Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Two Minus One: A Memoir by Kathryn Taylor

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Kathryn Taylor to my blog with her book, Two Minus One: A Memoir.

From Kathryn...

It is November 6, 2018. The moment has finally arrived! It is publication day for my story Two Minus One: A Memoir! The book is available everywhere and I am officially an author! I search for words to describe my emotion, but I am at a loss to find anything that fits the level of exhilaration -- and relief -- at reaching this pinnacle.

It was August 2017 when my story, then titled When the OTHER Shoe Drops - or He's Really NOT in it for Life was accepted by Brooke Warner for publication. I let out a huge sigh of relief, naively thinking that my job was over. The professionals would now step in and turn my experience into a book that could reach and help others. I quickly discovered how much I didn't know about writing and publishing a book.

I was assigned to the very talented and gifted editor, Annie Tucker. An angel was watching over me as that decision was made, and I will be forever grateful that Annie came into my life. Week after week, we worked slowly, carefully, and diligently to expand and improve my story. Word by word, page by page, and chapter by chapter, I relived my painful experience. I was encouraged to dig deeper, share more, and expound further on the most debilitating episode of my life. I was gently prodded to reveal intimate details that would allow the reader to connect with my trauma on an even more personal and deeper level than I had originally intended. We were told that, "Cliches didn't sell," and concurred on a new title. Together, we tweaked, revised, perfected. By December, we had a "polished gem." I was physically ill and emotionally drained. It was time to enjoy the holidays with my daughters. The manuscript was on its way to proofreaders. I was confident that it was now time for the professionals to step in and take over!

I was wrong again! January 2018 and it was now time for Social Media Boot Camp. It was my opportunity to really grasp all that I didn't know about the publication and marketing of a book. It was time to discover Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. It was time for an author website, newsletters, and hiring a publicist. I was fortunate to have a supportive publishing environment. Yet I struggled with every aspect of marketing and self-promotion. I would never make it to publication day.

I was lucky that two friends stepped in to offer wisdom and support as they listened to my frustrations about the process. The first offered these wise words. "You must not think of talking about the book as pushing a sale but providing a service. Your story will help others and you must free yourself to share it." The second enthusiastically offered, "I have a friend who can help!" Shari Stauch was my second miracle in this process. Sitting patiently beside me for hours at a time, she re-designed my website, my social media and my identity. She reminded me that I was a skilled author, had a quality product, and people would be waiting to read it and learn more -- about my experience and about me.

So here it is! November 6, 2018 -- my PUBLICATION DAY!!! I am comfortable wearing my author persona and gleefully share my business cards, as well as my story with anyone willing to listen. I am more relaxed on social media and am even followed on Twitter by Jan Romes and Chris Bohjalian. I am joyfully anticipating a private Launch Party on the tenth to thank family and friends for their support throughout this journey. I am euphoric by the genuine excitement that people have at the prospect of having my book in their hands.

I am humbled by the generosity of so many who offered to host events and spread the word about my accomplishment. I am no longer timid. I am triumphant. It is November 6, 2018 and I have added yet another description to my resume. I am an AUTHOR!

Kathryn Taylor was born at the Great Lakes Naval Station near Chicago, Illinois and spent much of her life in the Chicagoland area. Taylor enjoyed thirty years in the classroom as an elementary school teacher and had taught in Illinois, California, and Virginia before she retired to South Carolina. It was there where Taylor wrote her book, Two Minus One: A Memoir following the unexpected abandonment of her second husband. Taylor is an avid reader, enthusiastic traveler, and incurable beach lover. She resides outside of Charleston, SC, with her rescue dog, Lucy, where she can enjoy all three of her favorite past times. Lean more at https://kathryntaylorbooks.com

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Sometimes pizza is just pizza; sometimes it's so much more!

I love how food can sometimes heighten the setting in a story. In Keeping Kylee, pizza plays an important role in the scene where millionaire Quinn Randel comes to grip with his feelings for down-to-earth, financially strapped, single mom, Kylee Steele. 

