Decline in Retail Stores

I began to write about this issue last week on my personal blog, but technology took over. (Kind of like a character does when you’re writing. LOL) But walking at Ridgmar Mall Monday, working on getting my steps, the emptiness just overcame me. I had to share my thoughts.

So Ridgmar was the first mall in Fort Worth. After Bob finished law school, we moved from Austin to Fort Worth for his job. I had been living in San Antonio and was used to having malls and shopping that way, so it was a huge adjustment and then a cause for great celebration when Ridgmar opened several years after we arrived. It was a fancy with large columns and had all the big stores: Nieman Marcus, Dillard’s, and Sanger Harris (turned into Foley’s into Macy’s.). I have many fond memories of shopping at Ridmar with my mother and my daughters.

Monday, I found a sadly broken down elderly woman whose clothes didn’t fit as well as they once did. So many, many stores empty and dark. Dillard’s wasn’t even open. The second floor of this store has been turned into an outlet facility with clothes crammed in so tightly, you can hardly make out what is what. The Dillard’s lower floor is more like before but about half has been shut off. You can tell from the picture the abbreviated hours the store is open. ☹


What first caught my attention was the Kay’s Jewelry store with nothing in it. It had stuff on Saturday when I walked. I did notice a couple of counters that looked a bit slim. But Monday, it was empty. The couple of workers were shutting it all down.IMG_2177

On the top floor is of what once was Macy’s. IMG_2180 It’s entirely closed. We now only have one Macy’s in Fort Worth at Hulen Mall. The top floor of that store has also been shrunk and turned into an outlet.

The Macy’s space at Ridgmar Mall  has been turned into a Storage Facility! Have you ever seen this done? At least it’s something in the space.


What the Mall has done well to keep itself going is become super kid friendly. I didn’t get a picture of the Aquarium which is on the bottom floor and know from personal experience taking a granddaughter there is quite good


We hear talk about the loss of manufacturing jobs and very little about the loss of retail jobs. And I think it’s the internet. We can buy any and everything on-line. We had a neighborhood coffee on Saturday, and I loved the coffee cups, which could be recycled, that the hostess used. I asked her where she bought them. Her response was Amazon.

Full disclosure here, but I’m sure you know, I sell my books on Amazon as well B & N, KOBO, and iTunes. So, I’m partly responsible for the demise of book-stores. (I don’t sell that many books, so I’m not responsible by myself, but still you get my point.)

What kinds of jobs are the folks who’ve held the retail jobs going to get?

So that’s what I’m worrying over these days. Thoughts? Love to hear from you.

(The flowers at the top I did purchase at a regular store. :))

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about HALLOWEEN/SPOOKY/SCARY #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about a HALLOWEEN/SPOOKY/SCARY

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

Overreacting here, to say the least. Everyone who’d been involved with the scary stuff in Texas was dead or in prison. Nevertheless, she shuffled toward the front of the house, her hand securely grasping a rolling pin.

Marsha West

“Nate fought the man until a shot went off. It was violent and scary. I almost fainted.” Nate looked away, knowng Sarah’s attempt to play the frightened girl card would only work if he didn’t laugh.

Sharon Wray

When the eerie suspicion I resembled a scary dame with Big Texas hair from the television show, “Dallas,” I turned my head to avoid the mirror.

Vicki Batman

María couldn’t breathe. The heat was worse than the pitch black, and that was scary enough. She and the others were squeezed into the back of the semi-trailer like tuna packed into a can.

Jacquie Biggar

And I’ll be honest—what you were telling me about some Confederate soldier, with you being new here, from the city and all . . . well, these big old houses can be spooky. There’s a lot of history in them.”

Claire Gem

Was it good or back luck to be opening my office on Halloween?

Joanne Guidoccio

Loving someone else was scary and dangerous. And in Katrina’s case, it had proven to be life-threatening.

Jeannie Hall
Old Friends, New Lovers (work in progress)

Two long rows of them—everything from brightly-painted single engines and sexy little jets to spooky-looking black military helicopters.

Kathryn Jane

She loved the challenge to engage those inquisitive minds. But to do that she’d need to add in a little fun—maybe a Halloween party for her class base on the history of the holiday.

Marian Lanouette
A Stone Cold Christmas (work in progress)















On Navigating the Murky Middle

By Joanne Guidoccio

I love beginnings—in life and on the page. Anything and everything is possible whenever a blank slate appears before me. That momentum can last for days, weeks, months, and sometimes even longer.

At least, that’s what I like to think whenever I begin a new writing project.

