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Want to meet and mix with some terrific mystery writers? I did at the Malice Domestic mystery conference last weekend in Bethesda, Md., and want to share that with all of you.

I also met amazing readers – oh, my, yes, I did. The dedication, diversity of reading, loyalty, friendliness, and stamina of these readers is incredible. I’m only sharing the authors with you, however, because we can share reading their works and enjoying their talent. The readers I met, on the other hand, are mine… all mine. Bwah-ha-ha…..

Hostesses With the Mostest(s)

Vicky Delany and Barbara Early hosted a table for the Saturday night awards banquet and were kind enough to include me along with their devoted fans. It was a great table, with lots of fun conversation about what people love to read and fascinating travels. By asking questions (who? me?) I also got to hear about the mystery series Vicky and Barbara each write. Click their names to find out more about them.

They teamed up to give their table guests these adorable tea combos, along with varied teas. I’m happy to report that mine made it home intact … and will be put to good use. Thank you, ladies!

Make New Friends…

My first great break of the conference was teaming up with Angela M. Sanders for the Friday morning Malice-Go-Round. This is an annual event where readers settle in to one of twenty tables. Then pairs of authors rotate from table to table, telling a bit about their book in two minutes each. Yup, speed-dating for authors. Angela and I hit it off and that made it so much more fun. I’m also extremely grateful to the readers who looked interested and engaged, when their minds must have been as mushed as mine.

And then Angela and I kept running in to each other and having great conversations. She writes several series, including capers centered on a retirement home for petty criminals and one focused on vintage clothing. Be sure to check her books out!

My last “find” of Malice Domestic 29 was at the closing tea Sunday afternoon — Kate Carlisle. We’ve done promotions together, but had never met in person, Our mutual friend, Victoria Thompson (see more about her below) introduced us. That’s Victoria (left) and Kate in the photo. Kate is as warm and fun as her two series – Bibliophile Mysteries and Fixer-Upper Mysteries. Be sure to catch the latter’s original movies on Hallmark’s Mystery channel. Next one’s coming up May 20.

Kate Robbins (right, with me Saturday night, and thanks to Nancy Cohen for the pic!) isn’t precisely a brand new friend, but she is a newer writer, and she doesn’t fit in the next category, either.

We met almost three years ago at the International Thriller Writers conference, then ran into each other at the Writers Police Academy last August, and hung out there a lot. Kate’s finishing up her first book … and starting on her second. Right now. Right, Kate? Right????

 

… But Keep The, Uh, Long-Time

Kaitlyn Dunnett/Kathy Lynn Emerson and I have known each other since we were teeny-tiny, baby authors, barely able to toddle around. 😉 With a group of other cronies, we extended conference travels to visit the Colorado Rockies, Newport, R.I., the Brandywine Valley of Pennsylvania, and more. Kaitlyn is now writing the popular Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American heritage mysteries. She’s also done series of historical mysteries, romances, and … well, check out her website for all the variety!

Kaitlyn also gets a VVF (Very Valuable Friend) award for raising her hand at the end of the panel I moderated and asking me to say something about my books. I was so touched. 🙂

Like history? Like mystery? You need to read Victoria Thompson’s books, including Agatha Award finalist “Murder in Morningside Heights” – that’s just from this year. She’s had scads of Agatha Award finalists (and other honors) in her long-running (that means lots of great books to read!) Gaslight mystery series. Plus, now she’s starting a second series. Can’t wait to add those to the Gaslight books.

Victoria’s comment at Malice about how long we’ve known each other? “I don’t ever remember not knowing you.” Compliment? … Or not? What do you think?

As for the picture … last day of the conference, about four hours of sleep, AND I was still on deadline. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Newshounds Abound!

Seated to my left are … the members of the “Extra! Extra! Extra! Newshounds as Sleuths” panel I moderated Sunday morning.

LynDee Walker, a former newspaper and magazine journalist, who writes the successful Headlines in High Heels mystery series set in Richmond, Va.

Lynn Chandler Willis, who knows all the skills, having owned a small-town newspaper, and is writing the Ava Logan mystery series.

Radha Vatsal, who takes readers to New York in the 1910s and World War I era, as her journalist sleuth Kitty Weeks refuses to be limited to the “Ladies’ Page.” (Book 2 is out this month.)

Christina Kovac, who was a TV journalist in D.C. (wonder if she ever ran across Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher from my Caught Dead in Wyoming series? ‘-) ) before her first novel, a psychological thriller set in D.C. called The Cutaway, came out in March.

These sharp, smart women and I had a lot of fun, discussed with each other, didn’t always agree (sooo much more interesting), and made the audience laugh. Folks came up afterward and said it was the best panel they’d been to. We didn’t even have to pay them or anything. Wow.

More Mystery Authors Coming in 2018

So, if you’re like me, always looking for more authors to read (because it’s one of those pesky facts of life that it takes soooo much longer to write than it does to read), I present the list above as a great place to start. Hope you’ll share it with friends, too.

And it’s not too early to sign up for Malice Domestic 30 so you can meet amazing authors in person. It would be great to see you there in April 2018. 🙂

Free book!

Download Sign Off, book 1 in the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series for free!

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Cyndi and I met and hit it off at the great Magna Cum Murder mystery writers conference last October in Indianapolis. We’d been chatting for a while when she mentioned her background as a 911 operator in Wyoming, and I pounced!  I am excited to share with you now some of her memories and this glimpse into what Aunt Gee of the Caught Dead in Wyoming series might have experienced earlier in her career.

By C.L. (Cyndi) Pauwels

“Back in my day…”: 911 in Cheyenne, Wyoming, circa late 1970s/ early ’80s

It was so refreshing to pick up SIGN OFF, the first novel in Patricia’s Caught Dead in Wyoming series, and find that E.M. Danniher’s adventures led her to the local 911 dispatch center. Those folks who handle the calls are so often overlooked, but they’re a vital piece of the law enforcement system. I love reading about fictionalized/disguised real places to see if I can find familiar landmarks. Almost five years in Wyoming left me with plenty of memories to sift through as I explored Elizabeth’s Cottonwood County.

Hubby and I lived and worked in Cheyenne (compliments of the U.S. Air Force), spent our first anniversary in Casper, and hiked in Curt Gowdy State Park; I spent time in the police academy facilities in Douglas while working for the Cheyenne city police, and ended my time in the Equality State manning the desk in the fledgling Laramie County 911 Center.

History note: The first 911 call in the United States was completed in Haleyville, Alabama, on February 16, 1968. By the end of the 20th century, approximately 96 percent of the geographic United States was using some form of the system (mostly the Enhanced 911).

When I started with Cheyenne PD in late 1978, we were far from the Enhanced system. And I have to give Patricia’s Aunt Gee credit – sharing her dispatch space with patrol officers? No way!

Graphic used with permission/ Facebook.com/Operatorspsp

Those guys (and gals now, not so much then – which is why we also trained as jail matrons) are loud and disruptive, and dispatchers are much too busy answering multiple phone lines and any number of radio calls to allow non-essentials in their space. All of the departments I’ve ever worked in (four total) kept the officers’ squad room completely separate from dispatch. And not just for the dispatchers’ peace of mind; some of those squad rooms doubled as booking areas and interview rooms.

Of course this was also in the day before headsets and computers (other than the NCIC teletype system – look it up!). Cheyenne PD’s 911 phones were bright red, rotary dials and all, and rang in with a jangle loud enough to override any radio traffic. We usually occupied our tiny carpet-lined (for sound-proofing), windowless office solo, but we teamed up during afternoon shifts in the summer months.

Fortunately, there were two of us on duty when one of the most destructive tornadoes (F-3) in the city’s history struck on July 16, 1979. Grainy YouTube footage shows the huge funnel cloud that descended on the city, flipping airplanes on F.E. Warren Air Force Base and at the Cheyenne Regional airport, mowing down the Buffalo Ridge subdivision and a trailer park, and seeming never to end. When it was over, 40 were reported injured, one person was killed, and an estimated 200 homes were destroyed.

Aunt Gee would have been proud. Somehow we held it together – as good dispatchers would – and collapsed later. When the first reports came in and the phones erupted, we corralled the corrections officer to help answer the regular lines. We juggled the nonstop 911 calls and radio traffic for what seemed like hours, but likely the worst of it was over fairly quickly. My most distinct memories of those endless minutes of chaos were the panicked woman who didn’t know enough to go into the basement for safety – she’d never heard of a tornado – and the patrol officer who stopped answering my radio calls.

Losing an officer is any dispatcher’s worst nightmare. That moment when a civilian picked up the mic and told me the patrol car was abandoned-where the hell’s the officer was heart-stopping. It ranked right up there with the domestic violence call when I heard shots fired on the phone line as my officer arrived at the scene.

Fortunately, this time the missing officer had chased down a panicked woman and hustled her into an alley under a mattress as the tornado passed overhead. They were safe.

These days, Aunt Gee and her compatriots have computer-aided dispatching, GPS, and all sorts of technology assistance we couldn’t imagine. But the bond remains, and no matter how long I’ve been out of the dispatch office (I left for more regular work hours when our daughter started school), I still miss the adrenaline rush, and “my” officers.

* * * * * *

C.L. (Cyndi) Pauwels brings to her crime fiction nearly 20 years’ experience working in the criminal justice field. Her debut novel, FORTY & OUT, is set in the Toledo, Ohio area communities she called home until 2004. Cyndi’s publishing credits also include the award-winning nonfiction HISTORIC WARREN COUNTY: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, several anthologized essays, and numerous short stories. In addition to writing, Cyndi’s portfolio career includes editing, teaching as a college adjunct, and serving as assistant director for the Antioch Writers’ Workshop. She lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with her husband of 38 years, three spoiled dogs and nine chickens. Follow her work at http://clpauwels.com

In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Kay Coyte is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher. March is in the middle of tax season, and here are a few tips to help you file those forms.
– – – – –
By Kay Coyte
My sister is a volunteer with AARP Foundation’s wonderful, free Tax-Aide assistance program. She observes that lines are longest in February, when citizens who expect refunds rush to file their returns, and in April, when late filers who owe taxes face the deadline. Or those, like me, who simply procrastinate. This year, because April 15 falls on a Saturday and April 17 is the date the District of Columbia observes Emancipation Day, IRS offices are closed until Tuesday, April 18. A nice little bonus long weekend for us laggards.
AARP’s Tax-Aide is for filers of all ages, and is free. The only restrictions are by income (only low- and middle-income filers are accepted) and simplicity of the return (if yours involves self-employment forms or other complications, you’ll have to seek other assistance, or turn to a professional preparer).
The good news on taxes is that, from 2015 to 2016, the IRS has seen a 50 percent decrease in new identity theft reports they’ve received, and in the number of suspicious federal tax returns stopped by banks and returned to the IRS. Still, IRS director John Koskinen warned last month that there’s been a spike in robo-calls from con artists posing as IRS officials as “scammers are evolving and using more and more automated calls in an effort to reach the largest number of victims possible.”

In this 2014 public service video, the IRS warns taxpayers about an increasing number of tax scams in communities across the country.

The IRS never initiates contact with taxpayers by email, text messages or social media channels to request personal or financial information. It also does not threaten taxpayers with lawsuits, imprisonment or other enforcement action. In a recent twist, a fake IRS official calls students and tells them that they owe a “federal student tax” — a tax that doesn’t even exist. And if you receive suspect correspondence invoking the Tax Advocacy Panel, ignore that one, too. TAP is only an IRS advisory board, it doesn’t issue refunds – or even solicit personal information.
If you’ve been “phished” or phone scammed, don’t reply or respond. You can report it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov (Subject: ‘IRS Phone Scam’). Or you can contact the Treasury Department’s inspector general office (TIGTA) by calling 800-366-4484 or by using the “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” online form here: https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml. Are you really irate? You can also report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission by using the “FTC Complaint Assistant”; be sure to include “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

I’m repeating this blog now because I just had my one-year post-op exam — with a good report. I figure two exams down, five o go over the next four years before the medical community will declare me cancer free and statistically I’m back with the general population for likelihood of cancer.

It’s worth repeating this post because — again — I heard from medical professionals that women are not heeding the early warning system this cancer provides. Too many cancers don’t give us a good chance to fight it early. Endometrial cancer does. Don’t ignore it!

  • If you or woman you care about have any unscheduled vaginal bleeding get it checked.
  • If your doctor doesn’t take it seriously, go to another doctor.
  • If you have any doubt, read the comments on the original blog here. People died who didn’t need to die. Don’t let this happen ever again.

I was very fortunate that my primary care physician took it seriously from the start. (I was the one scoffing — oops.) Because of her alertness and insistence, I had treatment for Stage 1A/Grade 1 cancer. Not Stage 2, 3, or 4. Not Grade 2 or 3. And because of that, I didn’t need chemo or radiation.

Yes, I griped about not healing faster. (I’m told I was unrealistic. Harumph.) It bugged me that I couldn’t do what I’d always done. Still, I knew I was fortunate.

And now I can look back at a year ago and see how far I’ve come. Not all the way to the old me, but a whole lot better than last February!

Here’s the original blog:

What I Did on Christmas Vacation

and why it might be important for your health.

I had surgery for endometrial cancer on Monday, December 28, 2015.

I won’t make you wait for this happy ending. The initial pathology report says I’m all clear after the surgery. Yes, there’s the final pathology report still to come. Also, I’ll need ongoing exams and tests (darn it!) to check for recurrence of endometrial cancer, but this was the best possible outcome of this procedure.

Why it might be important to you is that I’ve learned a whole lot about this since September. And one of the most important variables in beating the most prevalent type of endometrial cancer is catching it early.

Back in September, at a regular checkup with my doctor, as I prepared to leave, I said, “Oh, yeah, and I’ve had some bleeding.”

“Oh, yeah?” She was definitely not amused. Also wasn’t impressed when I said it was very light, very sporadic, maybe four incidences over six to nine months. It had seemed so innocuous I hadn’t really paid attention.

That was the start. I was sent for a transvaginal ultrasound and another test in October. They showed thickening of the endometrial stripe (I had no idea I had such a thing, much less that it could thicken) and what were thought to be fibroids.

fight cancer -- Patricia McLinnBecause of that thickening, I was sent for an ob/gyn biopsy. This biopsy checks only a tiny portion of the uterus, so it can confirm cancer but not rule it out. My biopsy was clear, which was good, but not definitive.

The next step was a D&C in November for a more extensive biopsy. No evident signs of cancer during the scope. However, they found a polyp, removed it, and sent it to pathology.

The doctor called a couple days later than I’d expected her to call with the pathology report and said there wasn’t a definitive answer. Some things indicated cancer, but other markers weren’t there. A second local pathologist came to the same conclusion. So they were sending the sample to a specialist at Mass General in Boston, which would take another week.

I asked the doctor to let me see the preliminary report while we waited. It included the word “suspicious.”

To this point, I was absolutely convinced that each of these steps would be the last one. I felt absolutely fine. I have no know family history of endometrial cancer. But seeing that word “suspicious” made me think, uh-oh.

So when the specialist came back and said the sample met the criteria for cancer, I wasn’t totally surprised. The specialist also wrote that the removal of the polyp might have removed all the cancer “but one cannot guarantee it.”

When it comes to cancer, a nonguarantee was not going to cut the mustard. The medical advice was a hysterectomy. So after talking to doctors (including a wonderful friend of the family), researching, juggling schedules with family and such, the surgery was set for Dec. 28.

I’m writing this as I’m in the hospital a second night (hope it’s the last one! I was told to expect 2-4 nights in the hospital. I plan on being on the short end.)

There are a few things I’ve learned that I hope might help someone out there.

  • If you have any “unscheduled” bleeding, tell your doctor immediately. Light, sporadic, unimpressive – doesn’t matter. Report it. I was fortunate that my doctor jumped on it. Not all do. So you might need to be assertive. If you are not menopausal it’s more complicated. Do not let that stop you – no one knows your body better than you do. When something’s “off,” new, different, report it and pursue it.
  • Do NOT think that feeling good means you don’t have an issue. Generally, you don’t feel bad with this cancer unless it’s progressed way past where you want it to be.
  • Recognize that the tests are going to be weird, uncomfortable, and unfun. Get them done anyway. Do them quickly.
  • You’ll need help. After anesthesia, such as for the D&C, hospitals won’t put you in a taxi. (I thought that was a great solution. The ob/gyn said she would not put me in a taxi with someone I didn’t know while still loopy from anesthesia. Okay, that was fair point.) Instead I needed family help. And more help for this surgery. Lots more. This is not easy for me. (I’m told my first spoken phrase was “Do it my ownself.”) But you do what you got to do.
  • Information is power. Find out what you need to know from good sources. I recommend:

Mayo Clinic — Including this succinct list of symptoms of endometrial cancer:

FireShot Screen Capture #098 - 'Endometrial cancer Symptoms - Mayo Clinic' - www_mayoclinic_org_diseases-conditions_endometrial-cancer_basics_symptoms_con-20033696

Cleveland Clinic

NIH’s National Cancer Center

  • Be as proactive as you can be in talking with the doctors and nurses. Your understanding of and comfort with what’s happening is vital. Some of the doctors didn’t seem to be accustomed to  my level of question-asking – I figure I’ve softened them up for all the patients who follow <wg>. The vast majority of the nurses were terrific, giving lots of information and answering lots of questions. Remember, though, that for doctors and nurses this is everyday stuff – the terms, the sequence, the protocols. You need to remind them that for you it is not everyday. Don’t let them rush through what’s familiar to them but leaves you confused or uncertain. Ask until you understand the answer, even if that means asking over and over.
  • Do not assume that because you have no family history or the major indicators that you’re exempt. By those criteria I wouldn’t have it. But here I am. And so are a lot of other women.
  • Getting this early is absolutely vital. Unlike too many cancers, endometrial cancer frequently gives us early symptoms. When nature gives you an early warning system, you cannot afford to ignore it. Caught early the prognosis is very good. But I’ve talked to doctors who have treated women who let it go for years – years! — or until they were bleeding profusely. Don’t. Do. This.
  • The diagnosis of cancer is NOT the bad news. Seriously.

A friend asked me after the pathology report came back as endometrial cancer if I was upset. I wasn’t happy, but honestly that was mostly because all the tests and procedures had messed with my writing schedule big-time and I realized that surgery was going to knock that schedule for a major loop. (Which explains why the release of LAST DITCH has been pushed back from November to February.)

But.

I also realized that not knowing would have been so, so, so much worse.

Whatever is going on in your body – cancer or otherwise – is already there. The diagnosis doesn’t change that, but it does give you a chance to DO something. To take action. To fight.

That’s what I’ve done. I hope it’s what you’ll do if you need to.

I also hope you’ll spread the word about the symptoms of this cancer so more women have the opportunity to fight it when the fight is winnable.

Good health to all of us in 2016.

P.S.  I DID get out of the hospital after two days. Home now, learning not to lift anything over 5 pounds for a spell.  Ah, but the laptop’s only 3 pounds! ‘-)

Cords lying in wait to begin their evil ways.

Cords hate me. Really.

Have you ever had a whole category of inanimate objects hate you?  Please tell me you have. I feel so alone.

It’s hard.

It can erode your confidence, challenge your vocabulary, and hurt your soul.

It can also hurt more tangible areas of your person.

Especially since I send a great deal of my time with cords.

Juggling the cords behind the computer that’s theoretically become more wireless all the time. Hah!

Walking around with cords for two laptops, cell phone, mini-tablet. These are the tools of my trade. Those cords must accompany me through my day.

The dreaded double knob hooker cord

Plugging in my Happy Lamp to keep from sinking into February SAD.

The land line. Not for the phone — I got a wireless handheld for that. But there’s still a cord from the handset to the headset, because it makes it so much easier to hear and I can keep doing other things while on the phone.

Except that just in the past week that wire has hooked on doorknobs, my glasses, the corner of my desk, my knees (one at a time), the corner of a countertop, the dog’s nose, a mug (full to the brim with tea), my hair, a CD case, drawer pulls, the garbage can, a dish, my toothbrush, a cutting board, two plants, my ear, and the dog’s leash, yanking me off the back steps by my head when she did a “Squirrel!”

This has led to some peculiar interruptions to conversations. “No I didn’t scream because I didn’t like that date for my dental appointment. I was trying to save a mug of hot tea from spilling.”

The laptop cord is forever catching on the corner of the stairs, doorknobs, and dresser pulls.

In a close relation, for some reasons my pockets – jackets, hoodies, robe, and occasionally pants – catch on doorknobs all the time. I mean, all the time.

Is this the universe’s way of telling me to unplug? Or that I move through my surroundings too fast? That I should give objects a wider berth (especially doorknobs and drawer pulls)?

I come back to where I started. It’s very clear that cords hate me.

And I hope to hear from some of you out there that I’m not alone. It doesn’t have to be cords. But, please, somebody hear my plea and understand …

In honor of the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Kay Coyte is writing for my newsletter and blog a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher. They frequently cover fraud perpetrated on seniors citizens, with helpful advice from U.S. agencies and groups such as AARP.

By Kay Coyte

In the Caught Dead in Wyoming mysteries, TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher has tracked down refunds and repairs for local Sherman, Wyoming, residents in her “Helping Out” consumer advocate segments. But sometimes people, particularly senior citizens, need to know when NOT to help out.

AARP’s Scam Alert blog warns about the grandparents con, in which a caller, often targeting the elderly, poses as a loved one in need of help – and money – after being robbed or hurt or detained on while vacation. According to a recent alert from the Michigan Attorney General’s office, these skillful criminals request that the grandparent wire money through Western Union or MoneyGram.  To make their story sound more plausible, they ask the grandparent to keep it a secret, claiming they are too embarrassed or fearful to contact a parent.

Just hang up, and call that grandchild – or his or her parent or other relative — directly to determine if the situation is truly dire. And never give out bank account or credit card numbers to anyone who calls you on the phone.

You might assume that only the most gullible or vulnerable or maybe just plain stupid would be susceptible to such a scam, but it came close to succeeding not once but twice in my immediate family of intelligent people. About five years ago, my mother received the call — a young man addressed her as grandma and she replied, “Charlie?” And the scam was on. The con artist “Charlie” nearly had Grandma convinced that she needed to send him money to help him get home after he lost his wallet while traveling abroad. He begged her not to call me. She was ready to drive to a Western Union location, when she began to have doubts and called her grandson on his cellphone. Luckily he answered, and assured her he was fine. That story was repeated around the table at many subsequent dinners, and my mother marveled at the scammer’s acting/improv ability.

Just last week, the scam repeated itself, this time targeting my sister and her husband. And despite knowing our mother’s story, they, too, came all too close to driving to a location to wire cash to someone they thought was a grandchild.

Here’s a short AARP interview of a couple who did lose money in the grandparent scam: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j8Ca0UCmnkY

*Posting While Irresponsible

This is as close to politics as I’m going to get. One of the reasons I steer clear is that I apply logic, reason, and critical thinking to what’s said by people on both sides… In other words, I tick off everybody. <wg>

But right now, with emotions running so high, I am seeing so much PWI (Posting While Irresponsible) that I feel the need to plant my flag on the mount of logic, reason, and critical thinking.

Each of us has a responsibility – as citizens of the world, as adults, as rational beings – to be factual and accurate.

Tweets are not facts. Facebook posts are not facts. Blogs are not facts. “There are reports” are not facts (and shame, shame, shame on the media for using them. I’ve only seen it on cable TV news shows so far, and shame on them.)

I dug into two of those “there are reports,” each of which reflected badly on one of the parties. I’m not going to go into details – because it’s too easy to focus on the emotion of the reports rather than on the process – but one was refuted by official sources and the only citations for the other was the cable TV news show that had used the “there are reports that blah, blah, blah” line. In other words, it was a classic echo chamber.

That’s what happens with so much of this. Only YOU can stop echo chambers. (Yes, I’m stealing the line from Smokey the Bear.)

Otherwise these inaccuracies, garbled half-truths, and some outright lies will echo forever in the Tweets and FB posts of those who are not responsible, who want to make their point at any cost, and, yes, are fearful. Because fear drives the extremes on both sides.

Please, please, please don’t add to this.

Before you pass anything on, consider what it means if it’s not true. Each of us can do so much harm if we don’t act responsibly.

I have no expectation that this will reach the most strident on either side. It’s hard to think while you’re shouting. But I hope it will encourage others to pause, to think.

What can you do?

