Strong yet Flawed and Fabulous

So glad to see March. Thank you, Mother Nature! Trees are blooming, bulbs are bursting, and cool mornings turn into warm afternoons. However, even that ever-present strong woman is flawed. Mother Nature has to taint her beauty with all that ugly yellow-green pollen causing us allergy-prone people to sneeze, blow and wheeze.

Fictional characters, like humans, are flawed, and the more complicated the better. Imperfect characters carry the story, while piquing your interest and satisfying your curiosity. In my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, the main female characters—Jessy Tate and Rita May McAfee—epitomize strong women who are blemished in different ways.

pictures on the beach

I’d like to welcome Grace Sammons. Grace is an author, radio host, entrepreneur, and educator. Recognized in “Who’s Who in Education” and “Who’s Who in Literature,” Grace utilized skills built up over decades to re-invent herself with her award-winning fourth book and debut novel – The Eves. Always committed to creative collaborations, Grace is the founder of Author Talk Network; a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association (WFWA) and the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA). She is the Director of Membership for one of the fastest-growing reader/writer online communities “Bookish Road Trip.” She currently lives on Florida’s west coast with her husband and a small herd of imaginary llamas.


When it comes to novels, I love flawed characters. They endear themselves to us and enrage us all at the same time. You know who they are – those characters that can’t get out of their own way as they stumble through the plot.

In my novel, The Eves, Jessica Barnet is broken – read this as majorly flawed. She has given up on herself, her looks, her career, and renovations to her Washington, DC townhome – but not her lies or her vodka. That is until her bossy friend, Sonia Cortez, tells her “Jessica, I saw you today, you refused to put your hand in the paint and leave your mark on the wall. I –am – too—tired—of—you. This hiding from the world stops today. You will write about the women we met.”

Thank goodness for bossy friends in novels and in life. Together we are better. Together we find our way. This month, Women’s History Month, is a good time to shine a light on the power of sisterhood and the role it plays in our lives. True sisterhood comes with three things – an absolute faith in the friendship, patience, and, as in the case of Jessica and Sonia, absolute honesty. Sonia knows all of Jessica’s secrets and is patient with her – until she is not. She then pushes Jessica beyond her comfort zone and into a world of colorful women and women of color whose stories propel Jessica into the delightfully uncharted waters of listening and learning from women whose stories can reach back hundreds of years and still touch today.

The Eves is a book within a book, with Jessica gathering the oral histories of “the oldies.” As Jessica writes, she begins to understand that when our stories are told, everything changes. But it is not only Jessica’s story that changes as she finds her footing and sets out on a new path of reinventing herself. Indeed, each of the characters in this Southern Maryland community develops and changes. What amazed me in the writing of The Eves is that my story changed as well. Jessica, this flawed character and the magnificent (and to be honest, also flawed) characters taught me that I am not done.

With The Eves, my fourth book, complete, I thought I was ready to sail into retirement. But Jessica and “the oldies” had another idea. Two years later my life has blossomed in unexpected ways from becoming a radio host of two shows, to teaching a course on writing, to having three books on writing craft coming out this spring. This is not hearsay, as Jan in The Eves would say. This is the truth. A surprising truth.

So, what changed and what changes each of us? How do we go from “being done” to determining the mark we will leave on the world? The change comes from hard conversation, and fun ones, and from listening to each other and ourselves. As we stand here in Women’s History Month, we stand solidly on the shoulders of amazing women, some famous, some not. We stand because we first crawled and reached for the hems our mothers skirts as they pulled us up to join them. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with family and friends – bossy and otherwise. We stand accountable for our strengths and our flaws – as they said back in the 1600’s, “warts and all.”

This is a month to recognize famous women and the marks they have left on the world. It’s also a time to celebrate those that help us make our own history, just as we help them make theirs.  In novels, it’s easy to cheer on those flawed characters, or to yell at them in our heads hoping they can see the perfect path through the plot.  It’s not as easy to be accepting and supportive and patient with others, or ourselves.  That’s where the hard and honest conversations come in. As I look at what’s next for me, and as we celebrate Women’s History Month and the women in our own lives, I’m going to work on those things – acceptance, support and patience – warts and all.
To find out more about Grace, listen to her Storytellers radio show episodes at www.GraceSammon.Net.
To learn more about LAUNCH PAD, listen to episodes at
Watch the trailer to The Eves here:


Sign up for my quarterly newsletter, Jody’s Journal, to get a chance to win a copy of my novel (eBook or PDF version)! Winners will be drawn around the 23rd of this month. Sign up here at or on my website at


One year ago on March 12, I launched my novel. I am so proud of this book and hope whoever reads it will enjoy the experience. It’s available on the following:

BookShop –
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BooksAMillion –

Thank you to Grace Sammon for her fantastic contribution.
Next month, we’ll hear from Author Gaby Reich-Anderson.

