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Tuesday, May 17

Paper People by Janie DeVos


Peterson Park administration building today, which once housed the autopsy rooms and morgue at the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanatorium

      The WordWranglers’ theme for this month is writing about something we’re working on.  As a subtopic of such, I thought I’d write about the people behind some of my characters in stories I’ve written about, or are working on now.  

Many times, a character just pops into my mind and there is no one living or deceased who has inspired the birth of my fictional one.  I might have a clear idea of the topic I’d like to write about when a character appears in my mind’s eye who becomes the hero or heroine, or any of a multitude of characters in my story.  However, there are those characters who have been inspired by someone I’ve known or know, and some of them may have been nothing more than a passing acquaintance. 

Take, for instance, Striker, in THE RISING OF GLORY LAND.  For some odd reason, an old friend’s soft-spoken, academic, surfer boyfriend, George, popped up in my memory, and that tall, blonde, highly intelligent beach boy from my high school days morphed into Striker.  He was the perfect balance to my heroine; the fiery dark-haired Eliza, and while I could clearly see her in my mind’s eye and felt that I understood her inside and out, no one in my repertoire of known people past or present was the inspiration for her. 

My maternal grandmother, Nell, was definitely the inspiration for Lily, in THE RIVER TO GLORY LAND.   Like Lily, my grandmother was a flapper in Miami, FL, in the 1920’s, and was as courageously tenacious and strongly determined as her fictional version was.  My grandmother did win a Charleston dance contest at the Rooney Hotel, on Miami Beach in the ‘20s, and she also lived to tell about the monstrous hurricane that roared ashore in 1926, with winds of 150+ mph.  In the middle of the night, her home’s roof was torn off, forcing her and other family members, (including small children) to hang on to avocado and mango trees in order to make it to the safety of their neighbor’s house next door.  Just like in the book. 

In THE ART OF BREATHING, my paternal grandmother, Kathryn Sandell, was my heartbreaking muse.  As I’ve written about in earlier blogs, a fictional version of her was the woman in my novel who suffered from Tuberculosis in the 1950’s, in North Carolina.  Researching for that novel was one of the most interesting, yet saddest, projects I’ve ever worked on.  My husband and I actually went to the sanatorium in Chicago where she died in 1938.  The massive old sanatorium complex is now a series of small parks, and the buildings that once housed the patients, as well as the morgue, a sputum sample lab and dispensary, and various other hospital buildings, have been recycled into properties that are used for much happier purposes.  In one of today’s parks’ administration buildings  was the old morgue, and we actually were given an in-depth tour of it; including the attic that was like a time capsule, complete with patients’ records, as well as small mason-style jars that held lung tissue samples from hundreds of patients’ autopsies.  As I said, it was fascinating, but also morbidly sad, however, it did give me what I needed in order to write a book that was not only accurately correct, but also one that had the emotional intensity I wanted in it.   

Presently, I’m working on WEDNESDAYS AT THE WABASH DINER, and the father of my heroine was born out of the memory of a man who lived in my neighborhood when I was a kid.  He was a short, stocky, fiery Scotsman, with auburn hair and bright blue eyes, who loved a good, long pull on a bottle of something hard.  When his nose was a bright red and he slurred his words, we knew to give him a little space. 

Also, in “WEDNESDAYS” is a character named Eugene.  This young man is mentally challenged, as well as being so perfectly handsome that he’s almost pretty.  Eugene reminds me of a boy I went to school with who was more highly functional than my fictional version, but still had a learning disability.  But, because the real life “Eugene” was massively built, and understood the concepts and rules of football quite well, he was able to make the team.  As a result, he was liked and accepted, instead of feeling the terrible sting of rejection. 

Whether or not my characters have a muse makes very little difference in the way I feel about them.  Through the pages, they all come alive for me, and when I’m done writing each novel, I feel a sense of loss and I truly miss them.  The character I felt that way about the most was Max Harjo, in A CORNER IN GLORY LAND.  Though my character wasn’t inspired by anyone dead or alive, I still felt as if I understood him completely.  I can’t tell you exactly why, but I did, and when I wrote “The End” on the very last page of that book, I was down in the dumps, as if one of my best friends had moved far away. 

Without a doubt, I become very emotionally connected to my fictional characters, and, because of that, they continue to live on in the feelings they evoked in me and in my memories of them.  In the end, they may not be anything more than “paper people”, but, for me, they’ll forever be loved like close friends and family, almost as much as the flesh and blood kind.







Tuesday, May 10


by Margie Senechal

This year I've been focused on writing before work--getting up between 5-5:30, going through my shower routine, playing my daily Wordle, eating breakfast and then putting my butt in chair to write.

I generally get about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time and plunk out between 3-600 words. I print those pages to take to work and on occasion am able to add more words for my day.

Up until the last two weeks, I'd been following this new routine without fail--adding around 3K a week to my Work-in-progress (WIP).

Then work rose up to supersede my life. Call-outs and an impending inventory took away my precious writing bubble.

In those ten days or so, I had time to mentally review my book and I came to the realization that while I've been cranking out the words, I'm not moving forward.

