Friday, May 31, 2024

THREE DAYS WITH MOLLY. My goal when writing Finn Riley and Molly Williams journey to happily ever after was to take them out of their comfort zones, toss conflict their way to see how they handled it (including an undeniable attraction - which can conflict those not looking to be attracted to anyone at this point in their life), and put them in close quarters where they couldn't ignore one another when things didn't go as planned.

Did I mention Finn's a country music star about to embark on a summer concert tour? According to his agent (Cork Wallace), he should have a personal assistant to take care of his day-to-day needs as they travel from venue to venue. Molly is on a three-month job hiatus thanks to her boss deciding to hop on his boat and sail to the Caribbean. Finn's agent happens to be a childhood friend of Molly who talked her into taking the PA gig. 

Here's a short scene...

Cork made the introductions. "Finn Riley, Molly Williams. Molly, Finn."

Molly didn't move her feet but stretched to shake his hand. "Nice to meet you."

The corners of Finn's generous mouth dimpled. "It's nice to meet you too." He took her hand and held it longer than necessary. When he finally let go, Molly drew her hand back like he'd pricked her with a pin. The rash movement caused the satchel carrying her laptop to slide from her shoulder and clunk onto the table, against Finn's coffee cup. Coffee sloshed everywhere. The accordion window shade took a good dousing, so did Finn's brilliant white t-shirt that read -- Without Music My Day Would Suck. The instant creases in his forehead said he was ticked. Cork's loud wince behind her said he wasn't pleased either. 

Frantic, Molly looked for something to clean up the mess. Two red hand towels embroidered with black guitars were within reach. She yanked one from the handle of the oven and laid it across the mishap that was now dripping onto some very plush beige carpet. 

What possessed her to grab the second towel to blot Finn's t-shirt was beyond comprehension. The moment her hand landed against rock-hard pecs she realized the error and didn't have to look in a mirror to know she'd turned a deep shade of uh-oh. 

If you'd like to check out the rest of the story to find out all the amusing and serious interactions that take place, you can find it on Amazon for 99 cents. Just click the Amazon link below. 


Thank you for stopping by to read a little bit about Finn and Molly. 

Love to all of you,




Sunday, April 14, 2024

Life changes you!

This morning I read a profound meme on Facebook and it prompted this post. It was about change, mostly where grief is concerned and how you're never the same after losing someone you love. The post got my gears turning about how everything in our lives (good and bad) changes us in some way. 

Are you the same person you were ten years ago? Five years ago? Last week? Yesterday? 

I can say with complete certainty I'm not the same. Not only am I outwardly changed, also inwardly.

As with most folks, I've lost people I've loved. Loss is a biggie, but it isn't the only thing that alters us -- marriage, empty nest syndrome, health, age, worldly matters, friends who've stayed, friends who've left, your first kiss, voting, school, having children, not having children, jobs, and so much more plays a part in who we are, what we think, what we do, what we value, and who we want to keep close as we go through all those changes. 

The bulk of my work life was spent as a clerk-dispatcher for an electric utility. Change beckoned and now I'm a writer, mostly contemporary romance and women's fiction. 

Because change is constant, it led me to try something new -- nonfiction.


Now it's leading me toward the historical fiction genre. I'm currently working on a romance set in Montana in the mid-1800's. Stay tuned to see if I can actually pull it off. *grins* 

I've learned I can either embrace change or fight it. (It's normal to fight it, at first) Spoiler alert: change will happen regardless.  

If you haven't read romance or women's fiction for a while, maybe change things up and see how those genres make you feel now.

Thanks for tuning into my first blog post of the year!







Sunday, April 30, 2023

Yep...I'm a foodie! Cherry-chocolate-walnut muffins!

It's been a while since I've put together a post and I thought I'd rectify that by sharing a recipe I recently made for cherry, chocolate, walnut muffins.

Did I mention I not only write humorous romance and women's fiction, but I'm also a foodie who likes to experiment with recipes? (The characters in my stories sometimes share my passion for food as well. Danna in my Coffee & Dessert in Key West Series is a foodie and the man she falls for loves to cook. It's a win-win for them). 