Thanks for stopping by,


Strong Hearts – Strong Women


Hello everyone! Well, she’s baaaaack — The strong woman in fiction and non-fiction.

Do you know a strong woman? What words would you use to describe her? Maybe BRAVE, PASSIONATE, DRIVEN, ACCOUNTABLE, and RESPONSIBLE – just to name a few! When I write, I want a flawed protagonist who possesses these qualities. For instance, in RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, Jessy Tate is an ordinary woman who leads a simple life. However, after her husband dies, she remembers a tragedy from her past and must gather the strength within herself. She must search for the truth to questions that need answering no matter the consequences. I see her as brave, passionate, driven, accountable, and responsible.

First Guest of 2023

Ashley Barnard Photography

Please welcome Author KD Sherrinford from the United Kingdom. Born and raised in Preston, Lancashire, she now resides on The Fylde Coast with her husband John, and their four children. An avid reader from an early age, KD was fascinated by the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie, reading the entire Doyle Canon by the time she was 13. A talented pianist, KD played piano from age six, learning the music of her favourite composers, Beethoven, Schubert, Stephen Foster, and Richard Wagner, all strongly featured in her novel.

Retirement gave KD the opportunity to follow her dreams and begin her first novel, gaining inspiration from her daughter Katie, after a visit to the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street in 2019. Because Irene Adler is such an iconic character, KD wanted to give her a voice. KD recently completed her second book in the Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler mystery series, “Christmas at The Saporis,” and is currently working on the third.
You can find this author on the following:
Facebook Author Page
To find out the latest, email KD at, and check her out at

Song for Someone is KD’s first book in The Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler romantic, mystery series. Irene Adler appears to have the world at her feet. She’s a talented contralto, with beauty, brains, and talent to burn. Unfortunately, Irene is fundamentally flawed by harrowing events from her past. First was her marriage to the lawyer Godfrey Norton, a sadist, bully, and opium addict, who subjected Irene to shocking abuse. Then there was the death of her newborn daughter. Then the murder of Norton by the leader of the notorious Tooley Street Gang Wild Bill Palmer, a former henchman of the late Professor Moriarty. After a breakdown, Irene returned to New Jersey to be with her family, where she received treatment for her postpartum psychosis.

In the spring of 1895, Irene travelled to Milan. After an impromptu appearance at La Scala, seven years after the events of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Scandal In Bohemia, her path is destined to cross once again with the celebrated detective Sherlock Holmes.

After an attempt is made on her life, Holmes is alerted to the perils of their situation. Irene and the detective flee Milan together pursued by a deadly antagonist, finding refuge on an isolated farm in Fiesole, the place where Holmes stayed after his deadly encounter with Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls.

Irene does not care much for Holmes at first, finding him arrogant and egotistical. To his surprise, she stands up to him during several heated altercations. Song for Someone is Irene’s story. Holmes may be living in the book, but if he was not, then Irene would still be there, proud, defiant, unyielding, and magnificent. Her strength, courage, bravery, and unconditional love for Holmes, and the heart-wrenching sacrifice she makes to protect the man she loves, all come to the fore in this novel. Below are a few extracts from the book. I hope you enjoy the story.

Chapter Thirteen
I glared at him indignantly. “I must say that in your case, it’s sometimes difficult to tell. But you’re right. That was a thoughtless insensitive remark. Tact and diplomacy are obviously skills you never mastered. May I remind you that I am only here with you now because I need you to protect me and not because I find you irresistible?”

Chapter Sixteen
I took a sip from my glass, licking my lips provocatively. Then, finally, I spoke softly, almost in a whisper, never once taking my eyes off Holmes, who was scolding me silently with his eyes. “You know, they tell me it’s quite a thing to save a photograph, and I believe it was Balzac who said a letter is a soul as faithful, an echo of the speaking voice, but that to the sensitive it is amongst the richest treasures of love.”

I glanced over at Holmes with a mocking smile. He returned my gaze with silent curiosity.

Chapter Thirty-Nine
Nene lunged towards the gun. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Moriarty, blood running down his face, his left eye swollen shut, kicking the gun out of Nene’s reach. “You poisonous little bitch!” he snarled, grabbing her.

Moriarty picked up the gun and pointed it at Nene’s head with his right hand, his other around her neck.

I aimed Ludo’s gun at Moriarty’s head. “Drop it. Let her go,” I cried.

Moriarty glared at me. “No you drop it Holmes…or I swear I will kill her right in front of you” Nene looked at me. “You have a clear shot, Sherlock. Take it. You must shoot him. We both don’t need to die today.”

