Celebrating the Holidays (Z Minor)

I must admit my favorite holiday is Christmas. I decorate every room in the house. The principal rooms; living room, dining room, TV room have the most decorations. I have numerous boxes of decorations and seem to add a few more items each year. I always find a place for everything. When I moved to Kansas, we downsized our home. So some stayed packed in their boxes.

There are many items I received as gifts from relatives who have passed away. One I received from my favorite aunt a green candy dish – when I was still in high school. Another I received from an uncle – a homemade sled. I cherished these items and no matter the condition they will always be on display.

My children and grandchildren live on the west coast so I don’t get to see them for the holidays, but I do talk to them. My most fun is buying presents for my family, especially my grandchildren. I try to find novelty gifts. One year it was screaming monkeys. The kids thought they were great. The parents not so much. Still makes me laugh when I think about it.

Christmas is a time for family, friends, and remembering the reason for the season. May each of you have a beautiful, blessed, Merry Christmas and a safe, happy New Year. 

Z. Minor
Author of Historical Romantic & Contemporary Suspense Novels.

Holiday Traditions (Kathy Pritchett)

Ah, holiday traditions. Family wars have begun because someone dared to change something so sacrosanct. In my family, however, we have always had to adjust the days we celebrate because either my brother, my husband, my nephew or my son was working as a firefighter or EMT. We had to await coinciding days off and travel plans to get together.

               Once my kids left home, celebrations became even more difficult. The Christmas my first granddaughter was born, we gathered by phone call from Vietnam to the rest of us in Kansas. Once my daughter began working at Dollywood, she couldn’t come home until after the season closed in January. When the Army transferred my oldest stateside instead of Hawaii, we started the tradition of Christmas in January. Sometimes we gathered at my son’s house in Maryland, sometimes at their timeshare in Tennessee to visit Kellye at Dollywood.

The year my son and his wife announced their pregnancy during a game of Catchphrase (the one tradition that has remained constant), we were at the Presidential Suite in the timeshare in Colonial Williamsburg. We visited Jamestown and ate lunch at a tavern in Old Williamsburg. We had the pool and mini golf to ourselves and watched deer frolic in the meadow. Logan’s first meeting with his cousins was at Ft. Lauderdale (because it was cold in Maryland, Virginia and Tennessee). I scheduled my daughter’s and her husband’s flight to coincide with Casey and Kim’s connections. Kellye and Chaz met them getting off the first plane and were seated across the aisle for the second leg of the trip.

Then last Christmas, due to the Dollywood schedule, we had to delay Christmas until Valentine’s Day so Kate and Alex (and their mother Beth, their teacher) could be out of school. That week the East Coast suffered record cold and a foot of snow. That was fun, had the snow not snarled air traffic, leaving us stranded overnight in the Dallas airport with a two-year-old. So this year, in addition to our new tradition of meeting in Tennessee for Labor Day because the rest of the family could not wait till Christmas to meet new grandbaby Scarlett, we are having Christmas in Tennessee in April.

              As for my characters, Richard and Terra have yet to celebrate a Christmas together, but that will play a role in their next tale, Convergence. And Scott is facing a Christmas alone. Stay tuned for more developments there.

Happy Thanksgiving! (Z Minor)

This is November already! Can you believe it? For me, the year has flown by. Seems to me the older I get, the faster the time goes by. The whirl of activity picks up the pace during the holiday season. Always too much to do and not enough time to do it. Seems I never get everything done. There is always that little something I either have forgotten or just never get to it. I bet you have done the same? I want to wish my fellow writers at WARA and the readers of the WARA blog a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving. 

We all have so much to be thankful for. Everyone has their own list which might include; family, friends, careers. Most important to me is living in a free country. Take this time to enjoy all your blessings. Until next month - take care and be safe.

Describe yourself, a character and your book in 5 words or less.

This has to go on record as the shortest blog I've ever written.  Honour's Debt is the first book in my Honour Series and Bellaport and Maddie are the main characters.

Joan Vincent-- resourceful, persistent, loving, positive, sensible

Honour’sDebt -- unacceptance, rollercoaster, danger, risks, romance

Quentin Bellaport, Viscount Broyal --brave, dependable, resourceful, quick-witted

Maddie Vincouer--audacious, resourceful, brave, dependable, tenacious

Five Words or Less? (Katherine Pritchett)

Anyone who knows me knows that I have never used less than five words for anything, from the time I was tiny till now! But I’ll give ‘er a shot.

Myself: Verbose, thoughtful, witty, challenging, THIN. (Rules didn’t say they had to be ACCURATE words. So can I throw in rich and famous?) Actually, words have always fascinated me. As a kid, I used to wonder, “Why this word and not that one?” to describe a thing. And who gets to choose? When my family would go out to eat on Saturday nights when I was little, I would chatter away, entertaining diners around us. Dad would shake his head and put his finger to his lips to shush me. When that didn’t work, he would try to nudge my leg with his foot. So I moved my legs and kept on talking. I know, I’ve changed so much!

