Posted by Jianne Carlo | 9:17 AM | 8 comments »

I’m supposed to blog about inspiration today and I will, but a different type of inspiration. Our Mary Ricksen, a PFS stalwart, who is a source of continuing inspiration to us all.

I first met Mary at a Florida Romance Writer’s meeting a few years ago. We were paired as critique buddies and exchanged manuscripts in the early stages of development. Mary had one goal - to get her novel, “Tripping Through Time,” published.

Never have I seen anyone approach an objective with such dogged determination. Believe me; the two of us went through, together, tons of rejections, harsh criticisms, and off-hand dismissals. She never gave up, not once. And Mary took advice with the proverbial grain of salt knowing instinctively what was true to her story and refusing to surrender when so many individuals tried to change her voice.

Mary’s on her second book in the series Time Can Heal Your Heart, Burned Into Time now, and that's due to be published soon.

During the last couple of months she’s had a couple of health hiccups, and all of us here at PFS are rooting for her return to perfect health.

We’re proud of you, Mary; you’re an inspiration to us all!



Wimbledon Historic moment, the will to win

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 11:20 AM | 15 comments »

Hi everyone,
Last year I blogged on the historic final of Wimbledon when the great Federer outlasted Andy Roddick in a marathon five set match. Well, now there is a new score to set all records, one that at first glance doesn't even make sense. After 11 hours of play over three days, American player John Isner won the fifth set, 70-68 against a qualifer by the name of Nicholas Mahut. There is no tie breaker in the fifth set, and they had to play game after game, and neither man was willing to admit defeat. In an Herculean effort, both players battled on one point at a time, even when they were nearly too weak to stand. Neither man lost that day. Both men were honored by the press, the adoring fans, and were given gifts by Wimbledon for bringing so much heart, and desire, and fortitude, to the game. They brought the tennis world to a standstill. They were heroes and for that one moment in history, or 11 hours in history, they did something that will never be repeated.
We as writers do that everyday. We don't quit. We don't cry foul. We battle on, word after word, sentence after sentence, book after book. We perservere during hurricanes, during illness, during economic crisis, through all the goods times and the bad. Not for financial game, because we all know there isn't much of that. We do it for the love of the game. We do it because we can't imagine our life without it. It doesn't define us, but it makes us stronger, more complete than we'd be without it. We follow our dreams, and we thank the good Lord that we still have them.
So here's raising a cyber glass to all of us dreamers. Dream big, dream on, and never give up.

I got this recipe from my mother, who I assume got it from her mother. I have NO idea why it's called Matrimony Cake. It's not like any wedding cake I've ever had. In fact, it's a variety of what is normally called date squares or date bars. Is it named for the institution of marriage? It has oats -- because hopefully all the wild oats have been sown and from now on there will only be domestic ones. It has dates -- lots and lots of dates, of which a happy marriage should have many. Sugar -- well, yeah. Cinammon and salt for spice. Okay, so I'm getting carried away and should stop, but if anyone knows the real reason for its name, please tell me!

1/2 cup butter
1.5 cups rolled oats
1 cup flour (I use whole wheat pastry flour)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon soda

Mix together to a crumbly texture and spread half the mixture on the bottom of the pan. My recipe doesn't specify the pan size. I seem to remember my mother using a rectangular pan, but I used an 8"x8" pan and it worked fine.

1 pound dates, pitted and chopped. I suggest using those very sweet lovely dark Mediterranean dates.The lighter-brown California dates just aren't as good, in my opinion.
1 cup water
Salt. The recipe doesn't specify; I used 1/2 teaspoon
Cinnamon. Again, the recipe doesn't specify. I used 1 teaspoon.

Cook filling until soft and spread over the bottom crust. Then spread the rest of the crumble on top.

Bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees. Cut into squares. They're great hot with ice cream or cold just by themselves.

Quantcast I absolutely love 18th and 19th century dance scenes in period movies.  And no one does them better than the British.   So romantic and beautiful, and did I mention romantic?  Some of the best dance scenes are in the various films based on Jane Austen novels, but there are many, many others too.  There’s a delightful one in Miss Potter and Becoming Jane.  The Young Victoria is a visual feast...
I’m drawn to these scenes like a moth to a flame.  Sigh.  Why can’t we still dance like that today?

Naturally, I’ve studied up on these old dances, even consulted an elderly expert at one point who then gave me his large collection of notes and research info.  Entrusted me with this rich legacy which has been invaluable in my writing.  He said no one else had expressed the interest in his research material that I had and he was getting on in years  and wanted to pass it on to someone who would appreciate it.  That would be me.  The best dance scene I ever wrote based on his copious notes hasn’t yet been published.  But it will, eventually.   First, I must finish the book.

Of course, I’ve included various dances in many of my books.   I love the English Country dances, not to neglect the foot stomping jigs and reels that were enormously popular in less formal circles, but I have also included more formal dances.   Back in the day, my home state of Virginia was filled with colonists who were ‘mad about dancing” according to one historian.
He also mentioned that his 19 yr old daughter was the oldest virgin he knew as folks married quite young back then.  Come to think of it, I wed my high school sweetheart at 19.  But I digress.  Frequently.  I flit between subjects like a butterfly.  Can’t blame it on advancing years, though.  I always have.

