“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”~Maya Angelou






“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”~ Steve Jobs






“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” Winston Churchill





“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”~Reinhold Niebuhr

This last quote was framed by my husband and remained hanging in his office for over thirty years.

WEDDING SURPRISE (Holiday Babies Series Book4) by Mona Risk, USA Today bestselling author.

Copy (2) of WeddingSurprise

Wedding Surprise (Holiday Babies Series Book 4) by Mona Risk Available at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes




Worst or Best surprise?

Images. Thoughts. Let’s Have a Little Fun!

Yesterday, while I searched for a particular photo, several that popped up brought a line of poetry or a particular thought to mind. Of course, that’s nothing unusual since photos normally bring on an image of what’s going on, where was this photo taken, or maybe you wonder what’s running through the subject’s head. Sometimes a shot of a landscape does the same. What  if someone lurks behind the door? Why are they there?

You know how images of loved ones move through your head and always bring back that special moment of when the photo was taken? When you flip through your own photos, I’ll wager your mind is filled with sweet memories.

This specific photo represents how much of the country is living these days. Being from the South, we don’t see much snow, but we have the past week and are waiting on sleet and snow today. Different parts of the metro area are feeling the affect as I write this post. I love snow, but can live without sleet.
009So…I see children playing with other children, their parents or a lively pet, throwing snowballs, perhaps simply building a snowman. I imagine a couple walking quietly around the area, their thoughts held inward or perhaps discussing that it’s time to begin their family. Switching it up, I wonder if any one is lying in wait for a child, a parent or maybe there is a homeless person in need.

So many thoughts and ideas pass through my over active brain! 🙂

I’ll try to keep them to a minimum. Ha.

The photo below reminds me of Celestine Sibley.


I worked with Celestine for about two months before her death. I loved that woman! She was full of life and didn’t care what people thought of her. She had too much else to take care of.  She was a lover of antiques and simplicity and her cabin in Atlanta projected all that she was. The window in the corner is much the same as one in her cabin.

Once I’d thrown out a canister of old coffee grounds and vegetable scraps. Did I ever get that look…and she definitely had one! She also kept a cup, with sugar, and a saucer with water, on her cabinet. I didn’t bother that because I know it’s a great ant catcher, and I wasn’t prepared for that look again. 🙂

I could go on and on about Celestine, but I’ll hold onto those memories.

One other thing I’ll share because it’s too good not to. Celestine woke at 4 am every morning to write on a novel before leaving for her job at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Her grandson told me he often drove her into the city so she could write. She’d sit with a typewriter on her knees and write her column for the day. Yes! She was that good.

Anyone remember the movie with Natalie Woods and Robert Redford, “This Property is Condemned?”

PICT0028 It’s a great movie and if you haven’t seen it, perhaps you’ll look it up and watch. This photo reminds me of that movie. Children were carefree back in the day and allowed to explore and broaden their minds, unlike today where we hold our children close to home.

When I look at this photo, I can’t help but wonder what happened to a side table with a cool pitcher of lemonade and perhaps a plate of cookies. Where is the little man and woman sitting close and waiting for their children to visit? Where is the dog who used to lay between the chairs? The rockers are now stilled, and I want to know why.


I had to laugh when I found this image. The image puts the finishing touches on a scene of two characters in my book, “Perfect Match.” Two nosey sisters prove that things are not as they always seem. Is there good in everyone? I love these two characters. They were so much fun to write about.

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What are your thoughts? If you’d like, share what you see in some, or all, of the photos. I’d love to read them.

Thank you for visiting and I hope we meet again. Until then, I wish you love, music and butterflies.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas Wedding – Book Two, coming soon.

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Diesel, Apple and Smashwords.

You can find links on my website for all My Books

Romance, Romance, Romance, All Day & All Night by Stephanie Queen

Happy woman daydreaming about love in officeThe life of a romance writer. Thinking, dreaming and if I’m ambitious, writing romance all day and all night. It’s a tough world out there–so I hear. But I’m mostly trapped inside my head thinking pink thoughts of happily ever after and true love, about sensual tension and first kisses, about heart-wrenching longing and… well, you get the drift.
Until Myren, my chauffeur, interrupts me to whine about something or other–and not necessarily chauffeur-related–he sometimes whines about the excessive snow or the cold or the lack of food in the castle. Geesh. Then I snap out of the pink cloud of romance and bubble baths and although I’m still seeing through a fairly pleasant romantically-enhanced haze–often referred to by less creative non-writers as rose-colored glasses–the stark cold winter wonderland surrounding my castle/house becomes real.

