Thankful . . . & LOVE AROUND THE TABLE

th (5)It’s already November. I have to be honest and say I’m glad to see the leaves fall. I really had kind of a rotten summer.

Word to the wise: If you’re planning on having rotator cuff surgery (with complications, I might add), a little warning–it’s very painful and a much harder recovery than I ever expected it to be. Okay, enough whining. I know, somewhere somebody is playing their tiny violin, right? Really am thankful that I’m almost through with physical therapy and have a useful right shoulder again. 🙂

Now to the important Turkey Day. I am read for sure. Even little ole me, who is on a strict Paleo Diet, can eat her fair share of the goods on the Thanksgiving table. I’m thankful for so many things, family and friends, dog and cat, roof over my head, and like I said, food on the table. I pray that all of you are able to be with people who love you and whom you love on that special day.

But maybe most of all, I’m just thankful to be here, able to sit in front of my computer, researching strong women of history, who I can draw strength from borrowing their characteristics and even their flaws as I begin to outline my third novel.

  • Thankful to be able to breathe, to taste, to smell, to see, to feel, and to hear every day.
  • Thankful for my health, my past, my present and, I hope, a future where I see my grandchildren grow up.
  • Thankful for all of you who bother to check out my posts now and then.

I’m also very grateful to have as my guest blogger today, Rachel Jones, an award-winninrachel jonesg author, who is a Labor & Delivery Registered Nurse by night and a writer by day. Her love of reading romance novels prompted her at age fifty-seven to write her first contemporary romance manuscript. She loves composing stories about strong women and sweet romance. Her books reflect her love of the performing arts and a twenty-eight-year career in healthcare has influenced the threads of medical drama woven into her storylines.

When she’s not working or writing, Rachel loves traveling, sewing and making music. She lives in Kennesaw, Georgia with her husband of thirty-nine years. They have three grown children and one spoiled Labrador retriever. Rachel is a member of Georgia Romance Writers, Georgia Writers Association, Heart of Dixie Romance Writers, and is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America.


We are entering the holiday season. The hustle and bustle have started and will escalate as the days move to the end of November. It is also a time when most people pause to focus on the things for which they are grateful. I ran a Google search for the top five things people list and this is what I discovered: family, friends, health, job, and home. While I agree with this, I’d add volunteers to that list. Those inspiring individuals who give of their time, energy, and resources to make life better in some form for others is something this world needs.

This past year I have been involved in a project with five fellow authors. We wrote a collection of six short stories with the intent of donating the royalties to a local charity. We chose the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. In February, four of us toured the house in Sandy Springs, and in October all six of us visited the location in Atlanta. What an evidence of volunteerism! The furnishings throughout the home-away-from-home were donations from companies, large and small. Local merchants join together to continually stock the kitchen with food. Volunteers come in to prepare meals and snacks daily for the families staying at the houses. There are also volunteers who come and provide arts and craft time and entertainment for the children. All of their efforts add up to a real labor of love.

Love around table2-RachelI discovered something beautiful about our community, and I now have a personal connection to it. Through this project, I’ve learned much as an author. I have written three full-length novels, so to leave my comfort zone and write a story in its shortest form was a victory; a positive experience that will help challenge the writer in me to try new things. The time and commitment I put into Love Around the Table have indeed brought me much in return, and I am grateful.

Six authors bring you an impressive collection of stories about friendship, family, and love, and six delicious recipes.

100% of your purchase of Love Around the Table goes to Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities. Since they opened their door in 1979, they have helped 48,000 families. Please open your heart and help a child and their family in need. Thank you so much!

          Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities

“A Sister’s Quandary”  by Rachel JonesLove around table-Rachel

Sophie needs a kidney and Brooke wants to provide her with one. But the past is keeping Sophie from accepting her twin’s gift and a chance for a healthy future.

You can find Rachel at the following: Around the Table

Thank you so much, Rachel, for being a guest on my blog this month.

Happy Thanksgiving!


A Little Dreaming and Author, Linda Joyce

book dreamThe other day, my husband, the talented pianist, was practicing a song from La La Land, “The Fools Who Dream.” I identify with that song. I am still, even at my age, one of those people who sees hope that all my dreams will come true.

There was a time in my life when I stopped dreaming. I became bitter and too self involved. Somehow, I crawled out of that hole and realized that life was all about living, not about looking backwards or having regrets. Now, I live in the moment but I never stop dreaming.

I once dreamt of writing books. I’ve written two complete novels. Now I dream that someday at least one of my manuscripts will be published, and I look forward to the next book I will write.

lindaLet me introduce you to someone who is fulfilling her dreams, my friend, Amazon Best Selling author and four-time RONE Award Finalist, Linda Joyce. Linda writes women’s fiction and romance with 10 books to her name since 2013. She’s published through The Wild Rose Press and Word Works Press. Also, you’ll find her poetry and short memoirs within the pages of a several anthologies.

