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Monthly Archives: June 2020

In Canada we celebrate Canada Day, also known as F ê te du Canada, on July 1st . It was previously known as Dominion Day and celebrates the anniversary of the Constitution Act, July 1st , It is a federal statutory holiday  which united three  colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick , into a wider British federation of four provinces (the colony of Canada being divided into the provinces of Ontario and Quebec upon Confederation).   Canada became a “kingdom in its own right” within the British Empire commonly known as the  Dominion of Canada . Although still a British colony, Canada gained an increased level of political control and governance over its own affairs, the British parliament and maintaining political control over certain areas, such as foreign affairs, national defense, and constitutional changes. Canada gradually gained increasing independence over the years, notably with the passage of the Statue of Westminster in 1931, until finally becoming completely independent with the passing of the Constitution Act of, 1982 which served to fully patriate the Canadian constitution.    

Under the federal  Holidays Act , Canada Day is observed on July 1, unless that date falls on a Sunday, in which case July 2 is the statutory holiday. Celebratory events usually include parades, barbecues, concerts, carnivals, fairs, picnics and of course fireworks, will generally still take place on July 1, even though it is not the legal holiday. If it falls on a weekend, businesses normally closed that day usually dedicate the following Monday as a day off.

This year because of the corona virus the group activities and celebrations in Canada have been canceled. Even fireworks are canceled in our area to prevent crowds from assembling. A drive through pancake breakfast and small family BBQ’s will be the extent of celebrations.

Have a safe holiday, avoid crowds, social distance 2 metres apart and wear masks.

Happy Canada Day!


Patricia Alexander is from upstate New York, the setting of Stranger in the Storm , but she’s also lived in Colorado, Texas, and Wisconsin. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of New York at Albany, a master’s from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English. Patricia now lives in Athens, Georgia, with her Southerner husband, whom she met when they were graduate students in Wisconsin.  After retiring from teaching at the University of Georgia, she’s had had more time to garden and travel while renewing her interests in photography, history, and, most of all, writing fiction.

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Patricia: I like to write romance. Why? Because love is something most of us need and hope for in our lives—look at the themes of songs, movies, literature.  Also, romance can involve personal growth, something I’m interested in as a teacher. In my fiction, I portray individuals further developing their own values and identities as they discover love. But genres can be hybrids. Stranger in the Storm , my first published novel (actually a novella), combines romance with the thriller genre. There is often romance in historical fiction, which I also write. Research on my nineteenth-century immigrant ancestors brought their times, their courage, and their loves to life for me. I want to tell their story.

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Patricia: I think being a writer was in my genes, but family, friends, and teachers all influenced me. My father let me type on his typewriter when I was five years old. He never got it back. My sister and I co-authored stories as children, and she has always eagerly read and critiqued what I’ve written. My high school friends discussed my stories as they were in progress; I sometimes asked them to vote on alternate endings. When I was an English major at SUNY Albany, my creative writing teacher Shields McIlwaine suggested I “send off” stories, and I still remember a friend coming into my dorm room and saying, “Your story made me cry.” I had no time to write fiction during my academic career, but when I retired from teaching, these people and these memories were important in my decision to turn back to fiction.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Patricia: I wish I knew—I wish I could turn those juices on like a faucet. For me, inspiration is magic. It just comes—from reading a novel, watching an ancient magnolia being taken down, finding an old story that I wrote decades ago, looking at family photo albums.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Patricia: I’d have to say Walt Disney’s Cinderella in the film of that name. As a child, I loved that story of a fairy godmother and Prince Charming rescuing a beautiful young girl from her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. I guess that reveals my life-long love of romance.

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Patricia: After doing research on my ancestors, I would love to meet Rosa Jackle, the mysterious woman who came to America in 1850 with my great-great-grandfather, a widower, and his seven children. Census records show he married her, and they settled on a farm near Boonville, New York, where she raised his children and together they had three more. She fascinates me, and I’d love to learn the romance behind their marriage and how the real Rosa corresponds with my imagined version.

Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day, what would you do with it?

Patricia: Since I’m now a retiree “sheltering in place,” every day is in a sense free. So I’ll answer by imagining a day where I could be magically transported to my sister’s lake house in Pennsylvania and spend a day with her swimming, kayaking, and hiking—and talking about books.  Her lake house is our adult version of the cottage my parents had on Great Sacandaga Lake in upstate New York—the setting of my novel Stranger in the Storm .

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Patricia: I’ve almost completed another contemporary romance, this one set in Athens, Georgia. As you may have guessed, I’m also hoping to publish a novel based on my great-great-grandfather and his second wife, Rosa. I have visited the graveyard in Boonville where they are buried. It was quite an experience to see their gravestones, his at least amazingly well-preserved. Now there was an inspiration for writing!

