Archive | June 2020

Fat Dogs and French Estates, Part 4 by@fatdogsfrance @MaryLSchmidt #welovememoirs


Book blurb found on Amazon for Fat Dogs and French Estates: 

When Beth, her beloved dog, Sam, and grumpy husband, Jack, return to France, disaster strikes. As they battle to restore order to their home, French authorities visit with shocking news.

Obliged to sit examinations in French, coping with furred and feathered babies, and wrangling French tradesmen, there’s no let-up in this action-packed episode of the Haslams’ adventures.

My review:

This is the fourth book I’ve read in this series. By far, this book has touched me deeply in many ways. First, a major storm that left major destruction, devastation, and death in its wake reminded me of a tornado that my boys and I lived through in the summer of 1985. I truly felt the fear and the devastation of the trees and more intensely. For a book to move me intensely is the mark of a quality book. Along the way, one dog and one kitten pass away and I was emotionally thrown by both. The dog, Sam, was old and had lived a long life. It was time for him to rest. My first dog, a Cocker Spaniel, was hit by a car and had to be put down. Beth’s dog had to be put down due his age and disease status. Sam is also the name of my youngest son who died after a horrid cancer battle. However, this book isn’t all tragic, not at all! Awesome British humor is found throughout sprinkled in with generous helpings of how the renovations are going and the damage clean up. Descriptions of the furnishings, solid wood, were tantalizing for me as were the granite counters and tile work. I always wanted a home like this, and never will, but now I have lived it vicariously through Beth’s books. I digress, but truly this is one exceptional book rich in the above and all things French! A solid FIVE stars! 




How Libraries Are Coping with the Pandemic — Nicholas C. Rossis

I recently published a post on how the COVID-19 pandemic seems to be affecting publishing. While that article focused on publishers, we now have some interesting data on how it has affected libraries, thanks to NPR (many thanks to my author friend, Elle Boca, for alerting me to this). How libraries are dealing with new […]

via How Libraries Are Coping with the Pandemic — Nicholas C. Rossis

This entry was posted on June 20, 2020. 2 Comments

Waves of Murder #CSMcDonald


I just finished this wonderful book! 

From the author found on Amazon:

School’s out for the summer!
Kindergarten teacher, Fiona Quinn is looking forward to spending some quality time in her yard and with her boyfriend, Detective Nathan Landry. However, Fiona’s plans get squelched when her mother volunteers her to edit a manuscript for famous romance author, Wyla Parkes. What’s so bad about that? The author insists Fiona must work on the manuscript at her beach cottage on Presque Isle–three hours away from her yard and Nathan. Spending six weeks in an adorable cottage on a private beach doesn’t really seem all that bad until people start turning up dead beginning with the author! Fiona’s summer of sun and sand is instantly transformed into a murder investigation. Can Fiona and Nathan crack the case or will the murderer getaway on a wave of deceit? Join Fiona and the gang for a hot whodunit on the sandy beaches of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania!

My review:

I loved this book!!!! Technically, almost error free and quite well written. This is a complex murder mystery that is cleanly written which means it is safe for teenagers to read as well as adults. I tried figuring out who the culprits were but McDonald weaves twists in her work. Five stars all the way! I  loved the characters, even the guilty ones, and the intrigue is amzing!

This entry was posted on June 15, 2020. 4 Comments

Emotional Beats

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I just finished reading this book! First, the book blurb found on Amazon. 

Do You Want To Show, Not Tell, Emotions?

Because of the way our brains are wired, readers empathize more strongly if you don’t name the emotion you are trying to describe. As soon as you name an emotion, readers go into thinking mode. And when they think about an emotion, they distance themselves from feeling it.

A great way to show anger, fear, indifference, and the whole range of emotions that characterize the human experience, is through beats. These action snippets that pepper dialogue can help describe a wide range of emotions while avoiding lazy writing. The power of beats lies in their innate ability to create richer, more immediate, deeper writing.

