Friday, May 7, 2021

Dragonflies and Trees ~ Story Research by @jsubject & an #excerpt from MADE FOR HER #SFR #SFRomance #Romance


How my Story Research Method has changed

by Jessica E. Subject

When I first started writing for publication, my research consisted of looking up everything I could possibly need to every topic I referenced in my stories. I printed out pages and pages of material, emailed and interviewed sources with multiple questions, and kept all this material in binder upon binder, so I had it all to reference.

Recently, when I was rearranging my office, I realized I hadn't used most of the material I'd saved over the years. So, I went through it all, and ended up recycling most of it.

My research methods have changed since then. As an author, I know very little of what I actually research will make it into the story. So, unless I'm interviewing someone, I only write down the information I need as notes in the book I'm using to write my story. Yes, as I currently research information on dragonflies, and wetland vegetation, I write all kinds of notes across the top and in the margins of various pages. I also jot down information in my series notebooks if it might pertain to other stories in the series. And if there's a website or video I want to reference again, I'll bookmark it. No more binders full of information I'll never use again.

I'm curious, as an author, do you find your research methods have changed as you've written more books?

As a reader, would you like to know tidbits of information the author learned while researching for their story that didn't make it into the book?

Here's an excerpt from MADE FOR HER, which was a very research-heavy story...

Colonel Jones grabbed the remote before focusing on the three-dimensional holographic picture beside her. Another presentation for the general public, but she doubted it would work to recruit anyone. The audience was always more curious than willing to enlist. 

“In 2084, as you know, Earth made first contact with the Rafkels, a peaceful species living on the planet Raf, located twenty light-years from Earth.” She pressed the button to show her spectators an image of the still-foreign planet. “While meeting this species remains years away, their message warned us of other intelligent life forms in our own galaxy.” 

Mikayla rolled her eyes. The actual message had not been a warning, rather a fact, but the government insisted on changing the wording to garner more recruits and support for cloning. “Since then, world governments have combined efforts to develop a spacecraft that will take us faster and farther into space. 

“If you join the military today, you will learn how to fly these vessels and train the clones for future wars. Science fiction has now become our reality.” Yeah, like that would work to recruit people. Who wrote the speech, anyway? Very few, if any, would ever make it to the SFTC, Space Flight Training Center. “It will never be your life on the line, but that of men and women created only for that purpose. Serving your country is no longer about sacrifice, but about honor.” 

She cringed at the bullshit words. People still died all the time. Terrorists, like the ones who’d killed Daniel, still objected to cloning, causing destruction and death. Just last month, a popular off-base nightclub, known to be a military hang-out, had been turned to rubble in a matter of seconds after a suicide bomber with known allegiance to the Al-Tidoa group blew himself up inside the building. Many, both clone and human-born, had died. 

When Mikayla switched the display to the live feed from Onatria’s main lab in Geneva, she sighed at the collective gasp. Robotic arms transferred material between Petri dishes at various stations while other, more complex equipment dissected strands of DNA. Human-born and clones alike wore white lab coats and watched new life grow under their microscopes. And in a glass-walled clean room, casket-like clear chambers held young clones attached to a multitude of tubes. Except for the military and Onatria staff, this was the first time anyone had seen the labs. The government had grown desperate for people to enlist. 


By Jessica E. Subject

After terrorists murder the love of her life, Colonel Mikayla Jones trains squadron after squadron of the clones he brought to life, to take to the skies. When she discovers a young clone of her husband in her newest class, her world spins out of control. How can she command the look-a-like when she can’t help but yearn for him to fill an ache in her heart?

Dare was created to be the best. As the first Daniel clone to leave Onatria labs, he needs to prove he is more than just a DNA copy. To do that, he must rely on the wife of the man who donated his genes. But when she refuses to train him, Dare faces discharge and returning to the labs. Can he convince Colonel Jones to finish his training and find a way into her bed? Or will long kept secrets unhinge the entire clone project?


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

That’s for the Birds


By Maureen Bonatch 

                                                    Hanging out on our deck 

May 4th is Bird Day. Who knew? Not me, but then again, I’ve never considered myself a ‘bird person’. I’m not a bird watcher, even though it’s a popular hobby enjoyed by all ages—or am I? It seems the word is out with the feathered species that they have an uninterested party in the vicinity and they’ve made it their mission to convert me. 

Flew the Coop

As a child my grandmother always had a pet parakeet, and it was always named Babe. That’s right, when one Babe met his or her demise, another Babe would take their place. I have no idea how many Babes there were, it could’ve only been two but since I was young I found the idea of seamlessly replacing a pet a little odd. I was also traumatized by being dive-bombed when she’d let Babe fly around her apartment—and by her story of how Babe liked to perch on her glasses and once fell into her cereal bowl while doing so. 

