A Mighty Good Feeling (Pat)

I just finished shopping for a stranger and wow, did I have a good time!!!!

For years I’ve been wanting to ‘adopt’ a disadvantaged  child from cards hung on Christmas trees stationed in shopping centers.   But I’ve usually been in the throes of deadlines, and when I managed to make my way to a tree, it was too late.  This year, I made sure I was there in time.

I selected an eight-year old who wanted a Baby Doll Alive,  a plain baby doll and stroller and something called Shopkins which completely befuddled me.

I have often bought presents for young ‘uns in my family, but those were individual gifts and usually centered on stuffed dogs and Teddy Bears.  I knew nothing about current trends in juvenile amusement.

But always game, I entered a toy store for one of my very rare visits and asked what in the heck are Shopkins and Baby Doll Alive.   I found myself  surrounded by young mothers buying all sorts of strange things, including cats that had kittens inside them.   I finally flagged down a store clerk who guided me over to a section that contained rows and rows of plastic packages that encased tiny half-people and even tinier objects.   I stared at them with consternation.   What do you do with them? I asked.   He shrugged.

I thought how horrified a parent must be to handle hundreds of very small  objects, but  that wasn’t my problem, and it was on the  ‘wanted’ list.  I tossed a couple of plastic packages in my basket and added the Baby Doll Alive which I discovered does all the things that are usually considered work for a grown up mother.   A baby stroller was added.    I was on my way out when I spied this beautiful stand-up , well-tailored young lady doll.  Into the basket.

Okay.   So much for the toys.   Off to my wonderful Costcos for something more practical like a warm, stylish coat.   But what size?  The card said a children’s Size 12, but the size 12 on the table looked mighty small.   So I accosted every woman in the store for their opinion.   Should I get the 12 or go up a size?   Decisions.   Decisions.   Everyone had a different idea.  I finally decided on the larger one.   Now a scarf. to go with it . . ..

And, of course, a stuffed dog.

I  finally finished with two huge bags.  I learned a lot about today’s trends in children’s toys, and It might be helpful in a new book, but then I suspect this year’s Shopkins will be out of favor.  What mother in her right mind would not declare war against these fiendish tiny objects?

I had a delightful time.  I enjoyed every moment.

And now I can’t wait until next year.


4 steps to staying sane during the holidays

Yesterday, I posted this photo on Facebook with the caption: “Am I the last person to get my tree up?”


To my profound surprise, the answer was: “Not even close.” (You can see for yourself here: FaceBookPost.)

This response led me to question why I assumed the worst about myself. It’s only the first week of December. And, yes, we usually put up the tree right after Thanksgiving, but we did something fun instead (we hiked in Yosemite). So, I’m a little behind. Big deal, right?

I’m sure I’m not the only one who puts unrealistic expectations on myself, but I’ve decided to try to be kinder to myself this holiday season. Here are four positive affirmations I’ve printed out and plan to read aloud every time I start feeling the pressure to be “perfect” and/or to make things “perfect” for someone else.


I should have added: repeat as needed. :-)

Have a great weekend. I will be shopping and I intend to keep these 4 steps close at hand.


PS: my next newsletter is coming out Dec 24 and will include this beautiful calendar from my very talented photographer friend Jackie Maxwell for one lucky follower, plus a free download for everyone. Are you signed up? Newsletter




words and punctuation – Carolyn

CBS Sunday Morning did a segment this morning about President Roosevelt’s speech to the congress about the attack on Pearl Harbor. The state department had presented him with seventeen pages starting with the history of our relations with Japan from the beginning. Roosevelt’s final speech was a fraction of that and is remembered right up there with the Gettysburg address. Why does that matter to writers?

In grad school I had a wonderful professor—she did a seminar on James Joyce that turned me into a fan—who used to beat me about the head and shoulders when I chose the wrong word. I don’t mean using ‘infer’ when I meant ‘imply.’ Everybody knows that one. I tend to be a facile writer and let the words flow (when they flow, which isn’t always). It’s easy to pick the first word that pops into the writer’s head that sounds pretty good. According to my professor, that is not good enough. And she’s right. Roosevelt changed one word to “infamy” in his speech. A day that will live in infamy. And it is remembered.

