Because tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US, I reached out to my author friends to find out what they’re grateful for.

Diane Culver (Love on the Run): I am very thankful for Nicki Greenwood, otherwise this techno dinosaur would have long become extinct.

Jacci DeVera (Queen of the Hollow): I’m grateful I’m fluent in English as well as Appalachian because it’s fun to be the translator between friends.

Susanna Eastman (Someone Like Him): I’m thankful that even though I am the worst techie in the world, my hubby and two sons can fix my computer, cable, and phone in a snap.

CJ England (Hustle Into Love): I’m grateful that God has given Jonathon and me the ability to travel the world.  Writing stories about each place is a dream come true.

Alina K. Field (Rosalyn’s Ring): I’m grateful for my dog, my four-legged trainer/life coach/and unconditional friend.

Joanne Guidoccio (The Coming of Arabella): I am grateful for all the wonderful online companions on my writing journey. Thanks for all your help and support.

Kim Hotzon (Hands Full of Ashes): I’m grateful for sensory aptitude. Without taste buds, I wouldn’t be able to connect with chocolate melting into my tongue; without sight I would miss the copper leaves on the trees and without smell I would be unable to locate my spaniel buried beneath my duvet cover.

Gail Koger (Vexing Voss):  I’m grateful for chocolate and it’s ability to keep me sane.

Becky Lower (A Widow’s Salvation): I’m thankful for each morning when I can get out of bed and be excited about going to work at my job as a writer. This is the only job I’ve ever had that made me excited. I’m also thankful for my family and friends who I will break bread with this Thanksgiving.

Linda Mooney (Neverwylde, The Rim of the World): I’m grateful for my husband, who is fully supportive of my writing and all it entails.

Katie O’Boyle, (Waking Up To Love:)I’m grateful I live in the Finger Lakes because the beauty smacks me in the face every morning and makes me smile all day long.

Viola Russell (Buccaneer Beauty): I am most grateful for my husband Ben!

Cynthia Sax (Releasing Rage): I’m grateful to be a plus-sized girl because when I fall, I bounce. (grins)

Ryan Jo Summers (Chasing the Painted Skies): I am grateful for the challenges, stumbling blocks and jerks in our paths because they all teach us to appreciate the beauty and love we find in the peaceful and happy moments and to better savor our successes.

Caroline Warfield (Dangerous Weakness): I am grateful to live near a public library that shares with other libraries. It makes research so much easier.

Christine Wenger (It’s a Wonderful Knife) I’m grateful for kind remarks from readers stating they have enjoyed my books. After I exclaim, “Really?! Tell me more!!”, it always makes me smile and gush with gratitude.

Gay Yellen (The Body Business): I love telling stories, and I’m always thankful for readers of my own books. But the most surprising and wonderful discovery I’ve made in my writing journey is the nurturing community of writers who graciously share their knowledge, experience and audience. Back when I was only dreaming of being an author, I pictured it as a solo endeavor. Now I know that it takes a village, filled with caring members of critique groups, marketing partnerships, bloggers and beyond. As I write the sequel to my last book, I’m hoping that it will be even more worthy of their interest, and will allow me to deepen our relationships. We all yearn for book lovers who take the time to write a review and tell their friends about it, but we do not compete against one another for attention. Instead, we march (and sometimes slog) down the road to publishing success together. Many thanks to all those who, in the past year, have hosted me on blogs, retweeted, shared on Facebook and in so
many other ways, boosted this very grateful writer.

MJ Compton (Summer Fling): I’m grateful for my community, my tribe of writers. May you all have a safe, happy, and blessed Thanksgiving.


Today is the 52nd anniversary of JFK’s assassination.

I guess that makes me old.

I remember the day as if it were yesterday. I was on the playground at recess, and my older cousin came out and told us the president had been killed. I called him a liar. I mean, who murders the president? The concept was so alien, I couldn’t understand it.

My grandmother (a Democrat) said to my mother (a Republican): “I guess you’re happy now.” Mom was appalled that Gram could think that.

Two days later, the accused assassin was murdered on live TV. Yes, I witnessed it. I remember thinking Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald as part of a conspiracy. Yet when I mentioned this theory to my fellow third-grade classmates, I was told I was crazy. Jack Ruby was so distraught over Kennedy’s death, he killed the murderer.

I wrote a poem and read it in class. November rhymes beautifully with remember. And that’s about all I recall of it.