A Little Bird Told Me

Despite my decision to remain uninterested in the avian species, in the years that I rose as an early bird long before the sun to write I’d crack my window in the spring when the birds welcomed the day with song. The volume at that time of the year, for that brief time in the morning, is nothing like the rest of the year. It made me feel better to know ‘someone’ else was up with me in the wee hours of the morning. 

Eagle Eye 

But, I digress. Back to the bird watching. The birds around our home seem to really want to ensure that I watch them whether I want to or not. 

  • They’ve come ‘knocking’ on the window a few times in the last few years to torment Scruff. He’s always been fascinated by birds. When they swoop past him on the deck they are one of the only things that causes him to bark rather than just huff. He desperately wants to be their friend and from this visitor, and others, it seems as from this bird's-eye view that the feeling is mutual. 
                                                                Peering in at Scruff

  •  The birds ensure they erect multiple nests crowding so close to our house as if they’re vying for a room inside. We had to remove the wreath from our front door since they always put a nest there and wouldn’t permit anyone to enter or exit without a huge fuss. Last year we were surrounded with had two on the trees near the front porch and one in the back. So far this year, I’ve found there the first one outside our laundry room window. When I peered out this morning I got a beady stink eye right back. 
                                                              Hello from the kitchen!
  • They tend to like to sit in the gutter right outside my office where I work like a sitting duck for them to repeatedly startle me as they swoop in or dangle their tail down from their perch. 
                                                                 Hello from upstairs!

So maybe I am somewhat morphing into a bird watcher as they vie for my attention as I used to do with my Mom by saying, “look at me” while I did cartwheels through the yard. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll change and have a parakeet named Babe? 

Getting My Ducks in a Row 

Speaking of changes, I have some exciting writing stuff coming soon! Stay tuned here, or sign up for my newsletter, to hear more about my new Paranormal Cozy Mysteries coming out in a few months! That, or I can do some cartwheels through your yard—although I think the newsletter would be a little less uncomfortable for me now. 

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her website, Facebook & Twitter Be the first to know about Maureen’s book sales and new releases by following her on BookBub, Amazon and/or signing up for her newsletter

Monday, May 3, 2021

Excerpt from Veronica Scott's HEIRESS OF THE NILE Ancient World Paranormal Romance

 Thanks for having me back as a guest!

I love writing novels set in ancient Egypt and the opportunities for doing research on different topics. This one involved checking into everything from herbal medications of the time to musical instruments to post traumatic stress disorder issues (PTSD). Of course the Egyptians didn't call it that but there are tablets going back 3000 years discussing the issues ancient soldiers had when they returned from war.

The heart of the story is the romance between Lady Pebatma and General Marnamaret of course, aided by the gods and her younger brother, who seeks help for the impoverishedf family from Pharaoh.

Here's the blurb:

1550 BCE

Forced by a vengeful Pharaoh to flee for her life and hide in the poorest section of Thebes, Lady Pebatma has scraped and struggled to support her ailing mother and young brother for the past two years. Now, out of funds with the rent to pay and no possessions left to sell, she begs the goddess Hathor for help. With a new pharaoh taking the throne, surely something can be done…

A powerful general in command of the army and best friend to Pharaoh, Marnamaret has everything a nobleman in Egypt could desire…except for true love. He refuses to settle for less. On a whim, he prays to Hathor to send him the woman of his dreams.

Will the goddess answer these heartfelt petitions? And if she does, will Shai the god of Fate allow the course of two lives to be changed by love? For none can deny Fate….

Author’s Note: This is a connected series. Heiress of the Nile can be read as a standalone. Although it’s my newest novel, the story falls between Priestess of the Nile and Warrior of the Nile timewise and is set in the early days of this Pharaoh’s reign.


Here's the excerpt. Pebatma has gone to the temple of Hathor to beg for help as she has no rent money and a kindly priestess takes her into a mysterious garden to chat.

“You’ve been a devoted servant to the Great One, through all your own travails. Not a word of reproach have you offered to her for what your family has suffered. Diligent in your daily prayers, offering what you can, when you can. I’m sorry you never became one of the sacred order yourself, but Shai the God of Fate had other plans. We must all bow to his will of course.”

Wondering how this person could know so much about her, when she’d never spoken a word to anyone at the temple since the day she and her mother were refused entry, Pebatma swallowed hard. “You’re remarkably well informed, my lady.”