I imagine this book taking place over the course of two or three weeks. And 45+K words in, and I'm still in the first half of the first week. 

I really don't want to write a 200K tome. Hmmm...

Yesterday, I went to B&N armed with a favorite notebook and pen. While JV meandered through the books, I sat down and wrote a new beginning. I think I like it and it changes the tone a bit while introducing the ghost of the main character's husband straight-away. 

Jillian Kendall was haunted by her dead husband. His voice forever in her head. Sometimes he offered advice and other times he commented on what she chose to watch mindlessly on t.v. Since his death two years ago, he'd yet to be silenced.

"And you love it that way," he said as she tried to explain the situation to her grief therapist whom she was visiting for the first time under duress from her daughters. 

"I really don't," she hissed back. 

"What was that?" The therapist looked up from the notebook she'd peppered with inkblots and phrases. It didn't appear that she was actually taking notes as much as twiddling away Jillian's paid hour.

"He just said, I love it that way."

"What way?"

Why, oh why was she seeing a therapist? This girl was barely out of med school--if in fact, she actually had gone to medical school. Jillian scanned the walls to check for official verification that this "doctor" could help her How could this child begin to understand the depths of Jillian's pain?

"Depths? I honestly inspired depths of pain?" He sounded far too pleased with himself.

"Not right this moment. Depths of irritance, maybe."

Have a great day! See you in a couple weeks.

Sunday, May 8

CHILD OF MINE #onsale for #99cents at Amazon!

 CHILD OF MINE, book one in the Masonville Small Town Romance series, is on sale for .99 cents at Amazon from May 6 - 20! Pick up your ecopy today!

Lauren didn't intend to sleep with her brother-in-law Cole on the day of her husband's funeral. But now that she is pregnant, she's not sorry. Cole's given her a baby, a long-wished-for miracle. He's been her friend forever, though she never told him or anyone else how unhappy her marriage to his cheating brother was. And she's afraid to tell the small town that considered her husband a hero that the baby isn't his. 

Cole's been in love with Lauren since he was sixteen. It kills him that everyone believes the baby is his dead brother's. All he wants is to claim the baby, and Lauren, as his own. Though she marries him, will Lauren's heart ever be his?

Lauren must tell the truth or risk losing Cole. Is her newly-discovered love for him greater than her fear of scandal in her hometown?

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Friday, May 6

You Like Me! You Really, Really Like Me...


Remember that famous moment at the Oscars when those few words from Sally Field's acceptance speech became words that folks would quote for the rest of eternity? Well, as it happens that's not the actual quote from her seminal speech. What she actually said on that fateful night in 1985 when she accepted the Oscar for her amazing work in the film Norma Rae was, "I can't deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me." 

Not the same thing at all, is it? And riding along on the coattails of Liz's Tuesday post here, shouting at the world that I'm here, that I'm a writer, that I have books to sell is not all that comfortable. And like Sally's acknowledgment, there is that whole, "Right now you like me" thing. I call it the Field Effect.

So when you are acknowledged--as I was on earlier this week, it's sorta startling and truly heartwarming, but in an odd way disconcerting, and on the way home, I was feeling the Field Effect big time. Here's the story...

I spoke at a book club luncheon on Wednesday. A group of ladies who'd taken the time to read my romantic suspense story, The Summer of Second Chances, and when they found out that Cathy, one of their group knew me from the gym, they asked her to see if I'd consent to meet with them. Are they kidding? A chance to talk writing and books with readers? You betcha! (See? I'm always ready, even if I'm not really ready. All part of the weirdness that is author life.)

They were charming and kind and interesting, and interested in what I had to say. Their questions about the story and how it came about were insightful and intelligent and nobody asked me about how I write sex scenes or what I thought about 50 Shades. For two hours, I was a minor celebrity and a group of readers found me and my life fascinating. That's heady stuff... and I confess you want more of that if you've ever experienced it. How could you not?

But I wasn't even home yet before I started thinking, "Now you've got to do that again. Write more books that readers enjoy and want to talk about and you've got to go out talk about them, too. You've got to shout, Look at me!" Because this is one book club, one time where I couldn't deny the fact that they liked me. Right then, that two hours, they liked me. 

But what if they knew that I'm so very ordinary? That I live in my own head too much and probably miss a lot of the real world because of it? That I can be self-centered and grouchy when the words aren't coming the way I want them, too, and self-centered and oblivious when they are? That speaking to groups isn't what comes naturally to me, but I so want it to be, so that book promotion, the whole look at me thing would be easier? 

All authors struggle with promotion because even though we desperately want people--readers--to pay attention to our books, we all sort of wish that would just magically happen. It doesn't. Even when you have a fabulous publisher like Tule Publishing, who does great promotion for their authors, if you want readers to know about your books, you still have to suck it up, put on a nice outfit, some makeup, and your best smile and go out and shout, "Look at me!" 

Authors, my question today: Is it just me (and Liz) or do you have a tough time with self-promotion, too? Let's talk.

And speaking of promotion. Here, this is happening tomorrow. I hope you'll hold a good thought for me as it does. 

Tuesday, May 3

Here I Am--Over Here... by Liz Flaherty

I hate promotion. With every fiber of my wrinkled and exhausted being, I hate the whole syndrome of here I am and here's my new book--please like me!