At the first of the Christmas parties last night a group of writers got into a discussion about punctuation. Only writers would think punctuation would be a viable subject at a party. I read a great deal on Kindle. Sometimes I wish I could download a book, correct it and send it back to its author. So many have no idea how to punctuate compound or complex sentences. And they put commas between the subject and predicate. Misplaced modifiers, though not punctuation, lead to some hilarious sentences. At our critique group we look out for these ‘gotchas’ and hoot and holler and fall about when we find them.

One guest, a retired journalist, said that the reason newspapers are so badly edited these days is that editors have been fired. I prefer the British term “made redundant,” but the result is the same. “Rewrite Men” have been gone since computers replaced typewriters. Now the picky, picky, pick veteran editors have been replaced by Roboeditor somewhere in Virginia. So far, machines don’t think quite as well as the editors they replaced.

Does any of this matter? It does to me. I am no more perfect than any other writer, but at least I give it a shot. We do not want to become the ‘post literate’ society.



Creating a Character (Pat)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and beginning of the holiday season.

My entry into a merry season is somewhat hating.   Thanksgiving was great, but on Monday I came down with one whopper of a cold, and I’ve been nursing it since.    I take great pride in rarely being sick.   I sometimes even brag about it.   Bad move.   I  evidently challenged those little devil germs and they pounced.

I am surviving but only through gallons of orange juice.    It usually works.   This time, not so much.

But a new book is calling and I can’t deny it any longer. It will be the fifth in the Covenant Falls series.   I always start with one character.    He — or she — usually charges into the mind and soul like a medieval  knight or lady.  It’s only until we become intimately acquainted can I move on to other characters, particularly his — or her –counterpart in the book.

In this case it’s the lady.  She’s Jennifer — Jenny –Talbot, a free lance war reporter who has been wounded while covering the civilian disaster in Syria.     She’s not one to stay still long, even while recovering with her family in Denver.  They are driving her crazy.   Why can’t she be like other women?   Mainly, why doesn’t she marry and have children like her sister?   Why must she roam the world and put herself in danger?

Maybe because she loves it.  She’s never met a man who gave her the same rush as a good news story.  Now she’s stuck for a few months while undergoing therapy     She can’t drive or carry cameras.   But then, while scanning every newspaper she can access, she reads a short story about  a horse therapy program for veterans that’s only a a four-or-five-hour drive away.   She can get there one way or another.    Maybe she can make a story out of that.   Keep her name in print.  She’s certainly acquainted with the trauma many soldiers suffer.    She’s experienced the same flashbacks and nightmares.   The one thing she knows, though, is she is never  going to give up her independence, her lust for the next story wherever it may be.

I instantly understood Jenny.   I’m a former reporter and know the call of a good story and desire for independence.   I can’t wait to go on her journey.

The only problem now is to find a man who can match her.

Maybe I can do it next week.   After another glass of orange juice.  Or a gallon.


Having met so many s.  It’s only a few hundred miles away.    t she sees , carry camerasHaving been a reporter myself, I understand Jennifer     in antoher lifeBut she can’t drive yet and is still undergoing therapy .yShe can’t drive yet but she sees an aarticle in artical aticlean  . women,witbnot oneoRecuperating at h Home to Hopes




Let’s Read Holiday Books!

I love to write–and read– Christmas stories. I’m going to list a few that I’ve enjoyed recently, along with my new one, which I’m so thrilled to say received a lovely review from Library Journal!


I’m working like mad to meet a deadline before the birth of my new grandbaby, so hopefully I’ll be able to share some photos in a week or two. Please feel free to add your holiday reading suggestions in the comments. I’m always looking for new books and authors.


MONTANA SECRET SANTA, Bk III Love at the Chocolate Shop, Tule Publishing

KINDLE: http://littl.ink/MTSSAmazon

NOOK: http://littl.ink/MTSSBN

iBOOKS: http://littl.ink/MTSSIB

KOBO: http://littl.ink/MTSSKobo

GooglePLAY: http://littl.ink/MTSSPlay 

AMAZONAU: http://littl.ink/MTSSAZAU

AMAZONCA: http://littl.ink/MTSSAZCA

AMAZONUK: http://littl.ink/MTSSAZUK

start reading for FREE: http://littl.ink/MTSSTule

Other great holiday reads, including Dani Collin’s delightful:

Free! Don’t miss out. Click image.