Blurb for Stranger in the Storm:

After she discovers the abusive side of his personality, Janet Mitchell leaves the professor who has swept her off her feet. Is she about to discover the same darkness in Wes, the handsome young man who rescues her during a hurricane?

        Wes Corbett has vowed not to get romantically involved again, fearing anyone close to him might be harmed by his brother, now an escaped felon. But when he finds himself riding out the hurricane with Janet and their mutual attraction becomes clear, will he be able to keep that vow?

Short Excerpt for Stranger in the Storm:

Wes was patted down, then handcuffed with his hands behind his back. The covering deputy lowered his gun and walked to the truck. Reaching in, he turned off the ignition and took out the keys. He picked up Wes’s wallet and phone and returned to the sheriff.

Janet jumped out of her car and ran up to her side of the fallen tree. “Stop!” she cried out. “There must be some mistake!”

“No mistake, miss,” the sheriff said, sounding grim. “You’d best get away from here. This is one of the escaped convicts.”

Buy links for Stranger in the Storm :




Social Media for Patricia:





As I said in my previous post, Death Southern Style is finally finished and available for pre-order. It took longer than I had expected or hoped but last year was a challenging year.

It’s been edited and re-edited, formatted, and I have a cover I love. Now what?   I guess it’s promotion. I just took a workshop on Amazon ads. Apparently, it’s not enough to put your book out there, you need to advertise it.   Advertising is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity.  So now I need to review my notes and see if I can figure out how put an ad together.  

And I also took a workshop on Facebook ads which apparently are also very important if you want to sell your book and make a living at writing. The main point of the Facebook ads is to develop a mailing list. In this day and age, a mailing list is the most powerful tool about publishing your book. The mailing list enables you to launch your book successfully and enables you to get reviews. Part of figuring out the Facebook ads is figuring out the cost and the cost per subscriber. 

So, you figure out how much to pay for the ad and then how many names you get for your mailing list.   You should also review your ad frequently to see how effective it is and revise it if necessary.

And then you need to tweet about the ads.

 We didn’t go into exactly what you needed to

 tweet or how often. I don’t know about you,

but I could probably write several new chapters

of a new book in the time it would take to

do all this.

 I’d love to hear your thoughts on advertising, the  amount of time involved and the cost and how you deal with it.

And if you’d like to pre-order Death Southern Style here’s the link

I finally finished Death Southern Style. For some reason this book took ages and I really like it.

It’s been edited and is now being formatted. It’s also up for pre-order at 

Here’s the blurb.

When Perrine Dupré dies under suspicious circumstances her daughter, Julie Ann Dupré, returns to New Orleans to find the truth about her mother’s death. She uncovers a family secret, hidden for years. Now someone is trying to kill her. Will the little dog who appears after her mother’s death help her? Is the sexy detective out to help her, or is he part of police corruption?

Detective Connor O’Reilly, a native of New Orleans, comes from a family of police. He’s an honest cop but realizes there is corruption in the division. His father may have died as part of that corruption. He meets Julie Ann, checks out her mother’s death and finds it was badly handled. Julie Ann deserves the truth and he wants to find it for her.

Julie Ann and Connor work together to unravel the real reason behind Perrine Dupré’s murder, Julie Ann’s mysterious past, and why people want her dead, while developing their challenging relationship. Can they both survive? And can their relationship survive?

I’d love to have you check it out.

When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

Character Interview with Blair Greyson, heroine from TO HEAL A HEART

Beverley: What’s your name?

Blair: I’m Blair Greyson. Yeah, I know. Blair’s a funny name for a girl. My mother was trying to earn brownie points with her rich mother-in-law whose maiden name was Blair. I’m pretty sure it didn’t work.

Beverley: Where did you grow up?

Blair: Mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota, but my happiest memories growing up are the summers that my brothers and I spent with our grandparents on their farm just outside of Masonville, North Dakota.

Beverley: During what time period does your story take place?

Blair: Right here, right now.

Beverley: What’s your story/back story? Why would someone come up with a story about you?

Blair: Personally, I think I’m dull as dirt. But maybe others could take some solace from my story. I had an unhappy childhood, and things happened to me in my adolescence that were…traumatic. But I’ve overcome those things, mostly. Working with animals as a veterinary technician and rescuing horses has   been my salvation. I know now that I can do worthwhile things with my life, things that make a difference. I know there are good people in the world, though sometimes I have a hard time seeing that. I want to believe I’m more than the screw-up, more than the tramp my mother has always told me I am.

Beverley: What’s your goal in this story?

Blair: Moving to my grandfather’s farm gives me the opportunity to take my two rescue horses out of the stable where I was boarding them and give them a real home. I want to rescue more horses and give them a chance at life. But I moved to North Dakota mainly to look after my Granddad. He has a bad heart and I know he doesn’t eat properly unless someone makes him. Since my grandmother died a few months ago he’s been lonely. And to be honest, I’ve been lonely, too.

