Guest: Author Deb Marlowe

I have been a FB Friend of Deb Marlowe’s for some time. She and I have a number of mutual writer friends and we are both big iced tea lovers. I enjoy her posts, her humor, she can write and she is such a nice lady! I knew that I wanted to ask this U.S.A. Today best-selling author in for an interview, but got excited when I saw that she researches for her regency books to include recipes that are appropriate to the time period, and does videos on them.

Welcome, Deb!

It is amazing how many native Pennsylvanians I have managed to find while looking for interviewees! How did you get from there to where you live in Raleigh, NC?

My husband was a year ahead of me at Penn State. He got a great job in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina and moved down after his graduation. A year later, I graduated, we got married and I followed! We love it here. It’s been a fabulous place to raise a family.

Anyone who knows me knows that I will get right into the food! You obviously like to cook. Do you cook ‘Regency’-style at home? What is your favorite type of cooking??

I do love to cook, but I also have several picky eaters in my house! I do not cook ‘Regency style’ for everyday. Their dinners were far more elaborate than anything I want to get up to every day! I love to bake, though, and I love to try recipes that my characters might have as a favorite. I do have a couple of historical recipes that I make for parties—several of my writer friends and their husbands really like my Mrs. Beattie’s Sticky Pudding. The Irish Cream Shortbread goes over well with company too! My sister and I both enjoyed the Glamorgan sausages—which are really cheese and leeks formed into sausage shapes, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. I’m currently experimenting with Sally Lunn buns, which I’ve had in Bath and just adored!

Along with the videos on ‘Regency’ foods, you have wonderful articles on the customs of the period and it is all quite fascinating. You do a great deal of work and go into depth for such short posts, my hat is off to you! Do you enjoy doing the research?

I do! I love the history. All of it, from the politics to the food to the science and on down to party games and fashions. I want to really ground my readers in the feel of another time. The Regency was an exciting time, full of change and conflict and big personalities. What’s not to love?

What was the most surprising thing that you learned while doing research?

So many things! There is so much art and invention and exploration going on at the time. I love the little surprises—like how immensely popular Valentine’s Day was amongst all classes and how a prized Christmas dinner tradition was an entire roasted hog’s head. Ugh! There were so many things that were different back then and so many very human things that are the same.

You also have ‘Behind the Book” on your page. And although ‘Regencies’ are generally HEAs, for “How to Marry a Rake” you exposed the dark side of horseracing. I am sad to say that I learned early after my moved to Kentucky that many of the practices, and others are still going on today. Do you show other less than perfect situations in your other works?

Oh, yes. Most notably—the first book of the Half Moon House series, The Love List, is based on The Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies—which was a real publication, put out annually for years. It listed all the prostitutes in London, with descriptions of their appearances and ‘specialties.’ In the Love List, the list is revived as a means of revenge (our heroine finds out her name is included on the list—gasp!) and also as a means of political sabotage.

Actually, the whole Half Moon House series is based on the very common and barbaric practice of blaming the victim of abuse. The series revolves around a girl who was betrayed and ruined—and then rejected by family and society. Instead of giving up, she decides that if they are going to label her a whore, then she will become the best one EVER. She does, and becomes very wealthy and influential and uses it to open Half Moon House, where any woman can come to her for help.

Many of your titles are play of phrases and are too adorable: “Lady, It’s Cold Outside”, “Beyond a Reasonable Duke” and my favorite, “A Waltz in the Park”. Do you have any trouble coming up with titles?

Sometimes they just come to me and sometimes I have to brainstorm with my writer friends to find just the right one!

Deb, secondary characters of your show up in subsequent books. Are they always within the same series? Do some demand to have their own story told, or do you plan to use them again when they first come to you?

I envision all of my Regency characters as living in the same world. They often show up in each other’s stories—sometimes as part of the story or even just as a mention or the host of a ball or something similar. Readers love to find those ‘Easter eggs!’

You have done a number of books and series, plus a few anthologies. Several writers that I know really don’t like being involved in anthologies because they feel constricted, some don’t like to share the limelight, (rare), but at least one mentioned that the payout is too low for so much work. I can’t imagine writing for the pay alone. I assume that you enjoy doing anthologies?

I do like anthologies. There are readers who love the short format and some who love to use them as a vehicle to try a new author. I like to write them—especially when I find authors who like to interweave our stories. That’s my favorite—but not every author likes to do it.

Please tell everyone about the Historical Romance Retreat.

So much fun! HRR is a fabulous time for anyone who loves historical romance. It’s a long weekend of authors and readers hanging together, enjoying historic teas, games, workshops, parties and even a grand ball. I love getting to spend time with people who love what I love! Everyone is so welcoming and friendly. I encourage everyone to go and have a great time!

