Without any wasted words, Mac says it all...

Taking care of the Ta-Tas.

October is breast cancer awareness month which means you won’t be able to go anywhere without seeing pink ribbons and the airwaves will pulse with public service announcements touting the value of early detection, or fund raiser announcements. Women everywhere will be hypersensitive to the subject of breast health, but all too soon, the walks will be history and the ribbons will fade. November looms just around the bend and with it, the rush and bustle of the holiday season.

If you’re anything like me, your day to day life resembles a race, a mad dash from one deadline to another. It’s easy to be swept along by the chaos and forget all about those life saving messages breast cancer awareness month delivers. Don’t let that happen. I’m here to tell you, early detection is the key to avoiding the worst ravages of a breast cancer battle.

I can say this because I am a survivor and so is my sister, and a cousin as well, and yet, the differences in our treatment plans was chasm wide. Sure, all three of us experienced double mastectomies and reconstruction, but that’s where the similarities ended. At stage III, I had no choice but to throw everything, including the kitchen sink, at my diagnosis, if I wanted to survive. Thankfully, my sister and cousin caught the disease early, and though their treatment protocols weren’t a walk in the park, their stage I diagnoses didn’t require they discover the joys of chemotherapy and radiation. I wasn’t so lucky, and that’s partially my fault.

You know that game you played as a child, where you threw a beanbag across the distance, to drop through a hole in a section of wood? My breasts had the consistency of one of those beanbags. I’d found a number of questionable lumps over the years, all of which had proven to be simply cystic clusters. Having had enough of the pattern of panic and relief, I quit doing self-exams and relied entirely on yearly mammograms. As it turned out, that was not one of my finer decisions.

 If I could go back and change one thing in my life, it would be those damn self-exams. Feeling yourself up once a month is such a simple thing and yet the benefits are beyond measure. So, do me a favor. Find yourself a Bosom Buddy. Call up your sister, mother, cousin or girlfriend and make a pledge to remind each other to check those ta-tas. Pick a day and put it on your monthly schedule. Set the alarm on your phone (yep, there is an app for that) and when it rings each month, give yourself a life saving massage! 

And if you need a bit more inspiration, here’s a hunky…er, informative video to help you out. Your Man Reminder.

Take care of those ta-tas, ladies! 

You can read about our family’s brush with breast cancer in my newly released guide to navigating the breast cancer abyss with humor and hope. Where Would You Like Your Nipple? Is available in e-format at Amazon and in print at Createspace.

And don’t forget to stop by and say hi at my home on the web. Mackenziecrowne.com 

'Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.'
~JOHN ADAMS, letter to Abigail Adams, Jul. 17, 1775

In these troubled times in America, it’s wise to remember where we came from  and what our founders envisioned for this great nation. Being an American is a sacred privilege, our hard-won freedoms, fast eroding, should never be taken for granted, and preserving these inalienable rights, a call to arms for all who cherish liberty. With that in mind, I highly recommend watching the excellent HBO production that came out several years ago featuring the indomitable John Adams–appropriately entitled John Adams. Not to be confused (as I’ve done) with an earlier production, The Adam’s Chronicles, (not that this wasn't also a worthy series).
What John Adams and his remarkable wife, Abigail, and their entire family suffered and sacrificed in the forging of America is unbelievable. Not only them, but countless others as well.  I wonder if I’d last a day in that turbulent era, and yet, my forebears did.  So did many of yours.  If your ancestors were not yet in this country at its birth, no doubt they played an important role in making America what it is, or is intended to be, at its finest. Let us not forget, or our children and grandchildren will pay the price. Theirs already is a vastly different America than the nation envisioned by its outstanding founders with their mind-boggling perseverance.
As an author with several stories set in early America, and currently at work on the sequel to my Revolutionary War romance novel Enemy of the King, I’m particularly mindful of our roots.  Join me in the quest to remember.
***Enemy of the King banner by my talented daughter Elise.

Sometimes wisdom is found in what we already know.
Two months ago, my nine year old grandson was diagnosed with Type-1 Diabetes. The symptoms appeared suddenly. He went from an active kid who loved playing outside with his friends to one that constantly complained of being tired and thirsty. The diagnosis was overwhelming for the entire family. No wants to see a child sick. We educated ourselves and managed the situation the best way we knew how.