To find out what happens to Irene and the celebrated detective, check out Song for Someone on Amazon

Announcing a Giveaway!
Would you like a chance to win an eBook or PDF copy of my novel, Relative Consequences?

Just go to my website and scroll down to the newsletter info to sign up for my quarterly newsletter, Jody’s Journal, by March 21. On March 23, I will announce the winning email, drawn from all existing addresses, in the MARCH EDITION of Jody’s Journal and also on my website.

And don’t forget, Relative Consequences is available here:

BookShop –
Amazon –
Barnes & Noble –
Walmart –
Kobo –
BooksAMillion –

Next month, my Guest will be Author Grace Sammon.

Thank you for stopping by.


We need a Do-Over!

Happy New Year Everyone!

Check out this great quote.

“Don’t think there are no second chances. Life always offers you a SECOND CHANCE … It’s called TOMORROW.” —-Nicholas Sparks

Since I don’t do resolutions anymore, I try to look at the New Year as a SECOND CHANCE, bringing another opportunity to accomplish a goal, to visit a friend, to make that phone call, to take care of that one thing we’ve been putting off.

This year gives me a SECOND CHANCE for me to write another novel. As you all know, in 2022, I self-published my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, and mentally scratched that off my lifetime to-do list. Now, I need to focus on a new objective, to keep writing and not give up on this new venture, LIES IN THE RIVER, which has a long, long, way to go.

So Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m here today in January 2023 and alive. I have another chance to write about a strong female character—one who is relatable, flawed yet entertaining. I introduced Millicent Campbell, the protagonist in Lies in the River, to you in my September 2022 blog. Millie is a member of the large multi-generational Campbell family who has owned land in Clover County, Georgia since her ancestors settled in the area. Her character is a woman who gets things done, so her family depends upon her strength.

How about you? What do you have a second chance to do in 2023?

As I write, I plan to give Millie Campbell, as well as several other characters in the story, second chances as well as a third, and possibly a fourth to get their acts together. In Millie’s case, she must be steadfast in reaching her goals, all the while counting on her inner strength to help her family in a crisis. Humans move forward in life, wipe the slate clean, or try again, etc. If we want and if we are given the time, we can have new chances day after day with each January presenting a great big do-over. Anyway, that’s how I look at it.

The definition of resolution:  A firm decision to do or not to do something.

The definition of a do-over: A new attempt or opportunity to something better than a previous attempt; a makeover, as a renovation….”

For me, there will be no resolutions or promises this year. I’ll just make it a do-over year to work on a healthier me, plan a vacation and look forward to it, and remind myself daily not to waste precious time.

“It’s never too late to start. It’s too late is a lie that will stay with you if you let it. So don’t.” —Jon Acuff



“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” ——Rosalynn Carter

I’m happy to announce that I have signed up quite of few Guest Bloggers for 2023. These authors will share how they use strong female characters in their own stories. In February, I can’t wait to welcome Author K.D. Sherrinford from Lancashire, England, who writes the “Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler Mystery Series.”


Also in my February blog, I will announce a contest where you can win a free copy of my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES. I will draw names (or rather, email addresses) from the list of people who have signed up for my newsletter, Jody’s Journal, via my website ( So check it out and sign up!! You can view the latest edition at


And don’t forget, my current novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, is available here:

BookShop –
Amazon –
Barnes & Noble –
Walmart –
Kobo –
BooksAMillion –

Thank you for stopping by.


The Latitude of Gratitude

Hi, y’all! Are you enjoying the colder weather where you are? Well, we’ve got it, like it or not, down here in Georgia.

This month’s theme is obvious. Just like everyone else, we go to gratitude this time of year. However, I thought I’d stretch it a bit.

Here is one definition of latitude: The scope of freedom of action or thought. Our scope of gratefulness is huge. We have so much for which to be thankful in our world—the basics–family, loved ones, pets, our health, and much more.

What about the little things? I thought of a few today. One is my ability to type this blog. Without that typing class at Decatur High School, there would be no blog (or maybe I’d be typing with two fingers?) Another one is the ability to organize my brain in such a manner as to create a story, and then type it out (with a million edits) into the form of a book.

How about you? Are you grateful for your gifts – creativity, organizational skills, leadership skills, salesmanship, entrepreneurial spirit, ability to speak in public or play a sport, groom a pet, cook, sew, drive, give someone a great haircut, dance, play the piano—just to name a view. Stop and think about it and you will come up with a million little things!

