Language Changes

Even editors get stumped by the rules of langcorrecting-1870721_1920uage. A word or expression that you’re sure you know how to use properly, or a grammar principle that was drilled into you at school, can turn out to be less cut-and-dried than you thought. As the English language develops over time, common usage can cause “correctness” to change. Here are a few examples.

Straitlaced or straight-laced?

Straitlaced is the original spelling of this phrasal adjective, meaning one who is excessively strict in manners, morals or opinion. Strait means narrow or tight fitting, so to be straitlaced or restrained in a straitjacket refers to being tightly laced or confined. Since strait has become an archaic word, people often use the more familiar word straight – so much so that straight-laced and straightjacket are now generally accepted in standard English.

Champing at the bit or chomping at the bit?

I prefer champing since it’s the original form of this idiom, but when I use it, someone always questions whether I’ve made a mistake. A bit is a metal mouthpiece used for controlling a horse, and to champ is to bite or gnash one’s teeth, so champing at the bit refers to a horse chewing on the bit when excited. In a figurative sense, it indicates extreme eagerness or impatience. But since the word champ isn’t used in modern English, the phrase is often written chomping at the bit. Some people still consider this incorrect.

Nauseated or nauseous?

Purists will insist that saying you feel nauseous when you feel sick is incorrect. Originally nauseous referred to something that would cause you to feel sickened or disgusted (such as a nauseous smell or taste) while nauseated meant to experience the feeling of sickness. But nauseous has been so frequently used to refer to feeling disgusted or needing to vomit that some dictionaries have updated their definitions to reflect contemporary usage.

Buck naked or butt naked?

I’ve always believed buck naked is correct, and butt naked is an error that came about as a result of phonic confusion. But most sources I’ve found indicate that both are correct, although butt appears to be a newer form of buck. You can get away with whichever one you prefer.

Split infinitives

Your English teacher may have insisted you must never split an infinitive. An infinitive is the form of a verb that has to in front of it: to walk, to run, to play. Splitting an infinitive means to place a word between to and the verb root, as in “to slowly walk,” “to easily win,” or the most famous example, “to boldly go where no man has gone before” from Star Trek. Should this be “to go boldly”?

It turns out that there is no grammar rule against splitting infinitives. In fact, it’s sometimes the clearest way to express a thought. Disapproval of splitting infinitives came about in Victorian times, probably in an attempt to make English grammar function in the same way as Latin grammar, where the infinitive is a single word so it cannot be split.

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A First Kiss… and it’s not from the Hero!

Hello! Thanks for coming by today for Aleksandra’s first kiss!

My heroine, Aleksandra, had already met the hero of the story, but… they weren’t exactly friends yet. SO this is actually Aleksandra’s first kiss, though it’s not with the hero! If you want to read about Aleksandra and Xavier’s first kiss, you’ll have to read A Long Trail Rolling, Book One of The Long Trails series.

Today I’m giving away an ebook copy of A Long Trail Rolling to one lucky commenter. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

In our excerpt, life had turned upside down for Aleksandra. She’d just found her pa dead of a sword wound, she was alone, and the tribe of Shoshone she’d grown up alongside wouldn’t take her in—for her own safety.

We pick up our story as Aleksandra is riding toward her lonely cabin from the Indian village…


Hope was far from Aleksandra’s reach, her heart in tatters somewhere lining the bottom of her empty chest, as she and Dzień wandered down the mountain toward their cabin.

How could I have missed it?

She understood how the deepening rift between the settlers and the indigenous people wouldn’t let her safely live in their midst, but what of Dancing Wolf? How did she miss his deepening feelings for her, when they were close as brother and sister? Aleksandra was attracted to him, but accustomed only to the overt displays of affection in her family, his increasing reservation toward her as they matured had blinded her to what might have been. She shook her head to clear it and smiled as she thought of their leave-taking.

Dancing Wolf had accompanied her from the village and stopped at their old halfway meeting point. The tall young man dismounted from his pinto Mustang and for only the second time since they were children, wrapped his arms around her and held her close as she sat her pony, silent, for long minutes.

Kwahaten, you have been the most special part of my life and a large piece of my heart leaves with you. For your safety, I cannot have what my heart desires most, you by my fireside, beneath my furs,’ he stopped, flushed, and then cleared his throat, ‘riding by my side, forever. You need to go to your own people,’ he finally managed. ‘I will be watching for you. If you are ever in need, you know how to find me.’

Aleksandra nodded. ‘I understand, though I feel the rest of my family has truly died now. With you, I also leave much of my heart. May we meet again soon, my special one.’ She kissed the top of his head, bowed against her breast. He lifted his face to hers, his eyes deep pools of darkness, searching into her soul. Their lips met in their first kiss, the intensity of his touch shocking Aleksandra, and she drew back for a moment. His lips continued warm and insistent against hers as he wrapped his arms around her. She sighed and melted into him, her arms moving about his neck of their own volition as she breathed in his musky scent. She felt a gripping tension deep in her belly as he deepened the kiss, and inhaled sharply. He pulled back slowly, his eyes darkened to black, then smiled at her, while he shook his head slowly and let his breath out. Brushing the stray strands of hair from her face and taking her hands, he kissed her softly on the lips once again.

