Guest Authors: Members of the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group and Lost and Found

I’ve mentioned the support I get from fellow members of my local writing groups. Last summer, while discussing fund-raising ideas, someone came up with the idea of publishing an anthology. Author Diana Lloyd, a regency romance author who’s visited our blog, came up with the marvelous idea of collecting romance stories with the theme of Lost and Found. She volunteered to spearhead the project and set up a timeline. Nine of us managed to complete our projects in time. Fortunately, one of the authors happened to be an editor as well as a pro at publishing matters, and we gratefully accepted her expertise. Between the efforts of Diana Stout, Diana Lloyd, and the wonderful Kay Springsteen, the nine stories were edited, a beautiful cover was designed, and the book was released just before Easter. 

Below are short descriptions of the nine stories. I’ve linked each author’s name with his/her Amazon author page (when available) so that you can see what else these authors have written.

Thimbleful by Diana Lloyd (regency romance)
Alice Ashdown’s day progressed swimmingly until she lost her voucher to Almack’s ballroom. Frank’s day was an exercise in frustration from the crack of dawn until that evening when he catches a desperate woman rummaging through his carriage. Two people who have no need of each other discover a shared passion for life.

The Promise of Spring by Diana Stout (contemporary)
Patty escapes her best friend’s party, seeking solitude when she’s put into the company of John, whom she learns lives in her building and has been dealing with grief, too. Back home, a place that has given her joy recently is now gone. So, she seeks out the park bench she shared with her beloved husband and finds a lesson in nature.

Let the Music Guide You by Jae Vel (contemporary)
Love helps Ava Fuentes find her way back to her passion after tragic loss and heartbreak crushed her dreams of becoming a rock star.

An Affair of the Mind by K D Norris (historical)
This story follows the relationship between Emperor Ichijō, who reigned over Japan from 986 to 1011, and a court poetess, the married Lady Murasaki, whose stories subtly reflect the Emperor’s privileged, decadent but often dangerous world. Her works, however, shroud the identity of the Emperor while at the same time hinting of deeper passions.

Long Lost Friend by Lisa Campeau (contemporary)
Schoolteacher Bridget is unexpectedly reunited with Ryan, her best friend from elementary school, the boy who broke her heart by moving away at the end of fourth grade. The scrawny, often annoying kid she remembers has grown into a devoted attractive father.

The Duck Docket by Martin L Shoemaker (contemporary)
Divorce attorney Kate Voss, on her way to work and stalled in traffic, finds herself participating in a rescue search for lost ducklings because Tim, the attractive bus driver ahead of her, hit and may have injured their mother. All the ducks found, wishing she had more time to get to know him, she heads to the courtroom. When Tim enters with the ducks, accidentally releasing them, chaos rules. Can order be restored in the courtroom, let alone to her heart?

The Gift of Fire by Natalia Baird (futuristic fantasy)
Nic reincarnates into life after life with one goal: have children each time, and raise them to their mid-teens. Only this action will make amends for the tragedy to which she had contributed. Determined to continue earning redemption, Nic sets out in this latest life to find a parenting partner she can enjoy until she must leave for her next life. Then, Nic meets Damyl, and their instant connection challenges her resolve.

Whittled Promises by Patricia Kiyono (historical romance)
Ellie and Vinnie meet as children in a New York orphanage but were separated when the Orphan Trains sent them to different cities in the west. Before they part, Vinnie carves a talisman for Ellie—a replica of the one he wears—and promises that its special power will help her whenever she needs it.

Trouble Rides a Fast Horse by Rosanne Bittner (inspirational romance)
When Mattie learns her granddaughter’s moodiness is about disappointment over a crush, Mattie shares her own story of disappointment over a new boyfriend. Between the modern day and historical reveals, “Trouble Rides a Fast Horse” shows how a prayer isn’t always answered in the way we desire.

Lost and Found is available only at Amazon.

