Musings of Spring

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 12:38 PM | , , , | 15 comments »

It's Spring time and I find myself feeling the need for change. My mother and grandmother often resorted to "Spring Cleaning" to fill this need. I think it is natures way of getting nesters to freshen up their abode.

 I look around and catch myself thinking about "spring cleaning." Trust me, this urge will pass. Just find a comfortable chair, a good book and settle in until the urge passes.

Seriously, everyone knows that Spring is a time for renewal and growth, a time for making changes. But, did you know that retailers are aware of this quirk of nature and exploit it everytime you go to the store?

Their goal is to separate you from your money. You go into a store and everything is grouped into colorful displays. Color coordinated and beautiful to lead into impluse buying that you never intended to do. Check out this link and you will see what I mean:

What can you do to protect yourself from the assault of this color-coordinated retail stratagem? First, when you enter the store be aware of their ploy. Those eye catching displays are there for a reason. The bright colors are to encourage you to liven up the drab little winter nest with the vibrancy of spring. Those new towels, shower curtains, shower hooks and other items are color-coordinated to help you realize the dull grey world of winter you've surrounded yourself with and offer, for a price, to liven up your abode.

Walk on by, stick to the list in your pocket. Don't be trapped by their attractive displays.

The next little trick you'll encounter is all those bright colorful flowers beside the door. Don't they just make your fingers itch to be outside planting your spring garden? Hold tightly to the handle of your buggy as you walk by, this too shall pass.

Now that you are aware of the pitfalls of going into the retail areana at this time of year, go on, pack the kiddies in the car and take a trip to your favorite mall or store. Be brave, but just don't say I didn't warn you.

Costumes in the Movies

Posted by Toni V.S. | 10:05 AM | 7 comments »

Recently, I was privileged to see the exhibit of movies costumes at the Durham Museum in Omaha:  five centuries of costuming, as interpreted by screen designers at the London costume suppliers at Cosptop, Ltd.

When watching a movie, most of us don’t really care whether the mob cap worn by Madame LaFarge is authentically mid-18th century French or not.  Nor do we know that the little orange ribbon worn on the lapel of the Duchess is her way of stating without saying a word that she supports William of Orange.  The people who make the big budget movies, do know, however, and they insist on authenticity in the clothes the stars in their movies wear.  Whether it’s a farthingale or a crinoline, a turn-down collar, great coat, or a neck fall, it has to be the proper one for the time in which it’s worn…or else!

Costumes set the scene for the story.  Anyone seeing Scarlett O’Hara with her wide-brimmed picture hat, parasol, and full skirts over a crinoline will knows immediately they’re in for a Civil War drama, without anyone ever saying a word.  If the male lead appears in tights and ankle buskins, wearing a shirt hanging to his thighs with a leather jerkin over it, a pointed cap perched on his head…hey! It’s Robin Hood!  Costumes not only tell us the time of the story but also the age, social class, wealth, and occupation of the wearer.

They may be seen only briefly on the screen, and indeed, may not be noticed by the moviegoer at all, especially if the scene is a short one, except perhaps for the color or something we might consider today an oddity, such as an overlarge wig topped by a tricorne hat with plumes.  Seeing these costumes standing still, so to speak, I realized I didn’t remember a single one, though I had seen a good many of the movies they were used in! (And since I used to design costumes for my college drama club, I notice the clothing more than most.) 

As with any other part of the movie cycle, the costume designer starts with the script.  He reads it to get an idea of the setting and the characters, and once aware of that, he researches…libraries, books, costume houses, and museums containing original garments.  Since most modern fabrics are too stiff and neither look nor hang as original cloth does, most costumes are made of “old-fashioned” fabric, such as cotton, linen, wool, and silk.  They rely on embroiderers and beaders to create decorations, laces, and other trimmings for gowns and coats.  Specialists such as wigmakers, shoemakers, and jewelers are consulted in accessories such as preparing necklaces, eardrops, purses, walking canes, and parasols.  A good many costumes are sewn by hand in order to duplicate the authentic look of the originals, which were created before the invention of the sewing machine, which makes stitches evenly distributed, thus making clothing hang differently than it would if a seamstress, using uneven stitches sewed it.  Sewn by hand, embroided by hand, beaded by hand, sometimes using original lace and other trimmings…it’s difficult to imagine the number of people plus the number of hours spent creating the clothing for a single movie.  As much time is taken to make costumes as it took to make the real clothing.  Is it any wonder the credits after the show are so long? 

A costume has to be authentic from the skin of the wearer outward, even to underwear—called underpinnings.  Wearing the proper underthings determines how an actor walks, sits, and performs all the other business in a play, as well as adding the proper characterization.  A woman wearing a corset and a floor-length gown won’t be expected to run across a room with the same ease as one wearing a mini-skirt and sandals.  In fact, she can’t.  Nor can she slouch in a chair, or sit with her legs crossed.  She also has to be careful going up and downstairs so she won’t step on the hem of her dress and fall.  Male actors are a little more fortunate in this respect, since their roles are more prone to action, and generally men’s small clothes allow more freedom of movement, anyway.

Costumes features in the exhibit were from The New World, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Duchess, Gosford Park, The Last King, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, Sherlock Holmes, Casanova, and Phantom of the Opera, and several others.  Both male and female garments, as well as children’s wear were shown, all on mannequins duplicating the actual person’s size.  Several things stuck with me:  the women’s dresses were absolutely beautiful; Johnny Depp and Collin Farrell are much taller than I thought, and all the actresses were probably a Size minus Zero!  Envy…both the clothing and the sizes.