He looked down at her hands between his.

‘What we might have had—’ he started, then paused.

‘—cannot be, my special one,’ she said into the silence, ‘but I will always remember.’ She tried for a smile, looking at him through bleary eyes. Her hands still shook, but at least her heart felt like someone had kindled a small fire inside, and it was warm.

‘Go now, dear one of my heart, my Kwahaten. You cannot be mine, but I will always be here for you.’ Smiling at her, he swung onto his pony as Aleksandra turned her own Mustang and rode back down the mountain.

horsehead glyph

So, not the first kiss with the hero, but Aleksandra’s first kiss… 🙂 I’m giving away a digital copy of A Long Trail Rolling, Book One of The Long Trails series to a random commenter. Just leave your comments below and good luck!

 Buy Link:

About the story:

 She didn’t expect to become a target…but she is one now.

Aleksandra is alone and running to prevent her father’s killer from discovering their family secret. Disguised as a Pony Express rider in 1860’s Utah, Aleksandra winds up in even deeper trouble when she rides full speed into the Paiute Indian War. With Xavier, her compelling Californio boss, can she escape the Indians on the warpath and evade the man who’s already killed her father—and set his sights on her?

Author Bio:

Lizzi writes about the Old West, Russia, and Colonial New Zealand, as well as veterinary fiction and non-fiction—all with a horsey flair. She’s also one of the newest members of the Bluestocking Belles!

She grew up riding wild in the Santa Cruz Mountain redwoods, became an equine veterinarian at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and practiced in the California Pony Express and Gold Country before emigrating to New Zealand.

Lizzi has two wonderful, grown-up boys and an awesome partner in this sea of green. When she’s not writing, she’s swinging a rapier or shooting a bow in medieval garb, riding, driving a carriage or playing on her hobby farm, singing, or working as an equine veterinarian or science teacher. She’s multiply published and awarded in fiction, special interest magazines and veterinary periodicals.

Sign up for Lizzi Tremayne’s Newsletter and get one of Lizzi’s short stories for free at:

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Remember to comment to go into the draw for a copy of A Long Trail Rolling!

Thanks for coming by!


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The Beginning of Miss Mabel’s Mysteries or Writing a Mystery

I grew up loving mysteries. The Box Car Children, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew. When I was in middle school, I read all 80+ Agatha Christie’s novels. Eventually, I graduated to PD James, Elizabeth George, Mary Stewart…I lived for PBS Mystery series. And then real life happened. I witnessed tragedies. The world became darker, scarier, and I couldn’t watch Sunday night mysteries on PBS. I couldn’t read mysteries any more. And I certainly couldn’t write one. (Although, I had written a few by then.)

But what I love about mysteries isn’t the horror or the dark side of the soul, I love the puzzles. The who-dunnits and red herrings. And all mysteries are essentially morality tales. In most, if not all, of Agatha Christie’s stories, the victim deserved to die. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think anyone should get to play God and take it upon themselves to end a life. (And no, I’m not going to argue about the death penalty…this is not that kind of blog. I’m basically a-political.)

So what made me return to what was essentially my first literary love? An idea…a really great idea. The kind of idea that won’t be ignored. Here’s the first chapter of The Miss Mabel Mystery.


I crept through the dark forest, mindful of every snapping twig beneath my feet. If someone should apprehend me, I had a list of reasons for my loitering in the woods outside the main house. All of them lies.

A pair of French doors opened onto a deck from the master bedroom. I stole up the stairs so I could peek in the window and watch Doris prepare for bed. A cool breeze blew through the room, ruffled the curtains, and carried Doris’s voice and lavender scented face cream.

Her beauty, long faded, had shrunk like her frail frame, but she still held her bony shoulders has straight as hangers and moved with the grace of the ballerina she’d once been.

“Oh, my love, thank you,” Doris said when she spotted a single red rose and a chocolate candy lying on her pillow. She hummed a tune—a favorite about true love. She knew little of true love or devotion. Doris was as sentimental as the Hallmark station but as clueless to real human emotions as a Barbie doll. My stomach clenched as she picked up the rose and placed it in the glass of water holding her dentures. Pulling back the covers of her bed, she slid between the sheets, slipped the chocolate into her mouth, and switched off the light.

I glanced at my watch knowing that convulsions should start in one, two, three…wait. Was she snoring?

Frustration mounted as I waited. My breath curled in front of me like smoke and fogged up the window. But Doris, ever oblivious, slept. Her snores mocked me. Clenching my fists, I stood rooted in my hiding place on the deck waiting for death that refused to appear.


Put your back into your work, apply that spit and shine, and conjure up some elbow grease…A combination of physical exertion, endurance, and mental dedication to a menial task is good for the soul…not to mention the maintenance of a smooth running inn.

At least this is what I told myself.

The sun was warm, the breeze blowing in off the ocean cool, the sound of children’s laughter floating in from the beach heavenly. I had every reason to be happy as I wielded my broom. Of course, because I preferred being on the patio than vacuuming, mopping, cleaning toilets, or spritzing mirrors…I typically saved the patio for the last of my chores. The cherry on top.

