Memorial Day and Loss and Celebration

The US just celebrated Memorial Day, a day we stop and give thanks to all those in the military who lost their lives in service to the country. It was not a normal celebration because of Covid 19 with some places still in a stay-at-home mode and others in various stages of opening up.


As we get into tiffs with each other and with various levels of government, we need to remember that people gave their lives so we can have these arguments. Made me mad to see the person telling off the Costco guy who was trying to enforce the company’s rules on only entering if you’re wearing a mask. He said, I’m free and you can’t make me wear a mask. Well, that’s certainly true, but then Costco doesn’t have to let you in. People died, sir, for your freedom to behave that way.

The New York Times on Sunday had the headline that the US approaches 100,000 people dead from Covid 19 or Covid 19-related issues. And then they took expensive space to list 1000 names. Wow. I’d like you to think of the fact that most of those people had at least one someone else who if didn’t care about them, knew them. Often, that number was way higher. So, the number of those affected in someway by the losses??? My math doesn’t work well, but I’m thinking nearing a half million affected by those deaths. Many of whom are the first responders working so hard to save everyone. God bless each of you and help you deal with the massiveness of this tragedy.

IMG_2726What about the other celebrations that we’d normally have during this time? Birthdays, anniversaries, high school and college graduations all have been altered. On our Zoom church service on Sunday, a mom shared how the snow cone truck had come to her neighborhood for her child’s 6th birthday. My daughter and SIL celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, not in Hawaii as planned, but by going to the Mexican restaurant where they’d had their rehearsal dinner sitting out on their beautiful patio, with six feet or more separating tables. IMG_2737

In stead of doing a fun book signing at one of many places we’ve gone in the past, Wednesday I’ll be taking part in a Virtual Book Tour on Facebook. I’m with four other authors jointly doing a bit over an hour. We’ll each have our 12 minutes of fame. 🙂 It won’t be the same, but it’s something, and I’m grateful to the Book Festival Network for setting this up. I hope you have a few minutes and can stop by. I don’t know how it’s going to work exactly, but it will be LIVE. I’ll probably read from one of my books for part of that time. Another chance for me to learn something new. One of the better things about being an author.

Virtual signs Fiction Authors Wed_Page_3

Have you missed out on planned celebrations? How have you made accommodations for our new normal? Did you celebrate Memorial Day? Change is definitely a part of the New Normal. Love to hear from you.

Stay in. Be safe. Be well.

Contact me at , and follow me on my social media sites.  @Marsharwest



Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic DESERVE #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about the topic DESERVE

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

“Uh, that will be fine.” Come on, Riley. Get your big head in this game. The vic deserves your best.

Marsha West

I swiveled the monitor around. “I don’t believe it. Tell me you didn’t say this.”

Vicki Batman

She deserved someone who could give her the moon, all he could offer was a slice of cheese.

Jacquie Biggar

One glass is really my limit, but I deserved the second glass after today’s debacle.

Joanne Guidoccio

When it came to Elise, he’d always be an outsider watching life unfold from the sidelines. He’d never be able to give her the things she deserved no matter how hard he worked.

A Twisted Fate (work-in-progress)















Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic BELIEVE #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic BELIEVE

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

I found it hard to believe that she would want to live in her grandmother’s traditional Italian home after being on her own for four years.

Joanne Guidoccio

He’d once believed he couldn’t live without her. Until he’d forced himself to.

Jeanne Hall
Old Friends New Lovers (work in progress)

Oh, she wasn’t naïve enough to believe neither of her children, as high school seniors, had taken a drink away from home, but she had an agreement with them never to get in a vehicle with a person who’d been drinking, or to ever to drive

Marsha West

“He’s the most annoying person I’ve ever met. He bosses me around. He believes Ben is not the guy for me.” I mastered another step.

Vicki Batman

They said the eyes were the window to a person’s soul and she’d always believed it until Trace betrayed her and yet denied it the entire time.

Jacquie Biggar
















I’ve written about these before. Probably the last time was when I used my sheet of words/phrases to analyze my most recently published book, ACT OF SURVIVAL, Book 4 The Second Chances Series, released in 2019. The list came to me originally from the great Margie Lawson. If you haven’t taken writing classes with her, you should. Act of survival 200x300

For a month and a half now, I’ve been going over TAINTED, book 8 which has an expected release date of Fall 2020. Margie’s original list which started with approximately 45 words/phrases has grown to over 75. With each book I’ve written,  I’ve found two to three or more favorite words that pop up everywhere. That’s how I’ve grown the list. 🙂

I don’t overuse all the words on the list. Some I don’t use at all, but other people did, and Margie included them. Words I never use are: in order to, by means of, for the most part, as a matter of fact.

Other words I’ve internalized and don’t use nearly as much as I used to: usually-3 times, actually 9 and I took it to 3.