A linear pantser, I write brief character sketches, plot the first three chapters and the last, and then let the words flow. At some point, usually around Page 80, I encounter the murky middle, that nebulous place where I find it difficult to continue or sustain the tension of the novel. In short, I’m lost with no clear trail or direction in sight.

In the early days of my writing career, I struggled to regain my motivation, wondering if I should abandon the novel. Thankfully, I have discovered three strategies that have lifted me out of the abyss.

Professional Development

During my teaching years, I would sign up for summer in-service at different universities throughout the province of Ontario. These courses would last anywhere from three days to four weeks. Afterward, I would feel refreshed and ready to tackle a new semester in the fall.

While experiencing my second prolonged drought, I searched for the right course/workshop that could propel me over the writing hump. Online courses offered through Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Savvy Authors, Women on Writing (WOW), and Ed2Go have worked best for me. Lasting anywhere from one to four weeks, these courses succeed in inspiring and motivating me to return to the page. The key is to complete all the recommended exercises and actively participate in discussions.


In Think, legal analyst and author Lisa Bloom urges us to select books that challenge our points of view. Her argument: Our brains need a varied diet of books to stay sharp.

An avid reader of mysteries and women’s fiction, I decided to explore historical fiction written by a male author. During a cold, blustery winter, I spent the entire month of February reading the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett.

The three tomes—Fall of Giants, Winter of the World, Edge of Eternity—follow dramatic events in the lives of five interrelated families (American, Russian, German, English, and Welsh) and sprawl over nearly 3,000 pages. After that month-long reading marathon, I was ready to return to the calmer, less complicated world of my WIP.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)

This is the Red Bull solution that has helped me avoid three murky middles. In 2016, 2017, and 2018,  I joined millions of authors worldwide and made the commitment to write 50K words during November.

Inspired and motivated by the online community and local meet-ups, I wrote at least 1,667 words each day and completed very rough first drafts of A Different Kind of Reunion, No More Secrets, and When It Comes Out of Nowhere. Whenever I encountered a roadblock, I typed INSERT CHAPTER and continued writing.

Any other tips to share?

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | Goodreads | Pinterest

Favorite Scary Movies Just in Time for Halloween!

So it’s almost Halloween and I’m trying to get into the mood by watching my favorite Halloween movies. Some are scary, some are silly, and some have nothing to do with Halloween but they’re just creepy. This isn’t a complete list, just some of my go-to October spooky viewings.

All of the synopses are courtesy of IMDB.

1. Halloween (the original 1978 movie)

Fifteen years after murdering his sister on Halloween night 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois to kill again.

I didn’t see this movie until years after it debuted on the big screen….on a night when I was in high school and I was babysitting!! It terrified me and is still one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen.

2. The Shining

A family heads to an isolated hotel for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father into violence, while his psychic son sees horrific forebodings from both past and future.

I loved this book so much that when the movie came out I was first in line at the movie theater. And it didn’t disappoint! Even though the movie left out parts of the book, and it was made so many years ago, it’s still a terrifying movie that’s worth watching with a bowl of popcorn and the lights out!

3. Rosemary’s Baby

A young couple moves in to an apartment only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins to control her life.

I found this movie to be even scarier than the book. It’s still, even all of these years later, one of the creepiest movies ever made. The seeming normalcy of the people involved make it that much scarier. And I love Mia Farrow’s authentic 1960s dresses!

4. Hocus Pocus

A curious youngster moves to Salem, where he struggles to fit in before awakening a trio of diabolical witches that were executed in the 17th century.

I just saw this movie recently and loved it. It’s fun and silly and a great movie to watch with the family.

5. The Haunting of Hill House

Flashing between past and present, a fractured family confronts haunting memories of their old home and the terrifying events that drove them from it.

Another book adaptation that I loved as much as the original short story. This Netflix mini-series is so good you need to make time to watch all of the episodes within a few days–you’re just not going to want anything to interrupt you until you’re finished. And this one you’ll need to keep the lights on. Yes, it’s that scary!

6. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

The centuries old vampire Count Dracula comes to England to seduce his barrister Jonathan Harker’s fiancée Mina Murray and inflict havoc in the foreign land.

This movie is a bit over-the-top with costumes and settings and plot, but I love this movie. It’s kind of steampunky yet still stays true to the original story.

7. The Birds

A wealthy San Francisco socialite pursues a potential boyfriend to a small Northern California town that slowly takes a turn for the bizarre when birds of all kinds suddenly begin to attack people.