Beverley: What conflicts are you facing?

Blair: I had a run-in with Garrett Saunders soon after I moved here. I mistakenly believed he was abusing his horse. When I found out I was wrong, I had to apologize. Embarrassing but necessary. Before I knew it, Garrett and I had come to an agreement; I’ll board his horse Harry in exchange for him helping with repairs around the farm. The problem is, the more time I spend with him, the more I wish for forevers. But I know there can never be anything lasting between us. He can do so much better than me.

Beverley: Do you have a plan for resolving them?

Blair: Not really. I can’t look that far ahead. My only plan is to continue enjoy being with Garrett until he moves on.

Beverley: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Blair: I’d like people to know that even though I’ve made mistakes in the past, I’m really trying to be a good person. My Granddad keeps telling me I’m special. Maybe someday I’ll believe it.

Blurb for To Heal a Heart:

Garrett Saunders’ world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett’s rescue horse and he’ll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she’s hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett’s love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?

Excerpt for To Heal a Heart:

He pushed himself to his feet, disconcerted by his unsteadiness. He made a few halting steps toward the gate as Blair ran into the yard.

“I forgot my sweater,” she said, grabbing the garment from the back of a chair and slipping it on. “It’s cooler than I thought. Are you sure you don’t want to watch the fireworks with us?”

“No, I—”

His words were cut off by a loud explosion, and his only thought was that he had to protect Blair. He grabbed her and threw her to the ground, covering her body with his. He was under attack. Why was Blair in Afghanistan? How could he keep her safe?

Through the chaos and noise he heard her muffled voice beneath him. “Garrett, you’re crushing me.”

He shifted his weight slightly. “Shh. I’m sorry. You have to stay down and quiet. I can’t let them hurt you.”

She stopped struggling. “Who’s going to hurt me?”

“Can’t you hear the mortar fire? I have to protect you.”

Her hand rubbed his back in gentle circles. “It’s all right, Garrett. It’s only fireworks. It can’t hurt us. We’re safe here.”

He lifted his head and looked around. He was in Cole and Lauren’s back yard in Masonville. There were no bombs, no shelling, no Taliban. He looked down into Blair’s face, into the pity in her eyes. He rolled off her, disgusted with himself.

Disgusted and scared. He was losing his mind.

Buy Links for To Heal a Heart: (Pre-order until June 12, 2020)

Amazon.UK: https://www

Barnes & Noble:


Social Media Links for Jana Richards





Amazon Author Page:

Amazon UK Author Page:

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Bookbub: https://  

I just finished reading an article by Deena Nataf on writing conversations on the phone. The book I finished writing has some phone conversations in it and I have challenges writing them.

A phone conversation, like any other writing is a writing technique. It should be there to share information with the reader about the goal, the characters, moving the story forward. How do I do this? Do I write both sides of the conversation or just one side?  And if it’s only one side how do I share the information that other side of the conversation?

Some of the tips I read say you need to make the conversation as close to a real phone conversation as possible. You need to know both sides of the conversation. Maybe write it out so you can see it. Then focus on fitting in the questions and comments from the person on the other end. The reader needs to be able to figure out what the person on the other end is asking and/or responding from what the person you’re listening to says.

Answers phone – Hi, Mom. You know who they are talking to.

I’m making lunch. They asked what the person was doing?

No, I haven’t seen George lately. They asked if the person knew where George is

You get the idea. To improve your technique of writing phone calls, listen to people on the phone.

Hear how they answer and figure out what the questions or comments might have been.

When you finish writing the telephone dialogue, read it out loud. Ask yourself whether it sounds realistic. Like everything else you write, does it move the plot forward? Does it reveal any of your characters goals or contribute to the readers knowledge.

Hopefully this helps improve my phone dialogue.

Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.

Hi Beverley. Thank you for inviting me here for an author interview. Fire away!

Beverley: Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Arlene: Oops. Not a good question. I love writing romance, but I also enjoy writing mystery. That’s not all though: I’m quite passionate about researching and writing Eastern European history, or about the evolution in rural French life. Quite a mix. But each genre is quite wonderful. I also have a storytelling podcast (see below).

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Arlene: I suppose I can only say I influenced myself. I’ve always kept notes and diaries because I’m a contemporary artist and photographer, and that’s the sort of thing we artists do. Then, one day, I decided to try writing romance novels. After a few refusals (my main characters were in their sixties, and that was a no-no in the romance genre a few years ago) my book, Felicity’s Power was accepted by an Australian publisher who was looking for later life romances. A little while later, at one of my photography exhibitions I told the curator about my next project — Romanian immigration to Canada in 1899. She suggested I write about it instead. So I did, and my book, Finding Home in the Footseteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers , won a prize in Canadian history.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Arlene: Thinking of an atmosphere. The thought moves around in my head, shifts here and there before blossoming into a story.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Arlene: I don’t know much about cartoon characters. I’ve never owned a television. However I do like caricatures. Here’s one of my own:

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Arlene: I’ve recently completed a biography of a Jewish-Ukrainian poet, songster, and tippler who died in 1875. He spent his life wandering through Austrian Galicia, Romania, and the Ottoman Empire. I’d certainly like to tag along with him, drink some of the red wine he was so fond of, and see that vanished world. What an experience that would be!

Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?

Arlene: I’d do what I do every day. I’d write, or play music (I play the oboe, English horn, flute, recorder, and tuba in several orchestras, bands, and chamber groups.) Or else I’d take one of the lovely ancient sunken green lanes that crisscross all of Europe, and just walk from village to village.

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Arlene: I’m working on the third romance book in my Blake’s Folly series. In this, we begin in 1899 when Blake’s Folly is a silver boomtown, see it in 1927 when the mines have closed and people are leaving, in the 1950s as a Nevada divorce paradise, in the 1970s, and in 2020 when it has become a semi-ghost town, and is the setting for my two romances, All About Charming Alice , and Desert Rose .

Blurb for Desert Rose

Men love Rose Badger, and if the other inhabitants of dead-end Blake’s Folly, Nevada, don’t approve, she couldn’t care less. Isn’t life for fun? Doesn’t a stable relationship always mean predictability and boredom? Well… perhaps things might be different with Jonah Livingstone, but he’s entangled in a complicated past relationship and off limits for anything other than friendship. Besides, Rose has another secret life—one she’ll never give up for any man.

The last person geologist Jonah Livingstone expected to meet in a semi-ghost town is Rose Badger. She’s easy-going, delightfully spontaneous, and Jonah is certain their attraction is mutual. But Rose is always surrounded by a crowd of admirers and doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite. Besides, Jonah is leading his own very private life, and secrets are an excellent protection against love.


Blurb for All About Charming Alice

Alice Treemont has given up hope of meeting the right man and falling in love. Living in Blake’s Folly, a semi-ghost town of rusting cars, old trailers, clapboard shacks, and thirsty weeds, she spends her time cooking vegetarian meals, rescuing unwanted dogs, and protecting the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. What man would share those interests?

Jace Constant is in Nevada, doing research for his new book, but he won’t be staying long. As far as he’s concerned, Blake’s Folly is hell on earth. He’s disgusted by desert dust on his fine Italian shoes, and dog hair on his cashmere sweaters. As for snakes, they terrify him. He can hardly wait to get back to Chicago’s elegant women, fine dining, and contemporary art exhibitions.

So how is it possible that each time Alice and Jace meet, the air sizzles? That she’s as fascinated by him as he is by her. That they know their feelings go deeper than raw desire. Still, it looks like this relationship is doomed before it even starts.


Excerpt from All About Charming Alice:

Suddenly Jace rose to his feet and, in that languid way of his, crossed to the doorway where she stood. Alice was a tallish woman but, still, he towered over her. Casually, stretching out one arm, he rested his hand on the doorframe, just a hair’s breadth above her head. He was close, so close. His body was supple, strong and—yes, she had to admit it—warm, fragrant. The heat of him reached her over the few inches separating them and she ached to curve into it. Aura? This man was a flesh-and-blood heat wave.

The strange, tingling excitation was flowing through her again like thick port wine. She lowered her eyes, refusing to meet his gaze, although she knew he was, once again, examining her minutely.

“And I want to take the room.”

“Look, you don’t need my room,” she said, desperation evident in her tone. “There’s a perfectly reasonable motel the other side of the Winterback Mine, out in the direction of Logan. Actually, it’s far better equipped to take in tourists than anything you’d find here in Blake’s Folly.”

“I know. Rider Motel. Air conditioning, closed circuit television. Right across from the Dew Drop Inn.” His smile was wry. “That’s exactly where I’ve been staying for the last three nights. And over and over again during those three nights I remembered Blake’s Folly and the ‘room to let’ sign on your wall. And the more I thought about it, the more appealing it got. There’s nothing worse than an impersonal motel room when you have to stay in an area for a while.” He paused, let his eyes wander over the faded wooden framing, over the settee on the veranda. “Right here, it feels more like home.”

That wasn’t it, she knew. That wasn’t even part of the truth. He was back because something hot and wonderful shimmered between them. Did she fascinate him as much as he did her? Possibly. Although she hadn’t done anything to encourage him, not even once. It would have been hard to find anyone less friendly than she’d been.

Still, there was something about him that touched her, something that had nothing to do with raw desire. Was it the warmth in his eyes? A quirk to his lips that promised humor and understanding? Or was it just plain magic, the magic that happens when the right female meets the right male? Whatever it was, she’d been unsuccessful in putting him out of her head for days.

She knew she was softening.