The exhibit is presented by Exhibits Development Prop in cooperation with Cosprop, Ltd., London, England.  Since no photographs were allowed inside the exhibit, pictures here are taken from the Museum brochure.  (TOP:  Poster; Heath Ledger's formal frock coat with gold embroidery and spangled lace for Casanova, designed by Jenny Beaven: Restoration pirate costume worn by Captain Jack Sparrow in the first two “Pirates” movies (designed Penny Rose won Best Costume Award at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy , and Horror Films); Keira Knightley’s silk chenille day ensemble from The Duchess (for which Michael O’Connor won Academy and BAFTA awards); 17th century explorer’s outfit for Collin Farrell Captain John Smith in The New World, designed by Jacqueline West; cover of the brochure.)

Morgan Gabriel D’Arcy is a classical pianist, a British Lord and a vampire. He has everything–except Isabeau.

For centuries, he has cherished a dream—a race of immortal crossbreeds possessing vampire strength and human morals. Ambition is not his only motivation. Love is. When Isabeau, his chosen bride, was a child, he appeared to her as an angel and watched over her. As the Angel Gabriel predicted, Isabeau is now a brilliant geneticist. She has come of age, and Morgan is ready to marry her. However, many forces oppose them, not the least of which is Vampyre law. Mating between the human and Vampyre is prohibited–for a very good reason.

An enemy from Morgan’s distant past is stalking him. Paul D’Alembert seeks eye-for-an-eye justice, intending to kill Isabeau as once Morgan killed his beloved. In fact, his enemies are rapidly closing in on them. Will Morgan have time and an opportunity to make his dream come true—to sire a child on Isabeau? Will he outsmart his enemies, protect her and escape death himself? For the first time in eternity, the clock is ticking.

Sinners’ Opera was contracted yesterday by Double Dragon Publishing! This is a special book for me, and I’m delighted to see Morgan “on stage.”

If you'd like to see a man who looks like Morgan, check out the Gevalia coffee ads with Johann.  Yummy!

Posted by Autumn Jordon | 12:30 AM | , , | 11 comments »

Today is National Professional Secretaries Day. I know this because for twenty-two years I was a secretary. For eleven of those twenty-two years, I was a corporate secretary and had five secretaries under me. Let me tell you each one of those ladies earned their pay. Keeping the corporate world straight is a damn hard job. Each year, our boss thanked us for being meticulous in our duties by sending us bouquets of flowers and buying lunch. Even during tough times, he managed to send a thank you and we appreciated him for appreciating us.

I never knew when this tradition started, so I decided to look up its origin and share it with the PFS readers. The first National Secretaries Day was celebrated in 1952. Its founder was Mr. Harry Klemfuss, who handled the Dictaphone Corporation account for the Young & Rubicam advertising agency. He thought secretaries deserved recognition and wanted to encourage more people to enter the field. Mr. Klemfuss along with the National Secretaries Association (now called the International Association of Administrative Professionals) and a few office product manufacturers persuaded Charles Sawyer, then the secretary of commerce, to proclaim the first National Secretaries Week. Mr. Klemfuss passed on July 30, 2009. Let us also remember him today.


Hello, everyone!

It’s been a crazy good time around my house the past few weeks. First, my daughter and son-in-law returned safe from a military deployment. Woo-hoo!! Then, this week, I learned that I’m a finalist in Wisconsin’s Fabulous Five contest. After taking time off from pursuing a writing career to care for my husband who was ill, this was the first contest I entered in over two years. I was ecstatic to get the news.
Tomorrow, I’m off to Orlando, Florida. My entire family is going to Disney World. We’re staying at Shades of Green, a plush resort that caters to military families. When I’m not riding roller coasters or screaming inside haunted houses, I plan to enjoy a massage inside the resort’s spa, swim with my two grandsons, and even take time to play a round or two of golf. We haven’t taken a family vacation in years, so I know we’ll have a fabulous time together.

    I’m not planning to slow my writing momentum. Every chance I get, I’ll work on my story. I might not get a lot done, but I’ll at least keep my current work-in-process moving forward and fresh in my thoughts. The romantic suspense story I’m working on now is dear to my heart. It deals with two of my passions: family loyalty and helping the underdog when all hope seems lost. Extreme Fear is book one in a series.

But for now, I’m off to pack my suitcase. We’re expecting sunny weather, which means shorts and T-shirts/tank tops, at least in my case. My husband says his legs are too pale to wear shorts. I disagree, anyhow how can you tan in jeans. I’ll wear him down until he’s in both shorts and sandals.

I'll leave you with a few photos of my family. I hope you enjoy them, and I’ll be thinking of you all as I stroll down Disney’s Main Street. J

Until later,


Interview with Naomi Rawlings

Posted by Josie | 12:48 PM | 12 comments »

Hello everyone, I’m Joanne, w/a Josie Riviera. I’m interviewing debut author Naomi Rawlings today. Her first book Sanctuary for a Lady, came out this month, published by Love Inspired Historical.

Author Bio: A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. Naomi writes bold, dramatic stories containing passionate words and powerful journeys. You can find her on the web at or blogging at

So, Naomi, let’s get started and get right down to business. What are your favorite kind of shoes? :) Flip flops or sandals! Though sadly, living as far north as I do, I only get to wear them for a few months out of the year. I spend the majority of the year in boots. Snow boots, dress boots, mud boots, etc. If you can name the type of boot, I have a pair, guaranteed!

Your book is wonderfully written.

How do you find time to write with family and job obligations? Balancing between writing and family is always hard. I don’t have another job, so that takes away some of the stress, but I try to write at times that work with my family’s schedule. I get up early in the morning, at 5:00 am, and write before anyone else is up. Then I try to squeeze more writing time in when my youngest is napping. Actually, me and my crit partner found balancing writing and family to be such a struggle, that we started a blog about it.

Thanks for sharing your blog with us. We’ll be sure to check it out.