With a vague gesture, the other dismissed the remark. “Temple walls have eyes and ears, or so it is said. Why not tell me yourself what troubles you today? What would you ask of Hathor were she standing here?”

Pebatma heard a cow moo in the distance and the faint sounds of a sistrum whirring. Goose bumps rose on her skin and she shivered, unable to take another bite of the roll. She became uneasy about where it was she truly sat right now and to whom she spoke. The priestess was watching her intently  and Pebatma opened her lips to demur but heard herself explaining about her mother’s terrible illness, her own toil at the inn—“Not that I mind honest work of course because we’re blessed to be able to stay together and have a roof” —her worries about her brother, who was to have had a secure and illustrious career in the military until their family’s disaster and now labored as a mere baker’s apprentice—“He eats more than he bakes.” —and found herself weeping over her own crushed dreams for a worthy man of her station and true love.

The priestess listened silently, making encouraging murmurs and finally gathered Pebatma into her arms for a hug as she wept.

It’s like being in my mother’s arms, Pebatma marveled. Yet the other had seemed no more than her own age. Perhaps being in the temple made the woman wise beyond her years. Comforted, she hiccupped and wiped her eyes. “I’m so sorry to burden you with my entire basket of worries.”

“I asked, did I not?” Tapping her toe, the priestess watched her for a moment, her eyes dark and sparkling. “Today is the day, little sister. Change is carried in the breeze from Mother Nile and the god of Fate plays with the lives of others now. Be patient, walk one step at a time and remember in life as in the game of senet one cannot jump to the golden square and claim victory without passing through the challenges first.” She raised one hand, sketching the symbol for Hathor in midair, which glowed turquoise. “Go forth, have faith and be well.”

Pebatma blinked as the glare from the blazing symbol grew blinding. When she opened her eyes, she was outside the temple, standing in the doorway of a shop, having no memory of how she left the priestess. An unaccustomed sensation at her wrist caught her attention and she lifted her arm to stare at an amulet, a faience bead bearing the cartouche of Hathor, on a knotted black-and-red cord. She’d never seen it before but when she touched the bead with a fingertip, the stone was cool and a wave of peace swept through her.

Horns sounded as a squad of soldiers marched past. Pebatma checked the position of the sun and gasped. She was fearfully late and would have to endure a scolding when she got to the inn. How much time had she and the priestess talked? Not overly long, she’d believed. Running her fingers over the new amulet again, she broke into a run and hurried through the maze of back alleys with which she was all too familiar now, heading for work.

Amazon     Apple Books     Kobo     Nook     GooglePlay 

Author Bio and Links:

USA Today Best Selling Author

 Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!

 She read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the official audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”

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Saturday, May 1, 2021

Festivals & World Building by Diane Burton

Today is the first day of Tulip Time, a festival in West Michigan. This post originally appeared here in 2017 with a few changes to bring it up to date.

Each year, Holland, Michigan celebrates their Dutch heritage with the Tulip Time Festival, except last year because of covid. I remember when my sister and I drove across the state to watch our siblings in their high school marching band in a parade. We saw President Gerald Ford (when he was a representative) riding in a convertible and waving to the crowd. Now we go to watch our grandchildren.

In past years, Hubs and I would spend a day savoring Dutch food, like boerenkool stamppot (mashed potatoes and kale), gehaktballen (meatball and gravy), saucijzenbroodjes (like pigs in a blanket), and olibollen (a big deep-fried ball covered in powdered sugar) or Hollandse boterkoek (almond flavored shortbread) for dessert. Makes me hungry thinking about all the wonderful flavors.


 We would also shop in the Marktplaats where vendors displayed Dutch souvenirs, like hand-made wooden shoes, tulip decorated mugs, and just about anything with a Delft design. And, of course, windmills. Dancers in the street wearing wooden shoes (and multiple pairs of socks) is always fun to watch. The best part of the day was watching a parade of children dressed in Dutch costumes, accompanied by marching bands.

Celebrating heritage or founding comes easily for us in the United States. We’re such a young country, and most of our citizens come from all over the world. Many of my own ancestors came from The Netherlands, so I especially enjoy Tulip Time. Since I’m a “melting pot” like so many in the U.S., I could easily join in festivities for German, Polish, Irish, British, Scottish, Welsh . . . you get the picture.

As part of the world building for our stories, we should think about celebrations and festivals—secular and/or religious. Where did the inhabitants come from? What do they hold dear? What are their celebrations like? How long do the festivities last?