So, you write, you cook and also you scrapbook; what else occupies your days, (besides people like me who bug you for interviews)?

Well, I don’t scrapbook much anymore. The kids are older now and I take more pictures of the cats than them. I love to travel, and do that as much as I can. I annoy my kids by making them talk to me and keep me in the loop. LOL. I spend a little time with my reader group online every day. They are such a blast! I write a lot and do a hundred other things involved in running a small business. I hang with my friends whenever possible. My Valiant Husband and I are movie buffs and I do love to binge watch a good show in the evenings.
[As have me and mine-T.]

Thank you so much for taking the time to be my guest, Deb!

Thank you so much for having me!

Please let people know how can learn more about you and your books:


My website is a good place to start: It has the Regency Kitchen videos, historical articles, all my books and my monthly contest.

Social Media:


Twitter: @DebMarlowe


or Follow me on Amazon:

or BookBub:

It’s been a real pleasure, Deb!

Posted in A Waltz in the PArk, Anthologies, authors, Beyond a Reasonable Duke, blessings, book covers, Books, careers, characters, Christmas, Christmas books, collections, creating scenes, decisions, dialogue, Family, food, Guest, Guest author, HalfMoon House, historical, history, hobbies, imagination, inspiration, interview, It's Cold Outside, pets, reading, recipe, Regency, romance, short stories, The Harris List of Covent Garden Ladies, The Love List, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, villains, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Guest Hound, Ron Barthet

Welcome to a Face from the Past

By Jeff Salter

Today’s Guest Hound graduated with me from Covington [LA] High School in 1968, but it’s entirely possible he hardly even knew me. You see, my sophomore year was in Mt. Pleasant IA and when I returned to Covington for my Junior and Senior years, there were lots of new faces — most from the “feeder” schools like Madisonville and other outlying communities. Since most of those “new” folks arrived at CHS in 10th grade, I missed meeting them — me being in Iowa that year. All this is merely to say that I knew Ron by name and face in our senior year, but I can’t swear that we ever actually met. I think he was on the staff of the school newspaper, so I probably saw his byline.

Anyhow, I’ve recently become re-acquainted with Ron through a site where many Covington folks congregate… particularly those who also graduated CHS in 1968. Imagine my surprise to learn recently that retired journalist Ron was also a novelist. So, I definitely wanted to read one of his books, which we’re featuring here today. And, having read and enjoyed Cajun Gold, I naturally invited him to be my Guest Hound today.


Brief Bio

A native of New Orleans, LA, Ron Barthet worked as a journalist and news photographer for more than 30 years. Now retired, he draws cartoon maps of area towns and provides articles and pictures for a daily blog that features the history and people of the area north of Lake Pontchartrain. His mission is to use his skills to help other people tell their story.


  1. To begin with, how is it that I knew your name and face, but we never had any high school classes together. Did you arrive at CHS during the sophomore year I was in Iowa, or is there some other explanation to this mystery?
    [ *** RB *** ] — I enrolled at Covington High late in my senior year, but immediately became involved in the student newspaper, taking pictures, writing articles, etc. So even though I was only there several weeks before graduation, I was pretty busy, interviewing people and writing up stuff. Earlier in my senior year, I had gone to two other high schools and both times was involved in writing for the school newspaper, which was good, I suppose, since that is what I wound up doing for my career.]

  1. From my own experience of my sophomore year in Iowa, I know moving to a new school – where you don’t know a soul – can be a daunting shock. Any experience you’d care to share about your high school moves?

[ *** RB *** ] — My parents got job offers in different towns, each one better than the last, so I naturally went where they went. Turned out okay, taught me resilience and adaptability. And to try to make friends when you get the chance, but don’t worry about it if you don’t. Somehow it will turn into an experience you can use in your writing down along the line.

  1. So, you were a transplant to Covington LA — rather than having been raised there. Any special reason you decided to stick around?

[ *** RB *** ] — Are you kidding? Covington’s a great place, a small town, interesting people. And that’s where the job was, became a newspaper editor and photographer. Never ever occurred to me to work in a big city. Later I found out that some ancestor of mine was a newspaper editor, and my grandfather was a photographer in the early days. From a small town named Labadieville in Louisiana.

  1. Though I’ve moved 15 times in eight different states and even spent a year in Greenland, I still consider Covington LA as my “home” — even though my time there (over four different periods) was a total of only about 14 years. You’re about my age. Looking back over those 68 or 69 years, which town (or place) do you consider “home”?