Do writers actually say that? No. Does it actually feel like that? Yes.

We talk about promotion among ourselves and the conversation is often exciting and hopeful. Great ideas are shared and successes celebrated. We share tweets and Facebook posts and guest shots on each other's blogs. As I have said often enough that it may be superfluous here, writers are the most generous people on the planet.

We talk about reviews, about paying for them, begging for them, flinching from ⭐⭐⭐ or, God forbid, even fewer. We laugh about who we need to sleep with to garner good reviews or why people bother reviewing books they haven't read. Yeah, we laugh, but it's bitter.

In the name of promotion, we give away our work. Sometimes it is in response to loyalty from readers, and we're happy to do that. Other times, however, it is with the hope that we will get new readers who are willing to pay for the rest of our backlist. I think it works for some writers and I'm glad for them. For some of us, we are left with I gave away 56 books and sold two. Really?

Am I really that bad? Am I the only one who wonders that on a daily basis?

There are the failures--the real ones. Campaigns that result in big bills and meager sales. When we acknowledge that far from earning a living, we spend more than we make. Days when the dreaded word hobby crosses someone's lips or our own thoughts. Library talks or book-signings when virtually (or worse, literally) no one comes.

Promotion gives us days when we've spent more time scrolling the internet than getting words from our hearts and fingers to the manuscript in progress. We can blame social media for that. Or our own lack of focus. Or the fact that we love talking to other writers. (What can I say? I love talking to writers.) 

At the end of the day, at is promotion that draws me away from being productive, that takes more time than anything. Some of it because it's fun--I love blogging. I enjoy Canva and its open invitation to create graphics. We love seeing our own names and covers on the internet. Guilty again. Mostly, though, my scrolling is done with anxiety. Has anyone commented? What are the Rafflecopter numbers? Have my sales rankings budged? 

This morning on our daily G-Chat, I told Nan, "I always thought I'd age out of writing books--it may be the promo that does me in." I wasn't being hyperbolic. After a long, hard hiccup in 2021, I decided to keep writing books--at least for a while--because, in truth, I love it a lot.

But then there's the promotion. The 100s of $$$ spent. The hours devoted to organization...and reorganization...and agonizing. Should I do this...or this...or try that again...or--

I don't know. I just don't know. 
In the name of the aforementioned and much-maligned promotion, I hope you'll take a look, buy (or borrow from the library), the Word Wranglers' books. Not only ours, but other writers', too. Read, enjoy, review. I don't have the words to say how grateful we are. 


Friday, April 29

#NewRelease: STRONG ENOUGH from Jana Richards

My new beginnings is the release of a new book!

STRONG ENOUGH, book 4 in the Masonville small town romance series, now has a release date. Mark your calendars for June 22, 2022! I can't wait!

STRONG ENOUGH is currently available for pre-order. Order your ecopy now and have it sent to your device on June 22!

Love can make you strong enough, if you let it.

Charlotte Saunders has a full life—a rewarding career as a nurse, meaningful volunteer work at a dog shelter, and family, friends and pets she adores. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t forget the horrible event that’s haunted her for ten years.

A survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Damon Greyson now helps others who have suffered trauma. His experience and intuition alert him to trouble in Charlotte’s past, and he wants to help her, if only she’d let him.

As they work together to help veterans suffering from PTSD and neglected dogs needing loving homes, their feelings for each other deepen. But when the trauma from Charlotte’s past roars back to life, both are forced to confront their painful histories—or die trying.


As their names were called, Charlotte reached for Damon’s outstretched hand and stepped into his arms. They glided effortlessly across the floor as if they’d been dancing together all their lives. As if they were perfectly in sync. 

“You’ve been holding out on me, Greyson. You never told me you could dance.”

He appeared uncomfortable with her compliment. “My school had obligatory ballroom dance classes. To be honest I haven’t danced in years, but apparently it’s like riding a bike. You never forget.”

“Those classes were time well spent, I’d say.”

To her surprise, his mouth twisted in distaste. “My mother would likely agree with you. She’d be the only one.” 

Charlotte heard the bitterness in his voice. Last summer at Everett Branson’s funeral, she’d sensed a deep tension between the three Greyson children and their parents. Blair refused to invite her parents to the wedding. It seemed very important to her, so despite the odd request, Charlotte hadn’t questioned it. Now as she stared up at the tight line of Damon’s pursed lips, she wondered at the reason.  

“In any case, you make even someone like me with two left feet look good.”

To Charlotte’s relief, the tension eased from his face. 

“Glad the classes weren’t a total waste of time.”

With that, he pressed Charlotte close and spun her into a tight, fast spin. She let out a squeak of surprise and hung onto to his broad shoulders. As he straightened their steps, she laughed in pure delight. 

“Maybe I don’t have two left feet after all.”

“Maybe you just needed the right partner.”

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And Another New Beginning!

The second new thing I've got this month is a brand new story. If you're interested in receiving my newsletter, an ecopy of HOME TO SOLACE LAKE is my gift to you. Click and get  HOME TO SOLACE LAKE!