Posted by Maryann on May 20, 2016 |

For Friday’s Funnies I thought I’d invite Slim Randles for a special appearance. Have you ever heard of cow-a-dunga? Cow-a-bunga, yes, but this is a new one for me. By the way, does anyone know what cow-a-bunga means?



I was studying my card when the guys walked in for coffee.

“What did you get?” asked Doc.


“Just one?”

“Yeah. The boys caught me when I was kinda short, so I only got the one this year.”

“They hit me for ten,” Doc said. “In E section.”

Dud looked at us. “I think E section’s a pretty good bet. Especially later in the afternoon. The sun will be over there then. Nice and warm. She’s liable to go there.”

It’s Cow-a-dunga time again. It’s Mr. Shaver’s idea. He’s the music teacher for all three of our schools here, and he needed a way the kids could raise some money for band trips.

“I hear they’re using one of Simmons’s cows this year,” said Dud. “Doc, is there any kind of laxative you can give a cow?”

“How should I know? I’m not a veterinarian. Besides, you know they’ll keep her identity a secret until Saturday. They know there’s people out there just like you who’d like to ‘doctor’ that cow.”

We all laughed. No one would think of bothering the cow, of course, but we’ll all spend at least part of Saturday down in the bleachers at the high school football field keeping an eye on that cow. That’s the whole fun of Cow-a-dunga, of course.

By now, the kids have that acre of grass all crisscrossed with chalk lines, dividing the field up into one-yard squares. Each square sells for a buck. If all the squares sell, that’s five grand for the kids. The winner is determined by a cow. On Saturday, a cow will be released onto the field, and watched carefully by a whole bunch of us. When the cow’s digestive system causes her to plop a decoration onto the field, the lucky holder of that square gets five hundred bucks.

There are, of course, strict rules against arm waving, chowsing noises, horn honking and the application of anything that might sway her toward or away from any particular square.

“I wonder,” said Steve, “if there’s any rule against using the evil eye. You know, like if she’s heading for Doc’s block of squares, I could send her a signal to hold it for a while.”

“Cheaters never prosper,” said Doc.


Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, Home Country and is the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. His columns have been compiled into the book Home Country.

The Home Country radio show will be coming soon to a radio station near you! New, from Syndication Networks.

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Six Self-Editing Tips

Posted by Maryann on May 16, 2016 |

Many thanks to the awesome Kristen Lamb who shares writing tips on her blog and lets folks re-post her entries. This is one of her recent posts and I thought it was a good one to share. We all can benefit from some thoughtful self-editing before turning our babies over to an editor, so get out your red pencils.



#1 The Brutal Truth about Adverbs, Metaphors and Similes

I have never met an adverb, simile, or metaphor I didn’t LOVE. I totally dig description, but it can present problems.

First of all, adverbs are not ALL evil. Redundant adverbs are evil. If someone shouts loudly? How else are they going to shout? Whispering quietly? Really?O_o Ah, but if they whisper seductively? The adverb seductively gives us a quality to the whisper that isn’t already implied by the verb.

Check your work for adverbs and kill the redundant ones. Kill them. Dead.

Metaphors and similes are awesome, but need to be used sparingly. Yes, in school, our teachers or professors didn’t ding us for using 42 metaphors in 5 pages, but their job was to teach us how to properly use a metaphor or simile, NOT prepare us for commercial publication as professional novelists.

When we use too much of this verbal glitter, we can create what’s called “purple prose.” This glitter, while sparkly, can pull the reader out of the story or even confuse the reader. A while back, I edited a winner’s 20 page entry. The story began on a whitewater river and the rafters were careening toward a “rock coffee table.”


Oh, the boulder is squarish shaped!

Thing is, the metaphor made me stop to figure out what image the author was trying to create. If the rafters had merely been careening toward a giant flat rock? Not as pretty but I could have remained in the story without trying to figure out how the hell furniture ended up in the river.

Go through your pages and highlight metaphors and similes. Pick THE BEST and CUT THE REST. Look for confusing metaphors, like rock furniture in the middle of a river.

#2 Stage Direction

She reached out her arm to open the door.

He turned to go down the next street.

He picked up the oars and pulled a few more strokes, eager to get to his favorite fishing spot.

We “get” he’d have to pick up the oars to row his boat, or that is a seriously cool trick.