[ *** RB *** ] — That would be Covington, but I really enjoyed the few years I lived in northern Alabama with its mountains and caves. I’ve bought a couple of caves over the years, one in Tennessee and another in Arkansas, but I always sell them after a few years. They really are dark and damp places with bats and lizards. But I enjoy exploring them. Always had a dream of buying a “showcave” and giving tours to folks. I’m too old for that now, but I still like visiting caves when I get the chance. And there aren’t any caves around Covington.

  1. As kids, my brother and I scripted and filmed short “movies”. Tell us about your film work with 8mm and/or Super 8mm.

[ *** RB *** ] — For two or three years, back in the 1960’s, a friend of mine and I got together and made several fictional plot movies on silent 8mm film. It was fun, a lot of work, and somewhat expensive, but looking at the films now is a great memory jogger. Half the films were destroyed in a hurricane storm surge in the mid-1980’s. The films ran from eight to 12 minutes, but there was one that ran for 26 minutes. They were adventure stories, mostly involving volcanoes, meteorites, international spies, time travel, and flying saucers. The film titles included “African Journey,” “The Man from F.R.O.G.,” “Disc Attack,” and “Firestorm.” I was proud at the time of the special effects, but looking back they are truly cringe-worthy. It is interesting to watch the movies now from the perspective that we are all now in our late 60’s, whereas in the films we are running, jumping, faking fights, and taking risks that our parents were not happy with when they saw them on the screen. But they were creative and developed finely-honed talents that we never used again.

  1. What was it that nudged you into a career in journalism? Which papers did you work for over your career?

[ *** RB *** ] — I can get philosophical about it, but let’s not. I just like to talk to people, write up their account of various things, and take pictures of ribbon-cuttings. I’ve been to thousands of city council meetings, ground-breakings, car wrecks, and, of course, house fires. When you get down to it, history is made up of newspaper articles that were published 100 years ago, so I’m doing what I can to keep future historians gainfully employed. Newspapers I’ve worked at, mostly small town weeklies: The St. Tammany Farmer in Covington, the Cullman Daily Times in Alabama, the Sentry News in Slidell. Mostly the Farmer, though. I have done a lot of magazine writing as well, Construction News magazine, chamber of commerce magazines, trade magazines.

  1. In your journalism years, who was the most famous person you interviewed?

[ *** RB *** ] — I suppose Henry Fonda was the most famous, but there was also Walker Percy, I haven’t interviewed a lot of famous people, mostly people with interesting stories to tell. Folks like world-renowned moth collectors in Abita Springs, backstage workers at community theater productions, people preserving and restoring historical landmarks…

  1. Who was the most INTERESTING?

[ *** RB *** ] — That’s an unfair question. Everyone is interesting in their own way, and part of my job as a writer was to get those personalities to open up and share their stories, even when they didn’t think they were that interesting. That’s the challenge, helping them to see that what they have accomplished will help others try to accomplish what they can do. I wrote a column in my newspaper called “The Talent Bank,” and every week I wrote about not only people who were recognized and applauded for using their talents, but also those folks who saw what they were good at, pulled it all together and polished up their skills and then DID something. Sometimes they created stuff for their own personal sense of accomplishment, sometimes they just wanted to sell little knick-knacks at the local farmer’s market. But somewhere along the way, they realized that they didn’t have to be “creative” to make stuff people liked and wanted, but they did have to DO SOMETHING, start it, finish it, and move on to the next thing.

  1. I understand you have an interesting anecdote about Charles Kuralt. Would you share with us the why, when, and what of that contact?

[ *** RB *** ] — My novel Cajun Gold was first written in the mid-1970’s when Charles Kuralt was doing his “On The Road” tv series with CBS, travelling about the country interviewing interesting people. Well, one scene in the novel has a television news reporter interviewing the main character about the chunk of gold he found, and I thought, hey! I’ll just put in there that it was Charles Kuralt stopping by to do the interview. But then I got to thinking, maybe I would need Kuralt’s permission to use his name in the novel. So, heck, I sent him the few pages of the story where he appears, asked him if it was okay to use his name, and included a self-addressed postcard for his reply.

Much to my surprise, a month later the postcard comes back, signed by Kuralt, saying it’s okay to use his name. That was really cool. But in the latest edition of the book, since he died a few years ago, I have replaced his part with a generic television interviewer. I need to find that postcard and frame it.

  1. Possibly among many other creative talents, you work with photography and maps. Tell us how you got interested in maps, in general, and how/why you branched off into those – not sure what they’re called – decorated tourist maps.