Linda believes in service and volunteering. She received the Service Award from the Heartland Romance Authors and was the newsletter editor for the Missouri Writers Guild. She served as Vice President of Whispering Prairie Press and the Creative Director of Kansas City Voices literary and art magazine. In Georgia, Linda served on the board of Southeastern Writers Association. Currently, she is the Hospitality Chairperson for Georgia Romance Writers.

A big fan of jazz and blues, Linda attributes her love of those musical genres to her southern roots, which run deep in Louisiana. She’s lived coast to coast courtesy of her father’s Air Force career. She wrote her first manuscript when she was twelve while living in Japan. In addition to being a book addict, Linda’s a foodie, an RVer, loves to kayak, and loves movies. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and General Beauregard, their four-legged boy, who believes Linda is his pet.


The “Yes” Disease and How It Shows Up in Bayou Brides by Linda Joyce

Bayou Brides - Linda1“She has the ‘Yes’ disease.”

That’s how my husband describes me. I say “Yes” to many things.

I learned the root cause of this affliction when I studied astrology, wanting to understand this constant driving force within me. There’s a lot of fire energy in my chart. It manifests as my burning (fire) need to be working on multiple projects, often at the same time. I get an idea, and I want to run with it—ASAP.

However, after losing my mom and two of my fur babies in 2016, I made a conscious decision to slow things down in 2017. I only scheduled three events—in March, June, and September. I didn’t make the event in March, Booking in Biloxi, because I fell on my tailbone trying to do too many things at once and couldn’t sit in the car to make the trip.

The Heart of Dixie Reader’s Luncheon took me to Huntsville, Alabama, and I was thrilled to meet new readers, and also the Keynote Speaker, Brenda Novak.

I planned for Penned Con the end of September. It’s an event in St. Louis with a thousand readers. I planned for a book release of a secret project I’ve been working on for Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities, which will publish on November 1st with 100% of the proceeds to go to the charity. That book is Love Around the Table. I planned for my website redesign to launch in early September, but that hasn’t happened yet—maybe in October?

What I didn’t plan for was my publisher releasing Bayou Brides on October 4th.

It’s a good problem to have. But a challenge nonetheless. Making sure all my spinning plates in the air keep spinning from the last week of September through the first weekend in December will take a bit of work.

And as I move from one task to another to keep all these plates spinning, my husband shakes his head. Sadly, there isn’t a pill for the “Yes” disease.

It seems parts of me show up in my characters. In Bayou Brides, Nola Dutrey has a bit of a “Yes” disease. She works three jobs and facilitates a community band supported by charitable donations. She’s got a lot of spinning, and when she meets Rex Arceneau, he puts a whole new spin on life. And like me, she didn’t see it coming!

Bayou Brides’ tagline is Music is the heartbeat of love. The paragraph below is from the Amazon blurb. 

Nola Dutrey is as dedicated to her jazz singing career as she is to her kids’ community band in New Orleans. When she meets her best friend’s brother, her heart beats with a newfound passion. But falling in love with someone whose life is in New York has no future. Restaurateur and music enthusiast Rex Arceneau is in town to settle his father’s estate. He must get the financials into the black before handing over the family restaurant to his sister. To reduce expenses—the weekend singer must go. However, he meets Nola, and their connection sizzles. When he hears her sing, he’s hooked. Nola’s torn between powerful attraction and life in New Orleans. Rex is determined to use music as a secret weapon to entice Nola north. Will she ever be a bride at Fleur de Lis or will life’s dissonant notes ruin their harmony and once-in-a-lifetime love?

And you can get your copy at:

Amazon: Print Book:


Places to connect with Linda:
Twitter: @LJWriter
Amazon author page:

Thank you so much, Linda.

See you at the end of the month,


Remotely Controlled

buzz 1CONTROL—everybody wants it. My husband, God love him, is a little bit of a control freak (she said nicely and with love), but in a good-hearted way. Me, I might be borderline, but hey, I know what I want and I usually want it right away. 🙂 My sweet dog, Bella, is even on that spectrum – she is maybe more of a manipulator than control freak though. But, the cat, my handsome Russian Blue, Buzz, – he’s in control. This main man pretty much runs the show.

There’s all kinds of control—birth, appetite, acne, pest, gun, and self, to name a few. But the word “control,” well, sometimes that can get sticky. We all know that when control becomes forceful it can become a dangerous thing. That’s another subject for another blog.

Speaking for myself, the older I get, I strive to lesson control or at least try to stop hurricaneworrying that I’ve already lost it in so many aspects of my life. I’ve accepted that there are way too many things of which I have absolutely no control. Let’s see – hurricanes, storm surges, tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, summers that are too hot, winters that are too cold, oh and did I say, hurricanes?

So if I pretend I’ve got a nice, shiny, new black remote control for life in general, what would I put on those all important buttons? Mine would have to a multi-colored buttons. A red one for peaceful solutions to our country’s problems; another one for the world. Green for patience. Blue for empathy. The purple one would make me do the right thing even if I hesitate or have doubts. A yellow one would cure diseases that take away our loved ones too soon. The extensive list would make my remote control too heavy to carry, and it certainly wouldn’t fit on my coffee table.