What made you want to be an author? Writing wasn’t a real drive that I had, so much as my love for reading. After my first son was born, I found myself reading a ton of books, and since I had an English degree, I decided to try to write one. I had no idea what I was getting into, but was thoroughly addicted to writing after the first couple weeks. I haven’t looked back since!

When did you decide to write inspy romance and how long have you been at it? Also, have you written other genres? Inspy romance makes up the majority of what I read, and always has. It never occurred to me to try to write anything else. I love a good love story, and am perfectly content writing them. I’ve been writing for a little under four years, all together. How do you get over writer’s block? Um, I don’t let myself get it in the first place. I force myself to keep writing, even if the words come a little bit at a time as I try to get over a hurdle. Sometimes I end up going back and rewriting the scene that gave me trouble, but this way I don’t find myself stymied for days.

I love your French setting for Sanctuary for a Lady. How do you come up with your ideas? Goodness, I’m a terrible person to ask this to. I tend to come up with a problem, often couched in some important historical event. If I can come up with a solid, story worthy problem, I can usually go from there. The central problems in Sanctuary for a Lady are, “What if you were trapped in a country where everyone wanted you dead. How would you get out? What if the only person who could save you was someone who had every reason to want you dead as well?” I’ve just started planning the sequel to Sanctuary for a Lady, and the central question in that story is “What if you fell in love with the person you’re supposed to destroy?” So as you can see, I like those deep, layered, multifaceted questions to start a story with.

How many books did you write before publishing one? Three unpublished, and they will likely stay that way. I have no interest in going back and trying to resurrect any of them.

How many books have you published? This is my first, and it’s super exciting to see something I’ve written in print!

On average, how long does it take to write your books? It’s taken me ten months with both my debut novel and the manuscript I’m just finishing now. I’m hoping to shave that down to six months with my next story. Now that I have a better understanding of the writing craft and a better concept of what publishers are looking for, I think six months is a reasonable goal for me.

How have you coped with rejection? It’s always difficult to hear something you worked so hard on isn’t going to work out. After I get a rejection like that, it usually takes me a week or so to get back into writing. Oftentimes I take a break from my own writing and camp out with some good books to read. One thing that surprised me was how hard I found it to go back and revise a manuscript after I’d submitted it. When I finish a ms, I like to be done. But since I’ve been published, my agent and editor have sent me back to fix things in two different stories, and that’s hard as well.

What themes go through your books? In keeping with those layered questions that often inspire my novels, I also like themes and struggles that have several different sides and can be looked at from several different points of view. In Sanctuary for a Lady, the main theme is forgiveness. My heroine, Isabelle, struggles with needing forgiveness from others because of past wrongs her family committed, needing to forgive herself, and needing to forgive her enemy. My hero, Michel, faces the need to forgive a society that has wronged him and his ancestors for generations, as well as the need to accept Isabelle may not be as guilty of hurting him as he originally thinks.

Which other jobs have you had? My main job is being a mom, and that’s the only kind of “work” I’ve done since my oldest was born five years ago. Before that, I worked a smattering of temporary jobs to get myself through college. I have an English education degree, but have never taught.

What do you love most about writing and what do you not like? Every author seems to have their own unique likes and dislikes of the writing process. My favorite part is the actual writing, where I get inside my characters head and type a scene for the first time, feeling their emotions and seeing through their eyes. My least favorite part of writing is probably the business side of it. Everything from maintaining an appearance online, to having to submit proposals to editors as opposed to just writing the story the way I want to write it. Writing isn’t a business to me, it’s a passion. But for my agent and editor and publisher, it’s a business. I struggle to see my novels as business decisions.

What are you writing now? LOL! I’m finishing up some requested REVISIONS from my editor on my second novel. Hopefully I’ll have a contract for that one shortly, and then I want to start writing a sequel to Sanctuary for a Lady, which my editor has requested I do next.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write? Inspirational historical romance, which is what I’m writing right now! I just wouldn’t put so much revision work into the stories.

Why do you write? Because I can, and because I love it, and because it’s such an awesome opportunity to inspire others. I love giving my hero and heroine impossible odds and watching as they overcome all obstacles to be together, and I think there’s a lot of inspiring things that readers can take away from such a novel.

Naomi is giving a free download to one lucky commenter today, so folks, please leave a comment and Naomi will contact the winner.

Here’s an excerpt for Sanctuary for a Lady:

Running to freedom, she found love . . . The injured young woman that Michel Belanger finds in the woods is certainly an aristocrat, and in the midst of France’s bloody revolution, sheltering nobility merits a trip to the guillotine. Yet despite the risk, Michel knows he must bring the wounded girl to his cottage to heal.

ttacked by soldiers and left for dead, Isabelle de La Rouchecauld has lost everything. A duke’s daughter cannot hope for mercy in France, so escaping to England is her best chance of survival. The only thing more dangerous than staying would be falling in love with this gruff yet tender man of the land. Even if she sees, for the first time, how truly noble a heart can be . . .

Thanks, Naomi, for joining us today.

Free books on Kindle

Posted by Josie | 3:36 PM | 7 comments »

Hi Everyone, Our wonderful Toni Sweeney is kind enough to offer her fabulous books on Kindle. Copy and paste and download them through and enjoy! Thanks Toni!







Hi Everyone,
Also wanted to add that in honor of Earth Day, my new publisher is offering:

Use discount code: Earth12 to save 50% off all eBooks on our website today only!

Romance Hot Buttons!

Posted by Mona Risk | 8:06 AM | 17 comments »

Of the tropes found in romance fiction, if you are anything like me you'll have certain hot button plot devices or issues that you're drawn to. I've discovered from analyzing the films and books I enjoy that my hot buttons are reunited lovers, especially childhood sweethearts who are parted and then find each other again, the classic Cinderella trope, marriage (or engagement) of convenience,  friends to lovers and unrequited love. I also love babies and children in sweet romances. Most books and films that include these elements in the plot appeal to me.