That’s when I pull on a sweater, then a coat, muffler, gloves, scarf, and hat and let Myren take me to the grocers. Also, I realize I ought to feed the cat, Kitty. She’s pretty independent, but lately a bit crazed if all the dashing about as if being chased by an invisible dog is any indication. I figure I ought to throw a little catnip in her food–not sure if that’ll calm her down or make it worse, but what the heck.

Imagine if I had to deal with excessive snow, Myren and Kitty all the time? I’d rather be thinking about what the heck I’m going to name the next Tall-Dark & Handsome in my next romantic suspense novel. [Technically, I often get stuck on names, so I have a contest and challenge/coerce my lovely readers to think up some character names to help me out. But still…]

So life–as a romance writer and Queen of my pretend castle–is automatically better than life as a [fill in the blank] in my humble opinion. Even in this tundra that now surrounds my home.

Back to writing… and romance…

(If you want to check up on me to make sure I’m actually writing instead of day-dreaming my time away, check out my latest boxed set on sale now–The Scotland Yard Exchange Series – three novels of intrigue, humor and ROMANCE!)
SQ_box set1

B&N Buy Link
iBooks Buy Link


2015-02-18 07.42.58My friend and fellow author of Main Street, Jill James, blogged about reading this month. Jill got me thinking, as she usually does, about what grabs me by the throat and reels me in when I first fall in love with a book. Sometimes the throat grabbing is more of a warm smile, a heart tug, a laugh, or just a: If I don’t read this right now It’s going to occupy my thoughts all day kind of moment. That’s love for you—throat grabbing, funny, heartwarming, intriguing and sometimes damn irritating. My favorite authors evoke one or more of these emotions in the first line or two.

I know this to be theoretically true, because I keep reading. I wondered how it actually worked in practice, so this morning over my first of numerous cups of coffee, I pulled random books from random bookshelves in my house—truth be told some of them were in piles on the floor and one was leaning by the waste basket nearest my desk.

After reading the first few lines of more or less randomly selected books nearest me I found some of them “Mash-Up” rather well. Here are two of my favorites put side by side:


HISTORICAL ROMANCE—Cathy Maxwell from: Lyon’s Bride.

      “A mother knows. ‘Tis the curse of giving birth.”

THRILLER—Stephen Hunter from: Time to Hunt.

      “We are in the presence of a master sniper.”


Here are two more that struck me funny read side by side, yet oddly similar in intent:


ROMANCE—Joan Johnston from: Texas Bride.

      “It’s a disaster,” Hannah said. “Plain and simple. We’re DOOMED.”

THRILLER—Lee Child from: Gone Tomorrow.

      “Suicide bombers are easy to spot.”


Here are three with religious themes:


HISTORICAL—Bernard Cornwell from: Stonehenge.

      “The gods talk by signs.”

FICTION—Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett from: Good Omens.

      “It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn’t been invented yet.”

YOUNG ADULT (and me)—Terry Pratchett from: Snuff.

      “The goblin experience of the world is the cult or perhaps religion of the Unggue. In short, it is a remarkably complex resurrection-based religion founded on the sanctity of bodily secretions.”


And here are two that begin with a sense of immediate expectation:


HISTORICAL ROMANCE—Jennifer Haymore from: A season of seduction.

      Tonight I will be his.

THRILLER—Steve Berry from: The Jefferson Key.

      “President Andrew Jackson faced the gun aimed at his chest.”


I have enjoyed each of these books and it was the beginning that got me hooked no matter what the genre. Beginnings need to hook, if for no other reason than that’s where we start reading, but the story has to entice and entertain. The love feeling has to sustain as well. I loved most of these books, with the exception of one that was really well written, but had me skimming from about halfway through ‘till the end.

Loved them all—sans one—and yet they all begin with a different tone that when read side by side just makes me smile. Reading after all should be like being in love: funny, irritating, anticipatory, sensual, ire-inducing and ultimately an experience that leaves the reader better and fulfilled for having read—until the next time.