In my Switched series, the planet Serenia was founded by a group of colonists called the Intrepid Ones. Like most world-building, I knew so much more than what appears in the book(s) where small but significant details are dropped into conversations or the narrative. The reader doesn’t need to know as much as the author, but I made up an entire scenario about the Intrepid Ones: who they were, how they arrived, what they found, why they left their home planet.

It made sense to me that the Serenians would hold an annual celebration to honor those who settled their planet. At the beginning of Switched Resolution, the crew of the starship Freedom are supposed to serve as an honor guard at the opening ceremonies for Founders' Day. Not good when the captain and officers don’t show up. They had other priorities, like retrieving their ship stolen by rebels.

Hmm. I wonder what foods they served during the festivities.


Actions have consequences as Space Fleet Captain Marcus Viator and NASA reject Scott Cherella discover when they switched places. Does the reserved Marcus have what it takes to imitate his smart-aleck twin? Despite help from his love, Veronese, Scott’s already been outed by two of Marcus’ best friends.

When rebels steal the ship with part of the crew aboard, Scott has to rescue them and retrieve the Freedom. The stakes increase when he discovers the rebels are heading for Earth. They know he’s a fraud and they want Marcus. The safety of the Alliance of Planets depends on Scott and his allies.

Switched Resolution, which wraps up the Switched series, takes the reader from Earth—where Marcus adjusts to a pregnant Jessie—to the starship Freedom commandeered by rebels, to the chase ship with Scott and Veronese aboard.

Below is the reason for taking the easy way out by rerunning an old post. Typing one-handed presents a challenge. At least, it isn't my dominant hand. 😊

Friday, April 30, 2021

One-Star Reviews—Nightmare or Dream?


Time to address an elephant in the room, folks: Those one-star (or two-star) reviews, and how authors handle them. (Disclaimer: I am not addressing the vicious, malicious one-star reviews left by ugly, small-minded people. Pretty sure we all agree that those nasty little trolls aren’t worth the air they breathe.)

So, legit one-star reviews…they really aren’t a dream, per se, and to the best of my knowledge not a single author genuinely “loves” them. But, are they all nightmare quality?

My personal opinion is that I’d rather not get any at all, however, when I do, I find that if I detach myself from my initial knee-jerk emotional response, they’re easier to dissect into meaningful, and even helpful input. I can own them.

When I started my author journey, I took to heart some great advice: Not everyone will love your books, and that’s okay! This helped me be more objective when I finally received my first one-star review on Amazon.

Let’s take a look at it. This is from my first book, Prophecy:

“This was a very boring book. The women were in charge and the men were just yes dears. The plot didn't make sense either. Why did one alien from a race of aliens have the right to destroy earth and another alien race? To call for deaths because he wanted to? I was so bored that a skip some parts. Do not waste your time reading this book.

And here is the second one for the same book, which was posted five years later:

“I didn’t get past the first few chapters, I didn’t finish reading this book.

Ouch, right?

Or are they?

I appreciate that the first reader took the time to explain why they didn’t like the story. Boring is their personal opinion, which is at odds with 99% of the rest of the reviews. This is one of those readers who doesn’t love my book, but it’s not a personal attack. They might very well love another one of my stories, or not. If not, then they will never be one of my readers anyway.

The women were in charge…. Hallelujah! This is the coolest statement in support of my story! Why?  First, because the women aren’t “in charge.” In this alien culture, they are viewed as equals to the men. They are respected, and hold positions of authority. Not everyone sees this as a good thing, unfortunately. On the other hand, other potential readers might look at this review and think, “Hot damn! Girl power!” and 1-click the snot outta this puppy.

Second, if the men were all “yes, dears,” then the hero would not be the senior captain of an entire fleet, would he? He would have been a she instead, and that would’ve turned this into a completely different story in a completely different genre.

The plot didn’t make sense. What a beautiful red flag that this pantser (an author who doesn’t outline or plan a story) needs to keep an eye on her plots/sub-plots. Even my developmental editor has pinged me on goal, motivation, and conflict issues (GMC) for a couple of subsequent books. Just telling a story is not enough. One of my weak points, I get it.

The right to destroy/call for deaths. Um, conflict? Without it there isn’t much of a story? (Note to reviewer: This kind of thing happens in real life all the time. It’s tragic.) I love this comment because it confirms that the villain’s GMC did not resonate with the reviewer. The underlying message here to me: Work on this, stupid!

Skipping over parts. Yikes. This might explain why the reviewer didn’t understand the roles of men and women in this culture, and found the plot confusing. Skipping parts in any book can be detrimental to the reading experience in general, but more so with an emotional, action-packed 90K word novel. If you skip, you’re gonna miss something important!