My light paranormal/historical romance Daughter of the Wind, set among the Scots-Irish in the Alleghenies, opens with a lively dance at the McNeal homestead when the hero arrives, shot, and bangs on the door.   Breaks up that party.

My colonial American romance short A Warrior for Christmas (in The American Rose Christmas Anthology) has a charming dance scene or two that I loved writing.  The frontiersman/former Shawnee captive hero, a rugged young man more comfortable with war dances, attempts the minuet.

The waltz in light paranormal Somewhere My Love is one of my most romantic offerings ever, if I do say so myself.   Actually, that book has two waltz scenes.  And I had a blast writing the amusing and tender dance scene in Somewhere My Lass. I dabbled in dancing when writing my colonial American romance Red Bird’s Song in a most unlikely way considering it’s set in the rugged frontier.  Trust me to work in a dance somewhere.  And it’s Romantic too, most certainly.  All of these scenes are, along with the tension or whatever else is unfolding in the story.  The characters don’t just dance.  Although I happily could.  I didn’t manage to get a dance into Enemy of the King or Through the Fire although I referred to dancing.  They are both such fast-paced adventures, we really didn’t have time to linger over a dance.  Except at the cast party, of course. :)

Does anyone not love these wonderful old dances from ages past?  And the costumes…I’d love to have a different one for each day of the week (or month) from various eras.  Today I shall be Lady so and so in my voluminous colonial American gown.  Tomorrow, I’ll swirl about in my Regency do, then ride off in my carriage to attend a ball in the Victorian age.  Not to neglect the Edwardian era which had wonderful gowns.  Now and then I’d get down with the Scots and kick up my heels in full clan regalia.

I  suppose all these costumes might appear slightly eccentric to onlookers.  Like I’d care if I had them.  And filigree jewelry.  I’m quite taken with the word filigree, defined as ‘delicate, lacelike ornamental work of intertwined wire of gold, silver…’

And now, I’ll send you off with a dance!  What else?

Deal with This, says Lucy Monroe. Investigator Alan White becomes a boarder at Actress Jillian Carlyle's house and his life will never be the same again. She has a rule about romantic relationships between her boarders. Will she break that rule herself? This HOT read is a BRAVA Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishing Corp.

Show and Tell
by Jasmine Haynes will keep you wondering what Trinity Green will do next. How far will a woman go when she finds her husband showering with another woman. Read this book and add to your sexual fantasies. This Erotic Romance is a Berkley Sensation offering. Not for the faint of heart. (HINT) Older men can rule!

Raz Steel introduces us to Dr. Lara West in Love without Blood. Yes, there are vampires. No, I won't tell you more. The good doctor saves a vampire. And how does he repay her? Wrong! You'll find this book will keep you up reading just one more page. Love without Blood is a Dorchester Love Spell Paranormal Romance.

What have you read lately that you want to recommend?

These were the shows that scared the heck outta me when I was young. I can still hear that eerie music from Twilight Zone that told me we had entered a new dimension and I for one was frightened to death to be there! The crazy cacophony that ended in the blast of music from that sounded like a trio on the trombone No score has ever had a more profound effect, it brought instant fear, like I was Pavlov's dog or something.
And the shows, like the one where William Shatner saw a gremlin, or whatever the heck it was, destroying the wing on the airplane. It would hide whenever anyone else looked but he, by the end of the flight  Mr. Shattner's  character was insane!

The Twilight Zone, Vol. 1
Rod Serling had a voice that just gave me the shivers, just hearing it. Then when he told you the story, darn was I scared, every single time!! And the man wrote and produced almost every one of the scripts for each show. Rod Serling's seminal anthology series focused on ordinary folks who suddenly found themselves in extraordinary, usually supernatural, situations. The stories would typically end with an ironic twist that would see the guilty punished.Fantastic!
But then, then came the scariest of all TV shows. 
Opening titles –
 1960sThe Outer Limits!
I'll never forget it, when it came on, I would panic...
The Outer Limits
Outer Limits - Original.

Who hasn't laid in their bed with hands over ears and humming. But you could still hear it. It really creeped me out. An anthology of street episodes, sometimes with a plot twist at the end. All I know is they scared me, so bad that I had night terrors for years. But the one thing that was the scariest for me ever was the move,
A Picture of Dorian Gray
His picture aged instead of him. When I saw the picture on TV I thought I would have heart failure. The best in classic Gothic horror! Oscar Wilde was at his best when he wrote this story in which a man sells his soul to stay young. The portrait is a grim reminder of every sin that he has committed, the soul of a man whose spent his life in debauchery. And he looked bone ugly in the oil painting of himself when he finally looked at it. 
Now I know that A Picture of Dorian Gray is a wonderful classic and should be read when one is not going to be up all night scared to death!
And nothing scares me in the movies now. Nothing, it ain't easy to get me to laugh out loud either So What do you have to say. Remember any of this anybody?? 
Not much romance huh?
What movie scared you the most when you were very young? Can anything scare you now?

Monsters Comments

This year, the Boy Scouts of America celebrate their 100th anniversary, and the Nebraska Historical Museum is holding an exhibit of Scout memoriabilia.