I'm not even close to being classified as a good cook, but I give it my best effort. And the things I make seldom turn out the same way twice because I'm a recipe modifier. I use what I have on hand at the time, that's how the cherry-chocolate-walnuts came to be. Sometimes the food turns out fantastic, sometimes not. On the more-than-rare occasion where the concoction didn't turn out the way I thought it would, we eat it anyway. At the end of the meal, my husband and I almost simultaneously say, "Yeah, that's not happening again." 😂 This recipe, however, wasn't a flub. 

I modified the recipe I use for banana nut muffins (which I believe I originally got from Pinterest, although not for certain since it's been a few years). 

1 10 ounce bag of frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed. (I put them in my Magic Bullet to chop them up, but not liquify them)

1/3 cup melted butter 

3/4 cup white sugar

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/8 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup of chopped walnuts 

1 cup of chocolate chips 

Mix all ingredients together and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 22 minutes. *Every oven seems to be different. Keep an eye on them. At the 20-minute mark, they may be perfect for you or they may need a few more minutes. Adjust accordingly.* 

The mixture resembles mud! 😆 

And the finished product.... Voila! 

If you prefer to make banana-walnut muffins instead of these, in place of the cherries use 3 to 4 ripe mashed bananas.

Until next time, fellow foodies, take good care! Happy creating!

~ Jan

Side note -- if you'd like to check out my Coffee & Dessert in Key West Series, you can find it on Amazon. (Books 1 & 2 are available. Book 3 should be finished in June)


Friday, February 10, 2023

Craving absolute silence...

This is my first blog post of 2023. I've missed compiling posts, yet I didn't have anything specific to say. Today, I thought about the hiatus I'm currently taking (and not doing so great at staying away) from social media and decided to write a few thoughts on the subject.

Recently, I found myself craving absolute silence - no news programs, internet usage, cell phones, computer screens, ear buds, headphones, nothing technology related. I decided a break from all of it was in order. I envisioned a lot of amazing quiet. 

Ha! That lasted about three hours and I found myself scrolling through my Twitter timeline and then popped into Facebook to see if anyone had left me any private messages. I also have an Instagram account and one for LinkedIn, so I checked out both of them.

I thought working on my current book (ERIN, book 3 in my Coffee & Dessert in Key West Series) would be enough of a distraction to help me disconnect from the outside world, at least for a few days. Again...ha! What is it about the social media climate that is so powerfully addictive? I've tried to understand the effect it has on me. Is it the political viewpoints from all over the world that keeps me coming back for more? Or is it the multitude of witty personalities that draw me in? I'd say it all plays a part, as well as my interaction with other writers, entertainers, photographers, painters, jewelry makers, foodies, chefs, and so many other talented people that I enjoy following. Honestly, social media has opened my world and changed my perspectives on some things. There are days it drives me absolutely crazy, and I want to back away. Other days I'm inspired by it and want to chat everybody up.  

How does social media affect you? Are you also overwhelmed some days and all-in other days? Tell me it's not just me. 

Thanks for stopping by to read my ramblings!

All the best to you and yours,


P.S. Now that I've broken through the drought of no ideas to post, I'll bug you with a lot more. 



Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Great Mistletoe Project: Getting to know Garrett

I love writing Christmas stories! Each one I've written has a special place in my heart. The setting for THE GREAT MISTLETOE PROJECT is Ohio (my stomping grounds).  

Today I'm doing a segment about hunky, millionaire Garrett Levi Turner, the male character in the story.



"It's time to get to know you, Garrett Levi Turner." The multi-millionaire had lived in Starlight Shores for a handful of years. In that time, Julie had only caught a glimpse of him and it had been from behind as he'd entered a restaurant. 