That being said, the onus is on me to be alert for other such mentions. If this becomes a common thread in reviews for other books, I need to take a closer look at why, and fix it.

Do not waste your time reading this book. Once again, this is a personal opinion that doesn’t stack up to most of the rest of the reviews. I’d be lying if I said this one didn’t hurt, but it isn’t my job is to please everyone. I could do everything right, and there will always be someone who doesn’t like it. And I’m okay with that.

What’s my take-away from this review, you ask? GMC is a potential weakness, one that I’ve since owed and am working to improve. Now when I start a new project, I loosely outline my chapters, and I write out the GMC for each of my main characters, as well as for the overall story arcs. I’m not a full-blown plotter, yet, but meeting myself in the middle is working for me so that makes it a win.

Sadly, the second review is all personal opinion/preferences. I do wish this reviewer had given me a little more to go on so I could understand why they got through only a few chapters before giving up. But, they didn’t, and to get my panties in a bunch trying to figure it out is bad for my mental health. <Cue Let it Go! here.>

I have found that writing is a learning and growing process. Authors are always trying to improve their writing, and reviews provide an excellent tool to uncover potential weaknesses.

So, readers, has a one- or two-star review ever influenced your book purchases? What are the triggers that get you to 1-click a book?

Authors, my way is not the only way. Do reviews of your books help you, or do you avoid them? Why, or why not?

Until next month!




Bonus new release announcement!

Loved by Aliens has landed near you. Prepare to abducted by out-of-this-world heroes from nine popular SFR series. Yes, you read that right: Nine books from nine different series all for the price of one! But only for a limited time, so grab your copy today.


This set includes full-length books by:

New York Times Bestselling Author S. E. Smith: River’s Run

USA Today Bestselling Author Grace Goodwin: Viken Command

USA Today Bestselling Author Skye MacKinnon: Alien Abduction for Beginners

USA Today Bestselling Author Demelza Carlton: Ghost

USA Today Bestselling Author Debbie Cassidy: Rogue

USA Today Bestselling Author Lea Kirk: Above the Storm

Becca Brayden: Alien King Crashes the Wedding

Kate Rudolph: Synnr’s Saint

Nancey Cummings: Have Tail, Will Travel 

Aliens, take me away!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Second Chances are the Best Chances ~ with @meganslayer #romance #hot #bdsm #indie

 A white hot second chance romance!

Love of My Life by Megan Slayer

Contemporary Erotic Romance

M/F, BDSM, Bondage, Spanking



Love of My Life

Private Hideaway

Megan Slayer Publications


Love of My Life

When two souls reunite, anything can happen in the city.
Zoe never forgot her first love. Then again, with Torin fronting one of the biggest rock bands in the world, he’s everywhere. He’s back in the city she loves, but does he want a second chance or just a fling? Better yet, can her heart weather losing him a second time?
Torin Michaels might be a rock star, but he’s not immune to heartache. Zoe’s the one woman he never forgot. Cleveland has always been her town. Can he make amends and make it their city?

Private Hideaway

Nothing will keep Torin from the woman he loves.
Torin Michaels isn’t about to let his celebrity status ruin the fragile relationship he’s built with his lover, Zoe. But the pressures of fronting his band Rampage has taken its toll. So what’s a guy to do? Run away to a secluded cabin for white hot sex outside, out of the prying eyes of the public. Will these two get their happily ever after or will forces beyond their control ruin their bliss?

This book has been re-edited for this re-issue.



©Megan Slayer, 2020, All Rights Reserved

From Love of My Life

Torin placed his hand on the elevator door to keep it open and watched the sway of her ass as she retreated down the hallway. She left him. The audacity. The bell pinged again. Someone else probably wanted the car. Screw it. He strode forward. Zoe Masters managed to enmesh herself in every aspect of his life. He committed her image to memory. Her flair for fashion never failed to amaze him. She worked a tattered concert t-shirt and ‘fuck me’ boots like no other. The streak of green in her ebony hair magnified the green flecks in her eyes. Had he been stronger, he’d never have let her go.

With each step, memories bombarded him. The press hounded him to marry her. His manager begged him to dump her. The band urged him to leave things be. Zoe? She stood at his side and let him make the decisions he felt he needed to make. The bright lights of Los Angeles meant nothing without her. Hell, he’d been kidding himself too long. Any city felt like the middle of nowhere if she wasn’t in his arms.