In 1907, when General Robert Baden-Power returned from the Boer War in South Africa and learned that many boys used his book on military scouting as a guide for camping and other out door activities, he created the peacetime scouting organization which he called the “Boy Scouts.” Three years later, this idea spread to the United States when Chicago publisher William Boyce put his own Americanized spin on Baden-Powell’s program. The apochryphal story is that an American on a busy London street stopped a boy in uniform and asked directions, and when he offered to pay the boy for his help, the boy replied, "I don't take pay. I'm a Boy Scout." The American was so impressed, he set about making such an organization for boys after he returned to his own country. At this time, there were several other organizations using similar names but Boyce is the one credited with organizing what we now know as the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

The first uniforms resembled those worn by "doughboys" during World War One. (Picture at right)

Compared to present-day Scouting, rules for joining were fairly lax. Entry age was twelve with the maximum age limit being eighteen. In 1949, the entry age was lowered to eleven, in 1972 to ten, and finally the applicant simply had to have completed the fifth grade, or earned the Webelos (WE BE LOng) Arrow of Light award. Originally, there were only three ranks: Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class. Later, the Life, Star, and Eagle were added to recognize the number of merit badges a Scout earns.

Scouting ranks show an entrant's progress through studying skills and receiving awards and badges. In 1972, the first three ranks required obtaining 12 "skill awards": Camping, Citizenship, Communications, Community Living, Conservation, Cooking, Environment, Family Living, First Aid, Hiking, Physical Fitness, Swimming. For completion of each group, the Scout received a metal belt loop. In 1989, the skill awards were dropped and the system used prior to 1972 was reinstated.

Before 1959, only older, Second Class Scouts were allowed to work for Merit Badges. In 1972, a specific number of badges were required for all Scouts, but in 1976, this was changed. The badge for Tenderfoot was dropped and the number of badges for both First and Second Class Scouts reduced. In 1979, this criteria was changed again, with all merit badges for Second Glass deleted and those for First Class changed to a single one for First Aid. At last, in 1989. that requirement was also dropped so merit badges are now back where they started. (At right are medals, etc, from scout Arthur J. Smith, Jr)

The Eagle rank is Scouting’s highest award and was established in 1911, with the first badge awarded in 1912 to Arthur Rose Eldred. To achieve Eagle Scout Rank, the applicant must be eighteen, and perform some community service as a project. Many Scouts never attain this honor, although since Eldred’s time, about two million boys have been awarded the Eagle Scout rank. Since 1952, adult men are also allowed to earn the badge. At first, the requirement was earning 21 merit badges. Later, Leadership and Service achievements were added. (Scout uniform at left was designed by Oscar de la Renta)

Some Famous Eagle Scouts:

Philo Farnsworth – inventor of television
Henry “Hank” Aaron – the “home run king”
Gerald R. Ford - 38th President of the United States
Neil Armstrong - astronaut and first man on the moon
Steven Spielberg - Academy Award-winning film director
Sam Walton - founder of Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, the largest single employer in the world
Michael Moore – film director
John Tesh – musician
Two former director FBI directors: Louis Freeh and William S. Sessions
H. Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and The Perot Group, former presidential candidate
Donald H. Rumsfeld - former United States Secretary of Defense
Milton Caniff – cretor of comic strip “Steve Canyon”
James Stewart – actor
William C. Westmoreland - retired general
James Brady - gun control advocate and former White House Press Secretary who was shot during the Reagan assassination attempt
Michael S. Dukakis - former governor of Massachusetts and former presidential candidate
William Hanna - animator, director, producer, cartoon artist, and co-founder of Hanna-Barbera
James Lovell - astronaut who flew on missions Gemini 7, Gemini 12, Apollo 8, and Apollo 13
J. W. Marriott, Jr. - Chairman and CEO of Marriott International
John Lawrence Sweeney, II – son of the author of this article

Until the early 1950s, a Scout was reviewed for his merit badges and ranks at a district or council Court of Honor and received his badge that same evening. Later, when individual troops took over the presentation ritual, Scouts sometimes had to wait several months to receive their badges. In 1972, individual troops were allowed to present badges as soon as they were earned. At this Court of Honor, formal recognition took place in the presence of the Scout’s parents.

(Uniform above is the Centennial uniform)

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:08 AM | 10 comments »

Hi Everyone,
There are so many deals today, that I hope they all fit on this blog. I'm posting a few of my favorites.

Sunday's topic was about healthy food, so the first deal is for Order a large 2 topping pizza and code 9159 will give you the deal for $5.99. To add free cinnamon stix, add code EBCS.
OK, we're blowing the diet with this deal, but just for today.

Twilight, anyone? Join the vampire craze and order a vampire t-shirt from for $7.99. Add a S/H charge of $1.99. Copy and paste:

To look gorgeous in your new vampire t-shirt, check out Today only, they are offering free shipping on any order of $5.00. Use code: 622FSD
Blood-red lipstick might be a good choice. :)

To top off your dazzling outfit, Designer Shoe Warehouse is offering $10.00 off of $10.00, using code TAKE10. You can't beat that deal. Add a shipping fee of $7.95, or for any order of $35.00 of more, add coupon code SHIPR for free shipping.

After your movie (see above) you'll want to go out to dinner. is offering 80% off with coupon code SUMMER.

Finally, when you are back at home and want to read before bed, is offering a super deal on the Kindle at one of the lowest prices I've seen. Currently $189.00 with free shipping.

Happy shopping!

"I can't afford to save any more money."--Favorite quote.