While his photos had been splashed everywhere, she never paid much attention to his looks or the fine details of his life. Tonight, her curiosity ran amok. She wanted to learn everything she could before meeting him face to face in the morning. The click of the mouse opened a digital information bank that would take days to sort through. Julie homed in on a slew of pictures taken by professional photographers, journalists, and stalking novices that tried to catch Garrett unaware. "Jet black hair. Dark brown eyes. Thick eyebrows. A crooked smile. You don't look so frightening." She read aloud from one of the hundreds of articles involving the magnate. "In his twenties, Garrett L. Turner bought crumbling apartment complexes, renovated the dwellings, and sold them for three times his initial investment. At thirty, he made the list of the youngest millionaires in the world. Blah. Blah. Blah. Wait. A millionaire at thirty? Who does that unless they're from old money?" Julie downed another mouthful of coffee. "Parents: August and Marianne Turner. Middle child of nine. Sisters: Karen, Layla, CiCi, and Lori. Brothers: Brodey, Rusty, Stan, and James. He grew up on a farm in northwest Ohio." She sat back and considered the specifics. "I was wrong. You're not from old money. You're from back breaking work and sweat." Closing her eyes, she tried to imagine him dressed in a flannel shirt and torn blue jeans, with a hay hook in his hand, instead of exquisitely decked out in an expensive suit, crisp white shirt, and a tie that probably cost as much as her monthly rent. Stretching her neck from side to side, she opened her eyes and went on to the next article. "After achieving financial success with his real estate dealings, Garrett Turner took another huge risk and bought a minor league hockey team. Two seasons later, an interested party made him an offer he couldn't refuse, and voila, another sizeable profit." Some people had the Midas touch. Garrett Turner was one of them.

Julie pushed her glasses higher on her nose and studied the high school photo of Garrett in a football jersey. Tall, broad-shouldered, with a can-do look in his eyes, he appeared to be a formidable foe on the football field. According to what she'd read thus far, he was also a force to be reckoned with in business. A whiz with numbers, he received a college scholarship to pursue a career in finance. "And you've never looked back, have you?

* If you'd like to read more about Garrett and Julie's journey to happily ever after, you can find it on Amazon. Just click the link below:

The Great Mistletoe Project on Amazon

Monday, October 10, 2022

My interview with author Nancy Christie!

Today I have author Nancy Christie on my blog with an interview! She's a prolific writer who has several published books and is now working on a new series featuring middle-aged women. Find out more about their stories in Nancy's answers below. 

Grab a cup of coffee and read on... 

1.) I'm so excited to hear that you're working on a series with lighthearted stories about middle-aged women who face personal and career challenges and finding their inner moxie along the way. Without giving too much away, can you share a little bit about your characters to whet our appetites?

Nancy:  I'd love to! The one I just finished and am actively pitching is called Reinventing Rita about a 50-year-old woman who is hit with a series of unexpected and unwelcome events that forces her to reinvent herself. With the help of two friends -- Donna, her employer and Karen, her ex-husband's second wife -- Rita discovers that it's never too late to achieve your goals and follow your dreams.

The next one is called Finding Fran, the story of Fran Carter who, at age fifty-five, appears to have it all: a successful career as a romance novelist and a handsome lover with whom she shares her life. But the reality is that her significant other is cheating on her, her book sales are sliding, and writer's block is keeping her from meeting her deadline. Knowing she must write a new story, both for her readers and for herself, Fran escapes to a northern California bed-and-breakfast where she learns something new about herself and creates her own version of "happily ever after" -- all with the help of old and new friends.

The third one that I am currently writing is Moving Maggie -- can you tell I like alliteration? Despite always considering herself as an organized person, Maggie was completely unprepared for a triple whammy; the loss of her job, the end of her marriage and the need to find a new place to live. Now approaching her 60th birthday, she's forced to deal with the physical, financial, and emotional challenges that confronted her and move into a new phase of life.

These three and others that are rolling around in my brain are part of my Midlife Moxie Series.   

2.) The books in the series are slated to be standalones. Will any of the characters in each of the stories carry over from book to book?

Nancy:  At this point, I would have to say no. They are more like people you meet on vacation, form a brief friendship with, and then never see again.

Even with my short fiction, I rarely carry over characters from one story to another. The only exceptions I can think of are Waiting for Sara (part of Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories) and Going Home (part of Peripheral Visions and Other Stories) -- both about a mother and her estranged daughter; and two stories about Charley Adams, PI and his assistant, Terry McCallister. The pair first appeared in Charley Catches the Christmas Spirit which is in my forthcoming collection, Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales. I liked the interplay between them so much I brought them back in Charley and the Cupid Caper that I'm writing now.

3.) This series is a work of fiction, but when we write our stories, a bit of our life experiences and personalities go into them - sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously. Do you think you drew inspiration from what you've stored inside you or maybe from people you personally know? Or maybe a TV show or song clicked and from that, one story was born, then two, then a third?