I love all of Jane Porter’s holiday stories, especially this one:


And don’t miss this wonderful new release from Jean Brashear:


Click on image for Amazon link to 99¢ special sale, for a short time only!

Happy reading, my friends. See you next Friday…with a new baby in my arms, I hope.






150 Free Romances – Merry Christmas Early! (Tara Taylor Quinn)

ryan-zee-christmas-romance-giveaway-2016Just Click the Graphic and Start Choosing! You can take one, or all 150!


Whew, back at last – Carolyn

Storybroads has for some reason been unavailable–at least to me–for several weeks.  This is basically an update of what I wrote and couldn’t post. It’s a report of our Malice in Memphis writers retreat in the woods at St. Columba, the Episcopal conference center north of Memphis. A lovely lodge set in the woods. Nobody but us.

We have seminars, watch movies, brainstorm, critique. Writerly stuff. And our first chance to see the copies of our new Malice in Memphis anthology of ghost stories. I hope those of you who get it will enjoy it. Our third should be out before the Fourth of July.

But nothing is ever easy. My daughter wound up in the emergency room Thursday night. They thought they might have to operate, but decided to give her major drugs and send her home until Monday. Of course, her car was at the hospital, and there was no way she could drive drugged, so I went down to get her and take her home at 2:00 in the morning. I do not drive after dark if I can help it, though with my new Escape, it’s not so parlous. That meant I have to take her back on Friday (when she was in her right mind) to pick up her car. No problem. All I cared about was that she was apparently better.

However—Friday morning I had to make butterscotch brownies and layered nacho dip. Then I had an appointment for a photo for my church directory that afternoon. Plus the packing, getting my two sessions ready to be delivered and the handouts printed.

Unfortunately, the photos look just like me. I hope they can retouch out the double chin and the circles under my eyes. I still managed to get to the lodge by six in the afternoon. Breathing hard.

And, of course, we had a blast. I don’t know about others, but I probably took in fifty thousand calories.

Our major speaker was Debbie Dixon of Belle Books, one of the best and most knowledgeable teachers I have ever heard. She did three hours on The Big Black Moment. I took enough notes to finish the synopsis on my next proposal and then some.

She’s a tough act to follow, but I did follow her with two hours on the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey. Since there were five men among us, the heroine’s journey generated a lot of discussion. Great! The men refused to believe that despite the pill, which is the greatest social change since the death of the woolly mammoth, self-determination for women has not increased that much.

Then, the St. Columba host came by to check on us. Despite the fact that I had been the contact person and was standing right beside him, he spoke to and gave his card with his cell phone number to the MAN who was standing beside me. I didn’t give it a thought, but the male writer noted it after the man had left us for evening. He was annoyed.

Since I had to feed the horses, I did not spend Saturday night at the retreat, but when I left, there were half a dozen brainstorming groups and several others working on critiquing their first five pages. I did want to stay, but I know Zoe and Frieda would never have forgiven me if their oats had been late this morning.

Successful weekend! Everybody needed a creative juice infusion. I think we got it.


Back Again (Pat)

I’m back again after what seems like months rather than weeks.

It’s been a hectic falls.  I finished the fourth in the “Home To Covenant Falls Series” and wrote proposals for several more.   I have fallen in love with Covenant Falls and just can’t seem to leave.

This time I’m telling the story of former SEAL Jubal Pierce who is medically discharged after being imprisoned and tortured by a terrorist group in Africa for two years after a humanitarian mission went bad..    He has lost muscle and bone strength and no longer qualifies as an active SEAL.

He’s at loose ends, not sure where to go or what to do, but he thinks a car trip across the country might help him find a future.  But first he plans to stop for a night or two with old friend, former Chopper Pilot Clint Morgan, in Covenant Falls.   He certainly has no intention of staying longer until he catches a  teenager trying to burn down the dock of a cabin where he’s staying.   He sees himself in the young man and, despite his better judgment, decides to stay a few days to teach the kid a lesson.