Be active. Characters can “brush hair out of their face” “open doors” and even slap people without you telling us they reached out an arm or hand to do this. We are smart. Really.

#3 Painful and Alien Movement of Body Parts…

Her eyes flew to the other end of the restaurant.

 His head followed her across the room.

All I have to say is… “Ouch.”

Make sure your character keeps all body parts attached. Her gaze can follow a person and so can her stare, but if her eyes follow? The carpet gets them fuzzy with dust bunnies and then they don’t slide back in her sockets as easily.

#4 Too Much Physiology…

Her heart pounded. Her heart hammered. Her pulse beat in her head. Her breath came in choking sobs.

After a page of this? I need a nap. After two pages? I need a drink. We can only take so much heart pounding, thrumming, hammering before we just get worn out.  That and I read a lot of entries where the character has her heart hammering so much, I am waiting for her to slip into cardiac arrest at any moment. Ease up on the physiology. Less is often more.

Get a copy of Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s Emotion Thesaurus to help you vary physiology. Also, if someone’s heart is pounding, that’s okay. We assume until they are out of danger it’s still pounding. No need to remind us.


#5 Backing Into the Sentence/Passive Voice

In an effort to break up and vary sentence structure, many writers will craft sentences like this:

With the months of stress pressing down on her head, Jessie started ironing the restaurant tablecloths with a fury.

Problem? Passive action. When we use the word “down” then “on” is redundant. Either she is ironing or not ironing. “Started” is overused and makes sloppy writing. That actually goes back to the whole “stage direction” thing.


Jessie ironed the restaurant tablecloths with a fury, months of stress pressing on her shoulders.

The door was kicked in by the police.

Police kicked in the door.

If you go through your pages and see WAS clusters? That’s a HUGE hint that passive voice has infected your story.

#6 Almost ALWAYS Use “Said” as a Tag

“You are such a jerk,” she laughed.

A character can’t “laugh” something. They can’t “snip” “spit” “snarl” “grouse” words. They can SAY and ever so often they can ASK. Said becomes white noise. Readers don’t “see” it. It keeps them in the story and cooking along. If we want to add things like laughing, griping, complaining, then fine. It just shouldn’t be the tag.

“You are such a jerk.” She laughed as she flicked brownie batter onto Fabio’s white shirt.

And I would add to this last one that using an action to designate the speaker is much better than the “he said” “she said” dialogue tags.

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Friday’s Funnies

Posted by Maryann on May 13, 2016 |




A photographer on vacation in the US was inside a church taking photographs when he noticed an old fashioned telephone mounted on the wall with a sign that read ‘$10,000 per call’.

Being intrigued, he asked a priest who was strolling by, what the telephone was used for.

The priest replied that it was a direct line to heaven and that for $10,000 you could talk to God.

The photographer thanked the priest and went along his way.

Upon leaving Vermont he decided to travel up to Canada to see if Canadians had the same phone.

He arrived in Canada, and again, in the first church he entered, there was the same old fashioned telephone, but this time the sign under it read ’50 cents per call.’

phone call

Surprised he asked the priest about the sign. ‘Father, I’ve traveled all over America and I’ve seen this same old fashioned telephone in many churches. I’m told that it is a direct line to heaven, but in the US the price was $10,000 per call. Why is it so cheap here?’

The priest smiled and answered, ‘You’re in Canada now, son …. it’s a local call.’


“Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartare sauce with you!”


I very quietly confided to my best friend that I was having an affair. She turned to me and asked, “Are you having it catered?” And that, my friend, is the sad definition of “OLD”!

Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked, “How old was your husband?” “98,” she replied: “Two years older than me.”
“So you’re 96,” the undertaker commented. She responded, “Hardly worth going home, is it?”

Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman: “And what do you think is the best thing about being 104?” the reporter asked. She simply replied, “No peer pressure.”

I’ve sure gotten old! I have outlived my feet and my teeth, I’ve had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement, new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes , I’m half blind, can’t hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take 40 different medications that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore. Can’t remember if I’m 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But, thank God, I still have my driver’s license.

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape, so I got my doctor’s permission to
join a fitness club and start exercising. I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors. I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on, the class was over.

