Guest:Author Joselyn Vaughn

This week I welcome as a guest, author Joselyn Vaughn, who graciously jumped in and volunteered to be interviewed when one of my future guests postponed and, well, I lost track of the schedule!
Joselyn and I are Facebook friends and we have many mutual friends, including a few here at 4F,1H.
So let’s get right in to getting to know her better.
Welcome and thank you for coming in on such short notice, Joselyn!

Author Joselyn Vaughn

Author Joselyn Vaughn

No problem! Happy to be here.

You write romances; why?

I love happy endings and when two people find love. My books are romantic comedies. No one is in real mortal danger in the stories and hopefully the reader has a few giggles.

Do you lean toward Happily Ever After,(HEA), or Happy For Now, (HFN)?

Definitely, happily ever after. I hope the couples are able to spend the rest of their lives together, especially since some of them take a while to work things out.
At least two of your novels have major characters that are older couples. How did you decide to write from their experiences, since you are so young.(Yes, you are!)

Not everyone who falls in love is 23, 25, or 30. Love bewitches all ages and their stories deserve to be told. It makes figuring out their stories trickier because they have decades more life experience, have become more set in their ways, and more determined to get what they want. You also have to make sure their history matches up with actual history. In Hauntings of the Heart, at first Gordon was going to enlist in the army and fight in World War II, then I realized that he would have been a Baby-Boomer.

How do you become inspired for your stories and characters?

Most of my stories pop into my head with an opening line or event. In for a Pound developed while I was running along the lake and wondered about a canoe race and what if one of the contestants didn’t show up? Sucker for a Hot Rod developed from the question what if a car guy couldn’t fix the girl’s car? Each question spawns more. The stories take on a life of their own, adding details and explanations as they go.

Do you base any characters on people that you know?

Not really. I pull characteristics, interests, and stories, but I can’t say that any character is someone I know. Sometimes long after a story is done I will meet someone and realize they are exactly like one of my characters. It’s kinda strange.

Joselyn Vaughn's "Seeing You Again"

Joselyn Vaughn’s “Seeing You Again”

Do you base your stories on places where you have traveled ?

The settings are fictional places in western Michigan where I live. They aren’t based on actual places, but on places like ones I’ve been too.

Where have you lived?

I’ve spent most of my life in west Michigan. My husband and I lived in Seattle for a year and a half right after we got married. I went to the University of Washington to get my library science degree.

The description you sent of your life is a riot! Can you tell us a bit about your life? You have young children; when do you find time to write?

My youngest started kindergarten this year and I have three days where I can actually hear the kitchen clock tick. I am trying to use those hours to get words on the page. When they aren’t in school, I write um… after they go to bed? Sometimes when they actually go to bed on time.
My kids are in second grade and kindergarten. My son loves to write in his journal at school. It’s one of my favorite questions to ask what he wrote about. My daughter writes stories about dogs named Pencil Sharpener (sometimes they are named the Spanish word for pencil sharpener.). The youngest is just starting to write her letters. I wonder what she will come up with.
I also run… a lot. I’m trying to do 2,015 miles in 2015. I thought it wouldn’t be that hard because I did 2,000 last year. What’s 15 more miles, right? Well, it’s been tough. However, I have discovered that Facebook likes to share any post-run pictures I upload, so I have to contemplate how that can be used for marketing or something.

Do you write anything else or in another genre?

So far, just romantic comedies. I’d love to write historicals someday.

You have a lot to fill your time. Like me, like to look for treasures in thrift shops, right?
(I , too, like to sew but my skills are also far from tailor-shop.)

Thrift stores are so much fun! I love finding unique things or that one thing I never knew I needed. I’m interested in trying refashioning clothing items. I follow a couple blogs where the women come up with cute tops and dresses, but my items aren’t quite as cute or wearable. Have to keep trying, I guess.

How can our readers find out more about you and your works?

All kinds of information about my books is available about my books on my website:

Thank you so much, Joselyn Vaughn! Joselyn said that she’d be available for any comments and questions…anyone?

Posted in author interview, authors, Books, characters, Family, Guest, Guest author, inspiration, Life, romance, Tonette Joyce, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Guest Hound – Randy Reynolds

Welcome, Randy Reynolds

By Jeff Salter

Usually my guests here are Foxes, but Randy Reynolds is my second Guest Hound, and I’m delighted to book him. Randy and I go way back, all the way to the same high school, where he was either one year smarter or one year older than me. After several decades with no contact, we bumped into each other at a Facebook page set up to remember our hometown (Covington LA) back in the “good old days.” One thing led to another and I was introduced to Randy’s superb blog, — and realized what a talented (and funny) writer he is.