More Character Profiles

Another interesting character in Relative Consequences is Harrison Rhodes’ mother, Mary-Mary Anyika Rhodes, or Ani. Born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina, Ani Rhodes comes from Gullah descent. Although, a very modern woman, she still clings to some of the superstitions of her culture. Family is everything to her and she doesn’t miss a chance to brag about her son, the Annapolis graduate and U.S. Congressman. She is wise, and no one can outsmart her or pull the proverbial wool over her eyes—certainly not her new daughter-in-law, Rita McAfee Rhodes (whom we discussed last month).

In my new manuscript, (currently titled, Lies in the River) I’ve created a secondary character named Colin Campbell, the father of the protagonist, Piper Campbell. Colin, who came from Scottish ancestry, is sixty-six years old with dark brown eyes and graying hair. He’s six feet tall, wears glasses, and has a fabulous smile. He graduated from the University of Georgia and went on to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. An animal lover, he is an excellent veterinarian, humble to the praise he receives. One rarely experiences Colin’s emotional side, but he is a gentle, patient, and kind man, though a little superstitious. However, even Colin keeps secrets.

Jody’s Journal

Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter on Edition 2 will post on November 22, 2022 and will include:

  • Lessons learned since publishing my first novel
  • Gift ideas
  • A simple holiday dessert recipe
  • A holiday crossword puzzle
  • And more.

If you have any requests or suggestions for newsletter content, please let me know.

In my October blog, I mentioned the upcoming HOLIDAY PROMOTION in late November. Please forgive. I quoted the Print-On-Demand edition of RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES incorrectly. For reasons to do with publishing, the price will be $16.49 (discounted from $17.99). The EBook price will be $3.99 (discounted from $9.99).

RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES is available on the following:

BookShop –
Amazon –
Barnes & Noble –
Walmart –
Kobo –
BooksAMillion –


See you next time,


Ghosts, Witches, and Monsters, Oh My!

Due to “technical difficulties,” some of you may have received this post twice.
My apologies!

Hello everyone!

Are you having a fantastic October? I hope you have autumn-like weather where you live—such a beautiful time of year!


I love this season and I love Halloween. Always have. I guess it’s an excuse to dress up and decorate, one of my favorite things to do. Once when my kids were young, we created a very amateurish haunted house in our garage with the intent to get the neighborhood kids to come over and check it out. It consisted of a Dracula who sat up from a prone position in his coffin, a rocking chair that rocked by itself, a garage floor path full of “guts” (wet cooked egg noodles), and more, and all surrounded by scary music and ghoulish screams. So much fun!

Now, I’ve resigned my decorating to hanging a scary banshee with a wicked laugh on my front porch next to Mr. Bones (see picture) who by the way is very disappointed in the Atlanta Braves. Their game performance during the Phillies series last week took away any chance of repeating last year’s spectacle ending to their season.

When you were a child, were you afraid of Halloween’s make-believe monsters? I wasn’t, but the real monsters I heard about and saw on TV, frightened me. I think I was five when I saw a news bulletin about a little girl kidnapped from her own bedroom. That event terrified me for quite a long time.

As adults, we all know that some things are out of our control. However, living in fear only stifles us. There are so many things one can be afraid of at one time or another—health issues, Covid, family problems and situations, and of course, the bad guys out there. I’m sure you could add to this list. If I choose to dwell on uncontrollable things, I let worry and dread overwhelm me. It takes a mindset change and lots of effort not to do that every day. I refuse to let the scary things of life take away one moment of the life I’ve been given.

Then again, a dose of healthy fear never hurt anyone. Using one’s common sense and avoiding risky situations is a smart way to live.

Enjoy your spooky holiday and for heaven’s sake, don’t eat all your kids’ candy!


Last month, I mentioned how I use a Character Personality Worksheet for each of the primary and secondary characters in my writing. We dove into the protagonist in my work-in-progress, Lies in the River. This time I’d like to give you a sneak peek into the personality of a secondary character in my current novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES. Her name is Rita May McAfee. Not all this information is in the novel, but when I create a character, I invent a history often just for the sake of character formation.

Rita May has naturally curly orangey-red hair, gorgeous green eyes, freckles, and a fair complexion. She has a birthmark on the back of her shoulder shaped like a half-moon. She was born to Lynette and Davis McAfee, tenant farmers who, when Rita May was a child, traveled from Arkansas up through Illinois and then down to Bonita Springs, Florida to pick seasonal crops. In Bonita Springs, a thirteen-year-old street-wise Rita May meets Jessy Tate, our protagonist. The girls become fast friends and experience a traumatic event that will shape their adult personas forever.