One of my favorite films is Pretty Woman, a classic Cinderella story. More unusual is the reverse Cinderella story like Notting Hill where the roles are switched. Hugh Grant is the Cinderella Character to Julia Roberts rich and famous actress. I still enjoy it this way round if it's done well, but I prefer the man as the 'Prince'.

In addition to those I've already mentioned, there are many other much-loved romance plots that have been done numerous times but never get old (as Harlequin will vouch for!). Here are a few I can think of, but I'm sure there are many more: secret baby, amnesia, man in love with best friend's younger sister, the ugly duckling, kidnapping, mistaken identity, reformed rake/playboy, revenge, forbidden love/Romeo & Juliet, tortured hero, boss/secretary (probably falls under Cinderella), Beauty and the Beast. Many of the best romance novels seem to take one of these tropes and give it a twist to keep it fresh.

I also have to admit to loving heroes who have a nerdy side even if they try to hide it. And something that gets me every time is a hero who reveals his vulnerability. I love a wounded hero!

 What started me thinking about classic plots devices was the realization that I'd included most of my favorites in my latest release Unbreak My Heart, without setting out to do so. At its heart, this is a story of childhood sweethearts who are reunited and rediscover love, but I blended in an engagement of convenience, friends to lovers and Cinderella.

What are your favorite romance tropes to read and write? Are they the same? Are there any you don't like?

Andre Le Court first set eyes on Kate Frost when he was two and she was a babe in her mother's arms. He's twenty-five now, and he still remembers the moment perfectly, the moment Kate Frost slipped inside his heart.
His family owned a big hotel, her parents worked there. Andre's father spent years trying to separate his son from the daughter of the hired help. Eventually he grew desperate and sent Andre away to boarding school.

Nine years later, Kate turns up on the doorstep of Andre's prestigious hotel with the paparazzi at her heels and the six-week-old daughter of her celebrity ex in her arms. She has nowhere left to run except back to the place where she left her heart all those years ago.

Andre lost Kate once. He can't lose her again. But he has an image to maintain, a reputation as a successful businessman. A bohemian young woman with beads in her hair is not a suitable wife for him.

In Andre, Kate sees tantalizing glimpses of the boy she adored. But most of the time she hardly recognizes the powerful, successful man he's become, his lifestyle so like that of his despised father.

Can they forgive the pain of the past, accept each other as they are now, and rediscover the childhood love that was snatched away from them?

 Unbreak My Heart is available on Amazon.

For more about Helen Scott Taylor visit

Finding Inspiration

Posted by Mona Risk | 2:32 PM | 19 comments »

Please welcome Stephanie Burkhart to the Pink Fuzzy Slippers blog.

I'd like to thank Mona and the Ladies at Pink Fuzzy Slippers for having me here today. My latest release is "First Flag of New Hampshire," a YA mystery published by 4RV Publishing. (Okay, it's not quite a romance, but I'd like to think the YA/Mystery/Romance genres cross over well.)
Finding inspiration can be challenging at times – especially for me. I'm a working full time mom with two young boys who not only have copious amounts of homework, but also have several extra curricular activities. Trust me, I'm pooped at the end of the day. When my head hits the pillow, I'm out. Not one single dream between the time I pass out to the time my alarm goes off.
Inspiration does not come from my dreams. So where does it come from?

Surprisingly from a show, a book, a movie, a "what-if" idea that I've expanded on. It comes from childhood memories of watching "Creature Double Feature" on Saturday afternoons as a young girl in the 1970's or from wanting to write my own gothic fiction like Victoria Holt. Or wanting to play with vampires and creatures of the night like Anne Rice. Or in "First Flag of New Hamsphire's" case – my Junior High School English/History Class.

In 1985, I was a Junior in high school on the fast track to college. Being on the "fast" track meant taking "American Studies." It was a 2 period long class that combined American Literature and American History. We had two teachers – Mr. Lord and Mrs. Hussey. It was a demanding class that challenged me to go outside my comfort zone and let me tell you, it's pretty nerve wracking to go outside one's comfort zone as a 17 year old. I learned about Cotton Mather, Nathanial Hawthorne and read Moby Dick.

I took part in historical simulations role playing characters from history. If my class had it's druthers, we would not have declared war on England in 1776. We went on field trips – the most memorable was the field trip to Newport, Rhode Island. Mr. Lord and Mrs. Hussey said at the start of the school year this would be a class that would resonate with us for the rest of our lives. I poo-poo'd the notion. Little did I know that 20 years later when I wanted to write a young adult mystery did I draw on the class for inspiration.  Alyssa and Miguel are two classmates in American Studies called to solve the mystery of the first flag of New Hampshire. It's a race against time, and their classmates, to find the answer.

My question for you is where do you find inspiration? I'd love to hear your answers.

Alyssa has to take American Studies for college prep, and she hurries to the first class. She’s paired with classmate Miguel De Soto to find the first flag of New Hampshire, but the flag has flown only four times in New Hampshire’s past. Can Alyssa and Miguel track the flag through history before time is up?

Hunt For the Flag Giveaway: Answer the following questions about New Hampshire. I’ll pick a winner to receive a Spring book bag (made by my talented friend, Lori Powell), full of goodies to include a GC to Starbucks, chocolates, a magnet and more.

New Hampshire was what state to ratify the US Constitution?
BONUS: What state landmark collapsed in 2003?



Find me on the Web at:

Thank you, Steph, for visiting with us at the PFS.

