Monday, March 31, 2008

Looking Forward to Spring

Margaret Callaghan

An Easter tradition: Decorated Eggs
Eggs have long been regarded as symbol of renewed life.

White-shelled hen’s eggs are best for this. When hardboiled with dark colored vegetables such as spinach or beetroot, the eggs take on some of their color. For a bigger range of colors add a few drops of a chosen food coloring to the water. Add variety with patterns by arranging narrow strips of masking tape onto the eggs before boiling in the colored water. Peel off the tapes after cooking to reveal the un-dyed white parts against a colored background. Polishing the boiled eggs with a little olive oil adds gloss. Another alternative is to boil the eggs in plain water and then decorate with wax crayons, vegetable dyes or even water colors, oil paints or felt tip pens. All it needs is a little imagination. Oh yes, and children to help with the fiddly parts.

Robin Bayne

I don’t have a green thumb, but I know spring is approaching when my husband moves all of his plants and trees to the front porch. I like to sit out there and read or write on warm spring days. There’s something inspiring about writing surrounded by greenery in the warm breeze.

Deb Kinnard

This late-winter has been brutal in Chicago. So I thought I’d try something new—forcing blooms. I cut a couple branches off the forsythia tree in the front garden, put ‘em in some warm water and changed the water each day, just like the gardening site said to do. Voila! I have sunny yellow blossoms just beginning to peek out. It gives some much-needed hope while we shovel out from under our fifteenth straight snowstorm .

Gina Hartoog

This is great fun if you have kids - write a name in seeds. Prepare a flat container (15cm) with any soil. Soak wheat grass seeds overnight before planting. Sprinkle seeds closely together over the soil to spell out the name. Sprinkle a layer of soil over the seeds and water lightly. Cover with newspaper and place on the patio or windowsill. Mist lightly with water everyday until green sprouts are visible, then remove newspaper and wait for the grass to grow taller.

Judy Huston

Spring-time gardening tip: Pour yourself a glass of your favourite red or white, turn the telly on to one of those classy gardening shows where everyone knows exactly when and how to prune and mulch and do whatever else you are supposed to do in gardens, and where everything always grows to neat and tidy perfection. Forget the wilderness awaiting you outside. Sip and watch. Dream. Escape. . .

Judy Jarvie

Hyacinth Heaven – why spend money on artificial air fresheners for the home? Go to your nearest plant store and buy some beautiful ‘real’ flowering hyacinth bulbs. Place in a prominent position in a nice container with several small stakes to keep the plants upright as they get heavier – voila! Breathe in that amazing aroma as they flower. A beautiful fragrant natural focal point! Enjoy the arrival of Spring.

Sherry (Shara) Jones

Peanut Butter No-Cook “Easter Eggs”
No baking required. Delicious, quick and easy ball cookies.


1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 pound white candy coating or almond bark

To Do:

· Combine sugar, peanut butter and margarine in a mixing bowl.
· Shape into 1-inch balls and put in the refrigerator to chill about 30 minutes.
· While balls chill, melt candy coating in the microwave until smooth for about 2- 3 minutes.
· Dip the balls into the melted candy coating and cover completely.
· Place on waxed paper to harden.

These make a nice gift displayed in a pretty jar with a ribbon.

Susan Atwood
My “over-the-back-fence” neighbor told me how to make this one evening last spring—over the back fence, of course!

Shelley’s Ten-Minute Potato Salad

4-6 potatoes, cooked and cut in bite-sized chunks
3-4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
(I cheat and buy the little pouch of already cooked/crumbled bacon)
Ranch dressing.

Cook the potatoes any way you like (peel or not; boil/steam/nuke.) I’m always in a hurry, so I just scrub ’em and nuke ’em like you would a “baked” potato with the skins on and then cut them up. Add bottled Ranch dressing to coat. Sprinkle with bacon. Toss. Serve warm/room temperature.

Angie Martin

Ever since I was a child I’ve planted vegetables and flowers in the springtime. Back then it was in a small garden at the back of the house, where my parents let me and my brother each have a little area to plant our own veggies. I remember the fun and excitement we felt at the planting, and watering with our own little watering-can and watching the first few green leaves peek out from the soil.
We never could remember what we planted where, so it would always be an interesting surprise to see which little row was carrots, which one was lettuce and which one was parsley and so on.
As I got older I thought it would be better knowing which plants were where, so I started using Popsicle sticks and writing the plant name on it and placing it at the end of the row. Made it much easier to see that “oh, look, the deer ate all the budding lettuce.” Or “I see the neighbour’s cat used my parsley row as a potty area – again!”

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Editor’s Desk: Tip of the Day.... Learning to Look at Your Novel Objectively

My apologies for this Friday blog being a day late, there were some technical difficulties.

Here’s a tough concept for many writers accomplish: the ability to look at their work objectively. It does take practice and time to grow into this. It requires a willingness to detach enough to look at your own work with fresh eyes. It requires the ability to admit that your baby isn’t perfect and that there’s always room to learn and grow in the craft of writing—a double whammy!

Easier said than done, right?


But still, you should try it. Like nasty, disgusting lima beans, this could actually be good for you!

The Lima Beans...

You’ve finished the story. Excellent. That’s half the battle right there.

Lima Bean #1:Admitting that while you’re enamored with your brilliance, it’s just possible this Most Terrific Novel Ever Written could still be in that "diamond in the rough" stage.