He must have sensed that too, and he pushed his point further. “Everyone, or almost everyone, needs the feeling there’s home somewhere. I’m sure you understand that.”

She nodded slowly, reluctance fighting with sympathy. “What are you doing in the area?”

And immediately felt the flush crossing her cheeks. She didn’t want to be interested in him. She wanted to blot him out. She’d opened her mouth, intending to refuse him, but the question had popped out instead. And that had opened the door to conversation. He’d realized it too, and she could almost feel his body relax with relief.

         “I’m working on a book on the Old West, so I’ll be poking around the area for a while.”

Alice couldn’t help smiling. “Blake’s Folly’s a great place for history. Lucy Warner’s pig gave birth to fifteen piglets once. That was back in thirty-two, I think.”

His eyes met hers evenly. “Nineteen thirty-three. The fifth of August. A hot month for hard work like that.” He gave a short laugh. “Nothing important gets past us serious researchers.”

Suddenly there was a loud thump followed by a wild scraping of claws. Seconds later, a huge black dog thrust itself past Alice and threw itself against Jace, almost knocking him backward.

         “Killer! Down!”

Killer wriggled like an eel, danced a doggie jig on the veranda floor and still managed to stare up at Jace with supplication. He was ecstatic.

Jace bent down and gingerly patted Killer’s head, then looked back up at Alice with slight embarrassment.

“Normally I never pat dogs. I never understood why anyone would want to.” He observed Killer again. “There’s pure adoration in his eyes. It gets to me, somehow.”

         Killer nestled in closer, wagging his long, seedy-looking tail wildly, and Jace patted him again, this time with more tenderness.

Alice felt herself relenting. She loved animals—any animal: dogs, cats, rabbits. And snakes.

And this man was touching her too much. Far too much. She had to bring her defenses back into play. “That isn’t the way a dog normally reacts when he meets a total stranger.”

Jace met her semblance of hostility with his limpid green gaze. “I’m not a total stranger. I fed him my packed lunch the other day, remember?” He looked down at Killer, grinned ruefully. “I still didn’t know why I stopped for him. Anyway, we’ve been through all this already. And, as I said, I’m here about the room.”

Buy Links for All About Charming Alice


Social Media for J. Arlene Culiner:

Author Website:   http://

Blog:   http://

Storytelling Podcast:


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I don’t know about you, but there is nothing going on, here, in June. All the spring festivals, dog shows, concerts, etc. have been canceled due to Covid19. In my area we are starting to open up, but very slowly. We’re still in Stage One. Parks and playgrounds are now open, hairdressers and barbers, and a few restaurants. That’s about it. In my city we have been very lucky and have had a total of 40 cases and no deaths. But for our long holiday weekend, Stage One, they pushed ‘camping at home’, with tents in the back yard and RV’s in the driveway. Now, for the summer, they’re pushing and putting money into ‘Holiday at Home.’ We’ll see how that works.

Me, I bought some backyard patio furniture and have my small garden planted. Our weather is warming up. My rescue dog is adjusting and enjoys laying on a small plot of artificial grass. And I’m getting names of books I have to read. We’re all set for our ‘Summer at Home’.


Death Southern Style has been through two rounds of editings and revisions. It’s now with two beta readers. Unfortunately, one of my beta readers lives in Brooklyn.



She’s been through two months of the corona virus and shelter-at-home and listening to sirens all day long. As the sirens began to lessen, she is now only blocks from the riots that have started. Her mental health and worry about her family are affecting her and she may not be able to continue to read.

As soon as I get the book back with comments it goes for formatting. I’m hoping to have it up for sale by July 1st. It will get there.  So, for now, I’m in limbo with Death Southern Style. Everything is in someone else’s control. Sigh… I’m working on a pre-order date. Once I get one, I’ll add it to my website.

In the meantime, check out:

Nicole Morgan’s Red Carpet - Current Giveaways June 8th – June 30th  Enter to win an amazon gift card

And Father’s Day at N.N. Light June – June 18-21 Celebrate Fathers Event with an e-book bundle giveaway.

I have continued writing 100 words a day. I joined a ‘100 words a day’ group so I have accountability. I’m working on The Foundation Lydia’s Story, the second in the series, which I’ve mentioned before. I’m about one third of the way through it.  I need to reread it and work out some structure and plot details and do some more research on Peru.


Since I’m working On Lydia’s story, here’s an excerpt (draft).


“Marilyn Peterson?”

The woman nodded.

“I'm Maggie. The woman behind you is Sara. We're here to help you escape.”

Marilyn's eyes widened. She swung around to see Sara, dressed as another female repair person, in the kitchen doorway.

She swallowed several times, her hands clutched together. “I don't understand. You have to go. My husband could be home soon.”