Nancy: It's a little bit of everything. I'm a late-bloomer. My first published short story appeared when I was 40, I went full-time into my freelance writing business when I was 42, and published my first book The Gifts of Change in 2004 when I was 50. During that same time period, I also had a lot of personal challenges I had to deal with, overcome and move on from. So I know all about having to discover who you can be when who you were isn't who you are anymore -- if you can follow that!

And I also got tired of how women of "a certain age" were portrayed on shows and advertisements. It seems like once she crossed in Menopause Land, she was relegated to being the grandma/babysitter who suffered from incontinence and incompetence -- sometimes both!

I wanted to write stories that illustrated how life was full of possibilities no matter what age you are, that the loss of a career, whether through age discrimination or retirement, didn't mean that all you had to look forward to would be years spent staring at the same four walls while your brain cells atrophied, or that the end of a relationship, whether through death or divorce, didn't mean decades spent all by yourself with no one to talk to but the cat.

I also wanted to show the importance of having a strong group of women around to support you, comfort you and, at times, kick you in the behind if needed. I love watching TV shows that feature female friendships, and now actively seek out books that show that as well -- think of the novels by Terry McMillan, Ann Garvin and Gina Sorell, just to name three authors. That's why the relationship aspect in my series is so important as is the age range of those friends -- from teenagers to those who have a few more years under their bra than the main character!

4.) From the title of your series, I assume there will be humorous character personalities or humorous situations. While laughter or at least smiles come easily for the reader in these types of stories, writing humor isn't as easy. Would you like to say a few words on the subject?

Nancy:  As I mentioned earlier, I started out as a short story writer, and most of my pieces skew toward the literary, serious, sometimes even dark in terms of tone and subject matter. But when I started writing my first novel back in 2010 -- an accident by the way, because I thought I was writing a short story that just kept getting longer! -- it just had an unmistakable humorous undertone to it, especially in the conversations that took place between the characters.

It's like the way we women talk when we are sharing something bad that happened to us with that "Can you believe he did that?" tone in our voice. And our friends sit there and say, "Yeah, girl, and we could have told you, but you wouldn't have listened to us anyway!" as they hand us another tissue and then devise ways for us to either get over it or get even or maybe both.

I also realized that, while I could do a serious story, say like Annabelle for 7,000 words, I didn't want to live in that space for 70,000 more. I just didn't think I could handle it. And with Covid and all, I just wanted to first, amuse myself and second, amuse my readers. 

Julia Roberts explained it best. In an interview about her upcoming movie, Ticket to Paradise, with George Clooney, she said, "George and I felt a lot of happy responsibility in wanting to make a comedy together, to give people a holiday from life after the world had gone through a really hard time. It's like when you're walking down the sidewalk and it's cold outside and you get to that nice patch of sun that touches your back and you go, 'Oh yeah. That is exactly what I needed to feel.'"

That's what I want my Midlife Moxie series to be: a nice patch of sun that brings some happy warmth to people.

5.) Do you know ahead of time what kinds of teases in the forms of twists or surprises that you'll put in your story? Or do they happen organically as the story progresses?

Nancy:  In other words, am I a plotter or pantser? Definitely a pantser! Even with my short stories, I never know what's going to happen or what my characters are going to say or do until they do it. So that way of writing just carried over to my novels.

That being said, I have tried a variety of ways to keep track of everything and everybody and all the related salient details -- easy in a 2,500-word short story but not so easy when you are well past 50,000 of them!

I tried a couple of software programs but that was just one more thing I had to learn and then keep updating. So my default is a combination of endnotes in the manuscript and an Excel spreadsheet with lots of columns. I also learned to not save chapters individually because then, if I want to check a detail, I had to search every one of them! Now it's all one big file, and I resave and rename them obsessively: RR - draft1, RR - draft2 and so on. That way I always have the older file to refer to if, in a burst of editing, I delete something that later I want.

6.) You've written short stories and books to help authors get moving again when they find themselves in a rut. What kinds of challenges did you face when you transitioned to writing full length fiction novels? 