The Hemingway Home was one of the Writer’s Away Inn most luxurious suites. It had windows on three sides and two balconies—one overlooking the beach and the other the pool. Each room in the inn was named after a famous author. My working here was fortuitous—not only because the inn happened to belong to my Aunt Victoria, but also because I had literary ambitions of my own. Because of yesterday’s rain, water mixed with sand and dust had pooled on the balcony. I swept the sludge over the edge.

“Hey!” A man shouted from below.

I paused my broom.


Horror swept over me. What to do? I considered slinking back into the suite, but honesty pushed me to the ledge.

A wet man stood glaring up at me. With his hair slicked back, he looked like an angry Antonio Banderas—a little like Zorro right before he wielded his sword at Don Rafael Montero. It didn’t take a Ph.D. to know what had happened. He slapped at his arms and chest, brushing himself off.

“Sorry!” I called out.

His lips twisted in a sneer. “Get a dust pan,” he grumbled, “and a clue.”

I gave him what I hoped was a friendly and apologetic wave and slunk back into the suite, wishing that that was what I’d done in the first place. Not that I wanted one of the other maids to take the blame, but if he hadn’t seen my face…not that I regretted seeing his. What did he look like when he wasn’t frowning?

I peeked back over the ledge. He’d moved to a chair on the opposite edge of the pool and lounged with a novel in hand. I wished I could read the cover. Could he be one of those rare combinations of beauty and brains?

I slipped back into the suite and closed the literal patio door and the figurative door on my disloyal thoughts. To distract myself, I did some mental math. The three hour time difference between New York and Shell Falls would put Andrew on the stock exchange floor. I itched to call him and tell him of my sweeping mistake. I wanted to hear him laugh and tell me it wasn’t a big deal. Everyone does stupid stuff sometimes. Besides, it didn’t really matter. In a few months, we’d be getting married. And shortly after that, I’d start my new job at the music academy, and I’d never have to sweep a balcony again unless I wanted to.

These happy feelings carried me to the service closet where I hung up the broom, and took off my apron, before heading back to my room.


Later in the early evening, Victoria met me in the foyer. Sweeping her gaze over me, she flinched when she spotted my shoes. “Can’t you put on some heels?” she asked in a hushed whisper.

I had two jobs at the inn—housekeeping and piano playing. They each required a very different sort of uniform. No one cared how I dressed while I mucked out the rooms, but when I played in the dining room, Aunt Victoria liked me to look my best. I typically wore a black cocktail dress, lacy hose, and low-heeled black shoes. I had tried to explain to her that I needed a comfy pair of shoes to work the suspension pedal, but she liked to me to be as beautiful as my surroundings. This was a tall order since the dining room had massive floor to ceiling windows and a sweeping view of the ocean.

Tonight, she seemed more on edge than normal. “Miss Mabel McKnight and her cohorts are here.”

My pulse quickened. Miss Mabel, Shell Falls very own Jessica Fletcher, lived in a mansion at the edge of town. She’d written more than eighty mystery novels, and was our local reclusive celebrity.

“They say it’s been years since she’s been out in public,” Aunt Victoria said. “And she’s here!”

I glanced over my aunt’s shoulder and caught sight of a tiny figure sitting at a table with a cluster of well-dressed and expertly groomed elderly women. I easily recognized her from her picture on the back of her book jackets. My breath caught when I saw the Zorro look-a-like sitting beside her.

Aunt Vicky squeezed my hand. “Play Vivaldi,” she whispered.

I smiled back at her and tried to look more confident than I felt. I’d been playing at weddings and other events since I was thirteen. I had a Ph.D. in music therapy, had graduated with honors, and had an amazing job lined up for the fall.

I didn’t question my musical abilities.

But I seriously doubted my ability to face the man sitting beside Miss Mabel McKnight.

I told myself he wouldn’t recognize me. Very few people expect the maid to also be a concert pianist. I crossed the dining room, lifted the piano lid, settled on the bench, and launched into my music.

The dying sun cast the room in an amber glow. We were only a few days away from the summer solstice and the days were so long they melded together—a continuous round of sun, sand, and warmth. Within minutes, I was lost in my music. My fingers touched the keyboard, but my thoughts were in New York. With Andrew.

“You’re really playing.”

I glanced up at the Zorro standing behind me, his gaze on my fingers.

“I thought this might be a Disklavier or something.” His warm brown eyes met mine. Up close, he was even better looking than I’d earlier thought.

“You didn’t think the maid could also play the piano?” I shot back.

I immediately regretted my words when his eyes widened. Disbelief faded into recognition. Humor followed.

“You’re the girl who dumped water on Brandt?”

My fingers faltered as I twisted to look over my shoulder at Miss Mabel. She was older and smaller than I would have guessed from her pictures. Although her eyes were swimmy with age, they were still intense and inquisitive. In her younger days, she’d been an Audry Hepburn beauty—petite, dark haired, pale but pink-cheeked, large brown eyes. My dad had once said that Miss Mabel was like a poodle with razor-sharp incisors. Her deceptively dainty demeanor made her dangerous. Her intellect made her lethal.

“It wasn’t exactly a dumping,” I spoke without missing a beat, a skill I’d developed from years of practice.

“I wouldn’t be critical if that’s exactly what happened,” Miss Mabel said.

“That is exactly what happened,” the man muttered.