“We know, Marilyn. Diane, one of our team is watching for any sign of him. We also know that when he comes home today, he's going to beat you within an inch of your life. He may not stop there this time. We know he's been abusing you for years. We're here to get you out and away from him. We want to save your life.”

“You can't...I can't...” she looked down at her ankle. She wore a monitoring device. “If you cut it off, he'll know. He monitors it from work. If he notices anything unusual, he phones. If I step outside the house, he'll know. You can't save me.”

Maggie pulled out a pair of metal cutters. “We know about your monitor. No man should put something like that on anyone, except maybe an alleged pedophile or murderer, released into the community. It should never to be used on any woman, including a wife. We can take care of it. Sara?”

Sara slipped into the room and pull out a six-inch piece of wire with hooks and little black boxes on it. She bent down and attached it to the monitoring device. Several minutes later she pulled at both ends. She gave a curt nod to Maggie and held out her hand. Maggie handed her the cutters.

“No, don't. He will know right away and come home and kill me.”

“Hold on, Marilyn. It will be fine. We know what we’re doing. Think about what you need to bring with you. You can only take a very small bag.”

Marilyn held her breath. Sara cut through the bracelet.

Nothing happened.

Marilyn stared at Sara and then at Maggie. “It didn't go off. He didn’t hear it?”

“No. We do know what we're doing.”

Marilyn stared at the phone.

“He’s not going to call. Slip your foot out of the bracelet. We don't have much time. I'll carry the monitor while you pack. Don't worry about clothes or jewelry. We'll replace anything you’ll need.” Maggie looked at the thread-bare cotton housedress. “Take the few things you can't live without.”

Marilyn stumbled upstairs into the master bedroom. She dragged a stool to the closet door. She opened the door and climbed up on the stool. In the back corner she jerked out some sheets and threw them on the floor. She pulled out another sheet with something in it. She gently unwrapped the sheet and brought out a small rectangular wood box. She clutched it to her chest

“He doesn't know about this. He doesn’t let me keep anything from my family or my life before he married me.”

“Bring it along. Is there anything else?”  Maggie said.

“I have my thyroid medication.”

Maggie paused. “Take a few pills, leave the bottle. Is there anything else?”

Marilyn shook her head. “No, I don't want to remember anything about my living hell for the last ten years.”

"That's why we're here, so you can leave this hell and move on with your life. We'll get you a new identity. He will never find you. You're going to be free."

“I don't believe it can happen. I've been praying for it for years.”

“Someone heard your prayers. Let's go.” Sara grabbed Marilyn's thin arm. “Do you get any food?”

“He eats his lunch out or orders it in. He brings groceries home every night so I can cook for him. I get anything that's left over. There's food in the fridge for his breakfast. He counts the eggs and bread slices, but I can manage to steal a little orange juice and jam.”

Sara shook her head. “If I had my way we'd stay here and take care of that bastard when he gets home.”

Maggie put her arm around Marilyn's shoulders. She shot a glance across at Sara. “Down girl, that’s not our assignment this time. You can always ask to come back.”

Maggie pulled out her phone from the tool belt. “Lydia, meet us in the alley out back. Come on, Marilyn, you're out of here.”

Sara slipped out of the room and returned seconds later. “I dropped the monitor on the bed. If he monitors her movements, he'll think she's lying down.” She moved to the back door and opened it.

“I don't see anyone. No neighbors in their yard, although we should thank one of them for telling us about you.  Give me your box. Let's go.” Sara grabbed the wooden box from Marilyn and sprinted across the yard.

Maggie kept her arm around Marilyn and guided her through the yard, through the gate and into the alley. The telephone repair van pulled up with Sara inside. She leaned out and helped Maggie hoist Marilyn through the sliding side door and into the van. Maggie hopped inside and pulled the door shut. “Go, Lydia.”

The van drove slowly down the alley. It turned right, onto the main street and slowed to a stop. Diane climbed down the pole and raced across the van. She climbed in the passenger seat and the van’s speed increased but stayed under the speed limit. Lydia drove toward the freeway. They couldn't afford to be stopped. They needed to get the woman to the safe house. Her husband would be home in a few hours and looking for her. They had to assure her safety and quickly.

He would not be happy to find his possession gone.

I finished the damn book.  And it’s off to the formatter.

I thought I’d finished weeks ago but kept going back and making changes and reading it over and over. Every time I’d find something new. I had a couple of friends read it and they sent some errors they caught. So back again to make a few corrections. Here are some of the self-editing I did in no particular order.

I had a couple of names that were very similar. It could be confusing to the reader, so I went back and changed them. Thank heavens for find and replace.

I also used find and replace, for those lovely words like – as – just and – the ings.

I cut and moved sections, so the book flowed better, and it fit the timeline.

I checked for spelling, both with spell check but also by reading it through.

I checked for grammar and punctuation. My grammar is good (I think) but punctuation is my weak point. And I find Word and I sometimes disagree on what I thought it should be.  I’ve got feedback from other writers and apparently things like the use of commas is different depending on editors.

