The Creative Well by Pepper Phillips

Violets nestled in tree trunkThere is nothing I like better than springtime.  In Louisiana we have two weeks that I call spring.  The flowers that have been hidden during the cold weather peek up and welcome the sun.

After two weeks, the air-conditioner must come on and then it’s summer.  But this week has been spring.  Nice enough to sit outside on the patio and watch the squirrels scamper up the trees.  We have so many trees in our back yard that those bushy tailed animals can travel from tree to tree to tree to cover the whole property.

The violets above are nestled in a corner of a pecan tree.  The squirrels will grab a pecan from the ground and rush up the tree to eat it.  One went up the tree about fifteen feet, turned around and was hanging upside down while eating.  Then it turned around and went up a few more feet to eat in the crevice of the trunk and a branch.

Blue Glass BirdfeederI purchased this lovely glass bird feeder this year.  It’s next to the pecan tree and when I refill it, I have to pick out the broken pecan shells that the squirrels have dropped into it from the branch above.  I love the colors…they make me happy.

Julia Cameron in ‘The Artist’s Way’ wrote about ‘filling your creative well’…and this is the way I do it.

Sitting on the back patio, on a rocking chair watching the squirrels, listening to the bird songs, the hammering of the red-headed woodpecker that lives in the telephone pole across the street, birds that come to rest in one of the two bird feeders for a treat.

I’m not a bird watcher in any sense of the word, but have come to recognize three different types of doves.  It’s peaceful.  It’s nature.  It reminds me that no matter what happens in life, nature will take care of it’s own.  Life goes on.

It’s one of the perks of living in a small town.

What do you do to ‘fill your creative well?’

The Right Place

How often have you heard people saying, “Poor guy, he was at the wrong place at the wrong time?”

Being a thoroughly positive person, I will analyze how being at the right place at the right time affected my life.

I married my husband because we were both at the right place at the right time. We lived on opposite sides of the country, but I spent a vacation with my cousins in a different town and he happened to be visiting friends in the same place and attending the same organized tour where we met. Voila. Many, many years later we are sitting across from each other for better or worse.

I also got my first big job because a recruiter called the Chemistry Department’s Lab looking for soon-to-be graduates, and I happened to answer the phone. He insisted I come for an interview although I wasn’t graduating for another six months. They offered me a part-time and later fulltime job.

My first book was published because I was at the right place at the right time. More precisely at a conference. Picture me walking to a workshop, passing by the room where editors held the pitch session and taking a peek through the door. An editor sat by herself because the writer never showed up. What a waste of precious pitching time. The coordinator asked if I wanted to talk to the editor. I wasn’t planning on pitching, but I decided to give it a try. I sat across from the editor and explained I really wasn’t prepared. “Why don’t you tell me about the story you really love?” Once I started I couldn’t stop, and she said she loved it too. A month later I signed my first contract. Seven years later, I have thirteen books published, and I just finished writing a new one.

Editors insist we should not build a story on coincidence.
Is being at the right place at the right time a coincidence? Or fate? A part of our destiny? Or as a friend of mine often tells me: it is meant to be.

What’s your opinion on that subject? Have you been at the right place at the right time? Did it make a difference in your life?

About the Author: Mona traveled to more than fifty countries on business or vacation. Eventually she left a scientific career to share with readers the many stories brewing in her head. She writes contemporary romances, sweet or not so sweet, with suspense elements or medical themes. Sprinkled with a good dose of humor, her stories are set in the fascinating places she visited, from exotic Belarus, and historical France, to the beaches of Greece, the monuments of Egypt and the mysterious Islands of Seychelles–or more simply in Ohio, Florida, Boston and Washington, DC. Her titles garnered many awards. A winner of Best Romance Novel at Preditors & Editors, Best Contemporary Romance at Readers Favorite, Epic Award Finalist, first-place wins in Enchanted Quill, Launching a Star, and Wallflower. Find Mona on Facebook, or Twitter, or visit her website.


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Indie Publishing. It’s been a fast three-year, fun ride. I can’t wait to see what the next years bring to my own writing as well as other Indie Publishers.