An elderly woman decided to prepare her will and told her preacher she had two final requests. First, she wanted to be cremated, and second, she wanted her ashes scattered over Wal-Mart.
“Wal-Mart?” the preacher exclaimed. “Why Wal-Mart?”
“Then I’ll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week”

Know how to prevent sagging? Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

My memory’s not as sharp as it used to be. Also, my memory’s not as sharp as it used to be.

That’s it for me, folks. If you have a favorite joke do share it in the comments. Have a great weekend.

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Author Interview – Dayna Steele

Posted by Maryann on May 11, 2016 |

dayna steele headshotDayna Steele is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. She is the author of Surviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and A Really Big Glass of Wine . The book that I reviewed here last Sunday,  and today she is sharing some behind-the-scenes information about the book and how she came to write it. Picking what to have for refreshments today was easy. Enjoy….


Q. The book chronicles your mother’s illness through your Facebook posts. Did you include every post in the book? What was the selection process like?

A. My co-author Heather Rossiello kept a database of every single post and every comment – there were literally thousands of comments on some posts. We went through them all after I lost Mom and tried to keep only the  posts and comments that 1) Included informative information for caregivers 2) made us laugh out loud, and, 3) made us think.

Q. After each post you include comments that your community left. Did you pick those or did you have other people help you?

A. We went through every comment, sometimes two or three times, to make sure we adhered to our own guidelines above. This book wasn’t a memoir so much as a help tool for others in the future.

Q. What was your relationship with Alzheimer’s disease before your mother’s diagnosis? Did you have any preconceptions about the illness before you started this journey with her?

A. I like to think I am a fairly well educated and informed person. I knew what Alzheimer’s was and I knew it was called “The Long Goodbye.” Then the diagnosis – and I realized I had no idea how stressful, sad, irritating, confusing, etc this disease is. No one tells you the really rough stuff like the possible violence or cleaning up your own mother’s feces or any number of things like this. You also don’t realize how all-encompassing it becomes physically and mentally until you actually have to live it.

Q. How did the support of your Facebook community impact you through this hard time?

A. Facebook became my support group. My Facebook community gave me ideas, information, suggestions and laughter and love. And, once I wrote a particularly hard post, I would let go of the negative emotions. It was very cathartic to write and share.

Q. When did you get the idea to turn your Facebook posts into a book?

A. Literally when so many people started commenting, “I hope you put this in a book.” In fact, the first couple of pages in the book are those words of encouragement from so many followers.

Q. How has your Facebook and local community supported you through the creation of the book?

A. Just constantly encouraging me to compile it all in a book. And giving me permission to laugh and cry and get mad – over and over and over.

Q. How did you decide what materials to include in the second half of the book?

A. The second half of the book is all resources I wish I had at the beginning. There are sections written by people who helped me along the way: a neurologist, document expert, Long Term Care insurance rep, an assisted living adviser and more. I also included a list of questions everyone should ask their loved ones and a section where caregivers and their caregivers talk about what it is like on that side.

Q. You coauthored the book with Heather Rossiello. What was her role in the book’s process?

A. I found I could not live it and relive it at the same time– it was too daunting and depressing. Heather came in about half way through the journey for a totally unrelated reason– she had some copies of my In the Classroom book she wanted signed for teachers and we met for coffee. She asked what I was working on and I told her about the book idea and my challenges with getting it done. She asked if she could take a look and see what could be done – and then did it!

Q. What are you hoping readers will get out of Surviving Alzheimer’s?

A. Someone once said to me there isn’t a users’ manual on what to do or what is going to happen when you get this diagnosis. I hope this book does become the manual for what to do and how to do it for caregivers everywhere.

Q. You’ve been named the spokesperson for Caring.com. How do you hope to aid those dealing with Alzheimer’s in this role?

A. As the Chief Caring Expert for Caring.com, I hope to be able to guide others to this great resource I wish I had known about early on. Not only would I have been able to read the reviews and make a better informed decision on where to put mom but I also would have had access to so much content for caregivers. There is an answer to just about every question you may have as well as support groups for Alzheimer’s and even more on the site. And, it’s free. Alzheimer’s is a very expensive disease and when you can find any sort of free help, that’s the best.