  • Apply critical thinking to everything you read or hear. Read and listen to multiple sources, especially including those that present views you don’t hold. Challenge everything that is presented to you.
  • Apply a hefty dose of skepticism to everything you read or hear, especially the things that march in step with what you already thought. If what’s running through your mind is, “I knew it! I just knew it!” that is a loud warning bell that you are in danger of stepping into an echo chamber. Step back. Take a deep breath, follow the other steps here.
  • Consider the source. Many of these “reports” start from people or groups who are busy grinding their axes. Google and look back for the earliest mention of the report. Check if this is where secondary reports got their “facts.” Look at that primary site/source. Consider if it appears to be professional and balanced or fomenting and one-sided.
  • Do not pass on anything until it has BOTH been thoroughly vetted by credible, preferably primary sources and passed your critical thinking challenge.
  • Recognize that “your” side can be as misleading and irresponsible as the other. Sorry to burst your bubble.
  • Know that passing something on with qualifiers like “I heard this” or “I don’t know if this is true, but” is as dangerous as passing things on as facts. Most readers and listeners automatically strip out the qualifiers and hear only the “juicy” part … which is what they then pass on. Adding to the echo chambers.

Battle fear with reason and accuracy.

 

A quick note to let you know I’ve guest blogged with the lovely folks of Liberta Books about the lively — and sometimes deadly — world of research for writers.

C’mon over. The research is fine. ‘-) And take a look around this wonderful site designed for readers and authors to connect.

Screenshot 2016-11-07 11.18.06

 

 

A rare book signing appearance for moi!

I will be speaking at the mystery conference Magna Cum Murder at the Columbia Club in Indianapolis on Saturday, Oct. 29, appearing on two panels — A Nose for Murder: Do Protagonists Need to Be Professionals? and Alpha to Omega: Changes in Publishing From the Beginning. And I’ll be signing at 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

1a magnaI’m such a shy and retiring type that I seldom do these anymore.

Book signings, I mean. I still do lots of panels and writing workshops. Those I don’t mind. In fact I had a fabulous time last year as a keynoter at the Romance Writes of Australia national conference (Oooo, they’re in Brisbane in 2017!) and Romance Writers of New Zealand National Conference (Auckland 2017 — I’d go back in a heartbeat!).

It’s the book signings…

Earlier in my career I did plenty of book signings.

I had a fabulous one with lots of friends, family, neighbors, former teachers, former Girl Scout leaders, and others at a late, lamented Waldenbooks at Yorktown Center in my hometown of Lombard, Illinois. I enjoyed some where I got to be with buddy authors. And there were a number of signings that benefited literacy, which were very satisfying.

I’ll never forget the book signing when a lovely elderly couple came by a table set out in mall hallway with me sitting behind it, wondering if anyone would notice if I slid under it. The man kept encouraging his wife to buy more books. He confided to me that he couldn’t read, but he was hugely proud of his wife’s reading and nothing made him happier than buying her books.

Talk about a hero.

On the flip side, sitting at a table on display, asking people to please consider buying a book. Or at least to look at it. Or just to be pleasant to me. That’s one of the hardest things in the world for me.

I can’t count the number of times at a book signing I gave directions to bathrooms. Said, no, I wasn’t an employee, but I’d guess the dictionaries were under the sign saying, um, dictionaries, yes, I really wrote those books, no, I didn’t crank them out, no, I didn’t consider them (insert derogatory word here), yes, I thought authors’ time and imagination were worthy of being compensated by having their books purchased.

And then there was the time I was a blue light special at a KMart. No kidding.

One of the joys to me of social media is being able to communicate with you lovely readers online.

Because, remember, I’m a shy, retiring type.

Not to mention that this way I don’t have to dress like a grownup.

So if you’re in the Indianapolis area, I hope you’ll come to the book signing — after all, I will have showered, combed my hair, brushed off most of the dog hair, and put on grownup clothes. Also, I promise to tell you where the bathrooms are! 😉

For Part II, see Handling the Negative, Sept. 21, 2016

 

Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative. Remember that Johnny Mercer song?  I have this memory of it being sung by an animated bear on TV.  Maybe it was the bear’s limited credibility that had me responding with a hearty, “Says who?”

Why eliminate the negative when it provided certain benefits – not the least of which is I can be a darned amusing depressed person. And I had high-power backing. At the August 2000 American Psychological Association (APA) meeting there was a panel called “The (Overlooked) Virtues of Negativity.”

“Being (constantly) upbeat can lead to a tendency to think in a quick fix kind of way,” says Julie Norem, a social psychologist at Wellesley College. Psychologist Barbara Held of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine laments what she calls the “tyranny of the positive attitude.” This camp points out that optimism run amok can lead to sloppy work and bad decision-making.

That panel could be viewed as backlash to a “Positive Psychology” movement that coalesced around University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin E.P. Seligman, who was elected president of the American Psychology Association in 1996.

That positive movement maintains that psychology has traditionally focused on disease and how to ameliorate it. Positive psychology aims to look at what works through scientific research. By examining the mechanisms of what works psychologically, they hope to shed light on what doesn’t for those who are ill and to find ways to make things better for those who are not psychologically sick, but wouldn’t mind a little tune-up.

These scientists (in contrast to so many in the scientific community who seem to spend an inordinate amount of time telling us what not to eat, wear or do) are looking into topics such as resiliency, hope, forgiveness and gratitude. I find that heartening.

Positive psychology was what I was after, though I didn’t know the name for it when I started. From conversations with fellow writers and reading their posts for years and years, I suspect I’ve got lots of company. And what I’ve learned is that negativity and pessimism could be robbing us of writing time and possibly of good health, as well as diminishing our writing by narrowing our thoughts.

Long before I’d heard of positive psychology, I was facing a deadline years ago when I received a review on a previous book with a phrase along the lines of “although the story loses some steam …” That same day, I had a piece of good news. You guessed it — I focused on that solitary phrase in the review to the exclusion of everything else, and hearing that phrase drumming through my head cost me an entire day of writing at a time I couldn’t afford it.

bibliosAfter crying on some dear friends’ shoulders, I looked at the review again the next day and realized that everything else in the review before and after that phrase was glowing. Yet I’d managed to not see that, instead zooming in on the negative. I’d been aware of this tendency before, but I’d figured it was part of the standard equipment in my writing personality (in most areas of my life I am not like this), and figured it ensured that I remained humble.

But this instance was different. First, I was embarrassed to admit to the friends with damp shoulders that I’d jumped to the most negative conclusion possible. Second, I’d lost that entire day of writing – and it wasn’t the first time this had happened.

I’d had it. I was not going to let that habit interfere with my writing if I could help it. I wanted to know why we (not all writers, but a fairly high percentage from my unscientific sampling) do this and –more important — how to stop.

First I brainstormed for reasons why we, as writers, might be inclined to open the door and let stuff such as a negative review or even a solitary negative phrase right into our heads, our hearts, our souls.  I came up with a few theories, which I would be happy to share with that APA “The (Overlooked) Virtues of Negativity” panel:

— We don’t want other people to think we have big heads

— We don’t want to be blindsided by criticism so we make sure we know what all the potential slams are, and thus hope to be armored against them. (Doesn’t work, but we hope.)

— It’s a survival mechanism carried over from when doing something right was fine, but learning from your mistakes kept you alive another day. (Therefore evolution favored those who obsessed about their mistakes, and we’re the descendents of all those fretters.)

— It’s an analytical mechanism that — if not taken to an extreme (Hah!) — can help us improve our work. (My mind accepts this one, my hand reaches for chocolate.)

— It’s a carryover from the last times we read our manuscript that’s being criticized.  The last — what? — three, four times we read it before it was published we were on the hunt for bad stuff as we edited.  So we’ve last viewed it with a mean critical eye, not looking for or noticing the good.  Certainly not reading it as a reader.  So if we hear something critical, it fits right in with our attitude toward the book, while the good stuff doesn’t. This fits with scientific studies showing that people accept information that backs their opinion and reject information that doesn’t.

All this could be true, and for some folks, knowing these are the reasons that trigger the “accentuate the negative” switch in our heads might stop the habit in its tracks. For those of you like me whose habits are made of sterner stuff, the journey continues.

Next, I read “positive energy” self-help books. This was not a good fit for me.

I’m a fairly hard-headed skeptical type, so sending signals out to the universe that it answers in kind, while interesting, didn’t sway me. (Programs that say “If you really believe in it, it will work” raise my skepticism, because they have a built-in excuse that it’s never the program it’s always the operator. It didn’t work? It’s your fault for not believing.)

One interesting connection did result from this phase, however.  What some call the Law of Attraction clicked in my head as coinciding with scientific research showing that people absorb information that confirms their beliefs and discard information that refutes their beliefs. We all know this at work in bigotry — seeing what confirms the bias, dismissing what doesn’t. And that’s basically what we’re being to ourselves – bigots against optimism and hopefulness.

It was my first step up a mountain, which helped in two ways:

— Consciousness. If I shrug off a good thing or wrap my arms around a bad thing I now recognize (eventually) that my reaction is because it’s confirming beliefs I hold or fears I harbor.

— A route to follow. Scientific research might be the jackhammer that could get through my hard head and break up that realm of negativity.

Then my sister-in-law sent me an excerpt from material aimed at business people that referred to brain research showing that the biological/chemical connections of a thought become faster and easier to make with repeated use.

Scientists say the repetition stimulates dendritic growth in the brain. I say we’re basically creating an express lane for those frequently-thought thoughts. Negative or positive, we’re carving a rut in our brain that similar thoughts will roll through in nothing flat. New thoughts have to slog along laboriously building new connections.

Ah-ha! Now this was making sense to me. And maybe it explains the anecdotal success of people who swear by affirmations – they’re getting their thoughts in a positive fast-track.

That excerpt had another section that addressed research done by Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin on the neurophysiology of positive and negative emotions. With many apologies to Davidson, the gist is that different areas of our brain hold the positive stuff (that’s the technical term — honest) and the negative stuff. You can stimulate one side or the other and get strong responses, as you might guess.

But that’s not all. When one side is anesthetized, the other side responds as if it had been stimulated. In other words, if the positive side is suppressed, even without stimulating the negative side, negative reactions such as crying, shouting, and acting out will occur.

So even if all something negative in our lives does is mildly suppress the positive side, that’s going to bring out some of the negative.

That was another light bulb moment for me. It explained sinking into negative reactions even when there aren’t big, horrible “bad things” – being nibbled by ducks suppresses the positive side enough to let the negative emotions pop up (and it that happens frequently, you start building that negative-thought express lane.)

It also gave me a really good reason to eat chocolate, because it stimulates the positive side, bringing it back up to even from being suppressed, and that quiets down the negative side. (Sorry, I didn’t find any research that confirms this, but it’s such a good theory, it’s got to be true.)

But I wanted to know more, and I still needed bigger weapons to throw against the negativity.

A writing friend suggested the book “Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your life” by Martin E.P, Seligman – yes, that’s Dr. Positive Psychology himself, though I didn’t know that when I read the book.

Much of the book is devoted to recapping series of studies that Seligman and colleagues have done since the mid-‘60s. Those studies first focused on what he calls “learned helplessness” – the sense that nothing you can do will have any effect, so you don’t bother to try. Giving up.

They discovered some subjects, once trained to feel helpless (their efforts have no effect), do not try to help themselves even when their efforts would have an effect – they don’t even check if their efforts could help. Yet others, exposed to the same circumstances, never give up.

So what was the difference between these two kinds of people?

Seligman’s answer, based on further studies, is that explanatory style is the difference: what you say to yourself when things are going bad.

He breaks explanatory style into three elements – permanence, pervasiveness and personalization — each with a spectrum between an optimistic response and a pessimistic response.

Permanence – is what went wrong temporary or enduring?

Pervasiveness – is what went wrong limited to one specific element or across the board?

Personalization – is what went wrong solely your fault or are its causes outside of you?

Say a high school student fails a test. How does he respond?

I will never amount to anything hits the three Ps from a pessimistic style. Never is permanent, anything is pervasive and I, of course, is personal.

The teacher put questions on that test we hadn’t covered yet hits the three Ps from an optimistic style. Hadn’t covered/yet are temporary. That test is specific to one event. The teacher puts the onus outside the student. (I was grumbling about personal responsibility as I read this, then turned the page and there was a section headed “Caveat About Responsibility.” In short, Seligman says he does not recommend a wholesale blaming of external elements, but awareness of a habit of taking on responsibility when it is not yours is advised.)

Seligman demonstrates links among the pessimistic explanatory style and helplessness and depression – and the optimistic explanatory style with persistence and often with success.               If you line up your explanatory style with optimism, will all be sweetness and light?

Probably not if the raw material you’re working with is not optimistic; Psychologists suggest people have a set range for optimism that can be maximized, but not necessarily made over.

But adjusting your explanatory style likely will produce a better balance. Runaway optimism might not be the best mode, either.  (Seligman has noted in interviews that there are some professions where optimists might not be the best choice.  Pilots, for instance. “Turn back? Heck, no. I can get this plane over that mountain range with one engine and no fuel – piece of cake.” Not the person you want in the cockpit.)

Moreover, Max More, yet another Ph.D., weighing in on this, proposes that optimists can de divided into two groups: passive and dynamic.  Passive says everything will be okay, and sits back and waits for that to come true. Dynamic says I can fix this, and sets to work doing that. Explanatory style is not enough on its own – you have to act, too.

But what if your explanatory style is just fine or negativity doesn’t stop your writing in its tracks for a day or longer – what is in all this positive psychology for you?

In a talk describing a study underway on the benefits of “positive affect” Ed Diener, one of the studiers, said that people in a positive mood do better in creativity measures. Further, in referring to “eminent creative people” 60 percent of their creativity seems to occur while in a positive mood, and 8 percent in a negative mood.

Now, some of us skeptical types might be wondering if the good mood is a result of having a good creative session, rather than the cause, but the Ph.D.s have some thoughts on that, too.

Barbara Fredrickson of the University of Michigan has an answer for that in her research, and especially in her 2000 article “Cultivating Positive Emotions to Optimize Health and Well-Being.” (Trust me – that’s a sexy title in the world of the APA.)

Fredrickson writes that negative emotions (anger, fear, sadness, anxiety, etc.) narrow our thoughts in order to prepare us for specific actions, such as the old fight-or-flight. As Diener points out, unpleasant emotions can signal something is wrong and push you to make changes.  It’s useful for life-threatening situations, where you want all your resources – mental and physical — zeroed in on the action that’s going to get you out of that fix.

The zeroing-in effect of those negative emotions, however, means they are not willing to share your resources with other thoughts or actions – the sort of thoughts and actions that you need for writing fiction, like imagination.

So, how do you shake those negative emotions that creep in when you read, oh, say a negative phrase in a review?

Experiments have shown that positive emotions (for example contentment, interest, joy) can undo the cardiovascular effects of negative reactions (fear and sadness.) Fredrickson and colleagues measured the cardiovascular effects of telling subjects they had to give a speech to induce “negative emotional arousal.”

Then, after saying “just kidding” about the speech to remove the negative emotional arousal, they divided them into groups and showed some negative films (scary, sad), some positive films, and some neutral films. The group shown the positive films had the fastest cardiovascular recovery.

Fredrickson then says, “Beyond speeding physiological recovery, the hypothesized undoing effect implies that positive emotions should counteract any aspect of negative emotions.”  Any aspect? Like narrowed thinking?  Like frozen creativity?

Alas, experiments to confirm that implication have not yet been done – or at least not yet reported, this area of research is ongoing — although Fredrickson notes that “indirect supportive evidence can be drawn from a collection of correlational studies. Individuals who express or report higher levels of positive emotion show more constructive and flexible coping, more abstract and long-term thinking, and greater emotional distance following stressful negative events.” (For those wanting to dig deeper, she cites Keltner & Bonanno, 1997; Lyubomirsky & Tucker, 1998; Martin, Kuiper, Olinger, & Dance, 1993; Stein, Folkman, Trabasso, & Richards, 1997).

(For a different take read Kevin Rathunde of the
University of Utah, who wrote an article called “Broadening and Narrowing in the Creative Process: A Commentary on Fredrickson’s ‘Broaden-and-Build’ Model “ He called for a more complex model than “negative” emotions on one side and “positive” emotions on the other. He also held that creativity requires the narrowing thinking (focused, analytical) as well as broadening thinking. “A large and growing amount of research suggests that the right hemisphere operates in a primary process manner, whereas the left hemisphere operates in a sequential and analytic way,” he writes. “Creativity requires both kinds of processing; therefore, it is related to flexible communication across the hemispheres and the ability to integrate these different ways of processing information (Bogen, 1969; Martindale, 1999).”)

I’m not arguing with Rathunde, but I feel that I have the negative side down – forgive the pun – pat.

So pending the positive psychologists running some studies on my writing buddies and me, what’s in Fredrickson’s broaden-and-build model of positive emotions for writers?

I’ll let her words answer that: “Cultivated positive emotions not only counteract negative emotions, but also broaden individuals’ habitual modes of thinking and build their personal resources for coping.”

Broadening habitual ways of thinking (sounds a lot like creativity, doesn’t it?) and becoming better at coping (sure seems like a handy tool in the world of publishing). I like it.

Building on the work of her fellow psychologists, Fredrickson argues that while negative actions narrow thoughts in order to facilitate an act, positive emotions, with their broadening effect provide the platform for building new skills.

For example, she says that interest sparks us to explore, which builds our store of knowledge. And contentment “involves full awareness of, and openness to momentary experiences; it carries the urge to savor and integrate those experiences, which in turn creates a new sense of self and a new world view.”  Good stuff for a writer.

And what is built by a positive emotion endures long past the instance of experiencing the emotion.

Fredrickson is not alone. Alice Isen of Cornell University is researching the effects of positive emotions and indicates that positive effect appears to make people more flexible and more successful at tasks requiring creativity and flexible thought.

Think of negative emotions as the sugar fueling the short-term gratification of action, while positive emotions are the protein creating the muscle of long-term gratification of expanded abilities.

I read a lot, and practiced a lot, and I have become more positive. Do I qualify as little Mary Sunshine? Uh, no. A healthy dose of skepticism is beneficial in my opinion. But I have become more of what Seligman refers to as a situational optimist – even in situations where I would have previously been a knee-jerk pessimist.

I’m trying to tame my negative emotions sweet tooth so that Fredrickson’s expectation will take hold: “Positive emotions, the broaden-and-build model holds, open people’s mindsets, enabling creative and flexible thinking.”

The only downside is that I had some really good lines about being blue that are now going to waste. Or maybe I could have this pessimistic character who is a really amusing depressed person…

How’s that for flexible thinking?

~ ~ ~

Originally appeared in NINK, the newsletter of Novelists, Inc.

This is a sidebar to an earlier blog post, Accentuate the Positive, Sept. 11, 2016

 

The idea of positive psychology is not to ignore that bad things happen. Instead, it’s based on that old saying your mother probably told you: It’s not what happens to you, it’s how you handle it. So, how do we improve at handling the bad things in our lives?

THOUGHT EXPRESS-LANES

Scientists have proven that a repeated thought stimulates dendritic growth in the brain, so in essence the biological/chemical connections that create a thought become faster the more you have that thought – good or bad.

While new thoughts must take the time to build each connection, the same old thought clicks through in the express lane rut it’s already built.

Are affirmations the answer to making thought express-lanes work for us?

University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Martin E.P.  Seligman, who is one of the leaders of Positive Psychology is not an affirmation fan.

He writes in Learned Optimism that the skills of optimism “do not consist in learning to say positive things to yourself.  We have found over the years that positive statements you make to yourself have little if any effect. What is crucial is … the power of ‘non-negative thinking.’ Changing the destructive things you say to yourself when you experience the setbacks” of life.

So, more important than affirmations could be the flip side – that by tuning into the negative ruts and saying STOP IT! you could shut down that express lane to negativity. (There’s a “Mad TV” skit with Bob Newhart as a therapist who, when his patient says she’s afraid of being buried alive, yells “STOP IT! Have you ever been buried alive? Do you know anyone who’s been buried alive? Then stop worrying about it. Just STOP IT!” It actually works.)
SUPPRESSING NEGATIVE AREAS OF OUR BRAIN

Recommendations (below) by Barbara Fredrickson of the University of Michigan from her 2000 article “Cultivating Positive Emotions to Optimize Health and Well-Being” should serve this purpose as well, but I’m holding out for chocolate.

EXPLANATORY STYLES

Being aware of the three Ps — permanence, pervasiveness and personalization — can certainly help. However, Seligman doesn’t stop there. Based on psychologist Albert Ellis’s ABC schema, Seligman presents an ABCDE approach:

Adversity: Work at being objective about the “bad thing” that sets off a negative response.

Belief: This is your interpretation of the adversity, your evaluation and your inference. These are thoughts, and their accuracy can be checked.

Consequences: These are your feelings – the consequences of your beliefs about the adversity.

Say Artemis Author has a book proposal rejected – that’s adversity. Artemis’s belief is that he’ll never sell again, he’s all washed up. The consequences are that he feels defeated, which is unlikely to be conducive to writing a new proposal that might sell.

So, there’s the problem, now what’s the next step?

Disputation: If you ever said to yourself “get a grip,” you were most likely disputing your B after an A, which should change your C – that’s the goal. Another “D” can help with this: Distancing. Listen to the statements coming from inside your head under B and then imagine if someone else yelled them at you. Would you believe them? Would you slug the person saying them? Then maybe they don’t belong in your head, either.

Seligman emphasized that your disputations must be believable. Mouthing unbelievable reassurances won’t work. He says believability is based on four elements: evidence, alternatives, implications and usefulness.

  • Evidence is self-explanatory. If Artemis Author has a multi-book contract with a publisher other than the one who rejected his proposal, evidence is pretty darn strong to dispute his I’m all washed up lament.
  • Alternatives refers to explanations for the adversity other than your Belief. Artemis’s might include that the publisher already had a book similar to his proposal in production, that the editor had a bad day, that this wasn’t a good fit with that publishing program, that the editor has a screw loose.
  • Implications, in my mind is worst-case scenario.  If your belief is correct, what then? Artemis looks at his life if he never sells again. Is that the end of his life? Will he starve? Will his family leave him? Will his mother disown him?
  • Usefulness means, as Seligman writes, that the consequences of a belief are more important than whether it’s true. In Artemis’ case, the consequence of believing he would never sell again could be freezing up and not being able to write – the old self-fulfilling fear. Artemis’ belief is not useful.

After all the disputing, you should be ready for E.

Energization. Disputing should at least be putting a dent in those beliefs that followed after the adversity. Changing the beliefs should also change the consequences. Artemis’ disputations have taken hold, especially the one about the rejected proposal not being a good fit with the publisher, and now he is feeling determined … and energized enough to send the proposal to a more suitable publisher.

This process has brought Artemis from the pessimistic side to the optimistic side of the three Ps.

“Increased optimism, however attained, should translate into an increased ability to find positive meaning and experience positive emotions in daily life,” writes Fredrickson. “Experiences of positive emotions, in turn, should broaden habitual modes of thinking and build personal resources for coping with life’s adversity.”

VANQUISH NEGATIVES WITH POSITIVES

Courting positive emotions to fight negativity works because, Fredrickson says, “A person’s thought-action repertoire cannot be simultaneously broad and narrow.” Fredrickson offers several strategies to court positive emotions:

— Relaxation therapies (meditation, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation and biofeedback) which Fredrickson also calls contentment therapies. Contentment, as a positive emotion, can undo the negative and broaden the thought processes.

— Behavioral therapies aimed at increasing rates of pleasant activities. Studies have shown decreased levels of depression and even the apparent prevention of symptoms of depression. Pleasant activities produce positive emotions best when the individual feels s/he has control of the activity and if they share it with others.

— Cognitive therapies aimed at teaching optimistic explanatory styles, such as Seligman’s to avoid depression.

But beyond that absence of a negative (depression), the goal is to bring the positive that Fredrickson and others hold provides physiological benefits (heart, immune system) and psychological benefits (resiliency, flexible thinking). That brings us to her final strategy:

–Coping strategies that find “positive meaning within and despite adversity.”

Spiritual and religious beliefs are perhaps the most obvious way, but there are others.  “(a) Reframing adverse events in a positive light (also called positive reappraisal); (b) infusing ordinary events with positive value; and (c) pursuing and attaining realistic goals.” She cites studies that indicate “finding positive meaning outperforms engaging in pleasant activities as a predictor of depression remission and future psychological well-being.”

Why would that be so? I would summarize the reasons by saying that finding positive meaning produces stronger positive emotions than do pleasant activities.

And here’s an answer to a question that had been rolling around in my head from Susan Folkman, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California-San Francisco by way of Fredrickson quoting her: “Importantly, it appears that positive emotions ‘may not need to be either intense or prolonged to produce a beneficial effect.’ (Folkman, 1997, p. 1218).”