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 9:19 AM | 8 comments »

Hi everyone,
I couldn't let the week pass without sharing a few good deals.

First, check out They are offering the Essex 32 piece dinnerware set for $20.00 with free shipping. This is an online special only, and the set is available in 5 colors: black, cobalt, sage, hunter, and periwinkle.

Burts Bess is again offering their grab bags for $24.99, regularly $50.00. If you missed out on this deal in November, you might want to order this time around.

Shipping is free over $50.00, so order 2 grab bags and an extra lip balm. Add the code WELCOME (in caps) for another free lip balm. You'll have lots of gifts for birthdays and holidays.

Beginning Tuesday, Walmart will be offering the Iphone 16 GB 3 GS for $97.00. Requirement is a 2 year contract through AT & T.

Happy Shopping!

"I can't afford to save any more money."--Favorite quote.

Hi everyone,
First--a Happy Father's day to all the fathers. Hope you enjoy a wonderful day with your families.

I am reposting a blog about food, nutrition, and dieting:

My fifteen year old daughter has decided to go on a low-carb diet. I’ve done the research because, after all, she’s only fifteen. What I’ve found is that some doctors say low-carbs are good for you, such as Atkins and South Beach, and some doctors say low-carbs are not so good.
My daughter has become extremely health conscious, and spouts daily facts about how bad white bread is for you, how sweets are the enemy, and how one tablespoon of cod liver oil a day is good.

All this nutritional research prompted me to ask: What can writers do to eat healthier?
All of us juggle full or part-time day jobs, as well as home and family responsibilities. I work best at night, after my family is settled for the evening. This means, of course, that I get very little sleep---but I’ll save the topic of sleep-deprivation for another blog.
Writers sit in front of computers several hours each day pounding out our latest manuscript. The occasional chocolate bar (well, OK, not so occasional in my case), and caffeine-laden drinks help us to write longer and hopefully better.
And, here comes the guilt. Many of us get very little physical exercise---but I’ll save that topic for yet another blog.

Taking all this into account, are we as productive as we can be? Do we make optimal use of our very limited time and feel energized?

We all know what we should and should not be eating, how proper nutrition works, and who can’t visualize the infamous food pyramid?

New research shows that high-fiber foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruits are beneficial. These foods are filling, and help you to feel satisfied longer.
Is a fat-free diet going to help us become, well, skinny? New research shows that some fats are good, and some are bad. Saturated and trans fats are bad, and olive oil, avocados, and nuts are good.
But what kind of nuts, and how many?
And what about salt and potassium?

A recent article on the internet stated to “skip the fads, and focus on diet and nutrition.” Wise advice for any diet or weight maintenance program.

Food for thought. If blogs are supposed to be informative, I’m afraid I’ve raised more questions than I’ve answered.
And dinner? Tonight my daughter is having salmon and a salad for dinner. She’s skipping the low-fat brownie, though, which means there will be more for me. 

Share your thoughts. Which healthy and no-so-healthy diets work best for you?

Every woman has a different vision of how their fantasy man will both look and act. Like yummy snacks, not all of us crave the sweet. Some of us lean toward the savory or the even the zesty hot type. And still, sometimes we go to the dark side and crave the unusual morsel or even both at once?

In EVIL’S WITNESS, which releases at THE WILD ROSE PRESS today (June 18), I have several male characters, but two are images from my fantasies. You got it. My hero, John Dolton, and my villain, Victor. While both men are physically different and John would turn my head first, they both possess traits I find attractive.

Emotionally, John is a tortured, rogue agent. Sort of a badass kind of guy. He likes to get down and dirty, but he cleans up real nice. This quiet type always, always gets me. I don’t care if he is an FBI agent or a cowboy or regency count. My heart pounds. I want to save them from a life of loneliness. And John’s dark, soulful eyes… Well let’s just say I could stare into them forever.

Excerpts from Evil’s Witness:
…“And this is Agent Dolton.” Zohara indicated the man who stopped in mid-pace and faced the large pane mirror.

The gun which hugged the center of the man’s back made Stephanie shiver.

He turned and his coal-colored eyes traced over her.

She openly returned his assessment. Except for the gun, he didn’t look like an FBI agent. He wore his dark brown hair longer than she thought allowed by the FBI, curling at his shirt’s collar. His square jaw was shadowed with dark stubble. His casual light blue shirt pulled across his chest and looked as if it came from the dryer and not the dry cleaners. He wore jeans, well worn….


Victor on the other hand, projects the persona of well groomed professional. Tall, olive-skinned, polished men always catch my eye. More than their good looks, I think it’s their air of confidence that draws me to them. And Victor is very confident.

Tidbit from Evil’s Witness:

Did the FBI think he was stupid?

Holding a bouquet of daisies, Victor leaned against the counter while a nurse checked for the room number of a Myrtle Haupt and glanced down the corridor checking where Steph Boyd was roomed. The room was easy to spot. An armed guard barricaded the door.

“Keeping track of patient’s names day in and day out is almost impossible,” Nurse Lillian Michaels said, glancing up at him with a shy smile.

“I’m sorry to take up your time. I’m sure you are very busy.” Victor smiled back. He knew the woman was impressed with him and planned to use her innocence to the fullest.

“Here she is. Mrs. Haupt is in room D133.” Her gaze dropped to the flowers. “Beautiful flowers.”