To find out more about Dayna, you can visit her WEBSITE and follow her on Twitter and Facebook

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Book Review – Surviving Alzheimer’s

Posted by Maryann on May 8, 2016 |

Before I post the book review, I do want to take a moment to wish every mother a Happy Mother’s Day. Enjoy your special day!!

survivingalzheimer'scoverSurviving Alzheimer’s With Friends, Facebook, and a Really Big Glass of Wine
Dayna Steele with Heather Rossiello
File Size: 11854 KB
Print Length: 228 pages
Publication Date: February 22, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English

The majority of this book is comprised of Facebook updates that Dayna posted chronicling the effects of the disease on her mother from the first time she was diagnosed until the end. Also included are some of the responses from family and friends offering virtual support. Some of the responses were from people going through a similar journey, forming a virtual bond of understanding and compassion. What developed was one large Alzheimer’s support group over the period of 2 years from the time Dana’s mother Fran was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s until the October day she died.

The Facebook posts range from humor, sometimes very dark, to sad and gut-wrenching, but all of them are so honest and so real and so familiar to anybody who has had a family member go through this disease.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but think of my good friend Jan who cared for her mother who had Alzheimer’s. This was before Facebook and any kind of virtual support group, so through phone conversations and visits, Jan and I were our own support group as we watched her beloved mother decline. I had lived with this family for a while so Jan’s mother was as close to me as my own mother, and it was very gut wrenching to see her go through the dementia.

Like Dana, Jan and I used humor to deal with the confusion, the frustration, the endless repeats of questions and comments. We were lucky that Jan’s mother never turned violent. And when she had to go to a nursing home, she was content because she decided that she was going to a religious retreat and that was okay with her because she loved to go on go on retreats.

It was very hard for Jan and I when her mother no longer recognized us, but there was always a recognition through music. “In the Garden” was one of her favorite hymns, and every time I played guitar she’d ask me to play that hymn. When I visited her in the care facility and played that song, she’d look at me, and I would know she knew.
It is in sharing these kinds of stories that caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients support each other because there is that little kernel of truth in our story that connects to other peoples’ stories.

In addition to the support group aspect of Surviving Alzheimer’s, there is a section with resources that cover topics such as choosing a long-term care facility, dealing with insurance, and what to expect from a doctor. All of these sections are written by experts in the various fields; a doctor, a lawyer, an insurance agent, and others.

This is a book I highly recommend for anyone dealing with a family member who has dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is written with such heart that it will bring smiles and tears and nods of recognition. It is also an important book for those who are not yet dealing with this insidious disease; because we never know when a loved one will enter into that dark scary place. The resources in the book give everyone a way to prepare for that possibility, as well as the important medical and legal documents that we should all have in place to help our families handle everything after we are gone.

These are all things that are often very hard for families to talk about so too often nothing is written down and nothing is decided until a moment of great emotional strain. It is so much better to have everything in place well before it is needed. Dayna’s mother made many of her own arrangements early on, and Dayna wrote that it was easier for her and her family to handle things since so many decisions had been made much earlier. So she recommends that we do the hard stuff now before it is too late. She also recommends having a nice big glass of wine when we are finished.


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Happy May Day

Posted by Maryann on May 4, 2016 |

Another whole week has raced by, and Slim Randles is back as today’s Wednesday’s guest. Before I turn you over to him, however, I have some lamenting to do. Don’t you just love that word? It has such a rich meaning.

But I digress.

My tale of woes includes an increase in pain from the Ramsey Hunt Syndrome, but the good news is that the new pain means the nerves are regenerating. Honest. The doctor said so. I do hope it does not take the nerves as long to come back to life as it did for them to die.

On another note, storms last weekend took out a lot of my electronics, including my router and modem and TV. Looking at the sick TV, I couldn’t help but think about the old John Prine song “Blow up Your TV.I first heard the song on a John Denver album and loved it. I even learned how to play the song on my guitar. Here are the opening lyrics:

Blow up your t.v. throw away your paper / Go to the country, build you a home / Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches / Try an find Jesus on your own

Okay, now I will let Slim take the stage, and to go along with his theme of May Day, here are some pretty early spring roses. If you have a nice vase, feel free to pick some.



As the recessional played, and Reverend Jeff opened the church doors before shaking hands with his parishioners, he was surprised to discover he wasn’t the first one there.

“Mornin’ Rev!”

“Uh, good morning … Alphonse.”