I saw this Alfred Hitchcock movie in Halloween night when I was 12 and I don’t think I slept for six months. I was so terrified and it had nothing at all to do with Halloween. It didn’t even have a bad guy–it just had birds!! I still can’t watch this movie if I’m home alone. I have to be surrounded by my family and dog!

8. The Nightmare Before Christmas

Jack Skellington, king of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town, but his attempts to bring Christmas to his home causes confusion.

Such a cute, clever animated movie with a great story and even more wonderful music. A great family-friendly movie!

9. The Blair Witch Project

Three film students vanish after traveling into a Maryland forest to film a documentary on the local Blair Witch legend, leaving only their footage behind.

When I first saw this movie, I was astounded at how scared I was when it ended. At first I thought the moving camera was annoying but before I knew it I was so afraid I couldn’t leave the theater to use the restroom. I didn’t want to go anywhere alone! Now that I’m older, I don’t find it as scary–but it’s still super creepy and I can’t watch it alone.

10. The Witch

A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic, and possession.

I just saw this movie a few months ago (it was made in 2015) and I had to immediately rewatch it. It takes place during early colonial times in New England with authentic language that took time to understand. But once I realized what was going on, I was totally hooked. It’s a terrifying story that seems so real you can feel every character’s emotions. It’s definitely a movie that you’ll want  to rewatch and even study because there are so many layers to this compelling story.

11. Psycho (The 1960 Original)

A Phoenix secretary embezzles forty thousand dollars from her employer’s client, goes on the run, and checks into a remote motel run by a young man under the domination of his mother.

Another Alfred Hitchcock classic that is the standard by which all other horror movies must live up to.  A terrifying story with an ending that is still so disturbing and powerful that I can’t watch it alone or in the dark. It can still give me nightmares!

12. The Thing from another planet (the 1951 original)

Scientists and American Air Force officials fend off a bloodthirsty alien organism while at a remote arctic outpost.

This was my father’s favorite scary movie and we used to watch it together every Halloween once we got a VCR. It’s a bit corny but it’s still a great movie and another one for the family to watch together–as long as the kids aren’t too young.

13. Mary shelley’s Frankenstein

When the brilliant but unorthodox scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein rejects the artificial man that he has created, the Creature escapes and later swears revenge.

I’ve seen a number of Frankenstein movies, but this one is my favorite because it stays fairly close to the book. The costumes are beautiful and the acting is great. It’s not super scary but it is very, very compelling.

14. Young Frankenstein

An American grandson of the infamous scientist, struggling to prove that his grandfather was not as insane as people believe, is invited to Transylvania, where he discovers the process that reanimates a dead body.

One of my all-time favorite movies that never fails to make me laugh and cry at the same time. The humor is a bit “adult” but a fun movie to watch with teenagers!

Now I’d love to know about your favorite Halloween movies!

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Amazon bestselling Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

Her bestselling debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife. It’s available at:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | IndieBoundKobo|  Google | Books-a-Million | Audible

Her second book, ONE DARK WISH, a passionate redemption of Othello with a HEA, is about an ex-Green Beret who must give up the woman he loves in order to redeem his honor and save the life of his men. It’s available at: Amazon |  Barnes & Noble Books-a-Million | iBooks |  Google | Kobo |IndieBound | Audible

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about a COSTUME or DISGUISE #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about a COSTUME or DISGUISE

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

His admin sat guard over the office with military precision, straight back, blonde hair in a tight French twist, a tailored suit in royal blue, accented her blue eyes and perfect figure. Molly pulled at her own jacket.

Marian Lanouette
A Stone Cold Christmas (work in progress)

“I didn’t want to be right on their tail. Hard to disguise my official Sheriff’s Jeep.”

Marsha West

Etienne had inherited the Marigny dark eyes and sharp, beak-like nose that resembled a black crow plague mask. Or so he’d been told.

Sharon Wray

“I can’t believe it. You appear to be a good catch. Being helpful in a crisis and dressing well are excellent qualities.”

Vicki Batman

Would my mysterious nighttime visitor still be wearing his very convincing looking reenactment costume? Maybe it hadn’t been a dream after all . . .

Claire Gem

I wondered what disguise could possibly cover all those piercings but decided to focus on Michael. “What did she find out?”

Joanne Guidoccio

He couldn’t disguise the chaos swimming behind his eyes. Chaos and something else she couldn’t quite decipher.

Jeannie Hall
Old Friends, New Lovers (work in progress)

Was the strangeness of the man’s voice, in fact, a disguise?

