I first encountered artist Sara Eyestone in a little bookstore in Riverdale, NY. Looking through a nice selection of greeting cards, I came across a reproduction of peonies. Lush, vivid, and so real, I could almost feel the cool satin of the petals. I purchased the card and held onto it for many years before sending it to someone who needed it more than I did. I was smart enough to check the back of the card for the artist’s name.

When it came time to redecorate my office at my previous Day Job, and the Janet Fish poster wasn’t available, I turned to Sara Eyestone. At one point, I had photos of the three posters I chose hanging in my office, but I’m not sure what happened to them. And someone told me I should take the posters when I cleaned out my office. I wish now I had. Tea for Two, Forever and Ever, and Curiosity looked wonderful against the deep peony pink of the walls. (I can’t post pictures from Ms. Eyestone’s website here because I don’t own the copyright.)

Again, the color is what drew me.


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Yes, I still read my daily horoscope. I even save some of the “better” ones.

I keep the best one on my desk at Day Job.


It’s hard to imagine you lacking imagination. Actually, it’s impossible to imagine. So now, don’t worry–there’s no need to imagine you lacking imagination, because you’re so imaginative. You just won’t have time for anything else (like imagining lacking imagination). You’re fielding great ideas left and right, and the ones you like you’re holding on to. You’ll implement them all in good time. Yes, all in good time.

Have you ever read your horoscope and just loved it?

Today is National Snack Food Day, so I asked author Erin Bevan about her favorite snack food.

ERIN: Holy Moly! You would ask me this when I am on the biggest diet EVAH! I think my favorite snack food is COOKIES! Oh, how I miss them.

MJ: What’s your favorite kind of cookie?

ERIN: OMG, must I chose? Chocolate chip, shortbread with royal icing- yum, yum yum! White chocolate macadamia, and the list goes on and on and on.

MJ: If you could be any snack food, which one would you choose?

ERIN: I think I’d pick a candy cane because they are my daughters’ favorite sugar sweet, and they smell so good. So different form my normal gym funk sweat smell!

MJ: You have a new book out, based on the things written on Valentine candy hearts. What a great premise. Tell us about Text Me.


ERIN:  When Erika’s ex becomes her boss less than a year after dumping her by text, she gets desperate to find a date to the corporate Valentine’s dance so he doesn’t suspect she still has feelings for him. Though not a fan of texting for the obvious reason, she doesn’t have much choice but to tap the keypad in order to gain the attention of the only viable candidate from the classified ads.

Grayson made the mistake of listening to his brother a year ago and has regretted what he did to Erika ever since. But his brother’s next suggestion just might be his salvation when he takes out an ad for a Valentine’s date…and Erika answers.

Using a pseudo name and keeping contact to text messages only, Grayson’s plans to make Erika fall back in love with him appears to be working…until the date of the dance draws near, and she pushes a meeting—face to face.

MJ: This sounds like a really fun read. Where can people buy it?

Erin: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance Ebooks, Book Strand, and the Wild Rose Press website.

MJ: And how about your social media presence?

Erin:  I have a website and a Facebook page. I’m also on Twitter–@erinbevan.

MJ: Thanks for joining me today, and good luck with your book!

Snarky Sunday will feature authors saying what they always wanted to say to another person but didn’t, because of better manners.

You have a sticky note on your desk that reads, DUMB IT DOWN. Every other word coming out of your mouth is an f-bomb, “like”, or “you know.” Success!

I am frequently asked what advice I would give a writer who is just starting out. My answer never varies.

  1. Write. Just keep writing.
  2. Find an author community and get involved.

The best thing I ever did was join my local chapter of Romance Writers of America. I found my best friends there. I found a community of people who “get it.” Being an author is a solitary job. There’s you and the people in your head making their way to the page. That’s it. And every person in that meeting room with you is in the same situation. They will understand you.

Who else isn’t going to stare at you as if you’ve sprouted a second head when you ask aloud, “How can Araminta kill Rodolfo?”

Not only will other writers not give you weird looks, they’ll answer.

“A couple of cigarette butts soaked in water overnight will create a deadly toxic liquid that will seep through the pores of his skin to do the job.”

“No, ingesting lilies of the valley is so much more feminine than using cigarettes.”

“So using cigarettes would be great red herring.”

Oh, and there is all the industry news, learning craft, career track info and such that comes with being with other writers, too. They will emotionally support you through the ups and downs of this crazy business.  Buy you chocolate when you get a rejection. Raise a glass to you when you get a rave review. Because they understand in a way people who aren’t writers will never understand.

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I stole this idea from someone else’s blog because I thought it was intriguing. When I was first starting out with this writing thing, many sources suggested examining the contents of a character’s medicine cabinet or refrigerator. This is supposed to help an author gain insight into her character. Why not take it a step further and gain insight to an author by the contents of her purse?