Posted in Anthologies, authors, Books, Compilations, contemporary, fantasy, futuristic, Guest, historical, inspirational stories, Patricia Kiyono, romance, writers | Tagged | 9 Comments

Thou Shalt Not…

“If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?”

I wracked my brain for a while on this one.

I am without any question a bona fide bibliophile. I literally own thousands of books, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many that I don’t own that I have read and loved.

Books have been a major part of my life all of my life; first being read to for the first 7 years of my life,

then reading, reading constantly, for nearly sixty years more.

 My mind went to classics; it went through famous modern writer’s works that I love, it went through children’s books that I love.

I LOVE, truly LOVE many books and they have had, and continue to have, a major impact in my life.

A well-written work, a well-written scene, a well-written line will come back to me at any time. I will re-read books, but more often lately, I will put on audiobooks of well-loved books which I have read to experience the story and the writing.

 To re-experience the writing.

As I brought up in my post just a few weeks ago about the possibility of having our works translated into other languages, it is often more the WRITING that I enjoy than the stories.

So, who would I like to write like?

No one.

Not that I think that my writing is better than anyone else’s, (far from it), but I never wanted to BE anyone else. Kids around me always wanted to be some singer or actor, or even Santa Claus, but really, I never wanted to switch from who I am to be someone else.  I enjoy performances, but I never wanted to act. Direct, maybe, but I would never want to be Stephen Spielberg, Billy Wilder or even John Ford.

I occasionally see a title or a premise for a book and think, “Gosh, I wish I had thought of that”, but I know every time that  one of two things will happen: A) I would have done a completely different treatment of it,  or 3) Know that I would not have done the story as well.

Are there scenes or lines that I wish that I had thought up? Yes. I marvel, (as our Tuesday Fox mentioned), at the writing in The Lord of the Rings or even  The Chronicles of Narnia. I would love to make it all come together like Liane Moriarty does in all of her books. The death scene and the surprise in Rachel Joyce’s (no relation), “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” are so good that I wish I could pull off something as well, but I would not wish that I had written these books or stories. The same for “Hawthorne”, the literally haunting story by author known to many of us here, Sarah Ballance. That story really sticks with me, the reveal so unexpected, it has stayed with me. Do I want to be in the minds of Liane, Rachel and/or Sarah? I appreciate them, but no. Each of us brings something unique, something we know, something we have experienced, something we thought up, (or were inspired by), to our hearts and minds, therefore, our writings,

and to the world.

So bring on your works, Friends! I want to see what each of you has to impart to us, but I will not covet my neighbor’s writes.

Posted in audiobooks, author's life, authors, book series, Books, characters, collections, creating scenes, decisions, dialogue, experiences, favorites, goals, imagination, inspiration, libraries, Life, memories, novels, phrases, plots, Random thoughts, reading, Tonette Joyce, What if, writers, writing, writing from experiences | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might

If I Could’ve Been the Original Author,

This is the Book I Wish I’d Written

By Jeff Salter

Tough topic this week. And, as I often do, I’m going to skitter around the strict question and answer, instead, the BOOKS (plural) that I wish I’d written… if I’d been the original author.

One of the problems this topic presents is that I’ve read so many terrific books in my life, so far. How can I narrow that down to a single title that I wish I’d written?

Moreover, do I wish I’d actually WRITTEN that book? Or merely that I had the honor, the fame, the recognition of having written it? [There’s a subtle difference… think about it.]

“Wish upon a shooting star”


After struggling for a response to this topic, I finally came upon a title that would serve me well, if I’d been its original author: A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I’ve dealt with that title in a previous blog, which you can find here:

Why Bryson’s title? Because I love the way he entertains the reader even as he educates us, often (at times) with microscopic detail.


Then I began thinking about books that were “deeper” (than humor and education) — in the sense of their “importance.” That led me to remembering Stephen Ambrose… and (in particular), Band of Brothers. The HBO mini-series is considerably more wide-ranging than Ambrose’s book, but both have the same spirit.