Lima Bean #2: Keep an open mind about the comments you receive about your novel, especially if they’re from your trusted critique partner... or your editor. It’s hard to swallow the bean when you’re told your baby kinda resembles a head of rotting cauliflower—even if it’s said with love, so if you’re not ready for a critique from a trusted source, you’re not ready for an editor to look at it, either. Step 1 on the Road to Objectivity is to be open to the likely possibility that your cp (or editor) is right.

Lima Bean #3: Put the manuscript away. Step away from the manuscript. Let it age for a couple of weeks there on your hard drive. Refresh your mind. Remind yourself what your spouse looks like. Reintroduce yourself to your children. Calculate the number of sick days you used so you could finish the story and how many you have left for the year. Reacquaint yourself with the outlandish notion of eating a hot meal before it grows cold. Go scrub the mold that’s threatening to colonize your shower to oblivion. Refocus by starting a new WIP. Whatever you do... Don’t think about your story.

Lima Bean #4: When you get back to your novel, after you’ve eaten Lima Bean #3, read it like you’ve never seen it before. Keep an open mind to the fact that you’re likely to find places in your manuscript that have you wondering what exactly was in those chocolate chip cookies you ate while you wrote that particular scene. This is OKAY. This is GOOD. This means you just had an objective moment. Pat yourself on the back. Kiss your brain. Then get back to work! This is no time for slacking off— you’re on a roll!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Grammar Quiz

The It’s, Its, Their, There, They’re Quiz

Laura Hamby
You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

Angie Martin
You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.
If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.
As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.
And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

How well did YOU score?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Rock Star By Any Other Name...

We weigh the names we give our children. Our pets. Some of us name our houses and cars, too. And then for writers, there’s naming characters. This can be easy, it can be hard. However, we have Blog Things to help us name our next Rock Star Character. GO HERE!

Blog mistresses Laura and Angie have learned the following:

Laura will have a rock star named Brooklyne Vicious. Now there’s a visual for you. Brooklyne is 6 feet tall, barefooted. She’s fond of wearing retro-1970's wedges, which brings her to a towering 6 ft. 5 in., give or take an inch or two. Her long black hair is sleek and shiny, the perfect foil for her pale pink complexion and deep blue eyes. She prefers halter tops (a la the 1970's) and tight fighting leggings, with large clunky jewelry. Her dramatic use of black eyeliner and bright blue eyeshadow complete her "signature look."

Angie will have a rock star named Skittlez Destruction.
Skittlez is a very colourful person. She is short, only 4’ 9” but makes up for this by having her short bright pink hair fluffed up really high and wearing sparkly light blue 6” heels. In between she prefers to wear light green sparkly tight clothes, and a wide shiny purple belt, which may not be the best look for her, as she is about the same girth as her height. She tends to remind people of a happy Easter egg while singing and dancing around on stage.

What are you waiting for? Go find out what you should name YOUR rock star character!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Editor’s Desk: Tip of the Day...Revising Your Manuscript

Okay. You’ve written the first (or rough) draft of your Magnificent Novel. Congratulations! That’s an accomplishment, whether you’re published or not. It means you found a story to tell that you were passionate enough about to bother committing memory. ;)

You’re done. Right?


Now it’s time to revise.

Wait a minute. I’ve heard this word "revise" before. Do I have to?

In a nutshell: YES!

Reasons to Revise:

To make your novel the best it can be.

That’s it. Really. It’s your chance to make sure you’ve tied up all the loose ends. That the character and story arc mesh to make this story work. To tighten your prose; to balance your narrative, exposition and action; strengthen your characters’ GMC; to add that extra added *punch!* to the emotion....In short, making your novel the best it can be.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What Punctuation Mark Are You?

Who knew punctuation had "people personality"? Take this Blog Things Quiz to find out what punctuation you are, and share what you find out with us in the comment section.
Critique Partners and Best Friends Sherry Jones and Laura Hamby discovered their inner punctuation marks:

Sherry (Shara) Jones

You are a Dash

Your life is fast paced and varied. You are realistic, down to earth, and very honest.
You're often busy doing something interesting, and what you do changes quickly.
You have many facets to your personality, and you connect them together well.
You have a ton of interests. While some of them are a bit offbeat, they all tie together well.
You friends rely on you to bring novelty and excitement to their lives.
(And while you're the most interesting person they know, they can't help feeling like they don't know you well.)
You excel in: Anything to do with money
You get along best with: the Exclamation Point

Laura Hamby

You are a Comma

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.
You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.

You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.
You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.

Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.
(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)

You excel in: Inspiring people

You get along best with: The Question Mark.

Friday, March 21, 2008

*Mr. Beckman's Secretary* by JoAnn Carter available NOW

Mr. Beckman's Secretary
by JoAnn Carter

When Harrison Beckman meets his father's secretary, Daniella Duncan, she's shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani's heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company's contracts, which have been disappearing.

As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?

Purchase *Mr. Beckman's Secretary* by JoAnn Carter.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Excerpt from *Mr. Beckman’s Secretary* by JoAnn Carter, By Grace Publishing

Mr. Beckman’s Secretary
by JoAnn Carter
© 2008

When Harrison Beckman meets his father’s secretary, Daniella Duncan, she’s shy and self-conscious. Harrison, however, is determined to get to know her better. Before he gets to do that a rival comes along to steal Dani’s heart as quickly and thoroughly as the company’s contracts, which have been disappearing.
As the mystery unfolds, Harrison has to fight for the woman he loves, even though this means crossing swords with his father and his determined adversary. Will Harrison be able to find the love that could await them or will it be too late?