A fleeting or solitary instance of a positive emotion is not going to turn depression around on a dime.  But multiple moments build on each other – remember the express lane for thoughts? It all seems to fit, doesn’t it?

Finally, if you need more reason to try to change, findings were published in the February 2000 issue of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings that the difference between a moderately optimistic and a moderately pessimistic person amounted to about 12 years more of living for the optimist.

Sitting in front of me is the settlement check I received from a class action lawsuit against Harlequin. Because this Harlequin lawsuit was settled out of court, there was no winner legally. That’s not how it feels. Not at all. Let me tell you, the authors won.

Readers rarely care about the machinations and travails behind the scenes of publishing. No reason they should. Their relationship is with the book – at least that’s the way I feel when I’m reading. I don’t want to know about the author. I want to know about the characters.

So I absolutely understand if you don’t read this. No hard feelings.

On the other hand, this has been a part of my life for more than five years.

Five years.

I can hardly believe the Harlequin lawsuit is over. Heck, I can hardly believe it started.

In the Beginning

In the spring of 2011 a group of authors, shepherded by Ginger Chambers and Barbara McMahon and with me part of the flock, hired Elaine English for a legal assessment of clauses governing ebook rights in various Harlequin contracts. Under contracts that spanned several years, ebook rights were lumped under “All Other Rights.” These contracts were written and signed before ebooks became truly commercially viable, but because of the length of Harlequin contracts they were still in force. The “All Other Rights” clause said Harlequin and the author split whatever monies came in from the exercise of these rights 50-50.

However, when books under those contracts eventually were digitized, it became quite clear the authors were getting way, way, way less than 50%.

What Harlequin did was say that our contracts were signed with Harlequin Switzerland, but the ebooks were published by Harlequin Toronto, and golly, gee, Harlequin Switzerland sold the rights to Harlequin Toronto for 6% of cover price. So Harlequin Toronto sent Switzerland 6%, Switzerland kept 3%, the author received 3% … and Harlequin Toronto kept all the rest. (BTW, this agreement between these Harlequins was created well after the contracts were signed. Authors were never informed about it.)

That original group of authors disbanded, but I formed a second one (that’s another story that I won’t bore you with unless we’re in a bar somewhere some night, though the group did some definite good for many Harlequin authors.) An offshoot of that second ad hoc group of authors, led by Day Leclaire, pooled our money and hired lawyer David Wolf of David Law PLC to talk to Harlequin about living up to its contract.

A word about Harlequin contracts – they are essentially not negotiable, with extremely limited exceptions. You might be stunned at the major authors Harlequin could have kept if it had been willing to negotiate a bit. It chose instead to let those authors walk. You either accept the contract as Harlequin writes it or you don’t publish with Harlequin. (The latter became my choice around 2008.) They could do this because of the structure and business climate of publishing at that time.

I had a few excellent individual editors among the 34 I had for 25 books (yes, you read that right … editor turnover might lead some to suspect Harlequin didn’t treat many of its editors well, either), but my overall experience with Harlequin was … let’s say “not good.” By the end of 19 years with them I was disheartened, depressed, and done. I didn’t think I would write for publication ever again. I didn’t even want to try.

By 2011, however, I was back on track. I was publishing backlist books as an indie, I was writing again and publishing those originals as an indie. And, thanks to Harlequin’s machinations, I got a good jolt of indignation to return me to my feisty self. My reaction to what Harlequin was doing was summed up after reading one of their missives to authors that summer when I said aloud, “How stupid do you think I am?”

The answer turned out to be a whole lot stupider than I am – or than most authors are.

But it took quite a while to make that point to Harlequin – I’m not sure they get it even now. Certainly in late 2011, they thought they could make David Wolf and these pesky authors go away by refusing to talk to us.

We didn’t go away.

From Talking to Suing

And David Wolf, bless his heart, took the case on as a potential class action lawsuit, which he and Michael Boni and John Sindoni of Boni & Zack, LLC, filed in July 2012. The lawsuit is Keiler v. Harlequin. The three named plaintiffs on whose behalf the suit was filed are authors Barbara Keiler (who writes as Judith Arnold), Linda Barrett, and Gay Wilson (who publishes as Gayle Wilson.)

Harlequin’s reaction? “This is the first we’ve heard of it.” That is what’s known in writing as A Big Fat Lie.

Remember, David Wolf had been talking to them for the better part of a year at that point.

The Harlequin lawsuit had plenty of twists and turns. It was completely dismissed at one point in 2013. The lawyers decided to appeal.  Mind you, they were Not Paid a Cent all this time. Once they started down the class action road it was all on contingency. (Yes, they’ve been paid out of the settlement now – getting nowhere near what they could have earned through ordinary billable hours for the years of work they put in on this.)

The appeals court upheld the most important element of the case in spring 2014 … and the next day, the sale of Harlequin to Harper Collins was announced. How would that affect things? We had no idea.

On top of that, the appeals court sent the case back to the same judge. Who hadn’t, to my unlegal eye, seemed to grasp much of anything about the issues. So how could we hope to fare better than the first time round with him?

Then that judge died unexpectedly as the result of a fall. I am not kidding you.

A Turning Point

The new judge took a different approach. In October 2014, the 1,200 authors affected by the contract clause were certified as a class. We were, truly, a class action lawsuit. There was champagne that day.

The work wasn’t over. There was discovery. There were depositions. Harlequin subpoenaed at least two authors groups, demanding from one all communication among its members. So much for privacy. It was an onerous effort for a volunteer-run organization to gather all the information and, as expected, it got Harlequin nowhere.

If I were writing this in a novel, I’d let the reader know that the big corporation had done it just because it could – to punish those upstart authors any way possible.

Finally, in June 2016, a settlement of the Harlequin lawsuit was announced.  While maintaining it never did anything wrong, Harlequin agreed to pay $4.1 million.

The settlement checks from the Harlequin lawsuit began arriving in authors’ mailboxes Monday, Sept. 12.

The checks are nice. Very nice.

But let me tell you when the authors really won. It was back in July 2011.

I told a few fellow authors that I was going to write a letter to Harlequin through Elaine English to let them know that I was not as stupid as they thought I was. Several said, “We want in on that, too, and we’ll share the expense.” One author, Susan Gable, said she’d start an online group for us.

I said, “We don’t need an online group. It will only be a handful of us.”

She was right. I was wrong. We had a hundred by the end of the week. I remember tears coming into my eyes when we topped 300. And more came.

Most vividly, I remember tears from some of the communications from these authors. They were risking their livelihoods, but had to join the group because what Harlequin was doing was simply wrong. They had written for Harlequin for 30 years and felt betrayed and would never write for them again. They had just achieved their dream of selling their first book to Harlequin and they were scared, but this was too important to ignore. They were from all over the United States and Canada, from the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. They couldn’t afford the $35 each of us put in to start, but would send me $5 a month until they had paid their share. They wrote a check for well over their share to help cover those who struggled to pay.

And the subgroup that first hired David Wolf became warriors. They collected, organized, and dug through contracts and correspondence. They taught themselves legal concepts. They searched corporate reports. They asked brilliant questions. They did what needed to be done.

You will notice that those 300+ were about a quarter of the class. The remaining 900 owe much gratitude to David, Michael and John, to Day, Barbara, Linda, and Gay. They also owe gratitude to those 300+.

Precedents Set

And here’s something those 300+ will have forever – the knowledge that they were part of authors pulling together to stand up and say, This Isn’t Right.

There is no legal precedent set by this case. But there is that precedent of pulling together, and it’s a powerful one. I hope Harlequin and all publishers take notice so it is not necessary again. Even more, I hope authors take notice, in case it is.

Okay, and the check’s not bad, either.

P.S. The Comments

I am so appreciative of the wonderful comments so many folks have shared. From readers, from authors in the class, and authors not in the class. I’ve read each of them and I hope folks who come here to read the blog will also read them.

By Kay Coyte

In honor of my Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, my assistant Kay Coyte is writing  a series of consumer tips inspired by TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher. As we wind down the summer vacation season, today’s tip might save you some travel dollars.

In SIGN OFF, TV reporter and consumer advocate Elizabeth Danniher comes to the rescue of a Sherman, Wyoming, resident who fell for a travel scam offering a fabulous vacation to Acapulco. She tracked down the scam artist in Dallas and got a refund for the traveler – a coup for her “Helping Out” segment.

The Better Business Bureau suggests that you book your next trip through an agent or check its Business Reviews at www.bbb.org/search. I also scan travelers’ reviews (and photos) on sites such as TripAdvisor.  I booked one stay partly based on how well a hotel manager responded to complaints. And when I got there, I sought her out and told her that.

Another tip: check out property locations on GoogleEarth. You’ll know exactly how far that motel is from the beach and how close that campground is to, say, a water-treatment plant.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott

If you don’t have a local version of Elizabeth Danniher to call on, let me suggest Christopher Elliott, a consumer advocate, journalist and customer service expert. His Elliott.org website offers a forum for consumer complaints and a staff to help solve many of them. He has a proven record of Helping Out and he is very balanced in his reporting. His pet peeves include “frequent flier, frequent stayer — frequent anything — programs” which he describes as “addictive and expensive for the average consumer … and encourage companies to quietly remove necessary amenities and services from ordinary, non-elite customers.” I’ll second that.

Stars – movie and singers– insure body parts, so what about writers insuring our typing ability.

1a grableYesterday, I’m pulling weeds barehanded because I’m there and the weeds are there. All of a sudden, OW OW OW! Pain slashing up my arm, down the other arm and both legs. Ebbing a bit, then doing it again and again.

I get inside, get ice. Root around for anything else that would help, while simultaneously trying to figure out what happened.

I’ve had reactions to being stung by a bee (extreme swelling as a kid) and yellow jacket (ditto, plus shortness of breath as an adult.) I was told after the yellow jacket to keep Benadryl on hand. I did. For more than 20 years. At some point I threw it out because … well, 20 years.

I really don’t think this is a stinging instinct. No buzzing. No stinger.

I really don’t think this is stinging nettle or another plant. Just not that kind of vegetation around.

Figuring what the heck, I put Neosporin with pain relief on it and take an ibuprofen, because what can it hurt. Keep applying ice, which is helping the most.

Check back outside, poking the area with a long stick – no sign of a nest, no sign of stinging plants, no line of marching red ants, no hives. Nothing.

Other than the pain, which is still zinging up and down in a very annoying manner, I’m feeling better about this situation.

However, the finger is swelling and turning red. So, naturally, I’m trying to look at it with a magnifier. Kalli comes by to see what’s so interesting.

Slurp. Slurp. Before I can react. A third slurp as I yank my hand back.

At that point, I’m worrying about her slurping Neosporin with pain reliever in it. Not to mention whatever’s in my finger. Keeping one eye on her for reactions.

But darned if it doesn’t feel a little better.

Pour white vinegar on it, because, again, what can it hurt?

Try typing. Nope. Not working. I am forced to read (think lemons and lemonade.)

Sister-who-knows-all-the-Latin-names agitates for me to go to urgent care. Noooo. Compromise by calling the doctor’s office. Nurse immediately says, “Could it be a spider bite?”

Yup. It could.

I’m given to understand that unless it gets infected for some reason, this too should pass in a moderate amount of time.

I can live with that. So I’m wrapping up the conversation when the nurse says, “Just let me get all your info down in case something happens tonight. “

Ohhhh-kay. That’s a cheery thought.

That knuckle’s in an odd position from the swelling, but late in the day I figure out how to type without that finger. Get some writing done.

I survive overnight – yay! ‘-)

Phew! Disaster avoided.

So, what do you think Lloyds of London would insure me for – not my fingers, but my loss of time, because that’s the greatest sting of all!

I watched the movie “Breach” recently. It reminded me of my brush with spies during my years in the DC area.

1a breach In “Breach,” Chris Cooper plays FBI agent Robert Hanssen, perhaps the worst traitor to the United States in history. Ryan Phillipe is Eric O’Neill, who was assigned to work with Hanssen in order to help build the case against him in the months before his arrest in 2001. Hanssen was sentenced to life in prison.  (For more on lots of spies, you should check out the Spy Museum in DC.)

Of course I remember the case from editing a lot of stories about it for the Washington Post’s news service.

Robert Hanssen

Robert Hanssen

Some of the movie was like old home week – the FBI building, the Metro, the Federal Triangle, Memorial Bridge. Then there were a lot of shots that drew, “That’s not D.C.”

It wasn’t. According to the commentary later, much of it was shot in Toronto. Kept pulling me out of the story.

But I promised you a brush with spies, not location critiques.

In the movie, there’s mention of the previous worst-in-history

Aldrich Ames

Aldrich Ames

spy, CIA agent Aldrich Ames.

And here’s my brush.

Aldrich Ames lived in Arlington, Va., the same place I lived. So did a whole lot of other people 😉 When I did a ridealong with the Arlington police, my host officer responded to a fender bender that involved the Secretary of State’s car (he wasn’t in it at the time.)

I had neighbors who worked for the FBI, CIA, State, Congress. One neighbor was the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice. And then there was the family who said they worked for State, but the other State families said were CIA. I used to get semi-regular visits from FBI and State (not the CIA), checking up on employees’ security clearances, asking questions like if I’d noticed a lot of booze bottles in their trash or heard arguments between spouses.

But Ames, also known as Rick, lived across the street from a woman who was in the five-member critique group I belonged to when I first started writing. We would rotate whose house we went to each meeting.

My fellow critique group member knew the Ames family, had looked after the son a time or two, had a visit from the FBI between the time Ames was arrested and before it became public, was kind to some of the media who camped out in front of her house after the arrest, always felt terrible for the Ames’ young son.

So there’s my brush – I knew someone who knew Aldridge Ames. And every four or five months, I parked in front of his house for a Sunday afternoon to discuss writing.

1a breach 4

Aldrich Ames house … with opening at the curb where my car was parked every few months.

At least that’s the brush I know about.

 

Screenshot 2016-07-17 16.12.11Forget the laboratory, here you can watch an experiment in the making.  I did my very first try of a live video yesterday on Google+ Hangouts on Air.

I was thrilled to have reached author Natalie Kay in Australia! And to crack up Carolyn (not in Australia 🙂 )

There are time lags. I think I’ve figured out how to resolve that. Stay tuned for Installment 2!

Here’s yesterday’s live video.

Which I suppose makes it a formerly live video. 😉

What would you like me to talk about in future live video chats?

Whoo boy,  is this ever going to be a case of the sighI-challenged leading the way. I asked if folks might be willing to add me (a k a Patricia McLinn Page) to their interests on Facebook to encourage FB to recognize I exist when they decide which of my posts to show to you wonderful folks who have liked my page.

A few folks came back with the very reasonable question: How?

I fumbled my way around to try to find the answer. When I searched in FB it only talks about creating lists. That’s not what we want. So. I kept digging.

Here is what I did, illustrated with crummy graphics (see post about my spilling a drink into my keyboard on the computer I usually use for graphics, so instead I did these on an itty-bitty screen.)

1.) Go to “Home” (on your profile, not a “page” if you have one.

2.) In the left sidebar column, way toward the bottom, there’s something called “Interests” (see below.)

Screenshot 2016-06-30 17.15.43

3.) If it says “Add Interests” click that and you get to skip a couple steps. Otherwise, click where it says “Interests.”

4.) This will call up a page labeled (oddly enough) “Interests.” (see below) Do NOT click the box in the upper right that says “Add Interests.”  You would ~think~ that’s where you wanted to go to, you know, add interests, but this is FB land, so it’s not. Instead, it will take you to weird list world, which is not the weird world we want.

5.) Instead, click on  “Pages and Public Figures.”

Screenshot 2016-06-30 17.15.58

6.) Which you would think would take you to Pages and Public Figures. Not exactly. Takes you to a page (see below) where the only button you can click says “Add Friends to List.” (Because, you know, you asked for Pages and Public Figures, but FB figures you were just WRONG.)  Give up on logic or reason, and click “Add Friends to List.”

Screenshot 2016-06-30 17.16.54

 

7.) That brings up a popup box that says “Edit Pages and Public Figures” at the top, but has actually defaulted to your “Friends.” (Ask me why, go ahead, ask me why? Because we’re in FB Land, of course!)

Screenshot 2016-06-30 17.17.14

 

8.) Click the Down arrow beside the word “Friends” and scroll to “Pages” and click that, while FB says, “Oh, you wanted Pages? Why didn’t you say so before?” and you scream, “I DID!”

Screenshot 2016-06-30 17.17.40

9.) You might have to scroll down to find my pic (especially if FB reads this Post –I’ll probably be in the dungeon.)  But when you find me in the red blouse, click the pic.

10.) Click FINISH. Fall to the ground and kiss the earth in joy at being done.

Know that I am SO grateful to you for pursuing this marathon! And relieved you survived this journey into FB land.

 

Thank you so much to all who participated in the survey on a series title and retitling a book in that series. I really appreciate your input.

survey seriesAnd the winners are …

For the series name for the soon-to-be series of four romance stories set in the charming lakeside town of Tobias, Wisconsin: Marry Me

For renaming the title that I hate, hate, hate <wg> from Least Likely Wedding?: The answer is YES!

Hallelujah.

I’m so happy for Kay and Rob to get a more upbeat title. Director Kay Aaronson finds herself Survey titlein a fix after her leading man walks off the set for a location shoot in Tobias, Wisconsin. Desperate to find someone to fill in, Kay latches onto local Rob Dalton. Since Rob has no acting experience, Kay is forced to show him how to put emotion into his kiss with the leading lady. Much to Kay’s surprise, Rob’s kiss proves to be so sizzlingly sexy she finds it difficult to resist imagining what a real romance with Rob would be like …

I’m planning to retitle it A Most Unlikely Wedding. So… drum roll … let me officially introduce:

The MARRY ME series

Wedding of the Century

The Unexpected Wedding Guest

A Most Unlikely Wedding

Baby Blues and Wedding Bells

Behind the scenes, we’re gearing up to work on a signature look for the Marry Me series and covers for each of the four books.

More on that soon!

Thanks again for helping with all this by answering the survey – you’re the best!

Try these eBooks FREE

for your Apple iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch


AAB

Almost a Bride
Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 2
Contemporary romance

350+ 5-star reviews on iBooks

“Excellent book! I read it straight in one whole day! Recommend it to anyone!”

“Great book.”

“I loved how realistic the problems were for the couple … I loved it all.”

“Very entertaining. The love scenes are very touching.”

“I found this book so enjoyable I couldn’t put it down until I finished it.”ibooks

Get it FREE

 

Sign-Off200b

Sign Off
Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 1
Mystery with humor and touches of romance

4.5 stars on iBooks

“Very Entertaining”

“Great book, cannot wait to read the next book in the series!!!!”

“Kept me wanting to read more. I will be getting the rest of the series.”ibooks

Get it FREE

 

 

 

LostandFound200bLost and Found Groom
A Place Called Home, Book 1
Contemporary romance

175+ 5-star reviews on iBooks

“Great story on true love.”

“I loved this story … You keep turning the pages until you are done.:-)”

“A bewitching romance”

“Wonderful characters. A must read..”

“I loved the story and look forward to reading other books by this author.”
ibooks

Get it FREE

The rights to a complete four-book contemporary romance series have reverted to me — yay! — and I’m working at bringing out the books for you. Step one is to ask your help in the form of a very short survey. Just two questions.

PatriciaMcLinnPollThe books will have new editing, formatting, and covers. But before I can get that those elements, I need help making some decisions.

I never liked the series name or the title of Book 3.

The series was “Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue.” Ahem. Try to get THAT on a book cover. LOL.  And if it was abbreviated, it was to “Something Old.” Boy, oh, boy, don’t you look forward to reading Something Old?  So, I want to change the series name.

The original title of Book 3 was LEAST LIKELY WEDDING?  I particularly don’t like the question mark, but, really, I don’t like it at all. It’s a downer imo. So, I’m proposing re-titling it as A MOST UNLIKELY WEDDING. Still gets the idea across while being more upbeat.

But I want to know what you think!

The Series

This series takes place in fictional Tobias in southern Wisconsin.

Book 1 — Wedding of the Century
Book 2 — The Unexpected Wedding Guest
Book 3 — (originally) Least Likely Wedding? (proposed) A Most Unlikely Wedding
Book 4 — Baby Blues and Wedding Bells

If I’m honest, I don’t particularly like the title of Book 4, either. But I worry that re-titling two books in the series would be too much. But if you have an idea for a great title …

Thank you in advance for taking the survey!

Do you read iBooks? If so, there’s some special fun and an iBooks giveaway for you in the month of June.

I’ll be offering one of my titles free from iBooks each day from June 1st through the 30th.

Look for more details here and on my Facebook page. There will be questions to answer and opinions to give — just comment with your responses here or at Facebook. Responding at both spots gets you two entries for each day’s giveaway. My executive assistant Kay will be running the giveaway.

And I won’t be alone. Just check for the hashtag #iBooksGalore on Facebook and Twitter to find the authors participating.

June iBooks Giveaway - Patricia McLinn

My readers who use Kobo and Kindle have had special opportunities before. Now it’s the iBooks readers’ turn. Hope you enjoy this!

If you’re a bit adventurous, there are ways to read iBooks on your PC or tablet. I’m told you can remove the DRM security that Apple puts on all iBooks and load it to your PC/tablet. Here’s one set of instructions — I’ve never used them, but they sound reasonable. <wg>

And don’t forget, you can keep up with all my updates and news by signing up for my Readers List.

Books Giveaway - Book a Day - Patricia McLinn

You get an entry for that day’s giveaway with a comment on the Facebook post or a comment here on my blog (It will count for the date of your comment) or sign up for my Readers’ List and you get an entry for each day from the day you sign up through the end of the month.

So you can get 3 entries a day — comment on that day’s Facebook post, comment here on my blog that day. And sign up for my Readers’ List (or let us know at assistant@patriciamclinn.com that you’re already a subscriber), and that will be your third entry.

Sometimes, folks are surprised to know authors need to spend quality time researching fiction. Writing a novel means I get to make things up. But I want to — I need to — know what I’ve made up and what’s real.

For it to be believable, it needs to be grounded in reality. That can take a lot of work.

Once when I was researching at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis, I got into a discussion with a National Park employee about historical research, nonfiction, fiction and how they fit together. He said something I always remember – “Fiction has to say what could have happened, not what did happen.”

Where Love Lives: The Inheritance (Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 6) Patricia McLinnI love that distinction. It leaves room for imagination. And it keeps the story grounded in reality.

I was reminded of that last part when I restored the history of a couple browser windows on my desktop, and found almost sixty tabs left over from my final fact-checking pass on Where Love Lives: The Inheritance (Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 6.)

These were all sites I’d found on searches when I first had an idea or a question or a fear – yes, fear. The fear that something I’ve blithely written ends up being egregiously wrong. When I was writing my first book mumble-mumble years ago I was doing final edits and saw a reference to characters walking up granite steps to a courthouse in Wisconsin. Reading that, the fear hit. What if there were no granite steps in Wisconsin for some reason? What if everyone in Wisconsin knew that there were no granite steps in front of courthouses? What it was one of those strange laws that most states seem to have?

With very little time, I quickly called a circuit court clerk in a county near my fictional location. It took a moment to explain and she was surprised I was researching, but then this wonderful human being told me there were definitely granite steps in front of the Wisconsin courthouse where she worked – she knew that for a fact because her son was a geologist. Hallelujah!

So, I thought I’d give you a glimpse into the necessity of researching fiction with my Granite Steps questions/concerns for Where Love Lives: The Inheritance (Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 6):

Scorpion characteristics

Lewis and Clark and phacelia

Farmers lung

A second one on farmers lung

Scorpion venom

This was a sidetrip. Didn’t get to use this info … in this book. Maybe the next.

Mold in hay and how to prevent it

Horse trailers (Like HGTV on wheels!)

What would a collie/golden retriever puppy look like … be still my heart!

 

The picture says it all, including my feeling about the situation. I scratched my cornea Tuesday. Most likely by having a contact in inside out. I took it out, cleaned it, put it back in and thought all was well. Not so much.

20160526_021803By Tuesday night it was Bad. Hurt a bunch. Couldn’t stand light at all. Including computer screen. Sob. Put some goo in it overnight.

Wednesday, it was a little better — less pain — but couldn’t see out of that eye. Didn’t really try much because trying made it hurt. So I put more goo in periodically. Made some business phone calls, listened to podcasts, and took naps.