How about you? What buttons would be on yours?

remote controlToday, my own personal remote is not so complicated.

  1. I’d push TOOLS. It would immediately heal my post-surgery shoulder. It’s taking way too long, and I have things to do, hair to blow dry myself, tall shelves to reach, books to write, etc.
  2. Next, the button that says CANCEL would convince my husband to retire (that’s wishful thinking).
  3. The ENTER button would allow me to complete this post today. (I think I can handle that one.)
  4. And, lastly, I’d press PLAY so I could eat a hot fudge sundae with real vanilla ice cream, and a warm and gooey chocolate brownie. Okay, I went way off track here a little. I can’t even get that luscious dessert near my mouth for I’m Dairy, Gluten and a whole lot of other Free’s.

I do consider myself a strong woman. I try not to dwell on regrets of the past anymore, but I love to wallow in the bliss of the todays that I’m given, and I pray and hope for lots more tomorrows. So if you’re anything like me, you sit back and sometimes (I said sometimes) hand over the imaginary remote control. You might do it with a smirk, a whimper or a frown, but you do it anyway. What does that girl say in the song from the movie, Frozen? “Let it go . . . .”

In my newest novel, two women friends think their lives are set until one of them opens a old can of worms forcing life to spin out of control for both women. There’s that CONTROL word again.

In October, we’ll see what’s on the horizon for Guest Blogger, Author, Linda Joyce.

Thanks for stopping by,


A Handy Lesson and Jena C. Henry

Sorry I’ve been away for a few months, but I’m back now. Back from shoulder surgery. In fact, I have just begun typing with both hands. My right hand has been out of commission due to the cradle sling the surgeon made me wear for six weeks.

One seems to appreciate all the things your dominant hand did for you before its use was taken away. Like, for instance, brushing your teeth, eating with a fork, swiping your phone screen, etc. etc. But, that’s nothing compared to someone who has no use of their hands or doesn’t even have hands.flower-flowers-small-flowers-white-161561

Believe me, I’ve done the appropriate amount of complaining during my recuperation. You can ask my husband. 🙂 But when I attended my first “big” outing the other night to hear him and his trio play, I quickly became humbled.

She sat at the bar, enjoying the jazz, blonde and attractive, laughing loudly with her friend. Her back was to me, but I couldn’t help but notice the fortyish woman. Not because she looked odd, but because she didn’t. The fact was–she had no hands. The kicker was she still managed to drink her cocktail, wipe her mouth with a napkin, even reach into her purse and retrieve her wallet so she could pay the bartender.

When I had the sling on my right arm, at least I had one decent workable hand and would soon have the use of both. Needless to say, from what I saw, that strong woman did not consider herself as disabled. My assumption was that she might have been a Veteran, because when she arose, she also walked as if on artificial limbs. I’ll never know her story, but for a brief moment, I was blessed with a glimpse of her strength.

Just one of life’s little lessons on how to put one’s predicament into the proper perspective.

Now. . . I’d like to introduce my guest author, Jena C. Henry.

JenaJena C. Henry is an active, high energy gal who is a wife, mother, non-profit volunteer and bon vivant. She created the book series, The Golden Age of Charli, to encourage, entertain and share her joy of living and laughing. She holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Akron School of Law. Now retired, she and her husband, Alan, live in tropical Ohio where they enjoy their two adult children and darling dog. In addition to her writing, she presents writing workshops to help creatives achieve their dreams of writing a book and publishing it. She reviews books for and hosts book tours and promotions on her website.

A little about her book series – The Golden Age of Charli

Charlotte McAntic spent her thirties, forties and even fifties in peace and harmony aligning her marriage, mortgage, careers and children. As she stumbles into a new phase of life—also known as the Golden Years—Charli cannot help but wonder where the gold and her husband, Pud, are hiding. In Book 1 of this humorous series, a high-energy wife and her solid guy must learn to adjust to a new chapter in their lives and find their way back into each other’s hearts after their retirement begins with a jolt. Book 2 continues the delightful tale of the energetic, positive and friendly McAntics as they cruise through their retirement years and discover the consequences of too much of a good thing. By Book 3, empty nester Charli is left to recalculate her path to happiness after she and her husband both discover that their golden years are full of more surprises and calamities.


A sunny day, saddle shoes, a group of bubbly kids on a school playground. Do you remember jumping rope during recess? Two kids twirled the long clothesline rope as the girl who was poised to jump in held her arms chest high and bobbed to the beat of the swishing rope.

As she bounced into place and her pigtails swayed, we chanted:

Billy and Susie sittin’ in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes marriage,
Then comes Susie pushing the baby carriage.

Thanks to the playground, I acquired my roadmap for life in the third grade. Like the directions on a GPS, I followed the jingle from kissing to marriage to pushing the baby carriage. The road was straight, wide open, no chance I could get lost.