So proud to tell you I only used begun 1 time, and I left it in. Began showed up 11 times and it dropped to 2.  These words are like try and tried. The Nike add says it all. Just Do It. You don’t try to do something. Of course, Margie would probably edit out the just and say, Do It. 😊

Headed was one of those words I used everywhere.  This time the word showed up 22 times in TAINTED and shrunk to 2.

I pretty much full on pantsed TAINTED, which I’ve never done before on a full book. In 2018, I pantsed a short story for the 30th anniversary anthology of the North Texas RWA chapter. The chapter had published an anthology for the 20th and 25th years, but I didn’t participate because I don’t write short stories. For the 30th I wanted to be a part. The book is Free on Amazon and the stories all take place in Dew Drop, Texas. 🙂  

West- The Colonel and her Major

The point is TAINTED ended way shorter than I expected coming in at 60 thousand words. Normally, my books are 70 to 90 K, and I agonized over how short it was. But wait, I hadn’t used my Throw-Away Words list yet. Ironically, as I check these out and figure a better way to say what I mean, I add words. It doesn’t make sense, but that’s what happens. TAINTED has grown to over 66 K, and I haven’t finished the list yet.

I used thing(s)  77 times and it went down to 5 in the edit process as I explained what thing was. It’s okay to use a word like thing in your first draft, but when you edit and rewrite, it’s important to flesh out the noun. What did thing stand for?  (I haven’t done it yet. I’ve even been afraid to see how many times it’s in the ms, but it (the process) works the same way.)

Back in 2014, I stumbled across a cheat sheet by Deana Carlyle that provides alternative verbs for such words as jumped or touched ( 1000 verbs in all). As I substituted some of her verbs for my overused ones, I make certain they do not become themselves overused.


I mentioned handled above. That’s one of Carlyle’s substitutions for touched. I don’t use it that way so much as “I can handle that….” Checking the Thesaurus on the computer is also a great way to find a different verb or noun. For grabbed, I found: get hold of, grasp, clutch, grip, clasp, grapple, clench, seized, snatched, palmed.

This part of writing is the nitty gritty part—not the fun part when your fingers dash across the keys slamming your characters in and out of difficulties, and you may or may not know how it’s all going to turn out. Except for me, I know I’ll always have a Happily Ever After.


As a reader, do you realize how authors agonize over word selection? As a writer, what are some tricks you use to spruce up your writing?  If you’d like the list, I’d be happy to share. Love to hear from you.

Because I believe with all my heart in Happily Ever Afters, I believe we will get through this pandemic. But I suspect we will be changed forever. Please, friends.  Stay in. Be safe. Be well.

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Contact me at , and follow me on my social media sites.  @Marsharwest

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic PLEAD #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic PLEAD

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

“Mom—” she pleaded, unconsciously reaching out to the woman who’d cuddled her when she’d fallen off her bicycle and scraped her knee, but there was no break in the stern expression.

Jacquie Biggar

Her head whipped around, and her eyes pleaded with him to explain. Now the hard part, how much did he share with her? She deserved the truth.

A Twisted Fate (work-in-progress)

She hated the position she’d put Gary in, breathed in deep, lifted one finger at a time from the death grip on the cell. Michelle could at least plead client confidentiality.

Marsha West

“Why didn’t his latest hoochie coochie step up?” I asked. “Miss Perky and Perfect?” She shook her head, sending her auburn wavy locks flying. “That’s long over–thank God. No one liked her. She was all talk and no action.”

Vicki Batman















Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic ASK #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic ASK

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

“Hey, I know this one.” He shifted his feet. “I rescued you. The whole senior class knew you’d asked seven other guys before me.”

Vicki Batman

His plan had been to hang with Kyle and the kids, but when asked he’d jumped on Jared’s invitation like a dirty shirt. Speaking of which… He looked down and made sure his tie covered the small grease stain on his dress shirt.

Jacquie Biggar

“I specifically told them not to ask about the murders. I’m willing to bet that everyone in Mirella’s classes co-operated.”

Joanne Guidoccio

“I’ll ask the questions, Ms. Barlow.” Where’d the nice friendly law enforcement officer she’d dealt with on earlier occasions go?

Marsha West















All About Haiku Poetry

By Joanne Guidoccio

Today is National Haiku Poetry Day, a day aside to encourage everyone to try his/her hand at poetry.

Haiku poetry is a classical form of Japanese poetry that is non-rhyming and consists of three lines with the following syllable pattern:

First Line – 5 syllables
Second Line – 7 syllables
Third Lines – 5 syllables

These poems are usually inspired by nature, abstract subjects, and individual experiences or events.