Here's a small part of that scene... (She's packed and ready to move to Arkansas)

"We're having tomato soup and carrot sticks. I didn't restock the cupboards or fridge because we're leaving."

"I love tomato soup." It didn't matter what they had, as long as they were together. 

Kylee searched the few items she hadn't packed. She thought she'd left out the can opener, but it was nowhere to be found. The packing process had involved tears and tape, not markers and organization. There was no way to determine which one held the can opener and she wasn't about to start pulling off tape to find the blasted thing. "We might have to order pizza."

"You can't go wrong with pizza." Quinn pulled his cell phone into view. "I'll take care of it." He walked to the far end of the living room and in a hushed tone placed the order.

Odd. He hadn't asked what kind they liked. It didn't matter though. If it came with onions and anchovies, she and Gabs could pick them off.

Quinn wandered back and put his hands on her hips. "It should arrive any..." A knock on the door made his eyes sparkle and his lips curl into a smile. "...second."

Kylee quirked an eyebrow. "You have clout, Randel, but not enough to have pizza delivered at the snap of your fingers."

Quinn started for the door. Kylee stepped in front of him and opened it to find Ty and Maggie, Trigg, Nancy, Jake and Tori. "Umm..." She tried not to show her surprise, but she couldn't hide her confusion. "Come in."

Trigg carried in several pizza boxes. Ty had a case of Coke. Jake had a twelve pack of Lone Star. Maggie had a plastic grocery bag hanging from her wrist that held paper plates, Dixie cups and napkins. 

"Good thing I couldn't find the can opener."

From beneath one of the couch cushions, Quinn produced the opener. "You mean this one?" He smiled like he pulled a fast one.

"How in the world?"

Gabbi giggled. "Quinn and I tricked you. When you weren't looking, he tiptoed to the couch with the opener."

"Nark," Quinn teased, but gave Gabbi a high-five.

Kylee pretended to be irked by closing her eyelids halfway, but the corners of her mouth went up on their own.

Maggie gave Kylee a hug and shared some truth. "You have to watch him every minute. Next he'll be hiding your underwear."

Kylee deliberately tugged her jean shorts a little higher. "Thanks for the tip."

Trigg sat the pizza boxes on the coffee table and was about to take a slice from the box marked deluxe.

"Drop it, Sinclair."

Trigg laughed and took a bite. "Who's going to stop me?"

Nancy wrinkled her nose with amusement. "Quite the bunch, aren't they?"

"They are," Kylee said, still curious as to why they were there.

"Everyone back away from the pizza," Quinn ordered. He lifted his wrist to expose his watch. "The others should be here anytime now."

"The others? Quinn, please explain." Kylee crossed her arms. Quinn remained tight-lipped. "Are you staging an intervention?" She looked to Maggie for answers. If anyone would give it to her straight, Maggie would.

Maggie turned an imaginary key at her lips and pretended to toss it over her shoulder. 

Nancy lowered her head so she wouldn't be coerced into giving anything away. 

Tori lifted her chin and looked away.

Kylee got the same sealed-off, don't-bother-asking expressions from Ty, Trigg, and Jake. Last but not least, she used her forefinger to motion Quinn closer. Tell me what this is or..." She poked his chest and dropped her voice so Gabbi wouldn't hear. "...I won't let you hide my panties."  

** There is so much more to this scene that I hope will win your heart. You can check out Quinn and Kylee's story here:

Thanks for stopping by!  ♥



Thursday, June 28, 2018

Wear The Pearls!

I’ve wanted to write this post for a while, but I’m a very private person so I held off. Today I made the decision not to stay silent. So here goes...

Do you have a string of pearls, a gorgeous set of earrings, or an awesome outfit you’ve been saving for the perfect occasion? I’m here to tell you to dig those things out and put them on – right now. Why are you saving them? We’ve all seen memes and inspirational posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and magazines about living life to the fullest because tomorrow isn’t promised. I’ve always nodded in wholehearted agreement and continued to scroll on to something else or flipped the page. Recently, I found out firsthand about the truth behind those words. Even more profound and honest is how life can change in a blink.