“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

Daniella’s nine-year-old heart hammered in her chest, like a jackrabbit chased by a hound dog, as the boy stormed toward her.
“Hey, you little runt. Give me that bat!”
The heavy wooden club dropped from Daniella’s grip and landed with a puff of dry dust. The pungent smell of dirt overwhelmed her, and, coughing, she waved away the cloud of grit with a chubby hand.
The granules hadn’t even settled before the bully sneered, “You ain’t never gonna be on my team, fatso. You ain’t good enough.”
Daniella took a step backwards; her breath came in quick, shallow gasps.
The large boy loomed over her and the gym teacher called out, “All right, Troy.”
The boy continued to stare holes into her. Daniella somehow managed to drag her gaze away from him and looked across the field to where Mr. Hunt stood on the sidelines. He called out in a gruff voice, “I said, that’s enough.”
Troy spat in the dirt, narrowly missing the toe of Daniella’s worn left sneaker. “Aw,” he complained, “why do I always get stuck with the nerds?”
Mr. Hunt scrubbed a hand over his sweaty face and sighed. “Troy.”
Troy groaned, “Yeah, yeah, I know.”
Slump-shouldered, Mr. Hunt said to Daniella, “I want you to pick up the bat and at least try to keep your eyes on the ball this time.”
Daniella’s pulse pounded in her ears, making the teacher’s voice sound miles away. She fixed her eyes on the bat and wished the ground would swallow her up whole.

* * * *

The relentless beep, beep, beep of the alarm startled her awake. Dani slipped one hand from beneath the flannel sheets to slap the snooze button. Same old stupid, horrible dream she thought, burrowing deeper under the covers. Just a dream, but…
She rolled onto her back. Dani knew she had to get a grip, had to do something about this disruptive nightmare she’d had since elementary school.
Unfortunately, she’d always been one of those ‘once I’m awake, the night’s over’ types, so she flung the covers aside and slid both feet into her slippers, then shuffled toward the window. One quick tug at the bottom of the shade sent it flapping and snapping to the top, and the warm winter sun, peeping over the horizon, slanted across her room.
The clutter certainly had accumulated over the years. Stuffed animals scattered across the red carpet stared sightlessly through wide, shoe-button eyes. Her desk, littered with dictionaries, magazines, monitor and computer tower, sagged from the weight of its burdens. Rumpled bed linens spoiled the ‘look’ of her beautiful canopied bed, while Precious Moments collectibles collected dust on the bookshelves. There was even her baby blanket crocheted by Aunt Thelma, hanging over the back of Grandma Faye’s overstuffed chair. She really did need to get a grip, because the nightmare had overflowed from her dreams into just about every area of her life.
Like every other morning of her twenty-six-year existence, Dani squeezed her eyes shut, as if that could blot out the ugliness from her room… from her life. But if pretending for those few tranquil seconds that her life was, indeed, in order hadn’t worked in all these years, she had no reason to hope it would work today.
Eyes opened and teeth clenched, she folded her arms across her chest and straightened her spine. She had to start somewhere if her dream of an organized life was to come true.
I’ll start right after work, she promised herself.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

By Grace Publishing *Author Essay* by releasing author JoAnn Carter

What was fun/interesting/new insight I gained because I wrote this book? by JoAnn Carter

While in the middle of writing this story, I heard the song MIRROR MIRROR by Barlow Girl on the radio. As I listened to the lyrics, it hit me how many women like Dani, (the heroine in Mr. Beckman’s Secretary) struggles with self-image.
As the plot develops, and Dani comes to the realization God loves her the way he made her. I had to be honest and ask myself, “Do I believe that?” It’s easy for me to nod my head while I’m writing this, but it’s another story when I’m standing in one of those dinky changing rooms try to find a bathing suit for the summer!
Accepting myself is sometimes is a daily struggle. In the same way this story has challenged me, as you experience Dani growth reading this book, it’s my prayer that it will draw you closer to God as well. (If you’d like to hear Mirror Mirror, click onto this link: )


By Grace Publishing Backlist *By The Book* by JoAnn Carter

Perky 24-year-old police dispatcher, Sarah Murphy, is held captive by images of her past. She doesn't trust men and is determined to hold onto her heart at all costs.
Lieutenant Dylan Eldredge of the Hampton Police Department believes she’s the woman God has intended for him and is equally determined to have her for his wife. But can he prove he’s the man for her?


By Grace Publishing Backlist *WINTER WONDERS* anthology ~ Smuggler of the Heart by JoAnn Carter

Disheartened and tired, Samantha Warren returns to Vermont during the winter break. Her passion for history rekindles after finding an old smuggler’s chest hidden in her grandparents' attic. Will she be able to return to New Jersey without her heart being smuggled like the chest once was? Or is it already too late?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

By Grace release week *Mr.Beckman's Secretary* by JoAnn Carter

JoAnn Carter's Biography

Hi! My name is JoAnn Carter. I live in Vermont with my wonderful husband of 15 years, four children, and the best dog in the world...Ginger. I love to be with my family & friends, write, read, and cook. I'm a Licensed Practical Nurse, but currently I'm not working in the medical field. Rather, to be home with my children, I've chosen to work as a substitute teacher, which I fully enjoy.
I love to hear from readers! Please visit my web-page to contact me @

Friday, March 14, 2008

University Day: The Sagging Middle, Part 2


Last week, the UE authors shared tips on how to recognize the dreaded Sagging Middle. This week, we have tips for how to firm that Sagging Middle.

