Something new!

author 100 x 100     Well, lots of somethings new around here.

First and foremost: a baby girl will be added to my family. We’re so excited to welcome her. My #1son is about to jump out of his skin.

Second: a new book released–Sommerville days. Many of you know my love for stories with fun and sassy heroines. I’ve collected three together and wrapped them in an awesome cover. Here you go:

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Don’t you want to find a hammock under a shade tree with a tall cool drink (like almond tea) and a great book? Here’s a bit about Sommerville days:

Love blossoms in the small town of Sommerville in these heartwarming tales, filled with fun and forever possibilities.

Store Wars: The competition is heating up when Janie’s old flame returns to town and is running his family’s store. Could following dreams break her heart?

Raving Beauty: What if the love of your life was in front of you all along?

San Diego or Bust: When a young woman plans a romantic getaway with her boyfriend, disaster strikes—is her Mr. Right the right Mr. Right?

(My sister told me the end of “Raving Beauty” made her cry. I had never heard this about my work before because I write funny. And there are funny things inside, too.)

Find your relaxation device at: Vendor

And lastly: Handsome and I will be on vacation. I can’t wait. The heat is pretty strong after our rainy and cool Spring. Hopefully, we can dodge some of those oppressive days.

Happy Summer!

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Almond Tea-Mix together:   3 tablespoons instant iced tea powder
1/4 cup white sugar     2 cups boiling water    Add 1 (12 oz.) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate     1 tablespoon vanilla extract    1 tablespoon almond extract    Add 4 cups of cold water. Stir and pour over ice. Totally addictive.

 

 

 

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Do You Have a Secret Confession?

author 100 x 100   I like recipes. I like reading them, especially the dessert ones. And on Facebook, new ones pop up almost every day. So I print them off and put in my go-to pile. And that is as far as most of the recipes get–the go-to pile. As much as I like reading recipes, I don’t want to make baked goods any more.

Every now and then, I’ll get a wild hare—or is it hair?—and make something, usually for a special occasion, like Strawberry Cake.strawberry cake

Last week, I saw a recipe for a biscuit pull-apart bread with cinnamon sugar and pecans and baked in a tube pan. I’m thinking of making this one. It’s pretty easy for the company that’s coming. I know why I’ve made this change. There’s three good reasons:

One. My creativity has changed from cooking to writing, stitching, and reading.
Two. Handsome can’t swallow these foods. Long story involving cancer radiation from thirteen years ago.
Three. The boys aren’t home to help eat what I fix.

I grew up baking and helping Mom fix dinner. In my early adult years, I loved making goodies to share. Over time, food for the boys became what I could squish in between events. By Sunday noon, I was all cooked out. Eventually, they went off to school and trickled in and out of home. When do return, they really want a box of Cheez-its.

Are you a cook or baker? And if so, what’s your specialty?

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Here’s a bit of creativity to share—an excerpt from Just Desserts…and other stories. Someone said the line “I have a theory about love” and my brain when all creative. BTW, I’m always looking for reviewers. If you’re interested, let me know at: vlmbatman@hotmail.com

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“I have a theory about love.”

Ethan’s statement knocked me from the proverbial mountain top. Eyeing him, I clapped my hand across my mouth to stifle a giggle.

From Day One at our new jobs at Prime Designs, Ethan and I had forged a friendship. I was the artsy heart-sy, emotional gal. Him–the technical, by-the-book pal. We ate an occasional dinner, watched a movie, whatever. Traded small gifts like coffee, a magazine, music. However, Ethan had never made an overture toward me.

Translated: Nothing intimate.

I’d said to myself, “Rats.”

For work, we’d traveled to Colorado Springs to attend a workshop on web design innovations. After check-in, I’d joined him at the bridge crossing the lake to decide about lunch before the meetings commenced.

My six-one geek wearing rimless glasses, leaned against the railing and stared into the sparkling blue waters of the high mountain lake. The feathered fowl paddled by.
Have his feelings changed?

I asked in disbelief, “R-really? A theory…about love?”

Find yours at: Vendor

 

I disagree!

by Kathryn Jane

 

I disagree with lots of what goes by me on FB.

But instead of lashing out, shaking a finger or fist, unfriending or blocking, I sit back and wonder…

Why is this person’s opinion so different from mine?

How can she not see what I see?

Why does she not think like I think?

How can she be so wrong?

 

That’s when I stop and regroup.

That’s when I suddenly wonder if that person has the same reaction to what I post?

What if she thinks my opinion is way off the wall. My beliefs are out in left field.

What if she decides to unfriend me because my view of the world is so obviously different than the view she has?

Then I smile, thinking about the things we have in common. Things that have nothing to do with our religious or political beliefs. Things as simple as recognizing that although we differ in some really important ways we are still able to be friends. To enjoy other parts of what make us who we are.