My favorite character? That would have to be Richard Matthews, hero of More Than a Point of Honor and The Judas Seat. Richard: persistent, altruistic, empathetic, intelligent, sexy. Or maybe I like Terra McIntyre more: smart, resourceful, brave, sarcastic, loyal. Together they make a good team, though they strike sparks on each other from time to time. But can they overcome their many differences to make the long haul with so much against them?

For the book, I’ll go to the just-released What the River Knows: Murder, relationships, past, transformation, surprise. Scott Alyward is also a complex character: ADD, youngest, pleaser, runner, persistent. He’s flawed, but aren’t we all?

This was a fun exercise. Can’t wait to see what the rest of our bloggers write. By the way, I’m guest blogging November 11 on my editor’s website: http://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/ Every Tuesday, she posts a Two-Minute Writing Tip. With several books to her credit and a job as an editor for The Wild Rose Press, she gives some good advice.

Do I have authors who have inspired me? (Z Minor)

The only inspiration I ever got from a story was to keep reading to find out what happened to the characters. Did the mystery get solved? Did the people in love actually get together, and did the bad people get their just desserts?

I started reading while in grade school and yes, it was a long time ago. I would sit reading the latest Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew story while I somewhat listed to American Bandstand on TV. My mother said most of the time my feet were thrown over the arm of the chair and my head kept time to the music. Meaning when she called me to set the table I didn’t hear her. I was known to finish a book in one day – if it was good.

I can’t recall any of the stories, but I remember I pictured myself transformed into them and along with the characters I helped solved the mystery, etc.  I remembered early Barbara Cartland’s romance novels – her daughter became Princess Diana’s stepmother in real life.

Many of the author’s names I can’t recall nor do I remember their stories in great detail. I just remember they took me to another place or another time. I couldn’t wait to finish them and get another book, so I could once again be transformed into another adventure.

I like books that make the characters seem real; good, bad or in-between.  I am not fond of horror or Sci-Fi. Yet, I have read a few Sci-Fi books that I really enjoyed. I could never get interested in horror no matter how hard I tried or how much someone recommended them to me.

If a book doesn’t peak my interest in the first ten pages, I put it down and don’t usually pick it back up. I can look past print errors I notice now because I too am a writer and know how hard they are to find no matter how many times I proofread my stories.

I still read a lot of books, fiction and non-fiction. Our library has had books sales and I usually purchase a couple of grocery sacks full and read them within a week or two. The price is right -$4.00 a bag. My taste in my reading hasn’t changed Just give me great characters, a believable plot, and I am hooked.

Happy reading and if you are a writer – happy writing.

Z. Minor

Author of Historical Romantic & Contemporary Suspense Novels.

10 Authors who inspire me by J Vincent

The topic is rather self-explanatory.  While I have come up with ten I have failed to detail as I would like.  My back surgery morphed into a second surgery and now a third looms. The first five authors are all mystery/crime writers.  The first three are British the last two are American and write in the present day.  I’ve enjoyed all of these immensely and learned more than I can say from their different styles.  If you’ve never perused any of them I recommend you do so now.
The last five are Regency writer.  All of them share a tendency towards mystery, some stronger than others.  Like the mystery writers above, they are queens of research. They also have different styles but it is their characters than draw you on and on.  Page turners all.

 P D James  Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard solves intricate crimes

Ann Perry   I follow two of her series: Thomas and Charlotte Pitt and private detective William Monk and volatile nurse Hester Latterly

Dorothy Sayer  Lord Peter Wimsey books and other mysteries

J A Jance   J P Beaumont and Joanna Brady are two different series that occasionally overlap. 

Margaret Maron  Deborah Knott Series

 C S Harris   Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries.   Harris’ books are full of detail, intense plotting, and interesting and intriguing characters. The journey St. Cyr makes is incredible and a terrific page turner.

 Heyer's stories took place amid events that had occurred years earlier, and included details on the period in order for her readers to understand it. She included descriptions of dress and home life to flesh out her novels. Heyer's best touch is found in her knowledge of the minute details of  her aristocratic characters and  the emotional structure behind it.

Jo Beverley   Company of Rogues Series and many others.  A present day writer of Regencies who  excels with her various series' interconnections.

Kate Ross Cut to the Quick: Julian Kestrel #1 was an American mystery author who wrote four books set in Regency-era England about dandy Julian Kestrel.  The detail and characterizations in her work was well matched by the plotting. She died far too young in 1998.  

 Patricia Veryan - Although Veryan’s novels are set in the Regency, they are not traditional Regency Romance, but historicals with a diligently researched background. She wrote four core series using many of the same characters so that her books are linked. I especially enjoyed (The Tales of the Jewelled Men

Writers Who Inspire Me (Katherine Pritchett)

      First of all, let me, apologize for completely forgetting last month’s blog. I was in Tennessee with all my children and grandchildren, including the one just born in July; for some reason, blogs were not on my mind. And now it is really hard to focus on much of anything, because my novel, What the River Knows, will be released by The Wild Rose Press on October 14. (You can preorder now, but the e-book won't download until the 14th and the paperback won't ship until then.) 