“Brandt could use a good dumping,” Miss Mabel said.

“Then I did you a favor.” I wondered how the two were related. Did he work for her? He wasn’t her son. Long ago, my oldest sister had once pointed out Miss Mabel’s only son, Douglas McNight. He’d been middle-aged then, a David Hasselhoff wannabe lurking on the beach and chatting up teenage girls. I’d heard he’d been married a number of times, and I’d seen him tooling around town in his cobalt blue Maserati on numerous occasions. But even though I had lived in Shell Falls my entire life—aside from my years at Julliard—I had never seen Miss Mabel. “You’re welcome.”

I felt the man stiffen while Miss Mabel chuckled.

“What’s your name?” Miss Mabel asked.

“Arial Guthrie.”

“And you know who I am?”

“Of course. Doesn’t everyone?”

Her laughter deepened. “I knew I’d like you. You remind me of my younger self.” I felt flattered that she remarked on our resemblance. It was something I’d been told before. I wondered if I would look like her in some sixty-odd years.

What are you doing here?”

“Playing Vivaldi. Excuse me, but I’m coming to the finale and it requires my full attention.” I plunged into the sonata’s climactic finish, hoping they’d be gone by the time I finished. I felt slightly shaky by the time I lifted my fingers.

“Miss Guthrie, that was breathtaking!”

I twisted on the bench to get a better view of Miss Mabel and her Zorro-friend. “Thank you.”

“Are you busy next weekend?”

I studied her face, trying to read her. “Do you need a pianist?”

“No, a companion.” Her eyes sparkled as if she knew a humorous secret.

I lifted my chin at the man beside her. “You don’t want to take him?”

“Brandt? Heavens no. He’s much too clever. I don’t want to work that hard.” She cocked her head and studied me. “Do you?”

He did seem worth the effort, but a mental image of Andrew flashed in my mind and I lowered my gaze to hide my flushed cheeks.

“Good! It’s settled then. You’ll accompany me to Doris’s birthday bash. It’s next weekend in Lake Arrowhead. You’ll have your own suite, of course. Doris has this ridiculously mammoth lodge with plenty of rooms. We can take my car, but you’ll have to drive. You do drive, don’t you?”

I nodded.

“Me too,” she said.

Beside her, Brandt grumbled, but Miss Mabel ignored him and patted me on the shoulder. “Well, I need to get back to my friends. Why don’t you come by tomorrow and we can chat some more over lunch? Discuss the details—like your fee.” She winked. “I’m very generous and I’m sure you’ll find your compensation to be well worth your while.” She glanced back at her table of cohorts and flashed me a smile. “My friends might be old, but I think you’ll find us entertaining.”

Miss Mabel moved away, but Brandt remained, hovering over me. I stood, just to feel less intimidated by him. It didn’t really help. He still had at least six inches to my five foot five. For the first time ever, I wished I’d listened to Aunt Victoria and worn my heels.

“I suppose I should thank you for taking her to Doris’s, but I will warn you—I have my hesitations.”

“Like what?”

“My grandmother is…”


“Well, of course…that goes without saying. After all, she just picked you up off the street without knowing a thing about you.”

This made me feel like one of those cute but obnoxious puppies that you might find in a cardboard box in front of a grocery store wearing a large FREE sign. I probably shouldn’t have come across as so pathetic. I should have said something like, I’ll have to check my calendar, or let me see if I can rearrange my schedule. But the terrible truth was that since I’d moved here a few weeks ago, my calendar was as empty as an alcoholic’s whiskey bottle.

“It’s only a weekend,” I told him. “And it’s not as if I would persuade her to join a cult or invest in a shady business deal.”

He narrowed his eyes at me as if these were all things I could be capable of.


“You what?” Rainy voice squeaked when I told her about meeting Miss Mabel. “But when are we going shopping?”

“Not next weekend. You told me you had rehearsal.”

Rainy was suspiciously quiet.

“You do, don’t you?”

“Of course, I do.” Rainy’s pause was almost imperceptible.

I leaned back against my bed and picked up a pencil and a scrap of paper. I doodled while Rainy told me about a new guy she’d met. He was in a band—played the drums. He sounded exactly like the last guy she’d dated. Frankel something. She must have noticed my less than enthusiastic response because she shifted the conversation back to shopping—something we could both agree on.

“Technically, I’m not engaged,” I reminded her.

“But isn’t that the whole reason you’re here? To save money and plan the gala?” She emphasized the word gala in her Hollywood voice.

“Well, yes, but…you know it won’t be official until Andrew talks to Dad.”

“Ugh. That’s so last century!”

Because I was sick of defending Andrew to Rainy, I said, “I’ll have more money after my weekend with Miss Mabel.”

Rainy let out a happy squeal. “How much more?”

“I’m not sure, but she said it would be worth my while.”

“Do you know who would be worth your while? Her grandson.”

“She has a grandson? Is his name Brandt and does he look like Zoro?”

“Brandt? No, I thought his name was Zach.” The sound of clicking computer keys sounded over the phone. “Oh, he’s cute, too.”

“You googled her grandsons?”

“Yep. She has two, but oddly enough, they’re not brothers. Brandt—who you’ve met, and Zach, who I’ve met. There’s one for each of us!”