By the time Rita May is in her sixties, she basks in her achievement as a prominent nutritionist and associate professor at George Mason University in Virginia. While she maintains her perfect figure, she manages to look much younger than her years courtesy of her plastic surgeon. On the hunt to find Husband No. 3, she snags Harrison Rhodes, a distinguished and charismatic African-American Congressman, who is younger than Rita May. The woman has lied all her life and so must keep secrets about her past from her husband. Now you’ve met Rita May. Please read RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES to learn more about this interesting character.


Beginning November 28 through December 12, 2022, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES will be ON SALE for your holiday shopping.

The Mass Market Paperback will be available for $12.99 and the eBook will be available for $3.99 on the following:

BookShop –
Amazon –
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Walmart –
Kobo –
BooksAMillion –

Thanks for joining me today!



To Maintain & Sustain

Happy September to all! Don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to autumn with its cool evenings and mild days.


In a recent blog, think it was July, I described one of the writing tools I create when preparing to write a novel—the Character Personality Worksheet. This device aids in the development of all prominent and secondary characters in the story. In my current work-in-progress, Lies in the River, the main character’s name is Millicent Campbell (yes, I’ve remained her again).

Let me tell you a little about Millie.

You meet Millie in 1980. She is an attractive, single, thirty-year-old single woman, the oldest daughter of Maura and Angus Campbell who have five children. She grew up in Sequoyah, Georgia, a small town in the North Georgia Mountains. She has chestnut-brown hair and sultry dark brown eyes. She’s intelligent, standing 5’5” tall, and weighing 135 lbs. She has an oval face, fair skin, a petite nose, and dark brown eyebrows. She’s in love with a six-month-old puppy, a beagle named after Carly Simon.

Millie is a bit bossy, somewhat overconfident, and always knows a better way to do just about everything. She’s persistent, curious, sometimes sarcastic, and has an acute, yet annoying, ability to size people up. The best friend anyone could have, she will keep your secret. She has a hearty belly laugh and bears a kooky sense of humor. Keeping her life simple, she enjoys a beer and a baseball game with friends, a special guy or a particular beagle by her side. Most of the time, she holds her emotions in check. Favorite midnight snack – Praline Pecan Ice Cream with shortbread cookies.

This is but a small sample of info from Millicent Campbell’s worksheet. I constantly refer to the document as I work on my novel, helping me to stay true to the character. Another one of Millie’s traits is stubbornness, which fuels her reluctance to heal old wounds with her mother. The older Millie gets, the more tension seeps into the relationship.

MAINTAIN or SUSTAIN? The definitions read as follows:

to keep in an existing state; to preserve from failure; to uphold and defend a position; to continue or persevere in; to carry on.

Sustain:  to give support or relief to; to supply with sustenance; to nourish; to keep up; to prolong. In life we choose to maintain and sustain every day.

I try to maintain my houseplants. Unfortunately, I do not possess a green thumb. I firmly believe they grow in spite of me. The only survivors are usually philodendrons and my beloved African violets. No matter how neglectful I am, those guys keep on keeping on. However, I am in charge of their care (when I don’t forget). I maintain them, making sure they remain in their existing state and try not to murder them. I also must sustain them by watering and fertilizing the soil and giving them plenty of sunlight. Luckily, I have a perfect floor-to-ceiling window in my great room.

As the story unfolds in Lies in The River, Millie Campbell experiences a catastrophe that has the power to leave irrecoverable damage to her family and the town of Sequoyah, the home she had left behind. While attempting to solve a developing mystery set deep in the North Georgia Mountains, Millie must also find a way to maintain and sustain her loved ones in their time of need.


Don’t forget to sign-up for my quarterly newsletter, Jody’s Journal on my website, The next edition comes out on November 22, 2022. Here is the link to the August edition.

Please check out my current novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, available on the following:

BookShop –
Amazon –
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BookBub –
Walmart –
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See you in October!

Thanks for visiting,


Do Unto Others…

Hey everyone! Hope you are staying cool during these August days of summer.

Don’t know about your parents, but mine drilled The Golden Rule into my head from the time I could read. They reminded me of the biblical text whenever I acted selfishly or was jealous or you name it. Hence, I felt like the “Rule” had been ingrained into my psyche. As an adult, I try to live by that rule; unfortunately, I don’t always accomplish that goal. I’m no angel. I make mistakes. I have to fight normal negative emotions like everyone else.

Once upon a time, I was in love with a Vietnam Vet. He came into my life during a time when I was unemployed (due to company layoffs) and had just broken my foot a week before my official last day of work. I couldn’t drive and my kids helped me out when they could, but they were busy with their own lives. I felt very alone and vulnerable.

Here comes Bob to save the day! He was a sweet, magnanimous, and gentle soul, and I fell hard. Four months later, he asked me to marry him, and I accepted. We had a blast, traveling, and having the time of our lives. We scheduled the ceremony for six months down the road in April.