I also rigged up the charming outfit in the selfie. That’s an eye mask from first class flight to Australia last August. I slid it around so I could see out of my good eye while the mask protected my injured eye. In case you want to know, the trick is to put that glasses on underneath and the mask on top. Far less eye-mashing than the other way around.

That night I watched the old Walter Mathau move Hopscotch with Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, and Ned Beatty. Okay, parts of it I only listened to because I had my eyes closed. Not because the movie was scary, but because my eyes were tired. Still, it was worth it.

Thursday, I added a ball cap to the ensemble and went outside for some one-eyed gardening. I figured I could get some planting done in pre-storm darkness, then the rain would water in the just-planted plants. I didn’t quite make it. So then I was one-eyed gardening in the rain. Not optimal.

Also on Thursday, I could look at computer screens for short bursts as long as they don’t have white backgrounds, which was very limiting. My writing program has a white background. Sigh.

Today, I felt recovered enough — with sunglasses and ballcap despite it being cloudy —  to take Kalli to the vet for her booster shots and general check up. She was not thrilled.

And the plants appear to have survived Day 1.

But now that I’ve typed this … time for more goop in the eye. And maybe a nap.

It’s National Spelling Bee Day here in the US, but here on my blog, I’m declaring this a Spelling Terror Amnesty Zone.

SpellingWe all have them. Words guaranteed to trip us up, to embarrass (Say it with me everyone: double “r” double “s”. double “r” double “s”, double “r” double “s”) us at the worst possible moment.

And then there are those from childhood that still linger.

I struggle mightily with “tomorrow.” Even now, I’ll have to go back to how I finally conquered it by thinking the little story I made up for myself: The only way to get across the river is to go with Tom Or Row.

Yup, my ways of remembering went way beyond “i before e, except after c.” And no matter how much spell check helps, it doesn’t solve all the problems.

Here’s an item from my word usage book WORD WATCH: A Writer’s Guide to the Slippery, Sneaky, and Otherwise Tricky:

AFFECT / EFFECT

Affect means to influence, and is usually the verb (putting aside psychology’s parlance.) Effect means the result, and is usually the noun. Counting on readers being sufficiently devoted to Word Watch after all these shared words to appreciate WW’s memory trick for this pair, WW confides it:  If English were easy, the verb would be the one that started with “e” since verb has an “e” in it. But because English is not easy, the verb is not the one that starts with “e,” instead it is affect. That leaves effect to be the one that should have been a verb, but isn’t. There. Doesn’t that make it all clear now?

So, what are the spellings that have tormented you? Have you made up ways to get around them? Share! And banish the power of Spelling Terrors.

The Forgotten Prince, The Wedding Series, Book 6 Patricia McLinnShe was going to pretend she didn’t remember him.

There it is. The first line in THE FORGOTTEN PRINCE (The Wedding Series, Book 7.) This is a big deal to me.

Okay, the first line of a book is important to every author. But that’s usually because that’s how an author starts writing the book. I don’t.

I generally start somewhere in the middle. Frequently when the characters are at odds with each other — sometimes overtly, sometimes as subtext. For those of you who have read my April release WHERE LOVE LIVES: The Inheritance (Wyoming Where Love Lives: The Inheritance (Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 6) Patricia McLinnWildflowers, Book 6), the first scene I wrote was when they’re in the horse trailer, trying to figure out what caused the boy’s reaction.

For THE FORGOTTEN PRINCE it’s … no, not going to tell you that yet. Mostly because things change — a lot — as I write. Only a little because I’m a tease. 😉

So I’ve been writing bits and pieces of THE FORGOTTEN PRICE. And then the scene at the beginning came to me. This is way, way, way earlier than it usually happens. It’s a little strange, actually, to have the beginning roughed in. But I’ll take it.

Every word written might is a good word.

For now.

Until I start editing…

 

 

By Kay Coyte

In a nod to “Helping Out” TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher, of the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series, I’ve been offering consumer tips for Patricia’s readers. But this tip comes from research for a family member plagued by a broken printer.
hptechFrustrated that his user guide showed no customer service phone number, he did what we all do: he Googled it. He then called what appeared to be a legitimate number, and was connected with a rude “agent” who gained remote control of his computer and attempted to extort fees for a fake service contract. My relative didn’t bite, and hung up.
I looked into this and found a great CNET article headlined “Why you should never Google tech-support numbers.”
Why? Because most of the listings are third-party vendors, not
official sites, and some are scam artists. When I searched “HP tech support phone number,” the second entry was a legit-looking “Support for HP – Dial (Toll Free) Helpline Support” with the number (888) 216-2845. I searched THAT number and found it was used last year in an IRS tax audit scam.
Yes, companies we see as trustworthy — Google, Yahoo, Bing — accept ads from con artists. They should be ashamed.
The CNET article suggests you avoid search engines and go straight to the company’s website, then click on a support link. In the case of HP, no number is readily available. I’d say: Search, but do so very carefully.

Thanks to Great Books Great Deals for featuring ALMOST A BRIDE!

In all the excitement for the release of Zoe and Matt’s story in WHERE LOVE LIVES: The Inheritance, it’s nice to see Matty and Dave get some attention, too.  It’s like giving the older brother and sister in the Wyoming Wildflowers series a gift when the new baby comes along <g>

Screenshot 2016-05-01 14.45.44

Some of you kind folks still ask how I’m doing after my New Years’ surgery. I’ve been saying just fine except for what those of us who’ve had a hysterectomy (whether for endometrial cancer or other cancer or for other reasons) call swelly belly.

Such a great term. After a really long day or exercise or some other less obvious reason, my belly swells. Think of a puffer fish on steroids.

I’ve been back to yin yoga since 8 ½ weeks post-op. Muscle-soreness and swelly belly kicked in at first. Added more active yoga earlier this month (3 ½ months post-op.) Same thing — muscle-sore and increased swelly belly, but not bad.

Not until this week.

I had active yoga Sunday, yin yoga Monday, weeded a bit Tuesday (forward folds and squats <wg>). Weeded more Wednesday. Thursday, I did significantly more weeding, cut down bushes, hauled the

The villain of the story: invasive Japanese honeysuckle. The offspring are 90% of my weeding and the blooming bushes hanging over my yard from neighbor is what I was lopping.

brush, then put Preen on part of the back yard with a spreader. Rain stopped me from doing the whole yard.

Was quite tired, but thought it would go away. Not so much. By Friday morning I had achy belly and incision area in addition to swelly belly extraordinaire. But I’d committed (with myself) to drive an hour to look at kitchen countertops at 2 places.  By the time I tromped around those warehouses, I was quite lightheaded in addition to the pain and uber-swelly belly. Thought I might pass out, which I’ve done twice. Once as a Brownie in the Memorial Day parade during a heat spell and once in the ER waiting room when I had a 105-degree temperature with what turned out to be Scarlet Fever. (Passing out in the waiting room can get you to the front of the line, btw.)

Water eased some of the light-headedness. Getting in and out of the car hurt, but driving didn’t.  Got home fine, after 7 hours of being out and about. Even made a couple necessary errand stops. But I wasn’t home more than 10 minutes before I collapsed for a nap.

Slept a loooong time overnight and my head feels mostly back to normal. Pain has diminished, but still around when I move. Even walking jolts it to life. Grrr.

Been very inactive today. (Rainy and chilly – perfect day to curl up in the chaise. Though getting out can be a challenge.) I suspect I’ll have to cancel active yoga tomorrow, which irks me.

Thursday was 4 months post-op and really, I should be able to do this stuff without going back to the pain and brain-fog of Week 3 post-op. … Says me.

Other people, like doctors, say it’s 6-12 months before you’re really back to normal. So I’m writing this to warn anyone else who might innocently overdo. (I never know it’s happening until I’ve already overdone. There should be a warning bell.)

My sister-who-knows-all-the-Latin-names of plants insists it was using the lopper to cut down the bushes. She says lopping uses a lot of those muscles.

So that’s my other piece of advice: Don’t use loppers at 4 months post-op. Who knew?

Today’s been release day for WHERE LOVE LIVES: THE INHERITANCE (Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 6,) the new release in The Inheritance Series.   It’s been interesting … as in the Chinese curse “May you live an interesting life.”

Where Love Lives Final(1)The tech goblins have been running riot. As a reader, you shouldn’t have to care one little bit about such things. So I’m certainly not going to bore you with my goblin-wrestling saga (even though it’s a riveting tale, with the valiant heroine beset on every side, that would have you crying and cheering me on at the same time!)

But I want to alert you to a couple things:

NOOK. Some of you contacted me about a major glitch with downloading WHERE LOVE LIVES. I really appreciate that heads-up! I’ve been in contact today with Nook — they say they’re still working to fix it.

If you have ordered WHERE LOVE LIVES on Nook, I would love to hear in the comments if you’ve received it okay OR if you’ve encountered a problem.

See UPDATE below.

KINDLE. If the book you downloaded says “Second Edition,” you’re fine. Happy Reading! 🙂  (Any books downloaded after about 4 p.m. EDT today (Tuesday, April 19) should be “Second Edition.”)

If the book you downloaded says “First Edition,” I encourage you to update to “Second Edition.” You should get an email from Amazon/Kindle notifying you of the Second Edition. If you do, just follow those directions.

But in case you don’t get that email, you can get the latest edition (this works for other books, too.) I’m not familiar with this process but found what seems like a clear explanation here.

Hope you enjoy Zoe and Matt’s story in WHERE LOVE LIVES, despite any tech glitches!

More information on WHERE LOVE LIVES: THE INHERITANCE plus links to all the retailers is on the book page.

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 20

Official message from NOOK:
We have confirmed that the complete and final manuscript file for “Where Love Lives: The Inheritance” is now being delivered to customers.

If a customer downloaded the temporary version of the file, they can follow these instructions to download the final version:

To receive the updated NOOK Book file at no additional charge, the customer can re-download your NOOK Book by using the Archive/Un-Archive feature. This is done in the Library by pressing and holding your finger on the cover image until a menu pops up, and then selecting “Archive”. In the upper right corner press “My Stuff” > “Archived”, and then press and hold your finger again on the cover image and select “Unarchive.”

Please note that NOOK does not reach out to notify customers of changes to any NOOK Book, and NOOK does not share customer information.

If a customer is having trouble with archiving/unarchiving, please have the customer to reach out to Barnes & Noble customer service for assistance using this link to the web-based support system or the phone number included below:

https://help.barnesandnoble.com

1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665)

UPDATE 4-4-2016  — Facebook is at it again. It has been arbitrarily deleting likers from my FB page for the past 4 days. I have no idea which of you have been booted. No other way to reach you. You won’t know whether you’ve been booted either unless you manually check. And I don’t even know if FB will let you re-like once it’s arbitrarily unliked you from a page.  Anybody know?

So, what does this mean to you?

If you liked my FB page solely to enter the giveaway, I understand that you should be just fine.

If you have interest in my books or what’s happening on my FB page … FB says “Tough.”

BUT, you can keep up with my books, news, special offers, etc., by signing up for my newsletter. FB has no way to meddle with that. So far. That I know about. Right now.

No, really, I think the newsletter is safe. And good luck in the giveaway!

Big Romance Author $3,000 Spring Giveaway April 1-30th, 2016.

Big Romance Author $3,000 Spring Giveaway April 1-30th, 2016.

 

Attention all awesome people! This month is a cool time to be a reader. 101 of your favorite authors contributed to one massive giveaway! Giveaway rules are listed on the Rafflecopter. International peeps can play! Got any questions? Feel free to ask. There are 100 ways to enter for a maximum possible 500+ entries per person. The giveaway lasts the entire month of April, so come back every day and hammer away at a few more entries until you’re all done!

ONE PERSON WILL WIN $3,000 USD! That’s the biggest giveaway I’ve seen recently! Tell your buds! Don’t miss out. You’ll kick yourself if you miss this one.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

Terms & conditions are listed on the Rafflecopter. Read it for full details. The winner will be chosen on May 1, 2016 and contacted via the email address they used to enter. CHECK YOUR EMAIL! The winner’s name will also be posted on the Rafflecopter widget above.

Participating Romance Authors:

101 different authors came together to make this giveaway possible. If you’ve been looking for a new book boyfriend, or you’re literally famished between your fave author’s releases, check out some of my peeps! They write in various hot romance genres including contemporary romance, new adult romance, erotic romance, steamy romance, urban fantasy romance, dystopian romance, historical romance, futuristic/ sci-fi/ fantasy romance, Teen/ YA romance, inspirational romance and time travel romance!

Big Romance Author $3,000 Spring Giveaway April 1-30th, 2016

Big Romance Author $3,000 Spring Giveaway April 1-30th, 2016

 

Do you see WHERE LOVE LIVES: The Inheritance (Wyoming Wildflowers, Book 6)?

 

The Authors of Big Romance Author $3,000 Spring Giveaway April 1-30, 2016:

H.M. Ward
Kim Golden
Drew Jordan
Christi Caldwell
Scarlett Metal
Chris Almeida & Cecilia Aubrey
Heidi McLaughlin
Jenny Gardiner
Stacey Joy Netzel
Merry Farmer
Mallory Crowe
Julia Kent
Jean Oram
Vella Day
Meli Raine
Sherri Hayes
Jayne Rylon
Sarah M. Cradit
Erica Ridley
Christine Zolendz
Beverly Preston
Marquita Valentine
Melissa Storm
Dana Marton
Amy Bartol
Michelle Fox
Magan Vernon
Ainsley Booth
Venessa Kimball
Sidney Bristol
K.M. Scott
C.C.Wood
J.M. Miller
Zara Keane
Eliza Knight
L.P. Dover
Sadie Haller
Patricia McLinn
Suzanne Rock
Katherine Lowry Logan
Erin Richards
Tori Scott
Danielle Stewart
P.T. Michelle
Suzan Tisdale
T.M. Franklin
Evelyn Adams
S.E. Hall
Lauren Hawkeye
Josie Bordeaux
Melanie Marchande
Raci Ames
Catherine Gayle
Sam Cheever
J.M Cole
Brooke Blaine
Ella Frank
Allison Bell
Cristin Harber
Jacki Delecki
Tawdra Kandle
Sydney Logan
Laura Kaye
Laura Kamoie
Evie Harper
P.J. Fiala
Taylor Law
Pamela DuMond
D.L. Roan
Jenni Moen
LG Castillo
Rachel Schurig
Nina Levine
Rachel Hanna
Cheryl Bradshaw
Jessica Scott
Beth Yarnall
J.T. Geissinger
Stacey Mosteller
Kylie Gilmore
Maryann Jordan
Cari Quinn
Lauren Royal
Renea Mason
Christine Bell
Felicia Tatum
Fabio Bueno
RaShelle Workman
Nana Malone
Annika Martin
Sophia Knightly
Nikki Lynn Barrett
Marian Tee
Sarah Castille
Allyn Lesley
Ambrielle Kirk
Jami Davenport
Bonnie R. Paulson
Laura Stapleton
Kennedy Layne

TERMS & CONDITIONS:
Must be 18 years of age or older to win. No cash value. Void where prohibited. Open to international & US residents. *The winner will receive an e-gift card via PayPal in the amount of $3000USD for this prize.* Winner must have: 1. an email account, 2. may be requested to fill out additional paperwork for tax purposes, and 3. must have a PayPal account to accept the prize. We are not responsible for fees taken by PayPal for this transaction, nor are we in any way responsible for VAT and/ or taxes. We are not responsible for items damaged or lost in the e-mail. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. We hereby release Facebook of any liability. By entering you agree that we are in no way to be held liable for anything pertaining to this giveaway. Winner(s) will be contacted by email 72 hours after the giveaway ends. You must claim your prize within 48 hours or it is forfeited and another winner will be selected. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!

By Kay Coyte

Consumer Tip No. 3: Paradise Comes at a Price

Note: In honor of Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher’s beat as the “Helping Out” reporter from KWMT-TV in the Caught Dead in Wyoming series, I will be offering consumer tips drawn from the books. Here’s the third one in the series.

– – – – – –

In Chapter 7 of SIGN OFF,  TV reporter and consumer advocate Elizabeth Danniher gets her best result yet for an aggrieved Sherman, Wyoming, resident who fell for a travel scam offering a fabulous vacation to Acapulco. The woman sent a $200 check to a company in Dallas, but the deal didn’t materialize. Elizabeth contacted a Dallas reporter, who filmed the scam artist loading boxes from the bogus office, likely to skip town. The man claimed it was a misunderstanding and, in a good-faith gesture, wrote a check to reimburse his Wyoming client. Score one for Elizabeth’s “Helping Out” team.

The Better Business Bureau last month released a list of spring travel scams to avoid, mostly misleading travel offers that fail to deliver promises.  Some involve travel clubs that require upfront fees, others are fraudulent vacation packages that lure you onto a resort but load you with expensive add-ons or upgrades. Criminals also take advantage of sites such as Craigslist to post vacation rental ads for nonexistent properties using stolen photos that show a fancy room, sparkling pool or ocean view.

The lessons learned here fall into the “if it’s too good to be true” file. Or one of my father’s favorites: You get what you pay for. But don’t pay advance fees with cash, checks or wire transfers. Any legitimate company, such as a hotel that requires a deposit, will take a credit card. In addition to the fraud protection that credit cards provide, some cards also include little-known travel insurance, according to this 2014 USA Today column.

By Estelle Carol/ CWLU Herstory Project SCW@2010

By Estelle Carol/ CWLU Herstory Project SCW@2010

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8 every year, but strong, smart, independent women are featured every day in my books. They’re TV reporters, academics, lawyers, doctors, ranchers, Olympians. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that many of my stories are set in Wyoming, also known as the Equality State.

Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote (in 1870), serve on juries, and hold public office. And in 1869, a law was passed to give teachers—most of whom were women—equal pay whether they were men or women.

In different regions, the focus of International Women’s Day ranges from a general validation of respect, appreciation and love toward women to a celebration for women’s economic, political, and social achievements. This year, the day also marks a call to action for accelerating equal pay and for parity in other economic and social factors. It’s an official holiday in many countries including Russia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Uganda. Mothers, wives, girlfriends or colleagues are honored with flowers and small gifts, much in the manner of Mother’s Day. In Colorado Springs, several women’s groups including the League of Women Voters, Zonta Club, Soroptimists International and American Association of University Women, held their Women’s Day celebration on Saturday, uniting behind this beautiful poster, by artist Estelle Carol, of the CWLU Herstory Project.

Bronze by Avard Fairbanks; placed in the Hall of Columns, U.S. Capitol

And Google honors the day with a video Doodle showing women and girls from around the world completing the sentence “one day I will …” The cutest might have been a little girl who wants to dance like Michael Jackson, but there’s also anthropologist Jane Goodall, saying, “I will discuss the environment with Pope Francis,” and Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and Syrian activist Muzoon Almellehan advocating for the day when “we will see every girl in school.”

My salute on this day is to Esther Hobart Morris, the first woman justice of peace in the United States. She was appointed Feb. 14, 1870 in South Pass, Wyoming after the previous (male) holder of the job quit in protest of the passage of women’s suffrage at the end of 1869.

Esther ruled on 26 cases, including criminal cases. None of her rulings were overturned.
Her statue, by Avard Fairbanks, now stands in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

 

Kalli and I are hitting milestones in our recoveries – yay!

Kalli First:

Kalli with the cast just off, discovering that, yes, she can still move that leg. You can see some of the very long scar. Fur's starting to grow back.

Kalli with the cast just off, discovering that, yes, she can still move that leg. You can see some of the very long scar. Fur’s starting to grow back.

Eight weeks after her surgery to fuse bones and put in a steel plate on the front leg whose ligaments she obliterated chasing a squirrel, the cast came off today. The surgical vet says the x-rays were “beautiful.” She’s all fused. It was the best possible report today.

We’re not done, however. In fact, this is the halfway point to normal for her.

She continues the next four weeks in “confine convalescence.” No running, no long walks, no cavorting, no squirrels. Definitely no “Collie Gone Wild” – a game I play with the dogs in the family. Kalli goes outside on the leash to go potty, then comes in to one of three confined areas set up in the house, depending on where I’ll be. Two trips a day up and down the stairs, max. And at a reduced speed.

This is to “harden” the leg now that it’s no longer protected by the cast.

After these next four weeks, she will start an exercise program to gradually reintroduce activity.

And Now Me:

For those who’ve said I share updates about Kalli but haven’t about myself (and you know who you are 😉 ) I’m doing really well.

I consider myself in the reintroduction of activity phase. Received the okay to start lifting more than five pounds about 5 ½ weeks after surgery (early!) and I’ve been working up on that.

I did a yin yoga class a couple days ago for the first time. I was super pleased that I wasn’t tighter and stiffer than I was. It all felt great while I was doing it … several hours later, not so great. The incision area was sore and prickly and I had what other folks who’ve had this surgery call “swelly belly.” <wg>

But I figure that’s going to happen for a while. I’ll go back to that class next week, might add a second low-movement one next week. But holding off longer for active sessions… A bit at a time.

I figure Kalli’s gradual reintroduction of activity is also likely to involve me <wg>.

Thanks for caring, folks!

How could I resist a Leap Day release for LAST DITCH? I couldn’t. <wg> I’m thrilled to bring you the fourth book in the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series.

"Colorful, characters, intriguing, intelligent mystery , plus the state of Wyoming leapig off every page."A man goes missing in difficult country in Cottonwood County, Wyoming. Rancher Tom Burrell organizes the search, which Mike Paycik joins, while Elizabeth Margaret Danniher keeps the man’s wife company. From the start, the situation is peculiar. The missing man is dying and wheelchair-bound, so how and why did he go out into this rough country?

And when the search makes a find, things get even more peculiar. Soon Elizabeth and the others are deep into trying to sort out a number of mysteries circling around the people of the Red Sail Rock Ditch Company.

Oh, yes, there’s the issue of where Elizabeth and Shadow, the stray dog who has adopted her, will go when her contract at KWMT-TV runs out at the end of the month.

Not to mention that both Tom and Mike have indicated an interest in being more than friends with her.

Decisions, decisions….

iBooks        Amazon      Kobo      GooglePlay     Barnes and Noble

Sign Off_ebook_Final1000Sign Off_ebook_Final1000P.S. Haven’t started the Caught Dead in Wyoming mystery series yet? Now’s the time to do it – SIGN OFF – is free for a little while longer!

 iBooks

  Amazon

  Kobo

   GooglePlay

  Barnes and Noble

 

By Kay Coyte

Consumer Tip No. 2: When Scammers Come Calling, Don’t Answer

Note: In honor of Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher’s beat as the “Helping Out” reporter from KWMT-TV in the Caught Dead in Wyoming series, I will be offering consumer tips drawn from the books. Here’s the second one in the series.

– – – – – –

In SIGN OFF,  TV reporter Elizabeth Danniher assists the good people of Sherman, Wyoming, with consumer complaints in her “Helping Out” segments. The situations have run from mundane – getting a refund for a viewer with a defective toaster – to murderous – helping solve a capital crime. In one scam, the con artists went door to door, in another they contacted their victims via the phone.

A widely distributed Associated Press story earlier this month reported that Kentucky’s Attorney General Andy Beshear warned of over-the-phone scams featuring people claiming to be county sheriff’s deputies. Callers say they can help residents resolve a federal warrant that has been issued against them — for a not-so-small fee. The fraudsters “spoof” a local number but are really operating out of state or even abroad.

You can hear the voice mail recording of the Kentucky scam here, and read the cautionary tale of one lawyer who almost fell victim to this elaborate scheme.

Fraud-Watch-logoI, too, almost fell prey to such a scam, the old Microsoft tech help trick. I was alerted to a computer virus and told to call a toll-free number. I’m the skeptical type, but still allowed the fake IT guy to access my computer. It didn’t seem right, though, so as I spoke to him on my landline, I searched “Microsoft tech scam” on my smartphone, and instantly confirmed my worst fears. I hung up immediately, unplugged the computer and later had the device analyzed by a computer network expert I have long trusted.

But I wasn’t the only victim of that call. So was the medical supply firm Welch Allyn. The scammers use the company’s numbers to route their calls. It looked legit to me, and is a continuing headache for the upstate New York firm, according to a company representative I spoke to that day. Caller ID spoofers also have impersonated medical insurers (to get personal data) and utility companies (to threaten disconnection as a means to extort money).

The lesson here is to use caution when trusting your phone, and particularly your caller ID. And if you want to see what the latest trick is up fraud artists’ sleeves, the Better Business Bureau keeps track of them with its ongoing Scam Alerts. AARP’s Fraud Watch Network also scans for scams at http://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/fraud-watch-network.

To reduce the number of unwanted calls, visit www.DoNotCall.gov or call 888-382-1222 to register a phone number.