[ *** RB *** ] — The maps have really turned into something. I drew the first one in 1983 showing the area of downtown Covington where various arts and crafts demonstrations would be held for the community’s first Olde Towne Festival, which was a showcase of heritage type music, skills and story-telling. The map was extremely popular, people wanted copies to keep as souvenirs. So I printed up a bunch, sold ads on the map for publication in the local newspaper, and it just grew from there. Now I do ten or so maps a year, big towns, small towns, plus a little historical information. I’ve done about 60 overall. We’re putting them on the internet now. People have sought out those kinds of maps for hundreds of years. They were originally called “panorama” maps or bird’s eye views. People like maps, I guess.

  1. Besides news and features – and presumably editorials – which would have been in your journalism career, what other types of writing have you done? Poetry? Plays? Short stories?

[ *** RB *** ] — A few poems, a couple of screenplays, a bunch of short stories, three or four songs. Nothing spectacular, though the City of Covington did adopt one of my songs as the “official song” of the city. That was interesting. I certainly didn’t write it to do that, I was just trying to show how grateful I was to move back to Covington after finishing up my cartoon map work in Alabama.

  1. We’re already highlighting one of your novels here today. Give us a title and short blurb of the other two titles.

[ *** RB *** ] — The other two are The Gafferty Perspective and The Gafferty Momentum, which is the sequel of the first one. Perspective was influenced by my reading of the Celestine Prophecy. Gafferty was a guy who collected newspaper clippings and read alternative health magazines for years until one day, he suddenly realizes what the human body actually is. His next door neighbor actually tells the story, which is filled with fun facts about stem cells, electromagnetic resonance fields and electric eels, you know, all that weird stuff. The Gafferty Momentum is similar, but it takes off on an adventure in manipulating time, slowing it down, speeding it up, corporate conspiracies, and a little time travel thrown in. I enjoyed writing those two books, but they do pack a lot of information in a short novel format.

  1. Anything in particular that nudged you into science fiction writing?

[ *** RB *** ] — Science fiction from my viewpoint is not about future events or high technology, but it’s about people being presented with situations outside their understanding and their personal reactions to it. I guess I enjoy writing science fiction because it allows you to put characters into challenging scenarios that the reader has never possibly been placed in before. So the reader and the characters are wandering through this together. I usually have to go through several versions of the original manuscripts to ramp up the action, turn up the emotional responses, and have people getting angry and getting misunderstood. I’d prefer it if every character would be polite and accommodating and patiently try to understand what other characters are trying to do. But, boy, that makes for a dull book far from reality today.

  1. If Cajun Gold were made into a movie, which actors / actresses would you like to cast in the primary roles?

[ *** RB *** ] — Since all the main characters are Cajuns, that’s a limited pool to draw from. I suppose the best course of action would be go to Acadiana, somewhere around Lafayette, and start auditioning locals involved in little theater or college drama students. Can’t rightly see any major Hollywood stars doing what they would need to be doing to film this story.

  1. How did you decide which publishing route to undertake?

[ *** RB *** ] — The Gaffery Perspective was my first effort in writing a real novel, so I thought in order to get it published it was somewhere mandated that you had to send it to a New York book publisher to read. I’m a little embarrassed to admit to this, but that is the sole reason the main character in the novel, the person who tells the story, works as a book editor at a New York publishing company. Imagine that! After that ploy didn’t work, I turned to print-on-demand services and became a publisher myself. I had been publishing maps for years so it wasn’t that big a deal.

  1. Blogs are a lot of work! What made you decide to create a blog? How often do you post? Do you get much traffic?

[ *** RB *** ] — After 30 plus years in the newspaper business I retired with four file cabinets full of notes, documents, and newspaper clippings, along with 14,000 negatives. When my father died in 2003, I had to go through his file cabinets full of papers (not wanting to overlook something important), and I decided that nobody should go through that ordeal sorting through my papers after I was gone. So I started reading through my papers — mostly throw-away stuff, but many things other people would enjoy seeing, particularly the pictures from the 1970’s and 1980’s. So I researched blogs and put one together featuring history, photographs, people and maps. For the past three years I have been posting one item a day, and the response at the beginning was dismal. So I started linking Facebook posts to the blog articles and that helped bring in people. Since the first blog was only about St. Tammany Parish, the audience was limited, so I was averaging 1000 hits a day when the blog posts were really of wide appeal, and maybe 200 hits a day when the posts were not that interesting, but of importance to some people. I found a lot of stuff in my files not pertaining to St. Tammany parish, and I created a second blog, a personal one, featuring stuff that I created that hardly anyone at all would be interested in, but, hey, I’m cleaning out my files, so something worthwhile is being accomplished. The second blog, called The Barthet Gallery, includes some of my more creative stuff, like short stories and  “Posters of Imaginary Festivals.” Both blogs give me a chance to post my cartoon maps to the internet, so there’s that too.