And that’s how life unfolded for me. What about you? I enjoyed it all (except the road trip is going by too fast.)

But what’s next? The grade school jumping jingle stopped at the Baby Carriage stage. I don’t recall any jump rope jingles about R-E-T-I-R-E-M-E-N-T. What is Retirement all about?

I have been called Hon, Mom, Co-worker. But now in this new phase of life, I don’t want to be called old. I want my leap into retirement to be thrilling. I want to thrive! I’m sure you do, too.


Let’s recalculate our journey and take a step back in time. My family spends the summers on Lake Erie. Near our vacation place is a piece of history–The Keeper’s House.

I visited the small, sturdy stone house on a muggy, summer afternoon. I was greeted by a retired couple who told me stories of life by the lake in the early 1800’s. After my visit, I did more research and learned that some of the information I was told was not historically verifiable, but it’s still a good story.

The story begins with Benajah Wolcott. He was hired to survey the land in western Ohio, now known as Marblehead, Ohio, and make plans for a lighthouse. This area was part of The Firelands, which was land set aside by the Connecticut legislature for the Sufferers, Connecticut families whose homes were burned by Loyalists and British troops during the last days of the Revolutionary War.

Interesting, right? So, good old Benajah surveyed the land, built a road, set up his log cabin and sent for his wife and family. The family traveled by sleigh from Connecticut to Cleveland and then by wagon to The Firelands. Of course, they did.

The Wolcott family settled in to their life in the wilderness. Then in 1812, Ft. Detroit was surrendered to the British so the family retreated to the Cleveland area. While they were gone, a native tribe destroyed everything.

And I think applying for Social Security is tough! But Benajah decided to return to his land in western Ohio and start over. His first wife died and when he proposed to another settler woman, she said she wouldn’t marry him unless he built her a proper Connecticut home. She wanted living rooms, bedrooms with doors, stone walls and windows. No flip or flop fixer upper!

So, he did, and this is the house I visited. But the ups and downs of life continued for the Wolcott family. Benajah became the lighthouse keeper until he died from cholera. Then his wife became the lighthouse keeper!

So here I am almost 200 years later. I am not beset by war or cholera. I will try to be like Benajah’s wife. As long as I have a snug home, with windows and bedroom doors, I will continue to be happy through it all!

What do you think? Is retirement, or really any life change, a time for freedom or fear? Will you embrace new experiences and play again with joy on a sunny day, or will you sit on your front porch and watch others drive down the road of life? It’s time to write the next verse to the skipping song and jump into retirement and life.

Many thanks to Jody Herpin for inviting me to her lovely website to enjoy her southern hospitality.

Jena's books etc

Thank you, Jena.

See everyone next month,


Perspective – The Spice of Life

FlagHappy Memorial Day! Please take time to honor all our Veterans who died for our country and the freedoms we enjoy today!!

I just returned from a great vacation. Now, I have visited California twice before in my lifetime. The first time was the summer after my sophomore year in high school. My mother had the bright idea that separating me from my steady boyfriend might possibly lead to a grass is greener perspective on my part. She sent me to visit my aunt and uncle in Laguna Beach for two weeks. However, her plan backfired for as we all know, absence makes the heart, etc. etc. That boy later became my first husband and the father of my two children.

Eight years ago, I travelled west and hopped on a plane to The Golden State. A surprise birthday present from my son and daughter-in-law, the trip allowed me to reconnect with my brother’s grown kids whom I hadn’t seen in years.

This May 2017 vacation with my husband, Mike, was a ten-day journey which began in gorgeous San Diego where he had lived most of his life. His gracious cousins threw us a party where I mingled with his relatives and met Mike’s uncle, the last living one in his family. Everyone opened their arms to this southern girl and made me feel at home.

rockybeachFor the next nine days, Mike and I drove up the magnificent Pacific Coast Highway making stops to visit friends along the way. We ended our tour with two days in San Francisco before we ventured to Sacramento where we had lunch with more friends and dinner with relatives before we caught a flight out the following day back to Georgia.

Of course, I can’t say enough about the amazing scenery. And you know what the song says, “It Never Rains in Southern California…” And the weather failed to disappoint as we meandered through beach towns, gazed out over smooth and rocky beaches, observed the tropical flowers and plants of the coastal area, and devoured good food. To our right lay the mountains; to the left, the blue of the Pacific Ocean. As we headed north, the wind at the shoreline became chilly as were the nights, but purchasing warm hoodies in Cambria quickly took care of that issue.

trees1Mike’s role as chauffeur allowed me to accept the job of voyeur. Along the route, I began to notice the trees. As my husband steered farther north, the trees grew taller. Never have I seen such unusual shapes and shades of green. I, being the tree lover that I am, stood in awe of the variety, the differences and the beauty.

One can admire the uniqueness in people in the same fashion. As a creative trees4woman and writer, I love the variations on our exteriors. Yes, we are all the same in our basic feelings, wants and needs, but it’s the differences that appeal to me. The distinctions, whether it be facial features, body shapes and sizes, the wearing of old, mismatched clothes or haute couture, melodious or gruff voices, colloquial accents or even mannerisms. It’s what makes life colorful.