Okay, first, a definition. A “Union Station” is any train depot which serves more than one railroad line. At one time, there were seven lines stopping at Omaha’s Union Station. These were: the Union Pacific (subject of "Hell on Wheels" the TV series), Chicago & Northwestern, Chiacgo, Milwaukee, St Paul & Pacific, Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (this is the famous Rock Island Line of the song), Illinois Central, Missouri Pacific, and the Wabash Railway. (pause for breath here)

The Station opened on January 15, 1931 and was Omaha’s second Union Station as well as Union Pacific’s seventh train depot in the since since 1866, so at this time, Omaha wasn’t called the “Gateway to the West” for nothing.

The Terminal of the station is called the Great Hall and looks much like it always has, with the exception of the ticker teller’s booths being turned into a gift shop and the barber shop now housing the Station Library. The Hall is 72 feet wide and 159.5 feet long. The ceiling is 60 feet high.

The Station featured a “soda fountain”, a restaurant with a lunch counter and a formal “sit-down” area, and chefs from its trains. Later, it was taken over by a local restauranteur and renaned the Hayden House. Hayden House later moved to Eppley Airfield airport in 1960. There was also a barbershop and a Western Union telegraph office, a small hospital, and a traveler’s aid office. The Superintendent’s office and the Union Pacific agent’s office was also at the Station. During WW2, there was a USO canteen in the Station which took over the entire floor, causing the superintend and agent’s office to be moved downstairs.

In 1996, sculptor John Labja was commissioned to create six scupture groups for the Station’s Great Hall. There include a man studying the train schedule (around his feet can be seen the actual depressions made in the floor by all the passengers walking about over the decades), a sailor and a soldier waiting for a train, a girl and her uniformed sweetheart, an old man, a soldier saying farewell to his family, a new arrival to town, and a woman buying a ticket. The statues are lifesize and cast in bronze.

The Station closed on May 2, 1971, due to the rise of superhighways connecting the nation and the abundance of airplane enabling passengers to reach cities more quickly.

It now houses the Durham Museum and an abundance of Omaha history.

Orbs in Pictures

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 8:22 PM | , , , | 14 comments »

The other night we had a full moon and I'd just bought a new camera. I thought I'd take my new camera out and try to take a picture of the full moon. Well, I'd waited too late because the moon was almost directly over head and our house is surrounded by very tall trees.
Now the interesting thing about the pictues, see the orbs? This is a new camera, so there was no moisture, scratches or lint to have made the orbs.
This is a church in Italy. Not sure if you can see them here, but there were orbs in the some of the pictures.
Have you ever taken pictures, then found orbs in them? What do you think they are?
Okay, here is another one. Broad daylight, no flash and other consecutive photos did not have orbs.

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

Posted by Nightingale | 5:29 PM | 10 comments »

This lovely photo is my ex-husband Philip and c’est moi at a New Year’s Eve Costume Ball in Pendleton, South Carolina, at a British restaruant (which no longer exists) called The Pendleton House. That’s champagne in my glass, yep, yep. And I look like that’s not my first glass. I’m wearing my Arabian Native Costume in which I showed my Arabian gelding to The Nationals one year. No one mentioned that I might smell like horses! I’m not quite sure what Sir is dressed as—perhaps a 15th Century lord or king or something. But I am certain that no shiek of a nomadic tribe would be caught dead in my costume!

Needless to say, this photograph was taken YEARS ago. I ran across it in a folder of photos whilst searching for inspriation to do a quick Friday blog for PFS.

My passion then was horses, and now it is writing, but I still love horses and think that someday I’ll resume my riding. Now for a shameless plug for The Night Before Doomsday, my novella about the angels who lost heaven for lust—or was it love? This novella is told in first person from Azazel’s point of view. Azazel was a leader of the Grigori. The Night Before Doomsday isn’t a religious story or one about evil. It’s my attempt to retell a pre-recorded time legend.

Visit my blog for prizes, including a t-shirt, autographed cover flats, fridge magnets, etc. Leave a comment between today and the 16th!  And enjoy the sumptuous cover!

Happy Friday!


Easter Egg Tree, Spring, and Allergies.
Good Wednesday, all. Achoo!

April meant I needed to change my Christmas tree to an Easter egg tree.

For the past few weeks folks around me have been sneezing, wiping their eyes, and blowing their noses. I am of the coughing crowd. Could these have anything to do with reactions?

Irises always make me ready for Easter!

Can you say Easter basket? Mine had colored eggs and lots of chocolate. Yes, I wore the ears in the basket most of the afternoon!

Easter ham is traditional in a lot of homes, but what about veggie kabobs? The ones below were yummy! Grilling for Easter seems like a good tradition, as long as the weather is warm enough. Sunday was shirt-sleeve weather.

We have had such warm weather many flowers have bloomed before their time. Have you ever tried to write a book and realized that book's time had not come? Were you stuck because you weren't ready to write that book?

I started one that I wasn't ready to finish. Actually, I have started plenty on a wild hare/hair (snicker). I later finished several of them after years and now need to work on a particular one.

One of the books I finished years after I started it was Haunting Refrain. When the time was right, I went back to it and wrote and cried a lot. My parents had both passed away within a year and I had separated from my husband of thirty-three years during that time. I needed to grieve, and I realized my characters had grieving to do, too. William, the hero, had so little experience with love that he couldn't risk losing the love of Sarah, his best friend, and her parents. I learned why his parents couldn't show him the love a little boy needed. He could heal then.

If you haven't read Haunting Refrain, make a comment and I'll give you a coupon code for it. This month the price will go back to 2.99, so here's your chance to save big!

If you missed my guest appearance earlier this week, check out
and leave a comment, please.

Did you do anything for Easter? Do you have Easter traditions that might seem odd? Have you started a book and realized the time wasn't right?


Posted by Judy | 8:50 AM | 16 comments »

Recently, we were in Seattle visiting one of our grandsons, who will soon turn two. One of our “adventures” with him was a trip to Barnes and Noble. There, the wonderful children’s books manager took him around the room, pulling out books and reading bits of them to him in a fun, dramatic way. My husband and I were just as entranced as Jayden. The experience re-emphasized the importance of storytelling as a way to spark imagination, to explain things, and to impart important lessons.