  1. Have you ever encountered people who seem unable / unwilling to comprehend that writing is something you are driven to do?

[ *** RB *** ] — I learned something in college that I have treasured all these years, and that is this: content doesn’t matter, as long as you have good transitions. My writing improved once I realized that content and plot, as important as those are, really require good smooth flow from one scene to the other. Transitions, phrasing, scene descriptions, telling the reader where you are going to go and what you are going to do, and then afterwards, tell them where you have gone and what you’ve done. Sometimes you have to pause the action so the characters can stand around and ask each other “what happened?” “Why did you do that?” and my personal favorite, “Now what do we do?” That’s important because, whether I’m writing to entertain people or writing to share with them some monumental revelation, there is a reason I’m spending all this time at the keyboard. The drive to be a writer, to put all this on paper, spending hours and hours, day after day, (when I could be doing something else) is simply to tell a story, someone else’s story. If you care about your characters, that’s a powerful motivation. I’ve never run into people who question why I write because I don’t really know myself, and if I did I doubt if it would make anything difference.

  1. Give us one example of someone who has contacted you and expressed how much your writing meant to them.

[ *** RB *** ] — The reaction to my newspaper reporting has always been positive, and the maps have always been well received and appreciated. But when one of my friends read the novel Cajun Gold and really enjoyed it and loaned it out and encouraged other people to buy it and read it, that surprised me a little. It entertained her, and that was good, it was one of the first times I had written about characters who were a little “off-the-wall,” bigger than life. So any positive reaction to that was encouraging. Reading the novel also helps people dream about a giant ball of gold landing in their own back yard, so there’s that.

I have to mention that the biggest response to any newspaper article I had ever written was about the death of a dog which had played a part on the local community theater stage production of “Annie.” The dog was so beloved as a result of its faithful performances during the run of the play that when it died a few months later, the community was devastated. It showed me how emotional people can get over the simple things in life, a favorite pet passing on, a neighbor doing a good deed, volunteers helping local residents out in any number of ways. Being a writer and being able to capture those stories, sharing those ups and downs, getting down on paper the words and feelings of things that people don’t even know how to say and express, that’s what writing does, whether in news reports or science fiction novels.

  1. In the conversations (about writing) that you’ve had over the years, what is one writing question which you’ve WISHED had been asked of you… but never has been asked?

[ *** RB *** ] — How did you get all that down and make sense of it all?

  1. What’s your answer to question # 19 above?

[ *** RB *** ] — Getting it all down means taking notes when you come up with ideas, using a tape recorder to vocally record dialog so it doesn’t sound artificial when you write it down, and above all else, make an outline. I only wrote one “stream of consciousness” short story, and boy was that a train wreck. The characters took over the plot and decided to “live happily ever after” when I was trying to force a horrible story twist that ended in tragedy. Characters! One day I’ll write a novel without them and that’ll show ‘em.

Cajun Gold

Book Blurb

His fiction writing includes three books, his favorite being “Cajun Gold”. Written under the pen name Cliff Madison, it tells the story of how a couple hundred pounds of gold falls out of the sky and ruins a Louisiana Cajun’s plans for the weekend.

“This began as a short story I wrote back in the 1970’s, and several years ago I decided to stretch it out a bit and ramp up the craziness of the characters, not that difficult a task when you’re writing about Cajuns,” he says. Barthet’s family is from Labadieville, LA, so he has plenty of Cajun blood in his veins, plus his sister married into a Cajun family. “All the characters in the book are fictional, yes, please, really, all of them are totally made up,” he assures us.


Here is a review of Cajun Gold by Elaine DeSmith, a Covington writer and teacher, as well as former research librarian.

What would you do if a 200 pound ball of gold came screaming down from the sky, slammed into the ground, and you were the only person around? According to Cliff Madison, author of Cajun Gold, it might mess up your plans for the weekend. When this happens to Bernard Dumaine, an occasionally employed fellow from Bayou Clouseau who hasn’t won the lotto yet, he concludes that divine will must surely be involved.

Bernard is a man with a plan—make that plans—as his successive efforts to become two million dollars richer lead to unexpected outcomes. His conviction grows that it is up to him to ensure that the Lord’s design is fulfilled, regardless of curious townsfolk, the IRS, his rusted-out car, television news reporters, a loving wife, powerful landowners, or the heavy ball itself, which is nearly impossible to move—until it won’t stop moving.

