Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Welcome, Vicky Batman



For this writer, the whole world is an inspiration, particularly what someone says. I hear a bit of dialogue, and my head goes bing! For example, #2son came into my office and said, “I have a theory about love.” 

I think my eyes popped out of my head. LOL.

I held up the one-minute finger, wrote down what he said, and went to “Mom mode.” (His girlfriend had just broken up with him, and he needed his mommy’s shoulder--figuratively). The minute he left, I typed the line in a word doc. The short story “Man Theory” flowed from my fingertips. That’s magic.

In Temporarily Out of Luck, the first paragraph is all about a comparison to rats. Rats??!! That does sound icky. My head reached back to a trip to the pet store with #2 son and his friend. I heard their giggles and saw them watching a tiny rat backflipping off the top of the exercise wheel. 

Still, why rats? Hattie Cooks’ life was derailed. She feels just like the rat flying off the wheel, landing in the shavings, dust itself off, and start over again. 

Sometimes, I felt like a small white mouse housed in a cage with lots of small white mice, whose playground activities involved eating, sleeping, and continually revolving on the exercise wheel. Just like one rodent friend—who I named Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, having a field day back-flipping from the top of the spinning wheel—something happened. Unexpectedly, I found myself airborne. Not hurt, a sense of disappointment overcame me, plus a bit of confusion, and a whole lot of colorful adjectives too numerous to list. I, mostly known as Hattie Cooks, shook off the pine shavings and joined the rat race. Sometimes, life sucked.


Great job. What man? And murder.
 Newly employed at Wedding Wonderland, Hattie Cooks is learning the industry from a woman she greatly admires. When her former brother-in-law is found dead in his luxury SUV, all fingers point to Hattie’s sister, who is planning her own I Dos.

Detective Allan Wellborn is caught between a rock and a hard place—Hattie’s family and investigating the murder of a well-connected Sommerville resident, the same loser who was once married to Hattie’s sister. Determining who’s the bad guy—or gal—isn’t going to be easy and sure to piss off someone.

Can Hattie beat the clock to find out who murdered Tracey’s ex before she is charged with the crime and her wedding is ruined?



In my Book of Debts, I didn’t owe him one iota. However, I could hear my mother in my ear, trotting out a page from the “Right Thing to Do” lecture. What Stuart’s mom did broke all wedding protocol, and Allan doing his saintly thing told her he would help, which translated meant he desperately needed somebody else’s help.

“Fine. I’m in, but you owe me more, like a date to the”—I grasped on the first thing that popped in my head—“opera.”

“Opera? Since when do you like opera?”

I held back a giggle. “Since yesterday.”

Allan blew a huge sigh. “Done.” He paused. “Opera?”


Author bio: Funny, sweet, and quirky, Vicki Batman’s stories are full of her hallmark humor, romance, and will delight all readers. She has sold many award-winning and bestselling romantic comedy works to magazines and most recently, three humorous romantic mysteries. An avid Jazzerciser. Handbag lover. Mahjong player. Yoga practitioner. Movie fan. Book devourer. Cat fancier. Best Mom ever. And adores Handsome Hubby.


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Monday, June 7, 2021

It's One of Those Days

Some days writing sucks. The words don’t flow, the characters don’t talk to me, and I can’t see them in my head.

Some days being an author is discouraging. Your pitching fails and publishers say no thanks. Sales lag, reviews don’t come in, and the contests you’ve been waiting on award everyone but you (or so it seems).


This business is hard. And it is a business, despite the looks of scorn some of my less educated acquaintances give me when they hear what I do. Some days, like today, I’m ready to give up.


But I see others who have given up, and when I hear the news, my stomach clenches and I want to say, “No, don’t!” Because maybe, they’re giving up too soon. And maybe there’s something good coming right around the corner. That tells me I’m not ready, even if they are.


Still, it’s hard trying to justify doing this day in and day out for such little reward and such a lot of anxiety and discouragement.


So, if you’re an author going through this, you’re not alone. If you’re a reader, be kind and supportive. And hey, maybe throw a review our way (if we can write 300 pages, you can probably handle “It was entertaining.”).

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Welcome Back, Pam Thibodeaux

 My Heart (still) Weeps…..


In 2010 I remarked to a gentleman how much I appreciated him. “I feel your love for me radiate through every fiber of my being and my heart weeps because I’m just not ready….”

My very next thought was…. that sounds like the title for a book! I started writing this story in 2011 and it took eight (8!) years to complete – it was just too up-close and personal to get through all at once.