A week after he started daily insulin injections, he walked into the living room carrying a book he’d checked out of the school library that day. It was filled with his favorite dinosaur jokes. Within a few minutes he had everyone in the room laughing.
I come from a long line of book readers, so I wasn’t shocked when my grandson started reading in pre-k. But that day, as I looked at the way his eyes twinkled as he laughed, I knew he was going to be alright. Focusing on the things he loved was what my grandson needed. Laughing was his best medicine. His days are now filled with counting carbs, finger pokes, and needles, but he faces each challenge with a little fear and a lot of laughter.

We all get emails with jokes and funny sayings. I delete most of them. The others I keep in a file to remind me to laugh. I’ve included a few below. My wish is that one of them makes you smile today.

·         Six hundred shopping charts in the grocery store and I keep picking the one with the front wheel that likes to pirouette like a ballerina on speed.

·         The proper skirt length is at least two inches below your cellulite.

·         Here’s to every mother who’s ever eaten a candy bar in the closet because frankly she just didn’t want to share.

·         Like a good neighbor, stay over there.  (I have a friend who always says this to her dear husband)

·         Behind every nagging woman is a man not doing what he’s supposed to do.
Watching my brave grandson manage his diabetes reminds me to take a deep breath and have faith when I’m dealing with an overwhelming challenge. Just like the chicken has to cross the road to get to the other side, trouble always passes, even the kind that keeps us up at night worrying. It’s our attitudes that matter.




Box sets

Posted by Patrice Wilton | 7:45 AM | 7 comments »

Good morning,
Gemma Halliday blogged recently about selling her high heel mysteries as box sets, and now I would like to share some of her wisdom. She has been on the NY times best seller twice this year with her "box sets" and has adjusted the price several times to push sales. Number one rule - never give it away for free, as once they have it there's no need to buy anything else. Rule number two - less is better. If you have a 4 book series, box up three, and charge a little more for the fourth. Makes good sense right? Rule three- price it sensibly, at a lower overall cost than buying each book separately.
If possible have a 3D cover made, but a flat one will do. The books don't have to be a series, but they should have something in common - such as Rom/Com, Single Titles, Mystery, etc.
What you need to do is create one big file with say all three manuscripts, download it as usual on Amazon or wherever you choose, have your cover, give a brief description of what they will be getting, and voila, you have another pricier item to sell.
I'm going to give it a try with my Candy Bar series, and also with my 3 single titles. I haven't done this yet, but will report back when it's up for sale.
Good luck to you all. 

Good morning, Susan! Lookin' good today!   We like pink here! Our Georgia weather is playing with us with cool temps. Just 'cause it's fall now....At least we don't need the fireplace yet. Whatcha got with you?

Morning1 Good Morning Pink, Fuzzy Ladies!
I just dropped by to bring y’all some mimosas. I’m celebrating the release of my debut novel, Lowcountry Boil. It’s just been released from Henery Press. Everyone got a glass? Cheers! My, that’s good…
Anyway, here’s a bit about Lowcountry Boil, the first in the Liz Talbot mystery series.
Private Investigator Liz Talbot is a modern Southern belle: she blesses hearts and takes names. She carries her Sig 9 in her Kate Spade handbag, and her golden retriever, Rhett, rides shotgun in her hybrid Escape. When her grandmother is murdered, Liz high-tails it back to her South Carolina island home to find the killer. She’s fit to be tied when her police-chief brother shuts her out of the investigation, so she opens her own. Then her long-dead best friend pops in and things really get complicated. When more folks start turning up dead in this small seaside town, Liz must use more than just her wits and charm to keep her family safe, chase down clues from the hereafter, and catch a psychopath before he catches her.
Anyone need a refill?
Seems like there are one or two of you I haven’t met. Where are my manners? Here’s a little about me…
Susan M. Boyer has been making up stories her whole life. She tags along with her husband on business trips whenever she can because hotels are great places to write: fresh coffee all day and cookies at 4 p.m. They have a home in Greenville, SC, which they occasionally visit. Susan’s short fiction has appeared in MoonShine Review, Spinetingler Magazine, Relief Journal, The Petigru Review, and Catfish Stew. Her debut novel, LOWCOUNTRY BOIL, is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2012 Daphne du Maurier finalist.
Mary, my goodness, your glass is empty. Here you go…
If Lowcountry Boil sounds like your kind of read, you can find it in all the usual online places, in e-Book or trade paperback.
Amazon Kindle B&N Nook Apple iPad
Amazon Paperback B&N Paperback
Fiction Addiction, my local independent bookstore will also have it in stock.
When I’m not holed up in my PJs and pink fuzzies, I’m online in the usual places:
Website   http://www.susanmboyerbooks.com/wp-content/themes/susanboyer3/images/facebook.png   http://www.susanmboyerbooks.com/wp-content/themes/susanboyer3/images/twitter.png   http://www.susanmboyerbooks.com/wp-content/themes/susanboyer3/images/pinterest.png   http://www.susanmboyerbooks.com/wp-content/themes/susanboyer3/images/goodreads.png 
Please come visit when you can!
Thank y’all so much for having me today! Before I go, I was wondering, do you all love the beach as much as I do? Where is your favorite beach?