Margaret Callaghan
1. Move forward and work on the next key scene, moving back to the sagging middle once the pace has picked up.
2. Be ruthless and cut out any dialogue that does not move the plot forward.
3. Re-visit the plan and timescale and adjust accordingly. If writing ‘into the mist’, plot out the rest of the book by logging at least the main points of conflict.

JoAnn Carter
Plan for the climax. i.e. re-read your chapters and see if you have a blend of dialogue, conflict and character development to help set-up your fulfilling ending.

Ask yourself if the character’s experiences are leading up to who you want him/her to be by the end.

Ask yourself if you’re staying true to the story or following rabbit trails? You may need to re-familiarize yourself with your time-line, through-line or summary… or if you don’t have one of those re-connect why you wanted to write this story.

Meg Allison
Go through with a firm hand – and a red pen – and cut any and all scenes; bits of dialogue; description, etc, that do not either move the plot along or advance the romance. Do you love a scene more than you love the story? It’s time to be tough.

Deepen the main conflict. This can be done by revealing a ‘secret’; introducing a new secondary character; or, my favorite, killing someone off. :)

Tear them apart! Don’t let your hero/heroine become a happy couple too soon. They can’t admit they’re in love … or if they do, through an obstacle between them. The happy ending has to be just that – an ending, not a middle.

Josh Lockwood
1. Give them another problem to overcome.
2. Introduce an antagonist.
3. Beef up the beginning of the story so the middle doesn’t have a chance to sag.

Cindy Green
Come up with some extra crag to the story that is totally unexpected – a character, an event that mixes everything up a bit.

Make sure you are showing what has happened instead of having a character tell or think about it.

Keep sight of your main characters – what is their emotional level at this point and utilize that to stir the story up.

Sherry (Shara) Jones
Tip Number One: Once you resolve a conflict, introduce another conflict to increase the stakes.

Tip Number Two: Change the POV to reveal a different perspective on the conflict, introducing a fresh spin or to reveal new information.

Tip Number Three: Make the reader care. Up the emotional stakes to show character growth.

Angie Martin
Can anything change in the current setting/situation of your characters? Should it change? If it should, how should it change, for the better for the character? For the worse? How would a change affect the following scenes but still bring them to the happy ending you have planned?

Have the characters grown or learned anything from the previous experiences, or are they just repeating the same actions and saying the same words?

Are all the scenes actually needed to move the story forward? Do we need to know that aunt Mildred feeds her cat Princess every morning at 8:05? If not, painful as it may be, remove the scene. (Aunt Mildred really is much happier feeding her cat in anonymity anyway.)

Laura Hamby
Some questions to consider about your Sagging Middle:

1. How does this move the story forward? Am I saying it in the best possible manner?

2. Is the conflict strong enough to carry the story through? Am I bringing the conflicts (internal and external) towards resolution in a realistic and well-paced manner?

3. Have I gotten off track? Am I chasing down a scenic rabbit trail? Do I need to go back and remove any scenes to a "choppity chop" file in order to get the story back to where it needs to be?

Judy Jarvie
Pace and punch – have a read for pace and punch and see if you’re lacking. Pace and punch are key drivers in writing and if you lose them you can let your story go off the boil.

Is the piece emotional? Are you losing sight of what matters to your characters? Remember emotion is the key seller and if you haven’t ‘dug into/tuned in’ enough you may be losing the heart of the story.

Don’t be afraid to skip it – sometimes if you hit a block you just need a ‘breather’ to get to clear writing space. If skipping the hard part and coming back helps you find your mojo – then do it. Remember – getting the first draft down is the important part. Better to skip and finish than to leave a piece of work languishing because you got stuck in the middle.

Robin Bayne
Jot a timeline through the middle of the story, and chart each character’s progress.

Determine if each scene is needed—can you cut a whole scene without interrupting the flow?

Jot down a summary of your ending. Will the middle you have now support that?

Susan Atwood
1. Now is the time to reveal some information that will give the reader better insight into the characters. Make sure there is something new, not just a rehash.
2. Always a good time for a plot twist. Send the ho-hum, everything’s hunky-dory plot in a new direction.
3. Up the emotion between the hero and heroine in every encounter.

Gina Hartoog
* Play the ‘what if’ brain-storm game with some weak scenes. What if so-and-so dies, what if she finds out he killed someone. This can help you to increase the tension and suspense often lacking in ‘middles’.

* Read your work aloud. This helps you to catch repeated words, clichés and obstacles that draw away from the story.

* Leave your computer and invest in some ‘thinking time’ in your plot as a whole. Perhaps your characters need to move in another direction from where you are taking them. If you hit on something interesting, go with even if it isn’t where you envisioned the story to be.

Judy Huston
Plan to zip one or more of your characters into a new setting. This can freshen things up for both you and the reader (not to mention the characters!)

Keep the background info and flashbacks at a minimum.

Make sure there’s plenty of action and developments to keep things moving and to keep the reader wanting to know what happens next.

Deb Kinnard
1) If your characters are the problem, interview them. Write down several questions about their history, likes/dislikes, primary motivators, and the like. See what they “say” to you and use it to jazz up the middle chapters in your tale.