I’ve always loved writing stories for children and, lately, I’ve been doing just that. For me, there is a special kind of excitement in creating a story for them because their openness inspires fanciful, fun ideas.

In a fantasy series of mine, it is the wise men and women of clans who tell stories so their people can gain wisdom and fare better in their primitive world. In creating this environment in which my main characters live, I felt it was important to include these storytellers. Like children everywhere and in every time, they learn much more about themselves and their world through the stories of others.

I remember sitting on my great-aunt’s lap and listening to all kinds of stories about family members and other people she knew. Even now, my life is richer because of them.

Who were some of your favorite storytellers when you were a child?

Today is Dyngus Day or Dingus Day. It's always observed on the Monday after Easter Sunday. The day is also called Wet Monday because it's Monday and... Hmmmmm. Why?

After the long Lenten holiday, Dyngus Day is the first day of renewed life. Historians point to the baptism of Polish Prince Mieszko I in 966 A.D. as the origin of this holiday. Baptism with water signifies cleansing, fertility, and purification. Okay, that is where the water comes in. Dyngus Day is a day of celebration and fun, even a little romantic fun.

Now, I have your attention. Read on...

One ritual, on this day, boys are to run after their loves, catch them and then wet them down. Yup, they're suppose to sprinkle or drench their woman folk with water. This custom is very popular in Poland, and in Polish communities in America, especially in Buffalo, New York.

Yes, guys, get out your squirt guns, buckets, or other containers of water. It’s not my idea of romance but who am I to say anything about a tradition that has thrived for hundreds of years.

The tradition also asserts that the guys can gently hit their lady love on the legs with pussy willows.

Ha! I knew there was a reason I didn’t plant pussy willows. But I guess any switch can be used. DRAT!

Now, for the revenge part of my blog and the tradition. Ladies, you get to strike back. On Tuesday, the folklore states that you throw dishes or crockery at your man. Pay back, right? WINK

So, ladies, are you going to share the information on this holiday with your love? Mistakenly, I did. Now, I'm watching my back.

Happy Holiday

Posted by Autumn Jordon | 4:46 PM | 7 comments »

This weekend we're spending time with our family and friends, but we hope you stop by next week as we have much to share. Have a wonderful holiday weekend!


Posted by Nightingale | 10:45 AM | 6 comments »

From April 13 to April 15, I'm offering prizes at my blog  Drop by and comment to win a Black Swan t-shirt, fridge magnets and autographed cover flats and I'm sharing the following excerpt from Night Before Doomsday.

One spring night I picked my way down a slippery path and found Ruth bathing in a moonlit lake. The sight took my breath away, and the song taking shape in my mind fled.

“Golden Azazel descends to his humble servant.” Ruth twined her arms above her head, her wet, succulent breasts gleaming in the moonlight.

She forged into shallower water. Excellent night vision bared what the lake would have hidden. The dark curls at her mound drew my gaze.

I averted my eyes. “I’ll leave you to your peaceful ablutions,” but anticipation rooted my feet to the sand. She’ll come to me…I was certain. I turned, placing my wings between me and temptation.

“Ho, Azazel!”

I angled my body so that I could see her. Beckoning, she strode through the lake, shedding her mantle of water to stand naked on the beach. Moonlight traced lush curves and the ivory globes of her breasts. I could almost taste the rosy, pebbled nipples. Wet hair streamed to her small waist. My breath hitched. My heart raced, pumping blood to the shaft tenting my robe. Guilt plucked at my nerves, but I couldn’t look away.

Magdalene waited for me. I should leave before trouble closed the distance between us. My feet refused to move. Enchanted, I stared at the feline huntress. I might have conceived this sensual work of art, my own hands molding from river clay that perfect feminine shape. A thudding awareness of the power she’d been born with, and that lust had given her, held me prisoner. Then Magdalene’s face flashed before my eyes, turning me toward home.

Deep, throaty laughter mocked me. “You’re afraid of me, Mighty Archangel.”

I spun to face her. “I am not afraid of you, Ruth.”

“Oh?” Her arms glided around my shoulders, her fingers massaging tense muscles.

She snuggled her face against my wings, her hands stroking the tender underside. She must know that caressing my wings fired lust. Which of my brothers was Ruth’s lover?

“Bad Ruth,” she purred, “Azazel is a married man.”

I held her back from me. “I’m not a man. I’m an angel.”

“A fallen angel.”

Shame and anger jerked me free of her hot embrace. “Mind your tongue.”

She teased my nose with a feather that had fallen from my wing. “You committed the Original Sin.”

“The Original Sin was Disobedience.”

Her eyebrows flickered, her expression mocking. “Did you not disobey when you took Magdalene into your bed?”

The truth tore a gasp from me. Angels are the Word made manifest. The Word no longer spoke in me. I had betrayed divine trust.

She rubbed her arms. “Your eyes burn my skin. I’ve made you angry.” With her hand, she traced my hipbone, her fingers then slid across my thigh.

I caught her hand before she could touch the hard evidence that I wanted her.

“Smite me with your Seraphic sword.”

“Ruth.” Her name was a plea, a prayer to withstand temptation.

“I’ll never forget the first time I saw you.” She winnowed her fingers through my hair. “Thick, straight, silky as the gold thread you’ve taught us to spin, your hair spilled over the whitest, grandest wings of all. I wanted you then. I want you even more now. I can make you feel better than you’ve ever felt before.” A fingertip dotted desire on my lips. “I promise.”

Ruth made good her promise. Her body clutched, sucked and milked me dry. Delirium took me down, down, deeper and deeper. As a delicious explosion tore me asunder, I cried, “My God, Ruth.”