His blog is mostly non-fiction, I take it — though some of those tales are so humorous, I’d bet a nickel they have some embellishment. But later Randy decided to try his hand at fiction and his premier effort is a novel called Preaching To The Trees, which is, I believe, making the rounds of a few select potential publishing houses.

If his novel has the same sense of character, place, and warm humor as his blog columns, I’m certain I will enjoy it immensely.

Without further ado (whatever that is), here’s my friend Randy to give you a taste of his new novel.

Randy Reynolds

Life Is Funny And So Is My Serious Novel

by Randy Reynolds

Life is funny. It just can’t help it.

I’m sitting in an ante-room at the funeral home where it’s my turn to watch the kids. A restless three-year-old granddaughter climbs onto my lap, won’t sit still, stands on my knees and somehow manages to fall over backward, leading with her head, landing with a thud. My other three-year-old granddaughter sees the whole thing and rushes toward me with her hands upraised yelling, “Do me! Do me!”

No matter what’s going on, life is funny. It just can’t help it.

That’s what makes my (as yet unpublished) novel Preaching To The Trees a genre-bender. It can’t be classified as Humor, but it’s full of life and life-is-funny.

Some examples:

  1. After a tornado, our young protagonist Wyatt has a head injury and is going in and out of comas, convulsing and talking out of his head. It’s 1936 and the best the doctor can do is to leave a bottle of chloroform for Wyatt’s mother to administer when his symptoms become unbearable. Wyatt’s little sister overhears the instructions and when it’s her turn to sit at his bedside and wipe his brow, she keeps the chloroform and a rag handy. The symptoms finally subside and Wyatt tries to sit up but she thinks he’s having another seizure and knocks him out with the chloroform, extending his coma for several more hours.

(The circumstances were sad, but life is funny.)

  1. The tornado comes while a carnival is playing at the fairgrounds. “All that remained of the midway were some Ferris Wheel seats, the Tilt-a-Whirl platform and a debris field of wires, engine parts and, from the Knock-em-Over-and-Win booth, one stack of metal milk jugs that not even a tornado could knock over.”

(Some people see only a debris field. Some people see proof that the milk jug game was rigged. Life is funny.)

  1. Cumpsy, the old shoeshine man at the barbershop, is sitting at the sheriff’s feet, popping the rag on the fancy cowboy boots while regaling the regulars with a story. It’s about breaking the law and Cumpsy is not just playing for laughs, he’s gauging reactions. Although it was illegal for a black man to be inside the city limits after sundown, Cumpsy says he snuck in anyway to meet a maid who worked at the Dixie-Hunt Hotel. He ended up trapped in the furnace room of the hotel, a place of total darkness except for the fire leaping through the open door of the coal-burning furnace. He likened it to Hell. Half-expecting a lecture about breaking the Sundown Law it’s a relief when Sheriff Urlacher asks only, “Whatever happened to the woman?”

“Oh, I married her,” said Cumpsy, “and she taught me what Hell was really like!”

Dr. Wisdom, in one of the barber chairs, leaned back as he laughed, causing Vince the barber to nick him in the ear with the clippers.

(Thus, an important point about an unjust thing is slipped into the stream of the novel between laughs.)

  1. When Wyatt and his friend Max decide to steal some cigarette money from Max’s Great-grandmother, Wyatt goes to the front door and engages her in a conversation while Max enters through the kitchen door and climbs onto the cabinet where she keeps her change purse. The cabinet sways out from the wall and Max pulls it back by grabbing the nail where the water bucket hangs. Wyatt watches this balancing act over the shoulder of the old woman whom he calls simply by her first name — not purposefully being disrespectful; it’s just how non-white adults are referred to in small-town Georgia in 1940.

It was touch and go for Max on the cabinet. Again he let go of the water bucket on the wall and the cabinet, with him on it, tilted backward. Max frantically grabbed the bucket, spilling water as he pulled the cabinet back to perpendicular.

On the front porch, stalling, Wyatt closed his eyes and said aloud, “God, if it be possible spare me this cup. Don’t make me tell her, Lord.”

The old woman said, “Tell me what?”

Wyatt opened his eyes and held out his hands like he thought Jesus might do. “I don’t know if I can bear to tell you this message….”