My goal is to connect with readers in the stories I write, the characters that nag until I give them their reins. My hope is readers can bond with them as much as I did while writing them. There isn’t anything better than finding a memorable character within an exciting story.

As an Indie writer and publisher, those characters see the light of day when the time comes. When the character’s timing is right, when my timing is right.

Indie Publishing doesn’t come without hard work, nor keeping up with all the changes, from formatting to marketing.

Writers wear many hats and a medley of colors. I have a closet full of hats and wear one every day.

So, no. Becoming an Indie Publisher isn’t a decision I’ve regretted, and never will.

All I need now is a thirty-six hour day.


Waiting on one of the “Big Publishers.” As many other writers, I’ve paid a bucket-load of dues writing synopses, learning what to do, as well as what not to do. Researching everything under the sun to prepare myself for publication, taught me patience and toughened my skin.

I learned not to get upset when someone doesn’t like my writing. It isn’t about you, it’s about the writing or story. Not everyone will love my stories or characters. That’s okay. Maybe one day a character will weave their way into that reader’s heart and they’ll find a little bit of themselves sewn in.

Yes. Years ago, I’d made the decision to never Indie Publish. Now, that’s a decision I’ve regretted. I wish my books had found their way into a reader’s hands, or a wireless reader much sooner. But, that’s water under the bridge or over the dam, whichever way you want to look at it.

To look back is fruitless. It’s time to look forward to writing, characters and stories to warm the heart.

Do you have any regrets regarding writing or publication?

A Smoky Mountain Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.
My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Sony, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.
You can find links on my website, here.

Bring on the Waterworks

A friend recently told me that my latest manuscript made her cry. I thought, wow, what greater compliment could I get? What more could a writer ask for than to make a strong enough emotional connection with a reader to move her to tears?

The last book I read that made my eyes well up was That Thing That Happened by Libby Broadbent. I can’t tell you the dramatic event that happened in the story without spoiling it, but I can say there were a few gut-wrenching scenes.


As a kid, the first book that broke my heart was Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes. The true story of young girl who died of cancer after an atomic bomb decimated Hiroshima still haunts me. A few years later, The Diary of Anne Frank traumatized me in the same way.

More recently, I shed a tear or two reading the historical novel The Sunne in Splendour, when King Richard III loses his son and then his wife to consumption, and in the end is brutally butchered on the battlefield (I don’t think I’m spoiling anything for history lovers).119829

I also get choked up listening to certain sentimental songs. “Two Little Boys” by Rolf Harris leaps to mind, and I can barely get through “Baby Mine” from Dumbo with dry eyes. When my kids make me play the Frozen soundtrack in the van on the way to daycare, I find myself misting up while listening to “Let It Go,” and wondering what the heck is wrong with me! (But beware the fine line between poignant and cloying; take “Butterfly Kisses” and “Teen Angel” for example – ick.)

I’m more apt to lose control of my emotions while watching movies. Obvious tear jerkersSteel_Magnolias_2small that come to mind are Steel Magnolias and Beaches. And yes, my mascara ran during Titanic. I may have even shed a tear or two near the end of Tangled (raising three little girls, Disney doninates my life right now).

Finally, I must mention the much-derided miniseries Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story. A lot of Anne fans dislike this movie because the story departs drastically from the books, but I love it. I’ve seen it several times and never tire of Anne’s plucky spirit, the WWI intrigue, and of course the love story. Anne spends most of the movie searching war-torn Europe for Gilbert, her handsome army doctor husband who is missing in action. Eventually she comes to accept that he must have anne3wsbeen killed. My lip always trembles when a bereft Anne is cajoled into singing her wedding song to a group of soldiers—and Gilbert, by chance in the crowd, hears her voice. Discovering one another, they rush into each other’s arms … excuse me for a moment while I grab a tissue.

Time to confess! What books, songs or movies bring you to tears?


Why I Love Small Towns by Joan Reeves

The Trouble with Love by Joan ReevesWe have a place in the Texas Hill Country where we spend most weekends. It’s far away from just about everything. In fact, the closest small town of 700 people is about 10 miles away.