Zoe disappeared into one of the doorways and her lock clicked shut. Torin made his way down the corridor, past her door to the bank of windows. The view took his breath. Lake Erie, in all her glory shimmered across the horizon. Sailboats and barges dotted the rough surface. To the left, the Key Building, Tower City and the other bank buildings making up Cleveland’s downtown glistened in the late day sun. If he squinted, he could see the flag atop the Atrius. He missed being able to wake up, head to the gym, walk a block to the Atrius to record, grab a sandwich at the restaurants downtown, then home to fuck the night away with Zoe. Most of all, he missed being able to walk down the street hand in hand with his girl.

But she evaded him in the elevator. He folded his arms. Zoe might have been the love of his life, but push over never entered his mind. She had flaws, sure, but she refused to let him treat her with anything but honour. He’d come back to Cleveland to make amends and get her back. Then damn it, he’d get her back.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Hi-Yah! Great-grandmother Knew How to Kick Booty by L. A. Kelley

It’s not uncommon nowadays to find a woman in a book or on the movie screen trained in martial arts. With a few high-flying kicks and a karate chop or two, she stands triumphant over the bodies of the bad guys. You might think women’s interest in martial arts is something fairly recent.

Well, you’d be wrong.

In the later part of the nineteenth century, the streets were dangerous, far more than today.  Freedom to walk in public alone was considered the sole right of men. Middle- and upper-class women had limited ability and severely restricted movement. Using an escort meant ceding privacy and even more control over their lives. But by the end of the 1800s, industrialization and urbanization created new opportunities. Women moved into education, work areas, and leisure pursuits, and although respectable women began to ride street cars and walk city streets alone, their actions were not without consequences. The term ‘mashers’ was coined, a slang term for men who harassed or made unwanted sexual advances. Women discovered police were not always willing or able to protect them.

As the right to vote movement spread, so did the idea of woman standing up to physical attacks. Reformers and suffragists were largely responsible for encouraging women to learn self-defense tactics. Many suffragists already used their bodies to resist oppression by picketing and forcing their way into public buildings. What was wrong with a little more shoving and a poke in the eye to make a point?

Needless to say, it wasn’t met with universal approval. Many men denounced women aggressively fending off attackers as indecent and unnatural, a horrified male minister accused them of “breaking down barriers of distinction between the sexes.”

Despite criticism, in the early 1900s, courses sprung up in self-defense. American women in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era turned to boxing and wrestling as an expression of empowerment through physical training. The “manly art” of boxing was touted as a way to develop character and physical strength in men, but rapidly became a popular fad among progressive-thinking women and college girls. Many in the public feared boxing would masculinize women while others emphasized boxing’s ability to enhance feminine beauty. One newspaper editorial praised boxing’s ability to “cure bad temper, feminine hysterics, or a catty disposition.” While female boxers were seen as oddities, exhibitions weren’t uncommon. In 1900, a circus strong woman from England, named Polly Burns, was named the Women’s World Boxing Champion.

Think kung fu is a new thing? Think again. Asian martial arts courses in the early 1900s were popular. Harrie Irving Hancock, taught classes in jiu-jitsu for women and children. In his manual, Physical Training for Women by Japanese Methods (1905) he wrote that the phrase “weaker sex” needed to be “stricken from the language.”

Women using self-defense tactics often made headlines. In 1909, twenty-year-old nursing student Wilma Berger defended herself against an attacker and became a local sensation in Chicago. She had studied under Tomita Tsunejiro, who helped introduce judo to the United States. Under the disbelieving eyes of the local police, she demonstrated her technique on an officer, by tossing him like a sack of laundry.

Interestingly enough, many self-defense courses were taught via pamphlet. Few middle and lower-class women had access to actual classes, so free pamphlets and illustrated articles in newspapers presented the techniques. The Yabe School of Jiu-Jitsu in Rochester, New York, offered free lessons through the mail. Lest you scoff at them, in 1906 Mary Steckler pinned down a would-be mugger until police arrived. She learned her smooth moves from a pamphlet.

One of the interesting parts of early self-defense classes was the “use what you have.” Today, a woman might have pepper spray. In 1900, a woman’s chief weapon was the hat pin. A well-dressed woman always had her hair up in public and she used to secure the hat pin to secure the hat to her hairdo. The pins were long, up to 6 inches, and sturdy. They were also an important piece of jewelry as no well-dressed woman would be seen in public without a hat. A woman might have more than one needle-sharp hatpin on her outfit, a handy, unexpected weapon. In 1912, Elizabeth Foley, an 18-year-old bank employee, was walking home with a male colleague who carried the entire payroll for the bank staff. They were attacked by a robber who knocked the male colleague down. But Elizabeth, undaunted, reached for her hatpin and jabbed the robber’s face. The attacker ran away without the money. No rescue need.

Take that, Wonder Woman. Who needs a magic lasso when a hatpin is at hand?