“I thought you were in love with…” I searched my memory for her latest’s name.

“Marcus? Oh, I am,” she said in a sad voice.

My phone buzzed with an incoming call. My heart sped when Andrew’s picture flashed on the screen.

“I have to go,” I told Rainy. “Andrew’s calling.”

“Oh, Andy…” Rainy said in a singsong tone.

I didn’t have to see her to know she was making the face she always wore when we talked about Andrew.

“Love you,” I said, ending the call. I immediately responded to Andrew but was disappointed when I saw he’d hung up. I shot him a text. WHERE’D YOU GO?


Going out? It was ten here, making it nearly one a.m. there.


He answered my unasked question.

K, I replied, but it really wasn’t. I didn’t like Caleb—one of Andrew’s co-workers. He worked hard but partied harder. I considered him a Wall Street wolf—a cliché of the money driven, woman hungry, and status seeking. But Andrew, for whatever reason, liked him.

LOVE YOU I texted him.

He sent me back on emoji of a heart.

I dropped the phone in my lap and gazed at my doodling. I’d drawn a caricature of a boy in a band. Not knowing what to make of it, I crumbled up the paper and got ready for bed.

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My Kindle Scout Experience

**Spoiler Alert** I didn’t get picked for a publishing contract. LOL

I’ve been doing this indie author thing since 2011 and I like to try new things, so I thought I would give Kindle Scout a try. Best case-publishing contract. Worst case-have to wait 45 days to put up new release.

You have to get approved just to participate. I don’t know what percentage, if any, that they disallow, but I’m a worrier. So it was a long 2 days while I waited to hear.

I needed a 1-liner. Something catchy to get attention to my campaign. I went with:

A ghost can’t compete with a real man. It was simple and encapsulated the theme of my story. I was happy with that.

Next, I needed the short book description. I went with:

Megan Trent misses her deceased husband every day, until he returns as a sexy, ghostly visitor every night. When the visitations turn twisted and dark, she knows she’s in too deep to stop the madness on her own. Jack O’Malley, founder of Ghost Releasers, Inc. is her only hope. Sparks fly from the moment the two meet, but Jack isn’t willing to compete with a ghost. Even with her dead husband’s final release, a dark danger remains to torment her. Jack and Megan must fight evil intentions in this world and ghostly intentions in the next to save their lives and their love.

I loved the description. It read nicely. It said what I wanted to say. But…it was too many characters for what KS allows. So, had to pare it down but save the essence of what it said.

Megan Trent misses her deceased husband every day, but he returns as a sexy, ghostly visitor every night. When the visits turn twisted and dark, she knows she can’t stop the madness on her own. Jack O’Malley, founder of Ghost Releasers, Inc. is her only hope. Sparks fly from the moment the two meet, but Jack isn’t willing to compete with a ghost. Even with her dead husband’s release, a dark danger remains. Jack and Megan must fight to save their lives and their love against ghostly intentions.

It’s okay, but I wasn’t thrilled with it. It would have to do. Then there is the blurb. You don’t get to decide the blurb, they do it for you. I think it ended on a nice spot, so that was all good.

Next, you have to decide how much you will advertise and promote the entry. I went with the minimum I wanted to do. I used a service called readper for a nice bounce in the middle, but no spillage of the days after. Authorshout was a tweeting service and I believe it kept me with at least some page views every day of the campaign.

The best Hot and Trending days were at the beginning, in the middle when I sent newsletters to my subscribers, and at the end when it was in the Ending Soon category. Note to self: if I did it again, I would divide my newsletter subscribers into mini 100-200 names subsets and send a subset a newsletter each day to spread out the page views longer.

I had to wait 12 days to get my no, thank you email. But considering that we used to have to wait months, years, forever to hear from agents and editors, it wasn’t so bad.

I formatted Ghostly Intentions for self-publishing while I was waiting to hear, so it was ready to go the day after I got the rejection. It got a nice ranking from the Scouts hearing it was now available, that it was just 99¢, and also in Kindle Unlimited.

My takeaway from the experience: I think I would do it again, but only with a first in series. Others have said it is hard to get them interested in a book 2, 3, etc. And I would spend a little more money with Facebook ads perhaps to promote myself to see more hours of hot and trending. I ended up with 178 out of 720 hours Hot and Trending and 2.7k page views. Not sure how many nominations that included, but in the 5k range for page views seemed more the norm for others. is the ultimate must-read if you are thinking of doing this. They are supportive and knowledgeable.

You can check out Ghostly Intentions at Amazon. Thanks!!

Jill James, romance author

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Holidays, Holydays, Carnivals, Festivals, and Vacations

One of the highlights of our visit to Rotorua was meeting up with Lizzi Tremayne, She drove down from her rural paradise to see me and another author friend, Caroline Warfield. Here we are at Rotorua’s Buried Village, Lizzi, Carol, and Jude (from left to right).

This past fortnight, we have been on holiday, meeting relatives in Rotorua for our annual holiday together, taking friends from the United States on a tour of the North Island of our lovely country, and now entertaining relatives in our home.

Holidays are part of the pattern of our life, times we can relax with friends and family.