Every month, a guest author will share the contents of her purse. I’m going to kick it off myself.

Purse project 01This is my everyday bag. I wish it were ever so slightly larger than it is. It’s a cross body bag, which is amazingly helpful when I’m grocery shopping.

In the skinny outside pocket on the left, I keep a pen/stylus/flashlight, hand sanitizes, cell phone, and business cards.purse project 02purse project 03In the wider pocket on the right, I keep my author post cards, my Day Job security badge (yes, that’s a smiley face badge clip), my keys, and a flash drive (the heart shaped item).


There are two corresponding pockets in the interior of my bag. In them I keep a couple of small note pads, a packette of tissue, and my mp3 player.purse project 04

There is also a zipper compartment inside the purse. I keep an assortment of pens, highlighters, pencils, breath strips, lip balm, lip gloss, mp3 charger cord, meds, a small pad of sticky notes and those keyring cards every retailer forces on you.purse project 05

And lastly, the main body of bag: sunglasses (in black & silver case), lipstick, hairbrush, my Kindle Fire, my regular eyeglasses, and my wallet.

purse project 06

Today is National Disc Jockey Day.

I create my own music mixes for every book I write.

Here is what’s playing for my current WIP:

  • Break Down Here (Julie Roberts)
  • My Town (Kate & Anna McGarrigle)
  • Who’ll Stop the Rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
  • Home (Blake Shelton)
  • When Eyes Meet (Joanne Shenandoah)
  • My Little Town (Simon & Garfunkel)
  • My Hometown (Bruce Springsteen)
  • Small Town (John Mellencamp)
  • Thick As a Brick (Jethro Tull)
  • Home (Daughtry)
  • My Town (Montgomery Gentry)
  • Red Dirt Road (Brooks & Dunn)
  • Song of Union (Joanne Shenandoah)
  • Bring on the Rain (JoDee Messina)
  • Free Man in Paris (Joni Mitchell)
  • Home (Sheryl Crow)
  • Angie (The Rolling Stones)
  • Walk Away Renee (Vonda Shephard)
  • Who Says You Can’t Go Home? (Jon Bon Jovi & Jennifer Nettles)
  • Home (Phillip Phillips)

Anybody see a theme here?



I’ve always had a fondness for paisley.

My grandmother made my Barbie doll a gorgeous Persian pickle jersey dress. (People of my grandmother’s generation referred to paisley as Persian pickle.)

I’ve had two memorable pieces of clothing in paisley–a peanut butter-colored tent dress when I was very young, and a turquoise, fuchsia, and yellow (on white) blouse as an adult. I miss them both.

paisleyAlthough the pattern has its roots in Iran, the name “paisley” comes from a town in Scotland where shawls using these motifs were produced.

Yes, I recently purchased a coloring book with paisley patterns in it.

Here’s one of my favorite time saving tips. I formed this habit when the Chromos were younger. Working a demanding full-time Day Job and raising a family didn’t leave a lot of time to sneak in writing a sentence or two, so anything I could do to streamline “chores” was a help. Even with the Chromos mostly grown and gone, and a less demanding Day Job, I still tend to use this system

I keep a large, dry-erase calendar on which I color coordinate the family’s events, in the kitchen. I am purple, TV Stevie is blue; Y-Chromo is green, X-Chromo is red. I plan our weekly meals around this calendar and post them on a dry-erase board on the refrigerator. I write my grocery shopping list from this menu. Now, when I get home from work, I don’t have to think about what’s for supper, who’s going to be there, etc., because the menu was planned around everyone’s schedule. The only snag is when I forget to take the chicken out of the freezer in the morning.

I also save “major” cooking for the weekends. Week night meals tend to be ready in 30 minutes or less. I also try to make them “dishwasher” friendly. (I don’t put metal pots and pans–what my mom calls “tin dishes”–in the dishwasher.) Every minute I can save is a minute I can write.

Today is National Sunday Supper Day.

TV Stevie and I have differing views on when to have “the big meal” on Sundays. The home in which he grew up always ate the big meal at night. In my family, Sunday dinner was the big meal–around 1pm. But like parenting, marriage requires you to pick your battles and this was one I wasn’t going to win, so why waste the energy?

Regardless, Sunday Suppers at my house are usually simple. I don’t like making a fuss on the nights before I have to go to work. Homemade soups, chili (winter), or a big salad (summer) is usually on the menu. Once in a while I’ll spiralize a zucchini or two and fix it with chicken and seasonings, but I don’t do anything that takes more than 30 minutes prep. I save those meals for Saturdays.

What’s your favorite Sunday Supper?