L. A. Kelley writes science fiction and fantasy adventures with humor, romance and a touch of sass. Her great-grandma could wipe the floor with a masher any day of the week.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Cover Reveal for Dance to a Wylder Beat by Marilyn Barr

       Have you visited Wylder, Wyoming Territory? You don't need a time machine to travel to 1878 when The Wild Rose Press has a western romance series like The Wylder West. Each story in our fictional town is written by a different author and the first seven book have been fantastic. If you follow me on BookBub, you have read the five star reviews filled with praise for the romance, humor, and action of the series. But is there room for paranormal romance stories in Wylder?  Absolutely!

      I would like to present the cover for Dance to a Wylder Beat. Mystical Nartan Sagebrush forgot to add "women with paranormal secrets need not apply" on his wife wanted telegraph ad. His spirit guides placed the ad in the hands of Olive Muegge who is everything Nartan needs, but more than he thought he wanted. 


Despite their differences, they are drawn to each other but a mistake may drive them apart.  Will Nartan embrace his Shamanic past to save them both or will he choose to rid himself of Olive forever? 

Find out in Dance to a Wylder Beat! 

Friday, April 23, 2021

Ghosts are my passageway to history by Julie Howard

By definition, ghosts are from the past. And the opportunity to write about history is why I enjoy ghosts so much. Those specters don’t want to be dead in my era; they’d much rather be alive in theirs. I happily follow them to the past every chance I get.

With three paranormal books published, I’ve learned a few things about dipping into the past. Setting characters in historical times brings a few sometimes-complicated twists to a plot. Here are the top five lessons I’ve learned about chasing ghosts into the past:


1.     Get the history right.

In House of Seven Spirits, my ghost-chasing character, Jillian, travels to Australia’s Outback to find out what happened to a family of seven who disappeared without a trace in the 19th century. I had to do quite a bit of research on everything from how roads were made at this time to what materials were used to build houses in the remote Outback. A medical emergency plays a key role in one scene from the past and I found myself fascinated with old cures and herbs. The better the historical accuracy, the more real the story will feel. If a reader catches an error, it ruins that suspension of disbelief necessary for fiction.

2.     Consider how language has changed.

In my most recent release, Spirit in Time, 21st century woman Jillian ends up time traveling back to 19th century California. She uses words like “okay” and  expressions such as “I blew it,” which would have been puzzling to people of this era. Nearly every chapter, I found myself researching the etymology of certain words to make sure they were appropriate. Even if a word existed in a previous time doesn’t mean it was used in a similar manner.

3.     Tread gently upon real historical characters.

One of the enjoyable parts of reading historical fiction is stumbling upon real (famous) people. An avid fan of 19thcentury California history, I wanted Jillian to meet some of the real people of the time. The most notable example is the mansion she lives in briefly, built by the very real E.B. Crocker, who was a well-known abolitionist lawyer and California Supreme Court Justice. She meets E.B. Crocker, but his youngest daughter, Amy, is the one with a starring role in the book as a young girl. The real Amy, who would change her name to Aimee, became a wealthy heiress and flamboyant character of the Gilded Age. She also wrote a memoir claiming she saw ghosts in the mansion – perfect for my ghost-hunting fictional character. I was careful, though, not to take too many liberties with these historical characters. They are best showcased as the people they were.

4.     Build a world that doesn’t exist anymore.

In my mind, I start with a blank canvas and then paint in the setting piece by piece. I start with the terrain and then add buildings as they would have appeared at the time. Drop back more than a hundred years and so much is different, it’s easier to start over this way. Our modern world and towns are built with automobiles in mind, telephone poles and cell towers dot the landscape, and suburbs sprawl out from city centers. While trains enabled the transport of many goods, people were unlikely to have eaten produce out of season, for instance, except among the wealthier set. Clothing and hair styles, too, are an obvious way to create a bygone world.

5.     Have fun.

Time travel always conjures up the clashes of centuries. In Spirited Quest, a ghost watches more than a century pass by in a hotel she inhabits. The Lady of the Deerbourne, as she is called, isn’t a bit judgmental though. Instead, she finds the shifting of time and fashions amusing and inevitable. As a writer, I have fun jumping into different eras with my characters, and hope readers have fun with the stories too.

Here’s a bit about Spirit in Time:


Time travel isn't real. It can't be real. But ghost-blogger Jillian Winchester discovers otherwise when an enigmatic spirit conveys her to 1872 to do his bidding. 

Jillian finds herself employed as a maid in Sacramento, in an elegant mansion with a famous painting. The artwork reveals another mystery: Why does the man within look exactly like her boyfriend, Mason Chandler? 