“Yes. My great aunt’s favorite. I know she might not know me but I’m hoping the flowers will help. She used to help me pick wild daisies for my mother when we visited at my grandfather’s farm.” Victor inhaled as if the memories were almost too much for him to bear, straightened and with a mask of confusion said, “D133. Which way is that?”

“I can show you. I’m going that way.” She grabbed a tray filled with paper cups.

“That would be so kind of you.”

They strolled down the hall, chatting. The agent gave them a minute amount of attention as they passed by, but Victor knew if the agent was worth anything he’d memorized a full description of him….


While Victor tried his best to take over the story, John won out and my heroine Stephanie went for John of course.

Excerpt from Evil’s Witness

Shh.” John’s hands found her hips and pulled her even closer—hip to hip. The butt of his gun poked her ribs. No protective vests shielded her from the feel of him.

His burning gaze told her of his plan only a moment before his lips, full and hot, crushed hers.

His hands trailed down her backside, lifting her into him. She ran her hands up his strong arms. The world reeled away, leaving her and John alone, enjoying the warm comfort of each other as their bodies molded together.

“Hey! Hey, buddy. What are you doing there?” A man called from a short distance.

John pulled back. Instantly the air between them cooled and Stephanie shivered, wanting more of him.

“Calm down, Mac. The lady and I are on a coffee break. Right, babe?”

Dazed, her gaze locked with his. She knew what he wanted from her.

“Miss?” The stocky man wearing a bloody butcher’s apron glanced at her purse before his hard glare landed on John. The man’s burly arms hosted clamped fists and his stance changed. He was ready to pounce on John at her word.

“Leave us alone. We’ve only got ten minutes.” Stephanie slowly laced her arms around

John’s neck and flashed a wicked smile at the man. She went up on her toes and buried her face in John’s neck and nibbled away, enjoying the salty taste of him.

So what type of man turns you on? Come one tell me. In celebration of my release today, I'm going to give one lucky commenter a download of my last release OBSESSED BY WILDFIRE. You can be anywhere in the world, but you must be 18 to receive, since the story is rated spicy. I'll post the winner Saturday noon EST, right here on this blog. So come on, tell me what's your fanasty man like?

EVIL’S WITNESS available from The Wild Rose Press, Barnes & Noble and Amazon NOW!

Visit Autumn Jordon at

Trailer link:

No part of this post may be copied or reproduced without the expressed permission of the author, Autumn Jordon.

Last week, I had a date with a celebrity of sorts... His name is Archie. Most people in Lincoln know Archie, college kids most of all. I saw him for the first time nearly 15 years ago but it was from afar and not up close and personal, but this time... I parked my car and walked toward Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska campus. There he stood. Tall (15'7") , dark, bronze skin gleaming in the sun, head raised high as he trumpeted to the skies...all 5 tons of him.

Oh, did I forget to explain?

Archie is the "mascot" and logo of the Hall of Elephants at Nebraska's State Museum in Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska Lincoln campus. He's a composite skeleton made from fossils found in 1922 100 feet from where his statue now stands before the museum (an area which is now a parking lot). Archie went on exhibition inside the museum in 1925. Also housed inside the museum as a life-sized asbestos statue, he was replaced by a bronze figure cast by artist Fred Hoppe at the Caleco Foundry in Cody, Wyoming, and was brought to Lincoln by flatbed truck in October 1998. Because of the sculpture's size, the truck could only drive during the day and the trip took a week. The statue was placed in front of the museum at the entrance where Archie can greet visitors with his upraised trunk and curved tusks.

The name "Archie" is short for Archidiskidon imperator maibeni, or imperial mammoth, cousin to the modern day elephant. Originating in Eurasia, mammoths crossed the Bering Straits and came to North America about 30,000 years ago. They are the typical animal people generally think of as being hunted by cave men. Looking at Archie's skeleton as well as his statue, and thinking of the relatively small size of humans in those days (less than 5"), I can only imagine the bravely it must have taken to get close enough to one of those creatures to throw a flint-headed spear at it or pummel it with rocks.

Archie is considered the largest fossilized skeleton of its type in the world. from tusk to tail, he's 25'7". Exhibited along with other fossilized elephantine species, the fossil Archie shares the Hall with other prehistoric creatures who roamed Nebraska before, during and after the Ice Ages, as well as the denizens of Jurassic Park. Across from where he stands, tusks raised high, is a wall-to-ceiling mural showing a galloping herd of mammoths being hunted by Neanderthals.

Other rooms hold exhibits showing scenes from the peaceful seas in which life began(next to last picture at bottom). A swamp from the Mesozoic era blooms with cicads, prehistoric redwoods and twelve-inch dragonflies. Gigantic trilobite and snail fossils line the floor. A pleisiosaur skeleton, so long it fills two rooms, is embedded in the floor, going under the wall and reappearing in the room next door, totaling 27 feet. A mosasaur and a bulldog tarpon, each easily 18 feet long hang from the ceiling, still encased in their cement-hard soil. In another room, an allosaurus model faces its fossilized counterpart, with a thigh bone measuring 6 feet long resting nearby in a special case. Glass cases also house dodo birds (at right), apatosaurus, stegosaurus, gigantic tree sloths, and prehistoric turtles.