This emotional thesaurus includes hundreds of examples that you can use for your inspiration, so that you, too, can harness this technique to easily convert your writing into palpable feelings. Genre fiction authors can use Emotional Beat as a feeling thesaurus and watch their writing take off!

Emotional Beats was an award-winning Finalist in the IPA 2017 Awards.

My review:

I wish I had read this book before writing my first book! The book is overflowing with creative ways to make your writing stand out from the rest. I’m keeping this as a thesaurus on hand, even though I now write children’s books. Five stars. I highly recommend for any author, new or with books under their belts, and screen writers as well. 

A Father for Bella @JillWeatherholt

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A Father for Bella

Book blurb found on Amazon:

Another roadblock…or the family she’s looking for?

When single mom Faith Brennan discovers the Virginia inn she grew up in is for sale, she’s determined to make a bid. Even if that means going head-to-head with handsome real estate broker Joshua Carlson. But competing with Joshua would be a lot easier if Faith’s young daughter wasn’t growing so attached to him…and if Faith could stop picturing running the inn with Joshua by her side.

My Review:


I found this treasure of a book especially poignant and moving. Technically, the book is almost perfect in written form. The author writes in a way that makes the reader feel the good times and bad times of each character. It was refreshing to see both the ups and the inner turmoil of the characters as that is real life. I could see a movie based on this book, and especially if Christmas is thrown in at the end. Five stars.

Survived Coronavirus #ASMSG


I’ve put off writing about novel coronavirus for some time now. The nurse, the mother, the wife, the teacher in me decided to write a little today. We have survived this global pandemic thus far, but it is far from over. With the USA shutting down we stopped, and flattened the curve. Doing this prevented full scale illness, and in some cases, death, because no way could we have cared for nor had enough ventilators for sick patients, let alone hospital rooms, doctors, and nurses. Unemployment skyrocketed. Now the country is reopening. What are our next steps?

Thanks to the shutdown, we don’t have as many people exposed across the country versus never having shut down and widespread disease. We flattened that curve. Our risk has greatly reduced due to the shutdown. It has NOT gone away. We must continue to do hand washing, wear masks, and use sanitizer and minimize the number of people in groups for safety. Those that don’t are at greater risk. Without shutdown, plane loads of people would have been sick, schools and churches overwhelmed with this virus.

Now the virus curve is lower and will stay pretty much that way, with some spikes, ONLY if we do our part. Most people are virus free thanks to shutdown. We need to try to keep it that way.

Schools will try to reopen. We may have to modify classrooms, and have kids eat at their desks for lunch rather than a cafeteria or gym. Depending on the direction novel coronavirus goes, kids might not be able to play musical instruments or sing. It is too soon to know the impact on these things or the impact on sports. But there will be impacts.

If we all do our part, follow the rules, we will live through this rather than have it ravage our country. We reopen but we don’t slip blinders on. Be aware. Do the right things. Friends and family will thank you for it.

Inevitably, disease spikes will occur, but not how it would have been without shutdown. Some people won’t understand “what it would have been like without shutdown”. That’s okay. We learn as we go along. Let us continue to be diligent so that we all can be as healthy as possible.

If you choose to be part of a crowd of people and you choose to not wear a mask, just know that you aren’t exposing just yourself to potential disease, you are exposing everyone in your home, at work, who you come in contact with, and the curve will rise. Each person is responsible for his or her own actions or in-actions. 

How to Properly Capitalize Your Titles — Nicholas C. Rossis

One of the trickiest things about freelance copywriting work is confirming to each blog’s or publication’s standards. For example, how to capitalize your titles. I’m sharing here what I’ve learned so far in the hopes that some of you may find it useful. The information here comes from Bruce Spielbauer on Quora. Before I expand […]

via How to Properly Capitalize Your Titles — Nicholas C. Rossis

This entry was posted on June 5, 2020. 2 Comments

5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know #GuestPost by Claire Jennison — Ritu Bhathal

As a writer, we have the craft to create worlds, characters, and their stories. Inside our heads, those stories run like an all-singing, all-dancing movie. (Well, they do in mine…) but do our words convey this same effect for a reader? Often, we are so close to the story we have created, it is hard […]

via 5 Editing Terms All Indie Authors Should Know #GuestPost by Claire Jennison — Ritu Bhathal

This entry was posted on June 5, 2020. 2 Comments

Circles: A Collection of Stories


Please welcome D. Fuller Smith to my blog. Hello Dan, welcome to my blog. Let’s get started shall we? 

Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.

Writing has been quite a journey for me. It felt good to be able to write in a way that others responded to by creating conversation and thought. Writing screenplays gave me the most immediate enjoyment as we would be on the set of a production that only existed because of stories that I wrote. Watching other talented professionals skim through my screenplays, ask me questions about what I wrote and give their feedback on how they wanted to present it was a wonderful experience. Publishing books did not produce such immediate results so the feedback from my 3 books was always cherished whenever it was given. In school I would procrastinate to write book reports that were five to ten pages long so when my first book, The Stigma in 2004, was over 400 pages it was a surprise that I was able to even write something that long. To know that people have read it and had an opinion on it still is such a wonderful feeling.

Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book? 

In the fifth grade my teacher, Mrs. Thompson, had us write a story that we read to the class. Austin Miller wrote a story that made everyone laugh when he used the phrase ‘smooth move, ex-lax’ which was a popular phrase in 1988. At recess that day, everyone said how much they liked Austin’s story then they also said that they liked mine as well. I couldn’t even tell you what my story was about anymore because I was just writing it since it was our assignment. So many of the kids told me that my story was the second best that I started to like writing, I liked hearing that I was almost as good as ‘smooth move, ex-lax.’ In my freshman year of high school I was in an Honors Writing class. My teacher, Mrs. Conway, had this wonderful wit and in liking her it was easy to dive into the assignments that she gave the class. I noticed that my writing interested others in that class as well. Mr. Frontaine, in my first year of college, made me love the craft of writing as his life took him to all four corners of the world simply for him to write about what he saw. It seemed like a dream to be able to have writing be such an influence in my future life.

How difficult was it writing your first book?

Writing my first book, the aforementioned The Stigma under the pen name J. Floyd King, was quite an ordeal. I wrote the first draft in double-spacing so I was fooling myself as to how long it was. The computer erased that draft and that upset me so much. Talking about the book did not give me the same feeling as when I read passages and snippets from my earlier writings in school. I learned that writing a book was a rather isolated experience and that did send me to the writing of screenplays for the more immediate feedback that I wanted as a younger man. Halfway through I did not even want to finish it so it was a struggle to make it to the end of the book. Holding the book in my hand though made it all worth it and I have been writing ever since.

Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?

I have never wanted to give up writing. I did look for easier paths in writing articles and screenplays. Growing out of the need for feedback helped to focus me on the craft of writing. I now enjoy the process of taking an idea that was in my mind from the world around me then turn it into a tangible series of words that the world can see. I still write to be read, that will never change. I understand that people are very busy so if they do read anything then that is a blessing in and of itself.

Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?

Writers live in their own minds. Support is appreciated even though I find that I am on this path alone. I want to support my dream of writing as a career and not just a hobby. I am the most supportive at this stage of my writing journey. It helps me in this strange world to know that I am good at something. The support of the teachers in my school career lit a fuse that still burns in me to this day.

Anything specific you want to tell your readers?

I am a voracious reader as well as a prolific writer. The best writers take us to a world that we do not currently live in. We cannot do many things in this world through the drudgeries of our society so the escapism of books and movies is so important. The best writers understand this and give us views of worlds that entertain us, teach us and make us feel right in the comfort of our own homes. Anyone can be a great writer, you just have to share your own unique world with us.

What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?

I was once told that we are not what we do. We have to do many jobs in order to have a lifestyle but that is not who we are. We are anything we dream of being so we must always remember that. Stay in the real world, do what you have to do and always be who you are supposed to be. The world moves so fast that it is easy to define people so never let anyone define who you are.