The Paperback link

       This is the culmination of a dream I’ve cherished since I was 14. Or maybe I should say, the beginning of the dream. My dream included me being the author of many books. So, when we celebrate at WARA’s retreat in a couple of weeks, we will drink to the next book.
      Now, on to writers who inspire me. I could say Stephen King, who persevered despite reams of rejections, or Frank Herbert, whose Dune made me despair of ever writing that well, or Ray Bradbury, whose Martian Chronicles is a lyrical allegory I enjoy still. Or Hemingway, toiling through despair, alcoholism and great mistakes in love—he wrote better miserable. But the writers who truly inspire me are none of the so-called greats. Those writers who keep me going are the writers I know personally.
    Many of these are the ladies of WARA. Like me, most of you hold down a full time job, many of you parent children still at home. You deal with many tasks that demand your attention and it is easy to put off the writing “till there is more time.” But we all know that time is never guaranteed. So, on we write. We usually don’t finish a novel in a month, even pushed by NaNoWriMo or WARA’s version of it. We are lucky to grab 15 minutes to add a paragraph or two to our work in progress. Yet, we critique each other’s work, brainstorm with our friends to help break through blockages in the plot flow, research one more idea. We keep on going, no matter what tries to keep us from writing. We can’t “not write.”
   I’m sure the greats we would hope to emulate had these same issues. They kept on keeping on and we can, too. Maybe someday, we’ll be the writers another generation will look to as examples. Let’s give them good ones.

   Write on!

What lessons did I learn from my Mom? (Z Minor)

My greatest lesson was and is “Positive Thinking” which is only two words, but they have carried me through many trials and tribulations in my life.

The earliest one I still use today. I couldn’t find something, don’t remember what was lost but couldn’t find it. The longer I looked the madder I got. Finally, my mom stopped me in my tracks and said, “tell yourself you can find it over and over as you look.”

I remember thinking “sure mom.” But being she was standing right next to me I started saying “I can find it, I can find it, I can find it.” Guess what? I found it within seconds after I started my mantra.

Still after all these years I still do as she told me. A few years back my husband and I were stuck in Albuquerque, New Mexico because of a snow storm. The roads were closed so after a couple of days trapped in a hotel room we took a walk in the deep snow and I lost my cell phone. After going back to our hotel, I announced I’m going back out to find my phone. We retraced our steps, even found a nice man who called my number, but we couldn’t hear the phone ringing, but we kept on walking. In my mind, I started saying “I can find it, I can find it, I can find it.”

Suddenly I look down and there sat my phone. When it fell out of my pocket, it made a hole in about twenty-four inches of snow.The snow cushioned its fall and it worked perfectly even after being in the cold and wet weather.

I have found some items – like a bolt that fell in the grass – saying “I can find it, I can find it.” I can’t tell you how many times that little phrase – “I can find” – has helped me.

When something doesn’t go the way I want it I  revert to - Positive Thinking – instead of Negative Thinking - and everything, works out for the best. I have to admit not always the way I want it to but when all is said and done, I am happy with the outcome.

One other piece of advice my mom gave to me. There is no harm in making a mistake as long as you learn from it and don’t repeat it.

Z. Minor
Author of Historical Romantic & Contemporary Suspense Novels.

What "lesson from mom or dad " do you still go by today? by J Vincent

The enduring lesson I learned from my parents was that working hard would enable me to achieve   Having thought about this topic the past several days I believe I learned this lesson more from example than from direct teaching.  In fact growing up on a farm had an indirect impact on the lesson which my father, at least was rather uncomfortable. This was that I believed that I could do almost anything a male could do and nearly always better (aren’t the young arrogant). 
anything I wanted.
Life on a farm in the 1950’s and 60’s was an equal opportunity situation unlike most of the world at that time.  What do I mean?  There was no division of male-female, only of size and ability.  If you were big enough and strong enough to do a task, you were given it.  It didn’t matter if you were a boy or a girl.  Part of the reason I had to have back surgery last month was that by the age of ten I was lifting and stacking (not very easily or elegantly and sometimes only with help) hay bales weighing up to 100 pounds. If you want an explanation of how hay baling was done in the olden days go to  Bedford Blogs from which I borrowed the photo.
 I drove the tractor to cultivate corn, rake hay, and move hay and straw bales.  One of my favorite summer jobs was baling wheat straw (used for bedding the cows during the winter).  We baled it after milking the cows.  Straw was much lighter and because it was light we could stack bales 5-6 high on the trailer versus 4  for alfalfa. The guys in the photo area baling prairie hay which is lighter than alfalfa. Those not driving would lay on the swaying top and watch the stars as we drove home around 10 pm..  Those nights we usually got a root beer or strawberry float. A reward for our hard work and reinforcement in the lesson I stated earlier.
My inhibiting asthma and back/leg problems notwithstanding, over the years I found hard work did result in success.  I knew no one who wrote, I knew little or nothing about writing but within two years of starting to write I sold my first book.  I did it through research, research, writing and rewriting ad nauseum. And I’ve always believed selling was part luck.  So it may take you longer than it did me but keep at it and you will sell that book.