Published August 18th, 2020 (eleven years to the day my husband passed away), My Heart Weeps parallels my journey through grief into new life. Even though you may learn to live -and even love again- after losing your soul mate, I’ve found (for me anyway) your heart is never quite the same and although I’ve moved forward (I don’t feel we ever completely “move on”) and am living life to the fullest, my heart still weeps. 

I guess it always will.


Fun facts about My Heart Weeps:

Yes, there really is a Utopia, TX. About 30 miles North/West of Bandera and as Melena works at the Crossed Penn Ranch in Utopia, I lived and worked at the Silver Spur Ranch in Bandera. SSR is not an “artists retreat” but a guest ranch. I worked in housekeeping and in the kitchen and even as a drag (back up) wrangler on trail rides.

The descriptions of the area are pretty accurate and drawn from memory. I’ve actually hiked in the Lost Maples Natural Area.

Deer are prominent in the Hill Country, especially rural areas like Bandera and Utopia. It is not unusual to see a huge herd in your yard. I’ve even seen children playing chase with them!

Horseback riding is one of my favorite things to do when possible. There really is nothing more soothing than the clip-clop of hooves on rock. Try it sometime.





Blurb: After thirty years married to the man of her dreams, Melena Rhyker is devastated by her husband's death. Relief comes in the form of an artist's retreat at the Crossed Penn ranch in Utopia, TX. She rediscovers a forgotten dream as her artistic talent flourishes into that of a gallery-worthy artist. Will she have the courage to follow the path she was destined to travel?


Garrett Saunders has been on the run most of his life. Abused and abandoned as a child, he escapes the clutches of a past filled with pain and shame and hides from his calling as a Native American healer. His years as a CIA agent aid in overcoming his childhood and honing his talent and skill as a fine art photographer. 


Follow their journey as two people who come from totally different backgrounds, but share gifts of gigantic proportions, find meaning and purpose in the Texas Hill Country.


Excerpt: With the energy of a wet noodle, she eased out of the sauna, rinsed the sweat off her skin, and tied the sarong around her waist. She tossed the damp towel over her shoulders, put on her sandals and headed to her room to shower and change. Fresh fruit and pastries left over from breakfast lay spread out at the buffet like a feast for the famished. Melena filled a plate and had taken two steps toward the stairs when Anne Penn entered the room flanked by a handsome hunk of man Melena hadn’t seen before.

“Hi, Melena. I’d like you to meet Garrett, our new part-time wrangler, part-time maintenance man.”

Eyes the color of Texas bluebonnets swept over her in a gaze as potent as a caress, then locked with hers. A dimple danced in the cowboy’s cheek when he tipped his hat and grinned. 

“Ma’am,” he drawled.

Melena tugged the ends of her towel together and down over her skimpily clad bosom, muttered a quick hello, and escaped. Racing up the stairs as fast as possible on legs that wobbled, she entered her room, all but dropped the plate on her nightstand, and sat down onto the bed.

Never had she felt the pure sexual punch of such raw masculinity in a single look.


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Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!



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PS: In case you’re wondering, the gentleman who inspired the title and I are not together today. But I am forever grateful for the blessing he was in my life. He showed me I could, and should, love again. 😊

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Welcome, Patricia McAlexander

The Old Debate: Pantser vs Plotter

A “pantser” is the novelist who writes by the seat of her pants, just letting words flow as if transcribing a vision or dream, while the “plotter” carefully outlines the plot before writing. Plotter critics say that meticulous planning ahead of time takes the life out of the novel; there’s no discovery or inspiration.  Pantser critics say that just grabbing a pen or sitting at the keyboard and letting words flow can result in a wandering, muddled draft.

I have always proudly declared myself a pantser—after all, it’s part of an old and respected tradition of creativity. Robert Moss, who writes about “active dreaming,” believes that “creators in all fields are dreamers, not only in sleep but in twilight states of reverie where connections that escape the ordinary rational mind come easily and contact with higher intelligence is often made.”


Many great writers of the past describe inspiration from dreamlike supernatural beings. We see this in the ancient myth of the Muses, the goddesses of inspiration and art to whom the Greek and Roman epic writers appeal. In both the Iliad and Odyssey, Homer asks the Muses to tell him the story. At the beginning of the Aeneid, Virgil writes, “Muse, help me remember ….” Milton tells us that Paradise Lost was dictated to him at night while asleep by the heavenly muse whom he calls Urania; Robert Louis Stevenson said he received his stories in a state of “reverie” from spiritual beings he called “brownies”; in his "Philosophy of Composition,”  Edgar Allen Poe writes of hyponogogic images or "fancies" he experienced " on the brink of sleep And to get away from literature for a moment, even Einstein drew inspiration from dreams and developed the ability to slip into twilight states of consciousness.