Perhaps the fact that I grew up in a small town explains my affection for those little enclaves of eccentrics. Sometimes, small town idiosyncrasies can stop a city dweller in his tracks, but I think they’re charming and endlessly entertaining.

In my contemporary romances, I return again and again to the small town setting. In my Texas One Night Stand series, both The Trouble With Love (Book 1, Texas One Night Stands) and Romeo and Judy Anne (Book 2, Texas One Night Stands) are set in small towns in the fictional Alton County, located in Texas of course.

Life in rural and small town America compared to city life has more differences than mere population statistics.

Business Is Different

In most small towns in Texas, business is conducted Monday through Friday, usually from 9 to 5, except at the grocery story which closes at 8pm at night. Offices are not open on Saturdays, and nothing but the grocery store is open on Sunday.

When you walk into a place of business in a small town, everyone smiles at you and seems pleased to assist you. When you make a purchase, the employee smiles and says: “I hope you have a wonderful day.” The smile actually seems sincere and what they say sounds genuine and heartfelt.

Popular Attractions

Church is the big attraction on Sunday. Every church—and there are usually several—has a full parking lot, and nearby streets are lined with cars and pickups too.

Water towers are often picturesque with written sentiments regarding high school loyalties or state championships, no matter how long ago or how obscure.

Towns are proud of their local high school athletic teams. If a regional or state championship was won, a sign attesting to that fact will be found somewhere in the town regardless of how many years have passed since the victory.

Old men pass the time of day sitting on park benches in front of stores. They whittle, not any kind of carving or sculpture, but just a stick they shave with a sharp pocket knife. They talk and whittle, with the pile of wood shavings growing in front of them. Some of the men chew tobacco or dip snuff. You can recognize them by the spit cup they carry around.

I’ll be returning to fictional Alton County this summer when I write book three of the Texas series, Forever Starts Tonight.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep people watching in the small towns I visit because I confess that the slower pace is enormously appealing to someone like me who has lived most of her adult life at warp speed.

(Joan Reeves writes funny, sexy Romance Novels. For your consideration, get your flirt on with any of her novels, available at most ebook sellers, with audio editions available at Audible and iTunes. Joan publishes Writing Hacks, a free subscription newsletter for writers, and I LUV Books, a free subscription newsletter for readers. Visit Joan Online at SlingWords, her website, or follow on Twitter @JoanReeves and Facebook.


Touch for me has always been a visceral and joyful experience, from playing naked in the mud as a toddler,Image

to feeling the surprisingly dry skin of a snake on my first trip to the zoo at four with my grandmother (before the learned fear of snakes set in),Image

to holding hands with a boy for the first time at thirteen.


The memory of that first clasp of my daughter’s tiny fingers around my index finger still brings the kind of pure joy that tears can only enhance as they pool unbidden.


I still play with my food – mixing it with my fingers. I still feel the soil as I plant spring’s seedlings. And rubbing my husband’s beard with my palms is a supreme bonding experience every time.


Writing about touch, non-romantic loving touch, is as challenging for me as it is rewarding.

John O’Donohue, in Anam Cara, describes the power of touch eloquently.

 “At the highest moments of human intensity, words become silent. Then the language of touch really speaks.”

Here is one of my favorite scenes from SPARRING PARTNERS, the first book in my Warrior Chronicles series. In it, Jordon is helping a very frail and elderly friend, Irma, as she eases her way into the next world. Touch here was vital.Image

Jordon sat on the pier, fishing line in the water with the pole supported by a stand so he wouldn’t have to attend to it, Irma in his arms. She weighed almost nothing and was so frail and cold. Despite the lingering sun, he had her wrapped in a wool blanket to ease her shivering. Henry and Finn sat side by side on the bank near them, but not so near as to disturb their privacy. The three deerhounds laid in the grass, heads on their front paws, alert, keeping vigil for Irma. The two oversized cats, Freya and Loki, curled on the pier near her feet.

“The sun’s going down, Jordon.”

Jordon held her tighter, knowing she wasn’t talking about the sun above. “I know.”

“Thank you for getting me out of the hospital.”