“God told you to tell me somp’n and I want ter know what it is!” she said.

As Max, the cabinet and the water bucket began their final descent, Wyatt blurted out, “He said He’s coming for you, Mellie!”

She heard his words and then an awful racket in the kitchen and squalled, “Oh, Lawd! You mean RIGHT NOW?”

As Wyatt fled the front porch and Max, coated head to toe with flour and carrying his great-grandmother’s change purse, scooted out the back door, Great-grandmother Gauze patted herself on the chest saying “Be still my heart be still my heart” while glancing fearfully at the kitchen where she could see the cabinet and water bucket on the floor surrounded by broken dishes with flour dust floating in air and smoke billowing forth from the grease fire consuming the liver.

She swallowed hard and said, “Take me, Lawd. I’m ready.”

And so He did.

Many a poignant story is told with humor… in the South, anyway.

Randy’s bio blurb:

Summer, 1967. Martin Luther King, Jr., had his people call my people and I soon found myself an arm’s length away from the great man in the basement of Ebenezer Baptist Church. TV crews groused that I was standing too close to Dr. King, and they weren’t about to be upstaged by an 18-year-old radio guy (one month out of high school) in checked sports coat and narrow tie with a plastic mic and cheap recorder. Hands reached out, elbows jabbed, a well-known network correspondent kicked me in the shins, and I got the rest of the press conference from the outer edge of the pack. Every sound in the room was louder than Dr. King’s voice. My boss was not pleased. I’ve been a few places since then — have lived in 59 places, all in the south; worked in radio in GA, FL, LA & TX; TV in FL & LA. I’ve covered big stories, been on some networks, sold some stories, stayed married, raised three children, made some money, lost some money, was homeless for a while in Louisiana. It would be a shame to have lived such a life and not share the lessons learned and laughs inspired, hence my blog.


Does “Southern” humor vary from other regional humor?
Why do people find humor in otherwise somber situations?

[JLS # 248]

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B.I.G is Beautiful

I had a post all lined up for today. A great author who was supposed to have a new release but the date got pushed back to an unknown date next year. I have not read anything in a few months. I found a review of a book that had been placed on my “will read again”, “buy the paper back”, and “gave as a gift” lists.  Not many books have made all three lists, in fact I can think of only four in the past five years that have accomplished this.

Here is a review for BIG is Beautiful by Kelly Martin.

I purchased Big is Beautiful with the goal of taking a break from reading series. I was on a complete overload from the Grey Wolves series that I had just finished. I had no idea what I wanted to read. I was browsing through Facebook and came across Kelly Martin’s page, she had just had a Facebook event for the book Big is Beautiful and I had missed it by three minutes. After reading the comments I decided that I was going to check out this book.

I was hooked! I absolutely loved Brittany and the dynamic that she has with her mom straight from the first page. Brittany is informed by her mom that she is to have a tutor for geometry starting that day after school. Brittany is not thrilled with this; she is being tormented at school by Kendra and her lackeys; along with just about everyone else. Her only real friend seems to be Jillian, a nice girl in the grade below her.

Kendra, is the popular girl; reading about her made me think of all those mean girls who have the cliques that everyone seems to want to be a part of even though the girls are the meanest in school. You sort of want to know what is going to come out of her mouth next even though you know that you will not like what she says and may even be a bit disgusted by it.

Matt, is the quarterback of the football team and a senior. He is to be Brittany’s tutor. He is the all around Southern gentleman, though he has a secret. He does not make fun of Brittany like the other students do, he never calls her BIG (Kendra realized one day that Brittany’s initials were B.I.G. and ever since then everyone seemed to call her that). Could he be interested in her?

Brittany is faced with bullying everyday and she needs to find a way to deal with that. She wants what every other teenager wants. To go out on dates, hang out with friends, to go to the Red Ball. What will she do in order to fit in? Following Brittany on her journey was a heartbreaking. I literally cried for her.

This is a great book with a wonderful message. I have passed the book along to my 13 year old daughter; I hope that it gets picked up by her school’s book club. I think it will really help these teens to understand what it is like to be on the receiving end of bullying.

This is an amazing read! I definitely recommend it.

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Janette’s Review of Only for You by Tista Ray

Only for You

Only for You is a YA story which is full of teenage angst in the search young people have for love and their soul mates. Edward begins as a boy who is full of himself; a self-proclaimed “serial-dater.” Until he is snubbed by a girl he thought he had under his thumb. He needed to grow and change. I waited for that.