Why Ambrose’s title? Because it helped open the collective memories of a generation of ex-soldiers… to share with their off-spring what they went through (and why).


I was familiar with Ernie Pyle from my own youth, when his “biography” was one of the titles I read in the Bobbs-Merrill Childhood of Famous Americans Series. Plus, I had seen him depicted by actor Burgess Meredith in the excellent film, The Story of G.I. Joe. As an adult I’d read a few of his war-time columns here and there, and finally read his 1943 book, Here Is Your War.

Why Pyle’s title? Because it – and the many dispatches / columns the Pulitzer Prize winner filed in 700 subscribing newspapers – really changed the way people learned about war, wrote about war, and felt about war.

Change of Pace

Just in case I’ve totally gone off the rails in my responses to this week’s topic, I asked my wife to answer the same question. Her selections were Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, Fifteen by the late Beverly Cleary, and (basically) all of the books by Elizabeth Peters (AKA Barbara Mertz).


What about YOU? Are there any books that have so impressed you that you wish you’d written them yourself?

For other blogs about other favorite authors or titles, have a look at these:

[JLS # 535]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 7 Comments

So Sorry

I apologize for not posting today. The fact is I’m sick and can barely move. I do have some Covid symptoms so who knows what the problem is. Forgive me today, and I’ll be back next week.

Posted in Miscellaneous | 4 Comments


If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

If I could have written any book I think I would have wanted to be the author of The Lord of the Rings. I love the language, world, and species that Tolkien created! I have daydreamed about creating a world with new creatures and languages but when It comes to actually trying to write it down it simply does not make sense or I don’t know how to translate it down to paper.

Tolkien was an amazing person. He created an entire language! The had to have taken years and so much patience to be able to get the linguistics of it all down. I can’t imagine being able to do something even close to that. Not only did he create a language that people learn and speak but he created a world so fantastical yet so realistic. When you read his books you can see the creatures, the landscape, feel the hope and despare.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have been able to create something that all these years later people are still loving?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 7 Comments

Wishing Upon a Star – or Wishing for a Best-seller

Image from

Our Wednesday Fox asked, “If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?”

Normally, I’ll sit down and write my post for the week in one sitting. But this topic required more thinking time. First, I started to think about all the classic literature, most of which I haven’t read. Of the few titles I did manage to slog through, thanks to my awesome high school English teachers, I noticed a few that presented problems. Some have come under fire for the way they represent parts of the population. Others are so long and rambling I had difficulty staying awake to read them, and putting readers to sleep is not my idea of success.

Then I started thinking about more recent best-sellers. Some are quite gritty, and I don’t do grit. Some are quite spicy, and I don’t write spicy stories. Most deal with stuff I will never experience. There are several romance authors whose books I greatly admire, and I’d love to be able to create wonderful stories with the pace and quality that they do. But choosing just one would be difficult, because I love them all for different reasons.

I began to despair that I wouldn’t have selected a book and author in time for this post to appear on my blogging day, when I learned that the author of some of my favorite childhood books passed away. I remember my second grade teacher reading Henry Huggins to our class. The next time we went to the school library I found the shelf where Beverly Cleary’s books were kept and I began reading my way through the whole shelf. When I read all those, I turned to my local library. Years later, I read several of these books aloud to my elementary classes.

As I mourned Mrs. Cleary’s passing along with the rest of the world, I realized that I could have no better mentor than the author of Henry Huggins, Beezus and Ramona, and all the other books about the residents of Klickitat Street. These were stories that resonated with us because they were about characters with whom we could relate, living through situations with which we were all familiar, and dealing with them in a way we could all understand. These are things I strive for in my stories, but the Cleary books set the standard.