Yes, it was Alphonse “Windy” Wilson, his boots cleaned and a bulldogger Western tie on his pearl-snap shirt, grinning broadly.

He stood next to the minister as the parishioners came past, one by one and shook Jeff’s hand. Then they shook Windy’s hand … because there it was, outstretched and ready for a shake.

“Bless you,” Windy said. “And a happy May Day!”

“Thank you, Windy,” said Mavis.

“And  … you know why they call it May Day …?

But Mavis was already gone and Windy was already through three more handshakes. These folks were in a hurry.

 “Yo Doc … you know why they call it May Day?”

But Doc and Mrs. Doc were already halfway to their car.

“I don’t know about you, Rev,” he whispered, “but these folks are sure in a hurry. Fills me with a consternation at their respirational souls.”

Reverend Jeff just nodded and kept shaking hands. Then they were gone, and it was just Jeff and Windy at the top of the steps.

“They sure move on out, don’t they? Beats me how you can corral ‘em long enough to sermonize ‘em.”

“That’s easy, Windy,” Jeff said. “I shut the door.”

“Have to try that … one of these days.”

“So tell me,” said the smiling minister, “why do they call it May Day?”

“Ah shoot! They got me so flustercated I plumb forgot.”


The Home Country radio show can now be heard on WTYS in Panama City, Florida. Give a listen next time you’re through there.

Slim Randles is the author of Home Country, the book that evolved from his popular weekly column of the same name. If you enjoy his offering here, you will like his book.



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Let the Mowing Begin

Posted by Maryann on April 27, 2016 |

Our friend Slim Randles is back as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with some fun from a couple of his friends. Enjoy the read and grab a cookie if you’d like. I have lots.


Herb Collins was back out in the yard again Saturday. The noise made the neighbors go to the windows and peek out to see what was going on, because yard work and noise and Herb have never gone together.

Mystery solved. Herb has a new gas-powered lawn mower. Last Saturday was the final outing for his quiet electric lawn mower, as he once again ran over the cord and cut it. The cord finally had more patches than a quilting bee, and Herb had opted for a gas mower that didn’t require an umbilical link to the front porch.

Steve was going by in his pickup truck, the big one with duellies and the blacksmith’s forge in the back, and he pulled over and stopped. Steve got out and watched quietly as Herb continued to mow the lawn. Steve poured himself a cup of coffee from his Thermos, pushed back his Stetson, and watched Herb work up a good sweat.

Herb made three more rounds of the yard, and finally thought Steve might have something important to say to him, so he killed the engine on the mower, mopped his brow, and walked over to the visitor.

“Workin’ hard there, I see,” said Steve.

“Gotta stay ahead of it,” said Herb.


Herb looked puzzled at Steve’s question. “Well … otherwise it grows too fast and the yard looks crummy.”

“I was by here Thursday,” said Steve. “Saw you watering.”

Herb nodded.


“Well … to make the grass grow, of course.”

Steve raised his eyebrows.

“What?” asked Herb.

“Isn’t it kinda like digging a hole and filling it up?”

“I don’t get you.”

Steve got back in the pickup, rolled down the window, and said. “Seems to me like you’re just encouraging it.”

Then he drove away, leaving Herb to once again deal with the intricacies of cowboy philosophy.


Like Steve, I’ve often wondered about folks who water their lawn all the time and mow once or twice a week. What do you think?


The Home Country radio show will be coming soon to a radio station near you. New, from Syndication Networks.

Check out Slim’s book, Home Country.


“The Gift” is a story to warm your heart at the holiday season, or any day of the year.

The Gift cover optimized 400 wide

 The short story is still free today and tomorrow.  It is on Amazon Kindle, but you can get a Kindle app for any electronic device. Grab your copy HERE

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Free Short Story

Posted by Maryann on April 24, 2016 |

Before I tell you about the free story, I want to share some pictures of flowers that I have taken over the past few weeks. Some are easily recognized. Who doesn’t know a pansy when they see one?


Really? There are people who have never seen one?

Oh, right, I guess I didn’t think about all the places in the world where this pretty little flower doesn’t grow.

Pansies hold a special place in my heart, as they were one of my mother’s favorite flowers. When I was a child I would buy a couple of the plants as a Mother’s Day gift and dig a hole on either side of our concrete steps leading to the front porch and plant the flowers there. That they grew there was a miracle, as the dirt was more clay than dirt, and they were in full sun. But they did survive, and my mother always called them “the people flowers.”