In 2017, I had this weird discolored stuff growing out of my belly button – nothing too big, but it wasn’t supposed to be there. Like many people do, I researched online for information. I discovered you can get infections in your umbilicus because it’s a dark, moist, warm place. I bought antibiotic ointment, thinking it would clear things up. It didn’t.

Being blonde and fair complected, and having been born at a time when sun block products were unheard of, I got my share of sunburns. I’ve had hellacious burns on my scalp, back, shoulders, torso, and the top of my feet – and all the spaces in between not covered by a swimsuit. I recall having huge water blisters from the burns. I was a kid who loved to play outside and didn’t give the sun much thought. The sunburns were no big deal – until now.

When the strange growth didn’t go away, I visited my family doctor who sent chills up my spine when she suggested I see a surgeon. One look by the surgeon and I was scheduled to undergo the knife. He removed my belly button and surrounding stomach area. Post surgery test results: melanoma stage 2.

Shock and fear doesn't begin to describe the mental trauma of such a diagnosis. Many of you reading this post know exactly what I’m talking about. Your breath hitches in your lungs, you get a little lightheaded, tears sting your eyes, and you want to scream, “No way.”

Those first test results led the way to a whirlwind of scans and other procedures, which took me to a second, more invasive surgery. An oncologist came on board as well.

Second surgery results:  Everything came back clean!!! The cancer had not spread!!! No treatment was necessary!!! Thank you, Lord!!!

As an adult, I’ve taken good care of myself. I ate right (mostly), always made time for exercise, only drank an occasional alcoholic beverage, and never smoked cigarettes. Yayyy for me! I should’ve been the poster-child for good health. BUT...the one hidden factor that changed everything came from my past. I wasn’t a sun-worshipper per se. I was just a kid, teenager, young adult who never thought something as great as the sun could be so wicked – especially since I live in a northern state, where we cherish days with sunshine and warm temps.

Did I mention that melanoma of the umbilicus is rare? My surgeon and oncologist teamed up to find the best way to proceed. They could only find 100 documented cases worldwide.
Thanks to modern technology and research, I’m still here to write this post. Do I fear that melanoma will resurface? Yes. Will I allow that fear to rule my days? No. What I’ve gained from the physical pain and mental trauma of the past several months is a new perspective. Some days will suck, some days will be great. I've learned to embrace  and accept the challenge of both. My personal experience has opened my eyes to the plight of others who are dealing and struggling with health issues – not just cancer related. I have a family member also battling cancer, not the same type as I had. She’s strong and positive in her treatment, but I’m fully aware of her fear and struggles. I pray for her continued strength and that God will demolish the disease within her and guide her through this process. And I've recently found out another relative is also being challenged by this horrible disease.  

I didn’t compile this post to gain sympathy. I wanted to share my journey to enlighten those who take the sun’s rays for granted. Don’t be Jan! Smear on sun block. Wear a hat. (I hate hats, but I’m getting used to them) Don those sunglasses. Fit those arms into long sleeves when you can. Employ umbrellas at the beach or lake. Monitor your time in the sun and how long your skin is exposed. 

Pay attention to what your body is telling you – it will give you hints that something isn’t quite right. Suck up the discomfort and cost of going to the doctor, your life depends on it.

Tell people you love them, find peace in your lives, and be kind always. Don't wait for scheduled special occasions to wear the pearls, because every day is special. 

Big love to all of you,


Monday, April 2, 2018

Julie Tetel Andresen and her process for Buy Me Love

Author Julie Tetel Andresen visits my blog today with a guest post! 