Other regular patterns are punctuated by the liturgical year of our Catholic faith. Ash Wednesday coincided with Valentine’s Day this year, which means we are currently in Lent. In two weeks, it will be Palm Sunday, to be followed by Holy Week and Easter. Ascension Thursday, Pentecost (which the English used to call Whitsunday), the beginning of Advent, Christmas, and around again to Lent. And lots of other feast days and commemorations along the way.

Some of these have also become secular celebrations, joining national commemorations like Anzac Day and Waitangi Day. And sports adds another whole layer of seasonal markers: duck-shooting season, the first day of rugby or cricket or athletics for the year.

Then there are the markers particular to our family: anniversaries of good things and sad. Weddings, births, deaths. The night my beloved and I first kissed. (August 3rd 49 years ago! Where did the time go?) The day we experienced our first snowfall after moving from the North Island to the South. Births of children and grandchildren. Deaths of loved ones. Milestone events, many of them at crossroads on my life’s journey.

In the past I write about, those living in the English countryside still measured their years by the changing seasons, with the liturgical year intertwined around the natural rhythms. The English term for holiday comes from the old English word for holy day. In medieval times, holy days meant only basic necessary work. Peasants worked long hours, of course, during spring planting and the harvest season, but they expected, and got, time off in the rest of the year. (Relatively speaking. No swanning off to the coast for a week; animals and people still had to be fed.)

Even better if the holy day was also a festival, for the term festival comes from the Latin word for joyous, and by the 14th century had already taken on the connotation of an abundant meal, a feast.

Feast days punctuated the year; major feasts like Easter, Christmas, the Epiphany, and the feast day of a local Saint; minor feasts for other saints. And all of them had their own special food: in England, Simnel Cake, Twelfth Night Cake, Tansy Pudding, Shrove Tuesday pancakes, and on and on.

Carnival is an interesting word. It comes from an old Italian word meaning ‘to remove meat’, and originally meant the day before Lent, a time of penance when no-one in the Catholic world ate meat. Or does it? Some scholars think it predates Christianity and has something to do with the worship of the goddess Carna, to whom worshippers sacrificed pork and beans. At first glance, their rationale seems to be based more on not wanting the origin to be Christian than on actual evidence, but there you go.

The last word on my list is vacation, which is what they call holidays in the United States. The term is a more recent one, and has Puritan roots. The Puritans didn’t think much of holidays. Six days a week you worked, and the seventh you prayed. However, school worked by different rules, if only because the children were needed at home to help with the harvest. The teacher and students vacated the classroom; in other words, they went on vacation.

I appear to be falling into the habit of including annual celebrations in my stories. Christmas, of course. A Family Christmas (in the Christmas Babies on Main Street anthology) is not my only Christmas story. But other celebrations, as well. Farewell to Kindness revolves around the week following Whitsunday; A Raging Madness reaches its climax at Easter; the one I have on preorder now, The Realm of Silence, takes place over midsummer. And the research is fascinating. In the early 19th century, many of the old traditions survived, at least in country areas and among the ordinary people. A few still survive into the modern day. What traditions do you and your family keep?

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Fuzzy Logic & a Snippet from My Upcoming Novel

Fuzzy Logic is a computer term, and my former husband, a computer programmer, frequently used the term because of what he was programming. I’ll save you the long and detailed explanation and give the definition in a thumbnail. It’s neither black or white, or true or false; instead it’s almost, kind of, sort of, or almost never type of thing. Apparently, it mimics our brain. Oh, great! That means my brain must be horrendously drenched in fuzzy logic.

Since I’m busy writing a new story and I keep seeing edits on my story that should release soon, my head feels like it might explode any moment. There’s too much fuzzy logic going on inside my brain. And I’ve got to accomplish both manuscripts quickly. The pressure is on!

The odd thing is, the story that I’m writing isn’t plotted, nor do I write by the seat of my pants. I’m probably only a chapter or two ahead in the story and that’s fuzzy, a longhaired rabbit sort of fuzzy. And I kind of know how it will end. It must have the HEA (happy-ever-after) ending. And I know what she will accomplish beyond snagging the guy of her dreams. That’s because I like some real life stuck into my stories. I don’t write by formula. Your life isn’t like your best friend or your neighbor, why should what you read begin to sound like every other story you’ve read in the last few years? It shouldn’t!

I’ve done what every good writer must do at some point while writing something. Being I happen to have a life beyond the current manuscript, I’ve left her and him in limbo while I slug through another set of edits that require my concentration. And in the meantime, my personal life is in a wicked storm that resembles a hurricane, it’s tossing my little ship around, my mast is broken, and I know from the calendar that there’s a very rocky shoreline in one direction, and an iceberg in the other. It’s a narrow channel that I must sail to reach my destination. And I’m totally at the mercy of the currents. I won’t know the outcome until the end of April.

I’m trying hard to be brave, keep my wits, and use my time wisely. Anyone who knows me well knows I do not accept failure. I’m much too competitive. Like our Olympians, they don’t get that far and watch another score pop up and say oh, I can’t beat that, I’ll just walk away. That’s failure! Their score might never be that high, but they did their best and that’s all the really counts. Quitting is automatic failure. And I’m not quitting.