The basement floor is currently featuring an exhibit of the Omaha tribe with photographs, fabrics, and pottery; there's a display of firearms and cultures from various centuries and cultures. Another room houses a gigantic rotating Double Helix, as well as a model of a a cell being attacked by the HIV virus (see below). Around the corner minerals glow in the reflection of black light.

The third floor has displays of Nebraska landscapes with indigenous animals and plant life, as well as mock-ups of archaeological digs. In the Marx Discovery Center, children can unearth fossils using brushes and small shovels, and touch and handle fossils. A mural shows student Shane Tucker (below) at the Ashland Dig.

I spent quite some time with Archie, photographing him from every angle, feeling like a paparrazza..."That's it, Archie...good, good...beautiful, baby...hold" before strolling away to view the other exhibits.

I stayed until the call came that the museum was closing for the night. Running back to give my "date" a farewell wave, I went through the door with the rest of the crowd, pausing to take a final picture of Archie's bronze image before I got into my car.

I would swear his trunk waved slightly as I drove away.

Winner of my post

Posted by Mona Risk | 8:14 AM | 1 comments »

The winner of my post Shall we Dance is Judy Keim.

Judy, you win a copy of my ebook Rx FOR TRUST.

Thank you all for leaving a comment.


Posted by Patrice Wilton | 10:37 AM | 9 comments »

Hi everyone,
I am blogging today about a wonderful contest and opportunity to have your book reviewed and grab the attention of book stores, publishers, libraries, and readers, which can also help in increased sales! The contest I refer to is the 2010 READERS FAVORITE AWARD CONTEST. There is only two weeks left to enter, and there is 4 awards for over 40 different genre categories, giving you a great chance to become an Award Winning author. I entered this contest last year and won silver for my unpublished manuscript ALL OF ME, which is still making the New York rounds. Our fabulous Mona Risk won gold for BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, beating me out in the single contemporary category. Yeah, Mona! We both received gorgeous Award seal stickers to attach to our books (when mine gets published!) and an award certificate, reviews posted on their site and on Amazon, and evaluation notes from the jurors. Oh, and did I mention the Awards Banquet in Las Vegas in November for the winners and finalists? They will be announced, presented at a luncheon at one of the largest book fairs in the world, also a wonderful networking opportunity.
So, what do you have to lose? Remember there is only two weeks left to enter, so hurry now.
I wish you all the very best.


Earlier in the spring a mallard duck decided to make her nest against the side of my parent’s house.  My Dad, a big fan of feathered fowl, checked on it daily.  One day it had been abandoned, or so he thought, and he took several of the eggs up to a faithful hen and slipped them into her nest.  As it turned out, the mother mallard had simply gone ‘walk about’  and returned.  Rather than disturb matters further, he left the eggs with the little hen.
The mama duck hatched her brood and ushered them down to the river that flows  below the house.   The hen’s eggs also hatched.   Not being partial to her species, she didn’t take any notice of a duckling among them.  Without prejudice of any kind, blind to color, feathers, beaks and feet, she took on the care of the single surviving mallard.  He’s now several months old and spends his time pecking around with his hen mom, answering her motherly clucks.
Several days ago my dad shooed the duckling down to the water garden in their yard that he dug years ago.  A little prodding and the duck plunged into the water,  ecstatically scooping up the duck weed as if he’d landed in his version of heaven.  So far, he’s returned to the chicken coop to spend the night, which may be wise as you never know when a hawk will decide to make a visit.  Generally around meal time.  Otherwise, he’s content in the mini pond with his mom clucking from a distance.  If he’s confused about his identity or being an ‘only duckling’ he hasn’t mentioned it, just gotten on with his life.  Brave, well, chipper.

The hen in the family photo above is his devoted mother, up for hen of the year.  Obviously, the rooster isn’t his father, but you can’t be sure about roosters anyway, or drakes, ganders…Speaking of which, the strange orange footed gander in the pic apparently decided to look out for the mama duck and her babies when she brought them back to visit the day after they hatched.  However, he must have gotten sidetracked working the crossword, or misplaced his glasses and lost sight of her, or perhaps she scurried off on some errand without him promising to be right back.  Even well intentioned geese are extremely absentminded.  And ducks, as everyone knows, are full of bobbance and bounce, easily distracted.   My parents haven’t seen her in days, maybe she’s gone walk about again.
There’s a moral in this story somewhere.  I’ll leave you to find it.  Meanwhile, why don’t we all just hold hands and sing Kumbia.  Or hold wings…
*Post by Beth Trissel.  Pics taken by my mom~

Magazines and television advertisements claim to have quick fixes to make women look better. Ha! Have you watched paid programming with models and actresses who claim we can buy products to make us look the way these woman look on camera? What about their makeup artists? Hmmm? Here are some ideas that don't make your wallets lighter.

1. Do you blow dry your hair? If you blow dry your hair when it's very wet it will look shinier than if you towel it dry first.

2. Ever use too much blush and feel like you look like a clown or very embarrassed? Mix moisturizer and foundation, then blend it on your face with a brush. Makeup sponges are great, too. They act like erasers on lipstick, or liner mistakes, or to tone down too much blush.

3. Back away from your mirror when you have a blemish. picking at it slows down healing. Keep your hands away from the blemish, too. The oil on your hands make things worse.

4. Have a pimple? A dab of clay mask can cut back on the oil and clean clogged pores. Try a drop of Murine or products for taking the red out of your eyes. Tones down the red of the pimple. Dot white toothpaste on zits at night or when you plan to stay at home. ON THE ZIT ONLY!