Almost 50 titles were published by the great Beverly Cleary. Which do I wish I’d written? Any of them, but if I must choose one, it would probably be The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Even though it’s about a mouse, the thoughts and actions described seem totally logical and understandable, especially from a child’s point of view. This is the first of three books about Ralph, an intrepid little mouse who takes off on all sorts of wonderful adventures. When I read this and the two sequels (Runaway Ralph and Ralph S. Mouse) aloud to my second and third graders, there was very little fidgeting and no behavior problems, because the children were totally engaged in the story. What more could an author wish for?

Posted in authors, Books, careers, Children's books, favorite books, imagination, Middle Grade Books, Patricia Kiyono, What if, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

I See London,I see France,I see Someone’s Under….drawers

Apparently I came up with the question:

“What is in your desk drawers”?

What ISN’T in my desk drawers?

We have desks all over the house. I bought a little, dainty writing desk when we first got married and that seemed to handle all of our mail, bills, my correspondence and believe it or not, other paperwork for many years, but it is no longer in use. However, we also inherited a large ‘student’ desk with a lot of deep drawers from an aunt, and that filled up quickly.
The little desk is in the ‘spare’ bedroom, which had also collect a lot of things left behind by family members.

Someone gave us a very large, VERY large desk and I used it for sewing and some storage in its deep drawers.
When we moved here, it was easy to get cheap furniture from the local St. Vincent DePaul Store and all I ever bought furniture-wise, I believe, has been desks, so we have a desk in very room but the bathrooms and the laundry room. The laundry room is big and I nearly put the ‘sewing’ desk there, but it filled up quickly with the big freezer, laundry set and shelves.

 The big ‘sewing desk’  now has many things on it, it is in what we still laughingly refer to as ‘the Library’, although some of the shelves were moved to other rooms long ago and it is used for storage, a place for kids to play alone and for the grandson to use his computer when he is here. IN there is the no-longer played piano, an antique cabinet with serving and holiday dishes, a huge open container that still has many of the kids’ stuffed animals, and other toys, and sundry items along with many, many books. The sewing machine is on that desk, but are somany things on it ,I bring it out to the dining room to use it. In that big desk are, indeed, sewing supplies, also art supplies and items that are also common to every other desk in the house, which we will discuss below.

The student desk is in the living room. In it are also many unusual things like a volt meter that for some reason must be there. It has not been used in decades. This desk also holds many old ‘floppy’ disks, which I keep meaning to check out. There are books for games that may or may not be used now or in the future for The Husband’s games. He has taken the computer on that desk, which is offline, and made it his own.

Another desk, which is also The Husband’s , is in our bedroom. It also contains some drawers full of odd things that are seemingly never used; I dount that he has loked in some of those drawers for years, but there the items remain.

A large desk was picked out by Oldest Grandson and although he is not here, it has a monitor/TV and assorted odd items, plus ‘the usual’, and it is in the room he used when he was here, and will if/when he returns.

I had picked up a small desk with a very large drawer for him at St V’s also, which he has with him now in Nevada.

Which brings us to the desk I generally use, the one with the PC hard-wired to the internet. It has the printer on in and so, printer ink is generally in a drawer. The desk contains some of the few things that I wrote which are printed out. It has some of the Oldest Grandson’s writings  and one drawer has some current  correspondence and information that I need to reach quickly, but for the most part, it has, as I said before, it has what every desk, all currently in use or sitting unused, have:

Paper and school/office supplies.

You would not believe the types of paper and folders we have, not to mention tablets of every kind and size, note pads,index cards, stationery, and ‘scrap paper’, plus sticky notes that no one uses.

I can’t even tell you how many pencils we have and believe me when I tell you that my grandkids’ teachers loved me when I would hand them bouquets of new and semi-used pencils for their students, yet, we have pencils up the wazoo,

and we have pencil sharpeners.

and erasers.

We alson have in the drawers  of every desk multitudes of pens. We have some markers, although most of those were used by the Granddaughters, however, we still have an inordinate amount of highlighters.

The drawers also contain staplers, staples, and staple pullers. We have many sizes of and styles of paperclips; we have thumbtacks and rubber bands, in every desk.