In my opinion, same is boring; diversity is interesting—whether it’s the weary eyes of a weathered old man pan handling near the bus stop in San Francisco, the toothless smile of a skinny red-headed child in a restaurant in Santa Barbara, or the contemplative expression pasted on the lovely face of the African American woman who sat across from me on the airport shuttle bus. Just like the trees, the people intrigued me. I took plenty of pictures of the landscape but because I didn’t want to get sued, I had to be satisfied with engraving people’s images in my mind and making notes on the notebook I kept in my purse.

I apologize for I AM a people watcher. Always have been. I use those different faces, those uniquely beautiful people, as characters in my manuscripts adding personality traits, likes and dislikes, family situations and circumstances to create my make-believe entities.

me vacaAnd, by the way, not only was I blessed to be entertained by the beauty of the scenery and the interesting people, I’m positive that I was able to amuse the locals many times with my loud cackling laughter and my southern-fried accent peppered with an occasional “y’all” thrown in for good measure.

Thanks for reading my blog!!

See you in June!


Talkin’ Mothers & Welcome, Erin Bartels

happy-mothers-dayWith Mother’s Day approaching, we spotlight our mothers whether they are still living or have passed on, and remember fondly how these women have impacted our lives. My mother who was a unique yet troubled woman, taught me life lessons I will never forget.  I, being a mother myself, can only hope that I’ve been able to fool my grown children into thinking I’ve passed on some of my positive qualities. (Fingers crossed)

But in my humble opinion, I honestly think most women represent motherhood. It doesn’t matter whether they’ve given birth or adopted a child or not.

One definition of motherhood is “the quality or the spirit of a mother.” Well, I firmly believe that we, as strong women, all have that spirit within us. I have to brag on my daughter here. She has not birthed an offspring so to speak, but she exceptionally defines the term motherhood. She is a teacher, which by the way, I feel is the hardest job on the planet. She not only educates kids (in her case, teenagers), but nurtures them, gives them guidance, and sets a positive example. She mothers her students along with her nieces and nephews and her friends’ children. And, of course, she views her much-loved pets as her babies. I count her among the strong women I’ve known throughout my life who possess the innate virtues of motherhood.

While writing notes on this subject, I recalled a special woman from my childhood named Margie who was born in the Bahamas and had the most melodious British accent. She helped my mother by doing some light housecleaning but her first priority was to take care of me–apparently, at a young age, I was a handful. A strong, proud woman, she came from a difficult background and lost her husband in her early twenties. Margie had no children of her own, but she sure knew how to take care of me. I loved this woman who had a gentle nature but took no nonsense from a feisty five-year old. She always smelled of lilacs, and her eyes twinkled when she smiled. “Now, little one,” she’d say, “go to sleep so the angels can watch over you.” I cried buckets of tears when my family moved away from Miami and I had to leave my second mother behind.

Don’t you know scads of women who fit this bill? So raise your glass to all strong women! Happy Mother’s Day!

Erin - BlueHair[1960]Now, let me welcome my guest blogger, ERIN BARTELS. Erin is a copywriter and freelance editor by day and a novelist by night. Her first novel, The Bone Garden, is currently on submission and her second, I Hold the Wind, was a finalist in the 2015 Rising Star Contest from the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Her short story “This Elegant Ruin” was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post 2014 Great American Fiction Contest. She is also the features editor for and a regular contributor to WFWA’s quarterly newsletter, Write On.

GetImageCherishing the Season You’re In

Midwesterners spend a lot of time pining. During the long, cold, gray winter, we ache for warm, colorful spring. During the hot and humid summers, we long for crisp fall. Our favorite seasons are the transitional ones, the fleeting ones, the ones in which the landscape seems to change daily—wave after wave of flowers bloom, tree after tree turns fiery orange, red, or yellow and sends its leaves raining gently down. Things are moving, always moving.

When we focus on the season to come rather than the season we’re in, we run the very real risk of constant discontent. Midwesterners are experts at discontent. I’ve never known anyone to complain about the weather more than my fellow Michiganders. It’s too hot, too cold, too rainy, too cloudy, too snowy, too humid. And yet, every season is beautiful in its own way and its own time.

In the same way, every season in a writer’s career has the potential to be beautiful.

When we are just starting out, just testing the waters of this magnificent, crazy idea of ours—Maybe I could be a writer!—every dream is ours. We’re blissfully ignorant of the work that will be involved, the years of toil and rejection, toil and rejection. The future is wide open. And though we may feel a little off-balance and unprepared, our potential is, at this moment, endless. Cherish that.

When we’ve been at it for a while, maybe on our second or third manuscript, finding our tribe, querying agents, entering contests, we have the benefit of some experience, some hard-won wisdom, some newly thickened skin. We can reach back and help those a few steps behind. We can look up and feel inspired by those a few steps ahead. We’re better writers than we were at first, even if we’re still finding our way. Cherish that.