The beginning of the story seemed rather redundant to me. The same points were made over and over. But a mystery further in the story made it more interesting. The story then took shape after the first few chapters and became a page-turner for me as I learned more about the mystery and the reason for it. I did not expect the way the story ended.

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Guest Author/Book Review: Diane Burton, Author of The Case of the Bygone Brother

Diane BurtonThis is a Guest Author/Review week, so I asked my friend Diane Burton if she would come and share a little bit about her recent mystery, The Case of the Bygone Brother. Diane is a member of my local RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter, and she’s made a name for herself as the author of several fascinating science fiction romances. If you like to read romances that take place in unique settings, be sure to check out her Switched books and her Outer Rim series. But recently, Diane branched out and started a new series featuring a charming female private detective named Alex O’Hara. I asked her to share a bit about the book and she sent me some great tidbits:


  1. It takes place in West Michigan in a resort town similar to where I live. Although Fair Haven is a fictitious place, if you want to know where it’s “located”, draw a line from Grand Rapids to Lake Michigan.
  1. Settlers from The Netherlands came to West Michigan in the 1800s. You can see their influence in the names of villages, cities, and streets. Like Holland, Zeeland, Vriesland. Their cultural influences can be felt, too. Scrupulously clean (“scrubbing Dutch”), conservative and thrifty. Not bad values.
  1. If you aren’t Dutch, you aren’t much. That used to be the attitude of natives to newcomers to the area. Nowadays (love that word) there are so many newcomers and we add so much to the economy we’re pretty much tolerated. LOL The main character in Bygone Brother, female PI Alex O’Hara, is red-headed Irish in a sea (lake?) of Dutch blondes.
  1. Both sides of my family have Dutch ancestors. That means I get to park in the “Dutch Only” parking spaces in front of my favorite Dutch bakery.
  1. I used family names for many characters in THE CASE OF THE BYGONE BROTHER, including the last name of the title character, Harry Anslyn. My great-grandmother was an Anslijn (Dutch spelling); her father Louis fought in the Civil War, and his father Nicolas was appointed Vice Consul from The Netherlands to the state of Iowa in 1857 by President James Buchanan. That proclamation, which my mom found in my grandmother’s papers, started me exploring my family tree. More relatives’ names will appear in future Alex O’Hara books.

Bygone Brother Cover - 750Blurb:

Alex O’Hara finally gets a case that will give her bottom line a much needed boost. She might even be able to change her diet from ramen noodles to prime rib. All she has to do is track down a man who’s been missing for over ten years. Piece of cake . . . until an old flame arrives and a mugger roughs her up with orders to back off.

My Review on Goodreads:

I stayed up far too late reading this book! So full of surprises I couldn’t put it down. Diane Burton weaves a fabulous tale, and I love the strong, feisty heroine. Can’t wait to see what she does next!


I dreamt about Harry Anslyn last night. An endless loop of a blond man in Dutch costume—black vest, hat, and baggy pants wearing wooden shoes—who popped up from behind cars and buildings and saying, “You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Man.”

I really needed to think about something else. Like Ellie’s latest heart throb.

Cup of coffee in hand, I sat on the floor with my back against the sofa, my tablet on the coffee table. I could sit at the dining room table, but I sat at a desk all day downstairs. They—you know, the ubiquitous ‘they’—say that a change of position encourages a different way of thinking. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

With the apartment a tad chilly—I hate turning on the furnace before Halloween—I stayed in my flannel sleep pants and a long-sleeve thermal shirt. I pulled on a quilted flannel workshirt. Do I have fancy sleepwear or what?

After searching several databases, I found more references to Craig MacKenzie but nothing I didn’t already know. A face-to-face meeting would give me a better idea of his character. My first thought was to pose as a reporter doing a piece on oil and gas exploration in Michigan. If their relationship led to Ellie’s hoped-for conclusion, how would she explain that her maid of honor was an imposter and a liar?

Maybe I needed to give this more thought. After a couple of minutes, I remembered Pop had a contact in the local oil and gas business. The guy had been a resource for a case last year. The oil and gas industry in Michigan was small enough that this guy was sure to know MacKenzie. I raced downstairs. The case file would be in the cabinet in Tony’s old office. I unlocked the door, flipped on the light, and was half-way across the room when a blur came off the brown couch. I whirled around and froze.