Buy Me Love: My Process
Julie Tetel Andresen
April 2, 2018

If you read Buy Me Love (2017), my latest full-length romance (80,000 words), you will see the outside of the dress I have sewn. In this post I want to turn the dress inside out and show you its seams. Writers and readers alike may enjoy learning about my process. 

1. The Idea

A couple of years ago I decided to tackle a shape-shifter trilogy. My first step was to write out a short story/novella in order to set up the world, and I came up with The Alpha's Edge. This story is set in contemporary London, revolves around the powerful Hanover werewolf pack and links the central romance to a murder mystery. I liked getting things going in a shorter form - like first staging a play off Broadway.

For Book One of the trilogy I wanted to cross a British police procedural with a werewolf story, thereby continuing the world set up in The Alpha's Edge. Because one of the plots was going to involve online dating scams, I chose the working title Buy Me Love. In the end I kept the title, which doesn't always happen.

2. Before Writing the First Word

I knew:

* the story would be set in contemporary London

* my hero, Moses Riley, would be a Detective Chief Inspector at Scotland Yard, a division of the Metropolitan Police

* my heroine, Zelda Hanover, would be a Guardian in the Hanover werewolf pack

* the solving of the murder would have to lead to whatever the plot (romance plus murder mystery) would be in Book Two

* the solving of the murder would be absurdly difficult 

* this was as much as I honestly knew 

3. The Murder Scene

Now I had to think up a dead body set-up that would be difficult to solve. For the murder scene, I chose a part of London I already knew, namely Russell Square in Bloomsbury. It's a lovely little park, shady in summer, and full of benches and children romping in the central fountain.

Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London

I created a dead body that was rigged to look like a man on a park bench reading a newspaper. This set-up made the murder extremely difficult to solve because no one noticed the man was dead until one Tuesday afternoon, which meant that he had to have been rigged sometime during the night on Monday, hours before any investigation would be opened.

About the dead body itself, here are my notes:

I wanted the least identifiable corpse possible: no jewelry or identifying marks like scars or tattoos. The victim's fingerprints had been filed off, and he was dressed in clothes that weren't his, thereby leaving no personal clues. His teeth were intact, but not knowing the victim's name or even his nationality, they weren't much help except to note that their quality was "American," although this didn't necessarily mean he was American. All DCI Moses Riley and his team had to go on was that the dead man was likely in his thirties and had no defensive wounds, which meant the victim probably knew the killer.

Because Zelda, a werewolf, was going to be involved, I figured the solving of the murder would have to involve the sense of smell. So I deliberately put the dead boy out in the open where it would be discovered after many hours, when smells associated with the crime would have dissipated. Otherwise Zelda could have gone up to the dead body, taken a good sniff and figured out a lot about both the killer and his victim.

At the beginning, I had zero idea how this murder was going to be solved. This is the whole point of writing: to find out how whatever happens happened.

4. The Research

Two prongs --

READING: I read obsessively in any case. In this case, I read British police procedurals, easily 40 if not 50 in order to get a sense of how other authors understand the genre. In particular I loved the work of Oliver Tidy and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles. It's hard to say how they influenced my work, but I'm sure they did.

I also researched Scotland Yard, the Metropolitan Police and anything and everything I thought I needed to know to write a convincing British police procedural.

As any writer knows - historical or contemporary - you use maybe 10% of your research, but as you're researching you don't know in advance which 10% it's going to be. 

ON LOCATION:  I had the opportunity to go to London for five days in August 2016. I already knew I would use Russell Square for the main murder, but I wanted to review the location. So I stayed at the Grange White Hall on Montague Street, where I had been on a previous trip. It's less than 100 yards from Russell Square.

The Grange White Hall, 2 - 5 Montague Street - near the headquarters I chose for the Hanover pack in The Alpha's Edge.

I did such an extensive walking tour of London, picking out the locations for various events and where my characters were going to live, that on the fourth day, the second and third toes on my left foot began to go numb. On the fifth day, I had to sit in my hotel room with my foot propped up on a pillow. All I could do was review my notes.