Readers of Cajun Gold may find themselves unable to stop moving through the chapters of this delightful, highly readable, and well-plotted Cajun caper. Cliff Madison captures the nosiness and neighborliness of small-town Louisiana, where the best day and the worst day of your life can turn out to be the same thing.

Review by Elaine Wiltse DeSmith

Buy Link:


What would you like to know about Ron or any of his answers to my interview questions?

[JLS # 444]

Posted in author interview, author's life, authors, Books, childhood, Guest, Guest author, Guest author post, interview, Jeff Salter, Life, memories, screwball comedy, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Review: No Angels for Christmas

no angels for xmas


No Angels for Christmas . . . a cozy romantic mystery with suspense from The Mystery Angel Romances series. An angel hidden in every book waiting for you to figure who . . .

Child psychologist Rachel Kelly isn’t quite sure how to handle the situation with her newest client — a six-year-old boy who says he can talk to angels and one is coming to help Rachel. She already has her hands full of trouble this Christmas season, and things quickly take a turn for the worse when a stalker crashes Rachel’s Christmas party and takes her young clients hostage.

Police negotiator, Lt. Jake Dillon, walked away from his fiancée Rachel when she suddenly balked at having kids. His kids. Yet when the hostage crisis erupts, Rachel calls Jake first. Now he has a choice to make — stand back and wait for the cavalry to save Rachel or step in and try to save her himself. Time is running out, and Jake may be their only chance for rescue.

Unless Rachel’s little angel-spying client is telling the truth…


My Review:

The character development in the story was excellent, and I liked the plot. I also liked that it wasn’t a romance with open door sex. The book seemed well written, and I didn’t find lots of typos and errors. There’s an angel in the book, but I didn’t guess who it was. The only problem I had with the story is that I don’t like to read about child abuse. I know it exists. I saw it when I was a teacher, but it made the book so intense that I had to take breaks from it from time to time. Other readers won’t feel that way so I don’t mean it as a criticism, just a caution for those of us who like our reading a little lighter. On a scale of 1 to 5 I’d give it a 4.

Posted in book review, Elaine Cantrell, Uncategorized | 5 Comments

My Christmas Goose is Almost Cooked a review

Since it is July and there is a giant inflatable Santa at the north end of town I decided to read one of the several Christmas books I had not been able to get to this past Christmas season. After searching through several titles I selected My Christmas Goose is Almost Cooked (The Travel Mishaps of Caity Shaw book 3) by Eliza Watson. I had read book one a year ago and loved it so much that I bought the second book and then the third (there are now five books in the series) but I had not had a chance to read them. I was a little nervous wondering if I would be able to follow the story when I had skipped the second book in the series but I was happy to discover that the story had enough of a recap spread throughout it that I was not left confused from having missed an important detail.

This story was beautifully written. I love that Eliza Watson often travels to Ireland  and has experience researching family geneology because it really shows in her work. The story of Caity Shaw is a beautiful story about a young woman who has come out of an abusive relationship and is rediscovering who she is, regaining her confidence, and learning to stand on her own all while trying to solve the mystery surrounding her grandmother’s past. A grandmother who had told everyone that her family was dead, when Caity learned that they were not she decided to find her family and discover the truth about her grandmother. Caity took a job with her sister who is an events coordinator which allows her to travel the world. In book once she is in Ireland, book two France, and book three she is back in Ireland.

I don’t want to ruin any of the first book for you in case you decide that this series is something you want to look into so I will do my best to not say too much. I read this book in a rare moment when I had my house to myself, which I think was a good thing because I laughed out loud several times and found myself reaching for the tissues a few times. Seeing Caity find herself is absolutely beautiful. Watching her piece together her family history is inspiring, it makes me want to go out and do the same. Now that I finished this book I am moving on to the next one! Absolutely loved it!!


What do you do when your Christmas goes from white to blue?

Despite a few setbacks, Caity Shaw’s future no longer looks as emotionally and financially bleak as it did a few months ago. Rather than working as an elf this holiday season, she is the head photographer for a group event in Dublin. Not only is Caity mending family ties, she’s learning to trust men again, thanks to her hot Irish coworker, Declan.

That is, until Declan and Caity visit rural Ireland and their relationship comes to a crossroads. Declan’s family welcomes Caity into their home with open arms, but they are tight-lipped when it comes to sharing memories that could send Declan running from his past—just when Caity is learning to face hers. However, facing her grandmother’s mysterious past is a different story. With the help of her quirky Irish rellies and a local historian, Caity uncovers secrets about her grandmother that may cause her family ties to unravel once again.

