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!

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Noteworthy

author 100 x 100Recently, Handsome and I traveled to Italy and boarded a small ship to sail the Adriatic Sea. I like to journal when traveling. I jot down what we did, the weather (unbelievably hot), good–good and bad, but mostly good, people we met, aches and pains, etc. I took a keyboard which bluetoothed with my iPhone and using the notes app, kept the daily journal. When I returned home, I shared them to my email and cut and paste into the journal I keep on my laptop.

Why keep a journal? I pour a lot of emotion and details into my journal. (Maybe my way of having a therapist!) I go back and visit my notes when I need to feel or see or even smell something from then. I put that into my work.

An example from Ljubljana, Slovenia:

lub flowers

Upon arrival, we took a slow water taxi tour to the old city of Ljubljana. The temperature was warm, but not unbearable, especially on the water. The sky was slightly overcast. We disembarked and the guide (most excellent) took us on a walking tour. I fell in love with Ljubljana. The old city is pedestrian-only (nice!)  and the town provides little green cars to pick up people and drive them around. The streets are super clean, made of cobblestones, but very even compared to Italy where the streets are a walking hazard.

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We saw fountains, sculptures, dragons, and a lovely recently restored, salmon-colored church. The guide told us about the bridges, the ruling family Hapsburg, the wars (always a war). We went to the Green Market (like our Farmers’ markets) where vendors sold flowers, vegetables, and fruit. After we passed the city hall, we stood at the base of the castle high on a hill. After lunch, we could purchase tickets for the vernicular and visit, but opted to tour the city instead. lub church

The guide circled back to the river where we walked through the old Jewish quarter. The Hapsburgs expelled them, and now, no one remains, except for a lot of empty buildings looking for tenants.

lub chandelierFinally, we ended at our restaurant for lunch. The interior had a trendy bistro look. Chandeliers were shaped like deconstructed lampshades (I want some!). Impeccable waitstaff served perfect sesame and flax seeded bread, mushroom soup in a flavorful clear broth, chicken rolls fat with broccoli and spinach,  a spicy gravy poured over mashed parsnips, and thin roasted carrots. I longed to see what was for dessert, and I wasn’t disappointed–apple strudel. Thin sliced apples inside dough which flaked when touched with a fork. Delicious!

After lunch, Handsome and I walked on our own. The old town is built next to the river. We followed it and found the green market area. At one booth, we bought a Pinnochio for our new granddaughter and a mouse. The wooden toys were connected to a long spring and when pulled, bounced lively.

I found tiny animal drawings created by a young lady from northern Slovenia. She told me her inspiration for her work comes from the animals on her farm. I purchased a pig looking at a heart-shaped balloon and a girl walking a dog that resembled the kiddoes beloved. Handsome had dropped to a curb to wait for me. I sat by his side and showed him the treasures. In no hurry, we people-watched other shoppers. A woman threw a bone for a stray dog. Young couples passed with babies in strollers or backpacks. Truly, a delightful atmosphere.

On our way to our meeting place, we paused at a window. Handsome was intrigued by an antique shop. I thought why not because I love antiques. We were wrong! The shop owner designed and painted porcelain. A very nice surprise! I bought a plate decorated with poppies and gold curlicues, and two small white bowls embellished with the same kind of golden curls.lub porcelain

lub doll Next to that shop, we peeked in another which featured all kinds of handmade goodies. Nirvana! Handsome found a knitted doll for the baby. I bought a handpainted ceramic brooch (the shopkeeper said the tiny, delicate flowers were painted with one hair on a brush).

Handsome told me I’m buying too much (after all, this was Day Two on the cruise). Laughing, I said I bought for Christmas.

 

While the journal isn’t perfect, I instantly am transported back to Ljubijana and can picture myself in various places, what I’m eating, seeing, and doing.  All is pot of wealth for someday (maybe a Christmas story)!

 

05 08 19 Sommerville Days Ebook Cover 1600x2400

The lazy days of summer are drawing to an end. Recapture your moment with these tales in Sommerville days

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

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?

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?

Available at: Amazon and KU.

Self-care. What if…

by Kathryn Jane

Something we all, yep ALL, need to pay attention to no matter what our circumstances, is self-care.

We live in a world brimming with information, watching bad news from around the world, and being exposed to a great deal of negativity minute by minute. In some ways this is good as we can see that in the grand scheme of things, a roof over our heads and food on our tables puts us among the fortunate.

Still, there is pressure. Pressure to be the best we can be at our jobs, and within our families. Employers and family need us, depend on us in every possible way. We can’t let them down. But apparently, we are letting ourselves down.

We stay late at work without extra pay, we stay up long past bedtime doing laundry, and we get up earlier than the rest so we can prep lunches. We eat the burnt toast, the stale crust, and the smallest portion of desert.

We are super-women, and we shine at it.

 

Until.

Until the tank is suddenly empty and we don’t know how it happened.

Until we find ourselves at the wrong place to pick up a kid, in the wrong chat group to vent about our boss, or getting pulled over for speeding through a playground zone—because our thoughts were somewhere else.

Until we’re tossing and turning at three in the morning unable to shut our minds down so we can sleep.

Time for some self care.

Sure, right, okay, but how the heck can we combat the burnout if we can’t give up any of our responsibilities?

Self … care.

Which means?

Many things.

Self-care can be getting a massage once a month, , stopping for an ice-cream, dancing to a favorite song, or taking ten minutes every day to just sit in the garden and do nothing.

Or it can be as simple and silly as a game I started for myself the other day.

What if.

What if a genie popped out of a bottle and granted me one very specific wish which was:

You have up to 3 days to enjoy a single experience as long as it is not about meeting or talking to someone… as part of the wish, you will be granted whatever physical ability you will need.

Here’s a list of ideas I built for myself in about ten minutes.

  • Ride in the Kentucky Derby or the Grand National
  • Go on an African safari
  • Swim with whales
  • Interact with lions or tigers in their natural habitat
  • Attend a Streisand concert
  • Hike Machu Picchu
  • Attend the Edinburgh Tattoo

 

And this is a list I built while trying to guess what my friends would choose:

  • A Broadway show
  • A Paris fashion show
  • Climb Mount Everest
  • A Vegas show
  • The Great Wall of China
  • The Pyramids
  • Superbowl
  • Olympics
  • Ski the Alps
  • A French Chateau
  • A Scottish Castle
  • Desert Island
  • Great Barrier Reef

So… how about you? Join in my little self-care game and share what you might choose if my genie granted you the same wish.


Kathryn Jane, novelist, artist, educator.

Kat loves crisp sunny days, the warm breath of a horse, cats with a sense of humor, the briny scent of the ocean, and her very own charming prince—in no particular order.   http://kathrynjane.com

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.

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:

05 08 19 Sommerville Days Ebook Cover 1600x2400

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!

asteriks 2

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.

 

 

 

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?

asteriks 2

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

Just Desserts 400x600 72dpi

“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!!!

computer-smile[1]
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?

 

Just Desserts 400x600 72dpi

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.

Act of survival 200x300

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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.

Just Desserts 400x600 72dpi

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.