Here are some of them:

Before DCI Riley confronts the difficult Russell Square park bench murder, I wanted to show him in action, solving an easier case. It is #6 on my list, above.

I set up Zelda's sharp sense of smell by describing what she encounters on a walk through London. It is #8 on my list, above.

I know that writers can convincingly evoke a setting they have never been to or have not been to in a long time (think of science fiction and fantasy writers creating their own worlds). However, I find it a wonderful privilege to be able to physically scout out a location I'm writing about. I never know what I'll come across.

On the first evening in London, I happened upon this image of the London Eye above the Horse Guards across the street from St. James's Park:

I stood there long enough to come up with this passage for the book:

"Across the street on their right, after two elegant blocks of Government Offices, the Horse Guards came into view. Against the sky already turned midnight blue and above the roof of the working stables, the half-arc of the London Eye, miniaturized by distance, formed a maraschino rainbow, each tiny car an exquisite cherry." 

5. Imagining One Scene After The Next

Now to the writing.

I like structure, and I like to keep myself on track by blocking things out as I go. What you see below, is the finished product. When I began, I had a nearly blank page with only one tick for Chapter 1 on the far left-hand side, and I originally imagined it from DCI Riley's POV: he's the M. But then you can see I scratched him out and reframed Chapter 1 from Susie's POV. 

I ended up with 29 chapters and 5 minor characters who have POVs: Susie (Chs 1 + 16), Paula (Chs 4 + 12), Viorica (Chs 8 + 27), Superintendent Biggins (Ch 23) and Gerta (29). As main characters, Moses and Zelda have the bulk.

I also kept track of the passage of time during the week.

6. The Finished Product

Together Moses and Zelda solve the murder and fall not only in lust but also in love. Finding the killer and understanding the motive did, indeed, set things in motion for Book Two in the series, about which I know absolutely nothing about except that it will continue the online scammers plot, take place in Orlando, Florida and involve werepanthers. 

Back to the drawing board.

Buy Me Love was edited by the wonderful literary consultant, Selina McLemore.

Visit Julie at:   Julie's Website  where you can download a free copy of The Alpha's Edge.

 Julie Tetel Andresen   


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Broken Trust by C. B. Clark

Today I have guest author, Christine Clark (writing as C.B. Clark) paying us a visit with her newest release, BROKEN TRUST

Welcome, Christine! It's a pleasure to have you here. 

It's a joy to be here, Jan. Thank you for having me.

(Cover art by Debby Taylor)


After five years of hell with an abusive husband, Natasha Hartford vows never to trust another man. Then she stumbles onto a murder scene and meets sexy, stubborn Homicide Detective Chase Brandon, a take-no-prisoners tough guy who'll settle for nothing less than the truth. Sparks fly, but Chase's suspicions and Natasha's innate distrust block the way to happiness. 

The detective struggles with his own troubled past and is determined to find the truth behind the shadows dimming Natasha's eyes. As more murders occur and a possible connection to her ex-husband appears, Chase fears her life is in danger.

Natasha and Chase race to find the killer before he strikes again. Their survival depends on their willingness to overcome their mistrust of one another. Will they overcome their fears and find love again?

Christine, I absolutely love the cover art and blurb. Both set the stage for what is sure to be an incredible book. Could you share an excerpt to whet our appetite for more?

It's hard to pick just one scene to share, but I hope you get a taste for the story from this sample.  