2) Consider your setting. For characters, like real people, a change of scene can be quite invigorating. Are they in the country? Give them a compelling reason to travel into the city. Are they getting burned out by the stresses of urban life? Give them a reason to take a break for a day and rediscover each other.

3) I’ve found I tend to draw out “travel” scenes way too much. Sometimes when these scenes happen in the middle of a book, I find I can cut pages down to a paragraph or two and nothing is lost—quite the opposite. The spark comes back.

Grace Tyler
1. Distractions R Us:
Turn off the internet. No, really. Do it now. Close the browser. Step away from your email. Do not answer the persistent call of your friends’ IMs. Turn off the television and the phone. Set the timer. Write some crap for a set amount of time, no matter what. No, you don’t need to clean the toilet today. It will just get dirty again, anyway, and you’ve got a sagging middle (and perhaps a deadline) to shore up. Spousal unit and/or kids can order pizza today. You’ve got a novel to save!!!!

2. What If:
There are probably as many ways to play this game as there are writers. I have a couple of ideas for you.

What if…Nora Roberts/Sandra Brown/Debbie Macomber/Lori Foster, etc. were writing this book? What would happen next? See where this is going? If you write cozy sweet novels and your middle is just sagging and you don’t know what should happen next, pretend you are J.D. Robb or Janet Evanovich. What would she throw in here to spice things up? A dead body? An exploding car? A second love interest? The more different from your own style, the better. Jot the ideas down and get your juices flowing.

Still can’t think of a thing? If you just can’t figure out what to type and you’ve gotten rid of your distractions (see Idea #1), I’ll let you get back on IM or the phone and call your best writing pal for help. Now, you have to work. No gossip or complaining about the spousal units. You are going to play the “what if” game, and it really helps to get someone else to help, because they will come up with some wild ideas you would never think of. After all, your heroine just wouldn’t do that. Or would she? What if she did, and …

3. Now hang up and get back to writing. After you’ve played a couple of creativity games with yourself, you’ll filter those outrageous ideas and find something that fits with your style and your book. Happy writing!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Writing Prompts: St. Patrick's Day Limericks

Strikes Don't Matter by Denise Patrick Reviewed by Coffeetime Romance

I am thoroughly impressed with Ms. Patrick’s writing style... Krista, Coffeetime Romance. Read this 4 Cup Review HERE.


Margaret Callaghan

An Irishman living in Spain
Went walking one day on the plain.
He came to a river
And crossed in a dither
And never was heard of again.

JoAnn Carter

St. Patrick went to Ireland in the 5th century to proclaim…

There is no greater joy my dear friend,
then to know Jesus whom God ever sends.
To live in our hearts,
He never will part.
Praise God, He’ll be with me to the end!

Robin Bayne

St Paddy’s is a day of great joy,
Did you know he was once a real boy?
He cared for us all,
The weak and the small,
Now his day we can all enjoy.

Cindy K. Green

There once was a lass name Kathleen
Who was fresh as a rose at eighteen
She met a nice lad; who was of the name of Chad
And they lived happily ever after in a house of sage green

Gina Hartoog

There once was an Irish gent
Who lived in a striking green tent
Then on St. Patrick’s Day
The wind came up and blew it away

Josh Lockwood

There was an old man from Claddagh
Had a tryst with the sheriff’s dear Ma.
He ran out of the town
With his trousers still down,
Just one hop ahead of the law.

Judy Huston

It’s snake-free in Ireland, they say
‘Cause when my forebears set sail one fine day,
St Pat gave ‘em a bin
Reptile-packed to the brim
And said, “Take the darlin’s Down Under to stay!”

Judy Jarvie

There once was a man called O’Malley
So in love with a woman called Sally
That he went half insane
When he just heard her name
And a glimpse of her sent him Doolally!

Grace Tyler

There was an old man from Nantucket
Who kept all his balls in a bucket.
On the fairway he’d play.
At the end of the day
Poor man was too tired to duck it.

Meg Allison

There once was a lovely Colleen,
Who thought all of life she had seen,
She traveled to Galway; O’Brien had his way,
Soon she found out what living did mean.

Sherry (Shara) Jones

From a leprechaun a country girl won a charm.
She looked around her place in alarm.
She gave the clover a kiss,
Made a magical wish,
And suddenly Handsome Dan appeared on her farm.

Laura Hamby

There once was a man in green
Upon his hat he wore a bean
For luck, so he said
This bean on his head
And his grin was wide and serene

Angie Martin

In Ireland there once was a guy with a stick
who had a very neat trick.
He banned all the snakes
from the land and the lakes,
that’s why they call him SAINT Patrick

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

By Grace Backlist Spotlight... *Angel With a Ray Gun* by Deb Kinnard


Deb Kinnard

Deborah Kinnard started writing at age ten, frustrated because there was no preteen girl with a horse in Bonanza. Between raising two active girls and a delusional cat amongst the books, cherishing a husband, pursuing a couple of college degrees, and a career in health information at a big Chicago teaching hospital, I’ve been writing nonstop ever since. I’m a member of ACFW and the HISWriters subsection which includes people who are crazy enough to write historical romances. To date I have twenty finished manuscripts, five of which are published. ANGEL WITH A RAY GUN, my “fun book” was released in 2006 by By Grace, then came the BRIDES AND BOUQUETS 2007 anthology with my story “Something Borrowed.” MY SILENT HEART is a November 2006By Grace release. Please see my website for information about my other published works. My web site is currently under construction for the 42nd time, just like the potholes in Chicago streets. My blog is at

Angel With a Ray Gun... Back Cover Blurb

Matt Greenlee mixes an active ministry with science fiction writing under a pen name. When he’s assigned a new—female—editor, Matt scents disaster. What sort of damage will she do his next bestseller? Secretly he fears attraction, considering himself poor husband material. How can he risk his heart?