Here are six examples:

Some tips to consider:

  1. Create a list of possible subjects. You could consider traditional subjects like nature and animals or a current event (Easter, birthday, COVID-19).
  2. Make a list of words that relate to the subject you have selected. Be as descriptive as possible.
  3. Words and sounds can be repeated.
  4. Feel free to experiment with punctuation and capitalization. Don’t feel bound by any rigid rules.
  5. The last line is used to make an observation about your subject. It can be an expected or unexpected relationship between the first two lines.

Note: While some contemporary poets have gone free-form and broken these rules, they have still preserved the philosophy of haiku: “the focus on a brief moment in time; a use of provocative, colorful images; an ability to be read in one breath; and a sense of sudden enlightenment and illumination.” (The Academy of American Poets)

Do you write Haiku poetry? Please share in the comments below.

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic EASTER #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic EASTER

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

Tears finally streamed like a Brazos River waterfall in the spring.

Marsha West

Coupled with the Festival of Leaves in the fall, the Festival of Tulips in the spring, Festival of the Fourth every July, and the Festival of Trees in December, visitors had pumped beaucoup de cash into the community, specifically reviving this part of town.

Vicki Batman

The cherry trees lining Main Street were laden with buds, the delicate pink flowers set to open within the next couple of weeks—hopefully, in time for the wedding—and birds sang from the branches.

Jacquie Biggar

But one thing is certain. We will not be eating day-old food on Easter Sunday.

Joanne Guidoccio















Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about the topic TEASE #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about  the topic TEASE

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

“Maybe someday in the future,” she teased.

“Shot down again? Oh well.”

“Wounded, but not killed.”

Marian Lanouette

The sun shone on her white hair, contrasting with the warm watermelon shade of her mid-calf linen skirt and matching shirt. Her enthusiasm was infectious and the idea of buying the shop teased Jill.

Marsha West

When he softly said, “Janie,” his breath teased my ear, sending butterfly-like shivers over my body.

Vicki Batman

It had started out as a joke, her sneaking in to leave cute notes, or a piece of sexy lingerie to tempt and tease. But then it graduated to something darker—compulsive.

Jacquie Biggar

“Once a teacher, always a teacher,” Laura teased. “I think she’d be more concerned about her husband’s reaction.”

Joanne Guidoccio















A Tale of Two Trailers

While querying A Season for Killing Blondes, I started another writing project, one that I hoped would distract me from the seemingly endless process of trying to find a home for my first novel.

The words flowed quickly and, in less than one year’s time, I had written, edited, and polished Between Land and Sea, the first book in the Mediterranean Trilogy. And I quickly found a home for my second novel.

After signing the contract for Between Land and Sea with Soul Mate Publishing, I started brainstorming about different marketing tools. One idea that popped in my head was a trailer. In my research, I had discovered mixed messages regarding the effectiveness of trailers. Some authors and publicists were wildly enthusiastic while others suggested that trailers did not necessarily lead to more sales.

Weighing both sets of opinions, I reached the conclusion that it wasn’t just about sales. I wanted to celebrate the launch of my debut novel with a trailer. And to make the prospect of a trailer even more exciting, I could call upon the expertise of my musically-talented brothers.

I had envisioned my brothers collaborating and composing one theme song, but that’s not how their muses worked. Each brother had his own unique interpretation of the middle-aged mermaid who was aged beyond recognition and then dumped on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. Unable to choose between them, I decided to use both versions and hired Erin Kelly to produce the trailers.

Ernie G came up with the Yin version. Aptly titled, “It’s Your Time,” the soft, contemplative music gently skims over the heartbreak, encouraging Isabella to imagine a happier future.

Augy G delivered the Yang version in “Father Time Blinked.” Very different music with several pointed comments and questions sprinkled throughout the lyrics. Is Augy taking Isabella to task?

Two years later,  The Coming of Arabella, Book 2 in the Mediterranean Trilogy, was released.

***This week, both ebooks are on sale for $0.99***

Blurb – Between Land and Sea

After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.

This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived, or demoted. It will also appeal to mermaid enthusiasts.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Blurb – The Coming of Arabella

On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. Under normal circumstances, Barbara Davies would be overjoyed, but her special day is already wrought with tension. While Barbara is not the first mermaid from the Mediterranean kingdom to settle in small town Ontario, she has yet to reveal her origins to her fiancé. So, when Arabella, the gorgeous sister whose disturbing black eyes banished her to the island of Crete, saunters into her life, clutching the arm of Barbara’s discarded lover, a powder keg of emotion is released.

Relationships falter and careers stall as envy stirs in the hearts of the sisters. On the verge of meltdown after her fiancé leaves Canada for a teaching job in Vermont, Barbara flees to Arizona hoping for a reprieve. There, she finds solace at a retreat for ex-mermaids and a second chance at love with a charismatic preacher. As she contemplates a new life in the desert paradise of Sedona, shocking secrets emerge and tragedy strikes. A stronger and wiser Barbara rises up to face these new challenges and embrace the best parts of her mermaid heritage.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Where to find Joanne Guidoccio…

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