5. Sniff your favorite scent and see how much better you feel. If you shower or take a relaxing bath, limit the number of fragrances you use. Use relaxing scents like lavender or stimulating scents like grapefruit, but not both. Different scents for shampoo and body wash or bath will work against you.

6. Facial cleansing wipes can make cleansing your face easier when you're really tired or if you have no water. My daughter swears by the Walmart brand, Equate. She says the others make her face break out.

7. While we like to "glow" with youth, if you have oily skin, buy oil blotting tissues to keep in your purse. Blot gently and leave your makeup in tact.

8. Even artificial light can fade your hair color, so use products that protect or freshen your color. There are wonderful shampoos and conditioners that don't cost an arm and a leg.

9. Dip your hands up to your wrists in a bowl of warm water and massage your hands for 2 minutes. You will feel and look refreshed.

10. If you use anti-aging products, use them before bed because they make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.

Are you too young to remember the tango?

I thought I learned to dance it when I watched my parents as a little girl. But that was not the real thing. Let me show you a few pictures I took during my cruise to South America a few years ago and a two days stay in Buenos Ayres, Argentina. We spent more time in the Tango cafes than visiting Eva Peron's grave or the downtown. Unfortunately I was thick the second day, and spent my time in bed before flying back to the States.

But I attended two tango shows the first day. Thank God!!! A visit to a tango cafe in Buenos Ayres is a must.
Just follow your man!!!

Don't be afraid to bend. He won't drop you.

That's the way to tango, senhora.

Would you like to learn? My husband did. Watch him in the next three pictures enjoying the lesson.

Hmm he learned too fast.

Slow down, man!!

I did NOT approve of this step.

No sir. To think of it I don't like that step at all and he deserves a punishment not a reward!!!Find me an appropriate punishment for him and you will reveive an ebook copy of my latest romance, Rx FOR TRUST, winner of five stars at Readers Favorite.

If you like to travel and love to read, come and enjoy my international romances. I will take you around the world through stories that simmer with emotion and sizzle with heat~

BABIES IN THE BARGAIN, winner of 2009 BEST contemporary romance at READERS FAVORITE and 2009 BEST ROMANCE NOVEL at Preditors & Editors Readers Poll.
Rx FOR TRUST: 5 stars at Readers Favorite.

Inspirations and Brainstorming

Posted by Jianne Carlo | 9:57 AM | 16 comments »

When people find out I write romance novels, I get at least one of three responses, sometimes all three, and often a combo;

“Have you always wanted to write?”


“How do you think of a story?”


“I have the greatest idea for a story.”

Of all the responses, the most dangerous and the most interesting is number three. There is one commonality for those who respond with the third statement, they are utterly convinced they’re the next J.R. Rowling or Stephen King if only:

a) They had the time to write, ‘cause really how hard could it be to string a few words together?

b) It’s not the writing - it’s the idea - anyone can string a few words together, but no one else has this brilliant idea.

The last time this happened to me I was in a specialist’s office, and I didn’t want to offend the man, so I bit my tongue, and said politely, “Really? Tell me about it.”

The doctor promptly pulled out a non-disclosure agreement for me to sign.

Really? Am I even thinking of going there?

I’m hoping I don’t have to see that specialist again.

Inspiration is the single most nebulous, intangible aspect of writing, for me, anyway.

There are a couple of books that I started and finished without ever pinpointing their origins. I’ve no idea where they came from or why, but the muse drove me from start to finish.

And then there those that are aha! moments when I know exactly where the manuscript’s going from start to finish, scene by scene. Those, for me, are the easiest to write because the words run from brain to hand to keyboard, and keeping up with your whirring mind’s the only drawback.

Then, there are those I call birthday books. You know when you have a close friend who has everything, and you’re trying to come up with a unique birthday present he or she would love. So you mull all the things he or she likes in your mind for a couple of weeks, and then all of a sudden, you’re in an antique shop, and you see the perfect gift. When a publisher issues a themed call for a book, like books based on Christmas songs, I take the birthday approach.

Valentine Voodoo is a perfect example. There was a call for Valentine books, and I was interested, but only if I could come up with a different take on the holiday. For weeks I googled hearts, cupid, gods, love, Venus, you name the keyword, I searched on it. Then I had to take the redeye to the west coast, couldn’t sleep, and watched Ratatouille. I loved the movie (even teared up - something I hope my sons never find out).

I jerked awake as the plane landed with the idea of writing a book about a brilliant young animator, Stephanie, who creates the hero of the next kiddie blockbuster, a mouse named Valentine who ‘nose’ his wine. Her love interest, Eli, is the top salesperson for their company, the hippest technology company on the planet. Stephanie’s had a hot spot for Eli since the day they met. Their one-night-stand at the office Christmas party sucked. Then the company sends Stephanie and Eli on a PR weekend before the release of Valentine Voodoo on Valentine’s Day. The original imprints of Valentine Voodoo disappear and the primary suspect is Eli.

Honestly, it was all there in my head. I pulled out my laptop as soon as I was in a taxi, and typed that paragraph above. I wrote the story in two weeks - mind you- it’s a short story just under 40,000 words - but I had challenged myself to write a short story (I’m very comfortable with 70,000 words and up). Trust me, a short story is not easier to write than one of 55,000 word or more.