In Author World, there’s a kerfuffle going on right now because the New York Times bestseller list has chosen to leave off a book that is … wait for it … a bestseller.

As a reader, I rarely if ever pay attention to bestseller lists. But if you do, if you are swayed by what other books are selling well, you should know that the New York Times list is NOT bestsellers.

It’s what’s called a “curated” list. The NYT acknowledges that it only counts sales that come from certain outlets of its choosing. And it won’t say which outlets, so it’s not known how broad or deep a range those outlets might represent.

In addition, there are instances where it certainly seems that the New York Times has passed over books for unknown reasons. The latest instance is what’s caused this stir.

I can add to the anecdotal evidence because at least two of my books definitely outsold multiple titles that made the NYT list, while mine were not included. Two more of my books appeared to outsell titles that made the NYT list, but I was more naïve then and thought I must be wrong. <wg>

(Oh, and of course, all this is for only a designated seven days. It has nothing to do with ongoing sales, it’s only for that one week. So keep that in mind, too.)

So, if you want to buy and read based on titles or authors bearing the designation “New York Times Bestseller,” you should be aware that the more accurate designation would be “New York Times Favorites.”

And while we’re at it, Amazon’s “bestseller” lists aren’t, either. For the past 18 months, Amazon has been employing algorithms that favor books that are in its “Kindle Unlimited” program. To be in “Kindle Unlimited” a book cannot be offered for sale anywhere else. I’m among a lot of authors who choose not to disenfranchise our readers who prefer other devices. So we are, in essence, disfavored in the Amazon algorithms.

(The non-KU titles that are on those Amazon lists ARE bestsellers. In fact, they have to sell enough to overcome the algorithm advantages given KU titles.)

The USA Today list is probably the closest to an accurate accounting based solely on sales … you know, a list of actual bestsellers.

It’s not infallible, however. It was only thanks to wonderful author Lisa Mondello saying she thought Heart Stealers should have been on the list back in early 2013 that we contacted USA Today and asked if we might have been overlooked. To its great credit, it doublechecked and said, yes, Heart Stealers should have been included, and issued a revised list (without knocking anybody off, either) – and that was the first time I had a USA Today bestselling title.

The New York Times has been operating this way for decades. Amazon, as I said, started favoring KU titles 18 months ago. I can’t imagine either one changing. And most of the time I view this as just one of the unpleasant realities of the business – every business has them.

But it stirs my journalistic soul that they inaccurately call their listings “the bestsellers.” And it stirs my Irish that they mislead readers.

So, remember when you look at those listings, you are seeing “New York Times Favored Titles” and “Amazon Titles That Make Us More Money.”

… And then go buy another Patricia McLinn book!! <g>

The past month has been … uh, interesting.  If you missed the news, you can read all the details in two earlier blogs:

What I Did on Christmas Vacation A K A Why LAST DITCH Is Late And Why It Might Be Important For Your Health

Kalli’s Turn for Surgery … Oh, My

I’ve encapsulated the progress in our dual recoveries in a few steps.

 

My stages of recovery so far:

Ow! (Days 1-3)

Huh. That hurts? That’s weird.

Figuring out how to perform basic movements with acceptable levels of pain.

 

Wow! (Day 3-end of Week 2)

Performing all those basic movements like a whiz and with little pain.

Discovering additional things that can be done successfully and with little pain.

 

Now! (Week 3-unknown)

Why can’t I do anything without needing a nap afterward?

When is everything going to be back to normal?

 

Kalli’s stages of recovery:

Let me out! (Day 1)

Got to get out of this surgery vet place – now!

Phew. Home.

 

Let me out NOW! (Days 2-90)

20160109_012419(0)Out of the cone.

Out of the Kalli corrals

Out of the booty

Out of the cast

Out of the house to chase SQUIRRELS!

 

Just back from the vet with Kalli for her weekly bandage change.

All’s well now, but had quite a scare.

First, yesterday, as I was bringing her downstairs in the morning, reminding her “slow, easy, slow, easy,” she suddenly tried to leap from the 2nd or 3rd step to the floor (yes, it was either a squirrel or a chipmunk she’d spotted out the window.) I was in her way (on purpose) and tried to grab her. Her head slammed into my incision (ow!), which slowed her down, but she still came down fairly hard on the leg in the cast.

She didn’t cry, didn’t show any ill effects while my author pals were here for lunch.

But yesterday evening, I thought the bandage over the cast looked different – rather misshapen. I tried feeling it gently and she showed no discomfort. But her walking wasn’t as good as before.

This morning I checked it again and reinforced all my previous thoughts – something was weird, it didn’t seem to be causing her pain, but it was hampering her walking.

With the vet appointment already set for the bandage change today, I went through the process of loading her in the car (it’s like traveling with an infant – all the accoutrements.)

Kalli in the Elizabethan collar.

Kalli in the Elizabethan collar.

She was the most unsettled in the car she’d ever been since the first time I took her on a long road trip. (That was the thing of nightmares – she cried, yipped, howled, and barked from the Cincinnati metro area to Kankakee, Illinois. I thought I’d go nuts … and deaf.) This was considerably shorter, thank heavens, but clearly something was wrong. Even beyond the fact that she has to wear the E collar in the car to keep her from licking. (And we know how much she likes that E collar.)

At the vet, unloaded her carefully … and discovered she really couldn’t walk well at all.

Between the t-shirt that covers the top of her leg (another ploy to try to limit licking) and the booty that covers most of the leg when she’s outside, I couldn’t see what was going on, except that she wasn’t happy. My hope was that the booty had slipped down, so she was walking on folded-over booty. Nope. The bottom of the booty was solid.

With visions of her having rebroken something, requiring another surgery, and starting the clock all over on the “confined convalescence,” I stood in the parking lot, debating wither to call “Help!” or try

Home! Time for a snooze.

Home! Time for a snooze.

to call them from my phone.

But knowing Kalli, I decided the hoopla would be more detrimental. So we walked in very slowly, with me holding onto her collar and trying to relieve some of her weight from that leg (though only a little, because I’ve still got weeks to go of the 5-pound lifting limit – are we having fun yet? <wg>)

Inside, I told her to lie down, got the booty off, with the receptionists’ help … and then we could see the cast had slid well down her leg. So it was like having a not very well secured stilt on that one leg.

Best I can figure is she loosened it with yesterday’s leap, then really got it moving in the car.

Her wonderful vet came out and carried her to the back. (I hope he doesn’t have back problems! She’s lost a few pounds, but she’s still 75 lb. I’d have to take 15 trips to carry her <wg>)

With the bandages and cast off, he could see that she hadn’t done any major damage. Phew!!!

He changed the bandage, secured the cast, and we’re back home now. She’s already asleep on her bed (in her pre-St. Patrick’s Day green bandage-covered cast) and I’m ready for a nap, too!

Who knew “confined convalescence” could include such drama?

By Kay Coyte

We’re introducing a new feature for you this month, appearing first in the newsletter, then here and on social media. In honor of Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher’s beat as the “Helping Out” reporter from KWMT-TV in the Caught Dead in Wyoming series, I will be offering consumer tips drawn from the books. The tips will be fleshed out with some consumer reporting — putting my journalism background to work – and will include links for more information. We’d also be happy to take your additional suggestions on the subjects we cover, keeping the conversation going. Eventually, we’ll collect these tips into a single resource on this website.

(Note to Washington, D.C., area readers: Patricia thanks Shirley Rooker, the longtime consumer advocate at WTOP radio and current president of the national Call For Action network, in the Acknowledgements of SIGN OFF.)

2015-top-10-scams-v2-875x1626

Courtesy of Better Business Bureau

Consumer Tip No. 1: Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

Scam artists use the term “the ether” to describe the heightened emotional state that makes it hard to think clearly and make rational decisions. To induce ether, a master sales closer will ask questions that hit your fear, greed and urgency buttons, triggering an emotional response.

In SIGN OFF,  Elizabeth looks into nomad scam artists for her “Helping Out” consumer affairs segments. These con artists went door to door, offering a free inspection, saying since they’re in the neighborhood – that day only – they have a deal for you. And yes, it’s too good to be true.

The Better Business Bureau lists “home improvement scams” as one of the worst offenders, saying “itinerant contractors move around, keeping a step ahead of the law … and angry consumers.”

In 2013, AARP created Fraud Watch Network, a watchdog site that offers anti-scam alerts, tips and resources. For example: Never make a snap buying decision — wait 24 hours for the excitement of a sales presentation to wear off and to give you time to check out the company and the product. AARP also has a Fraud Fighter Call Center at 800-646-2283 toll-free, an interactive U.S. map of fraud activity, and a pretty lively Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/fraudwatchnetwork.

Elizabeth had to set aside the roofers story for a murder investigation in SIGN OFF, but she certainly was on the right track.

The answer to why I ask you to sign up and read my newsletter comes down to one word: Facebook.

Newsletter Signup 2I enjoy interacting with a number of you on Facebook. But it is not reliable. At all.

A reader’s recent request for links to find the books of The Wedding Series reminded me of that.

Facebook decided that three of the links were “unsafe.” These links have been used before on Facebook, my website, in my newsletter, on Twitter, and on Pinterest. They go where they say they’re going. They’re not spam. They’re not “unsafe.”

With an excess of optimism, I tried a second time to post the links. Facebook blocked my comment AND deleted the reader’s comment. Because I don’t give up easily, I tried again. And again. And again. I filled out where Facebook said “tell us if you think this is an error.” Again. And again. And again.

Nothing. Facebook continued to blog links to oh-so-dangerous spots of iBooks, Kobo, and GooglePlay.

This was just the most recent instance of Facebook being arbitrary and irrational. In the past, it’s blocked Amazon links. It blocks posts because it says there’s too much text in the photo … when there’s none. And on and on. I’ve filled out those “tell us if you think this is an error” boxes more times than I can count. I have yet to receive a response or a remedy.

At the same time, Facebook is disseminating posts to fewer and fewer of you folks who have liked my page. Oh – unless I pay Facebook. (Does that sound the teensiest bit like extortion to you? Yup, me, too.)

I’m going to continue to be on Facebook for fun. At least until a savvy entrepreneur fills the gaping holes left by Facebook by offering a responsive, reliable, and customer-centric service – then I’ll move to the new service with alacrity.

In the meantime, if you want to know about special offers, about new releases, about other news items, get my newsletter. That’s where you will hear the news first and reliably. (PLUS, we’re adding some fun new features to the newsletter this year – more on that in a later blog.)

The Wedding Series Boxed Set by Patricia McLinnYou can also check my website home page and here, of course. Just don’t count on hearing it on Facebook!

Oh, yes, and here are those oh-so-dangerous links for The Wedding Series boxed set (click on the name or cut and paste the url):

Amazon: http://hyperurl.co/t5ume2

Nook: http://hyperurl.co/TWSBSbn

iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/TWSBSit

Kobo: http://hyperurl.co/7nvyg4

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Kalli is upstaging me. 😉

She needs surgery on her injured leg. The one she hurt two weeks ago, chasing an evil squirrel.

On the day after Christmas, I called her regular vet and took the first available appointment, which was this past Wednesday. If I’d still been hospitalized my family would have taken her without me. But I got out in time to take a short nap at home, then go with to the appointment, while my family handled the leash. (To avoid jolts, jerks, and the potential trauma if she saw a squirrel.)

Her vet said he thought she obliterated ligaments, destabilizing the carpus joint (between her shoulder and paw) on her right front leg. He referred us to a specialist (who did surgery on his dogs – no better recommendation.)

20151230_163103She came home wearing a splint wrapped in bright purple tape and covered with a plastic bag. At first she was horrified by it. She held it out to the side like she wanted it to go away. But in short order she was getting around very well. In fact, she backed up on her peg leg at high speed when there was a goodie in the offing.

The next day we went to the specialist. The diagnosis was confirmed and she’s been scheduled for surgery Wednesday, Jan. 6.

The surgery is to fuse the joint, using a plate, to stabilize her leg. She’ll likely have a stiffened leg, but be able to get around very well. Certainly better than in the previous two weeks.

This was expected after talking with her regular vet.

What wasn’t is that she’ll then be on a 16-week program of confinement. Minimal movement is required to let her leg heal and the bones fuse.

Kalli raising her third splint to facilitate a belly rub -- vital to her healing.

Kalli raising her third splint to facilitate a belly rub — vital to her healing.

At first the vet said a crate or cage for 12 weeks – 8 in a cast and 4 in a split. (Followed by a 4-week limited and gradual reintroduction to activity.) She’s not used to either cage or crate and this doesn’t seem like the best time to start. The vet also said keep her to one floor. But that would mean she’d have no supervision at night and since I can’t move quickly, she could get very excited and very active before I could get to her.

Now the instructions are one trip down the stairs at the start of the day, one up at the end. Outside as needed with a cover over her cast, then immediately back inside. Otherwise kept to a small space so she can’t get excited. This is going to take some figuring … Away from windows that might reveal squirrels or chipmunks or other horrors, yet where I can work, get a phone hooked up, and other comforts of home as I recuperate, too.

Kalli came home from the specialist Thursday with a new splint – blue this time. She quickly became quite adept at that, too. Yes, she would whack it against the step as she came in but that was because it was a little longer than she was used to … wasn’t it?

I’m not so sure after Sunday.

Yup, she broke the splint.

That meant her leg was bending more than it should. Called the specialist’s emergency number. They said to bring her in to check for any damage to her leg (no) and to check if the splint was really broken (yes.)

We spent five hours – five hours! – getting the splint replaced. Back home now, taking a breath before my doctor’s appointment Monday.

Then Kalli’s surgery early Wednesday. And her homecoming Thursday night.

The fun never ends. 😉

Now, how am I going to work all this into a book?

a k a Why LAST DITCH is late …

and why it might be important for your health.

I had surgery for endometrial cancer on Monday, December 28, 2015.

I won’t make you wait for this happy ending. The initial pathology report says I’m all clear after the surgery. Yes, there’s the final pathology report still to come. Also, I’ll need ongoing exams and tests (darn it!) to check for recurrence of endometrial cancer, but this was the best possible outcome of this procedure.

Why it might be important to you is that I’ve learned a whole lot about this since September. And one of the most important variables in beating the most prevalent type of endometrial cancer is catching it early.

Back in September, at a regular checkup with my doctor, as I prepared to leave, I said, “Oh, yeah, and I’ve had some bleeding.”

“Oh, yeah?” She was definitely not amused. Also wasn’t impressed when I said it was very light, very sporadic, maybe four incidences over six to nine months. It had seemed so innocuous I hadn’t really paid attention.

That was the start. I was sent for a transvaginal ultrasound and another test in October. They showed thickening of the endometrial stripe (I had no idea I had such a thing, much less that it could thicken) and what were thought to be fibroids.

fight cancer -- Patricia McLinnBecause of that thickening, I was sent for an ob/gyn biopsy. This biopsy checks only a tiny portion of the uterus, so it can confirm cancer but not rule it out. My biopsy was clear, which was good, but not definitive.

The next step was a D&C in November for a more extensive biopsy. No evident signs of cancer during the scope. However, they found a polyp, removed it, and sent it to pathology.

The doctor called a couple days later than I’d expected her to call with the pathology report and said there wasn’t a definitive answer. Some things indicated cancer, but other markers weren’t there. A second local pathologist came to the same conclusion. So they were sending the sample to a specialist at Mass General in Boston, which would take another week.

I asked the doctor to let me see the preliminary report while we waited. It included the word “suspicious.”

To this point, I was absolutely convinced that each of these steps would be the last one. I felt absolutely fine. I have no know family history of endometrial cancer. But seeing that word “suspicious” made me think, uh-oh.

So when the specialist came back and said the sample met the criteria for cancer, I wasn’t totally surprised. The specialist also wrote that the removal of the polyp might have removed all the cancer “but one cannot guarantee it.”

When it comes to cancer, a nonguarantee was not going to cut the mustard. The medical advice was a hysterectomy. So after talking to doctors (including a wonderful friend of the family), researching, juggling schedules with family and such, the surgery was set for Dec. 28.

I’m writing this as I’m in the hospital a second night (hope it’s the last one! I was told to expect 2-4 nights in the hospital. I plan on being on the short end.)

There are a few things I’ve learned that I hope might help someone out there.

  • If you have any “unscheduled” bleeding, tell your doctor immediately. Light, sporadic, unimpressive – doesn’t matter. Report it. I was fortunate that my doctor jumped on it. Not all do. So you might need to be assertive. If you are not menopausal it’s more complicated. Do not let that stop you – no one knows your body better than you do. When something’s “off,” new, different, report it and pursue it.
  • Do NOT think that feeling good means you don’t have an issue. Generally, you don’t feel bad with this cancer unless it’s progressed way past where you want it to be.
  • Recognize that the tests are going to be weird, uncomfortable, and unfun. Get them done anyway. Do them quickly.
  • You’ll need help. After anesthesia, such as for the D&C, hospitals won’t put you in a taxi. (I thought that was a great solution. The ob/gyn said she would not put me in a taxi with someone I didn’t know while still loopy from anesthesia. Okay, that was fair point.) Instead I needed family help. And more help for this surgery. Lots more. This is not easy for me. (I’m told my first spoken phrase was “Do it my ownself.”) But you do what you got to do.
  • Information is power. Find out what you need to know from good sources. I recommend:

Mayo Clinic — Including this succinct list of symptoms of endometrial cancer:

FireShot Screen Capture #098 - 'Endometrial cancer Symptoms - Mayo Clinic' - www_mayoclinic_org_diseases-conditions_endometrial-cancer_basics_symptoms_con-20033696

Cleveland Clinic

NIH’s National Cancer Center

  • Be as proactive as you can be in talking with the doctors and nurses. Your understanding of and comfort with what’s happening is vital. Some of the doctors didn’t seem to be accustomed to  my level of question-asking – I figure I’ve softened them up for all the patients who follow <wg>. The vast majority of the nurses were terrific, giving lots of information and answering lots of questions. Remember, though, that for doctors and nurses this is everyday stuff – the terms, the sequence, the protocols. You need to remind them that for you it is not everyday. Don’t let them rush through what’s familiar to them but leaves you confused or uncertain. Ask until you understand the answer, even if that means asking over and over.
  • Do not assume that because you have no family history or the major indicators that you’re exempt. By those criteria I wouldn’t have it. But here I am. And so are a lot of other women.
  • Getting this early is absolutely vital. Unlike too many cancers, endometrial cancer frequently gives us early symptoms. When nature gives you an early warning system, you cannot afford to ignore it. Caught early the prognosis is very good. But I’ve talked to doctors who have treated women who let it go for years – years! — or until they were bleeding profusely. Don’t. Do. This.
  • The diagnosis of cancer is NOT the bad news. Seriously.

A friend asked me after the pathology report came back as endometrial cancer if I was upset. I wasn’t happy, but honestly that was mostly because all the tests and procedures had messed with my writing schedule big-time and I realized that surgery was going to knock that schedule for a major loop. (Which explains why the release of LAST DITCH has been pushed back from November to February.)

But.

I also realized that not knowing would have been so, so, so much worse.

Whatever is going on in your body – cancer or otherwise – is already there. The diagnosis doesn’t change that, but it does give you a chance to DO something. To take action. To fight.

That’s what I’ve done. I hope it’s what you’ll do if you need to.

I also hope you’ll spread the word about the symptoms of this cancer so more women have the opportunity to fight it when the fight is winnable.

Good health to all of us in 2016.

P.S.  I DID get out of the hospital after two days. Home now, learning not to lift anything over 5 pounds for a spell.  Ah, but the laptop’s only 3 pounds! ‘-)

By Kay Coyte

My family wasn’t big on Christmas presents. We were a mom and dad, and my two older sisters, then me, the eight-years-younger oops kid. Generally, each received one big present, and maybe a little something from Santa, and a fruit- and candy-filled stocking.

Every year since I could talk, I’d asked Santa for a pony. That wasn’t in the picture, though my parents did pony up for riding lessons. Not sure what I asked for as a 10-year-old in 1964, maybe a Breyer’s rearing stallion figurine.

But under the Christmas tree was a big, bowed box, and when it was my turn, I tore into the packaging and soon was face to face with Chatty Cathy, the talking doll. (Don’t remember Chatty Cathy? Check her out here.) She had a blond pageboy, freckles and wore a frilly dress. I was a tomboy, but a polite tomboy, and I tried to hide my disappointment with a stiff upper lip and a “Thank you very much.”

20151227_123119-1_resizedBut wait, there’s another present. This time, paydirt: “Horse Fever: A Guide for Horse Lovers and Riders,” by Pat Johnson, a primer on all things equine, written for a mostly young girl audience. On the title page, my mom inscribed in red pen “To a little girl who has” — and then she drew an arrow down to “Horse Fever.”

Chatty Cathy mostly sat on a shelf, or came out for a little conversation when girlfriends visited. “Horse Fever,” by contrast, was read over and over, its cover faded and frayed. Now that I think of it, the book was kind of a tease. Chapter 2 started with “Let’s go horse hunting!” and other chapters covered care and feeding, and first aid. My parents balked at buying a horse, citing the expense of boarding and other upkeep. At 17, I got one myself, an Appaloosa/Quarter-Horse cross bought with my own money and pastured at the riding academy where I worked part-time. Every once in awhile, I pulled out “Horse Fever” and checked something in that first aid section.

And “Horse Fever” is with me today, after countless moves, a marriage, a child of my own, a divorce, a downsize. Not too many of my childhood books crossed the country with me; “Horse Fever” did. And I’m still at heart a little girl with horse fever. My best Christmas gift this year? A print of the 1950s era champion Round Table, who happened to be born in Kentucky the day after I came into  the world. In 1958, Round Table dominated thoroughbred racing at Santa Anita in California, winning several major stakes races. Nearly every week the dark bay colt’s photo graced the cover of the Blood-Horse magazine, and I spent many an hour poring over those issues while my parents played bridge with a couple who had a subscription to that racing digest. The artist is Allen F. Brewer Jr., whose lithograph of another thoroughbred champion, Citation, had traveled with me through college and thereafter, but eventually was left behind. In a further bit of serendipity, this Round Table at Santa Anita print came from an antique shop in Georgia that’s in my extended family. As you can see here, I was thrilled to unwrap Brewer’s Round Table and my “Thank you very much” was punctuated with a big smile!

Falling for Her kindleToday — December 23 — is when the finale of FALLING FOR HER takes place. This isn’t Vanessa and Josh’s happy ending, because I prefer to think of the ends of my books as bringing the characters to a happy beginning.

But before they can begin, they need to learn some things: This is the warm-up to Josh Kincannon is about to get one of those lessons in this excerpt:

 

“Josh?” Mrs. Richards’ voice trembled. “We need you at the computer lab. It’s an emergency.”

The night of December twenty-third was not the time for an emergency.

He had a wrapping marathon tonight. Tomorrow’s schedule was packed right up until Christmas Eve services. He’d be wrapping, along with stuffing stockings and putting together Livvy’s tricycle in the short night between when the kids settled down Christmas Eve and when they woke well before dawn.

And none of it kept him from knowing that Vanessa hadn’t responded.

“What’s wrong?” But he already had out his list of emergency sitters.

“You have to get here. You just have to!” She hung up.

* * * *

Inside the unlocked front door, the computer lab was brightly lit, but with no sign of activity.

“Mrs. R!”

Her voice came faintly from in back. Pulling his phone out, he ran, envisioning broken hips, strokes, heart attacks. He shoved open the office door.

“Mrs. Richards–are you okay?”

She sat primly in an office chair at the lone computer desk back here. Her hands suspended over the keyboard as she peered around the chair back at him. “I’m fine, dear. How are you?”

She looked fine. She sounded fine. “What’s the emergency?”

“Just a moment, dear. Let me finish this e-mail. I did tell you –” Her fingers tapped away between words. “—that I’ve established a loop with correspondents around the world, didn’t I?”

“Yes. But the emergen–”

“Wonderful people. I know one must be cautious, as our fine instructors said. I most certainly would not give out personal information. But it’s amazing the connections you make, how clearly personalities –”

“If you don’t tell me the emergency, I’m leaving, Mrs. R.”

She startled up, “Oh, no! Don’t, Josh.” She looked at the wall clock. “If you could be patient a little longer.”

“Patient for what?”

She fluttered her hands.

“Is there an emergency?” Beneath his well-honed tell-me-the-truth stare, she quailed. “Then I’m going home to my kids.”

He pivoted. She caught up in the open doorway to the main room. Pretty good for a woman who needed a walker at times. She clung to his arm.