Nancy:  I had to figure out a workable schedule because I also wanted time to write short stories, especially since I am working on my fourth collection. I prefer to write for a couple of hours straight on the novels, whereas I can work on a short story for a half hour each morning and not lose my train of thought.

Plus I work full time as a freelance copywriter so I had to factor in time to do the stuff that pays the bills and allows me to indulge in my fiction-writing addiction.

What also helped me was to set a production schedule: start times and deadlines, along with release dates. I haven't decided whether my novels will be traditionally published or self-published -- I'm already a hybrid author so I know about both -- but decided to approach it as if I was totally in charge of everything. And that means choosing a release date and working backward. My plan is for Reinventing Rita to come out June 1, 2023, so I need to do any last-minute edits, decide on a cover artist, and pick my self-publishing services company by the first of the year. And do more edits on Finding Fran. And finish the first draft of Moving Maggie. And--well, you get the picture!

7.) Could you tell us a bit about your short stories collection and the author-help books?

Nancy: I have two collections currently available and the third will be out late fall of 2023. Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories is about people who either can't or won't get control over their lives so, as they go down the highway of life, they tend to metaphorically go left of center. And that can lead to disaster.


Peripheral Visions and Other Stories is about people who get dealt a hand in life that isn't the one they wanted, but they choose to play the best game they can with the cards they've received. And through it all, they believe that life will get better if they can just hold on and stay strong.

Mistletoe Magic and Other Holiday Tales is about the wonder and excitement of the holiday season, as shown through the experiences of the characters in eight stories, which includes one of my favorites, Lucinda and the Christmas List.

The next collection, as yet untitled, is about love in all its forms: between friends, between lovers, between siblings, between parent and child. Some funny, some serious, some in the just-starting phase while others are at the goodbye stage.

My two writing books -- Rut-Busting Book for Writers and Rut-Busting Book for Authors -- are full of tips and advice from myself as well as others in the writing business -- authors, agents, literary attorneys and marketing experts. They both grew out of workshops I do and my (regrettable!) tendency to give people advice about this business or point them in the direction where they can find out more. While the first book covers everything from handling procrastination to starting a freelance writing service, Rut-Busting Book for Authors is for those who are engaged at any stage of the book process: writing, publishing or marketing.


8.) You do Wednesday Writing Inspiration blogs. Would you care to share a little about those?

Nancy: My Wednesday Writing Inspiration on my blog, THE WRITER'S PLACE, came out of my need to keep track of all those wonderful quotes I come across from various sources. Not wanting to be greedy and keep them all to myself, I figured I'd post them on my blog. Hopefully someone reads them and it's just what they needed to hear to keep them going!

9.) When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or to help keep the inspiration coming?

Nancy:  There is always some part of my brain that is continually in writing mode. I will be pulling weeds, mowing the grass, going for a walk, and something will pop into my mind and bingo, there's the spark of a short story or a solution to a plot issue. I have also been known to talk out loud, mostly because that's how I make sure I don't forget that brilliant idea I just had! My neighbors are used to it. They just shake their heads.

I have also been working with my partner who rehabs houses on the side. I am the 'grunt' who washes walls, hauls out trash, cleans bathrooms -- anything that doesn't require a high level of skill and keeps me away from the chop saw, drills and other equipment. It's the perfect break from sitting at the computer all day.

Plus, sometimes, you find things people left behind that serve as an inspiration spark. For instance, in one house, a little girl wrote her name in red ink (at least I hope it was red ink!) all over the closet walls: Sonia, Sonia, Sonia. And the closet had a lock like an entry door, not an interior door. And there was a key stuck high on the wall. I just couldn't help but imagine what had been going on, and if that little girl had been locked in there and what took place in Sonia's room. 

And there it goes again -- my little writer brain!

10.) Are you already looking into the future as far as what your next writing project(s) will be?

Nancy:  The novels for sure, and more short stories. If I had a dream, it would be to see one of my stories or novels on the big screen (or little screen, given how popular online movies are these days!) and enjoy watching real people play the parts of my characters.

11.) If you could sit and have coffee with an aspiring author, what topics would you love to share with him or her?

Nancy:  About never giving up. About believing in yourself. And about being disciplined in their approach to writing. It's a creative field but it's also a profession, and it requires a very business-like approach. 