I made notes and went back to check eye color stayed the same for each character, if one man drank scotch and the other whisky, I made notes and made sure it stayed the same through the book.

I went back and read each person’s journey to make sure it made sense and I made sure the conflicts between the characters was resolved by the end.

And I’m listening to the reading of the book. People have suggested three different methods of doing this. I’m going to try all three and see which works best for me.  The ones recommended were Autocrit, WordPress and Office 365.

Now to see what it reads like once it’s in print and how many errors I missed.

I’d love to hear what other people check for when they self-edit.

Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She is a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many inspirational pet books and stories for both children and adults. Her first novel, a clean, contemporary pet rescue romance titled Rescue Road , released November 8, 2019. The follow-up book, Finding Love at Compassion Ranch , released in May 2020. She subtly weaves important life lessons within the lines and pages of her stories, including the importance of pet rescue and adoption. An animal advocate, she volunteers for various dog rescue and humane society organizations and donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Gayle resides in Wyoming with her husband and their adopted animals. She creates a weekly blog and a monthly newsletter. Find her blog and learn more about the author, her writing endeavors, and her pets at her website:

Beverley : Which genre or genres do you write or prefer to write? And why?

Gay le: I began as a children’s author, writing inspirational pet stories which t each important life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, and friendship. I spent a few years taking additional creative writing classes at the local community college, and last fall I released my first clean, contemporary western r omance called Rescue Road. The story takes place in Montana, a state in which I used to live and where my parents still live. The love story revolves around pet rescue and adoption, an issue close to my heart. Rescue Road is the first in a series I’m calling Pet Rescue Romance. My desire through my books is to educate, entertain, and inspire, whether the

Beverley: Who influenced you the most in deciding to become a writer?

Gayle: I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a teenager, at which time I composed stories based on my favorite television shows. I studied journalism in college and began my writing career as a reporter. A few years later, I became an editor and freelance writer. My work as an author started in 2007 when I wrote and published my first children’s book about my blind dog titled Sage’s Big Adventure: Living With Blindness . The two most influential people in my life were my junior college journalism instructor, Arlene Larson, and, when I pursed my bachelor’s degree at the University of Idaho, Lois Melina; she even hired me to help her with her Child Adoption Newsletter during my last year of school. I feel blessed to have been tutored and encouraged by both of these creative, strong women during my formative years.

Beverley: What gets your creative juices flowing?

Gayle: Spending time in nature and being a volunteer animal rescue transporter. I was raised in small towns and on a small farm in Iowa, where my parents and I lived until I was 17. We then moved to the Rocky Mountain region of the United States. I was raised to appreciate nature and I’ve been an animal-lover since childhood. Those facets of my life remain strong. I enjoy traveling and visiting America’s national forests and parks, and I possess a passion for helping animals in need; therefore, I serve as a volunteer transporter for rescue organizations, helping animals go to their adoptive families and taking animals from kill-shelters to rescue groups. My pets (2 dogs and 2 cats) are rescues, and nothing delights me more than to know a cat or dog that’s been abandoned or abused find a new loving home.

Beverley: Do you have a favorite cartoon character? Why?

Gayle: No, I’m not a cartoon person.

Beverley: Who would you love most to meet ‘in person’ and why?

Gayle: Betty White because of her love of animals and her tireless work on behalf of animals in need. Plus, she’s so funny! I loved her character in “The Golden Girls!”

Beverley: If you had an unexpected free day what would you do with it?

Gayle: I would rent a cabin in the mountains for the night and relish the tranquility and scenery … and write!

Beverley: What are you working on now?

Gayle: I recently released another book in my Pet Rescue Romance series. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is the story of Erin and Mike, who knew each other in high school, but haven’t seen one another in more than 30 years. They reconnect at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Erin stops by to volunteer for two weeks, and Mike is the ranch manager; both lost their spouses during the past five years. Compassion Ranch may provide a second chance at love for them, just as it provides a second chance for the animals.

The next project is a Christmas novella set in the Jackson, Wyoming area. The title of the book is In the Shadow of Mount Moran: A Christmas Pet Rescue Romance. The book will be available mid-to-late November.

All three books of the Pet Rescue Romance series are set in the Yellowstone National Park area. Rescue Road is set in southwestern Montana; Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is set in northwestern Wyoming; and the Mount Moran book will be set in western Wyoming, near Jackson and Grand Teton National Park, just south of Yellowstone. I lived in West Yellowstone, Montana for about four years, and I lived in the area where Rescue Road is set for nearly seven years. I love this part of the country, and I plan to write this series based upon locations in Montana and Wyoming.

Blurb for Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:

A ranch like no other …

Erin Christiansen is still adjusting to life as a widow. She seeks additional healing by volunteering at Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals. Upon arrival at the majestic and unique northwestern Wyoming ranch, she meets Mike, a man she knew in high school, whose compassion for animals and people might be the balm Erin needs.

Retired veterinarian Mike Jacobs is no stranger to loss. Five years after the accidental death of his wife, he now serves as ranch manager of Compassion Ranch. He not only fixes fence and provides tours, but he applies his veterinary skills and his heart for animals to his work. Upon recognizing Erin from high school, he can barely believe his first love will spend a few weeks at the sanctuary.

Can Erin and Mike span the years since they have seen each other or do they, like many of the rescued animals, have wounds that run too deep to trust and love again? 

Excerpt from Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:

Erin heard the sound that escaped from Mike’s mouth, even with his lips sealed over hers. She attempted a step back, but the wooden fence, and Mike’s body, ensnared her. So did the feelings which resurrected. The only man who had kissed her in more than twenty-five years had been Daniel. He hasn’t even been gone two years and look at yourself , Erin’s brain raged. She pulled her mouth from Mike’s. Immediately warmth drained from her. She placed her hands on Mike’s brawny shoulders.

        “I’m sorry, Erin,” he whispered. “I shouldn’t have done that. I just … I’m just so attracted to you and seeing you here, so filled with compassion and grace, your loveliness just shines, and I’m drawn to you like I haven’t been to anyone since I lost Elizabeth.”

        “You’re so sweet, Mike, I just don’t know what to say. Except I …” Her hands dropped to her sides. “Daniel’s been gone less than two years. I’m still processing …”

        “I completely understand. That’s why I’m apologizing.”

        He backtracked toward the gate and held it open for her. “Here, let’s step out and talk for a bit.”

        Erin gave one more pat to Hope before stepping out of the enclosure. She walked to a whining Winston, untied the dog’s leash from the post, and picked him up into her arms. She carried him through the open barn door and stopped near the corral. Erin gazed at the sky, filled with twinkling stars. A full moon overhead shone like the sun upon the landscape, topping the nearby mountains with golden glitter. Shadows of pine trees fell upon the landscape. The quiet of the night enveloped her and the attraction toward Mike danced within the landscape and entangled within her heart, beckoning her to join subtle music. Erin sighed. She sensed his presence beside her.

        “Beautiful night,” he whispered.

        “Yes, it is,” she responded.

        Erin set Winston near her feet and turned to Mike. “I know we have feelings for each other, and we share a common tragedy. I’m just not sure I’m ready to leave Daniel’s memory behind right now.”

        Mike placed gentle hands upon her shoulders and looked into her eyes. “I do understand, Erin, believe me. I don’t want you to feel you’re betraying Daniel nor am I asking you to forget him. The two of you shared many years together; Elizabeth and I did, too. I won’t ever forget her. Just as I needed time to accept her passing, you need time to accept Daniel’s passing. I guess what I want you to know is … I loved you when we were in high school. I missed you every day those first few years, and I never forgot you. I let you go because I knew we were both young, but I really didn’t want to let you go.”

        “Why didn’t you tell me then how you felt?”

        He sighed and glanced to the sky before returning his gaze to her face. “I tried. I did ask you to come to Seattle, if you remember.”

She nodded. “I remember. But all you said was you wanted me to come to Seattle; you didn’t say why or that you loved me.”

“I wanted to, but I listened to my dad and my best friend and kept my feelings bottled up. I focused on my schooling and my career. I made a mistake by not being truthful about loving you. I didn’t know what happened to you, where you were, but I looked for you at our fifth high school reunion. I thought if I saw you there, I could tell you how I felt and maybe we could try again. But you weren’t there.”

She shook her head. “I was planning my wedding then and since I had only attended high school that one year, I didn’t have the inclination to go.” She stared into his eyes. “I actually thought I’d hear from you that first year of college. I did wait, Mike, but by my sophomore year, I figured you weren’t interested after all, and I moved on.”

“To Daniel.”

She shook her head. “Not at first, but I began dating. I met Daniel the start of spring semester. By summer, after meeting each other’s families, we were serious. I figured you had moved on, too.”

He nodded. “I dated a bit, but my feelings for you didn’t subside. I didn’t try to find you because … well, my parents kept pushing me to do well in school and get into vet school and launch my career. I regret listening to them, and not my heart.”

He placed his hands on her face and looked deeply into her eyes. “I still love you, Erin, and now that we’ve reconnected, I want you to know I’m here for you. Whenever you feel ready, I’ll be here. We can stay in touch, visit each other now and then, and see what happens. Maybe you’ll come to love me, maybe you won’t. I’m okay with that. I’m not going anywhere. But, if nothing else, you can know you have a good friend, even a special companion if you want. I’m here.”

Her eyes searched his, and she saw honesty and integrity … and love. She lay her head on his shoulder and felt him wrap his arm around her waist.

Buy Links for Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:



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