No, not my God, any more….

The kan Ingan Archives was supposed to be a series of romances involving the same characters. Somewhere around Book 3, it turned into a family saga, in spite of my efforts. Family sagas are a lot of work because not only do you have to build a world, but you have to keep track of the characters' names and physical appearances, and also their ages, especially if each novel encompasses a number of years. With the kan Ingans, it wasn’t any different, or easier, because I was watching out for not just one family, but two, and they were so intertwined, it occasionally got ve-e-e-ry confusing.

In Sinner, the scene was set. Aric kan Ingan, the 20-year-old Crown Prince of Arcanis, falls in love with his uncle’s wife and gets exiled for his troubles. Not only because he loves the wrong woman, though his uncle never discovers that, but also because in doing so, he becomes vulnerable to the traitors plotting to overthrow the Throne. Aric discovers who they are, they retaliate by framing him as one of their leaders, and destroying the evidence proving his innocence. Now, the only way Aric can prove he isn’t a traitor is to admit his 10-year affair with Elizabeth Sheffield, a crime carrying with it a much harsher punishment than that for a rebel. One wonders how her husband, the assumingly astute ruler of an entire galaxy, could be so stupid as not to suspect something, but apparently he never does, though he's very quick to accuse his nephew of treason, so perhaps that's his unsubtle way of saying he did know what was going on without actually admitting it, thus saving himself a king-sized amount of embarrassment. Whatever the reason...Aric ends up banished….and leaves his home…for what he thinks is forever.

In Exile, the second book in the series, (which has just been released) the title tells the story. Aric is now in his early forties, an exile for ten years. He’s taken a vow of poverty, chastity, and personal privation, in the hopes the gods and his uncle will pardon him and let him return home, but now… Addicted to the two most powerful substances in the galaxy and accepting forgiveness isn’t going to happen, he takes a job as a lowly guard in a Terran mining outpost, a position he once would’ve laughed at when he was a noble. Little does Aric know it, but on that little world wait the two people who are going to become the most important in his life…a woman doctor with secrets of her own, and Elizabeth’s younger brother, Miles Sheffield…

It was fun building this world in the far future but definitely a lot of work. It’s a place where Earthpeople aren’t exactly considered the cream of the crop. Terrans are thought too explosive, licentious, and unstable by the rest of the galaxy. In fact, the planet has just come out of a 3000-year quarantine because of the way they received their first visitors from another planet. There are strict caste systems in place, and specific customs for each species. Coffee and Cigarettes are illegal because they contain caffeine and nicotine, the substances listed as #1 and #2 on the Federation Surgeon General’s List of Proscribes, and selling or using either can get you into so much trouble you don’t want to even think about it. Criminals have unionized, forming the Brotherhood of St. Dismas (the guardian saint of thieves) and they have their own stringent rules…and Exiles are more or less forced to take vows declaring them Non-Persons, people with no rights whatsoever, in danger of being seized and killed at any moment, and anyone who dares love—or marry—one shares that danger.

At the colony on Pyras, Aric’s now living an Exile’s dream of a steady job, and friends, but he’s also treading the line of his Vows and to his life…because there’s a certain chance he’s about to fall in love. Again.


In this section of town, the streets were jammed with people, well-to-do, well-fed, well-clothed people, and he paused a moment, determining which way to go, and then…

He saw her.

A young girl, standing on the street corner, arms piled high with packages, trying to keep a struggling, yapping ball of fluff from escaping from the bag slung over her arm…and failing. Leaping from its confinement, the little creature dashed into the street and under the feet of a sudden stampede of Scyllans crossing from one corner to another. “Poofy! Come back!”

Aric bent and scooped up the little dog who yipped a greeting and began to wag its nub of a tail as he carried it back to her. “I believe you lost this?” He smiled and held it out to her.

“Oh, thank you! I was so frightened.” She returned the smile so guilelessly, that for a moment, he forgot what he was. “I’m trying to get to my aunt’s carriage.“ She nodded toward a blue vehicle parked across the street, a liveried chauffeur sitting in the driver’s seat reading from a hand unit. “Poofy hates riding in my bag and was just looking for a chance to escape. Oh!”

A passing pedestrian bumped against her. A package flew from her grasp and Aric caught it in his free hand. A second body jostled him, and he stumbled slightly, the contact causing a cloud of dust to erupt from his cape and settle on the purity of her white gown.

“May I escort you across?”

At her murmured assent, he deposited Poofy in the bag, placed his arm across the slim shoulders, and stepped off the curb, guiding her through the others who surely would’ve trampled both her and the little animal. When they arrived at the carriage, the chauffeur hastily dropped the hand unit and sat up, starting to get out of the vehicle. She shook her head and he sat still as she tossed the packages inside, placed the now-content Poofy on the seat and turned to take the other parcel from Aric.

“Thank you again. It’s nice to meet a real gentleman. I really don’t think I could’ve gotten across that thoroughway without you. I didn’t realize the crowds were so thick today.” She held out her hand and, without thinking, Aric took it.

“Liset! What’s this?” The strident, high-pitched demand shattered the air.

Suddenly, Aric was staggering backward, arms protecting his face from the blows the blue-wigged, bejeweled woman was raining upon him with the small matron’s stick she carried. A few passersby looked and then turned away, finding amusing the sight of a giant cowering before the wrath of a woman half his size.

“Auntie, please! You’re hurting him!”

“I intend to.” Face red with exertion and anger, she gave Aric a final swat with the stick, striking him on his weak arm, and turned to the girl. “How dare he touch you! How dare he speak to you!”

“Poofy ran away. He brought him back. Why shouldn’t he speak to me, Auntie?”

“He’s an Exile, you stupid child!” The woman hissed. “Look at that mark on his forehead…his hair…his clothes! Can’t you see?”