So what are your favorite lines? Have you noticed that similar subject matter is handled in completely different ways depending on genre and sex of the author? Do you think about this kind of “Mash-Up” or opening lines at all when you’re immersing yourself in the stories you read—and really why should you if you’re immersed? If you have a favorite, “Mash-Up”, please share, I’d love to experience it!

Happy Reading, and for those of you who write as well, may your words shine brightly and be received with love!


I Love Books

book reviewNow, since this is a writers blog it may seem a little Captain Obvious, but I really, really love books. Since this is the month of love with Valentine’s Day I thought I would share a little of my first love affair: books. I learned to read at 2 1/2 years old and I haven’t stopped since. I’ve been known to read the cereal box at breakfast. I always have my Nook or Kindle for lunch time. Can’t believe I had to spend so many years trying to read and eat and hold a paperback book at the same time. LOL

I read 3 to 4 books at a time. I have one in most rooms of my house so wherever I am, I have a book to read. Some on the dining room table, one or two on the couch for when the husband is watching the fifth hour of Sports Center, and a few on my nightstand for bedtime reading, along with the ereaders, unless they are charging. I finish 3 to 4 books a week. My B&N book expense is HUGE!

My favorite reads are historical romance. I have always been a history buff and to add romance to history is the ultimate love affair. I miss the days of sweeping Civil War sagas like Heather Graham’s One Wore Blue series. For some reason, apparently TPTB (The Powers That Be) have declared the Civil War dead as an historical era for romance novels. I’m sorry, but a time when lines where drawn and you had to decide on a side with the consequences being life and death and the loss of everything you held dear was a time full of conflict. Throw in a woman who was on the other side of the line and you had the makings of a conflict-driven mega-romance story.

Now that I’m a published author I love the books I write as well. Add in self-publishing which means I can write anything I want and I’m happier than a kitten with a ball of yarn or a reader with an endless supply of books. Between reading and writing I can spend most days in a fantasy world of my own imagination. And just maybe, someday, I’ll be brave enough to tackle the writing of my own historical romance novel.

Because I love books!!

Jill James, writer of contemporary and paranormal romance
My newest release: Love in the Time of Zombies

Happy Valentine’s Day (and check out my new release)

Valentine’s Day – one day a year that’s dedicated to the celebration of love. What better theme could there be for a romance novel?

I’ve just released Forever Your ValentiValentine cover test font.inddne, the third book in my Eastport series. The heroine of this story is Faith, who appears in the first book, Secret Vow, as Brooke’s childhood best friend, and shows up again as a minor character in Kiss the Bridesmaid. Forever Your Valentine gives Faith her own love story, and gave me the opportunity to delve into her somewhat prickly character, formed by a troubled past and the resulting insecurities I’d only hinted at in the first two books.

The story begins on Valentine’s Day. Faith is newly divorced, having discovered her husband’s infidelity exactly a year ago. Though she’d rather try to ignore the holiday, her friend drags her out to a pub. There she meets Cole McKenna, a former pro hockey player who now works as a scout for the NHL. Attraction crackles between them, but Cole’s a confirmed bachelor whose career keeps him on the road most of the year. With her heart still mending from her divorce, Faith resolves to keep her relationship with Cole strictly platonic—a pledge that becomes harder to keep as they grow closer. After a day trip to a romantic island leads to a night of passion, they both discover feelings they aren’t quite ready to acknowledge. Will that one night together ruin their friendship, or could they be falling in love?

Forever Your Valentine is now available for 99 cents!

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Visit my website at to find out more about me and my other books.

Valentine’s Day–Love it or Leave it?

Valentine’s Day is this Saturday. I used to love it and looked forward to it with anticipation. But it’s lost its attraction over the past few years. Not because of anything the hubby has done or hasn’t done, but because I’m so tired of all the “Hallmark Holidays.” You’d think a romance writer would be more enthusiastic, wouldn’t you?

I still remember the best Valentine’s Days over the years. Hubby has never been one to spend a lot of money (because we’ve never had a lot), but he always came up with the perfect thing. One year it was a rose bush planted in our yard–so I could have roses all the time and not just for a few days. Another year it was a gardenia bush planted outside our bedroom window because I loved the scent.