However, in February, Bob had a stroke. The damage to his brain left him without the three things he most loved to do—drive his snazzy black Corvette (which he had purchased before he met me), target practice at a shooting range (remember ex-Army), and enjoy his full-time job as a security guard at the CDC. The stroke also affected his short-term memory and gave him an extremely low pain threshold (if he bumped into something, or if someone touched him, he would scream in agony). We were devastated, but we intended to get married in April in spite of everything even planning a honeymoon in Costa Rica (another story for another time).

Some people advised me with well-intentioned words of comfort. Some said I should choose not to marry him. After all, he wasn’t the same. Did I really want to take care of a man who was now much older than his actual years? It might be for years and years, and I had only known him for eight months.

My mind focused on the Golden Rule – If the stroke had happened to me, would Bob still marry me, and sign up for a different future than we had planned? To this day, I think he would have done just that.

I did marry Bob. Unfortunately, the unacceptance of his fate consumed him, and his health digressed. My husband only lived for one year after the stroke. I’d like to say it was easy, but that would be a fairy tale. There were times when I almost gave up.

My point in revealing this true story is that one never knows what will happen when you treat other people as you wish to be treated. Most of the time, we never see the results. If I had left him to his own devices, to the care of a stranger or an unwilling family member, who knows what might have happened to him? During that year, I received many blessings. I met some wonderful people at the VA hospital, I saw the joy on Bob’s face when he met his baby grandson, and I started an online blog about Bob’s stroke that led me to engage with some lovely women who had dealt with much harder issues than me. I also became best friends with Bob’s sister, Gale, whom I will always love as a sister.

In life, we have little control, but we CAN choose to act or react. In my new manuscript, currently titled, Lies in the River, my protagonist (now named Millie Campbell), has to make soul-searching choices that affect others—in her job as well as her personal life. Her decisions do not always follow the Golden Rule, the takeaway proving to complicate her relationship with her family and boyfriend, in addition to the investigation into her sister’s disappearance.


Don’t forget to sign up on my website for the debut of Jody’s Journal, my quarterly newsletter debuting on August 26 – “The End of Summer edition” will contain

  • A beach book mystery review of Murder on Edisto by C. Hope Clark, the first in a series of Edisto Island Mysteries
  • An excerpt from my novel, Relative Consequences, and a Hot Beachy crossword puzzle, just for fun
  • A request for suggestions about my new manuscript entitled Lies in the River
  • A Labor Day recipe for a great end-of-summer salad
  • A beach-themed crossword puzzle, just for fun.
  • And more…


My novel, Relative Consequences is doing well! I’m so excited about the review I received from the online magazine, Readers’ Favorite. Here is the link:

Relative Consequences is available on:

Barnes & Noble
Books A Million

Thank you for visiting and see you next month!! Jody

A Belated Nod


Since I missed saluting Father’s Day, I thought I’d give a shout-out to my favorite dad! Of course, it’s my very own, who passed away over thirty years ago. Although it’s been a long time, I can still see his smile and hear his laughter. Joseph Emile Herpin, “Joe” to his friends, and “Emile” to family, had the best sense of humor and kindest heart of anyone I have ever known. He was a great father, a good friend to hundreds, and someone who would, and without a moment’s hesitation, give you the shirt off his back.

In my newest novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, the protagonist, Jesse Blanchard Tate, has a father, Elijah Blanchard, who resembles my own. I couldn’t help it. That gentle man, hard-working man, and loving man somehow became a character depiction in my story. It just felt right. Although I allowed Eli Blanchard to exhibit his own personal flaws, I believe the character’s heart never wavered even at the end of the story.

Last month in my June Blog, “A Row of Ducks & Katherine Nichols,” I described a few things I do to prepare when writing a novel. Not everyone does this, but I’ve found a groove doing the work.

It was number 4 on the list – profiling each character using a Character Personality Worksheet, sparking my imagination while introducing me to who they are, their likes and dislikes, their negatives and positives, etc. This step is time-consuming, but necessary before I can really write the story. Sure, I’ve made scribbles and notes in gobs of notebooks, but before I can put them together and make sense of anything, I create my characters.

On that note, Elijah Blanchard’s Personality Worksheet ended up looking very similar to what Joe Herpin’s would have looked like. Except for one or two important items on the list. Now, unless you’ve read RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, you won’t know what those items are. If you have read the book, then you know what I mean. Therefore, I guess you’ll have to read it to find out.  J

In my August blog, I will dive into Jessy’s childhood friend, Rita May McAfee Rhodes’, and her character worksheet. In Relative Consequences, I consider her a semi-antagonist.