And there lies the beauty of being able to disagree, without it being earthshattering and friend ending.

I thoroughly enjoy much about the people in my life who I disagree with “emphatically” over several subjects, and that, my friends, is just way cool.

 

 

What about you? Do you have friends with whom you carefully avoid some subjects? Or friends you actively argue with?  I’d love to hear some of your stories, so please share!


Kathryn Jane, novelist, artist, educator.

Want to know what else I’m up to in my life? The books, the painted rocks, the workshops?  Click here to  visit my website.

Crash, Bang!

author 100 x 100   I love computers. I’m betting you do too.

I hate computer “problems.” I’m betting you do too.

Last year, my 1 ½ year old laptop—a first for me—crashed. Like I turned it on, and nothing happened crash. I panicked. My books! My stories! My life!!!

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I had a warranty on this laptop. I don’t buy warranties and a nice tech man put a new solid-state hard drive in. I sent the old hard drive off to have material retrieved (which, by the way, cost more to have done than the actual computer). Soon I was back in business.
But in the back of my head was “when is this going to happen again?”
Last week, my computer program was corrupted. I had everything saved, all was wiped, and restored. I had to spend several hours again to bring it up to speed.
Again, my brain went to the dark side— “when is this going to happen again?”
One week later, my laptop wasn’t running well. I determined to have the security software company run its scans. I’d paid for this premium service after the crash and could use as much as I wanted. Fortunately, what they found was no big deal (except in my head) and no virus had attacked it.
I’m still having thoughts of “when is this going to happen again?”
I don’t like living like that. Maybe that’s normal for laptop people. I’m not sure. I don’t watch movies, TV stuff, or do games. I write and buy handbags. So why me?
After a huge discussion with Handsome, I decided to buy a new laptop, but what kind?
question mark black So, I’m appealing to you and your computer knowledge…what kind of laptop do you like?

 

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No problems here! Just lots and lots of laughs and happy every afters! “Some had me laughing out loud and others had me saying…awww. Quick little stories and a great way to escape from the stress of the day and just sit back and enjoy. Each story shows how two people meet. Sunshine, humor and heart all rolled into one enjoyable book.”

Find yours at:

Amazon    Amazon print Nook Other vendors

 

Texas Brags

Most of you know I live in Texas. My books for the most part take place in Texas, and my characters are mostly Texan. Texans are known for bragging. We have the biggest & best of everything: hair, tall tales, honky tonks, roads (these really do surpass most other states and not just because we have more of them LOL), and football (well, all sports). We have the scariest springs with hail, damaging winds and tornadoes. We also have the most beautiful springs.

This past weekend, Bob and I went with friends to the Texas Hill Country and got to observe another of the state’s great brags: our wild flowers! Not just bluebonnets which were the best I’ve seen in several years. They are the first talisman of spring.

But when they begin to fade, we are blessed with all kinds and colors of wild flowers. Vast fields rolling out as far as the eye can see. Our highways and byways are anchored with lovely splashes of color that look like an artist took a paint brush to the fields. So today, I’m sharing pictures of Texas wild flowers. I don’t even know all their names; I just know they are pretty, and they make me smile. I hope they do you, too. If you’re interested in where we went, my Thursday blog will tell all. It was gorgeously restful. Do you have wonderful wildflowers along your highways? Love to hear from you.

IMG_1106 IMG_1107

IMG_1115  IMG_1112My pictures don’t do these flowers justice. You just gotta plan to come see them next year. 🙂

Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF BETRAYAL released this month it’s available at all the sites and in print from Amazon.  And today you can find a post all about the book on NN Light’s blog https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/book-promos I’ll try to add the actual link Tuesday.

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Please sign up for my Newsletter on my website http://www.marsharwest.com Contact me at marsha@marsharwest.com , and follow me on my social media sites. https://authormarsharwest.wordpress.com/ for my Blog https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn

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Blooming Like Crazy!

Spring began in my neighborhood in February, starting with the flowering quince. When we moved in this house over twenty years ago, I had no idea the large bush in the front bed was a flowering quince. Then Winter came and the shrub turned to sticks. But when Spring came, gorgeous salmon-colored flowers appeared along with the tiniest bees.

hbw quince close up

Sure, we can get a cold snap and the blossoms turn an ugly brown. However, most of the time, they last. It is truly a pleasure to sit at my desk which overlooks the front yard and see the signs of Spring appear.

Then more exciting things happen. Like the grass slowly but surely sprouts green. The red oak leaves press forward and in a gentle Spring breeze, wave gently.