Nick Palzetti stood in a half crouch. His Glock 9 mil pointed straight at me.

The Case of the Bygone Brother is available at AmazonSmashwordsiTunesBarnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Alex O’Hara will soon be up to her old tricks. Watch for The Case of the Fabulous Fiancé to be released next month.

About the Author:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and The Case of the Bygone Brother, a PI mystery. She is regular contributor to The Roses of Prose and Paranormal Romantics blogsites. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.

For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website and blog, and connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Goodreads.

Posted in Guest author post, Patricia Kiyono | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Heroes and….Heroines?

This week we are discussing our favorite literary heroes and heroines… do we use the word “heroine” anymore? Is it considered sexist, like “poetess”, “authoress” and “actress”? It’s ironic, really, that it was ever used because “Hero” in mythology was, in fact, a woman.

But, I digress. It’s been a hard couple of weeks for me. Although I read a great deal, I was  stumped to think of real “heroes”.

I cast my mind far in my past to begin.
The first idea that came to mind is “heartthrob”, and I have to admit that Andre Bolkonsky in “War and Peace” would have been my choice for a literary boyfriend when I was a teen. Of course, Jean Vanjean from “Les Miserables” certainly becomes a fine person and one worth getting to know. As for having someone worth knowing and acted like a hero, I have to say that Agatha Chritsie’s Hercule Poirot would be someone I’d love to have in my life.
As I have written before in “Austen’s Pretty Limits”[Archives], no one writes a hero like Jane Austen. Her main female characters, although good, never seem to appreciate them. Never have I read one of her novels that I don’t say out loud at some point, “If you don’t take him, I will!”

Perhaps it’s because even though my life has often been far from rosie, it’s mine. I don’t think I’d ever trade places with anyone, not after my hard-earned victories. Heroines are hard for me to acknowledge as any I truly admire enough to change my life to become .
I enjoy reading the adventures of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, Gretchen Archer’s Davis Way. MaryJanice Davidson’s assorted werewolves, mermaids, vampires, fairies, etc, and the female characters in many other writers’ works, but I am not sure I consider them as true heroines; none are place-traders.

The closest that come to life-switchers are the good women written by JK Rowling. Molly Weasely, (possibly), but surely Minerva McGonagal and Hermione Granger. If there is any of the woman I would really want to trade places with, (although not become), it would be Nyphadora Tonks, because of all the honorable men in Harry Potter’s world, Remus Lupin is a true, though undersung, hero.

Magic aside, I think I’ll stick with this life…but I hope other writers keep the great characters coming. I like to read about nice, honorable people.

Posted in writing, protagonists, authors, Tonette Joyce, characters, favorite heroines | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

My Favorite Romantic Heroine / Hero

By Jeff Salter

This topic threw me, because – truly – I don’t read all that many books I’d characterize as romances. But while I was pondering, I remembered a movie from the early 80s with a writer, Cathy Palmer, who wins a big contest. The prize is a trip to Paris to meet her idol, the wildly popular author Margaret McMann who’s written a whole series of novels featuring the fictional heroine, Rebecca Ryan — a glamorous international spy.


Though her oppressive and cloddish husband tells her not to go, Cathy goes anyway — she earned it!

After an accident in Paris, however, Cathy becomes the character Rebecca. There are twists and turns a-plenty as her temporary delusion intersects with real-life intrigue. The hapless Alan McMann (son of the famous author) – beautifully played by Tom Conti – spends most of the movie scrambling to keep up with her. Plenty of surprises (and fun) along the way.

JoBeth Williams plays Cathy/Rebecca; I love her boldness, enthusiasm, confidence, and courage. Later, her vulnerability resurfaces as she confronts the domineering husband.

My favorite romance hero?

Cyrano is high on the list.

He’s brave, brash, and larger than life; he compensates for his appearance (huge nose) by wit and swordplay.

Falls in love but knows (or believes) Roxanne will never love him, so he helps a handsome younger guy – rather a simpleton – woo her and win her.

Cyrano keeps up the pretense because it keeps him near Roxanne, even though he can never consummate their relationship… or even let her know those were his words and feelings in the darkness.

He risks his life many times just to communicate with her. Finally in old age, Cyrano inadvertently reveals it was him all along, and then he dies.

So sad… so romantic.

Jose Ferrer version (1950)

Gerard Depardieu version (1990)


Who is YOUR favorite romantic heroine or hero?

[JLS # 247]

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