One of my favorite quotes about the assassination comes from Bob Dylan’s novel, Tarantula: “Why didn’t [the Warren Commission] ask some banana salesman who was in Des Moines that day? Why didn’t they ask me?”

Flash forward to September 11, 2001. Another event that shakes up the USA and forever changes the way we approach life. My husband and I sat down with our children to explain what was going on (and that Grandma, who lived in NYC was fine). It was then we realized our son was the same age and in the same grade as my husband when Kennedy was killed. Our daughter was the same age and in the same grade I was on that day. Kind of weirded us out.

I visited the Sixth Floor Museum in 2004 when I was in Dallas for the RWA Conference. I peered out the window from which Oswald allegedly shot. I saw the grassy knoll. I’ve watched the Zapruder film over and over. My husband and I watched countless specials on the 5oth anniversary.

My conclusion?  We will never know the truth.





November is National Novel Writing Month. It’s also the month in which NaNoWriMo takes place. For those who might not know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual challenge to complete a 50,000-word book in 30 days.

NaNo is a great idea, no question. I, personally, have never participated, but I know several authors who have had magnificent success. I even know the first participant who actually sold the book she wrote during NaNo. She won a Rita for that book, too. And it’s a great book.

There are two reasons I’ve never participated.

  1. There are only 30 days in November. Why not have National Novel Writing Month in a month with 31 days? There are seven months with 31 days, as opposed to only four with 30 days. I do not know a single author who wouldn’t kill for that extra day.
  2. Who picks November to put life on hiatus in order to write 50,000 words? A single man who goes home to Mom’s for Thanksgiving or a married man whose wife handles Thanksgiving and all it entails, that’s who. Come on! The only worse month would be December–and at least December has 31 days.

Still up to my ears in revisions. Here are some autumn photos to enjoy.

I’m blessed to live in a scenic part of the US.

berries at creekwalk 2013-11-15 18.24.07 2014-11-01 14.31.24 2014-11-01 14.31.58 2014-11-01 14.32.36 2014-11-01 14.32.50 2014-11-01 14.32.58 2014-11-15 10.35.05 before superstorm sandy decorating for autumn 01 garage tableau


I’ve been up to my ears in revisions. Apparently my manuscript wasn’t as “clean” as I thought it was, which is kind of embarrassing. I pride myself in turning in professional work to my publishers.  Oh well. My editor is an amazing woman who asks wonderful questions and points out holes a convoy of tanks could traverse. We’re making the book better.

I actually don’t mind revisions, because they mean I’ve accomplished the best part of being an author: I have written. “You can’t edit a blank page.” I’ve heard the quote attributed to many authors. Let’s just say that it comes from Nora Roberts. She knows what she’s talking about.

I know I’ve written about my loathing for telephone solicitation before. In case you missed that rant, you can find it here.

I have a new strategy for live callers.

“Thank you so much for calling. You can find my books on Amazon dot com. . . No, no you called me. I’m an author and this is my place of business . . . I pay the phone bill. . . check out my author page on Amazon, or go to my website. I have books available on Barnes & Noble and Kobo and . . . no, no, you called my place of business. Do you call your supermarket and pitch them whatever it is you’re selling? Then what right do you have to call my place of business and not buy one of my books?”

The caller usually hangs up before I can finish the spiel.

I still need to deal with robocall. I’ve heard NoMorRoBo works really well. I just need to hunt down an account number and a password to register the house phones.

It’s Work-In-Progress Wednesday, and today I’d like to welcome Anne B. Cole!

ann cole author photo

MJ: November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Do you participate? If so, do you find it helpful? If not, why not?

ABC: I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2014. I didn’t participate in the traditional way—writing an entire book. Instead I worked on my third book in the Souls Trilogy, Souls Endure, my current WIP.

NaNoWriMo is helpful because it gave me a passion to write everyday. I believe I wrote 22 thousand words that month—the most I’ve ever written in a single month. Now days, I aim for 500 words /day.

MJ: If you didn’t write, what would be your creative outlet?

ABC: Hmmm. I love to garden and run but neither is very creative. I love to cook and bake—that could be creative with the limited time I have to fix dinners some nights:)

MJ: Other than writing, what would be your dream job? Why?

ABC: I love the outdoors and I’m a teacher, so my dream job would be to be a ‘naturalist hiking guide’ at a national park.

MJ: Describe your ideal/dream writing space.

ABC: A screened in porch (with windows during the colder seasons) with a view of fields/woods and perhaps a pond. I love watching the birds and squirrel that visit my window where I write now. Here is a picture of a squirrel in my peach tree from my real writing window.


MJ: What do you love most about your WIP hero?

ABC: I love Sam’s loyalty to Gretta. No matter what the circumstance, he strives to help and protect her.

MJ: What do you least like about your WIP heroine?

ABC: Gretta tends to need more self confidence, so I put her in situations where she is forced to adapt and become stronger emotionally and physically.

MJ: What genre is your current WIP?

ABC: Supernatural Suspense—with time travel into the past, so there is a bit of historical fiction along with the paranormal elements. Yep, I’m a genre bender! I tried to fit my books into a cozy single genre…it didn’t work:)

MJ: How did you come up with your hero and heroine’s names?

ABC: Great question! I’ve taught many, many kids through my teaching career so picking names is difficult for me.

I chose ‘Gretta’ because years ago one of my preschool students had a new baby sister named Gretta and I fell in love with the name. ‘Dobbs’ is a very old family name.

I chose ‘Sam’ because I love the book, Green Eggs and Ham. ‘Daggett’ is a road in my home town in Pennsylvania.

MJ: How did you choose the setting for your current WIP?

ABC: The primary setting for Souls Endure—Delos— is a sacred Greek Island. With Sam and Gretta faced with breaking the final curse on Gretta’s ring, I needed to place them in a setting where gods, curses, and mythology all could contribute to the plot.

The first book in the series, Souls Entwined, was set in Milos, a Greek island near Delos. The second book, Souls Estranged, was set in the United States. I missed the island setting and knew I had to return to it in the final book.


MJ: Can you share the opening lines of your current work in progress?

ABC: Yes. This is from Souls Endure:

Thunder rumbled in the distance. Raindrops speckled the sidewalk, yet disappeared within seconds in the heat of late August. The homeless man adjusted his grip on the dagger still concealed in the folds of his new jacket.

He knew what he had to do.

The man who gave him the jacket had relayed instructions without words. Despite the pain he would inflict, his actions were necessary for the protection of the young couple.

He would complete the task without question.

MJ: Your current release, Souls Estranged, is Book Two of The Souls Trilogy. Where can readers find it?

SoulsEstranged (2) (1)

ABC: It’s available at Amazon.

MJ: How can readers stay in touch with you?

ABC: I have a blog, and I’m on Twitter and Facebook.

MJ: Thanks again for stopping by. Good luck with your books!




I hate football. I loathe and despise the game. I’ve always felt there was something inherently wrong with a “sport” in which there are players whose sole purpose is to knock down other players.

On March 17, 2014, the Washington Post’s Tom Boswell wrote a thought provoking article questioning the future of the money-making machine. You can read the article here.

“[Football]’s billions in wealth built on decades of human wreckage.”

Every year, high school athletes die from football-related injuries. Yes, athletes in other sports–particularly basketball–die, but not directly due to injuries sustained while playing. (Basketball players tend to die of heart-related conditions.)

Professional football players are retiring early and refusing to allow their own children to play the game.  You don’t hear about that in baseball.

Given the way football is worshiped, there is no surprise when young players believe themselves above moral behavior. Yes, basketball players lie about their age, but one doesn’t seem to hear as many . . . criminal stories about them as one does about football players.

The only good thing about football are the novels by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.





Creating believable characters takes a lot of work. There are so many resources to help a writer that choosing a method borders on a brain drain.

Still, I have to wonder: did Thomas Hardy know Tess of the D’Ubervilles’ astrological sign?

Did Charles Dickens plot Oliver Twist‘s archetype before he penned the novel?

I’m pretty sure Jane Austin didn’t read Elizabeth Bennet’s tarot cards before she wrote Pride and Prejudice.

And Charlotte Bronte certainly didn’t define Jane Eyre by her Enneagram type or her Myers-Briggs classification.

So why am I surrounded by books, decks of cards, and charts?


AMMIE, COME HOME by Barbara Michaels.

I’m on my second or third paperback copy of this book. They keep falling apart on me!

The story actually takes place in November. There is not a hint of Halloween.

The author skillfully weaves the autumn weather into the story, adding to the atmosphere. This is a must-read for fans of haunted houses. Except maybe it wasn’t the house that was haunted . . .