“Wait, Josh. Don’t go. Not yet. Sometimes you have to wait a little longer than you’d like, but if you don’t you might regret it for the rest of your life.”

“Wait for what?”

The front door opened, the blast of frigid air reaching him at the far end of the room. Unless something else made his eyes sting and his lungs burn.

Vanessa.

~ ~ ~

Lots more happens on Dec. 23 in FALLING FOR HER — will Vanessa respond to the present he’d sent her? — but I don’t want to ruin it for you! Happy reading!

iBooks     Nook    Kindle    GooglePlay   Kobo

Last_Ditch_preorder167Dear Readers,

As you may have heard, I have pushed back the release of LAST DITCH, Book 4 in the Caught Dead in Wyoming series. But a snafu in the iBooks pre-order listing for the book failed to register the publication date change, and the “book” – a blank file – was sent inadvertently to iBooks pre-order customers.

If you pre-ordered “Last Ditch” through iBooks, you can request a refund through customer service at http://www.apple.com/support/itunes.

For now, “Last Ditch” is off iBooks. We hope to restore that pre-order later this month. Unfortunately, publishing schedules over the holidays may play havoc with our attempts to make things right again. The book is still available for pre-order on Google Play and Kobo.

We’ll keep you posted on the iBooks pre-order situation, and when it’s offered through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am so sorry to delay the book’s release, but sometimes it has to be. And, most of all, please accept my apology for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

By Kay Coyte

Sometime in the late 1980s, Patricia McLinn (we all knew her as Pat) and I started a tradition of taking power walks on our night-time “lunch” hour. We worked on the sports desk of The Washington Post, and the walks were a good way to get some exercise and escape the stuffy office. In the spring we made a point of hoofing it to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry blossoms under the sidewalk lights. During the holidays, we hiked down to see the national Christmas tree and the other smaller trees representing the 50 states and several territories.

I was reminded of this — and felt a little homesick for Washington, D.C. — while reading “The Christmas Princess” tonight. As Patricia’s newest assistant, I needed to check the continuity of some of the characters in her soon-to-be released old/new book “The Runaway Bride.” A Silhouette Special Edition published in 2002, “The Runaway Bride” was the original No. 4 book in The Wedding Series, and Patricia has regained rights to the text to re-publish the story of Judi Monroe (little sister of Paul Monroe) and her personal witness-protection plan in Wyoming. (Note: The Wedding Series will expand again when “The Forgotten Prince” arrives in summer/early fall of 2016.) In “The Christmas Princess,” April Gareaux (a lover of all things Christmas) and Hunter Pierce (not so much) tour the state trees, and I like to think that Pat and I enjoyed them — and people-watching the kids and their families — as much as April. In another coincidence, April volunteers at an animal shelter that must have been modeled after the one next to my old Arlington, Virginia, community. It’s called Fairlington in the book, but the shelter today is in the Shirlington neighborhood. My dog Lassie (a terrier-mix mutt, not a collie!) and I were frequent visitors there.

On one of those Post lunch walks, Pat had something she wanted to tell me, but first I had to swear to tell no one. She was writing a romance novel (“Hoops,” as it turned out) about a college basketball coach and his adversary/love interest, the team’s academic adviser. The other Sports editors would have teased Pat endlessly about that! She was learning the book business as she went along, and I was learning a little about it, too. But it sure was tough to keep that secret for those years between concept and publication!

Eventually, Pat moved on to the Post’s News Service, and began to transition into full-time writing. I became a mom in 1989, and landed at the more family-friendly News Service myself in 1997. This summer, I retired from what is now The Washington Post-Bloomberg News Service and moved back to my native Kentucky, where I also do some freelance writing and photography, and judge a national horse racing book award. Who knew that, some 25 years after “Hoops,” I’d be the latest recruit on Patricia’s publishing team? It’s a whole new ballgame.

The National Christmas Tree shines bright during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, Dec. 9, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
The National Christmas Tree shines bright during the lighting ceremony on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., in 2010. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

 

FBK Prelude To A Wedding Free halloween

PRELUDE TO A WEDDING is free everywhere that I can think of <wg> — Happy Halloween, everyone!

The Great Ocean Road was an incredible highlight of my recent trip to Australia. During the planning stage, I’d decided to splurge on an individual tour with The Private Tour Guide a k a Simon.

abb It was a great decision. As anyone who’s been looking at my Facebook page knows, I took a zillion photos of the glorious landscapes and seascapes, half a zillion videos of the natural wonders (though some of the videos were of my coat pocket. But never mind that.), and a zillion and a half of animals and birds that proclaimed I wasn’t in Kentucky anymore. Plus, I got the germ of an idea of stranding characters on a beach with the tide coming in and no way out … But that will have to percolate longer.

Besides, what I’m telling you about now is that amid the glorious seascapes and natural wonders and photogenic critters, one of the absolute highlights of the Great Ocean Road trip for me was the Apollo Bay Bakery … and I didn’t eat a thing.

20150817_143509Simon had said I needed to meet ABB’s owner, Sally – and he was right.

Sally was delightful. In the brightly decorated front-of-shop, we talked books (I know, what a surprise) and we talked bakeries. Then she took me in back to show me where the magic happens – omg, the size of those mixers! If you licked those beaters, you’d explode.

And there was a wonderful bonus in meeting Sally’s mom (Mum in Australian?), Marion. Who was as charming and welcoming as her daughter.

But I think what impressed me the most was that Sally had bought the Apollo Bay Bakery without any experience in bakeries.

She bought it and then she dove in to remaking it.

So often we shy away from doing something because we haven’t done it before. (Okay, I do that.) But what it comes down to is if you only do things you’re experienced at, you’re never going to do anything new.

In other words, you get stuck in a rut.

Instead of experience, Sally applied enthusiasm, energy, the willingness to work very hard, ideas, a love of people, generosity.

She’s turned them into a business that’s succeeding. More, it’s employing people and it’s contributing to its community. (Not to mention serving up yummies.)

I’m going to work hard at holding on to the lesson I learned in that too-brief visit to the Apollo Bay Bakery.

Oh, yes, I’m also holding on to Sally’s email, because she promised to answer questions when I have those characters eating at ABB before I strand them on that beach.

My one regret is that I didn’t eat any of the Apollo Bay Bakery’s goodies. (Note: Do not go to Apollo Bay Bakery immediately after eating lunch.) I wonder if Sally delivers to Kentucky? 😉

~ ~ ~

You can also visit these folks on Facebook!

APOLLO BAY BAKERY: https://www.facebook.com/apollobaybakery

THE PRIVATE TOUR GUIDE: https://www.facebook.com/ThePrivateTourGuide

GREAT OCEAN ROAD: https://www.facebook.com/visitgreatoceanroad

TRMHM iBooks PromoContest! Win $25 iBooks gift card!

iBooks chose the hero from one of my BARDVILLE, WYOMING series books for their FIND YOUR BOOK BOYFRIEND feature. Yay!

Just name him in the comments here or on my Facebook page you’re entered in the contest.

(HINT: There’s a really good clue in the graphic. wink emoticon ) Runs through Friday, Sept. 25.

Sunday is a day of work for me.

Now, everybody all together, awwwwww.

Thank you, I needed that.

Last_Ditch_preorder_smallI’m writing on LAST DITCH, Book 4 in the “Caught Dead in Wyoming” mystery series. Sure, writing a mystery is about a murder (or two or three), but I get a kick out of these characters and Elizabeth’s dry humor makes me grin. Also love her developing relationship with Shadow the dog. (You thought I was going to say with Mike, didn’t you? Or are you in the Tom camp? Hee-hee-hee.) Good thing I enjoy it, huh?

Just to prove I’m really writing, here’s a snippet (Nope, not giving you a snippet that advances the Mike or Tom question for Elizabeth — leaving you all in suspense! <eg>):

~~~

This snippet starts with Elizabeth at Diana’s house, with Mrs. Parens and Aunt Gee also there. Elizabeth’s mom calls on the phone (with Elizabeth’s dad in the background) and mentions a plan to visit Sherman, Wyoming very soon. Elizabeth replies …

“Visit? Me? Here?”

“Yes. Drive out and –.”

“There’s nowhere for you to stay. Remember? Dad said he wouldn’t stay in either of Sherman’s motels and you didn’t think Haber House’s linens were fresh and –”

“I have a spare room,” Mrs. Parens proclaimed. “You parents will stay with me, Elizabeth.”

“Nonsense,” Aunt Gee said. “I have a guest room with its own bathroom, and no one would ever say my linens aren’t fresh.”

Since I suspected the woman ironed paper napkins, I wasn’t going to argue with her. Or with Mrs. Parens, so I had to find another way to stop this train wreck gathering speed as it rolled right toward me.

“They’re staying here,” Diana said. “We’ve already set it all up.”

“What?” I said to something Mom had said that I didn’t catch. Then Diana’s words sank in and from beneath the rubble of the train wreck I got out, “What?”

~~~

LAST DITCH, Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 4 is on preorder at iBooks, Kobo, and GooglePlay now! The book will show up for you the moment it’s released.

(Preorders are like cheese in the maze for a mouse … they keep me going 😉 )

I’m taking a class on Dog Emotion and Cognition through Coursera. It suggested a game to play with your dog called The Hopeless Task.

You put a treat in a closed container. Put the container in front of the dog. Stand behind the dog. And see how long it takes him/her to figure out it’s a hopeless task and turn to you for help.

First time with Kalli, ran into a small problem. She saw the treat going in and was very interested. I put down the container. She didn’t budge. Stopwatch ticks away. Why isn’t she even poking at it?

Duh!

She’s been taught not to touch things until I say “take it” and I hadn’t said the magic words.
Restart the stopwatch and say “take it.” She turns to me in seven seconds.

I thought maybe that wasn’t a good test because of the false start over “take it,” so waited a few hours and retested. Five seconds.

I’m thinking that by now she knows she gets a treat after she turns to me, so I wait a few days to let her forget. Three seconds.

So I wait a week. Tried it again this afternoon. She doesn’t even look at the container. As soon as it’s on the floor and I say “take it” she turns to me. One second.

I snapped the pic, with the blue-topped container as she continued to look at me.

I’m not at all convinced that she knows it’s a hopeless task. But she sure as heck knows that if she turns to me she gets the treat.

20150916_162254

Toad poop.

Yes, I said toad poop.

I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered toad poop before. Years ago, I had a toad that got into my kitchen in my townhouse in Charlotte, N.C. A toad that the dog I had then, the adventurous Kirby (a k a TurboKirbo) desperately wanted to eat. Toad equally desperately did not want to be eaten. I, even more desperately, wanted my dog not to eat the toad AND the toad out of my kitchen.

A sequence ensued whose intricacies would have made the most elaborate marching band pattern look like a stroll. It also included a phone call to my mother asking how to get a toad out from under a refrigerator, under the theory that Mom Knows Everything.

toad in long green grass

toad in long green grass

That toad was caught when it hopped on a piece of cardboard (after a zillion tries) and I covered it with a bucket. I then relocated it some distance from my kitchen and set it free.

But that toad had the decency not to poop. Even under the refrigerator.

This toad wasn’t as genteel.

I discovered this when I was checking under the covers that protect my deck furniture from the elements. After being away for 3+ weeks to Australia and New Zealand, then sick, I’d only uncovered one chair for the first week home.

Next time I’m going to have to get critter-repelling covers.

Because the first thing I encountered was a pillow with the seam chewed open and a small clump of stuffing spewed out like, oh, say, a chipmunk had given it a nibble and gone “Ptui!” I hope he’s spread the word in chipmunk land that my pillows are not a delicacy.

Pull the cover back from the next chaise and ACK! a liver colored toad about the size of two silver dollars jumps out. And right where he’d been sitting on one of the pillows was … ICK!

I jump. Cover goes flying. Kalli barks. Toad jumps again.

Into the cupped inside of the cover.

I try to shake it out over the deck railing. Toad clings to inside of cover, leaving – you guessed it – more ICK.

I exclaim. Kalli barks. Toad does more of the icky, leaving a patch as big as him.

After ordering Kalli to Sit. Down. Stay. Quiet. (Why oh why didn’t I learn the toad command for Don’t Poop!?) I rejuggle my hold on the cover, avoiding toad and ick, and sort of pop out from the outside where he’s clinging to the inside. He goes sailing toward the ivy bed below. The poop remains.

I have now hosed off cover and pillow. Twice. Run the pillow through the washing machine twice. With bleach. Rubbed at the cover. With bleach. (And then threw out the towel used.) And hosed the cover again.

No visible sign of the icky remains. But will I ever forget it’s been there? Can I ever forget?

No sighting of the toad. He better hope I never see him again.

If he’s really a prince, tough luck. There will definitely be no kissing.

 

September 11

Remember.

Remember with a moment of silence. A moment of silence that resonates with the silence in the skies when the planes were grounded and with the silence of horror.

Remember.

Remember with gratitude. Gratitude for the first responders and ordinary people who surged in to help, and hope that we would do the same.

Remember.

Remember with awe. Awe at the courage of the people on Flight 93, who faced their mortal peril with determination to act.

Remember.

Remember with sorrow. Sorrow for all the loved ones of all those murdered that day.

Remember.

Remember with dismay. Dismay at the wrenching waste of so much ability and potential and humanity of all those murdered that day by a force of inexplicable destruction.

Remember.

Remember with determination. Determination that the day, the people, the loss, the lessons will not be forgotten.

Remember.

 

Split Point Lighthouse on Australia's Great Ocean Road.

Split Point Lighthouse on Australia’s Great Ocean Road.

The differences are what you go to a different country to notice, enjoy, and consider. I did a lot of that in Australia and New Zealand the past couple weeks.

So, here are some of my observations, in no particular order:

  • I was prepared for vehicles driving on the left (a k a the wrong – it must be the wrong side, since we drive on the right side in North America) side of the road. But what threw me were references to the south as being cold and the north as warm. When someone mentioned a southern breeze and shivered, it was a true disconnect.
  • In general, people also walk on the left side of sidewalks. The period of adjustment meant definitely going against the flow – sorry, folks!
  • lpThe menus refer to appetizers as “entrees” and the main course as “mains.” This makes great sense. Our calling the main course an entrée, when entrée means opening makes no sense.
  • I loved the soft water of Melbourne. More important, my hair and skin loved it. My water is hard, hard, and then some more hard. And then the locals put fluoride and chlorine in it.
  • I have a new appreciation for Fahrenheit as a measure of temperature. I never really considered it before, but after struggling with 20 (68) being cool even for sleeping, but 21 (69.8) being a bit too warm, I really wanted 69 F.
  • Individuals and TV commentators referred to my compatriots as “Americans.” Here we’ve been told that that word applies to the continents – North and South. So when asked where I was from, I’d say the U.S. or the United States, and I’d get “Oh, an American.”
  • To my surprise, not everyone knew where I was from as soon as I opened my mouth. One person even guessed Perth! I maintain I have NO accent.
  • koalaI was asked for directions in Melbourne (three times) and Auckland (twice.) I’d like to think it’s because I look like I know where I’m going. I suspect it’s because I look non-threatening <wg>.
  • Every person I ask for directions in both countries was kind and helpful. I was kind when I was asked for directions … no guarantee on the helpfulness ;-).
  • I had pavlova in New Zealand. I refuse to take a stance on where it was created. It was delicious … but a little chocolate in it wouldn’t have gone amiss.
  • The people of Melbourne were incredibly patient with a novice tram rider.
  • The vast majority of people were friendly, kind, open to talking, and treated me as an individual. The exceptions were individuals whom I would never hold against their countries.
  • In New Zealand, I found some lemon and menthol lozenges from Vicks that were terrific. Apparently they are not available in the U.S. – oh, nooooo.
  • muriwaiAlso not available here, L&P the “lemonish” drink that’s “world famous in New Zealand.” I liked it.
  • I do have a jar of Vegemite, thanks to the generous folks of the Romance Writers of Australia. I’m waiting for the right moment.
  • “Shrimp” become “prawns” in that part of the world.
  • The conferences have breaks for morning and afternoon tea, as well as lunch. You will never be hungry. Or dry.
  • Asking for “lemonade” often resulted in Squirt.
  • Loved the choices on most menus under “sparkling by the glass.” Had some lovely ones.
  • I mostly tipped. Not universally, but some.
  • New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, Australia, get some U.S. TV. … Not the good stuff. A lot of shows I’d never watched. For good reason. Sorry, guys!
  • Between rugby and Australian Rules Football, rugby feels more like U.S. football. Australian Rules football – “footy” – felt more like a cross of soccer and hockey without the ice.
  • My greatest regret: I was never called “mate.” 😉
  • My greatest accomplishment: I made and deepened some wonderful friendships.

TSP_ebook_FinalAfter a lot of work and much anticipation, I could not be happier to announce the release of The Surprise Princess. The latest installment in The Wedding Series, The Surprise Princess, was scheduled to be released September 9, but we managed to move the release date up and the book is now available!

If you’ve been following The Wedding Series, you’ll be happy to see some familiar faces making appearances in the newest book. You can revisit characters you’ve come to know from The Wedding Series and Hoops, my first release, or read The Surprise Princess as a standalone. Either way, I hope you enjoy The Surprise Princess, and get ready for the next book in the series, The Forgotten Prince!

 

The Surprise Princess

Katie Davis is a perfectly ordinary young woman living a perfectly ordinary life in small-town Wisconsin … isn’t she?

The most interesting thing about her is that she works for the men’s basketball office at Ashton University. If she considers the biggest perk of the job being around assistant basketball coach Brad Spencer, that also makes her ordinary, because what woman wouldn’t feel that way? So these people coming around saying she could be the long-missing granddaughter of the King of Bariavak have to be wrong … don’t they?

Brad has a real soft spot for Katie. She stirs his protectiveness, his penchant for the underdog, and, possibly, certain other reactions he’s not about to indulge. So he’s going to do his damnedest to make sure Katie gets all that she deserves, including the crown that might be her right … even though it means Her Royal Highness will never again look at a basketball coach from Wisconsin like he’s the king of her heart.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

This started off bad and got worse.

AU NZ copyBack in March, when I was arrange to go to Australia and New Zealand for their romance groups’ annual conferences, I carefully (and tediously—it took about 8 hours on multiple calls) made reservations with enough time to have comfortable connections, including 1:35 in Houston.

About a month ago, United canceled my original flight and left me with a 35-minute connection through Houston… though, in fact, 35 minutes really means 20 minutes, because it has to be buttoned up 15 minutes ahead. And there was a terminal change, of course.

I talked to United 3 days before departure. Nicky assured me I would probably make Flight A out of Houston. Flight+1 hour later was sold out, but she had me on Flight +2 hours in biz as a backup.

This morning I began the journey for this fabulous opportunity to participate in the Romance Writers of Australia conference Aug. 21-23 in Melbourne, then the Romance Writers of New Zealand Aug.28-30 in Auckland.

I checked a bag for the first time in ages. I usually just do carry-on. Tried the kiosk, which said there was no such reservation. Then had to wait and wait and wait for help. My existence finally confirmed. Bag finally checked.

It’ll be fine from here, right?

Next, TSA confiscated my crunchy peanut butter as a gel. Really. First time I have ever been stopped by TSA. Ever. I had no idea they’d consider Skippy peanut butter a potential weapon.

Then I see that my flight out was delayed because the plane would be late getting in because it was late leaving from its previous stop (once we were onboard, the pilot announced the late cascade started because “of my rest.” I swear I thought he said “because of my arrest,” which would have been a much better story. But, no. It was because of rest.)

Agent at the gate says I have to be reticketed through Houston, but Nicky’s backup for Flight+2 is nowhere in the system. Best I can get is Flight+3 hours. Oh, but thunderstorms were predicted in Houston at that time of Flight+3 so there might be delays, delays, delays.

And if I didn’t get to LAX to get my flight to Australia on time it was going to be a 24-hour wait.

I said okay on the reticket, but I could still try to make Flight A? And he said yes.

We make up lots of time in the air. And nice flight attendant gives me my own bottle of water. I wait for my gate-checked bag (which we have to get from the tarmac in 100 degree Houston), then hoof it from end of one terminal to end of another and get to the gate while they’re still boarding … Hurray, everything’s going to be fine…

They won’t even check to see if I’m still on the list. They keep saying they’re putting people on who have tickets. I have a ticket. Not anymore. Because they’ve given my seat away and that’s that. Tough luck. Go see customer service.

I go to customer service. He says. Tough luck. You have the confirmed Flight +3… And, yes, thunderstorms are predicted for right when Flight+3 is leaving. You can go standby on Flight+1 and if that doesn’t work try Flight+2.

So I take standby seat on Flight+1. (And they clearly believe I should be grateful for it.)

Not so much.

The LAST row in the plane. Bounced around. Noisy. Bumped prodded and poked by people waiting for the lavatory. But I’m thinking that’s still better than gambling on being late into LAX and missing the flight to Melbourne.

But what turned out to be worse – far, far worse – was they took my rollaboard because they said there was no more room in the passenger compartment. Of course there would have been if I’d been in biz. But not for Row 35 standby types.

I get through that flight … having now flown almost 7 hours of non-biz class that I had paid for in miles AND cash co-pays.

Get to LAX. Looking for my gate-checked bag. I’m told it was checked through to Melbourne.

Nooooo.

This was the bag I so carefully bought for international carry on size, packed for the things I’d want during the 15-hour overnight trip, packed so I could get by a couple days in Melbourne if the main suitcase is lost/delay (nah, that ~never~ happens, right?) and was saving my shoulder from having to support the computer bag, because it hooked on to the rollaboard.

From here on shoulder is screaming at toting computer bag alllll over LAX.

Told to go see Customer Service.

Customer Service says if I go down to Baggage Claim they can pull the bag for me so I’d have it on the flight. Yes, it means I have to go back through TSA, but they already took my peanut butter 10hours before, so it’ll be a breeze, right?

Person 1 in Baggage Claim says my bag’s in the carousel with other Houston bags. This makes no sense to me, but when I try to raise the question I am brusquely dismissed. I figure I have to eliminate it being on the carousel before getting anywhere with this person.

LAX playfully only signs the baggage claims on the back and the farthest away from where you approach them. Check 3 carousels before find the one promising baggage from my flight.

Not on the carousel. Encounter a fellow standby-er from Houston whose shanghaied bag is also missing. Person 2 starts to lead both of us to stored luggage. That makes no sense, either. Bag would have just arrived. Then she says, no I first need to check a corral of luggage on the far side from where we are. Turns out it all belonged to a group who wondered why I was scoping out their luggage. Find Person 2 again and she says she’ll help me as soon as she’s helped someone else. Person 3 walking past and asks if he can help. Surprised I didn’t sob on his chest. Instead, I said, yes.

He scanned my claim check, said the bag was in fact checked through to Melbourne (NOT on the carousel, not in stored luggage, not with the now-very-suspicious group.) He also said there was no way I could get the bag and it was crazy to think I could (not quite his words, but that was the idea), to forget it until I get to Melbourne. And then pray that both bags make it.

I said I could wait a while because my next flight wasn’t for hours. He said TSA would never release it. I said Customer Service said I could get it. He said they don’t know what they’re talking about. … Guess I should have figured that out by then, huh.

So, I head to my next flight. With a 4-5 hour wait. But, of course, I’d gone out of the secured section to go to baggage claim, so I had to go back through security.

They might have been a bit suspicious because at that point I had to sort through 7 other boarding passes (I’ve skipped a few here) to get to my LAX to Melbourne boarding pass. But I’m pre-check, so I put the computer bag on the conveyer with confidence. They pass my person through just fine. Not the bag.

Really? They already have my peanut butter. NOW what? TSA guy pages “Patrick” to No. 1. Over the next 7 minutes he pages him three more times. Patrick, apparently has caught a flight out of here. Then he pages somebody else a few times.

By this time I’ve said, “Oh, God, it’s the water bottle the flight attendant gave me, isn’t it?” He won’t tell me. I explain about the water bottle. I explain about the 7 boarding passes. Every 3-4 minutes he pages someone else. And most of that time he has no one coming through his line. But no way is he going to check my bag.

TWENTY-plus minutes later a very nice TSA agent finally comes and looks through my bag.

It’s the water bottle.

I suppose I should be glad the bag is now lighter.

Meanwhile, of course, Kalli is home with the dog-sitter wolfing down treats. Is this fair?

So, now I’m waiting to get on the flight to Melbourne, which, everyone has told me, is the tough part of this journey.

I can hardly wait.

20150707_194244Dear Yoga Instructor,

You gently encouraged those of us in your class to pursue our “home practice.”

Certainly doing that could be expected to improve our asanas/positions, Or, in my case, make them less horrible.