 You can find at least one type, though often more, of scissors in a drawer of any given desk.

We have in the drawers notebook-ring reinforcements. There you will see White-out, scotch tape, glue and glue sticks, and there you will also find rulers and most have protractors and/or compasses;

there is more than one hole-punch around.

 Most desk have drawers that contain a few flash drives.

 I have no idea why there are so many drawers, so few truly used well.

But we are well-stocked in case of any writing-related/school-related theme.

If you need to borrow a pencil, you know where to come.

Oh, and please, feel free to keep it…

can you use two?

Posted in author's life, Books, Children's books, collections, Daily life, Family, inspiration, Lists, personal libraries, Random thoughts, Tonette Joyce, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

What is in my desk drawer?

Wouldn’t you like to know?

By Jeff Salter

Our topic concerns the contents of drawers… presumably those in our office / study / writing place.

Before I reply (concerning my present situation), let me clarify the arrangement I had in my WORK office for most of my 26 years in the library administration job from which I retired in 2006. [On most Saturdays, my work office became my personal desk for handling my bills and any creative writing projects that I had going.]

That large desk had a spacious center drawer which held pens, markers, highlighters, pencils, paper clips, etc. I think I also had keys in there and certain important lists. Probably some TicTacs and Lifesavers, too. That desk also had three drawers on one side — and those held various publications, certain files, and miscellaneous paperwork. The other side of that desk had one top drawer which held about the same as the other three… plus a drawer which held upright file folders. I no longer remember which files were in that largest desk drawer, because my office had three short metal cabinets with two drawers each for other files. [I think at least four of those six drawers were for correspondence of various kinds.] Presumably the files in my desk had more importance than the others in the metal cabinets.

No, this is NOT my desk / office… but there are times mine looks nearly this bad.

Present situation

Now, fast-forward to late 2017 when we moved into our newly built house on Fossil Hill on my wife’s ancestral farm in the heart of Possum Trot. Here in my narrow study, I have mostly book shelves [9 units of varying sizes which feature some 34 shelves of varying dimensions], eight metal file drawers, 4 wooden file drawers (under-utilized because of their construction and the narrow space I have to move about in), a few milk crates, and more boxes than I can count.

My primary workstation – which holds my desktop PC and monitor – features a high cabinet and a low cabinet. But no drawers in this “desk”. I miss that desk drawer… and make up for it by keeping a lot of clutter on the “easel” which sits between the bottom of my monitor and the top of my keyboard. It’s modified from what arrived with this unit, but necessity is the mother of invention.


What about YOU? If you have a desk drawer – at home or work – what’s inside it? Are we even allowed to know?

Related discussions

For a look at previous blogs dealing with somewhat related issues, have a look at these:

[JLS # 534]

Posted in Miscellaneous | 16 Comments


“What is in your desk drawers?”

I had a desk in my study for maybe twenty five years. It was a cheap if well designed desk with plenty of room for everything. In my right top drawer I had a dazzling array of pens, pencils, and markers. It was probably twice as much as I ever could have used up.

I had chosen the bottom drawer to store our family pictures in. It was full to overflowing, but somehow I never found the time to organize it.

The top left drawer was filled with various office supplies; post it notes, paper clips, rulers, index cards, glue, etc.

The bottom left drawer contained printer paper and various notebooks.

I had a comfortable desk chair, and the top of the desk was the perfect height. I could sit there and write all morning.

Well, when I retired we decided to redo the study. It turned out to look beautiful, but my nice desk had seen better days, and it was too far gone to repair. We replaced it with a simply gorgeous antique desk that matched the custom bookcases we’d had built. As I said it was a beautiful room.

However, I found that I just couldn’t work in that room anymore. The desk was just a little too tall, and I was afraid to eat in the room for fear I’d drop something on the new rug. My husband wasn’t too sad for me. He said, “If you don’t want it I’ll take it.” So that’s what happened. The drawers are filled with his stuff now.