Liset peered around her aunt, her innocent gaze stating she saw nothing.

Angry at the woman’s tone, Aric took a step toward her. His arm stung where she’d struck it.

“Stay back!” Raising the stick, the woman turned on him.

Aric stopped.

“Get in.” Seizing the girl by the arm, she pushed her into the carriage. “He actually touched you? Yes, I can see the mark of his filthy hand on your gown. Your poor mother must never know. When we get home, we’ll burn it!”

“But, Auntie—”

“Be quiet. You! Stand away!” she ordered Aric, and waved a hand at the chauffeur. “Take us out of here.”

The carriage sped away, its fender striking Aric’s hip as it rose into the air without the usual gradual ascent. He was knocked down, and for a moment, lay stunned on the pavement. People went around him, none offering to help or inquire if he were injured. As he got to his feet, leg throbbing painfully, he realized what hurt more was the damage to his last shred of pride and the sinking understanding that nothing had changed, and never would, .unless he was Pardoned.

Exile is available from Double Dragon Publishing. :

An excerpt from my nonfiction book about gardening and country life, Shenandoah Watercolors, available at Amazon in kindle and also print with lovely images of the valley and mountains. (2012 EPIC eBook Finalist)
~When the world was new and I was young, I ordered a dozen Rouen ducklings (resemble large mallards) from a game farm and began my love affair with ducks, blessed by its moments of joy and cursed with inevitable tragedy.  The box of downy babies was delivered directly to my door much earlier in the day than our mail normally comes as the mailman had wearied of their incessant peeping.  
I took the new arrivals from the grateful carrier and transferred them to a corner of the family room under a warm light bulb.  My two oldest children, in grade school then, were delighted with their new playmates, but soon joined me in the discovery that these tiny creatures were incredibly messy.
The ducklings reveled in their food, spewing a mixture of feed and water on themselves, the box, and the walls.  This led to their speedy removal to an unoccupied rabbit hutch in an outbuilding.  Here they grew in sheltered bliss until we deemed them ready for life on the pond, unaware that our charges needed parental guidance.  
T'he unchaperoned youngsters soon slipped under the fence and lost themselves in the neighbor’s grassy meadow.  We tracked their frantic quacks and carried them home, only to have them forget and stray again and again.
Sadly, unwary ducklings do not know to be on guard against snapping turtles, something their mama would have taught them.  By summer’s end, just two grown ducks remained and were fondly named Daphne and Darlene.  They were inseparable and divided their day between the cows and geese in the barnyard and forays to the pond.
(*Our pond, calm on this day but often filled with ducks and geese)
The next spring Daphne and Darlene built a mutual nest inside a clump of gold-button tansy at the edge of the garden and patiently sat on the eggs that would never hatch.  It was time to find them a suitable spouse.  One fall evening “Don” arrived in my hubby’s pickup truck. (*Little creek that meanders through our meadow and under the fence to the neighbors)
The girls took an instant liking to the handsome drake, and he to them, though he showed a slight preference for Darlene.  As spring neared again, we noticed a wild mallard drake observing our little band.  He would dash forward for a bite of grain at feeding time, only to be driven away by Don.  We pitied Dwayne, as he soon became known, and tossed a handful far to the side for him.  Besides the free lunch, it seemed that Dwayne was attracted to our Daphne, much to Don’s strong disapproval.
The small male was undeterred and eventually won acceptance, amusing us by his attempts to mate with Daphne, twice his size.  Persistence won out though.  That year the girls had separate nests, Darlene at the base of a bittersweet vine, while Daphne went back to the tansy.  Don and Dwayne bonded, swapping stories as they awaited imminent fatherhood.
The ducklings hatched in late spring and grew quickly.  All survived with excellent care from their mothers.  By fall we could see Dwayne’s influence on the flock.  His offspring were considerably smaller. It was a golden, happy time. Late afternoons we quacked loudly, calling our ducks for feeding.  Heads popped up from the seeding grass and they answered back then waddled single file behind Don, their noble leader.  If we were late with dinner, they gathered to complain about the lack of service and were not averse to heading up to the house to fetch us if necessary.
Autumn in all its splendor passed into a winter that was our most severe in years.  We tromped faithfully through the deep snow every day to scatter feed on the frozen pond.  Then one morning after fresh snowfall we could not find a single duck.  Our anxious calls came back to us empty on the wind…searching revealed spatters of blood and dog tracks in the snow, the silent witness to their grim fate.   Still, we hoped that some birds had escaped the attack and combed the neighborhood, finally locating a pair of Dwayne’s offspring.  Only the smaller ducks could fly well.  We had unwittingly fed the others up to be “sitting ducks,” an expression I understand too well now.  A week later Dwayne returned on his own, but it was a bleak time.  How empty the pond seemed without the gang.
That May, Betty, our lone remaining female, hatched a fuzzy brood.  Familiar quacks again filled the air and gladdened our spirits.  It just isn’t spring without ducklings.  ~
All of this took place eons ago, but we still have ducks on our pond and an ample flock fussy barnyard geese who make daily visits down to the water.  The small town of Dayton, Virginia, not far from us, has a lovely body of water called Silver Lake (the size of a large pond) and a stream that attracts so many ducks the town has installed a duck crossing sign.
*Pics of our farm and ducks, also my mom and dad’s ducks…it’s a family thing this love of ducks. *Images by my mom, Pat Churchman.  *The one of the creek by daughter Elise.
*This story about ducklings is the one that really got me started in writing. It was ‘almost’ published in Southern Living Magazine and that editor gave me much encouragement about my writing, then she referred me to an editor at Progressive Farmer who accepted it and several more nonfiction pieces about rural life, but their free-lance column got axed before publication.
(Tame duck swimming in ‘duck weed’ in my parent’s water garden)