My upcoming novel, SILENT JOURNEY, is about a young Deaf man and the hearing woman who has fallen in love with him. Falling in love was the easy part, facing the world was not! Plus they both had their own hurdles to overcome if they wanted to find a HEA.

Savannah had no idea that Alex was Deaf until she actually met him. Instead of that being a deterrent, it made her more determined to learn American Sign Language. This is where they go to her house for Thanksgiving and her parents meet him for the first time. Like every young woman who brings the man of her dreams home to meet her parents, she’s thinks her parents will love him too, but she soon discovers that the visit isn’t going as planned, and the welcome isn’t what she expected.

What would you do if your daughter announced that she was in love with a Deaf man and intended to marry him?

SNIPPET (in edits)

According to the GPS, they were getting close. He hated to admit it, but this was very similar to going for a job interview, except this job was for a lifetime.

Savannah pointed to the next exit. The town was small, barely a blip on the map, but it had a major grocery chain store, a big name shopping mart, and handful of gas stations, a pizzeria, and two fast food restaurants. They made a turn into an older neighborhood. The houses were tiny, but most were well tended. This was a blue-collar neighborhood. She pointed to a house with beige siding and faded brown shutters. It looked like every other house on the street.

She turned to him and smiled. “We are here.”

As he got out of the car, she bounded up the narrow walk to the door and opened it. A rather large dog immediately danced around her and then came to him with teeth showing between curled lips.

Savannah caught the multi-colored, mixed-breed dog by the collar and introduced her to Alex as Lady Floppy-Ears Chisholm. “Affectionately called Lady.”

He held his hand to the dog that sniffed it warily. The feeling is mutual. Having never owned a dog or any pet, he wasn’t certain what he should do. But he watched Savannah who beamed with love for the large animal, and the dog seemed to return it.

Meet the parents. Something inside of him crumbled. He stepped across the threshold into a tiny living room and closed the door behind him. Blinking a few times, his eyes adjusted to the interior. A large screen TV glowed with a sports channel, showing a panel of commentators talking about several teams and the players.

Savannah turned to him, pointed down the hall, and signed bathroom. He nodded his response.

By the time he washed his hands, whatever had been crumbling inside him, he decided there was nothing left but the weight that now lay deep in his gut. It was a modest bathroom designed with pale blue tile and white porcelain that looked as though it hadn’t had a shiny finish in years. There was a hot-water faucet and a cold-water faucet. The chrome on both was blistered and missing in places. The house appeared to be a WWII residence and he was expecting to see a Rosie the Riveter, We Can Do it! poster someplace. The bathroom had been decorated in seashells and mermaids and smelled faintly of bleach. He dried his hands on a little baby-blue guest towel that hung from a ring on the wall. At least Savannah was waiting for him as he opened the door.

“Come meet my parents.”

He smiled back at her and followed her down the hall through a dining room and into a kitchen. Any preconceived notions he might have had about her family vanished instantly. Her dad greeted him with an outstretched hand. They were probably close in height. Savannah was a clone of her mother, except her mom’s hair was shoulder length and she had bangs.

“Would you like a cup of coffee or a…” Mr. Chisholm opened the refrigerator.

“I have…” Her mother turned to the counter.

Savannah fingerspelled beer, signed coffee, and then pointed to the little kitchen table.

He signed coffee as he slid across the bench of the table’s booth seating, even though a beer would have probably helped him to relax.

Savannah’s mom put a loaf of white bread on the table and plastic storage bags containing several types of lunchmeat, another group with cheeses, and then added a jar of mayonnaise, along with several other condiments and pickles.

Savannah’s father sat at the table with a bottle of beer. “So what are you going to school for?”

Here goes. He signed architecture.

The man looked slightly puzzled and then turned his gaze to his daughter before returning it to Alex. “Is this some sort of joke?”

Alex shook his head, spotted Savannah’s giggle, and signed. “I read lips.”

“No, Daddy. He’s deaf. I told Mom and told her to tell you. As long as you look at him when you speak, he can read your lips.”

“Can you hear me?”

Alex shook his head.

Mr. Chisholm appeared to be confused. He looked at his daughter and then at Alex before beginning to prepare his sandwich.

Savannah handed Alex a mug filled with coffee. “Make a sandwich.”

Her father passed the loaf of bread to Alex.

He accepted the bread and withdrew two slices from the plastic sleeve.

She passed him the meats and then the cheeses.

Savannah’s mom sat across from Alex. “So how do you manage to go to college?”

Alex pulled the notepad from his shirt pocket. The same way as everyone else.

She took a sip of her coffee. “I thought people like you went to special schools.”

People like me? What’s that supposed to mean? Stay calm. She doesn’t understand. No. I went to the local public school. No special classes. But many Deaf will attend dedicated schools.

“And you’ve always been deaf?”

He nodded.

“So how do you talk?”

Before he could write an answer, Savannah said, “Mom, he uses his hands. It’s sign language, and it’s a real language. I’m taking it instead of Spanish. I told you that’s how we met, the Silent Spaghetti Supper.”

“Like Helen Keller used?”

He shook his head and Savannah watched him.

“Not exactly.” Savannah translated. “It’s changed over the years, and she couldn’t see. She fingerspelled. We’ve come a long way since those days. Fortunately, I can see. I am merely Deaf.”

“But you’re dumb, too.”

“Mom, he’s mute by choice, not stupid.”

“What? What is mute by choice supposed to mean?”

Alex pressed his lips together and then forced himself to answer the question verbally, “I cannot hear therefore my voice is not good.”

The look on Savannah’s mom’s face told him she understood.

Savannah put her hand on his arm. “It’s easier for him to use his hands.”

The family barely said a word. It was Savannah who did most of the talking.

Obviously, her parents were concerned about his relationship with their daughter. Yet he would make more money and be better able to provide for their daughter than her father had provided for his family.

Mr. Chisholm glanced up at Alex and then turned his attention to his daughter. “I thought maybe he’d like to hang out with me and look at the car I’m restoring. But I guess that won’t work.”

A little time with Savannah’s father might be good. He nudged Savannah. “What kind of car?”

Savannah turned to her father. “He wants to know what kind of car.”

“A 1950 Town and Country Newport with only 23,000 miles on it. It was in my grandfather’s barn. I inherited it.”

Alex grinned and gave the thumbs-up sign. In the barn? A family owned antique car? Oh yeah!

A few minutes later, he followed Mr. Chisholm out the back door and into a detached garage. He was on his own with a man who did not sign. Alex had to win the man’s trust.


As soon as the men left, Savannah’s mom turned her attention to her daughter. “Well, he’s cute as a button. But how is he going to make a living? Or do you intend to support him?”

Savannah shook her head and began to clear the table. “He’ll get a job as an architect. I’ll never make the money that he will.”

“You mean someone will hire him?”

“Yes.” She had to tamp down her frustration with her mom, but she also understood for she had asked herself those same questions.

“Is that your engagement ring? It doesn’t look like an engagement ring.”

“Yes, Mom. Isn’t it beautiful?”

“What happened to a simple diamond? Are you certain those stones are real?” There was the sound of disgust in her mom’s voice.

“Mom, he bought it from a local jeweler. I think it’s beautiful. It’s different.”

“If you wind up marrying him, what will you do, adopt?”

“You mean because he’s Deaf?”

Her mom nodded.

“We haven’t talked too much about children. The odds of us having a deaf child are minimal. And Alex doesn’t understand why there would be any concern about having a deaf child.” She remembered a conversation Alex and she had and began to giggle. “Mom, do you miss your third arm and hand?”


“It’s simple. Do you miss your third hand?”

“Don’t be ridiculous.”

“I’m not. A third hand might be super wonderful, but how would we ever know because we’ve done quite well with two. Hearing is the same for him. He’s never had it, so he really can’t imagine it – he’s never heard any sound in his life. As a result, he can better comprehend having a third hand, because he has two hands, than he can comprehend sound. He can’t miss something he never had.”

“Oh, Savannah, I worry about you in this relationship.”

“Don’t, Mom. In three months, I’ve learned quite a bit of sign language, and his mom says it will take me two years of being with Alex to really learn it.”

“I guess you want us to learn it, too.”

“It would help.” She took the sponge and wiped the table of every crumb.

“Being it’s such a pretty day, and we weren’t certain when you’d arrive, we thought we’d do hamburgers on the grill tonight, and tomorrow I’ll fix a big turkey dinner.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“I fixed up the guest room for him. You might want to check it. I don’t know if he needs anything special.”

“No, Mom, he doesn’t need anything.”

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Update on Lizzi Tremayne and Get Your Free Sampler!

Hello All!  I hope March finds you well! I’ve been busy marketing the three books I released in 2017,

history   history

marketingas well as my first, A Long Trail

The biggest challenge I find as a full time writer, part time veterinarian, small farm owner, and manufacturer/distributor of Equi-Still Portable Equine Stocks is organizing my time for writing as well as marketing (publicity, social media, etc.) my books, with all the other things to boot.

Certainly, I need to improve in this area (Perhaps by stopping some of it? Doh?), as my ticker is not handling the load, but with the right meds and more sleep, I’m staying out of atrial fibrillation this week.  That’s good. Marketing isn’t as important as my health. Contrary to my belief, I’m not 21 anymore. 🙂

Thus I find myself again with the ever-present spreadsheet and Asana (It’s on my resources page, here), working on organization.

What I’ve done well lately…

One of the great things I did in February was putting together a Lizzi Tremayne Sampler of the first books in The Long Trails series, so you can have a taste of my writing!


It’s free here, just for signing up to my newsletter list.

I keep my newsletter subscribers updated on news, special offers, and contests–open only to them!

Sign up here

So what am I up to now? More marketing?

Well, always… but I’m planning and researching three more novellas to be publishe this year, two for Authors of Main Street boxed sets, more of the Once Upon a Vet School series, and one for the Bluestocking Belles’  Christmas boxed set, which will be a side-novella off my The Long Trails series!

And one more book… just one more…

Research continues for Tatiana, the upcoming Book Four of The Long Trails series, and if you read my latest blog post here, you’ll see how far down rabbit holes I can fall!  Come have a read!

marketing  marketing

That’s it for me tonight, off to bed, nearly on time. I hope you have a lovely March!

Remember to get your free copy of my Lizzi Tremayne Long Trails Sampler today!

Take care, until next time,


Lizzi Tremayne



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