So what did I do? I found exactly what I wanted at Amazon. I can sit in my recliner and write to my heart’s content. As you can see from the picture, I do usually have some company. Will I ever get another desk? I doubt it. I’m happy just the way I am.

Oh, where do I keep my papers and things? See the curio cabinet in the picture? I keep them behind those two doors on the bottom.

Would you miss a desk if you didn’t have one?

Posted in Miscellaneous | 8 Comments

Prepared for Any Office Emergency

Image from

Our Friday Fox asked,  “What is in your desk drawers?”

Here’s a clue to my desk organization: I once had a poster on the wall in the music office that said “A clean desk is a sign of an empty mind.” I was, of course, implying that the state of my desk indicated that my mind was far from empty.

When it comes to scheduling and goals, I’m fairly good at keeping things straight. But when it comes to stuff, I’m a mess. When I taught full time, my administrators constantly admonished me for my piles. Papers, books, craft supplies, and half finished projects were always strewn about the room. Most of the time, I knew exactly where everything was, but somehow that didn’t satisfy my neat-as-a-pin principal. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that this tendency to be surrounded by stuff goes for most places in my home. Sometimes I think stuff breeds and multiplies when I’m not looking. As for my teacher’s desk, the drawers contained most of the items pictured above, and then some.

Nowadays, I’m at home most of the time. I have an oval-shaped table, about four feet long and three feet wide, that I use as a workspace. It has no drawers, so I suppose the literal answer to the question of what’s INSIDE my desk drawers would be “nothing.” This is actually a good thing, because I have a tendency to fill drawers with stuff

However, the answer of “nothing inside the drawers” applies only to the surface on which I work. Across the room from me is a wooden desk we purchased for our eldest daughter when she was in grade school. It would make a nice work station, but I can’t work there because it’s covered with stuff. About half of the desk’s surface is taken up by my wireless printer. The rest of the surface is covered in books that I haven’t yet figured out where to put. The four drawers under that work surface are each filled to the top with various  office supplies. The top side drawer has replacement printer ink cartridges, highlighters, and souvenir pens from various authors, as well as index cards and 4” by 6” photo paper. The next drawer is stuffed with paper – printer paper in various colors, and some printed with pretty holiday borders (one can’t send Christmas letters on plain paper!). The third drawer has other printable supplies: 8.5” by 11” photo paper, plain postcards, labels of various sizes, iron on paper, and page protectors. The “center” drawer, of course, has smaller office supplies: paper clips, push pins, binder clips, and more writing utensils. I’ve also got more writing tablets than I’ll ever use.

Do I actually USE all the stuff in these drawers? Umm, most of it, sort of. I haven’t yet used the iron-on paper. I bought that when I had a project in mind. A close friend of mine wanted a specific picture put on a t-shirt. I found the picture online and had in mind that I’d print it on this special paper and then iron it onto the plain t-shirt. This happened in late February of 2020, and we haven’t actually been in the same room with each other since then. When we go back to meeting in person, if she remembers wanting that shirt, I’ll make it for her. If I can find the picture. In the meantime, I suppose I could find pictures to print and iron onto other projects, just to use it and make extra space in that drawer. Except that I’ll probably buy some other kind of paper product to take its place. There are packages of labels, page protectors, and multi-packs of notebooks that I’ve used only a small part of, so the rest goes in the drawer “in case I need it later.”

Back when I taught full-time, my bottom drawer at school usually contained my purse, my lunch, and several file folders. My purse now hangs in the foyer of my house, and I eat at home as soon as I make it, so I don’t have to store it in my drawer. My need for file folders is practically non-existent now that most info I work with is online and my manuscripts are in digital files. Frankly, increased computer use has resulted in a lot less paper in my life. I’m sure my children wouldn’t believe it, but I truly have less office stuff now than I did ten years ago. Now, if only I could find a more efficient way to store my craft and sewing supplies…

Posted in author's life, Daily life, Life, lifestyles, Patricia Kiyono | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments