Fall is Here by Pepper Phillips

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Want to do something smaller and cheaper than a pumpkin? Try a Satsuma. These beauties came from our own trees.

I love the fall. I miss the different colored leaves however. I remember growing up in Maryland, and the gorgeous fall display of fallen leaves. I think that Maple trees had the best ones. They would range from yellow, to orange to red, all from the same tree.

There are certain days when the weather is dry and the leaves are super crunchy when you walk through them.

Here in the deep South, you might get one day when you have those dry leaves. Soon, the pecans will start to fall from the trees. You will be sitting outside and hear a nut drop to the ground. I finally figured the easiest way to harvest pecans is to rake under the tree, then sit down on a boat cushion and move the leaves to get to the nuts hiding underneath. The standing and bending over to pick up each one doesn’t work for me anymore!

The summer garden is gone. We don’t have a winter garden, due to the fact that hunting season starts next month.

The alligator season is already finished, as the hubby filled out his five tags. (You have to have a special tag to kill an alligator.) This year I accused him of feeding the gators as they managed to steal the bait several times before they were ‘hooked’. And no. The hubby does not wrestle alligators. Only nutcases would do that, and with a small gator at that. What do we do with the alligators? There is a woman who buys them for the skin and meat. You are paid by the foot. The bigger the gator, the more you get.

All the church and school fairs have begun or will be held next month. These are big fund raisers and I’ll deal with one next month. It’s amazing what a concentrated effort on the part of volunteers can accomplish when they choose to work together for a common purpose.

Until next time, enjoy the life in your ‘small town’ whether it is a neighborhood or a real town.

Pepper Phillips

A Historical Event

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Don’t let yourself go numb.
What you think is not what counts. What you do is what counts.
Get out and help the others.
Are we capable of counting our blessings?

These were the first suggestions, advice or orders that Pope Francis delivered in his speeches in Washington, DC.

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I have been glued to the TV for the last three days watching the Pope’s visit to Washington, DC and now to New York.

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What a great man, so noble and yet so humble, riding his little Fiat or the famous popemobile. I wished I could have seen him live, but I watched every minute of his appearances on TV here in the USA. His arrival in Andrews Airport, his visit to the White House, the service at St. Matthew Cathedral, and the canonization mass at the Basilica.

 

Today the Pope was amazing when he delivered his talk at the Congress.

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Here it is, reported by Elise Viebeck, a reporter for The Washington Pos.

“The visit was a historic moment for Congress. No pope had ever visited Capitol Hill, let alone addressed a joint meeting of the chambers. As a result, leaders prepared their members with specific instructions: No touching the pope. No flash photography. No selfies. No cheering.

 

Compared with a typical joint session, lawmakers hewed fairly close to this guidance. The normal hollering you’d expect during a State of the Union address was all but absent. Lawmakers sat like chastised children for the first 10 minutes of the speech. Apparently there were a handful of cellphones that rung, but the noise was not picked up by TV cameras.

Imagine how much worse it could have been. As a precaution, leaders installed a thick layer of polite and decorum-conscious lawmakers around the center aisle. This prevented publicity-hungry members — or those simply caught up in the moment — from trying to touch, hug or kiss the pope. No such moments took place, to leaders’ great relief.

Pope Francis opened the speech with a reference to the “land of the free and the home of the brave,” which brought everyone to their feet, including the normally reticent members of the Supreme Court. Members stood after the Pope called America the “land of dreams,” after he invoked the golden rule–“Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.” — and after he praised the virtues of family life.

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Some looked down at their phones. Some tweeted pictures (Reps. Tim Huelskamp, Tom Graves and Karen Bass). At least one member whooped (Rep. Nydia Velazquez). There was partisan applause and unnecessary clapping.

 

 

 

 

Perhaps most visibly affected by the remarks was Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), whose face remained in a perpetual grimace as he tried to stop his tears. The speaker finally crackIMG_0630ed on the West Front, as the pontiff prayed for the crowd.

Speaking in Spanish, Pope Francis greeted listeners (“Buenos dias”) and prayed for God to bless the children present and their families. As the pope asked the crowd to pray for him and send him good wishes, Boehner lost it. He stood between Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)–proudly displaying her little golden cross around her neck– blowing his nose and wiping his face with a white handkerchief.”

 

SRR2+Xmas+FinalSweet Christmas Kisses 2 takes you from the Smoky Mountains to Florida’s sun-drenched beaches, from the Italian Alps to Paris, France, and even to a quirky little town in Arizona. The Sweet Christmas Kisses 2 bundle features all-new, stand-alone stories that are sure to make you laugh, sometimes bring tears to your eyes, but always put you in the Christmas spirit.

 

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My contribution to this box is:

Christmas Papa by Mona Risk, New York Times, USA Today, National bestselling and Award-winning author.

With twin toddlers to care for, she can’t forget her past until a playboy’s kisses challenge her to believe in herself.

Out Of The Mist – Take My Breath Away

Last week at the lake proved, restful, uplifting and productive, both for my soul and for my writing.

Uplifting because, Mother Nature provided spectacular images of her splendor. One evening when I stepped out on the deck, the sight took my breath.
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While I snapped away, my phone rang, and the sunset changed rapidly, from the above photo to the one below.

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We all know how loud ducks are, and while they continued to quack, they became my alarm clock the next morning. This misty scene is what welcomed me.

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I couldn’t get all the ducks in the photo, but I counted at least forty-five, all in various situations. The ducks and haze reminded me of writing.

While many characters remain just out of sight, they still have a part in bringing a storyline together. Some characters are nothing more than author walk-ons, whether it’s lending author mood setting or background information. The reader never sees them, but somehow they play a part of character action. Maybe it’s why one character bites her nails and another character would never be caught dead biting hers.

When a story isn’t coming together, the author can’t see through the haze. It’s mind-boggling. It’s frustrating. When the mist finally lifts, the author writes furiously to jot down the next scene that plays out. At times the scene works, other times it doesn’t, but out of the mist comes light. And through light, we see clearly, at least clearly enough to work through a stalled scene and maybe through to the end. If not, there’s always another mist and a lifting of the haze that releases our muse.

What are your thoughts on looking through the mist? I’d love hearing from you!

Thanks for joining us and reading!

My books are available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords.
You can find links on my website for all My Books

Happy Holidays from Susan R. Hughes

Is it too soon to think about the upcoming holidays? Here is Ottawa, mornings and evenings are chilly and I’ve noticed a few trees starting to change colour, but we’ve had a spell of hot, humid weather that feels more like mid-summer than fall. Even so, I’ve noticed that store back-to-school displays are slowly being replaced by racks of Halloween decorations, costumes and candy.

Even if you aren’t quite ready to think about fall and winter, it’s never too soon to load a few brand-new holiday books into your e-reader, especially when you can get them for 99 cents on pre-order.

My new novella, Halloween KissesHalloween.indd, will be released October 6, but you can pre-order your copy now on Amazon.

One kiss can change everything. Dulcie has had a secret crush on her co-worker Rowan for ages, but she’s too shy to let him know, and preoccupied with raising her rebellious teenage sister. When she bumps into him in the darkness of a haunted barn, she can’t resist stealing just one kiss.
That kiss enchants Rowan. If only he could figure out the identity of the woman whose kiss haunts him. While running from a troubled past, he may find that the woman he least suspects could lead him out of the dark forever.

SRR2+Xmas+FinalYou can get my other brand-new novella The Christmas Charm as part of the boxed set Sweet Christmas Kisses 2. Due for release September 29, this set gives you nineteen  holiday stories for a buck. My fellow Main Street author Mona Risk has also contributed to the set. Pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes and Google. There’s nothing like curling up with a heartwarming romance on a cold winter’s night.

Wishing you the best this upcoming holiday season. Can’t you just smell the hot apple cider already?

Guilty Pleasures by Joan Reeves

Guilty PleasuresI guess everyone has at least one guilty pleasure. Me? I have so many that I’ve categorized them. Today, I’m sharing my collection of guilty pleasures with you.

Sweets

Some people love ice cream. I can go for months without eating ice cream , pudding, cheesecake, or pie, but a warm blueberry muffin fresh out of the oven and slathered with butter just floats my boat. Frequency? Once in a blue moon.

Drinks

As long as I have my morning cup of Dunkin’ Donuts, I can leap tall buildings in a single bound. My liquid refreshments usually include said coffee, lots of water, and occasional iced teas. My downfall is Dr. Pepper and Coca Cola. I can’t even risk a single draw on the soda straw so I abstain completely. Usually. Frequency? Maybe once a month when I have my next guilty pleasure…

Fast Food

A Dr. Pepper is my beverage of choice with an A-1 Thick and Hearty Burger from Whataburger, a mostly Texas chain, or a Texas Burger, from the fast food restaurant of the same name, where the burgers are Angus beef from Nolan Ryan‘s ranch about 30 miles south of Houston. (For those who may not be baseball fans, Nolan Ryan is a Hall of Fame pitcher. Now retired, he raises Angus cattle.) Frequency: only when on a car trip.

Television/Movies

Television guilty pleasures come and go. Frequency: once a week in the summer for Ninja. The others, during the week in prime time season if there’s time. If there’s not, I DVR the shows at my country place and catch up when I’m up there.

Currently, these are on my radar:

American Ninja Warrior (If I were younger, I would totally go out for this.)

The Blacklist (Love the convoluted story lines that are all tied together.)

Criminal Minds (I like the characters interaction and growth over the years, the small relationship bits and the crime-solving process. Hate the on-screen sadistic details. Seriously. I wonder sometimes if sexual sadists watch these shows for vicarious thrills.

Blue Bloods (Hey, if Tom Selleck is in it, then it’s believable and likable. Great ensemble cast, good police procedural, and good character interaction in realistic situations.)

Fixer Upper (This HGTV design program is set in Waco, Texas, a relatively short drive from our country place. I love the rapport between Chip and Joanna, the married couple who fix up ordinary houses into spectacular, comfortable homes. I wish they’d come visit me in Houston and re-do my kitchen. )

Netflix, Amazon Prime, & Other Video Streaming

I’m just going to mention 2 old TV series that are binge-watching worthy: Stargate SG1 and Stargate Atlantis. I’ve seen every episode several times, but I never get tired of this series that showed a woman who was intrepid, honorable, and never backed down. I’m talking about Col. Samantha Carter as portrayed in SG1 by Amanda Tapping. I’ve read that Carter is now a popular name for baby girls. I think all those mommies are Sam Carter fans. Frequency: when I’m in a funk and want to throw the computer out the window.

Books

I’m always so busy that reading itself has become a guilty pleasure. There’s just not enough time to read all the books in my To Be Read pile so I have to sneak a few minutes here and there.

Of course, a lot of readers might name romance novels as their guilty pleasure. If that’s you, then may I offer for your consideration, my romantic comedy Nobody’s Cinderella. In this contemporary comedy, Darcy Benton has a guilty pleasure: playing an old arcade game version of PacMan at her local supermarket. One night when she’s indulging in this favorite pastime and gets herself in quite a predicament.

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A crush on the boss; a wish on a star… Uh oh!

Nobody’s Cinderella is available at most ebook sellers including Amazon Kindle. It’s also available as an audiobook from Audible.

Post Script

Joan Reeves is a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance. She lives her “happily ever after” with her husband in the Lone Star State. Visit Joan at her Amazon Author PageSlingWords, her blog; and sign up for Wordplay, her email mailing list.

Living and Writing what we love

I’m not sure we gravitate toward what we know as writers, although parts of our personalities litter the pages whether we wish them to or not. I am sure we write about what we love. And, we write what we hate and what we see as injustice – large and small.

GWTWSo maybe it’s more accurate to say as writers we strive to write with passion, with a depth of feeling, whether we’re writing a sweeping saga like GONE WITH THE WIND, or a funny, revealing look at modern relationship like, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.WHMS

That’s why I write about communities – a small town community, Shute Pond, populated by the quirky, often good and sometimes nefarious characters. And, my Warrior Chronicles series, where my love for everything Celtic plays center stage.

If passion makes fiction – and I’d argue most non-fiction – more captivating – then passionate writing is what I hope to excel at.

Writing passionately or doing whatever our job is, with the goal of doing it well, is universal and something few would question.

As my parents would say: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”

So, I’ve been wondering since I’ve lost them, why I haven’t put this axiom to work regarding not just my work, but my life.

It’s time.

LFLNow I’m vowing to live passionately. I will make that small books are free ‘Little Library’. I will run all of those 5K’s that are for worthy causes. I will travel more and worry less. I will try to live the stories I love to write – but only the good parts.

More about Scotland to come. There is much to digest and chronicle into some semblance of order.

What warms your heart and stirs your soul–what is your passion?

Blessings to you all,

Leigh

How to Write a Novel in Thirty Minutes

I came across this link to famous writers’ outlines, and because I liked it, I thought I’d share mine, as well.

I used to hate outlining, because I felt it took away the thrill of discovery, but now I love it. I’ve also learned that I really like having my outline on one piece of paper. Somehow, that makes it more manageable and tidy for me.

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This reminded me of a workshop I taught a few years ago, and because I’m in a sharing mood, here it is. I called it How to Write a Novel in Thirty Minutes (my workshop was 30 minutes long. I don’t think anyone can write a novel in thirty minutes.)

Like an orange, a story is made of separate and distinct parts. We call these sections scenes. Each scene, like every novel, needs a character with a goal. There are many scenes within the classic three act story.

I was taught, and I still believe it to be true, that in a healthy relationship emotional intimacy is closely tied to physical intimacy. If things happen in a civilized manner, physical intimacy progresses hand in hand with emotional intimacy. Interesting, but what does emotional and physical intimacy have to do with writing a book? Well, this synchronization is also important with character development and story structure–the  character arc needs be in sync with the plot’s momentum. This is crucial to remember when writing a romance, but it’s important to keep in mind when writing any story. I’ll use my novel The Rhyme’s Library, a mystery, as an example.

Act 1

In the opening scene, Blair’s brooding about her bad boyfriend is interrupted by a child who needs help  rescuing a kitten.

Recap: scene 1

We’re introduced to Blair. We empathize with her because we’ve all had a bad boyfriend (or two) and who wouldn’t like someone who helps children and small animals?

Scene 2

Blair goes to the basement in search of a box to hold kitten on the drive home and finds her crazy aunt Charlotte’s dead body. This is the inciting incident—or the part of the story that disrupts Blair’s everyday world. This the point of no return.

Scene 3

When Blair realizes that she’s not alone in the library and that the other person in the library maybe responsible for her aunt’s death, she runs. In her hurry she bumps into our hero, Alec Rawlings. This is called the meet-cute—which is not a term for attractive hamburger or a juicy steak. The Urban Dictionary describes the meet-cute as the scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better)

Is that the end of Act 1? No. We still need to meet all the other players, the potential murderers, the police, the friends of the library, members of the band, and bad boyfriend, Drake. Recap, of Act 1. In Act 1 we introduce Blair, her everyday world and the inciting incident that disrupts her world. Act 1 ends when Blair is pushed off the cliff and she realizes these things:

  1. The police are not going to investigate Charlotte’s death.
  2. Her own sanity and safety are in danger.
  3. Drake is married. (Because, remember, this is just not a novel about discovering who killed Aunt Charlotte, it’s also a story about Blair discovering who she is and what she needs in a healthy relationship.)

Blair comes face to face with Drake’s new wife in the scene immediately following her dive off the cliff, because the character arc and story momentum are hand in hand, just like emotional and physical intimacy.

The first part of Act 2 is sometimes called the wandering phase. This is where Blair needs to do all she can to discover who killed Aunt Charlotte and why. She cleans out the basement, searches for clues, interviews her aunt’s agent, old friends, and suspicious characters. She is learning everything and anything about Aunt Charlotte and possible motives for the murder. Simultaneously, she is also learning about herself.

The second half of Act 2 happens when Blair has learned everything she needs to know. She realizes she’s strong enough and smart enough to catch the killer. .This is her “ha-ha moment.” She also confronts Drake and because she’s suspicious of Alec, she gets rid of him as well. (Because, remember, this is not just a story about Aunt Charlotte’s murder.) Blair formulates and executes a plan and it works beautifully, but the blackmailer is not the killer. This is called the false victory. Watch for it. It happens in almost every action film.

Blair resumes her normal life, but of course, there is no peace when murderers run loose, and soon Blair meets the killer. Because this is a mystery, there is the final reveal when the killer spills all the secrets and the inevitable black moment, when everything is lost and Blair is looking down the barrel of a gun. Only she can save herself.

Act 3, the dénouement, or final resolution, is where order is restored to Blair’s world. It’s not so different from before, but the murderer has been captured, Blair is stronger, wiser and bad boyfriend free, and because this story has a healthy dose of romance, Blair’s story ends with a kiss.

As all good stories should.

How about you? Do you love or hate outlining? Would you be willing to share your outline?