AJ Mercer edits books for a living, and she’s good at it. Matt as an author is a challenge. As a man, even more so. Her wingy, crystal-power, anything-goes mother advises her to go with the flow. AJ’s offbeat upbringing has left her wary of both Christianity and men, but she’s attracted to her client. The gloves are off—his biases versus her need for success.

When these two mix it up over a book, can they find happiness, either loving or literary?

Excerpt... Angel With a Ray Gun by Deborah Kinnard

The appointment was set for Tuesday at three. Matt found many ways to keep busy, gulping analgesics to keep a pounding tension headache at bay. Tuesday morning he found respite in repainting the teenagers’ meeting room with some of the other guys. Tuesday afternoon crept by more slowly than college chemistry lab. The clock hands didn’t crawl toward three, they oozed. Matt prayed she’d be late, then chastised himself as a stupid kid. Best to get the ordeal over with.

At two minutes after the hour, he heard a car door open. Certain that it was unseemly for a minister to peek through the windows, he put his eye to the open casement anyway. She put one leg out the car door. A slender, dainty leg, encased in black to the toe of the chunky, stylish shoe. Then the rest of her emerged, a sight that made Matt’s jaw drop.

She was built like original sin.

He gaped. The female, presumably AJ Mercer, put both hands behind a swan-like neck and took her time stretching the kinks out. With her short black skirt she wore an amber turtleneck, the sort of shirt nobody with a spare pound could manage. Her height was below average, though perfect proportions made those dancer’s legs appear longer than they could possibly be. Her hair was worn short, not long as he liked it on women. A sleek, trendy haircut for ebony-brown hair that shone like mink in the sun.

His mouth went dry with a sudden burst of interest. Now where on earth did that zip of awareness come from? “Relax,” he muttered, flexing tension out of his arms. “Twenty-nine, single, normal. People get attractions from time to time. Chill.”
The impossible editor grabbed a brown leather attaché and approached the church doors. Lloyd Daviess could bluster and boom until the Second Coming. Matt would not, could not court catastrophe like this. “Aw, c’mon, Greenlee,” he scolded himself. “Get real. You sound like a Dr. Seuss storybook.”

He glanced around. His office was its usual tidy self, courtesy of his faithful secretary Jeri and disposable dust rags. A few books, of course, piled on the flat surfaces, but nothing out of the ordinary for an SF writing preacher.

He prepared for this affront of an editor with the jazz dancer’s walk. Matt made sure his plaid shirt was tucked into his jeans all the way around. He scrubbed his front teeth with a frantic tongue, trying to recall if he’d eaten broccoli for lunch. He thrust both hands through his hair to finger-comb it, and fled his office. There wasn’t time for more.

Wrong again, Jake Starborn whispered just behind his left ear. It’s the Warrior’s duty to approve the female, not the other way around. “Shut up, Jake.” He forced himself to descend the stairs toward the parking lot.

His footsteps on the pavement didn’t make her glance his way, so he cleared his throat. “Hello.”

Her dark head snapped up. “This is a church.” She didn’t spit the word, not quite.
Matt feigned shock, glancing around at the big two-story sanctuary, the attached classroom and office wing, the day care center’s fenced play area. “You know, you’re right. Now when did they put this up? There was a perfectly good diner here a few years ago.” He grinned to show her he was kidding, watching as a rosy glow spread over a pale porcelain complexion. Did the woman never get out into the sunshine?
“Sorry. Of course it’s a church. I’m looking for Mor—Matt Greenlee.”

“You found him. Both of him are me.” He stuck out his hand. “And you would be AJ Mercer.”

She nodded. Her clasp was firm and yet feminine, her hand less than half the size of his. Peered at through an office window, AJ’s appearance was, well, interesting. Viewed up close, the correct term was ‘stunning.’

Hold on, Buster, said Jake, she’s too short. And don’t you prefer blondes?

Purchase Angel With a Ray Gun by Deborah Kinnard at By Grace!

Friday, March 7, 2008

University Day: Your Middle May Be Sagging If...

No, we're not talking about the sagging middle many of us carry around on a daily basis, either. We're talking signs that you've hit that invisible, yet very scary wall and are suffering from Sagging Middle Syndrome. Next week, we'll have tips for firming up that problem.

Margaret Callaghan
1. Writing gives way to Spider Solitaire.
2. Redrafting the opening chapters has become an obsession.
3. The dialogue between the two main characters becomes forced and stilted.

JoAnn Carter
There is no immediate conflict.
The scenes are not moving the story forward.

Meg Allison
You fall asleep at the computer while editing chapter four.
Your major conflict is resolved by chapter five.
You use seven paragraphs to describe the heroine’s outfit in chapter six. She’s wearing jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt.

Robin Bayne
Your characters begin to venture into scenes that don’t contribute to the story.
Your descriptions get longer, slowing the action to a minimum.

Susan Atwood
The introduction of secondary characters who will only provide “fluff” and have no relevance to the plot.

The emotional play between the hero and heroine becomes stagnant.