One year we were both in college, with two kids under 3 years old, and living on bologna sandwiches. He really splurged that year and brought home two steaks. Never had anything taste so good.

We’ve never taken romantic trips, gone out on the town, or splurged on expensive restaurant meals for Valentine’s Day. We prefer to stay home and maybe fix a special meal. The last couple of years, though, we’ve mostly said Happy Valentine’s Day, exchanged candy (or maybe nothing at all), and that’s been enough.

What about you? Do you go all out to celebrate the holiday? Do you ignore it completely? Or are you somewhere in between?


When You Suffer One of Those Why Do You Bother Sort of Days

Ever have one of those why do I bother sort of days?
Do you ever look at your writer friends wonder what makes them get up in the morning, why do they have the ability to sit at the computer and write story after story? What feeds their motivation and how can I get some that to come my way?
And if you can’t/won’t write, then maybe you’re like me, and you read. You pick up a bestselling, award winning book and read about half of it. Hate it. Because it’s not yours. You don’t know if you can finish the novel you started—the unbestselling, nonaward winning one you’re (not) writing, or you were writing. Past tense writing.

little prince 1

And you’re gripped by self doubt. You wonder if you should be feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, engaging in a crusade to save an endangered species. But you don’t know how to do those things. You know how to write stories.
Remember how in English class your teacher would put a picture on wall and ask everyone to write about it? And even though all of the students saw the same picture, they each wrote a different story?
Stories and people are like that. You and I might sit in the exact same lecture hall, listen to the same professor, but chances are, your notes will look different than mine. We might attend the same party, witness the same crime, or fall in love with the same guy, but what we write in our diaries about the party, crime or guy will be different. Because we’re different. Unique. And we every situation we see is colored by the glasses of our experiences.

little prince 2

A conversation I had with a (heterosexual) friend after a yoga class demonstrates this perfectly. She once admitted that at yoga she often looks at the other women’s boobs. Huh. I thought that was fascinating because, I told her, that I often look at their butts. We decided that she looked at boobs because, being flat chested, she envied them, and I looked at butts because I wished mine was smaller.
What does this have to do with writing? It’s way too easy to compare our writing to another’s and see the plot holes, the clunky dialogue, or the awkward sentence. Often when we write, we’ll read over the first draft and mutter swear words. What we need to keep in mind is this—each stories is uniquely our own. No one else can tell your story like you can.
And there are some stories that will resonate with millions of people. And there are some stories that will touch the hearts of only a few. And that’s okay. As John Donne wrote, no man is an island. If your story makes even one person’s day a little brighter, you’ve done an amazing thing. Because that one cheered person carrying your book might be a little nicer, a little kinder, and a little more patient. And the world be a better place.
As writers, and as people, we can’t see where we’re going. It’s like running on a foggy day—one foot, or one sentence in front of the other. The only thing we can be sure of, if we stop running or writing, we’ll get nowhere pretty fast. (And our butts will get bigger.)
So, writer friends, in an effort to vanquish discouragement, here’s an opportunity to toot your own horn. Please post one line from one of your favorite review. (Preferably one not written by your mom.) Feel free to share a buy link.
I’ll start.
SQUEE!! I absolutely LOVED this book! It was truly impossible to put down and I can’t wait to read the next one. I loved the characters, I loved the storyline, and I loved how unique this book was. 2 copy (2)

A Balanced Working Parent, Ugh! – Giveaway!l

Triton playing Sax

Triton Playing Sax

Being a mom is my most important job. Everything else and everyone else, comes second. I figure in about a decade I will have a life of my own, LOL! 🙂

Some days this clear-cut statement is harder to navigate that others – I need to work to take care of my child, but I also need to be there for him. And so the balancing act goes like this:

Last Friday I was scheduled to host a Facebook event on Hooks & Books page. Facebook events are fun and a great opportunity to meet and visit with current and new readers. Before I was doing my own, they seemed pretty easy and not all that time-consuming, beyond the 1-2 hours an author was chatting with the group.

The reality is that they take prep work; you have to write the posts ahead of time (well I do), so they are easily accessed and posted in a timely manner to the page. You have to set aside those 1-2 hours with little interruption so you don’t miss anything and/or leave a comment by a valued reader without a like or comment. You have to arrange prizes, get links set up, look for memes or photos of celebs to chat about, some of us make our own memes which takes time, as well. Suddenly, that 1-2 hours is now 3-4 hours where you aren’t writing your new book. So, there is a commitment made. All marketing is time-consuming – writing isn’t just about writing these days. Sad, but true! 🙂

So, back to my event last week. When I set up the event, my calendar was clear. My son’s basketball practice was cancelled, for its usual Friday slot, and so I scheduled the event to discuss my One Day at a Wedding Series. Then my son was asked to move up to the Pep Band and play with the high school kids (along w/ a couple of 8th graders). My son, Triton, is only in 7th grader and picked up an instrument for the first time just this past September. So, it’s a BIG DEAL that he was asked to play in the Pep Band as a first year student. I am very proud of him. The problem…their first game was Friday the 30th.

What is a parent to do? There is some liberation in the fact that I am a writer and essentially I work for myself. I make my schedule. But, I also want to be a succesful writer, one who can be counted on to meet deadlines, show up at events and be available to readers. My first thought was okay; I will set up posts, schedule them, and just do the event from my mobile phone, at the basketball game, while I watch the band. I have actually had to do Facebook events from my iPhone before, due to rescheduled basketball practices or games. So, it’s possible. But my level of engagement is certainly not as high.

Then the mom in me kicked in and said, how great would it to be feeling really special and look up in the stands to make sure your mom is watching you and instead see her looking down at her phone? Not so great. Here is the dilemma for working parents, focus on work to take of the material needs (inc. basic food/water/shelter) AND focus on their emotional well-being. It a choice all parents make, all the time.

In this case I opted to reschedule my event, last-minute, which I felt bad for doing. In an effort to make amends I did offer a giveaway to the site and those that were interested. That giveaway went really well and I was happy to see such a nice response and interest in getting a free copy of my series One Day at a Wedding. Even better was the look of pride on my son’s face, as I watched him play in the high school band. Sitting there in the stands, watching him was the only place I wanted to be. People in our small town were all telling me how great he was and I got to video the band to send home to our family in California. It was a great night and my son was beaming. I sure would have hated to miss that.

It’s a balancing act and the reality is that sometimes we are going to have to pick work over time spent with the kids. It’s just the way the world works, now that we can all access work from home, at night and on the weekends. All parents have to make tough choices, no matter what your line of work is, we face the balance. I am glad that last friday I was able to pick watching a high school band. My kid was awesome.



For a chance to win a copy of the first book in my One Day at a Wedding Series, Once Upon a Wedding, please leave a comment below about your most recent balancing act and a winner will be randomly chosen to win an eBook copy.

For more information about my books please take a moment to check out my website and look me up on Facebook for news about this series, the paperback coming out soon and future work,

Thank you for stopping by today, we always appreciate our readers who visit. Make sure to comment and good luck on winning a free eBook from us today. See you on my next post.

Wishing you well, in fiction and real life

Kelly Rae

facebook cover photo - Weddings

Romance And The Farmer’s Almanac


Have you ever flipped through the pages of a farmer’s almanac? These things are crazy prescient when it comes to predicting the weather. Instead of oft-wrong computer models we usually rely on, the information inside an almanac is culled from centuries of observing nature–and go way beyond ‘red sky in the morning, take warning’ sayings.


The width of color bands on woolly caterpillars can predict the harshness of winter accurately 80% of the time. Or noticing how high off the ground a bees nest in a tree is can hint at the coming winter. That, along with a whole host of signs and signals in nature, can be found in an almanac. How cool is that?

An almanac doesn’t just contain information about the weather–but is full of planting guides, recipes, folklore, and stargazing tips. But does it say anything about love?

harvestYep! From courting according to moon lore, to a plethora of time-honored tips for finding a mate (“pluck a stalk of yarrow and stick it up your nose. If a drop of blood appears, your love is true”…or “place a snail in a pan of cornmeal, and the tracks it makes will spell your true love’s initials“), a farmer’s almanac can lead the way to love and romance (“in Elizabethan times, prunes were so highly regarded as aphrodisiacs that they were served for free in brothels.”)


And such information is especially helpful in these long weeks between Groundhog Day and the First Day of Spring.

Or you could read romance novels. That would work, too.