What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?

I am a proud member of Generation X and that is who I write for. I do want to expand to the generations both before and after me which has led to amazing research. I want my writing to speak to anyone that reads it and that is my greatest challenge. I have learned so much about this world in just learning about those that are older than me and younger than me for the express purpose of including them in the stories that I write.

Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?

The cover of Circles, written under the pen name of J. Floyd King, was created by a wonderful artist named Marcos Hernandez that uses English as his second language. He speaks Spanish as his first language and it has been interesting that in talking about how I want the covers of my books (The Stigma, Circles and The Cycles Building) to look there was a small language barrier. He would listen to me in English, which he speaks eloquently, then create art that was subtly different than what I thought I had expressed. For example, I thought the spaceship should be larger on the cover of Circles. What Marcos gave me was a picture that could have been as grand as a spaceship flying into the sun or as miniscule as a pathogen entering a cell. I love the cover for that and am thankful that our difference in language might have been the cause of it.

What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?

I am working on a theme based short story book called Autumn. It is about a catastrophic event called The Fall, which is our society coming to an end and I write stories about before, during and after The Fall. Here is an excerpt from a story called The Time Traveler:

“You are welcome.  Don’t cut me off here and wait until I ask you to speak.  I have a lot to tell you and I want to get it all out before I have to start answering your questions.  So there is something that is going to happen soon and you made a mistake a few years back that will leave you vulnerable when the fall happens.  You had that opportunity to buy some land on May 27, 2014 but you decided that the time was not right.  You had the money then but don’t now so you just moved on and I was real proud of you for doing that.  It takes a lot of courage to lose all of that money and have it effect your life as it has.  You are not in any position to buy a tract of land now and that will be an issue when the fall happens.  You will be stuck in the city and pretty much everyone in the city will be killed.  The intruders you get after the fall will not be your guardian angels.  Okay, I have been talking for awhile and I want to see where you are at.”

Barry sat there processing everything he had just heard and was unable to figure out what words to use so his guardian angel prodded him.

“It turned out to be a bad choice to switch jobs in June of 2015 but you went into it with the best intentions.”

Barry finished compiling all of the words spoken by his guardian angel and found his own words to say.

“I would have stayed with Alton Umbridge if I had bought that land.”

“Although that is true, it wouldn’t have solved how upset that job made you.”

“I should have been more mature.  Lots of people have jobs that get on their nerves.”

“Yeah, it is hard to find that job that doesn’t get on your nerves.  How about when those millionaire athletes and billionaire owners have jobs that get on their nerves.  It is the vanity of a society based on making money and with the age of humanity basically being a teenager vanity is still dominant in this life.”

“These things you are saying…  How do you know so much?”

“Wow, that…  That is a good question.  Wisdom, intelligence, knowing so much really has to do with experience.  Imagine being alive for so long that you never have to worry about things working out for you.  Like you can’t see the future but you still know that the future will truly be okay.  If you grow through this life without fear of anything then you understand how fleeting existence truly is.  Vanity is like having a secret that you spend your whole life afraid that others will discover when the whole time everyone is vain and therefore they have secrets as well.  It is a shame that all of society has secrets but they are gonna get exposed when the fall happens.  What I’m saying might not make sense but I do need to move on to the plot of your life.”

Barry sat speechless on the couch waiting to see what his guardian angel was going to say next.         

           “So you are going to start going back in time a day at a time…” 

Any last words before we wrap things up?

Thank you for this opportunity. Answering these questions has been a wonderful experience. I never told the Austin Miller story before, only had it rattle around in my mind from time-to-time, so having it on paper now is elating. I had not thought about the teachers that inspired in a little bit so it is nice to think of them again. Writing has been a gift that I am so thankful that I have. I am 43 years old now and have lived enough to know that I have been so blessed so I hope that everyone feels as blessed as I do. I hope that the world learns to count its blessings as opposed to notice its differences.  



Circles: A Collection of Stories