Jordon smiled. “Seems to me you got yourself out.”

“Without you, I wouldn’t have a place to go or the energy to get there.”

“Don’t talk, Irma. You’ll tire yourself.”

“I’m well past tired, boy, and not above playing the death card.” Irma coughed, racking her whole body. She was in terrible pain, but she refused to take the pills nurse Peacock forced into her hands as Jordon wheeled her out of the hospital. Irma said she didn’t want to be “all looped up” when she saw her last sunset.

Stubborn, stubborn, woman.

Jordon forced back tears and the sudden thickening in his throat. This was so much harder than he thought it was going to be when he walked into the hospital, both barrels blazing. He didn’t want to let her go, this unlikely friend he’d had so little time with. How did she get to him, anyway? Loving her and letting her go hurt more than anything he’d felt in a long time.

People in his life came and went with the wind. Some he missed, some he was sorry to see go, and a few, a precious few, helped define the man he wanted to be. Emily was one of the few, and she left him after having been on earth only a few hours. Irma was another, and she was leaving him now too. He could feel her spirit tugging at her skin to be free, and nothing he did or said could keep it contained, no matter how tightly he held on.

“You need to promise me something, Jordon.”

“Why? Because you’re dying?”

“Yes. A fact you can’t stop or delay by denying it, or by denying me. Now, give me your promise that you’ll do what I tell you.”

“I promise.”

“I want to be cremated, and I want my ashes spread on the pond.”

“That’s it? That’s what you want me to promise?”

“No. I’m still gearing up for that.”

“Irma, you are one crazy old lady.”

“And you love me.”

“That I do,” Jordon said, kissing her forehead.

The sun was at the horizon now. Irma stared at its soft radiance for a moment before tugging at his shirt. “Then come here so I can whisper it in your ear. I always wanted to whisper in a handsome man’s ear. Don’t know why I waited this long.”

Jordon bent and listened. When she was done, he straightened and nodded soberly. “You have my promise.”

The smile she gave him was radiant, and the twinkle in her watery-green eyes remained as she watched the sun set on this hemisphere only to rise in the next.

“I love you, too, Jordon. You’re a good man.”

She closed her eyes and gave her last breath.

Jordon bent his head and cried until night purpled the sky and the first star began to shine. The dogs sang, a long, howling lament. The cats joined in a sound that managed to hold joy and sadness. Then Henry came and took Irma from his arms. Jordon didn’t want to let her go. He looked at his friend, not even trying to stop the stream of tears flowing down his face……

If you enjoyed this excerpt, you may find SPARRING PARTNERS here.

May loving touch in whatever its form find you all the days of your life. Thanks for reading and Happy Easter week!


Popular Blog Posts, exposing the underbelly of my blog

I write as an author of Main Street, but I also have my own street. Most writers, and even some non-writer types, have their own blogs. It’s curious why some posts are more interesting to the world than others. Some posts I think are quite good are basically ignored while others that are neither insightful or witty for some inexplicable reason pick up traction. Here are the top five most viewed posts on my blog,

10 Steps to a Successful Book Launch

Sep 16, 2011, 19 comments


Page One, Once Again

Aug 8, 2013, 3 comments


The Carriage House Notebook

Sep 24, 2012, 5 comments


And the audience! For awhile I had a host of Russians reading my blog. Vlads and Omars were leaving comments.I personally don’t know anyone currently living in Russia, nor do I know any Vlads or Omars, and I don’t know why the Russians would be more interested in my blog than the Belgians. Here are the overall stats of my blog.

United States












United Kingdom



It’s not surprising that the posts that are the most helpful are also the most popular….That might be a good life lesson, as well.

In an effort to be increasingly helpful, for the next three months, I’m donating all of the proceeds from my Rose Arbor books to the Oso Relief fund. Oso is a tiny community on the outskirts of my home town, Arlington, Washington, the fictionalized setting of my Rose Arbor books. (Read my blog post on my decision. And to make donating easy, for a limited time A Ghost of a Second Chance, the first in the series is now only .99 cents.

Because, as my mom used to say, when you’re helping you’re happy.