Repetition of back story

Judy Huston
Writing it is a chore you begin to dread.
Once it’s finished, even you start yawning when you read it.

Cindy Green
If you are bored with your characters or plot then the readers will be too
You’ve lost focus of the plot to get you to the finale
You do in several chapters what could have been accomplished in one

Judy Jarvie
Where’s the oomph gone? If you’re feeling like you’re train’s run out of steam, there’s a sagging middle.

You’ve peaked too soon.

Josh Lockwood
I know I’ve got a sagging middle when I start adding scenes that don’t contribute
to the story just because I need the word count.

Gina Hartoog
* You lose interest in the story as you get into the middle chapters. If it doesn’t grab and hold your attention, it’s unlikely to affect your readers.
* Your characters lose their depth and become two dimensional
* Plot loses impact. Scenes don’t propel the story forward.

Deb Kinnard
1) You fall seriously out of love with your plot or your characters.
2) You re-read your middle chapters and discover that although you’ve written some dynamite scenes, absolutely nothing in them moves the plot forward.
3) You’re not being rough enough on your characters.

Angie Martin
The sagging middle… well, one sign that it’s sagging is when you decide that you are getting bored reading it, and just want to skip ahead.

When your characters seem “out of place”. Would they really be in this place/situation if they are headed for the ending you are planning? Or are they just wasting time?

When the character’s conversations have become stilted and they seem to spend more time watching the scenery around them than actively doing something.

Sherry Jones
Sign number one – The original conflict hasn’t been resolved, increased, or changed in any way.

Sign number two – The characters aren’t revealing any new information and have become ‘talking heads’ — generating conversation, but little substance.

Sign number three – The emotional stakes haven’t changed so as to show character growth.

Laura Hamby
#1 No matter how hard you try, you can't finish that sentence/phrase/paragraph/chapter.

#2 What you have been able to write contributes nothing to the story plot-wise, romance-wise, character development-wise-- in other words, it does absolutely nothing for the story arc.

#3 You've written just exposition, or just narrative, or just action.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Name That Author

We've had two months of "Name That Title" so it's a refreshing change of pace today that we have hints for "Name That Author"! Good luck.

1. I'm busy with a number of things, including homeschooling my daughter.
2. One of my titles is A Nice Cup of Tea.
3. I've appeared in each and every spooky anthology: 2005, 2006, 2007.
4. One of my heroines is named Veronica Lowe.
5. I opened Moonlit Romance in 2006.

Who am I?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

E-Mag Shortie: *Easter Parade* by Sherry (Shara) Jones

Easter Parade by Sherry Jones

“Hello, there. A mayor’s work is never done?”

Cade Benson squinted against the noonday sun and took in Laurel Kingston's long length. The Creative Director of WonderMart, herself.

Cade knew her type. Breeze into the small town, make a dazzling display and we’re here for you speeches before the corporate juggernaut rolled on towards the next small town that struggled to maintain a sense of community in the face of inevitable progress.

He had nothing against progress and the town could do a lot worse than WonderMart. It would serve to revitalize a stagnant economy for the area and provide jobs for many. No, he objected to the knowledge that WonderMart, for all its discount prices, would never really be part of the community.

Any more than the woman who grabbed his feelings from deep inside and made him want to settle down and raise a family would ever be part of the community, either. Women like her rarely stayed in such a small town by choice.

“Hello, Laurel. Sadie here has an issue that needs fixing.” He refocused his attention on the soapbox derby car. “These nuts need tightened because you don’t want to lose a wheel when you come screaming down Widowmaker Hill toward the finish line,” he explained to the little girl who stared in awe at him with a dirty, upturned face.

“I wouldn’t wanna to crash,” Sadie agreed solemnly. “This lady here said that we would get our pictures in the newspaper.”

“Well, I’ll bring the City Hall camera to take your picture, because I’m sure Ms. Kinston will be too busy ushering the corporate bigwigs around.”

“Why do your friends wear big wigs? Is it for Easter? Cuz my mama said that Brookdale used to have an Easter Parade and everybody would wear big hats and stuff. We don’t do that anymore.”

“Would you like to have the Easter Parade again? It sounds like fun.” Laurel knelt down to the little girl’s eye level. It also put her on Cade’s level as well. He could see the natural honey-gold streaks in her hair and just catch a whiff of her delicate perfume.

“I would wear a big hat with big paper flowers on it.” Sadie stretched out her arms to illustrate, which caused Laurel to overbalance.

“I think I'd like that, too,” Laurel told Sadie and favored Cade with a smile as he helped her upright.

“Maybe WonderMart would like to lead the parade,” Cade said in derision.

Laurel waved to Sadie’s mother who followed behind as the little girl navigated down the street towards home. “What a cynical attitude you have.” She tilted her head as looked at him.

Cade stood slowly, wiped his hands on the bandana that hung like a flag from the back pocket of his jeans. “I had no idea that WonderMart was the corporation with a heart. Does the WonderMart CEO plan to man a scooper at our next ice cream social?”

“Well, not the CEO of WonderMart, Mr. Mayor, but others will certainly participate.” Laurel looked away to return a greeting from the local realtor.

“You’d come from the city to scoop ice cream,” he snorted in disbelief. “Did Bob McCann just ask you to sign some lease papers?”

Laurel’s smile slid beautifully over her face. “I have to go. I have a proposition to discuss with you, if you can schedule me some time,” she called over her shoulder as she hurried towards the realty office.