When Caity experiences her biggest mishap to date, everyone is forced to face their pasts and nobody’s life will be the same.



Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Guest Author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux and Tempered Hearts Audio Book

Pamela S. Thibodeaux has been a recent guest here, but when she announced that she had produced an audiobook of her novel Tempered Hearts, I asked if she would mind describing that process to us. She kindly agreed, so I’ll turn the blog over to her!


Nothing beats holding a book in my hands. However I’ve come to love my Kindle and appreciate the few audio books I own. I’ve heard that audio books sales are booming and beginning to take up more and more of total book sales across the board. That fact aside, I love offering my products in every available venue to attract readers of all kinds. But, thinking it was expensive or complicated, I put this venture off.

One day I read a series of blog posts by Nancy Cohen and thought, “What the heck?” I listed Tempered Hearts and then searched for a narrator, basically followed Nancy’s advice to the letter. Once I found a narrator I could work with, she recorded. I reviewed. She made corrections. I reviewed. I approved.

Then in about 2-3 weeks ACX sent notification that the book was available. All in all it’s been a harrowing but exciting venture and I can’t wait to get the rest of my books up!

I’m sure there are more complicated, or perhaps better, ways to produce an audio book. Using ACX ties me into a 7 year contract for distribution and royalty share. But for authors with limited budgets, I believe this is an amazing program and would recommend it to anyone who wants to expand their audience.


61iopmtrdol._sx342_Blurb: Rancher Craig Harris and veterinarian Tamera Collins clash from the moment they meet.  Innocence is pitted against arrogance as tempers rise and passions ignite to form a love as pure as the finest gold, fresh from the crucible and as strong as steel.  Thrown together amid tragedy and unsated passion, Tamera and Craig share a strong attraction that neither accepts as the first stages of love.  Torn between desire and dislike, they must make peace with their pasts and God in order to open up to the love blossoming between them.  It is a love that nothing can destroy when they come to understand that only when hearts are tempered, minds are opened and wills are softened can man discern the will of God for his life.


EXCERPT: Tamera awoke in a mild state of panic and confusion. Glancing around, she realized where she was and who was beside her. A blush warmed her cheeks as she struggled to sit up. She released the filly and fumbled with the front of her gown.

“I couldn’t sleep.” she explained, glancing into the steel gray eyes. His gaze, soft and warm like liquid metal, made her blush harder as he brushed strands of hay out of her hair with a gentleness that seemed out of character.

Craig knew he was treading on dangerous ground, that people were expecting them, but couldn’t seem to get past the moment at hand. “I guess a kiss is out of the question,” he queried, his voice tender, gaze unwavering.

Emotions, raw and unfamiliar, shivered through her. Tamera attempted to scoot away from him, emitted a shaky little laugh and tried to quench the feelings escalating to frightening proportions. “A kiss? Why would you want a kiss? I didn’t think you even liked me.”

Craig wound his hand in her thick hair, stopping her movements. “Like has nothing to do with desire,” he moaned and crushed her to him as his mouth covered hers in a thorough kiss. “Absolutely nothing,” he assured as she clung to his shirt and trembled in his arms.

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BIO: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!



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Posted in audiobooks, Books, Guest author, Guest author post, Patricia Kiyono, publishing, technology, The Author Life | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Daydreams, or THOUGHTS?

This Week:

Daydreaming: Any specifics you have put into a story?

My first inclination was to think, they MUST, because I do daydream.
I am very good at multitasking and daydreaming is easy to do while I am doing other things.

So, I figured, “Sure, I write in my head all the time, so my ‘dreams’ must get into my writings.”

Then I went looking into my head for specifics.

Do you know what I found?


With all the stories started, with all of the poetry, stiories, even a play finished, I can’t think of any PERSONAL daydream or pieces of them that have made their way into a written work or WIP.

Not one.

I am shocked.

Now, does ‘writing-in-my-head’ count? Because I do that quite a bit. I have done my best editing in the shower. I rehash scenes while I am cooking, cleaning, whatever, and it helps. I add to the situations, or realize that perhaps my treatment of the material need rethinking. I go over true events on which I wish to base some stories, but unless they are made up for a story, the personal daydreams stay at home in my mind.

The actual personal: “Gee, if I won the lottery big-time we could”-type daydream, the “I should have said…” daydream, the “If that happens again…”daydream,  should probably be considered as ‘thoughts’?

What is the difference between “daydreams” and “thoughts”?

The actual daydreams from my younger days : “If I were married to… “(singers/actors, who may or may not have been a performer in my daydreams), have not even made it to my writings and trust me, they  had been complex!