When we’ve finally gotten past the first round of gatekeepers and have an agent, someone working on our behalf to get our stories to the right editor at the right publishing house, a part of us can relax. We have an advocate. Someone sees something in us, in our work, that is worth fighting for. Cherish that.

Erin's bookWhen we get the news—Someone wants to publish my book, and they’re going to PAY me for it!—and that first flush of excitement is swiftly replaced with a rush of anxiety—What if no one buys it? What if I’m awkward in interviews? What if no one shows up to my book-signing?—we can calm ourselves with the knowledge that we have a community of writers who are behind us 100% and will answer our questions and quell our fears. They’ll help us get through this. Cherish that.

We’re all eager to move our writing careers forward. But don’t forget to love the season you’re in right now. Because it will soon pass away . . . and you may find yourself missing it when it’s gone.

You can find Erin at the following:

Facebook: @ErinBartelsAuthor
Twitter: @ErinLBartels
Instagram: @erinbartelswrites

Thank you all for reading my blog. I’ll see you at the end of May.


I Choose, You Choose . . .

Free-clipart-april-flowers-clipartApril is such a great month and quite eventful! This year, there was Easter, and of course, my birthday and coming up, my wedding anniversary. How cool is that!! We can also include Professional Baseball opening days (like the Braves in their new stadium). On the other side of the coin, there’s Income Tax Day and a few disastrous historical events I won’t mention here. But, to me, personally, April rocks!

I woke up this morning thinking about how we, as human beings, are free to pick and choose what we like and dislike. If we are blessed to live in a free society, then we not only choose what we like, but are able to obtain it, whether it’s the kind of job we want, the kind of food we like, or clothes, etc. Even my sweet dog, Bella, who thinks she’s a human, chooses whether or not to eat her food, obey her “Daddy” or me, sleep or lounge in the sunshine in the backyard or take a nap on her back with her head on a bed pillow (like I said–human). It’s a great blessing to be able to choose – to have the ability to pick. Bella

I chose my husband. We’ll be married three years on April 26th!! Together we chose where we live, how our home is decorated (well, mostly me), and what flowers to plant in the yard. As a child, he chose to be a musician, a pianist. Yes, he is talented, but he could have ignored his talent and chosen another profession. In my younger days, I simply chose to work at jobs that helped pay the bills eventually finding situations that motivated me to take on additional responsibility. However, not until the last ten years, did I choose to take the proverbial bull by the horns and make writing my chosen profession. I choose to do what I do. I am blessed to be able to make it my full-time career.

On that note, I would like to introduce another writer who chose to accept my invitation to be a guest blogger for me. Please welcome Julia Mills (pen name, Julia Victorian). Julia lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three kids, and one rambunctious Labrador retriever. She dreams of one day moving to Paris, France or owning a vacation home in Hawaii.


I have a little confession to make. I am not a Southerner. However, I do live south of San Francisco. Does that count?

So, I’m a writer. That still feels funny to say. Even stranger to have printed on my business cards. And though I’m not published yet, I’ve decided to own it.


Julia MillsBUT. I wasn’t always a writer. I started off as a reader. When I was a child, I took stacks and stacks of books home from our local library: I read all the time, even under my bed covers at night with a flashlight – Harry the Dirty Dog, Frog and Toad, A Wrinkle in Time, and Chronicles of Narnia.

As I turned into a teenager, I had a fascination with books and magazines and art. If I wasn’t taking art classes, I was writing. Writing in journals, writing poetry. Except writing wasn’t something I saw as a potential career so I studied marketing and worked at a winery in California. I got married, had three kids, and my life was centered on family.


A few years ago when my youngest child entered kindergarten, I was supposed to go back to work. That was my agreement with my husband. I’d be with adults – Hurray! No more handling temper tantrums – Hurray!


The day I dropped my daughter off at school, I came home and realized I didn’t want to go back to work. I wanted to write. My husband I made a new agreement. One year to write a novel. Then I’d go back to work.

I wrote a novel and pitched the manuscript to a publisher who asked to read it. I thought it was a romance until she kindly explained why it wasn’t. Lo and behold, I’ve been writing women’s fiction. Who knew! And sadly, she didn’t represent women’s fiction.

Once I understood what exactly I was writing, I joined the Women’s Fiction Writers Association where I’ve met so many wonderful, supportive writers.

Now you might be asking, what happened to that manuscript? This is what writers call, sitting in the drawer (meaning it actually resides on my computer’s hard drive) Someday, I’ll take it out and rewrite it.

Second manuscript. Sits on my hard drive. Also for another day.

Third manuscript – It has two main characters, written in the point of views of a 30-year-old attorney living in Manhattan and her grandmother who owns a vineyard and winery in Napa Valley. It follows three generations of women in the same family who are estranged from one another. There’s also a dash of romance. This is the one I believe will take flight in the world.

If you want to see what I’m up to or find out when one of these manuscripts will be published, follow me online. My website is From there you can link to me on Facebook and Twitter. And on Pinterest, you’ll see pictures I’ve pinned that correspond to my stories.