In the upcoming issue of my brand-new newsletter, Jody’s Journal, set to debut on August 26, 2022, one of the sections will include a review of a summer beach book that I am currently reading – Murder on Edisto by C. Hope Clark. I’ve always enjoyed mysteries in the summer whether reading on the beach or just hanging around in air conditioning. I plan on finishing this author’s entire Edisto series before September.

The author, C. Hope Clark, adores mystery, both reading and writing them. She hopes to write until her last breath and continues all three of her mystery series.

In late fall, she expects Book 9 in the Edisto Island Mysteries to be released, tentatively titled BADGE OF EDISTO. It is a crossover, meaning the protagonists of the different series meet each other; in this case, Carolina Slade comes to Edisto and assists Callie Morgan in a new investigation.

She’s been writing fulltime for 19 years, having taken an early retirement from the US Department of Agriculture where she learned to talk the talk of Carolina Slade, an agricultural investigator and star of her first series.

When she isn’t writing novels, she is coaching other writers through her site and newsletter, the latter which goes out weekly reaching 23,000 readers. Her site has been chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for 21 years, and she often appears in their podcasts and publications.

She is married to a retired federal agent, whom she met on an actual bribery investigation with USDA. Known for writing daily, she often sits on the back porch overlooking Lake Murray in central SC to edit her stories, her federal agent at her side making sure she gets the technical aspects correct, a dachshund in each lap, and maybe a bourbon in hand.


Don’t forget to check out my book, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, on the following sites:

Barnes & Noble

Thanks for stopping by! See you next time!


A Row of Ducks & Katherine Nichols

Hope everyone is well and happy! It’s hot here in Georgia. How hot is it? Well, one way of putting it might be – “it’s hotter than blue blazes,” or “You could fry an on that asphalt.” Pretty stinkin’ hot!! So glad my writing keeps me in the AC!

This month, I want to continue trying to explain my crazy writing process. Here are the four beginning steps I take.

  1. I decide what the story will be about – a general picture in my brain, and then on a “working” title. I begin digging into the research, i.e., time, place, location, popular culture, and anything pertaining to the story.
  2. I construct my main characters – first the protagonist, then other characters that play major roles in the story. Since I’m a visual person, I clip out pictures of celebrities who fit the description of each character and post it on my whiteboard or bulletin board.
  3. Then, while following the same method, I create secondary characters.
  4. Next, I profile the characters using a Character Personality Worksheet for each. This gets the imagination going while introducing me to who they are, their likes and dislikes, their negatives and positives, etc. This step is time-consuming, but I need to have all my ducks in a row, so to speak, before writing the story arc and outline.

I will expand on No. 4 with an example in my next blog in July.


Today, I am so happy to introduce my guest, published author, Katherine Nichols, who will tell us how she became a writer and a bit about her writing process. Katherine writes women’s fiction/psychological suspense. She is the author of The Sometime Sister (2021) and The Unreliables (2022). She serves on the board of The Atlanta Writers Club and Sisters in Crime Atlanta, and lives in Lilburn, Georgia with her husband, two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats.



Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
                                    Langston Hughes

My writing process began before I could write, and well before I knew what a process was.

When I was five years old, I visited my aunt’s house for Christmas and made a shocking discovery. While I had been studying color charts and navigating the monkey bars in kindergarten, my cousins were sitting in their first-grade class learning to crack the mystery of the written word. I came home in a snit and insisted my grandmother teach me to read immediately.

What began as a one-sided competition grew into an obsession. From graffiti and billboards to biographies to dog stories and Nancy Drew, I forgot all about my cousins and became fascinated with storytelling.

I could weave some pretty tall tales. But capturing them and wrestling them onto the pages of a book? That was pure magic, and I wanted to wave a wand of my own. I wanted to write and have people fall in love with my characters and spend time in the worlds I created. My dream was to be published.

Although it might not have been obvious to those around me, I held fast to it. I wrote for my college literary magazine and later for radio and television. As a high school teacher, I nurtured talent in others. I started a group for girls who wanted to excel. It evolved into a mentor program. As a mother, I shared my passion for reading with my own children. I never let go of my dream but it seemed farther and farther from becoming a reality.

And then, I retired. My children were living full lives filled with loving spouses and children. I was out of excuses. My husband encouraged me to go for it, so I did.

In what I think of as my third act, I wrote. I joined a critique group and wrote better. I started an all-women group and dove deeper. I created female characters who are unaware of the strength they possess and gave them the power to change their lives the way real women do, with humor and compassion.

I learned what a query letter was and how to put rejection aside and keep submitting. From the thrill of finding an agent to the disillusionment of realizing she wasn’t going to get me a spot on Oprah’s Book Club, I held fast to that damn dream.