Okay, maybe not every single one of them. Twists, leg stuff, stretching I don’t entirely suck at. One instructor was even movcd to say “you can sit” in a 20150707_194157laudatory tone. (All these years in front of a computer finally pay off!)

Something that requires strength, not so much. Anything that puts pressure on wrists that have typed too many words or a left knee that had a high-impact encounter with my air conditioner last year and I’m prone to whimpering.

Not exactly zen, I know.

So, yes, I have thought that home practice might help. I’ve even tried it. A few times.

20150707_194016The accompanying photos show my eye-view of what happens when I try. (And oh, yes, I do think she’s laughing at me in at least one of those pictures.)

Twisted roots with a collie standing over my head is the anti-zen. Breathing becomes harder when each inhale brings in tickling dog hair. Supported fish is not as relaxing when a long collie nose pokes are your side to see if you can be persuaded to play as long as you’re on the floor anyway.

20150707_193929So this is my excuse.

No, my dog did not eat my homework.

She does make a wreck of my home practice. It’s all that dog hair on the yoga mat.  Sometimes, with the dog attached.

Sincerely,

Your no-home-practicing student

All right for paper-lovers! JACK’S HEART is now available as a trade paperback (that’s the bigger sized paperback.)

JacksHeart3DHope you’ll consider getting yours now – it’s at 8.99, which means I just about break even. <wg>. But I know lots of you folks love reading paper editions, so I want to offer it to you at the lowest possible price.

This price will go up after a while, so don’t dilly-dally. (Isn’t that a great word? Some sources say it came from a music hall song, but I prefer the ones that say it came from the novel “Pamela.” It would be nice to know that something interesting and fun came from that book, which I read in school.)

JACK’S HEART is the next book in the Wyoming Wildflowers Series. And this means all the books in the series are available in print. WYOMING WILDFLOWERS: THE BEGINNING is sold separately, then ALMOST A BRIDE, MATCH MADE IN WYOMING, and MY HEART REMEMBERS are in the WYOMING WILDFLOWERS TRILOGY boxed set.

Here’s a little intro to JACK’S HEART if you’re not familiar with it:

Valerie Trimarco is very pregnant, very lost, very alone, and very stuck in a Wyoming snow storm. Her car is jammed in a Wyoming ditch, with contractions coming faster and harder … when her white knight in a cowboy hat arrives. Ranch foreman Jack Ralston’s job is to handle anything that needs handling with cool, quiet competence, including a baby who’s decided to enter the world right now.

A few years later, Valerie returns to the Slash-C Ranch of Knighton, Wyoming. Now a successful mommy blogger, she wants to thank the man who rescued her and delivered her beloved daughter. Okay, maybe she’s wondered about him a time or two over the years. How could she not? So she conspires with his employers and friends to spring a surprise party on him for a proper thank you.

Yes, Jack can handle anything. Except a surprise party. And this open, energetic, talkative woman and her short-stuff kid who gets under his guard. Because they demand the one thing from him that he can’t handle – love.

WYOMING WILDFLOWERS: THE BEGINNING                   WYOMING WILDFLOWERS TRILOGY

JACK’S HEART (WYOMING WILDFLOWERS, BOOK FOUR)

1 aa wwydIt’s mid-July.

(You probably know that.)

That means it’s about four months past St. Patrick’s Day.

(You probably could have figured that out if you’d cared to.)

So, my front door decoration with the green ribbon I put up for St. Patrick’s Day is just a tiny bit out of date.

Green ribbon? That’s no problem. Anyone can use a green ribbon any time of the year, especially one that’s faded to a not-quite-so-Irish green, I hear you thinking.

(Bet you didn’t know you thought that loud, huh.)

But what about the shamrock? Yup. Still have the shamrock hanging on my front door, too.

Most of the time the ribbon covers it. But sometimes the wind blows everything around and the shamrock not only shows but knocks against the door, and a certain furry dog immediately goes to DefCon7.

20150711_154549What have I been doing since St. Patrick’s Day? Mostly working on THE SURPRISE PRINCESS. Plus, buying back the rights to SIGN OFF and LEFT HANGING, them preparing them to put up everywhere as part of the Caught Dead in Wyoming series. Busy, busy, busy.

So, here’s the question: Now that I’ve gone 4 months past St. Patrick’s Day like this, would you:

OPTION 1: Just let it ride to September – I have a fall door wreath all ready to go for then.

OPTION 2: Update it now with the possibility that I’ll forget to change it out with the fall one then, because it won’t be as obvious that it’s out of date.

What would you do?

TSP_ebook_FinalWanted to share with you a just-finished scene in The Surprise Princess (The Wedding Series, Book 5), which should be out in the next month. In this scene, Katie meets her very distant cousin Karl, hero of The Forgotten Prince (The Wedding Series Book 6), which will be out in 2016.

You can preorder The Surprise Princess now, but The Forgotten Prince is in line behind Last Ditch (Caught Dead in Wyoming, Book 4) and two Wyoming Wildflower stories, so I have to be patient — because I really like Karl. He was a teenager in Not a Family Man and it’s so cool to see how he’s grown up (verrrrry nicely) and has become a prince to boot!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

From THE SURPRISE PRINCESS (The Wedding Series, Book 5)

The Brocade Room was kept dim – couldn’t have it become the Faded Brocade Room, she supposed – so Katie’s first impression was of how he stood.

Easy, but ready to move at any second. It caught at something in her chest. It was an athlete’s stance. It made her abruptly and deeply homesick for the players and coaches – she wouldn’t think of him – she’d seen stand just that way so many times.

“Hello,” she said as she advanced and he turned toward her. Then she could see he wore jeans. Jeans. Her homesickness nearly knocked her over. Jeans and a t-shirt and—Oh, my God, were those cowboy boots? “Oh, excuse me, I was looking for –.”

“Hi, I’m Karl.” He strode forward, grasped her hand and pumped it. “You must be Katie.”

TheForgottenPrince_ebook_Final_smallHe was as at home in his attire as King Jozef was wearing his crown. And he was genuinely, thoroughly American.

You’re Prince Karl?”

Madame would not approve. But he seemed to, judging by his grin.

“Yep. I can see what you’re thinking.” She had no idea how he could see what she was thinking, because she didn’t think there was anything as coherent as a thought in her head. “I should have my hair slicked back and a pencil-thin mustache, right?”

Startled, she said, “Why?”

“Ronald Colman. Douglas Fairbanks. Errol Flynn.”

“What about them?”

“They’re my image of what a prince should look like. Although… I’m not so sure Flynn ever played a prince. Pirate, yes. Prince, no. Either way, we agree I’m not anybody’s image of what a prince should look like. Or–.”

“I didn’t–.”

“—sound like. Yep. I’m an American. Born in Wyoming.”

“Wyoming? But how… Sorry, it’s none of my business.”

“Sure it is, since King Jozef is hoping we’ll hit it off and get married.”

“Married? What? No. Oh, no. He doesn’t–”

“Sure he does. But don’t worry, I won’t knuckle under unless we decide it suits us. So, you want to hear the Ballad of Prince Karl, a cowboy from Wyoming and a prince of someplace you never heard of?”

Her head was spinning. But she got out the one word necessary.

“Yes.”

“Good. Let’s get out of here. Just let me grab my hat.”

“You really have a cowboy ha— Oh, wait. We’re supposed to have lunch–.”

“Got that taken care of. Let’s go.”

Pre-Order THE SURPRISE PRINCESS now!

KINDLE             NOOK              iBOOKS               KOBO             GOOGLEPLAY

Australian readers, I’m so exciting to be coming to visit your country, to be part of the Romance Writers of Australia national conference, and to participate in a fabulous booksigning that will include six dozen terrific authors.

The Australia Romance Readers Association is organizing this terrific booksigning event.

It’s Saturday, August 22 at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne, 5-6:30 p.m.

Tickets go on sale, starting July 15.

If you’re fast, though, you still have a chance to win a ticket to the signing by means of a fun treasure hunt.put on by the ARRA. Chec out its website. Hurry, because the treasure hunt ends July 14.

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s going to be at the signing!

australian romance readers 2015

I knew today was going to be tough on writing. It’s the kind that wreck the writing life — appointments, house projects, errand-o-rama. But I thought I had 60-90 minutes to write in. This is the tale of how the bank ate my writing day. And a teller who iis SO going in a book…and not in a good way 😉

My local little bank’s been bought up by BB&T. I went in to close a small business account because fees will go from $0 to $144/yr. Um, no.

The prologue is that I wanted them to mail me a check to close out the account. Absolutely not. I had to appear in person. What do you do for out of state people? I ask. Mail the check, they say. Then pretend I live out of state, I say. Gasp, horror, impossible!

So, there I am. Absorbing the ambience of inconvenience. Standing in line 10 minutes without advancing. Finally my turn. I tell Teller 1 that I’d like to close an account. “Oh, she’ll have to help you with that,” she says of teller to her right. Let’s call her Teller 2

Interesting, since I’d noticed while I waited that Teller 2 had completed a transaction and then appeared to be simply chatting with the male customer. This was while four more people lined up behind me and all other tellers were occupied. I’d also noticed because Teller 2 was distinctive. Her ~very~ blonde hair 1a beehivemight have been in a French twist, but if so it had ventured much too close to the beehive do’s. And she wore black-framed glasses. I kept thinking she reminded me of one of Carol Burnett’s characters, only blonde instead of redhead.

“How much longer a wait will that be?” I ask Teller 1.

“Oh, just a few minutes. Why don’t you have a seat?”

It’s never a good sign when they ask you to have a seat.

I started Tweeting, catching up with some friends.

My seat was close enough and my ears good enough to hear as Teller 2 and Male Customer continue to chat, while other tellers serve customers.

Then I hear Male Customer ask if a lot of customers are closing accounts since the buyout.

Teller 2 says, “Oh, only some people who are just rattled by any bit of change. You know. They’re just not accustomed to a big bank. They can’t handle a big bank. They’re not comfortable with a big bank.”

Got it. You think you’re a big bank.

At this point, I snort and start Tweeting about BB&T – a k a The Big Bank I Can’t Handle – and Teller 2.

At last, Male Customer wanders away … and Teller 2 skips me and takes – you knew this was coming, right? – a man who was in the line, though very shaky if he was next. (Can’t swear because I was Tweeting.)

Also not sure, but I think Teller 1 might have spotted my evil eye directed at Teller 2. Teller 1 goes toward back room and asks if someone can help with a “close.”

By this time I’ve been in the bank 22 minutes. Not yet waited on. But, you know, this is a Big Bank, so I should be grateful they’re letting me sit in their lobby, right?

Pleasant lady comes to my chair in the lobby and says they don’t want to hold me up (too late), so if I’ll give them, oh, four or five dozen facts so they can find the account number and blab them all right here in front of the other people standing in line, then they’ll get the balance, and then …

I hand her a copy of printed statement I’d brought with account number and balance. Dated today.

“Oh.” (I swear she was disappointed.) “We’ll have to check that.”

(Because they’re a Big Bank, you know. A Small Bank would’ve just taken me at my word.)

And then she says she’ll be right back with my cash.

“Cash? This is a business account. I’d much prefer a check.”

Impossible.

Why?

They’ve lost the keys for the check machine. (No. I am NOT making this up. I swear.)

But I could go to another branch (20 minutes away) and get a check there (starting the waiting game all over, and that’s assuming those folks aren’t also check-machine-key-losers.)

At this point I’m thinking, Take the Money and RUN. I say I’ll take cash.

Another several minutes. Different pleasant woman arrives with cash, which she proceeds to count out to me out loud in front of now 7 people waiting in line for a teller, one no more than 18 inches from my knees. (Teller 2 still talking to Male Customer 2.)

I sign receipt and head for the escape door, hearing from behind me Teller 2 saying, apparently to the universe, “Well, she was in a hurry.”

Back in the car. Elapsed time inside: 39 minutes.

Added in travel time, plus phone call: 84 minutes.

Annoying character to put in a book: Priceless.

Writing time: Gone

Christmas in July-PM

It’s hot.

It’s sticky.

It’s steamy.

Well, of course it is – it’s JULY and this is all to be expected for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

But here are holiday romance novels to bring you some cool reading to bring the warmth of the holidays to your heart … along with some heat of another kind 😉

Through the magic of reading, enjoy the holidays under your beach umbrella with these– Christmas in July offerings from some of your favorite romance authors!

Happy Holiday romance reading!

Christmas in July-PM

1 aa wwydI was reading something where the writer was commenting on accepting compliments. It elaborated on those who are really bad at accepting compliments, who think that acknowledging that someone else might think you were actually good at something or had done something well or that you just ~were~ good might jinx you

And I’m thinking, yeah, everybody knows that.

And then it said, “Midwesterners, I’m looking at you.”

What? Is this only Midwesterners? Is that true?

I thought everyone feared accepting a compliment because it was sure to open you up to someone (most especially yourself), saying, are you NUTS? Do you really think you did/are/produced something good?

Did this really come – along with friendliness, a willingness to help, an abiding love of the Cubs, strong practicality, and an ability to walk and drive in snow – from my Midwestern roots?

What do you say? Are you good at accepting compliments? And region are you from?

And if you started out not being good at accepting compliments and have improved in that area, how’d you do it? … And don’t you worry about jinxes?

Pal Pat Van Wie (a k a Patricia Lewin) sent me this a while ago on Facebook. (Of course Facebook didn’t actually ~show~ it to me… oh, noooooo, not Facebook. That would make too much sense.)  And I tried to save it with folks on Facebook and … well, you can guess what happened then.

1a from PVW

Kalli would add paperboys, kids on wheelie things, squirrels, and chipmunks!

SPofferShadowPlayBoxed

This is the update that Facebook won’t let me share with everyone:

 

SHADOW PLAY romantic suspense boxed set — 99c for 5 novels.

But on July 1 price goes up, so get it NOW!

 

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1bOehJQ
iBooks: http://ow.ly/N3TsK
Nook: http://ow.ly/N3TzU
Kobo: http://ow.ly/N3TD0
GooglePlay: http://ow.ly/NJoE6

I just sent the following email to what purports to be Facebook customer service email:

I’ve just tried to boost a Facebook post in order to — what a concept — let the people who’ve liked my page actually see a post.

FB won’t boost it, citing the 20% rule.  That is because Facebook clearly doesn’t know/adhere to its own guidelines, which state that a book cover counts as an image.

I have encountered this over and over and over from Facebook. I’m a long-time author who knows a lot of authors who are also encountering this over and over and over.

If you are a human, surely you can understand the frustration in this:

  • FB won’t send our posts to people who liked our pages.
  • We try to spend money to get FB to show a post to people who have liked our pages by boosting.
  • FB system automatically rejects the boost effort, citing its no-more-than-20% text rule.
  • In fact, FB’s guidelines specifically exempt book covers, saying that they count as an image.
  • FB’s system does not recognize its own guidelines, and thus rejects authors’ effort to spend money to reach people who already liked our pages.
  • Effort to inform FB of its error … gets an error message.

 

Sorry, this content isn’t available right now

The link you followed may have expired, or the page may only be visible to an audience you’re not in.

 

  • Searching the *cough* “Help Center” shows lots of similar questions/issues. No answers/solutions from FB.

IOW, there is no appeal to FB failing to follow its own rules and “letting” authors spend money to try to reach the people who have already indicated they want to hear what the author has to share.

  • Facebook poorly serves authors and readers.
  • Authors increasingly turning to blogs.

I doubt a person will respond … but I did get a blog post out of this.

 

P.S. UPDATE SUNDAY, JUNE 28 — Below is the response to my email to customer service:

Hi,

You've reached us at a channel that we don't support. Please visit the Help Center to find answers to many frequently asked questions and up-to-date forms you can use to get in touch with us:

https://www.facebook.com/help

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Of course Help is where I saw numerous similar complaints with no responses. Gotta give Facebook this -- it's consistent.


The wonderful folks of the Romance Writers of Australia Conference asked me to write a blog for Writers Victoria. The conference is in Melbourne, which is in Victoria.

The blog is on introducing humor — or humour for you readers who spell it that way 😉 — into stories. And it’s now up at Writers Victoria!

AU NZ copyI’ll be speaking at the Romance Writers of Australia​ national conference August 20-23 — a workshop on Survival Kit for Writers Who Don’t Write Right, a panel with amazing authors including buddies Anne Gracie and Mary Jo Putney, and the closing address, which is supposed to be short (oh, good) and inspiring (uh-oh.)

The last weekend of August, I’ll be speaking at the Romance Writers of New Zealand Inc.​ national conference in Auckland. That will include workshops on 25 Top Tips From 25 Years of Publishing and Lessons I’ve Learned In Indie Publishing, with the possibility of a third workshop on Your Characters’ Emotional Landscape.

Here’s the cut and paste-able link to the blog:

http://writersvictoria.org.au/news-views/post/hints-on-humour/

This is a great deal that I told my newsletter subscribers about last week (Hint, hint, hint! This is why you should subscribe to my newsletter. That’s where all the good stuff goes first. ‘-) )

The graphic shows that if you combine the first book that’s free — but only for a couple days more!! — with the second book that’s in the bundle, you can read the first two books of the “Bardville, Wyoming series” for 99 cents total … with the bonus of all the other wonderful romantic suspense books in the boxed set.

By then, of course, I hope you’ll love the people of Bardville so much that you’ll have to complete the series by reading THE RANCHER MEETS HIS MATCH.
Bardville Wyo series graphic copy

A STRANGER IN THE FAMILY

Kindle    ~    iBooks    ~    Nook     ~ Kobo   ~   GooglePlay

SHADOW PLAY (including A STRANGER TO LOVE)

Kindle  ~    iBooks   ~    Nook   ~    Kobo    ~   GooglePlay

THE RANCHER MEETS HIS MATCH

Kindle  ~    iBooks    ~    Nook   ~    Kobo   ~    GooglePlay

iBook GENERALThanks to all  you wonderful, wonderful folks, I’m breaking the boxed-that-shall-not-be-named embargo to say: YAY!!!

Heroes in Uniform is No. 62 on the USA Today bestseller list this week. Wow! The No. 62 book in the entire country.

We all say THANK YOU!! and hope you’re enjoying your 11 heroes!

Kindle: http://amzn.to/19pG8Pq
iBooks: http://ow.ly/L0bj9
Nook: http://ow.ly/L0aIf
Kobo:  http://ow.ly/O5Jwh

 

Out and about today. Started talking to someone who said, “Oh, being an author must be so glamorous.” Uh-huh. Today, after putting out a number of small conflagrations, I decided I needed to do one last thing before I left for errand-o-rama.

Prelude to a Wedding by Patricia McLinnSo I wrote a post to let Kobo readers know that PRELUDE TO A WEDDING is on sale at 35% off through Monday (use the code May35 on Kobo.) I wrote the post, checked the link (because there have been all sorts of links going wonky all day) and it worked. BUT when I linked to Kobo, FB whacked the cover image top and bottom. So I decided to put in a cover you could actually see. BUT the cover image I have is too big for FB. So I opened Photoshop, copied the image, changed the size … BUT it wouldn’t save. Said there was a system error. So I closed the program, waited, reopened, waited, redid everything. System error. Wouldn’t save.

 

So I opened my other laptop, which has a newer version of Photoshop, although the menu fonts are soooo tiny I can’t read them even with 2 pairs of glasses, and Photoshop knows about this problem, because it’s all over the Internet, BUT has chosen not to fix it. So, it’s Photoshop by Braile. But – WAIT! I’m getting way ahead of myself. I open the 2nd laptop … and it immediately shuts itself off because it’s out of battery. So I move both laptops downstairs (because the original laptop has the post all written and ready to go on it and I don’t want to have to redo that, but the plug for the 2nd laptop is downstairs.) Plug in the 2nd laptop, it Screenshot 2015-05-16 00.25.53has juice, BUT the system doesn’t come on because it’s … oh, joy… updating. New and improved, no doubt.

Let the dog out, feed the dog, pick up the neighbor’s newspaper, et my mail, drink some V-8, check the roses. Still updating.

Answer emails back on the 1st computer, put some dishes away, gather items for errands, put on anti-itch stuff.

Oh, did I mention I have poison ivy? I’m super sensitive to it since getting systemic PI from breathing it in at a construction sight. The worst is on the top of my middle and ring fingers on each hand. What on earth did I touch just with the back of my fingers while gardening yesterday? Anyway, I’m putting anti-itch stuff on it, and between the itch and the liquid anti-itch, it’s been making typing harder. And then there’s the spot by my eyebrow and another on my arm.

Still updating.

Writing this to this point.

Finally the updating is DONE!

So now I can open Laptop2. Open Photoshop with the itty-bitty menu fonts. Make 2 errors because can’t see the menu fonts and do the rest of it my remembering where things are from the other version of Photoshop where I can actually see the menu fonts (that’s the old, not updated, not improved version of Photoshop btw. I can hardly wait to see what the updates do to Laptop2.)

Back to Latop1. Add photo – it works! BUT I’d forgotten to put code in. Open post to edit it. FB burps. Takes another 15 minutes to get FB back on track. Finally, finally, finally the post is UP.

Elapsed time: 1 hour 43 minutes.

Leave to run errands. Starts pouring. Spend next 1 hour 45 minutes dodging thunderstorms as I go in and out of errand stops. Bitter thoughts about if it hadn’t taken so long, I would have been out in the rain.

Returned home as a fine example of the Glamorous Author Drowned Rat Look.

How come Richard Castle never goes through this?

TSP_ebook_Final_small

Cover reveal time — the cover for the next book in The Wedding Series is done — hurray!  Designed by the wonderful Karri at ArtbyKarri.com

THE SURPRISE PRINCESS is the story of Katie Davis, whom you met in the epilogue of THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS.  April and Hunter also return in THE SURPRISE PRINCESS.  In fact, you’ll get to see their wedding in THE SURPRISE PRINCESS 🙂

Stay tuned for information on preorder availability for THE SURPRISE PRINCESS … coming soon!

FireShot Screen Capture #202 - 'Podcast Episode 38 - Almost a Bride, a western romance (Wyoming Wildflowers Book 1)' - www_readersintheknow_com_podcast_38I had a great surprise while I was traveling last week to attend the wonderful New England Romance Writers of America annual conference — a podcast with a preview of ALMOST A BRIDE.

This was the brainchild of Simon Denman, the force behind Readers in the Know.. Simon is also the narrator, which gives the audio a different sound, since he’s English. (Simon says he thought not trying to speak Wyoming, was the better part of valor. 😉 But after listening to this, I might just have to write a story with an English cowboy. There were some in Wyoming in the 1870s. Thinking, thinking…)

Readers in the Know is a great service to help readers find their next read. It’s UK-based, but open to readers all over the globe. There are all kinds of books, including most of mine. (It will be all of mine. Soon. Really. Soon. It’s on the To-Do scroll.) Check it out!

Almost a Bride_Audio_fix200And speaking of listening to ALMOST A BRIDE … don’t forget the complete story is available as an audiobook. So are the other books in the Wyoming Wildflowers series, with JACK’S HEART scheduled for release this summer as the latest addition to the romance audiobooks series.

Don’t forget … if you already have the Kindle book of ALMOST A BRIDE or other Wyoming Wildflowers titles, you can add the audiobooka for just $1.99. Great deal. 🙂

Plus, the audiobook of ALMOST A BRIDE is also available on iTunes and Audible.

Happy listening!

2015-04-19 19.11.48Meet the newest addition to my Reader Hall of Fame — Kathy Nesfeder.

My Reader Hall of Fame lives on my website, under the Extras for You section.

The Reader Hall of Fame started years ago on my website, with wonderful Hall of Famers from Australia and France, as well as the U.S and Canada.  I had let the Hall of Fame go fallow for a while (busy, busy, busy!) — too long! So I’m excited and delighted to have Kathy as the first in Reader Hall of Fame 2.0 🙂

My Reader Hall of Fame honors readers who have been particularly active in sharing the word about my books, or have gone above and beyond what so many wonderful readers do, or who (most importantly) love my books!  So if you love my books and/or know someone who does, I hope you’ll drop me a note to nominate yourself or someone else.

In the meantime, come read Kathy’s responses to questions about reading and loving books — Congratulations, Kathy!

conf tile 8 Patricia McLinnAre you in Australia or New Zealand?  I’m coming to visit. 😉

I’m delighted to be included in the lineups of speakers for the Romance Writers of Australia and the Romance Writers of New Zealand in August.

