in, that was it.  I never had a clear shot, and on a public street, well, that’s just made it difficult.”
“I can imagine,” he said.  “Keep it contained if you can.  I’ll be there in five.”
The call disconnected as abruptly as it had begun.
Keep it contained if you can.
With gritted teeth, she shoved the phone into her pocket.  For a second she really wished she could shove it somewhere else.

Rourke and I in Wyoming - 2012.  When it's windy - it's windy!

Sheik's Rescue is available at:


May 6 I'll be at Tia Trooper's Facebook party.  It's an event to raise money for MS and goes on through June.  Saturday, May 6 is my day to take over the event that author, Janie Crouch created, organized and runs - an awesome cause.  I'm giving two e-copies of my books that day - find out which ones by joining the fun: