Ma’am. A Southern Form of Polite Address

Some days you’re just out of sorts. Ya know? Have you ever been there? I’m willing to bet you have.

Yesterday was one of those days…and today hasn’t proven to be much better.

With a lot going on today and even more tomorrow, I showered and dressed in old shorts and top this morning, then shoved my feet into a pair of old sandals. No one would see me right?

Well, worse my freshly washed hair, had already air dried after the shower. I gave no thought of how it would look to anyone else, and simply ran a brush through it with a promise to do something with it later. I’m the only one in the house, right? Now I have fine, thin hair these days…but clean it looks thicker and easier to manage. It does help when I at least take the time to blow dry and give it a light spray.

I’d prepared enough dinner last night so hubby wouldn’t starve tonight, since he hadn’t agreed to go on a liquid diet with me. Whatever made me think he would? Since I’m on a liquid diet all day and until around four tomorrow afternoon, all I could think of was a bag of popcorn to munch on while I worked at the computer. Oops! Not one bite of food could I consume. Not a happy camper here.

There isn’t much to munch on when it’s liquid, Bouillon gives me protein and there is a bit of flavor. Chicken Bouillon, Beef Bouillon, I’d had enough. I gaze into the lime Jello I’d made, but it is too soft to fulfill the need to crunch down on something. I love eating ice, but then I remembered I’d purchased Italian Ice, which satisfied me for the moment, but decided to make a quick run to the grocery store to see what else I could find.

The need was so great that I forgot how I was dressed, not to mention the state my hair was in. I grabbed my wallet and keys, then jumped into the car.

I pulled in next to a handicap parking space. Great, I won’t have to walk too far. I was about to pass the empty handicap space when a little lady pulling into the space caused me to stop and wait for her to park before I tried to go around. (Actually I was afraid she might run over me the way she kept pulling back and forth.) Poor thing. But then I don’t really think she should have been driving in the first place. To make things worse, she sat so far down in the seat, she could barely look over the steering wheel. Dangerous, I thought. I wanted to ask if I could help, but didn’t want to insult her. So I didn’t.

As I’m about to enter the store, a young man asks me if I need any help. What? Did I really look as though I needed help? “No, but thank you,” I say.

I go to get a buggy and it was stuck. So I go to another, which was also stuck. A nice middle aged lady says, “Here, let me help you.” By now…being helped…played heavy on my mind. She jerked the buggy and out it came as easily as though it had been sprayed with WD-40.

I headed for the vegetable section to grab a head of lettuce for salad tomorrow night. I pulled off a plastic bag and dropped it. Yes, I dropped it. I bend down to pick it up to throw in the trash. An elderly man all but butts me in the head. “I’ll get that,” he says. I thank him, and instead of Iceberg lettuce, I grab a bag of Romaine lettuce and go forward in my search for anything that’s crunchable and liquid.

As fate would have it, wouldn’t you know, I run into a lady from our neighborhood. We chat for a few minutes and I excuse myself.

“Are you feeling okay?” she asks as I turn to walk away.

By now I’m beginning to get the picture.

I grab more Jello and another box of sugar-free Popsicles, then head to the check-out. I wanted out of the store, quick.

While I’m checking out, a little boy behind me, maybe nine or ten, says, “I’ll unload your buggy, Ma’am.” He was such a sweetie, all I could do was thank him. He was so proud of himself, as was his mother.

I wanted to cry. Ma’am. I’ve noticed I get this a lot lately. Do you think it has anything to do with the natural gray streak that’s extremely noticeable when I style the left side of my hair?

Okay. I promise myself not to go anywhere ever again without first making myself presentable. Ha. This is from the person who, when younger, wouldn’t even go to the mailbox without make-up!

I gotta run. There’s a Pineapple Popsicle in my future.

I wish you love, butterflies and music.

Links to my books, available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Kobo, Apple and Smashwords, can be found here: http://caroldevaney.weebly.com/my-books.html

Why Should I Know About the Women of Scotland Yard

by Stephanie Queen

BeachcomberFirstSeriesFree FB AdIt’s all because of a story, more precisely a character named Shana George who happens to be a Special Investigator with the Scotland Yard—also known as the Metropolitan Police—in their Specialist Operations Counter Terrorism Command. Before I wrote the story, The Beachcombers, a romantic suspense novel, I had to do some research. I moved Shana to Martha’s Vineyard as part of the Scotland Yard Exchange Program with Boston (that’s a whole other story), but first I had to find out all about women in the Scotland Yard.

What do women really do at the Yard?   The answer is: Everything.

From Matrons to Women’s Police Service to their current day status as Officers, women can now be found in every role in the Metropolitan Police Service—more commonly known in the states as Scotland Yard

It all started in 1883 when a female visitor was appointed by the then Metropolitan Police Force to attend to female convicts. Six years later, fourteen more women were hired and they were called the Matrons. In 1914 Scotland Yard set up women patrols known as Voluntary Women Patrols to control all the women coming to town to hang around army camps. Then in 1918 when women were given the vote—women over 30 that is—the Met started recruiting women officially to deal with female criminals and children.

In 1922, When women officers were cut, Mr. Shortt M.P. said in the House of Commons that policemen’s wives could do Women Police Work. Lady Astor retorted that police did not choose their wives for patrolling streets or escorting prisoners. . In 1923 fifty officers were re-sworn, and this time with full powers of arrest,

Fast forward to the 1970s, with attitudes toward women changing, women officers were mixed with the men on all shifts and departments and new specialist mixed gender teams. Today women officers are assigned to every role within the Service including some of the highest ranks.

Of course Shana George is a superstar with “skills” and you can read all about that in The Beachcombers, which is currently FREE, and in the Beachcomber Investigations series books including the most recent release Beachcomber Trouble.

Visit Stephanie Queen’s website at www.StephanieQueen.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Stephanie-Queen-198484900209330/timeline/.

Links for a FREE copy of The Beachcombers:

Amazon         KOBO          iBooks

 

Politics and Writing

With the election debates, rallies, interviews, I bet you have been watching the news more than usual. I know I did.

Surprisingly, the political candidates demonstrated that they share several qualities. The lessons I learned as an author can be implemented in various professions.

Lesson One: Political candidates never take a break. They are so much on the go, we wonder if they ever find time to sleep, sit for a dinner or talk to their families.

Keep writing. Book after book.

Lesson Two: They are incredibly perseverant. Even if there is no hope, they keep going. Criticism, insults or negative ads by an opponent don’t seem to affect them. They never let a loss or a low percentage in the polls stop them from campaigning.

Don’t let low sales, bad rates or negative reviews affect our creativity.

Lesson Three: They are all over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and various social media to publicize their message and be visible.

A daily post on Facebook and Twitter are a must.

Lesson Four: Since they can’t be everywhere, they keep a campaign staff to help spread their message.

Network and belong to a group that can re-tweet and share your posts on Facebook; and a street team to post reviews.

I am writing this post as an advice for myself as much as for you.

Since we will celebrate Mother’s Day in two weeks, I will share with you my MOTHER’S DAY BABIES. Available for 99 cents at Amazon.com,

http://tinyurl.com/cz3v5a8

This book is dedicated to the mothers we celebrate and  those we remember with love on Mother’s Day.

N Y T M-MothersDayBabies (3)Blurb: A widow for seven years, Barbara Ramsay lives for her five daughters and their babies. Powerful TV News Director, Lou Roland, is certainly not marriage material, yet he has suddenly decided he wants Barbara in his arms. Not an easy task when his pretty confidante from Kentucky proves so difficult to date, unless he follows her rules. Can the over-fifty confirmed bachelor and the widow loyal to her husband’s memory find true love and share a future?

my newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/111038/join

www.monarisk.com

 

 

EMBRACE THE DANCE

2015_TBT_Morganne_BallerinaI have had some crazy ideas at times, but restarting ballet at this stage of my life isn’t one of them. I started martial arts the day I started practicing law, so I wouldn’t go berserk from the stress and punch some idiot. Now, twenty-five years and five black belts later, I still kick and punch and I haven’t hit a judge or a fellow counselor yet, although there have been moments when I’ve dreamed about it. More than once.

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What has this got to do with ballet? A lot actually. Martial arts is hard, especially for a woman who’d spent her entire life training to be polite, kind, compassionate and well….a lady. A fundamentally uncoordinated lady. Walking into my dojo (karate school) for the first time was intimidating. If I’m honest, it still is intimidating every time I learn a new form or try to wield a new weapon. I’m used to looking and feeling like an idiot on the dojo floor. How different could being on the dance floor actually be?

Well, as it turns out, very. Flowing movement armed isn’t quite the same as flowing movement in ballet slippers, but it’s fun!

I’m not the oldest person in class, which was encouraging all on its own. I also have a wonderful benefit in that my seventeen year old son who has been in the dojo his entire life and hence is very secure in who he is as a man, has joined me on the dance floor. He’s wonderful—far more talented than I am. When we—more often it’s me—screw up, we laugh together which is really quite cool.

tap dance

What I really want to learn is how to tap dance. I’m still searching for anyone who teaches tap to adult beginners. For now though, ballet and modern dance will do. The teachers at the dance school are avidly trying to recruit my son and his mom into signing up for Latin dance. We’ll see. There’s a lot of tossing around of the ladies that I’ve seen when I spy on the private lessons before ballet class. It looks like a hoot! I think I’ll have to lose ten or more pounds first :).

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So what’s the point of this blog? I guess it’s my hope that if you have a desire to dance, or to learn self-defense, or heck—learn to ride a motorcycle (did that in my thirties after a short stint of riding at 19 silently praying the entire class and calling myself all sorts of crazy), that you do it. Life is short. Being here is a gift. Be kind to yourself and do what you want to do when you can.

hot party

Blessings to you all, and when you get the chance, “…I hope you dance…”! Please share some of your experiences that seemed like dipping your toes in the “crazy pool” at the time. I’d love to hear them!

Happy Spring.

Leigh

Yard Work by Susan R. Hughes

After a long winter, there’s nothing like the first warm, sunny spring day. A week ago, I wore my heavy winter coat to go out and the cold wind froze my hands. Today I was overheating in my shorts. Spring has sprung quite suddenly, and wonderful as it is, the melted snow brings a multitude of chores that have to be done.

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Little Helpers

Today we finally took down the Christmas lights off the gutters. Next, the girls and I raked the yard and pruned some dead plants, before heading to the park for some leisure time. We’ll get back to work next weekend. There’s a fence that needs mending, deck repairs that we put off last fall, edging in the garden that’s rotted and looks terrible, overgrown trees that need to be removed. The planting beds need to be cleaned up and mulched to make way for the perennials that have started to push out of the ground.

In the summer, when the grass starts to grow like crazy, along with the weeds, it’s harder to keep up—especially when the weather gets hot and you’d rather just sit in the shade with a cool drink. All the work is worth it when my purple irises bloom, then the hostas, the bright orange poppies, the pink hydrangeas, and finally the phlox. My favourites are the yellow flowers beside the deck—I planted them myself but I don’t remember what they’re called. They blooms for weeks and they are gorgeous.

My garden will never win any prizes. It’s always overgrown. But it’s the best I can manage, and I can’t wait to see my flowers return after a long winter sleep.

Real Life Versus Writing Life by Joan Reeves #AoMS

Blog_Beautiful-woman-with-thoughtfu-29888243_BSPI’m late publishing this post today because I came up empty in the find an entertaining subject category. I just can’t think of anything except how down in the dumps I feel. You see I’m tired and real life is hell-bent on interfering with my writing life.

Do you ever feel that when you set goals, the universe throws all the storms of life at you to keep you from achieving them?

That’s how I feel. I had all these ambitious plans for finishing out my various series this year plus writing some special Christmas projects.

Real Life laughed and said, “Think again.”

Even though my time is being used for a good cause, and my time away from writing won’t be forever, it’s still a let-down to watch the days slip away with nothing done.

All week I’ve been frustrated by not following through on my goals–even though it’s not my fault. Rather than bemoan my lack of sleep and lack of time, I decided to remind myself of something I wrote in an email to a couple of friends who were aspiring authors whose energy was flagging on the long journey to publication.

This is good advice regardless of what you’re trying to achieve.

Image of businessman rolling a giant stone

Feel as if you’re pushing a boulder uphill?

Good Advice If Trying to Achieve Something Amazing

Nothing great was ever created quickly. To develop a great scientific discovery, to paint a masterpiece, to write a book, to become a minister or a college graduate–to do anything great or different requires time, patience, and perseverance.

Goals are achieved by degrees, little by little.

Michelangelo did not paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in a day. Mozart did not compose his most famous work in a day, Milton did not write Paradise Lost at one sitting, nor did Shakespeare create Hamlet in a day.

Just as the most famous musicians begin with basic musical notes and artists first draw with Crayons, the greatest writer who ever lived began with the alphabet. With words. You too must start there.

Whatever your chosen goal, begin with baby steps that will lead you to giant steps.

To do anything great requires time, patience, and perseverance. Accept this and get started.

That’s my good advice for all of you, and for myself today.

AFB_2400px3200p_NYT99cents Sale

In my romantic comedy APRIL FOOL BRIDE, on sale for only 99cents, Maddie has a goal and is determined to achieve it.

Oil heiress Madeline Quinn needs a husband by the time she turns twenty-five in order to claim her full inheritance. Mad Maddie, as the tabloids christened her, has learned the hard way that men only see dollar signs when they look at her.

Maddie decides a marriage of convenience is the only answer. She turns to the one man in the world she can trust, her housekeeper’s son who always treated her like a little sister when they were kids growing up together.

Jake Becker hasn’t seen Maddie since the night she tried to seduce him. Why should he help the woman who changed the course of his life? Simple. Revenge.

Or is it something else? Something hot and smouldering that will not be denied?

FB_Fall in Love_04_1832px2200pPost Script

I’d be delighted if you’d follow me on 1 or all of these: Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Triple delighted if you sign up for WordPlay, my email list/newsletter for readers so I can give you a free book.

Questions That Keep Me Up at Night

file000988905509Lots of people have insomnia every once in a while. Stress about work, family, health, etc. will keep you awake, pondering in the dark. Me? I have one of those minds that refuses to turn off when the lights go out. But I’m not worried about work, family or health. My head is filled with questions about my current work in progress, questions like these:

1. Have I used that name for a character in a different book? It seems familiar. 

2. How could I only write one paragraph today? At this pace, I’ll never hit The End.

3. Should I even keep this chapter? Or is it as bad as I’m afraid it is?

4. Is it any wonder all the “great” writers drank or did drugs? 

5. If I quit this insanity tomorrow, how soon would I miss it? 

6. What if I changed the dog to a cat? Or a lizard? Would that be funnier?

7. Crap. Did I commit to participate in a book event on a family holiday? (For the record, yes. A local author library signing. On Greek Easter. Gonna have to cancel one of them.)

8. Wouldn’t it be great if I could just lock myself in a hotel room for a month until I finished this book?

9. Maybe I should change my title?

10. Okay, I left my characters here doing this. What happens next?

These days, I’m working on two books at once, and one of those books has two story lines. That’s a lot to keep track of, and a lot to keep me up at night!

11. Do you think it will be worth it?

When I finally type The End on these two books, I’ll sleep well. For about three days. Then, that pesky muse of mine will start enticing me with a new story idea, and the cycle will begin all over again.

The Rose Arbor/ Rose Arbor Connection

A few years ago I wrote a young adult novel that I really loved. I had every intention of making it into a trilogy. I loved my idea, loved the concept, but the problem was every time I sat down to write the second book I lost my enthusiasm. I didn’t want to write young adult fiction. Don’t get me wrong, I love teenagers. I have lived in what I call a house of hormones for more than fifteen years, meaning that I’ve parented teenagers for more than fifteen years.

And what have I learned?

I’m not hip.

I don’t want to be hip and I don’t want to try and be hip. Oh sure, I sometimes wear my daughter’s clothes, but that’s strictly a vanity thing, or a laundry thing. So, I was in a quandary. Since this was before I had decided to self-publish, I thought I had to brand myself as genre specific author and I knew I didn’t want to write Romance, Mystery, Fantasy, Young Adult or Literary. What to do? I knew I wanted to write and that’s about all I knew. So I did what all Mormons have been taught to do.

I went to the temple fasting (want to know more about this? You can read about it in the Bible) while there I got the distinct impression I needed to write like Debbie Macomber. A very clear answer to my prayer, but I wasn’t very happy.

I’ve heard Debbie Macomber speak twice. She’s an amazing, inspiring speaker, but I hadn’t read one of her bazillion books since high school. Debbie was one of the Harlequin authors that my mother read. Before my mother’s death when I was fifteen, my mom kept a large box of romance novels beside her bed and although she didn’t know it, I read all the books in that box, including Debbie Macomber’s. I hadn’t picked up a Debbie Macomber novel in years, but on my way home from the temple I stopped by Walmart and picked up two of her books. After reading them I decided that maybe God really had heard and answered my prayer.

So, like Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street or Cedar Cover series, I created a small Pacific Northwestern  series that I patterned after my own home town of Arlington, Washington. I named my series and the town Rose Arbor. Although my contemporary character Bette in STEALING MERCY (published July 2011) lived in Rose Arbor, my first official Rose Arbor book is A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE (published March 2012) because the bulk of STEALING MERCY takes place in 1889 Seattle, about 30 years before the town of Rose Arbor, AKA Arlington, was established. While I was drafting A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE I was simultaneously rewriting a novel I began in 2004, THE RHYME’S LIBRARY, my soon to be second Rose Arbor book. I threw in some of my Rose Arbor characters and life was good. I began drafting my third Rose Arbor novel LOSING PENNY shortly after I published A GHOST OF A SECOND CHANCE and I loved it because I got to reform bad boyfriend Drake. And since THE RHYME’S LIBRARY has a sequel, Love at the Apple Blossom, I have five finished or nearly finished Rose Arbor books.

a ghost copy (2)the rhyme's librarylosing penny

And writing-wise, everything was beyond peachy until I read the Debbie Macomber newsletter announcing her new Rose Harbor series. Her first Rose Harbor book was published August, 2012. The difference in our series titles is one letter. Literally shaking, I called my husband with the devastating news.

Well, it’s not like her stories take place in a small Washington town, he said.

Oh, but they do. They do, I told him.

The thought of rewriting and making new covers for my books overwhelmed me so I didn’t to do it. If I hadn’t been so far along in my series I would have, but my simple goal became to have three Rose Arbor books published before Debbie Macomber had even published one.

So, what happened? My teenage daughter stumbled across my teenage book, Beyond the Fortuneteller’s Tent and she loved it. This boosted my confidence and reaffirmed my belief that I don’t have to try and be hip to write young adult books. (I now have four—almost five, including the three award winning Beyond books, and Witch Ways, a Kindle Scout winner that will be released tomorrow.)

beyond the tent new(1) Beyond the Fortuneteller’ Tent, an I Heart Indies Finalist

Witch Ways copy (1)

Witch Ways, a 2015 Kindle Scout winner

Why do I think that my writing prayer answered the way it was? I really believe it was God’s way of saying, I know you. I’m listening. And look, here’s a miracle to show you that I’m paying attention.

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend Literary Orange, a fundraiser for Orange County public library. Debbie Macomber was the keynote speaker and I had the opportunity to meet her and have her sign my book. Of course, I had to tell her about the Rose Arbor, Rose Harbor connection. She listened with eyes as round as teacups. Then she said in a faint whisper, “I have to read you books.”

I have no way of knowing if she will or not, but I do know that of the hundreds who attended, I might possibly be the most memorable–because I have the most incredible story. And as a storyteller–that’s always the most enviable person to be.