Over the years I’ve heard so many great things about these writers conferences and I’m honored to be included in the roster of authors speaking at them this year, including Mary Jo Putney and Anne Gracie, both long-time friends, as well as authors I admire and have learned so much from. We have become friends from years of sharing conversations at writers conferences. They are bastions of sanity in what can be a very crazy business.

The workshops I’ll be giving — in addition to “Lessons I’ve Learned in Indie Publishing” above — include “Survival Kit for Writers Who Don’t Write Right,” “Your Characters’ Emotional Landscape,” “I Wished I’d Known Then What I Know Now” Panel, and RWA’s closing address.

So I know I’ll be in Melbourne and Auckland for those great conferences. What other places I’ll get to see is still up in the air.

I’ll keep you posted as my plans firm up. First, I have to research visas and such. Heck, even that makes me smile!

 

 

Wyoming Wildflowers The Beginning audio smallCongratulations to the winners of the GoodReads giveaway of the paperback edition of WYOMING WILDFLOWERS: THE BEGINNING! They are:

Helene M. of South Carolina

Rita N. of Wisconsin

Dawn B. of California

Karen B. of Minnesota

Susan G. of South Carolina

My assistant, the wonderful Jessica, is notifying the winners and sending out those books, so you should have them soon. Hope you enjoy Donna and Ed’s story!

WYOMING WILDFLOWERS: THE BEGINNING is available as a trade paperback, ebook (FREE for now!) and audiobook. So if you weren’t one of the giveaway winners, there are still lots of way to enjoy this prequel to the Wyoming Wildflowers series of contemporary western romances.

 

 

 

tsp thinking copyI’m working on the next book in The Wedding Series. This is a followup to THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS, with a working title of THE SURPRISE PRINCESS.

It also includes the characters from the previous books in The Wedding Series (see below) as well as characters from HOOPS. Guess you could say it marries The Wedding Series and HOOPS 😉 (da-dum-dum.)

So Friday, I was working away when I hit a bump. So here’s a look at one instance what happens with the writer brain hits a bump:

1:55 p.m. – Wrote the line “ ‘But she says she isn’t, and she has rights as a U.S. citizen.’ .”

1:55.02 p.m. – OMG, is she a U.S. citizen?

1:58 – start Googling. Some interesting stories, but nothing with the right scenario. (No wonder, since I made up this scenario.)

2:36 – This is taking too long. Must find faster way to get answers.

2:38 p.m. – Call immigration lawyer. He’s a little skeptical this is truly a hypothetical situation. I give him my website url. And the clincher is saying this involves the fictional kingdom of Bariavak and its long-lost princess. Oh-KAY. … But then he gets into it.

Him: It’s unlikely an Immigration officer would be gung-ho to kick her out of the country, unless she has a criminal record.

In My Head: What if the State Department, under pressure from the king, urges INS to kick her out. But that would cause a rift between her and the king, and would Hunter go along with it? No. April wouldn’t let him, even if he wanted to. But would the king do it anyway? Or he could use other channels, avoid using Hunter. Could they persuade him not to do that?

Me Out Loud: Nope, no criminal record. She has a good job, living a good life. Has always thought she was a citizen.

In My Head: But did she have doubts? Would she have wondered? Especially since this came up. Oh, Oh, OH! That’s why she said–

Him: But she would not legally be a U.S. citizen. Of course, if she had a child who was born in the U.S….

Me Out Loud: Oh, hardship provisions. But, no, she doesn’t have kids.

In My Head: An unfortunate early marriage? A young child? How would that affect her relationship with Brad? Who’d take care of the kid during trip to Chicago?

Him: … Or if she married a U.S. citizen, or …words, words, word I’m no longer hearing.

Prelude to a Wedding by Patricia McLinnIn My Head: Brad, Brad, BRAD! Could I? Green card marriage? Does that work? It solves the passport issue. Adds another layer emotionally. But would she agree? Scene with C.J. and Carolyn, too. What would they think of it? Would it cause Brad career trouble? Or …

Me Out Loud: Thank you. Just a couple more questions to be sure I have the details …

2:53: Wandering the house. What if…? But if that, then this … Or would they…? But then she’d say …? Oh, but that adds to later scene with the prince. But Brad would want to keep C.J. and Carolyn out of it. So they’d be alone? … Oh, Brad’s former teammates. … But if they’re all there. Wedding Party by Patricia McLinnOh…. Yes. That’s good. I like that. Yes.

3:12: Googling what’s required to get married in Wisconsin and how fast it can happen. Different counties have different rules. Sampling several counties…

3:19: She definitely needs a certified birth certificate. She would have needed one for school, too. So her parents had to have had one, didn’t they?

3:21: Googling how hard it is to get a fake certified birth certificate, especially in Oregon. Of course, they had some help, so … What is this stupid popup in my way? No! Thank you, very much, I don’t want to buy Grady's Wedding by Patricia McLinnfaked documents… Though if it’s that easy … More Googling.

3:29: Ah, she could have found something else up in the attic. Something that’s made her wonder …

3:34: Into the shower for prime thinking time to let all this gel. (It’s either that or vacuuming, and who wants to vacuum?)

3:58: I think I’ve got it.

3:59: Document open. Fingers back over keyboard. Here we go.

… until the next bump

Want to know more about THE WEDDING SERIES? Just Click.

Want to know about HOOPS? Just Click.

It’s spring! At least officially, in the Northern Hemisphere. And that means things are hopping in the winter sports world of THE GAMES.

the-games-200Rikki Lodge, the Olympic biathlete in THE GAMES, would have spent this past weekend in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, where the biathlon season wrapped up, with Darya Domracheva of Belarus winning the overall title in the last race of season. And Rikki’s hockey-player lover Lanny Kaminski would have been there, too, urging her on all the way.

The day before, France’s Martin Fourcade grabbed his record fourth overall title in a row, while Canada’s Nathan Smith scored his first World Cup race win.

Alpine skiers Kyle Armstrong and Nan Monahan – and their coaches – would have been in Meribel, France for the World Cup Finals. Mikaela Shiffrin continued her standout run in the slalom there.

(Speed Skating World Cup finals were held in Erfurt, Germany, also this past weekend. Congratulations to Heather Richardson on winning the overall title. Does that bode well for the United States in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea?)

The World Figure Skating Championships start later this week in Shanghai. The U.S. team includes 16-year-old Polina Edmunds, who reminds me so much of Amy Yost, the young skater former Olympic champion Tess Rutledge coaches in THE GAMES.

Once you’ve read THE GAMES, let me know if you think Tess and Andrei would be together in Shanghai.

And, of course, hockey season is still going strong. So Lanny will be busy looking for new opportunities, now that Rikki’s season is over. Maybe he and Tess can team up for something like real-life Olympic figure skater Michael Weiss is doing – giving skating lessons to hockey players. And this Olympian and three-time U.S. men’s champion gave THE GAMES a great review quote!!

THE GAMES accurately portrays the emotional roller coaster an athlete rides in pursuit of … Olympic glory.”

And USA Today columnist Christine Brennan called THE GAMES “fast-paced, vivid, and true-to-life … a gold-medal winner.”

ab-full-the-gamesTrevor AlgattSo add some warmth to these first days of spring by reading THE GAMES. It’s available in ebook and print.

Or listen to the audiobook, which is wonderfully narrated by Trevor Algatt. Trevor is a talented actor who’s deeply involved with the fascinating InsideActingPodcast.com – check it out!

You can read an excerpt and listen to a sound clip. 

And celebrate spring with THE GAMES!

With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, I’ve been singing some of the songs that appear in my book, A NEW WORLD. At the beginning of the book, Eleanor Thatcher is dragged by her cousin to see JacksHeart_ebook_600Cahill McCrea, a singer of Irish songs in a pub in Boston. That’s Aiden Padraic Cahill McCrea to be formal 😉

(That cousin is Valerie Trimarco, who becomes Jack Ralston’s match in JACK’S HEART.)

Cahill is signing “Roddy McCorley (This is the classic Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem version.)

~ ~ ~

The song came to a rousing climax with the audience joining in on the last chorus and cheering the finish. One male voice, heavy with beer, rose over the calls of appreciation and demanded the singing of “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.”

“No!” The negative chorus seemed near unanimous.

Looking past the bulk of the red-bearded man at the next table, Eleanor picked out the requester from among the crowd at the bar. He had to be at least half a foot shorter than her own five foot eight and easily a decade past retirement age. He wore a tweed cap, flanked by feathery white A New World by Patricia McLinntufts above his ears.

” ‘I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen’!” he insisted above the protests. “And I’ll fight each and every one of you who doesn’t want it, do you hear?”

The idea of the little man fighting anyone seemed laughable, but she felt no urge to laugh. Someone in the room wasn’t laughing at all. She sensed tension.

She scanned the faces around the wizened, pugnacious man at the bar and saw expressions ranging from good-natured smiles to mildly irritated frowns. None produced the uneasiness she felt. But somewhere— “I’ll fight you, Cahill McCrea, if you’re thinking you won’t sing it. Fight you to the death. Do you hear that, Cahill McCrea?” The man’s challenge drew stifled chuckles.

Eleanor’s search ended at the next table. The red-bearded stranger—it was his tension she felt. The tight line of the beefy back and broad shoulders straining his white shirt communicated it as clearly as words. How strange. How could the little man at the bar possibly cause this bear of a man a moment’s concern? He wasn’t even looking in that direction. Instead, she realized as she followed his frown, he focused on Cahill McCrea.

The singer still rested at ease on the stool, although his smile appeared oddly tight. But that could have been an effect of the lights.

“Can’t you just imagine that?” Valerie gleefully murmured in Eleanor’s ear. “It would be like Mickey Rooney challenging Mike Tyson.”

Eleanor didn’t answer and didn’t take her eyes off the red-bearded man and McCrea. She had the feeling a drama was being acted out that only she could see.

Cahill McCrea ducked under the guitar strap, further shadowing his face, but his voice held only easy confidence when he called out, “I’ll sing you ‘Brennan on the Moor’ next set, Michael. Will that be doing you?”

She held her breath. Ridiculous. Nothing’s going to happen. But still she didn’t breathe. Warily, she watched the elderly man addressed as Michael slide off his stool. The red-bearded man seemed to coil, as if preparing to spring. McCrea held totally still, his face unreadable.

But Michael only doffed his tweed cap to McCrea with great ceremony before returning it to the nest of white tufts and resuming his seat.

~~~

As Cahill later explains to Eleanor and Valerie, the crowd doesn’t want Cahill signing the tear-jerker “I’ll Take You Home, Kathleen” (here by John Gary) because he becomes maudlin.

Cahill substitutes Brennan on the Moor (Jesse Ferguson sings it here), which includes his wife saving the day when “she handed him the blunderbuss from underneath her cloak.” Can’t resist listening to the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem’s version, too.

And because you can never have enough songs about highwaymen ;-), here’s “The Wild Colonial Boy” from the movie The Quiet Man.

 

Coming out of the library in a rainstorm, I was slipping books under my raincoat when I realized a number of people around me also had book-shaped lumps under their raincoats.

How about you? Would you protect the books before yourself?

And would you refer to yourself as a booklover or book lover? 😉

1a rain copy

This is the message I sent to Facebook — took forever to try to find somewhere to post it and I have this strange doubt it will ever be answered.

I find it especially disturbing that the FB version of ESET is more than 50% larger than normal version. I am very suspicious of this. And I’m disappointed that ESET, which previously has been considered reputable, is involved with this unwarranted, unreasonable, and unappealable action by Facebook.

In fact, Facebook became the malware, with ESET an accomplice. It hijacked my system and absorbed a great many resources in time and effort. And now has left something on my system that I don’t want and don’t trust. Sure sounds like malware to me.

I’m also putting this on my blog just in case, you know, FB misplaces it. Accidental-like.
~~~
A notification came up that said my computer might be infected with malware and needed to be cleaned. It locked me out of Facebook. I checked on SpyBot, CCleaner, Adware, and Malwarebytes. All said my system was clean. I then went directly to ESET and used their online scanner — the same one your notification said I HAD to use.  Clean. Clean from 4 reputable firms. Clean from your annointed service. Yet still locked out of FB.

I went back to FB and went through your version of ESET.  I note that this file is 50% larger than the one directly from ESET. Why?

Why do you flag accounts that are NOT infected, as assessed by multiple measures including your own selected service?

If your goal truly is to save us from malware why on earth is a clean report from so many, including your selected service not satisfactory?

What is it that FB gains when your users are forced to go through your process in order to get back into their account? And why are you triggering this malware notification when there is no malware (again, as shown by SpyBot, CCleaner, Adware, Malwarebytes, and what FB says is the same version of ESET that it is using)?

I have a wedding to plan.Wedding planner

It’s for April and Hunter from THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS. Remember the epilogue in THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS, where you met Katie Davis, up in her attic looking for something her mother left her? Well, the new book I’m working on is her story (working title is THE SURPRISE PRINCESS.) In this new story, April and Hunter get married.

If you think fictional weddings are lots easier to pull off than real ones, you’re wrong. Less expensive – yes. Faster to plan – no. It takes a lot of wedding planning to make one up.

In fact, there should be a new profession – fictional wedding planners. (Those would be planners of fictional weddings, not wedding planners who are fictional <wg>.) So, let’s get organized and plan a wedding.

The first question is when. The answer so far is I’m not totally sure. Possibly June, because I know The Christmas Princess by Patricia McLinnsome other stuff has to happen later in the summer and – oh! I just had an idea about how to solve another issue. Maybe.

So we’re not real sure on when yet. And then there’s where. Grandma Beatrice’s house in Charlottesville, Va., which is where Leslie and Grady were married in GRADY’S Grady's Wedding by Patricia McLinnWEDDING? That was a lovely wedding and holding this wedding there would reflect April’s family ties. But I worry about security, what with the King of Bariavak walking April down the aisle. Plus, I want a larger aisle for a secret reason (tease, tease, tease. Evil, aren’t I?) Would King Jozef want it to be in Bariavak? Well, yes, but then consider the difficulty of getting all the guests over to that tiny mountainous country. Washington, D.C.? That could be good because then Hunter’s co-workers could attend and it wouldn’t be too bad for most of the people who consider April family. There could be a little issue with Madam trying to take over, but I think that could be held in check. But if it’s in D.C., where in D.C.? There are so many amazing venues …

I found a lovely website called District Weddings that makes D.C. very tempting. You can get lost looking at their Real Weddings section.

And what about the reception for April and Hunter? What will that be like? Formal? Casual? And where?

Prelude to a Wedding by Patricia McLinnOf course Maurice will design April’s dress and Etienne will do her hair. But what kind of dress? What style of hair? What about special flowers? Hmm. Since they fell in love at Christmas time, I wonder if we could slip in some holly <wg>.

WhoWedding Party by Patricia McLinn will be in the wedding? Leslie will be matron of honor for sure. Bette (PRELUDE TO A WEDDING) and Tris (WEDDING PARTY) as bridesmaids? Who’ll be Hunter’s best man? He’d been so solitary until April came into his life. . . Oh, have to work the dogs in, too – Rufus and Dragon.

Guests? Hoops by Patricia McLinnThis could be interesting. Katie Davis will be there for sure (after all, THE SURPRISE PRINCESS is her story, so she definitely gets to come to the wedding.) But who will be her plus-one guest? At last! Something I know for sure. (I’ll give you a hint: He appears in my book HOOPS.)

I have one idea about the cake… But should I let Madam and Sharon collaborate on baking it, or have it be a special order creation?

What are your ideas for THE CHRISTMAS PRINCESS’s wedding? What am I forgetting? Become fictional wedding planners and help me plan this wedding for April and Hunter!

You’ve probably heard about it – the well-known Writing Cave – but have you ever been inside one? My writing process requires an extensive stretch in it toward the end of each story. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in mine these past few months. Want a peek inside? Right this way for a tour of the Writing Cave.

Step around those piles of paper. No, no – look out! If you knock over that pile you’ll disrupt the elaborate, delicate system of editing phases and timeline checking.

Yes, there is a chair under those clothes. Somewhere. The clothes are clean. Honest. Fresh from the dryer, in fact, but why is it that clothes never seem as clean when lying on a chair?

And for some reason the clothes that come off the chair create the oddest sartorial combinations. A fact that is not noticed until removing them in a brain-dead stupor at the end of the day … or, technically, early the next day.

Kalli asks “When is she ever going to get out of that writing cave?” … Until she starts asking, “When is she going back in the writing cave?”

The theme of strange combinations extends to that wasteland otherwise known as the kitchen. The only essentials are chocolate and Tab. Otherwise, cheese and crackers equals a two-course meal. An apple is haute cuisine. Two-day-old green chai tea reheated qualifies as health food. Microwave popcorn for dinner is good. So good it works five days in a row. So good that it works for lunch, too.

Sleep? Until I can figure out how to type or edit in my sleep, it’s basically a waste of time. Although dreaming and waking up thinking about the story – oh, that’s what has to happen between the party and when she decides to stay.

That scratching sound you hear? Those are my hands, because lotion on my hands would mess up the keyboard and I don’t have time to let it sink in.

My dog, Kalli, hates the cave. She eats better than I do, gets a lot more sleep, and, of course, gets to go out. But life is a tad boring with the only thing to herd being those papers that her person is so touchy about getting knocked over.

Ah, but then it’s time to come out of the cave. To put the clothes away, get some sleep, sort the papers, restock the refrigerator, give Kalli the attention she’s been lacking. That means combing her, clipping her nails, reinforcing commands …

…Until she’s looking around, asking when I’m going back in the cave.

What came from the most recent stay in the writing cave? JACK’S HEART, the next book in the Wyoming Wildflowers series. Hope you’ll think it was worth Kalli’s sad looks! 🙂

Kindle: http://amzn.to/1zUQsIm Nook: http://ow.ly/J1R2n iBooks: http://ow.ly/J1R9l Kobo: http://ow.ly/J1RdY GooglePlay: http://ow.ly/J1RmM

The holidays are past. Well, for me they’re almost past.

The Christmas tree came down Wednesday (I was beginning to fear the Fire Marshal would knock on the door.) The outside lights are coming down … soon. Really. Soon. Even though I really like coming down the block and seeing them shining.

Yup, it’s hard to see the bright lights of that season dimmed. But the good news is that the seasons are changing to Wyoming Wildflowers season!

Sure it’s still winter in Wyoming (boy, is it winter some days!) but the wildflowers are blooming across ebook retailers everywhere. 🙂

Enjoy the first two Wyoming Wildflowers stories for FREE – WYOMING WILDFLOWERS: THE BEGINNING and ALMOST A BRIDE  – for Kindle, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, GooglePlay.

Then don’t miss the books that follow ALMOST A BRIDE — MATCH MADE IN WYOMING and MY HEART REMEMBERS.

Offering these free romance novels is to celebrate the upcoming release of a new book in the series – JACK’S HEART, which is coming soon.

JACK’S HEART is the story of loner Jack Ralston, the foreman of the Currick’s Slash-C ranch in Knighton, Wyoming. When he comes to the aid of a young and very pregnant woman stranded  during a Wyoming blizzard, he has no way of knowing that this woman and the baby he delivers will turn his life upside down. Valerie Trimarco figures she had a hand in opening her cousin Eleanor’s heart in A NEW WORLD, so surely she can do the same for Jack. After all, she owes him everything. How hard can it be to break through the wall he’s erected around his heart … while keeping her own intact?

  JACK’S HEART is already available for preorder on iBooks and Kobo and              GooglePlay. Look for it soon at more retailers.

I Need A Hero boxed set Patricia McLinn Julie Kenner Judith Arnold Lisa Mondello Jean Brashear Kathryn Shay Dee Davis Day LeclaireEight stories, eight authors, eight heroes, eight loves.

That’s what you get in I NEED A HERO. A brand new romance boxed set available exclusively now at iBooks for free!

What I think is particularly fun about this collection is the variety of voices and approaches you’ll get from the eight of us with stories in this free romance boxed set – Judith Arnold, Jean Brashear, Dee Davis, Julie Kenner, Day Leclaire, Lisa Mondello, Kathryn Shay, and me. Whatever kind of hero you need to read, you’ll find him here.

Most of us were at the Novelists, Inc., conference in October at St. Pete Beach, Fla., enjoying the gulf breezes and lovely sights when I came up with the general idea, Dee Davis gave us the fabulous title, and everyone piled on with ideas and enthusiasm.

This was truly a group effort. Our complementary skills and interests let us divide all the work that goes into bringing you a project like this — a brand new free romance boxed set.

Our stories are also complementary, bringing you a diversity of views on what makes a hero … and what a hero needs to find love.

Get your copy of I NEED A HERO free now!

Western romance Jack's Heart Wyoming Wildflowers series contemporary USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn

Jack’s Heart is Book 4 in contemporary western romance series Wyoming Wildflowers. You can preorder now at iBooks, Kobo, and GooglePlay. Coming soon to Kindle and Nook.

Specifically, why I write romance.

I write because people heal. And those are the people who fascinate me.

They heal from pinpricks and catastrophes. They heal seamlessly or with scars, hidden or visible. They heal in as many ways as there are things to heal from, then multiplied by the number of individuals there are in this world.

As a journalist, I witnessed moments of “injury” and frequently found myself asking “How does someone get past that?” – whether “that” was pinprick or catastrophe. That question is also at the heart of my stories. What my characters are healing from frequently falls into the realm of wounds most of us carry. That makes the healing no less fascinating and no less admirable than if a character has troubles few of us will ever encounter. (Right now I am piling on with one character in the upcoming JACK’S HEART, Book 4 of the Wyoming Wildflowers series, and it’s starting to make me feel a little guilty.)

Some realms of fiction focus on the wounds. Others explore the people who never heal and call that the only reality. I know it’s not. I see, I know, I love people who have healed from many varieties of wounds. What idiocy to contend that their lives aren’t real.

mysteries with dogs mystery series with dogs Caught Dead in Wyoming series by USA Today bestselling author Patricia McLinn

Shadow appears in Elizabeth Danniher’s life in Book 1, Sign Off, and becomes increasingly important to her in the “Caught Dead in Wyoming” mystery series.

The great saying is to “Write about what you know” and I know people with the courage to heal. So that’s what I write about. That’s true in every one of my romance books, but also in my mysteries. In the series, “Caught Dead in Wyoming,” Elizabeth Margaret Danniher is healing from the end of her marriage and the end of her professional life as she had known it. The dog, Shadow, is also healing — what can I say? I’m a dog-lover and especially a rescue-dog lover.

I find people often heal from doses of humor, honesty, and being pushed into situations they’ve been trying to avoid. Since few people will push themselves into situations they’ve been avoiding (wg), these characters need friends, family, and community willing to push. So my stories have a lot of those elements.

That’s why I’m most pleased that my readers say my books blend “laughter and tears” with characters who “live and breathe.” I don’t have the most focused writing career – contemporary romance, mystery, women’s fiction, historical romance, nonfiction – but those elements unite my 30+ titles.

Some say my stories have happy endings. I like to think of each story as being the process of the main characters getting themselves to a point where they can have a happy beginning. Because they’ve done a lot of healing.

If you enjoy stories about characters learning, growing, and healing, with some humor, sometimes some mystery, and frequently romance, I hope you’ll try my books.

For more on what’s coming up with my writing, you can sign up for my newsletter at:
www.PatriciaMcLinn.com/newsletter

On the other hand, if you truly want to know about my childhood, education, and journalism career, click on “Meet Patricia.”

Enjoy your reading!

Patricia

This blog post should be bordered in black.

I had written over the holidays, working on JACK’S HEART, the next book in the Wyoming Wildflowers series. I was really pleased with a couple scenes in particular. They had tied together multiple elements with insights that just came to me – the sort of moments that delight writers.

And then, today, I discovered they were all gone. I have no idea how this happened, since I use Dropbox to keep all my files up to date no matter what computer I’m working on. But it happened. The “most recent” version was from two days before when I made the best writing progress.

Non-writers – a k a “civilians” <wg> – wonder what the big deal is. Just write it over again. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. No piece of writing can ever be recreated exactly. Add in a couple weeks, traveling, visiting, hosting, cooking, celebrating, and all the non-writing activities, plus the fact that my brain felt those details, lines, and connections could be dumped because I’d already written those sections, and it’s all gone.

Gone. Gone. Gone.

It’s enough to make an author hate the New Year.

… oh, wait, there are still Christmas cookies. So 2015 isn’t all bad …

Welcome to my blog!

This is the epitome of smarting small.

I’m dipping my toe into the blogosphere, and since it’s winter in the U.S.’s Midwest, it’s going to be a really short dip this time around. 🙂

But once the ice is broken (literally when it comes to outside today), I might be back more often.

Hope you’ll come back to see me!

Patricia

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