Next up is a wildflower. These blue flowers pop up all over my front pasture. My husband used to laugh at me when I mowed out there because I would never cut the flowers down. There were interesting circles in my pasture.

blue wildfower-3

I did not know what these flowers are called, but some of my Facebook friends stepped right up. “Tradescantia, commonly called spiderwort.”

Next are some pretty yellow flowers that grow along my fence line. I won’t cut them down either.

yellow wildflowers

I have no idea what they are called, so if you know, please do tell all in a comment.

I got lucky and got a nice close-up of these little beauties.

lavender and white flowers-artsy shot

Again, I don’t know what they are called, but I enjoy finding them in different places in my yard. If you know, please do share.

Last, I have a white flower. It caught my eye because of the contrast with all the colors around it.

berry flower

I do know what this one is. It is a wild blackberry flower. It was all by itself, well away from the berry patches, so I snapped a picture.

Now, about the free story. The Gift, the short story that I wrote last November is going to be free from today, Sunday, until Thursday, April 28. If you have not grabbed a copy yet, now is your chance. It is on Amazon Kindle, but you can get a Kindle app for any electronic device. Grab your copy HERE

“The Gift” is a story to warm your heart at the holiday season, or any day of the year.

The Gift cover optimized 400 wide

Cover art by Dany Russell

Here are a few comments from satisfied readers:

“Maryann paints pictures with words that create a lasting impression long has reading the final sentence. I loved this timely story and it could certainly be a true story. Thank you Maryann for THE GIFT.” Jan

“Just finished reading this delightful story. It was short, sweet, and left me feeling good. I will definitely looking for more by Maryann Miller.” Linda

“I highly recommend The Gift: A Short Story, as a great thought-provoking, sweet read. The author does a marvelous job of getting into the minds of everyday people facing real problems.” Morgan

“A nice short story with a twist. I liked “The Last Dollar” too.” James


Stacy paused, glittery gold garland in one hand and tape in the other, and glanced at her husband. He was in his favorite chair, engrossed in his favorite pastime – watching television. By his expression, she couldn’t tell if he was enjoying the program or not. She never could tell. He often just sat there with no movement crossing his face to send any messages. She sighed. “Ralph, come shopping with me. We can go to the mall and see the Christmas decorations.”

“What for?”

“Just for fun.” She taped the garland on the posts of the half-wall. “And we can buy a present for Lucy.”

“You already bought her presents. She doesn’t need another.”

“You can never have enough presents.”

Ralph didn’t respond. He just sat in the old brown recliner that had seen too many years, one eye on the TV that was showing a rerun of Miami Vice. Stacey stepped over and dropped a hand on his shoulder. “I wish you’d come. It would do you good.”

He shrugged off the contact. “You go. I want to watch my program.”

God how she hated seeing him this way. His sour mood was almost an every-day thing now, and most days she alternated between great sadness and even greater anger. Sometimes she just wanted to shout, “Get over it already.”

After you read the story, I would love for you to leave a review on Amazon. It doesn’t have to be a long one, as you can tell from the reviews I shared, and it does help an author quite a bit.

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There’s Always a Second Career

Posted by Maryann on April 20, 2016 |

Slim Randles is back as today’s Wednesday’s Guest, so please help me give him a warm welcome and join me in a cup of coffee and a bite of chocolate. This is not the way the guys down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop drink their coffee, but they don’t have to know that we went the fancy-schmancy route. Enjoy….

coffee and chocolate

There could be lots of reasons Martin chose to become the “crossing sergeant.”

Oh, there have been rumors that the good woman may give Martin a hard time at home, but you know how rumors are.

Martin retired from the Field Ranch a while back after about 40 years. After that, we’d see him out walking or maybe fishing a little along Lewis Creek. Then one day in September, Martin found his new career as a crossing guard down next to the elementary school.

crossing guardHe got a blaze orange vest, a paddle sign with “stop” on one side and “slow” on the other. And they gave him a whistle. Oh yes, the whistle. At first, when a child was spotted a block away, Martin would trot out to the middle of the intersection, blow his whistle, hold up his paddle and turn it around so everyone saw “stop,” regardless of where you were. And we’d wait until some third-grader got safely to school.

Then we were waved on through. And with each wave of Martin’s hand there was a blast on the whistle. Oh yes, that whistle.

The school sure picked the right guy for the job. If you want someone who can stand out there every morning in heat and rain and snow and spring winds, just look for an old cowboy. Martin took all his “tough lessons” ages ago. His assistant each morning was Billy, the town dog. The two of them make a dynamite security squad.

The problem Martin was having, however, was that he had more time than children, and that led to his current traffic-control methods. He watches carefully, and if a car is coming from a right angle, he steps out and blows the whistle and stops us.  And if the car slows, Martin waves him on whether he wants to go that way or not. And that’s when there aren’t any kids around.

But no one complains. He’s there early, he’d stop a train to let kids cross the street, and he works for free. So what’s a few whistle blasts and marching orders among friends?

You have to admire professionalism wherever it may be found.


Brought to you by Home Country (the book). Check it out at www.LPDPress.com

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Release Day for Two Hearts in Winter by Donna Fasano

Posted by Maryann on April 15, 2016 |

two hearts in winter coverTwo Hearts In Winter

by Donna Fasano

Series: Ocean City Boardwalk, #2

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: April 15, 2016

Book Blurb:

Loss and betrayal have caused Heather Phillips to give up on love. She’s thrown herself into running The Lonely Loon, her Bed and Breakfast located on the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland. The “off season” in this tourist town is usually a time of rest and reflection for her; however, DB Atwell, a famous author, arrives at The Loon for the winter to finish his long-overdue novel. Daniel, too, has faced grief, and tragedy continues to haunt him. Once Heather and Daniel meet, their lives will never be the same.

Reminiscent of Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks and culminating in a happily-ever-after similar to the great Nora Roberts, Two Hearts in Winter is a story about learning to let go of the past, about realizing that, though hardship affects us, it need not define us, and about coming to understand and truly believe that beauty is sometimes covered in scars. The human heart has an amazing ability to forgive, to heal, and to hope, especially when touched by love.

Enter the Giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/7996b6c5303/?

Add the book to your Goodreads Shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29754379-two-hearts-in-winter

Buy the book:

*Amazon US: http://amzn.to/1ooYAyR
*Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/235L56Z
*Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/TwoHeartsNook
*iBook: http://bit.ly/TwoHeartsiBook
*Kobo: http://bit.ly/TwoHeartsKobo
*Google Play: http://bit.ly/TwoHeartsGoogle

*Paperback:  http://bit.ly/TwoHeartsPaperbk

Reviews of Book 1: Following His Heart

“The pleasure of Fasano’s style lies in the scrumptious descriptions… and her characters’ sincere, mature desire to make things work.” ~ Publishers Weekly

Following His Heart made me go “wow”. . . I found it thought-provoking in ways I’d have never anticipated.” ~ BooksAndPals.com, 5-Stars

Two Hearts in Winter Excerpt:

“The worst of it was the stroke of midnight.” Heather sighed. “Everyone got a New Year’s kiss but me.”

“Well, that’s not quite fair, now is it?”

The tone of his voice had her gaze lifting to connect with his. Merriment sparkled in his eyes. Was he laughing at her? Poking fun?

She slid her fingers from between his forearm and hand, meaning to pull away from him, from the situation that could very quickly turn both awkward and embarrassing for her. Feeling vulnerable was not something she enjoyed. She mentally kicked herself for not keeping the conversation light and fluffy. That’s what he’d expected, wasn’t it? It’s the only kind of conversation that most guys liked. Nothing too intense. Nothing too sensitive. Frivolous. Insignificant. Superficial. That’s what—

He reached out and captured her jaw between his gentle fingers, and she went stock still. With light, steady pressure, he guided her toward him. With excruciating slowness, he leaned forward.

He was close, so close she could feel his warm, vanilla scented breath against her cheek.

What the hell was he doing? She should stop this. She should place her hand on his shoulder and give a good, hard push. But her muscles had gone all spongy and useless. She had no idea what he planned to do, but every cell in her body wanted him to do it.

Daniel tipped up her chin and closed the small gap between them.

His lips were soft and hot against hers. The kiss was—

…over before she had a chance to really enjoy it.

“Everyone deserves a New Year’s kiss.”