Spring Cleaning

An excellent way to declutter is to decide to paint the entire interior of your home. It has been a long month of painting after the husband got off work and on off days, but we are in the home stretch. This is the before picture of my office/son’s old room. It was the light yellow on top that the whole house is and Raiders silver on the bottom. There was a wallpaper banner across the dividing line with Oakland Raiders helmets in silver and black. When you are carting crates of stuff out of a room you really rethink what is going back in.Jill's Office - before
This is with it almost done with just some things needing to be put away or in, like my desk. hahaha  The top color is Peach Glow which most of the house now is. The bottom is my accent color which is Flaming Torch – a burnt orange. It took 3 coats to cover the silver-gray. LOL A white chair rail is down the middle and circles the room. It feels very sophisticated. Wow! My pseudonym Jill has excellent taste! Wish she shared with me. LOL

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This is the surprise picture the husband took of me in my new office. Now I finally feel it is mine. Got the zombie killing machete over the clock and my quilt from my best friend on my chair. Ready to go. I got rid of a bunch of stuff that was just cluttering the room and it feels open and freeing. Gone are all the things I brought back from conferences and vacations that just filled the room and didn’t add anything to it. Now, back to work because this is preorder week for my newest book. Happy writing!!

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Do you do spring cleaning? What is cluttering your life and needs to go?


ATimetoKillZombies 200x300Jill James, author of the Time of Zombies series
Book 3 – A Time to Kill Zombies – preorder today!

Gramma’s Dandelion Wine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfIf you’re foolish enough to hang around with me for any length of time you won’t escape hearing about my grandmother. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette and I spent most weekdays with her until she died when I was seven years and three days old.

She was a proper English lady though she’d be quick to tell you she came from good common stock rather than the highborn kind. She was proper all the same so I’m not sure how she’d feel about being represented by a recipe for spirits. But this is such a writers’ treasure kind of story I can’t resist. Please, forgive me, Gramma.

I found the recipe in a very old notebook written in a lovely but substantial hand. Substantial enough to be read many decades after it was written. The ink is faded of course. Real ink like the kind that used to come in bottles and inkwells. The pages are soft with age and worn off at the corners. I handle them carefully for fear they’ll disintegrate into powder.

The pasteboard covers are separating at the spine. The original brown was probably dark but is now a dusky shade. She wrote “Cook Book – Mrs. Boudiette – 467 Holley Street – Watertown NY” on the front cover. She refers to herself in what was once considered appropriately modest for a married woman. She doesn’t use her first name.

This inscription tells me something about the age of the notebook. Grandma lived on Holley Street long before she and my scary grandfather moved to the tall brown house on West Main where I spent the happiest hours of my 1940’s childhood with Gramma in her kitchen. But I always had to be gone before Grandpa got home which was fine with me.

I run my hand over the letters she wrote on the faded brown cover of her small notebook. The sensitive skin of my fingertips touches the place where her hand had been and of course I weep. She died going on seventy years ago but she is still deeply entrenched in me. Everything good that has happened in my life began somehow with Gramma.

Only two actual dates appear in the notebook. November 1, 1927 after her recipe for Apple Jam and March 9, 1931 above Tasty Salad. Other entries include How to Remove Ink from Clothes and Receipt for Tanning Hides. Bless you Gramma. You were the first and among the best blessings of my life. Here is Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette’s Dandelion Wine in her own words.

6 quarts fresh heads of dandelion blossoms in stone jar or granite. 1 gallon hot water poured on the blossoms. Put aside for 3 days and nights, then strain through a cloth. Now add 3 pounds sugar, juice of 2 lemons and 3 oranges. Add one-half yeast cake.

Pour mixture into a stone jar and let it stand 4 days and nights. Then strain again through a cloth. Bottle. Let stand in bottles with corks set in loose until it stops working. Otherwise it will blow off or break bottles. After it stops working cork tightly and store where cool.

Shared by Alice Jane’s granddaughter Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com. The picture is of me and Gramma in her garden when I was two and a half years old.