When I write the first draft of a novel, I admit that I experience the story as a sort of dream. I believe the “dreams” come from memories of my past—they are like fragments in a kaleidoscope forming new designs—or like those slips of answers and comments floating up in toy gypsy balls when shaken. Perhaps this phase of my writing can also be compared to Method acting, when actors make use of experiences from their own lives to bring them to the experience of their characters. 


I can’t turn on such inspiration like a faucet. For me, it’s magic. Sometimes no answers float up, no kaleidoscope design is formed. But looking back at the experience, I see that my characters and settings are inspired by a combination of movies and novels, pictures in magazines, and perhaps most of all, places I’ve lived, people I have known—including myself. Sandy, the protagonist of Shadows of Doubt, has some of my traits: I like photography and an alternate career for me would have been as a journalist. Sandy’s mother is based in part on my teacher mother, who turned for support to my sister and me when our father died—and who sometimes did not approve of our boyfriends.  In childhood knew a family who owned an upstate New York farm near my parents’ lake house—an intelligent, strong, practical father and his sons. I am sure I based Jeff and his uncle at least in part on them. And while writing Shadows, an image of a friend from long ago came to my mind and I thought, Wow, he was handsome. That’s how I’ll make Jeff look! 

But the two types of writer--pantser and plotter—are not an either-or; their characteristics can be mixed. Sometimes characters run away with a plotter’s story: I’ve heard that happened with Hawthorne’s Hester in The Scarlet Letter. And pantsers have a planner-plotter side. Just as when a person wakes from a dream and tries to make it make sense, pantsers look at their drafts and rationally revise. I revisit content, shaping it like sculpting clay to make story flow logically, cut out boring parts and contradictions, make sure it’s believable (would the character say that?). I do research to be accurate in what I portray. For Shadows, I had to get information on the youth drug culture—reading books, googling, clipping newspaper articles, interviewing people. I rewrite individual sentences to eliminate word repetition and grammar errors, improve word choice. I get friends to read, comment, then revise some more.


And so when someone asks me, “Are you a pantser or a plotter?”, rather than saying “pantser,” perhaps a better answer would be “Yes.”




Former grade school bully and, later, amateur drug dealer Jeff Hudson turns his life around and is pursuing a degree in agriculture. His future, as well as a budding relationship with fellow student Sandy Harris, is threatened when a former dealer threatens to expose Jeff's past to university authorities if he doesn't rejoin the ring. 

Realizing that Jeff is no longer an angry, misunderstood boy, Sandy must take a stand against her family and friends who swear he is no good and will only cause her unhappiness. Together, can they escape the past in order to forge a future?




Bill, standing there dabbing at his pants with a napkin, turned angrily and spoke so that only Jeff and Sandy could hear. “Do you want a rematch?” 

Jeff turned and glared at him. “What do you mean—a rematch?”

“Another round of that fight we had in fifth grade.”

 “You know, I’d really like that. When it’s just the two of us.” 

As Jeff guided Sandy toward the door, Bill followed them. “It would be more equal this time.”

 “I sure hope so.” Jeff opened the door for Sandy and walked out behind her. Bill watched them go.

They’d reached Jeff’s car when they heard footsteps coming toward them fast across the pavement. Bill’s tall shadow loomed in the lights as he grabbed Jeff’s arm. “How about now?”

 Jeff jerked his arm away. “If that’s what you want.” He reached in his pocket, pulled out his car keys and wallet, and handed them to Sandy. “Get in the car, behind the wheel.” 

Her hand closed around what he had handed her. This was crazy. “No—Jeff, Bill—” Before she could get anything more out, she heard a thunk, then another as Bill swung his fist first into Jeff’s jaw, then into his solar plexus. 




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Patricia McAlexander earned a bachelor's degree from The University of New York at Albany, a master's from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English. After moving with her husband to Athens, Georgia, she taught composition and literature at The University of Georgia. Now retired, she has edited local newsletters and enjoys hiking, travel, and photography. But most of all she enjoys writing novels. Her first thriller-romance, Stranger in the Storm, set in upstate New York, was released by Wild Rose in June 2020. Shadows of Doubt, set in Athens, Georgia, is her second.









Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Spotlight on Nancy Fraser

 Ah ... the Fifties!


A time of innocence, and the not so innocent. From “I Love Lucy” and “Willy” to “Private Secretary”, “Father Knows Best” and “Bachelor Father”, television and music from the fifties gave us inspiration. Come take a trip down memory lane with these five vintage reads!


Get your romance on, and make grandma proud!


Ed Loves Marnie ~ 1955 - Can this handsome military man convince the single mother to take another chance at love? Or, will their shared memory put a wall between them?


Willa Thomas, Attorney-in-Love ~ 1956 - Will these co-workers be able to tow the company line and forego a chance at romance? Or, will they risk everything for love?


Professor Knows Best ~ 1957 - Will this freaky trip back in time to 1957 give her the answers she seeks? Or, only more confusion? How difficult will she find it to navigate being best friends with the college-age version of her own mother?


His Private Secretary ~ 1958 - Can she run interference between her handsome boss, his needy family, and the scores of women trying to bed him and wed him and still remain unaffected by his many charms?


The Bachelor Father ~ 1959 - Will Nanny #5 be the one to finally ace the job, and coax him out of his shell and back into life? And, will a family vacation to Paris fulfill their wildest dreams?




Ed Loves Marnie ~ 1955


“You two know each other?” Terri asked. “That’s great.” The moment Stan set down the drinks, Terri tugged on his coat sleeve and pulled him toward the dance floor. “We’ll just leave you two to get reacquainted.”


“I’m sorry about that,” Marnie apologized, nodding toward her overzealous friend.


“No problem. Would you like to dance?” he asked.


“No, thank you. I’ve really got to be going. My kids—”


“Two, right? A little girl and you were expecting. They must be about four and seven now.” 


“Three-and-a-half and a very precocious six,” she corrected, amazed at his excellent memory for detail.


He smiled and, for the first time in ages, Marnie let down her guard and actually enjoyed the simple gesture. She leaned in and asked, “How about you? I mean, you’re still in the military, and promoted to Major, too.”


“I’m stationed at Andrews Air Force Base,” he confirmed.


“So, you’re just in town for the wedding?”


“Actually, I’ve bought some property just outside Frederick.”


So close. The thought excited and frightened her in equal measure. She suspected a man like Edward Louden would be hard to ignore. “Well, as long as you don’t mind a small town, this is a great place to live.”


“What about you?” he asked. “Have you remarried?”


She shook her head. “I’ve been too busy raising my children and working. And, trying to cram some night classes in at the same time.”


“Sounds as if you’ve been busy.”


“Very. Thankfully, my parents are close by and have been a godsend with the kids.” After a moment’s silence, she asked, “How about you? Any kids?” 


He shot her a broad grin. “No. I’d need a wife for that. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much time to look for one between duty assignments.”


She couldn’t help but appreciate his lighthearted sarcasm.


A comfortable silence fell between them. They both relaxed back in their chairs and enjoyed the music. When it looked as if the orchestra was about to take their break, Marnie stood to leave. “Please, tell Terri and Stan goodbye for me. My children will be up early, no matter how late I get to bed.”


“Would you like me to walk you to your car?” he asked.


 She shook her head. “No, but thank you. Stay here and enjoy the reception.”  


Stan and Terri came back to the table just minutes after Marnie Wilson made her escape. Ed had to admit, he’d barely recognized her. It hadn’t been until the name had registered that he’d realized who she was, and how he knew her. She’d certainly changed over the past three years. Matured. No doubt single-parenthood could do that to a person.


“So,” Terri asked the minute she hit the chair, “where’s Marnie?”


“She left,” Ed said simply. “Apparently her children are early risers.”


Stan chuckled. “All kids are early risers. It’s a gift.”


Ed waited for the inevitable question.


“Just how do you know Marnie?” Terri asked. “Has my best friend been holding out on me?”


“No,” he said, his voice solemn with the memory of their meeting. “We met four years ago this past March. I had the unfortunate task of delivering the military’s condolences when her husband’s plane was shot down over Korea.”  





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(334 pages)

















Author Bio:


NANCY FRASERJumping Across Romance Genres with Gleeful Abandon—is an Amazon Top 100 and Award-Winning author who can’t seem to decide which romance genre suits her best. So, she writes them all.


Like most authors, Nancy began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.


Nancy has published over forty books in full-length, novella, and short format. When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy dotes on her five wonderful grandchildren and looks forward to traveling and reading when time permits. Nancy lives in Atlantic Canada where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.