Behind my garage is a small bed which leads to the backyard. After we renovated, I planted antique roses. The middle one had devil thorns and never thrived. The other two flanking it produce tiny flowers–one white and one is yellow. Several of the flowers  Rose yellow

Years ago, Handsome and I cruised the Rhine River. I was taken with the different flowers I saw there. When I returned home and showed off my pictures, I realized most were of flowers.

Flowers give me pleasure. They are soft, beautiful colors, sometimes scented. A bit of beauty, like the one I found in a sidewalk crack, in unexpected places.

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Maybe the stories in Just Desserts and other stories are beautiful or beautifully written; however, I like to think they’re fun, too. And life needs fun.

Love blossoms in the small town of Sommerville in these heartwarming, “cute meet” tales, filled with fun and forever possibilities.

Find yours at: Vendor

Thieves… plagiarists and scammers

by Kathryn Jane

Yesterday was my day to blog, and I tried, really tried to write about the recent blowup in the writing world. I wrote and deleted two long, wordy attempts to address the horrors of people stealing a writer’s hard work, and how thieves and the dirty underbelly of the writing world affected me personally…then I gave up and put it away for the night.

Here instead, a day late, is the simple version.

Around a week ago, a plagiarist was caught stealing the work of over thirty writers. Bringing this to light also exposed other scammers and thieves preying on readers and writers, and the entire situation was mind-boggling enough… and then I discovered my books being offered for free on a pirate site.

And I started to wonder whether this writing gig was worth what it was costing me–literally, and figuratively.

Is it worth my time to try and compete for readers in a world where scammers hit bestseller lists with fake books? Where book stuffers collect thousands of dollars while real authors barely scrape by? Where readers have been conditioned to search for free or 99 cent books and don’t care if they are stolen?

And what about the dollars? Each book I publish costs me at least $2000 for editing, cover design, and basic marketing. Can I make that money back? Probably. But can I make enough to pay myself for even a small portion of the hundreds of hours I spend writing, revising, formatting, uploading, advertising…

Not when I can’t get my books noticed because the market is flooded with fake books, plagiarized work, and other scams.

So I’m considering other options right now. Considering going traditional. Giving up the creative control I cherish, for a chance at having a big publisher marketing my work.

Why? Because I love writing, I love giving readers an emotional experience, and I don’t want to quit. But seven years into self-publishing I’m still operating at a loss, and it is time for a change.

In the nature of one last ditch effort to get my work out there, I’ve put a six book bundle of books on sale for just 99 cents.  Yep, the first SIX full-length books in my Intrepid Women series, for a grand total of $0.99 … Grab them HERE right now.

If you would like to find out more about the plagiarism and other scams, go to,  Nora Roberts blog, Fall Into The Story.  A kickass woman I have always admired, Nora lays it out beautifully…such a way with words!


Kathryn Jane, novelist, artist, educator.

Want to know what else I’m up to in my life? The books, the painted rocks, the workshops?  Click here to  visit my website.

 

 

The Great Outdoors

 

…is the view right outside my office window. Why is that important?

 

My desk where I play What if??? is adjacent to a large window, and when stuck, I take a look outside. Invariably, I’m inspired by the massive red oak trees in my front yard, the leaves changing from dark green to red orange and back. Or the large variety of cars streaming past my house, some speeding more than others.  Occasionally, the emergency vehicles with blaring sirens race to help someone. I spy colorful blooms in the flower beds which tell of Spring’s arrival and make me happy. quince 2

 

So why is The Great Outdoors important?

 

Many times, I’ve incorporated the scenery I see outside my window in my writing because being able to describe those things makes my work more authentic. And hopefully, a reader will be so engrossed, he/she is transported into the world I created and imagining him/herself where the action is. What the characters look like. What the weather is like. What people wear. What cars they drive. And et cetera.

 

Right now,  spring is creeping in. I can see the lacey white blossoms of the Bradford pear trees have pushed out. My quince with flowers in shades of salmon have already bloomed, leaving only the late stragglers, and tiny tiny bees buzzing from blossom to blossom searching for pollen. The grass is dry chaff. The gloomy gray sky makes me want to curl on the comfy sofa with a good book and my favorite beverage and snack. snoopy reading

asteriks 2

 

Near my home are restaurants and shops I frequent. In the Hattie Cooks mysteries, I have incorporated  a family-owned Italian restaurant similar to the one Handsome and I have frequented. The interior oozes Italian – the faux finished walls from which hang pictures of the Italian countryside, the Frank Sinatra-Tony Bennett-Dean Martin tunes, the ambiance created by the low lights—all perfect for Detective Allan Wellborn to seduce Hattie in Temporarily Out Of Luck. Here’s a sample:

 

Hunger overruled anger. I folded my hand around his and walked with him to our favorite Italian restaurant. He held the glass entry door wide and let me pass through first. My senses were overpowered by the greatest scents ever—spicy garlic, sweet tomato, yeasty bread, and sharp onions.