His silky soft voice sent shivers spiraling down the full length of her body. She felt giddy, and drunker than any rum runner could ever account for.

“Ha…Happy New Year,” she stammered.

Before she could finish, his mouth was on hers again. This kiss was longer, more lingering, and teetered on the edge of hungry.

When he broke away, Heather heard a strange whooshing, and she realized it was the sound of her blood throbbing at a wild rate through her veins. She swallowed, exhaled slowly, and blinked.

He smiled broadly. “That,” he told her, “was for telling your friends that I’m perfectly nice.”

donna fasanoAuthor Interview:

What are you reading now or what do you have in your TBR pile?

I just finished Learning to Swim by Sara Henry. I’m currently reading Julia’s Daughters by Colleen Faulkner. On my TBR pile you’ll find A Reluctant Hero by Jackie Weger, Creatus by Carmen DeSousa, The Neighbor by Dean Koontz, Three Junes by Julia Glass, One Way or Another by Elaine Raco Chase, Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour…should I go on?

What flavor is your writing style?

I always tell people I write cotton candy for the mind. Think back to when you were a kid and you took a bite of that delectable confection. What did you do? You smiled. That’s what I’m going for in my romance novels.

Was writing always the first thing you wanted to do in life?

No, I wanted to be a teacher, but then I met and fell in love with my husband. We married and began raising a family. It wasn’t until my children started school that I started writing.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?

I believe there’s a lot of me in my protagonists. I write about women who are strong, yet vulnerable. My main characters and my secondary characters have flaws and make mistakes (don’t we all?), but then most of them do all they can to learn, grow and become better people.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

One piece of advice I often give to writers is to READ. Don’t just read in the genre in which you write. Read everything. And then figure out what you liked and what you didn’t…and then think about why. Reading and analyzing the writing of talented people can help you perfect your own skills.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I bow down to readers! I am so appreciative that they spend their hard-earned money on my books and then take the time to read my stories. I am so blessed to have a job I love, and I wouldn’t have this job if there weren’t readers who love romance novels.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I came to writing through my love of reading. I spent many a Saturday as a kid in the local library. I loved books, but I never imagined I would ever write one. My husband gets the credit for my becoming a writer. When my children started school and I decided to find a part-time job, he looked around at the piles of romance novels in our home and said, “You’ve read a lot of those. Why don’t you try writing one?” So, you see. It’s all his fault.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Not my latest book, but one of my titles—Where’s Stanley?—features an ending that I didn’t come up with. I handed in the completed manuscript, and my editor suggested a different ending. I wasn’t happy, but I did as she asked. Personally, I think the book suffered for it, but readers seem to enjoy the story.

What books have most influenced your life most?

Old Yeller, Sounder, The Bell Jar, To Kill a Mockingbird…how can people read these books and not be influenced? There are so many titles that inspired me and moved me, molded and shaped me, there isn’t time to name them all. The characters in these wonderful books help young readers to decide what kind of individual they want to be.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

There was a time when I’d have said no. I have a plant-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-the-words-will-come attitude. But I did suffer writer’s block while my dad was battling cancer. It’s difficult to write feel-good happily-ever-after when your beloved father is dying.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?

I do, yes. I equate an outline with a road map; how do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a map? I might write the first chapter or two on the fly, but I always take the time to plan out where I want the story to go. Now that’s not to say that the characters are going to stay on the straight and narrow. They decide to veer off the highway every now and then, and that’s when I have to do a quick reroute.

Have you ever disliked something you wrote?

I’ve never published anything that I disliked. I have started projects that haven’t seen the light of day, either because I couldn’t figure out where to take the story, or I couldn’t make the protagonist sympathetic or likable. It’s a rare occurrence, and when it happens, I just set the story aside and hope I can someday come up with a solution.

Tell us why you’ve decided to set a series of book at a seashore location.

I love the ocean. There’s just something about a large body of water that induces a great calm in me. I think many people feel the same, so I decided to come up with a series that involves three women friends who live and work in Ocean City, Maryland. The first, Following His Heart, is Sara and Landon’s story. The second, Two Hearts in Winter, is Heather and Daniel’s story. I’m currently plotting out the third book of the series.

Meet the author:

USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written 35 romance and women’s fiction titles. Her books have won awards, have been translated into two dozen languages, and have sold 4 million copies worldwide.

Social Links:

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