You can find Julia on the following:

Twitter:    @JuliavMills

Thank you, Julia. So glad you’ve chosen to be a Women’s Fiction writer like myself.

And, by the way, thank you all for taking the time to “CHOOSE” to view my blog.

See you all in May!!


For the Love of It!!

daffodilIn my neck of the woods, nature has truly sprung! AAH CHOO! Yes, and there’s the green gunk all over the car. In the South, we deal with it. We don’t always embrace it, but we deal. Flowers are blooming, trees are greening. I’m blossoming, too—are you?

To blossom means to bud, to flower, to bloom. It also means to mature, progress, evolve, to flourish, thrive, prosper and develop in a promising or healthy way, according to the Internet Dictionary. I may not be a “Spring Chicken” but I’m still blossoming. The other day, I was complaining to my brother about another agent rejection letter I had received, when he asked me a poignant question. “Have you improved?” My answer was an adamant “Yes, I believe so.” That made me think.

do what uloveIt took me several years to write my first book, Weather Permitting, but only one year to write my second, Relative Consequences. I’m sure it is better than the first. I learned by doing, by starting over, by scratching out, rewriting, editing, and doing it over again. I evolved into a more knowledgeable writer and I continue to do so. So, whether or not an agent or publisher decides to represent me or I choose to publish my book myself, I know in my heart that my writing has matured, grown, and yes, blossomed.

Now, that being said, I also know I have a lot more blossoming in my future. There’s a lot more growing, thriving and flourishing to do for WRITING IS MY PASSION. I love to sit at my laptop and go crazy with an idea, a story, or a concept. I love to create.

Do you have a passion? A love or desire to accomplish something, to create something, to help others? A hobby you can’t put down? Oh, you must. No matter how young or old you are, it’s never too late to find it. Once you do, you grow with it, you flower, you bloom. You learn how to do it better—just by experiencing it. You might study about it or read about it, but eventually you fall in love with YOUR PASSION.

th (4)How wonderful to have your job, your work, be your passion. My husband is a pianist and music is his passion. He is blessed. I’ve known several people who worked at a profession they weren’t too happy with their entire lives and never made time for any kind of hobby. When they retired, they found they were bored and had nothing to keep them “alive.” They had never found their passion. I’d say, if you don’t love your job and you can’t do anything about it, then carve out time to find what gets you cookin’ !! Once you do, don’t let it go!! 

So I plan on keeping on keeping on. Book Number 3 is in the works.

Stay tuned. In two weeks, I will welcome guest blogger, Julia Mills.


March Madness

basketballMarch is National Women’s History Month. Did you know that out of the 13 honorees in 2017 under the Theme of Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business, 5 of these women are from the southern states of North Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Mississippi? Now these are some Strong Southern Women.

When I think of March, I think of basketball – The ACC Tournament and the Final Four Championship. It’s one of those months that are hard to define. It’s a fickle, temperamental time of year. So far in this crazy month, we, the folks who live in Georgia, have received a large dose of spring. Daffodils sprouting everywhere earlier than usual, trees budding, and even some flip-flop weather. Well, today Mother Nature is snickering. It’s so cold outside, you’d think it was mid-January.

So what is a southern girl to do? Well, in my case, I stay inside and send out queries in the ongoing search for an agent. This go round is for my second novel, Relative Consequences. I put my first book, Weather Permitting, through another set of edits and it now sits simmering on the shelf. I’ll get back to it this summer. Queries are nerve racking. You might hear back from the agent you are writing to, or maybe not. From what I understand though, agents aren’t fickle at all. They know what they want. The term I keep seeing is “subjective.” Literary agencies are subjective and each agent has a personal list of what he or she is searching for and accepts. It’s up to the author to send her query to the right agent. Then, the proverbial ball (see how clever – using a basketball metaphor here) is in their court the moment you hit the SEND button on your email. Then you wait. Fingers crossed.

View More:, on with the show . . . I’d like to welcome my guest blogger for this month. Lauren Koffler Denton. Born and raised in Mobile, Alabama, Lauren now lives with her husband and two daughters in Homewood, just outside Birmingham. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

Turning A Dream into Reality

I’ve always been a reader, but I haven’t always been a writer. At least, not of fiction. If you count the trunk of journals in my garage as evidence, then I’ve been a writer since I bought my first diary (pink and turquoise with a puffy cover) at the mall when I was about eight years old. But I didn’t begin writing fiction until after college. My years of inhaling as many books as possible and picking up the pen to process my thoughts turned into a desire to tell stories to entertain, to encourage, and to connect. I distinctly remember sitting around with a group of friends soon after I moved to Birmingham and saying that my dream was to be a writer of books. Not only that, I wanted to see them on bookshelves—and not just the ones in my own home! The dream felt too big—too unattainable—but there it was for all to hear.