Kathryn Jane















Terrible at Keeping Secrets

I don’t really have a BIG secret. However, this one is important to me (and hopefully, you!).

Last year, I decided on two new writing projects. Oh my, how the work tied me in knots. I was still working on my third romantic comedy mystery.  I’ve plowed through and turned it in. I’m working on those edits now.

In July, I gathered three short stories into a collection entitled Sommerville days. All of my stories take place in Sommerville. Or the characters reside in Sommerville. I updated and fixed, had a great cover made–voila! I’m thrilled those are available.

Then I started working on Sommerville holidays. Over the years, I’ve written many Christmas/holiday stories. I went back to the cover designer and we worked on this:

Sommerville Holidays Ebook Cover 1600x2400

Here’s a bit about the stories:

Hopes and wishes and holiday kisses…Sommerville holidays.

Holiday Disaster: Days before Christmas, a librarian experiences plumbing issues and a Mr. Maintenance Man who isn’t nearly as jolly as Santa Claus.

The Littlest Angel: Two people. One ornament for the tree. Can a twosome find common ground and discover the true meaning of Christmas?

Holiday Handbag Extravaganza: Christmas Countdown is on! A hunk-a-licious customer pesters a boutique owner to locate a vintage handbag for his mother. Too bad the wedge between them is his sister, the meanest girl in town.

THREE WEEKS TO GO! Stay tuned here, on Amazon, or at my website  for

Sommerville holidays-live!

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about LAW #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about LAW

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

“Law enforcement is going over footage from highway cams, truck stops, satellites, toll booths, park entrances, and private ranches.

Kathryn Jane

Cop shows and other law enforcement shows were produced for entertainment, not accuracy. Most law enforcements officials don’t correct the inaccuracies on purpose.

Marian Lanouette

She moved forward to the massive wood door, her hand frozen on the door handle when the etched writing came into view.

Max Mills, Attorney at Law.

Shutter  (work in progress)

“Between my father and George, they had approximately seventy years in the law. If I didn’t get Michelle to go over the contract with a magnifying glass, they’d both come back to haunt me.”

Marsha West

“Civilian operation,” Pete said. “No grenades.” Ty scowled. “Says who?” “The law.”

Sharon Wray

My gut went uh-oh. Is this good or bad?

Vicki Batman

There was a possibility one of them could be hurt, maybe even seriously. They were trained for these kinds of scenarios, knew what to do, how to react, but, given Murphy’s Law, Connor wasn’t surprised she was worried.

Jacquie Biggar

It didn’t take me long to discover, via a quick Google search, that sellers were required by law to disclose any documented “ghoulish activity.”

Claire Gem

Sofia gasped. “You’re out of line, Melly Grace. You don’t have a license to practice law here in Canada. So back off. ”

Joanne Guidoccio

Benji started to follow her but hesitated, looking a bit green. What was that about? “Is there some law against you getting on an elevator with me?”

Jeannie Hall
Old Friends, New Lovers (work in progress)















Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about ATTORNEY #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about ATTORNEY

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.

While she’d been at an attorney’s behest nearly all her adult life, she’d never felt like a collection agent before. Or worse, a loan shark.

Jeannie Hall
Old Friends, New Lovers (work in progress)

But once Tanner’s affairs were finalized, and his attorney signed off on everything, Kate would have to make changes, drastic changes.

Kathryn Jane

“You’ll have a seat and place those papers back on the desk. And together we’ll wait for your attorney.”

Marian Lanouette

“You do realize I’ve been practicing for over fifteen years, right?”

He didn’t respond. It didn’t matter. She always had to work harder to convince him she was a competent, capable attorney.

A Twisted Fate (work in progress)

“Gary will have my head if I don’t talk with him first. So, will my attorney. Let me mull over these numbers for a week or so at least.”

Marsha West

Nate opened the worn paperback and studied the truly awful topographic drawing only a lawyer could make.

Sharon Wray

“Daniel called. There’s been some trouble at Yahoo.” No! Not the restaurant.

Vicki Batman

What was her normal going to be now that her husband was dead and her assets frozen? It was unlikely the lawyers would look favorably upon the dislodged wife of a former hustler.

Jacquie Biggar

Over the next half-hour, Bitsy explained the original plantation house, owned by a wealthy attorney from Birmingham, was destroyed during Wilson’s Raid during the final months of the Civil War.

Claire Gem

“There is no need for any attorney or any meeting with you.” I said, lifting my chin defiantly. “I don’t know what cozy little arrangement you have with the police department, but I will not be giving you any information.”

Joanne Guidoccio