Musing on writing

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 5:44 PM | 14 comments »

I haven't written much lately. School has started and I'm back in the classroom. That is really a drag when you want to be writing.

I know that I should carve out time to write. I've been at this a long time and know that writing time isn't something that comes easily or without struggle. I have grandchildren, two of them. Both are lovely little girls.
 The oldest turned thirteen this birthday and the baby just jumped full force into the terrible two's.

They are one excuse I use not to write, but I'm not complaining. I love my little girls.

Another reason I find it hard to find time to write is television. There isn't anything on that I care to watch, and yet, there I sit surfing as if something worth my time will magically appear.

Then there's dinner to be fixed. My daughter, who had taken over cooking at our house for quite a few years suddenly enrolled in college. Now guess who has to make dinner. Well, the DH is always there to help, especially when I work late, but still I feel like the guy on tv who has to make the donuts.

Then there is the fact that my muse has been on vacation for quite a while now. I've tried everything to entice her back, but apparently she is off having a torrid affair with some hotty and just isn't interested in returning any time soon.

Another problem is I've not been able to connect with my CP in months. Oh, she's been willing, but there was always something keeping me from meeting with her. Like last Saturday, we should have been able to steal away for a couple hours to work, but I had to drive an hour out I 20 to pick up my husband who was at our son's house building a swing set for the afore mentioned terrible two's.

Now I confessed my short comings, maybe I can get some wrting done. I'm signing up for KOD's BIAW that's book in a week and RWA's Kiss of Death Mystery and Suspense Writers, for those who don't know. Writing it all down makes it look like this dry spell might have been somewhat my fault.

What about you? What's keeping you from putting words on the page?

Writing is a solitary undertaking. I’ve said it. You’ve probably said it.
But wait!

I spend many hours writing in front of a computer, seemingly alone in a room (discounting our dachshund, Winston). But I’m not really alone. I’m in a setting of my own creation with characters I’ve come to love (or not). Together we’re telling our tale. At least that’s how it is for me.
Along the way, I talk to other writers and people close to me about the plotting of the story, testing to see if I or my characters have led us astray. Then I attempt to include even more people in the process by sending my work to agents or editors, hoping they like it enough to take it on or follow through on a proposed project. If they do, another set of people enter the project. You get the idea.  

Long-time authors tell of the past when a writer sat and wrote stories, then sent them in to editors who had the time to do a lot of advising and to lovingly usher the book into the eye of the public. It’s a whole different ball game now.
Editors are overloaded with submissions, meetings and number crunching, along with the editing work itself. Agents are overwhelmed with the number of people wanting to break into the industry. The publishing business has changed a lot since those seemingly blissful, lazy days when editors and agents actually responded to submissions. And huge changes are taking place once again with the advent of self-publishing, e-books, and the explosion of apps and other media opportunities for a writer’s work.