Lisa Redding is a doctor who gives up a coveted fellowship in a Chicago  hospital when her teenage brother is arrested for drug possession.   Their mother died a year earlier which sent her brother and sister in a downward cycle..   She’s their guardian and realizes  she cannot  look after them if she accepts the hospital position.    Her brother is embittered both because she wasn’t  at home when needed and, as a doctor, she should have been able to save their mother.    The supervising doctor at the hospital suggests she accepts a one year position in Covenant Falls, filling in for the town doctor who has suffered a heart attack.   He will try to restore the fellowship the following year.

She has never lived in a small town.   She’s a big city girl and so are her siblings.   They’re not happy at all with the move, and neither is she.   But  Covenant Falls has a way of embracing its new residents, even if she is suspicious of another newcomer’s interest in her son, particularly one who has spent his adult life engaged in war and violence.

It was a fun story to write, full of emotion on the parts of both Lisa and Jubal.   He has no one and  doesn’t want anyone, and yet he is drawn into the warm circle of Covenant Falls. A pinto horse,  assisting in the birth of a foal,  a troubled teenager  and  a testy lady doc make it increasingly difficult to leave.   And Lisa?  Is she ready to give up her lifelong dream of being a pediatric surgeon for a burned out warrior?.

The book will be out  the first of February and can be purchased in advance at Amazon.   I hope you will love Jubal as much as I do.

Have a great week!


Are you Black Friday shopping? Here’s an alternative.

I must admit–it’s tempting to go shopping for some excellent, money-saving deals, but the stress of standing in line with a great deal of humanity, just doesn’t work for me.

Here’s my alternative: hiking in Yosemite National Park.


And when I get home, I will be sitting by the fire and reading…for FREE.  Please join me–and help spread the word. Who doesn’t love FREE?


Amazon: http://littl.ink/+bXg 
BN: http://littl.ink/MTROGUEBN
iBooks: http://littl.ink/+7Q5
KOBO: http://littl.ink/+B8z 
Google Play: http://littl.ink/+bNz

 Also, I’d like to invite you to Tule Publishing’s Holiday Party on Facebook next Thursday, December 1. Please drop by for some good cheer, book talk with lots of authors and prizes galore. Here’s the link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1876161522604220/?notif_t=plan_user_joined&notif_id=1479676749575422


I’ll be there off and on all day, celebrating the release of my new Love at the Chocolate Shop title, MONTANA SECRET SANTA, which just received a wonderful review from Library Journal.

Red Christmas  background with luminous garland. Vector illustration

Here’s the review: Salonen, Debra. Montana Secret Santa. Tule. (Love at the Chocolate Shop, Bk. 3). Dec. 2016. 168p. ebk. ISBN 9781945879029. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Temporarily back in Marietta, MT, to dog-sit while his parents are away, brainy tech millionaire Jonah Andrews has no plans to stay—until classy advertising expert Krista Martin is knocked off her feet by one of his wayward charges. Railroaded into chairing the town’s wish- granting Secret Santa Society, Jonah is totally out of his depth. Then Krista reluctantly ends up on the board as well, and she proves to be just the lifeline he needs. A brilliant but socially clue- less hero and a career-focused heroine struggle to keep their growing attraction on the casual side and eventually find their goals and lifestyles aren’t as far apart as they seemed. Who could resist a lovable canine trio or a hero who invents something just for you? VERDICT Sweet, affecting, and just plain fun, this holiday charmer is a delightful addition to the series and a perfect companion to a mug of hot chocolate and a crackling fire. Salonen (Black Hills Rancher) lives in South Dakota.

(For the record: I lived in South Dakota. I’m a California girl now. ;-) )

Whatever your plans for the day, I hope they turn out great!!!



A Happy Thanksgiving Recipe and Free Read! (Tara Taylor Quinn)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!

Just popping in quickly to share my own dressing recipe!turkey-dressing-recipe-meme


And for a brand new, complimentary (for a limited time) ttq holiday novella, click on the cover!christmas-past