Cade made up his mind in an instant. “Meet me at five o’clock in the town square by the flower garden.” He watched as she gave a flutter of her long, slender fingers in reply.
* * * *

Laurel hung up the phone and pumped her fist in silent exultation. “It’s perfect, if I do say so myself,” she crowed as she did a little victory dance. “Now to meet Cade and convince him.”

During the walk from her room at the local bed & breakfast, to her destination at the town center garden, she'd stop, stare and just breathe. Everything in the little town of Brookdale exuded Norman Rockwell type nostalgia. She certainly didn’t want to diminish that aspect.

She’d dealt with her share of objectors who balked at having a WonderMart settle into their town. It was never a good thing if the mayor led the opposition. She hoped that her proposition might curb his reticence.

Laurel reached the gardens, eager to meet Cade. Such a cruel irony that he who also happened to be the one man that made her heart thrum like a host of hummingbirds with beating wings. He never needed to know that sensation had figured into her recent life changes.

“I brought dinner.” Cade waved a white paper sack from a local meat market that specialized in slow cooked barbeque. “You can tell me about your proposal while we eat.” Cade placed a protective hand against her lower back as they navigated over an uneven place in the aged sidewalk towards a quaint gazebo.

“WonderMart has agreed to sponsor the Easter Parade as an annual event. I think its good business to revive a favored tradition. This will be my last official act for WonderMart.”

“The town will love the idea of reviving the parade. It’s gotten too expensive for City Hall’s coffers these past few years. You’re really quitting WonderMart?” Cade gave her a narrow-eyed stare.

“I resigned my position last week when I leased on that empty storefront on Main. I belong here. I can feel it. I’m putting down roots, so deal with it, Mr. Mayor.”
Hours passed as they enjoyed the sunshine that faded into a starlit evening while they shared their dreams.

“Well, Madame Shopkeeper, might I offer my escort for the upcoming Easter Parade?”
“I would be delighted to accept, Mr. Mayor. Do you favor Easter bonnets with large paper flowers?”

“Not for myself, especially, but I’d favor a certain lady under such a bonnet. Shall we seal the deal with a kiss?”

Two silhouettes blended in lengthened shadows across the sidewalk under a glowing moon.

The town would later declare the Mayor’s engagement had made it their best Easter Parade ever.

Visit Sherry Online

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Moonlit Romance in the Spotlight: *Taking the Leap* by Judy Jarvie

Practice nurse Anya Fraser’s adopted son is at the centre of her life.  But when her new senior partner, Dr Max Calder arrives at work, distracting her in too many ways, suddenly her anti-relationship mantra isn’t working. Max volunteers to help her succeed at the charity parachute jump she’s so terrified of and attraction simmers from the off. Taking a leap of faith has never proved so scary nor so attractive –- how will they cope with the challenge of working together and taking to the skies? And resisting a future their pasts taught them to avoid?

Taking the Leap by Judy Jarvie

Next day Max strode through Cala Muir reception in pale khaki aviator overalls that were so sinfully sexy they should have carried a censorship warning and encryption against susceptible female attention. From head to foot he represented every woman’s private Topgun fantasy. Or Anya’s anyway. She gulped.

Even in unflattering utility wear the guy was super hot.

Could she be losing her wits lately? All she had on the brain when it came to Max nowadays was lustful thoughts. All too easily her thoughts slipped to wondering what it would be like to open up all those press stud fastenings and zippers and slip her hands inside. To wonder what lurked beneath? Boxer shorts? Or gulp, count to three and keep calm, less than the above? Daredevil Doc. Commando. She recognised the now familiar striking way her pulse bobbed when his eyes met hers.

“Ready for adventure?” he teased. “Hey where’s your suit? Not chicken are you?”

She faltered.

“Er, I’m running late. Do we all have to wear those?”

He nodded sagely. “Oh yes. No half measures when Katie’s in charge.”

In spite of the comic overtones of his words, his hot look told her she needed to baton down her susceptibility force-field. She’d have to try her best to keep him at arms’ length if she were to stay level headed.

“All ready for my close up, Mr. De Mille!” He feigned a thespian tone. “How do you want me?”

Dressed like that, the epitome of her every bad boy fantasy? She could name a good dozen positions. All of them indecent, flagrant and raunchy.

Purchase Taking the Leap by Judy Jarvie at Moonlit Romance, the 2007 catalog.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Moonlit Romance's March Backlist Spotlight...


In the Backlist Spotlight this month for Moonlit Romance, Taking the Leap by Judy Jarvie.

Judy Jarvie's Bio

After doing jobs that ranged from newspaper editorial assistant, press cuttings night-worker to university marketing executive Judy Jarvie moved from London back to Scotland and the writing dream took firm root.

She wrote her first novel (a flailing attempt) in 2001 and has been writing ever since (hopefully getting a smidge better with each try).

Judy lives in Fife, Scotland with her golf-obsessed husband and two young daughters. She is passionate about things that matter to her - reading romance, great movies and dramas, better friends, the countryside and regular holiday trips to beautiful UK locations, especially the Scottish highlands. 

‘Taking The Leap’ is Judy’s first novel to be published. It was short-listed for the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association Joan Hessayon Award. Judy is a keen Moonlit Romance fan – she considers Moonlit book shopping a wonderful treat.

Visit Judy online.
Join us tomorrow for an excerpt from Judy's wonderful novel, Taking the Leap.