Today the writer must be a people person, immersing her/himself into the media frenzy that accompanies publication in the present world. I’ve heard it said that writers, as a group, tend to be on the shy side which is why they’re willing to spend so much time in front of a computer. That may still be the case, but when those people aren’t writing, they’re forced to market to family, friends, groups and mere acquaintances. Gone is the time when writing was known as a solitary business. It simply isn’t.
How has your writing life changed in the last few years? 


Today on Romancing The Book, I will discuss The First Scene

The opening scene in a movie can set the pace for the rest of the picture. A great beginning captures the audience. The viewer will remain in place until they find the answers to the questions that the very first scene sets up.

One of best opening scenes is the one for Kill Bill, within one minute and twenty-eight seconds you’re hooked.  A badly beaten woman is breathing hard; her bloody face conveys terror as heavy footsteps move closer. Off-screen a man asks her if she finds him sadistic. Desperation oozes from her with every second that passes.  That's it, we're hooked!

Unlike movies, in a book, the writer cannot begin with music and sounds effects. Instead we have to rely on setting the scene with descriptions and just the right words to set a tone. The first twenty words of a story have the capacity to catapult your book into the stratosphere or to oblivion.

Best Selling Author, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, writes the following unforgettable opening in the book, Call Me Irresistible.

Read this and you will ask these three questions afterwards.
·      Why?
·      How did this come about?
·      What is going to happen next?

It wasn't every day a guy saw a headless beaver marching down the side of a road, not even in Dean Robillard's larger than life world. "Son of a" Dean slammed on the brakes of his brand new Aston Martin Vanquish and pulled over in front of her.
The beaver marched right past, her big flat tail bouncing in the gravel, and her small, sharp nose stuck up in the air. Way up. The beaver looked highly pissed.

When a writer begins to write a story, the opening scene can sometimes take longer to put together than the entire first chapter.  Although one may know how to begin to tell the story, the intro is not always as clear.

Here are some pointers for writing an engaging first scene.

1. Start the story and stop after a couple of paragraphs. Read the first couple of sentences, if they do not set the story up then place your curser at the beginning and start again.

2. Sometimes the first paragraphs are not necessary. Go ahead and write them, if they are telling and not showing action, then save them for back-story.  More often than not, the second scene a writer pens is the important one.

3. Lastly, talk it out with others, narrate the first scene and then ask them how do they see this scene?  (I got an excellent start to a couple of my books this way.)

Here is start to the first book of my Protectors series, Desperate Betrayal. Does it draw you to ask the three questions above?

Emma Blake always felt at home in the shadows. It was where she lived, always concealing the truth from those around her.
Now as she hid in the doorway of an abandoned building, she couldn’t help but compare the current situation to her life. The dampness of the brick wall behind her seeped through to her skin, as she pushed further into the dark to avoid being noticed. The putrid smell of trash and urine barely registered, as she was mesmerized by the scene unfolding before her.
The scene invoked images of the endless battle forces of dark and light had been waging since the dawn of time.

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 1:58 PM | 4 comments »

Hi Everyone, "Like" Edible Arrangements on Facebook for a free pineapple cupcake voucher. This deal is limited to the first 500,000 fans, so hurry over. Oriental Trading company has such fun and different gifts. Today is the last day for free shipping with coupon code: WCE3583 Have you seen The Hunger Games? If you haven't read the book, head on over to Amazon.com and snag the Paperback for 80% off at $1.57 with free super saver shipping. You can't beat that deal! Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."

Joanne--Deals of the Day

Posted by Josie | 3:22 PM | 6 comments »

Hi Everyone, It's Sunday, September 16th, and free on Amazon’s Kindle today is: Margo’s Choice by the wonderful Mary Marvella, Jennifer’s Garden by Dianne Venetta, and Mark of a Good Man by Ana Ross. Enjoy! Favorite quote: "I can't afford to save any more money."


Two years ago in September Red Bird’s Songwas released. As a tribute to my favorite novel, I am revisiting the first book I ever wrote, and rewrote, and learned how to write in the process of all those endless revisions. It’s also the story I’ve cared most deeply about and connected with on various levels. Part of me is still seated around the circle at the fire with my Native American brothers and sisters.