All of you authors and writers out there chime in.

Tell me your inspiration for your last tale published or written.



P.S. Only the last please, I have plans over the next few weeks for others - like the first published, the hardest to write, and more.


And since all this loveliness can not be Heaven,
I know in my heart it is June.
~Abba Goold Woolson (1838–1921)
Ah June, among the fairest of all months.  Here in the valley, June came in like July with hot humid temps and we await thunderstorms for needed rain.  Yesterday, Memorial Day, my home-from-college daughter Elise and I worked far too hard in the vegetable garden, but we’d gotten behind and were under a flash flood watch.  Not a drop fell from the searing sky, OK, maybe one or two.  Not even enough to dampen my nose.
If I predicted the weather with such reckless abandon as the weather people do, I would lose all credibility, but still they go on prognosticating.  And we listen. I prefer to read the signs in nature and often do so with accurate results.  Last winter was a hard one which I foretold after observing several entirely black woolly bears–those fuzzy little caterpillars are more accurate in telling the weather than anyone.  Normally woolly bears are ringed with reddish-brown and black bands, the brown denoting milder winter weather and the black harder.  And in late summer I noted the unusually high assembly of swifts gathering at our farm pond earlier in the season than usual.  Then they all flew away.  Getting the H—out of Dodge.  It wondered me why, as the Pennsylvania Dutch say.  Bad winter coming, I concluded.  And I was right.
Another indication of winter snows are the number of foggy mornings in August.  Each one signifies a snowfall.  We had a number of those misty mornings when the white haze hangs over the pond, and I can just see the blue heron at the edge.  The hills up above the meadow are veiled and the Alleghenies shrouded in white.  Then the sun comes out, the fog lifts, all sparkles in the dew, and I chalk up another snowfall.
But I digress.  Frequently.  Back to June.  On the Sunday before Memorial Day, our family took a drive up into the breathtakingly beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains along the Parkway and had lunch at the Big Meadows Lodge.  Glorious.  Mountain laurel was in in bloom and many other wildflowers.  Butterflies fluttered about, though not nearly as many as you see later in the season.  It feels as though you’re on top of the world up there.  That knob is the epicenter of the universe.
If you’ve never visited the Blue Ridge Mountains and toured the Parkway, you’ve missed out on an amazing experience.   The Park maintains trails varying from short walks to arduous hikes for the more athletic, many with ferny streams tumbling along.  I adore the sound of a mountain stream.   There are lovely places to dine like the splendid lodge.  Rustic in a welcoming, homey way with an enormous stone fireplace. The windows look out over spectacular vistas.    An ideal vacation spot for families or simply stop by for an excellent meal.
For more on the Big Meadows Lodge click here:
Big Meadows also has a fascinating museum depicting the life of the mountain people and nature displays, plus a wonderful nature based gift shop, perfect for families.  On a nice day, a stroll through the grassy meadows is enjoyable without being overly wearing.  Deer sightings are common.  Bear much less frequent, but it happens.  We once saw a mother with two cubs and spotted others from time to time.  These are the normally docile black bears.  Caution is to be observed, but attacks from black bear are rare.  One time, a bobcat sprang across the road and paused momentarily.  Shy creatures, it fled.   We’ve spotted wild turkey.  The abundance of birds in the Park makes it a haven for bird lovers.  I’ve never seen so many varieties.  The woods resound with their calls.  If you’re a horseback rider, the Park maintains idyllic trails, and the same for bikers…
Some areas of the park are home to living history exhibits of life from the past that include a preserved old log cabin, craftsmen at their looms, farm animals in log pens, a mountain garden…hands on stuff for children.  If you’re up for a dip in an icy stream, or swimming hole, they have those too.  I’ve opted to dabble my toes.  And there are waterfalls of all sizes. 
I love the smaller one called Dark Hollow Falls at Milam’s Gap.  It’s small enough that the more adventurous, including kids, slide down into the pool beneath.  You can even tickle trout, should that appeal to you.  It holds no charm for me, but some of the men in our family have braved frigid pools and done just that.
When I’m in the mountains my spirit soars.  The beauty of the valley and surrounding mountains, my absorption in nature and passion for the past, has an enormous influence on my writing.

“After a debauch of thundershower, the weather takes the pledge and signs it with a rainbow.”
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich
“The sky is the daily bread of the eyes.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments – there are consequences.”~ Robert G. Ingersoll
“Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.”~The Bible
“Flowers have an expression of countenance as much as men or animals. Some seem to smile, some have a sad expression, some are pensive and diffident, others again are plain, honest and upright.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

*I totally agree with this poetic observation.

“When the oak is felled the whole forest echoes with its fall, but a hundred acorns are sown in silence by an unnoticed breeze.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

“By nature’s kindly disposition, most questions which it is beyond man’s power to answer do not occur to him at all.” ~ George Santayana
“The bluebird carries the sky on his back.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

*I absolutely love blue birds.  The Shenandoah Valley is blessed with an abundance of them.  They flash blue in the sunlight and are quite busy little birds.

“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before. “~ Robert Lynd  *To this I add, so could Native Americans.
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
~John Muir

*Several of these pics were taken by my mother and husband. The rest are royalty free images from i-stock of the Blue Ridge Mountains.