     The thick carpet muted the tapping of her high heels as she fled through the reception area and down the hall to the elevators. In spite of her cowardly retreat, she wanted to shout in triumph. She'd been terrified of angering the surly detective, but she'd dragged up her courage and told him what she thought. Blood buzzed through her veins, fueled by the adrenaline rush. Damn. It was good to have her old fire back.
     She glanced down a short corridor on her left and stumbled to a stop. How had she missed the ropes of yellow police tape blocking the entry to one of the rooms? Her breath hitched in her throat. That must be where the grisly crime had occurred.
     The shocking truth struck her like a blow--Jonas Waverley was dead. Murdered in cold blood. She staggered and grabbed onto the wall. 
     "Ms. Hartford, wait."
     She glanced back.
     Detective Brandon strode along the corridor toward her, his long legs eating up the distance, a determined expression on his face.
     Her earlier spurt of courage vanished, and she whirled and dashed toward the bank of elevators. Chest heaving, heart pounding, she hit the button for the elevator, jabbing it again and again.
     "Look, I'm sorry," he said, catching up. "I was hard on you, but I'm just doing my job. A man was murdered." He rubbed the back of his neck. "I have to examine every possible lead, question every person of interest."
     She shuddered and stabbed the down button again. Person of interest? Her? She was a person of interest in a murder investigation?
     "Can we go somewhere and talk?"
     She shot him a look, making it clear what she thought of his suggestion.
     He lifted one shoulder. "Maybe we could grab a coffee? I have a few more questions I'd like to ask."
      The elevator pinged, and the doors opened with a hiss, revealing a middle-aged man and an elderly woman who stared at them with vague interest.
     Natasha stumbled toward the elevator.
     Detective Brandon grabbed her arm, holding her back. "Ms. Hartford, wait."
     Warmth from his large tanned hand seeped through the thin material of her raincoat and raised goose bumps on her arm. "Let me go." Her voice was shrill with rising hysteria. She tugged, but he held on, his grip tightening.

This is a great scene to stir our curiosity, Christine. I guess the next step, is to dive head first into the book and find out what lies ahead for Natasha and Chase. Could you provide us with buy links?

It would be my pleasure. 

Buy links:

Wild Rose Press





Google Books

About the Author:

Broken Trust is award-winning author, C.B. Clark's fourth romantic suspense novel published by The Wild Rose Press. My Brother's Sins and Cherished Secrets were released in 2016, and Bitter Legacy in 2017. C.B. has always loved reading, especially romances, but it wasn't until she lost her voice for a year that she considered writing her own romantic suspense stories. She grew up in Canada's Northwest Territories and Yukon. Graduating with a degree in Anthropology and Archaeology, she has worked as an archaeologist and an educator. She enjoys hiking, canoeing, and snowshoeing with her husband and dog near her home in the wilderness of central British Columbia.


You can follow C.B. Clark here:




Goodreads Author Page


Friday, February 2, 2018

Take Care of You - A Valentine post!

This Valentine’s Day (and every day), give yourself the gift of self-care.
Get the blood flowing. You don't have to go at it like a ninja; anything you do will help. Go for a walk. Play music and move to the beat. Ride your bike. Dig out those exercise and yoga DVD's and pop them into the DVD player. Develop a habit of stretching to keep your muscles flexible. 

Exercise is vital; so is giving yourself some down-time. Find ways to cut into the madness of your hectic day. Take a short nap. Watch a movie. Get a notebook and journal your feelings. Color in one of those adult coloring books. Sketch something, even if you don't consider yourself to be artistic. Read a book. 

Eating healthy is huge! "You are what you eat" is spot on. If we adopt that mantra, we'll do great things for ourselves. We're also human; some days it might be blueberries and carrot sticks; while others is all about chocolate cake. Don't beat yourself up about it. Have the cake (unless you're diabetic, then have something equally decadent but sugar-free) and then get back on track. 

They say laughter is the best medicine. Give yourself a healthy dose, by going out to lunch with someone who will give you a good belly laugh. Talk about the silly things you used to do (or might still do). 

Give yourself an unusual Valentine - with a mammogram or by getting other yearly tests done.  

Watch less news coverage. Yes, you need to be informed, but too much of life's grunge can wear you down.

Be the best version of you, by being kind to yourself. Kick dirt over the stuff that didn't go quite right, celebrate the things that did, and steer clear of negativity. You'll feel better on the inside and it will show on the outside!

Have a great Valentine's Day (and a great Valentine's week, month, and year)!