At the tender age of sixty-nine, I signed with Black Rose Writing, an independent house out of Texas. They published my first two novels and signed me for a third to be released in December.

And I’m still writing. I even have a process. I start with the main character, a woman with hopes and dreams. Then I create obstacles to her aspirations, always including a murder or suspicious death. I have an end in mind but give my characters leeway to reach a different outcome. I have a daily or weekly word count in mind and try to write at least four out of five days a week. But I’m gentle with myself. I’m taking the time to fly with both wings and to keep dreaming.

Thank you for checking out my books, The Unreliables” at“ and “The Sometime Sister” at

You can find out more about me on the following:


Thank you, Kathy, for your being my first guest in 2022.

Don’t forget to check out my novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, on and

See you next month.


One Bite at a Time

Ah! May! Hello everyone! It is gorgeous here in Georgia with all the flowering plants and shrubs and it’s beginning to be quite warm. I hope the scenery and climate are beautiful where you live, too.

Zeroing In and Moving Forward

Often, I have several stories floating around in my crazy head and it takes a while to settle on just one. I bet I have over a hundred drafts stored in my computer as we speak.

Once I settle a new project, in my case a new manuscript, my personal process is not always a consistent one. I guess you could call me a “pantser” or “a seat of my pants kinda gal.” I’m a moody writer. In other words, I have to be in the mood. Once I get started, the time will fly by, and I often find myself glued to my desk for hours upon hours.

Although I am sometimes scattered, I do have a checkoff list of things I must do before I can even begin to create.

I take one bite at a time – slowly at the beginning, then charging ahead.

  1. I come up with a working title. I don’t always stick with it, but it helps me with compiling information on the computer and hard copy files (which I still use). With my newly published novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES (RC), I must have had five or six working titles before I settled on THE one. With my new manuscript, I temporarily went with Kenzie’s River, which has now changed to LIES IN THE RIVER. I think I like that one the best.
  2. Once I decide what the story will be about – a general picture in my brain – I write down options for the story arch – specifically, a beginning, a middle and an end usually in single sentences. Then I begin researching different subjects pertaining to the story. For instance, in RC, I dug into 1950’s history, Florida history, Civil Rights history, and even 2006 history. I also investigated how people dressed back then, their hairdos, popular music, etc. I make notes — too many notes — on what I research and then I put them on my computer in a somewhat unorganized-but yet organized fashion. I often go back and eventually delete them. By this time, I have chosen the final title.
  3. The next step involves creating my main characters.
  4. Secondary characters fall into place.

I will expand on Steps 3 & 4 (my favorite tasks) in my June Blog.


Since I plan to spotlight The Writing Process in the next few months, I invited a published author and member of the Facebook Group – Authors Ignite, (, to give us her perspective on the writing process.

Kathy Stagner Nichols states that women empowering women is her passion. She wrote The Sometime Sister and The Unreliables, is on the board of Sisters In Crime Atlanta, and is Vice President of the Atlanta Writers Club. Kathy lives in Lilburn, Georgia with her husband, two rescue dogs, and two rescue cats.


By the way, don’t forget to check out my first published novel, RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES, released on March 12, 2022, which has received much-appreciated five-star reviews.

I am proud to say that today my novel is currently for sale at The Eagle Eye Book Shop in North Decatur, Georgia. You can check them out on Facebook at, on Twitter at, and on Instagram at

Here is another excerpt from my book.

“Chapter Five – Beaufort Boil”

“At the end of an oyster-shelled driveway sits a colonial-style house—the home Harrison purchased for his mother five years ago. Rita scratches an itch on her hand as she gazes through sunglasses at a rocker-crowded veranda that hugs the entire front of the refurbished white two-story clapboard structure. Four sleek ceiling fans orbit in harmony over the colorful rag rugs scattered on the wide-planked floor.

Harrison leads the way towing both pieces of carry-on luggage.

She steps from the car feeling the Low Country sun bake her exposed shoulders. A bead of perspiration trickles the length of her breastbone. Slowly climbing the stairs to the porch, Rita passes a daisy-shaped ceramic ashtray, one of several placed at the corners of the wooden railing.

Why in hell did I quit smoking?

Thank you to all who have purchased RELATIVE CONSEQUENCES. I hope you enjoy reading it. Please consider stopping by Amazon and/or Goodreads and posting a review. Thank you again.

Available on:
Amazon (both Kindle & Mass Market Paperback) –
Barnes & Noble –
BookShop –

You can catch me on:

See you in June and don’t forget to read!


P.S. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter – Jody’s Journal – on this website.

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