12.) If you could sit and have coffee with a well-known, best-selling author, who would you pick? There are many to choose from, but is there one that came to mind as soon as you read this question?

Nancy:  Agatha Christie. I always enjoyed her stories, but it wasn't until I read her autobiography that I really felt I could make a career out of writing, in whatever form it took. She had a very pragmatic and practical approach to her work. Forget that whole business about waiting for the muse to arrive. Agatha came up with a story idea, sat down and wrote it, turned in her manuscript on time and then started the process all over again.

That's not to say that she didn't enjoy what she was doing. But she knew that the only way to keep the writing gears turning was to not let them stay still too long. Otherwise, they would get rusty.

And while I'll never reach her output, I can still follow her example. In the end, it's not about the money or the publishing credits or the fame. It's about using the ability you've been given and not stopping until you reach the end -- the end of your own story as a writer -- and feeling really good about what you have achieved. 

Here are the links to follow Nancy: 


Living the Writing Life podcast

Focus on Fiction 

The Writer's Place

Make A Change

One on One









Monday, September 19, 2022

Danna is a quirky character!

Danna is quirky! There's really no other way to describe her. She's colorful in the way she talks, the way she dresses, and in most other areas of her life too. Danna loves to cook and loves to eat. She's a full-figured gal who's comfortable in her skin. At twenty-seven, she's ready to find her perfect mate and is ready to settle down.

You'd think living on a popular island with nonstop tourists, she'd finally run into Mr. Right. Not the case. All she seems to run into is desks and other furniture. Did I mention she's a bit of a klutz? 

Here's an excerpt that will reveal a little more about Danna's personality:  (This is a conversation with her best friend Erin at the hotel where they're attending the wedding of their co-worker Meg)

Elevating her foot, Danna placed the ice across her toe, and draped the towel over it. Relaxing against the back of the chair, she murmured, "He must think I'm loony."

"Who thinks you're loony?"

Danna startled from the sudden presence of Erin. "Holy moly!" She threw her hands out for effect. "Don't sneak up on a person! If I'd been chewing gum, I would've choked on it and you'd have to give me the Heimlich maneuver."

"Not all of us clomp like a camel to alert the world we're on the move."

"I don't clomp like a camel."

"A Clydsedale then. 'I promise I won't be gone long'," Erin mocked. "While you were in here sopping up cool air, I was outside roasting in the heat, babysitting your drink, and guarding your handbag. I assumed when you didn't come back you bumped into someone you knew." Erin sat their drinks down and dropped the handbag into Danna's lap.

"I didn't bump into anyone. I bumped into a desk."

Amusement instantly hit Erin's expression. "You didn't?"

The question was rhetorical and not out of line. "I'm as graceful as they come. Not." If there was a coffee table, lamp table, sofa leg, or desk anywhere near, she'd find it with her toe. "I couldn't take turns injuring the opposite toe. I had to jam the same one as I did when I slammed into Meg's desk a while back."

Erin lifted the towel. "You have ice."

"Thanks to LaRee."

"Who's LaRee."

Danna gestured to the desk. "The guy in the red suit jacket. Kind of cute, right?"

"The jacket? Or the guy?"

"You're a funny girl, Erin?"

"Hey, with you, I never know."

Colorful clothing, overlarge sunglasses, handbags big enough to hold everything including the kitchen sink, and shoes to complement each outfit brought Danna joy. She owed it all to her beloved grandmother who had taken care of her for years while her parents worked. On those precious occasions, her gram introduced her to feathered boas, floppy sunhats with all kinds of designs, pearl necklaces, rhinestone broaches, fancy shoes, dresses with loud colors and lace. She went all gushy inside at the memory of her gram saying, 'Wear colorful clothes whenever you can, Danna. You'll stand out in a crowd. Bright colors are supposed to boost feel-good hormones.' At the time, Danna had no idea what hormones were, but she hung on every word the sweet matriarch of her family uttered. Gone too soon, Danna kept her spirit alive with a fondness for all things bold and beautiful. "The guy, silly."

DANNA is book #2 in my Coffee & Dessert in Key West Series

MEG is book #1 in the series

You can find both here ---> AMAZON 

Thanks for popping in! I appreciate your visit so much!

~ Jan