Well, not all. Just the 12 or so people gathered together that night. But I’d put words to the dream, and while I didn’t tell many people about it, the desire kept churning away in the back of my mind. People and settings and opening scenes kept tickling my brain at the most inopportune moments, so I began to write them down. I have the opening chapters of several overly wrought, cliché-laden stories burning a hole in a thumb-drive somewhere, but at least I was taking baby steps toward my goal. When my oldest daughter was about two, I got the idea for a story based around a horrific string of tornados that had ripped through Alabama just a couple months before. I pulled out a notebook and wrote the first scene as I saw it in my head. Over the next six months, I followed the story as it presented itself to me, and I finished it by Christmas. I was over the moon—I’d accomplished part of my dream! Now the only thing left was to get the thing published!

Many people call their first novel their “practice novel” and for good reason. I went through a round or two of edits on my own, then shipped the manuscript off to two writer friends, expecting pats on the back. What they came back with, however, was the necessary truth that it wasn’t near as good as I thought it was. Even more, it needed serious overhauling before I showed it to any agents. After some hand-wringing, I realized they were right and I put that book away.

Lauren Denton's book covrI still had the urge to tell stories though, to make people smile and laugh and maybe feel a little less alone. Slowly, another story began to take shape—this one with a rambling old B&B, an eccentric grandmother, and a charming woodworker. But this time all those fits and starts, the rough beginnings, and the completed (although not very good) novel gave me the perseverance and courage I needed to forge ahead with this one. Through a fantastic creative writing workshop, many months of revisions, and another author’s generous helping hand, my first (but really second) novel, The Hideaway, will be published April 11.

I’m not always the most determined girl. I necessarily don’t shy away from hard things, but if something is just too hard—if it seems doomed from the get-go—I may step back and let someone else take on that particular battle. I’m so glad I didn’t step back from this dream though, that I kept writing even when it seemed no one but my family and close friends would ever read The Hideaway. It’s enough for me to know that I persisted, that I didn’t give up when it felt too hard, but I also love that my two young daughters think it’s pretty cool that Mama will have books on the shelf in the library.

You can find Lauren on the following:


Thank you, Lauren. I can’t wait to read your book.

See y’all next time,


Tearing off the Tag

pillow-tagI was born in Savannah, Georgia. You just don’t get much more southern than that, right? As a child, I was expected to act a certain way. It was like I came out with one of tag like the one attached to a pillow (you know that says you’ll be prosecuted under the law if you yank it off). The tag read, “Be well-mannered, do what you’re told, know your place, stand by your man, and above all, drink plenty of sweet tea.”

I don’t think I quite fit the mold. As I absorbed myself in a little research, I found that most notable strong southern women whether past or present don’t either, maybe except for the manners part. I have to admit I bucked authority when I was young, determined to do things my way in spite of consequences, and to the dismay of my poor mother (God rest her prim and proper soul). I look back and have to admit I should have done a few things differently, but for the most part, I have no regrets.

southern_belle_1472As I write, I create characters who are far from perfect—southern women who don’t necessarily keep their pillow tag attached as they walk through life but eventually find their own strengths, who overcome the insecurities they attain in childhood, the ones they don’t like to talk about, the ones which haunt them unto adulthood. To me, this makes them strong. They don’t give up; they do what needs to be done. They take care of others, but they also make sure they take care of themselves.

In my second novel, Relative Consequences, the protagonist, Jessy, confronts her past and makes a decision that affects her life, her family and also, the lives of others. She makes the choice first out of anger, then she comes to the conclusion it’s the right thing to do. Her character is vulnerable yet strong.

I recently read a 2014 article in Signature Magazine (on online publication) about one of my favorite southern authors, Fannie Flagg. Now, there’s a remarkable southern woman who overcame an adversity and immersed herself in success doing what she loved to do. I hope someday I can meet her.

fannie-flaggFannie Flagg was born Patricia Neal in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama to working class parents. She is an actor as well as a writer and has always been someone I admire. As a child, she was told she couldn’t write and she was a terrible speller. Later in life, she was diagnosed with dyslexia. Through time she overcame her fear of making mistakes and in the 1970s began writing novels and continues to write today.

Some of her more famous works are Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café and her most recent, The Whole Town’s Talking, which was published in 2016. According to her biography from, “As a writer . . . this Birmingham, Alabama native found her voice as a chronicler of Southern Americana and life in its self-contained hamlets.” If you haven’t read any of her novels, please do. You won’t be disappointed in the words of this southern woman who in 2012 won the prestigious Harper Lee Award as Alabama’s Distinguished Writer of the Year.

fried-green-tomatoesHere’s just a couple of my favorite quotes from Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe:

“Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you
are two steps ahead.”

“Are you a politician or does lying run in your family?”

“It wasn’t death she was afraid of. It was this life of hers that
was beginning to remind her of that gray intensive care
waiting room.”

“There are magnificent beings on this earth, son, that are walking around posing as

smileyMy next blog will be posted around March 13. I will be hosting a guest blogger —
Author, Lauren Koffler Denton, another southern girl!!


See ya then!


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