 

I loved Mama & Papas Italian Restaurant, a place my parents had brought Tracey and me to since elementary school. The same Tuscan prints decorated the golden faux-finished walls. The same Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra tunes oozed from the sound system. I breathed in deeply then looked at Allan, feeling gratitude. “Nirvana.”

 

               The corners of his eyes crinkled. “Forgiven?”

 

What’s outside your window?

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Have you read very short stories? In very shorts, description is cut to the bare minimum, one choice word or two, to convey the really important things we need to know.  Find out in Just Desserts…and other stories:

 

Amazon ebook     Amazon PB    B&N     Other Vendors

 

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Will a Change of Venue Help Writer’s Block?

Rosslyn_Chapel

Well, it’s not exactly writer’s block … sort of. In 2015, my cousin and I took a trip to Scotland to follow some family ancestry as well as for me to do some research for the fifth book in my series, “Partners, Heart of the Phoenix”. For my main character, AJ Donovan, it took years to find the Scots-Irish father he thought had abandoned him. Now a father himself for the first time, he and his wife, Quin, chose to take a trip to Scotland where Ethan Donovan and his family currently lived. AJ was excited to meet his many half siblings and introduce his son, Reilly to his grandparents.

Ethan’s landscaping business had made him quite wealthy and that wealth bought him enemies. Unfortunately, some of his enemies were within his own family. He had to determine which of his children were embezzling funds from the family business. AJ’s siblings welcomed him warmly … except one. This brother perceived AJ as a threat to his inheritance – to the point he was willing to eliminate him.

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At the RWA conference last year I roomed with a friend who was retired military and had spent much of her life in Scotland and Ireland. She pointed out several flaws in Irish-Scottish relationships that made the background for my story somewhat implausible. Changing those details would require changing background facts going back to Book I. So, I pushed the book aside and went on to other things. Not a good way to enhance a successful writing career.

So, one of the annual writing conferences I attend is “20 Books to 50K”, the focus of which is indie authors supporting indie authors. They are in Vegas every year but have also been doing conferences in Europe. This year, in July, it will be in Scotland. I was immediately interested. It’s time to go back and seek my muse. I need to work through the story issues and come back with the ideas I need to fix them. Not to mention that Edinburgh, Scotland is one of my favorite places in the world.

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I’m curious if other writers find new energy when doing research in countries where your story takes place. Do exposure and new facts make you more zealous to get back to your story?

Mommy, Would You Read to Me?

I remember the days when Mom and I snuggled on the couch in the family room and she read aloud to me. Being immersed in the pages and studying the illustrations was nirvana. I specifically remember about age six asking her to read aloud, and she said, “You can read.” I said, “Only out loud.” She said, “Just say the words quietly to yourself.” So I did.

No holding me back after that.

110414vickibatmanmkeirblogchildreadingpixI consumed vast quantities of books. When once reprimanded by a librarian that I had to put back some new treasures from the tall pile cradled to my scrawny chest, my mom saw my sad face and asked what was wrong. I told her what the librarian said. My mom spun me around, marched me to the desk and said, “Check out all these books to her. She’ll read them, probably twice and the ones her sisters get too.”

Again, no holding me back.

As a writer, we have to work our projects so they won’t suck. This means we revise and edit. Because I’m a pantser, I make multiple passes, constantly revising to make the book fresh. Like other authors, I’m looking for new editing tricks, too. I used to read my work aloud and eliminated the awful dialogue and weird stuff I heard. I printed the manuscript and hacked a red, er, yellow pencil all over it.

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Then I got my laptop. In Microsoft Office is a feature that is freakin’ awesome—Read Aloud. I turn it on and voila, my book is read aloud to me! I can set the voice and the speed.

I worked my way through my current WIP, my third romantic comedy mystery, stopping to change words, dialogue, move passages. Now, I’m going through again and making a timeline and documenting the clues. What a treasure this feature is!

No holding me back!

asteriks2I’m pleased with where Temporarily Out of Luck is going. Thought I’d share a bit with you and get your thoughts. So here goes:

Sometimes, I felt like a small white mouse housed in a cage with lots of small white mice, whose sole playground activity was to eat, sleep, and revolve constantly on the exercise wheel. And just like one rodent friend, who I named Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky, having a field day back flipping from the top of the spinning wheel, something happened, and unexpectedly, found myself air born.
Not hurt, a sense of disappointment overcame me, plus a bit of confusion, and a whole lot of colorful descriptives too numerous to list. I, mostly known as Hattie Cooks, shook off the pine shavings and hopped back on the merry-go-round of life.

 

If you like that passage, maybe you’ll like other funny stuffy I’ve written. Check me out at:  Website     Author Central

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