“This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense…This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating. “
--Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J

The initial encounter between Charity and Wicomechee at the beginning of the story was inspired by a dream I had on New Year’s Eve–a highly propitious time for dreams–about a young warrior taking an equally young woman captive at a river and the unexpected attraction between them. That dream had such a profound impact on me that I took the leap from writing non-fiction essays to historical novels and embarked on the most amazing journey of my life. That was years ago and the saga continues.

I also met the prophetic warrior, Eyes of the Wolf, in another dream at the advent of this adventure, so when I describe him in the book I’m envisioning a character I know. He became a spirit guide and spoke to me throughout the writing of this book, and several others. He is there still, though not as vocal as earlier in my life. Perhaps my journey with him is complete. Perhaps not…

 I am working on the sequels to historical romance novel Enemy of the King and Scottish time travel romance novel Somewhere My Lass, but after that, I hear the faint call of Indian drums in the distance. Meanwhile, stay tuned for the release of the sequel to Through the Fire, and the third in my colonial Frontier trilogy, historical romance novel Kira, Daughter of the Moon, out Nov. 2nd. And, my colonial American historical Christmas romance novella, A Warrior for Christmas, is out in early Dec. So lots happening.

Back to Red Bird’s Song. The setting for much of the story is the same as my other strongly Native American novel, Through the Fire, the spectacular Alleghenies. Much of the history depicted in the story was inspired by accounts I came across while researching my early American English/Scots-Irish roots and the Border Wars. The French and Indian War is the most well-known, but there were others. Pontiac’s War followed on its heels, and is the war taking place inRed Bird’s SongDunmore’s War came after that one and so on it goes. Life in the frontier was unsettled even after The American Revolution had ended and warfare a reality. The boundaries of the frontier just keep shifting farther west.

The ruggedly beautiful Alleghenies are also the setting for my historical-paranormal romance novel, The Bearwalker’s Daughter and my short historical romance, The Lady and the Warrior. I see the ridges of these mountains from our farm in the Shenandoah Valley. The foothills are only a hop, skip and a jump away from us. The ever-changing panorama of the seasons never fails to inspire and console me–the mountains are constant. 

 (*Images of the Alleghenies taken by my mother, Pat Churchman)

In the early mid 18th century, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and surrounding mountains was the colonial frontier and only hardy souls dared to settle here. The bulk of these were the tough Scots-Irish.  If the Indians had only had to fight regular British troops they might ultimately have won because they scared the crap out of men trained for conventional warfare, but the long knives were another matter.  They weren’t easily intimidated and soon learned from their cunning enemy.
Although Hawk Eye in The Last of the Mohicans is an adopted Mohican, his lifestyle and behavior is that of a colonial frontiersman.  The more rugged of these men dressed as he did, much in the Indian way.  They hunted and fought with muskets, tomahawks, and their famous knives.  Indians acquired these knives as well. They blended traditional weapons and ways of living with newfound tools and weapons of Western man.  A highly adaptable people.
The attack at the opening of Red Bird’s Song in the Shenandoah Valley is based on one that occurred to my ancestors and is recorded by Historian Joseph A. Waddell in The Annals of Augusta CountyA renegade Englishman by the last name of Dickson led the war party that attacked them.  Initially I’d intended to make the Colin Dickson in Red Bird’s Song a villain but as soon as he galloped onto the scene I knew differently.
Wicomechee, the hero in Red Bird’s Song, is based on the Shawnee warrior by that name who lived early in the nineteenth century and to whom I have ties. The Moffett’s, an early Valley family I’m related to, include a reference to him in their genealogy. Wicomechee’s father, John Moffett, was captured in Kentucky by the Shawnee at the age of eight and adopted into the tribe. It’s said he was a boyhood companion to the great war Chief Tecumseh, a chief for whom I have enormous admiration. The accounts of John Moffett and Wicomechee are recorded by Waddell. It’s also noted that during the Black Hawk Wars Wicomechee recovered the captive daughters of a Dr. Hull and brought them safely into camp, which reminds me of Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans. I’ve included more on this amazing warrior at the end of the novel as a bonus for those who read it.
“With “Red Bird’s Song”, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!” Amazon Reviewer Virginia Campbell
Red Bird’s Song is available in print and eBook at the Wild Rose Press,AmazonBarnes&Noble and other online booksellers.