Nope. The situation and those guys are nowhere to be found in my writings.

I guess that I really DON’T “daydream” as much as I write in my head.

I think the difference between them is that daydreams are escapisms that are personal and writing-in-your-head  are those that are purposeful.


Posted in author's life, big plans, Books, characters, connections, Daily life, dialogue, experiences, imagination, inspiration, Life, memories, poetry, Tonette Joyce, Uncategorized, Why I Write, writing | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Daydream Believer

Let’s Talk About Daydreams

By Jeff Salter

First things first — Happy Independence Day to all of us living in America.

Secondly: I’d be willing to swear on a stack of Mad Magazines that this is NOT my suggested topic. And I’ll tell you two reasons why I say this: (A) I went back to the period right before this topic initially appeared (as a “leftover” in the April May June 2018 Schedule) and I could not find a March 2018 email from me recommending this topic, and (B) if I HAD suggested this topic, I would have asked, “Have you used specifics of any DREAMS in your stories?” Not Day-Dreams.

Whatever. I’m a good soldier and I’ll run with whatever topic is slated for the week. Problem is, I’m not exactly sure how to define “daydreams” — versus the way my brain just functions nearly all the time (now that I’m retired). For example: I’ll come across an interesting word or name and think, “Hey, that would be a great name for a character.” Or… I’ll see a guy running wildly in traffic while looking frantically over his shoulder – as I did a few days ago – and think, “Wow, sure wish I knew what he was running from.”

Now are those examples of daydreaming? Or just instances of a brain which processes a LOT of the external stimuli through this filter: “I wonder how / if that could be used in a story?” Or, more precisely, when I’m deeply involved in revisions of a manuscript, my brain will hardly let go of that story and its development… so, at any time day or night, I’ll be thinking things like, “don’t forget to mention the flashlight in Chapter Two (since they use it later in Chapter Five)”.

I asked my wife for her definition of daydreaming and she said, “letting your mind wander… remembering things… seeing or hearing something and thinking I wonder or I wish.”


My Analysis

It strikes me that a person’s attention and/or thought might be divided into these categories:


This type of attention or thought could include: research, study, test-taking, playing competitive card games, participating in athletic endeavors, practicing music, creating crafts or art, writing an essay, solving a math problem, conducting a science experiment, etc. In other words, there’s a plan, a goal… and specific, necessary steps to reach a desired result. Therefore, your mind can’t be wandering all over creation. Focused.


To me, an un-focused mind is not necessarily daydreaming, as “daydreaming” often has a stigma that the person is “goofing off.” I would assert that allowing your brain to drift and explore things which don’t require your immediate focus – see my list above – can be a very positive and creative way of “refreshing your screen” (to use an internet browser context).

Thinking “Outside the Box”

I seldom use this cliché term, because I think it’s too restrictive — perhaps a better image would be casting a net without any certainty of what (if anything) you might collect. But lacking a better way to invoke the imagery, let’s just say that thinking outside the box might be considered as a hybrid (of sorts) between the focused mind and the un-focused. If one is rigidly focused on some project or problem, too often they can miss some of the possibilities that we might locate “outside” that box (or captured in that wide net). That’s not being unfocused… it’s more like shifting your lens – focus and framing – from telephoto to wide angle and then back to something (perhaps) mid-range. But neither should this hybrid – thinking outside the box or casting the net – be considered as “un-focused”… because, surely, analysis (of whatever sort) must necessarily be focused on the issue at hand.

Are daydreams involved solely in the realm of un-focused thought / attention? Or could daydreams also be – as I posit –very much a PART of thinking outside the proverbial box?

In My Stories

I’ve previously mentioned that the idea for my novel “Stuck on Cloud Eight” arose out of a very simple image that crossed my mind while I was strapped onto a compression table at a chiropractor’s office for some 15 minutes. Not able to do anything else and hoping not to fall asleep (and start snoring), I was just gazing out the window at a nearby tree and thought to myself, “the heroine works in a chiropractic clinic and lives in a treehouse!” Of course, it took a lot of time and effort to turn that 12-word concept into a 79,000 word novel, but I did it. Was I “daydreaming”? Was I thinking “outside the box”? I definitely was NOT focused on being strapped down on that table. I had freed my mind to entertain itself… and it looked for a way to connect external images with a possible story.


Do you daydream? How do you define that process or state of being?

[JLS # 443]

Posted in America, characters, connections, creating scenes, dialogue, fourth of July, holidays, Jeff Salter, novels, Uncategorized, What if | Tagged , , | 20 Comments