Morality and sin live side by side, not only in the picture, but also within her. As her transgressions escalate, she races the clock to find the man in the painting, and hunt down a spirit with a disconcerting gift. 

But will time be her friend or foe?


        And a peek inside Spirit in Time:


“Are you a ghost?” A young girl stood where the guard had been only minutes before. She spoke matter- of-factly, her dark eyes alive with curiosity. 

The house was still whole, she was alive, and the world hadn’t ended. Jillian scanned the room for damage, then blinked. This must be a dream. The long dining table—bare just moments ago—was now laid for a meal. Glasses sat upright, forks and spoons lined up in perfect order, and a tall flower arrangement appeared unscathed. A crystal chandelier above the table remained perfectly still. 

The guard and Asian man were nowhere in sight. 

The girl, dressed neatly in a calf-length white pinafore embellished with pink ribbons, didn’t appear rattled by the cataclysmic jolt. 

“What happened?” Jillian asked, still crouched on her knees. “Are you okay?” 

“You don’t belong here. Mother will be angry.” 

Even though the floor had ceased to shake, the roiling continued in her head. Might this very real looking girl be a spirit? Most apparitions wavered in some manner, their appearances paler and less there than the tangible world around them. This child appeared solid in every way, from the tips of her shiny chestnut hair to the toes of her lace-up black shoes. 




Thursday, April 22, 2021

Earth Day = Wildlife Too by Tena Stetler

What better way to celebrate Earth Day than consider the Earth’s Wildlife and their needs? 

Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation a passion of mine, which I incorporated into my A Witch’s Journey Series. The fourth book in the series released April 7, 2021, is titled Chocolate Raspberry Magic. It’s also part of the One Scoop or Two Summer Ice Cream Series.

Did you know that the leading cause of injury illness, and orphans among wild animals treated by wildlife rehabilitation is humans. Some may be accidental, other intentional such as firearms, vehicles, traps oil spills, poisons, just to name a few. Every year more humans encroach into the wildlife habitat.  

After having such a negative impact on these animals, wildlife rehabilitation allows people to relieve the suffering of injured and sick wild animals, releasing them back into the wild where they belong.

Wildlife rehabilitation is an important activity in which we can all participate. It has to do with caring for orphaned, injured, or sick wild animals with the ultimate intention of releasing the animal back into its natural habitat. Of course, unless you are an expert, such as a veterinarian, this is not something that you can do alone. However, with the help of the professionals in your community, you can take part in this vital rewarding process in preserving the natural wildlife around you.

Let me tell you a little about Chocolate Raspberry Magic:

Prim and proper Trinity Shilo is the assistant manager for Salem's Wildlife Sanctuary. She hasn't had much luck in the boyfriend department, but the new employee Paul is different. Deep and brooding she sees something special hidden below the surface. Besides she has secrets of her own.

 Paul Thorp is a wounded Special Forces veteran now working in security and computer support. He's fought hard to keep his demons in check and for the first time feels he is ready for a real relationship.

 When a fire breaks out at Puffin Cove Rescue they are called in to help with the recovery and ice cream social fundraiser. Sometimes things are not what they seem, and neither are people. When magic is unleashed will what they learn bring them closer together or push them apart?

 A sneak peek between the pages of Chocolate Raspberry Magic:

As Trinity walked through the aftermath of the fire, she lifted the yellow and black caution tape and carefully stepped inside the building. Her gut clenched and that feeling of foreboding washed over her again. The farther she ventured into the burnt building the stronger the gut-wrenching feeling became. Something needs my help. This was a new sensation. She took a small flashlight out of her backpack, directed the beam over the scorched debris, and moved the rubble with her toe. Nothing.

One more sweep of the light and she’d return to the others. Probably not supposed to be here anyway. A weak squawk emanated from the far corner of the building. Picking up a scorched stick, she poked at the debris. A puff of smoke rose as she made her way to where the sound came from. Shining the light into the corner, she saw movement. She knelt down and carefully shifted the charred rubble. Laying on its side, head slightly raised, and using a wing in an attempt to right itself was a small parrot. Its little eyes locked on her for a moment before its head lowered to the ground.

Frantically, she glanced around, but there was no one in sight. How far had she ventured without telling anyone? The structure overhead groaned in warning. No time. “Okay little one, it’s you and me. I don’t have much experience at this, but I’ll do my best.” Shrugging out of her backpack, she unzipped it completely. “I’m going to scoop you up in my backpack and get help.” She didn’t raise her voice to call for help for fear of scaring the poor thing.

Happy Earth Day!