Twitter:  @nfraserauthor 


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Monday, May 17, 2021

Chocolate For Breakfast = Adulting

One of my favorite things about being an adult is that I get to eat what I want. Of course, I have to pay for it, but I like that no one is around to tell me not to eat something, or that I should eat more or less of something else. And I indulge myself with chocolate for breakfast. 

Before you become one of those people who tells me that’s not breakfast, let me tell you that my chocolate for breakfast is a muffin, or rather, a half of a muffin, so that I don’t have to pay for my food choices quite as much. Muffins are perfectly acceptable for breakfast. Since muffins are just a grown-up way of saying mini cakes, I even eat mine with a knife and fork, because like I said, I’m a grown up (and civilized).


I had been getting my muffins at my local grocery store. I have a love/hate relationship with this place. They have a very limited selection of food and brands, and that was even before Covid. Their deli guy is super creepy—it got so bad I lodged a formal complaint against him. He no longer bothers me, but I no longer shop in the deli when he’s there. The people are super friendly, though. It’s five minutes from my house. And they have really nice flowers in the spring and fall—sometimes even better than my area nurseries. Plus, they had double chocolate muffins.


Until they didn’t. 


I ran out of my supply at home and during my weekly grocery trip, looked for more. They were out. Horrors! I had to settle for peach, which is yummy but tastes terrible with orange juice and has no chocolate in it. The next week they were out as well. I bought the chocolate chip, which was okay, but there wasn’t enough chocolate.


Finally, I decided to ask the grocery guy if they were getting any more. He said they were no longer carrying them. Confident I’d misheard—we were both wearing masks, there was background noise, and my hearing is bad without those things anyway—I said, “You’re no longer carrying them?”


“That’s what I said, didn’t I?”


Okay Mr. Rude Man. You must not have been warned about me (see my issue with the deli guy above, which most definitely was not about rudeness), but I was in too much shock/chocolate withdrawal to do anything but slink away.


Now what was I supposed to eat for breakfast? It’s the most important meal of the day, isn’t it? 


This is where my local friends are all going to tell me how much they hate shopping at this store and that I should simply shop at any of the other grocery stores in the area—we have lots. And I know they’re right, but here’s the thing. I hate grocery shopping. Even before Covid, I hated doing it. I know this store and where they keep things (until the next time someone who’s never grocery shopped before decides to rearrange it—clothing in the freezer aisle, anyone?). And a five-minute drive is way more appealing than a 15 or 20-minute one.


But you’d be amazed what I’ll do for chocolate. So after trying another store’s brand and hating it—who knew double chocolate muffins could be gross and not even taste like chocolate?—I found one in a grocery store that’s 20 minutes away. It’s not ideal. I’m probably going to get tired of driving there just for muffins. But they’re really good, and I’m not yet ready to give up my “chocolate for breakfast because I’m an adult” thing.



Monday, May 10, 2021

I'm On A Podcast

In my continuously evolving attempt to embarrass myself promote myself, I thought I’d let you know about my appearance on a podcast, airing today. 

One of the benefits of being on my publisher’s email loop is that authors are constantly talking about what they do to promote their books. And someone, I can’t remember who, announced they had been interviewed by a person who had a book podcast. So, when I was working on marketing promo for A Reckless Heart, I emailed the woman.


Amanda Owen is one of the hosts of Books on the Mic, a relatively new podcast about books and authors. She and her co-host, Cheryl, are friendly and eager to talk to fellow authors, so when I emailed them, they responded right away and set up a date for me to talk to them. 


They sent me information ahead of time, so I could prepare, and asked me to send them information about me and my book as well. Boy, do they do their research! They found out things about me I hadn’t even mentioned—apparently, when I tell interviewers I have a blog, I should expect them to read it. Who knew? 


We did the interview over Zoom, which was actually fun because I could talk to them and see their expressions, rather than just over the phone. And, you know, it forced me to put on makeup and look like a human, which is always good for when I eventually emerge into the real world once again. 


They asked me questions I had prepared for, and questions I didn’t expect. We had a long discussion about marketing, the bane of most authors’ existence. And it was really fun. I’d totally do it again.


After they did their editing magic, they sent me a link. As I responded to Amanda, “Oh no, now I actually have to listen to myself!” But hey, now you can, too!


There’s also a rafflecopter link for a chance to win a free copy of A Reckless Heart here:


Hope you enjoy it!