I'm working on a different kind of story. The tagline is Dexter meets The Golden Girls. In sensible shoes and pearls, these women are carrying out their own brand of vigilante justice. I'm halfway through the first book in what will probably be a series, and here is an excerpt.
Today wasn’t her day to kill, but Marge Hardy couldn’t say no to a friend. Bess Majors hadn’t missed one day doing her civic duty until she’d been struck down by the horrible strain of flu that had hit their hometown of Fairview, North Carolina. It had even caused the poor dear to miss Bridge Night, and everyone in the neighborhood knew how much Bess loved bridge.
With a sigh that was both resigned and reluctant, Marge put aside her knitting, shuffled down the hall to her bedroom, and stepped out of her slippers. She changed her clothes—one must always greet a guest with the proper attire—and patted her hair into place. Then with a pinch of her cheeks, she left her bedroom.
Halfway down the hallway, she realized she’d forgotten her pearls. “Oh for the love of Pete, Marge, you’d forget your head if it wasn’t attached.” She retraced her steps to gather the long strand of pearls her late husband, Felix, had gotten her for their last Christmas together. A tear sprang to her eye at the thought, but she quickly chastised herself. Now certainly wasn’t the time to be thinking about love and romance.
Humming below her breath, Marge fastened the pearls around her neck and checked her image in the hall mirror. “Not bad for an old gal.” She winked at her reflection and made it to the living room just as the doorbell rang.
Oh, good. That would be Mr. Livingston now. Perhaps she’d still have time to catch Lives Unfulfilled. The soap was her one guilty pleasure of the day, and her two favorite characters had spent the last few months in a tumultuous relationship that just might get resolved today as long as her appointment cooperated.
She just hoped the geezer would drink his coffee quickly and be on his way. She hated laggers, but more so today with it closing in on three o’clock. Missing the first few minutes of her story would simply ruin today’s viewing. Usually, a show picked up right where the cliffhanger had left off, and she’d no doubt today’s episode was going to be a doozie.
As much as she’d been encouraged to get a DVR, she should have listened by now, but since she spent most of her time at home, she didn’t think it was worth the investment. For times like these, though, one definitely would come in handy.
With a smile on her face, she swept open the door and greeted Ben Livingston warmly, beckoning him into her two-bedroom home with its “Welcome” sign over the foyer table.
“Ben, it’s so good to see you again. Bess told me you’d be stopping by. I’ve just put on a fresh pot of coffee. Come on in and make yourself comfortable. Do you take sugar or cream with yours?”
She barely heard his response as she hurried into the kitchen. Was he a talker? She hadn’t thought to ask Bess. Quite frankly, she didn’t know much about Ben except what she and the girls had learned from their former handler.
A trafficker in women and drugs, he’d topped the FBI’s most wanted list for decades but had managed to elude capture. He’d finally been arrested, but his slimy attorney had managed to get him acquitted when the evidence had magically disappeared. Livingston had sauntered out of the courtroom with a smile on his face and had gone back to his old ways, even having the audacity to move into the Mountain Reserve Retirement community under an assumed name. And had sealed his fate.
Though technically retired, she and her three colleagues, that she now considered friends, worked now more than they ever did. None of them would sleep a wink, though, if they allowed a threat to society like Ben Livingston to go unpunished. And it had been up to Bess to carry out his termination…until today.
“Stupid flu,” Marge muttered, banging cabinet doors as she searched for the creamer. Now where on earth had she put that stuff? When had she used it last?
She snapped her fingers. “Oh, yes. Mr. Shelt.” He’d been her last visitor, expiring several hours after leaving her home, but not before he’d used up all of her coffee creamer. Apparently, he’d preferred the cream over the taste of coffee which had forced her to buy another container which she hadn’t yet put away.
Ben said something to her, but she didn’t really listen. There wasn’t much he could say that would interest her, and once he drank his coffee, she’d shoo him out the door. Marge always found a good dose of rudeness tended to send visitors on their way, and she was always rude to criminals who made a mockery of the justice system.
She touched a hand to her deceased sister’s picture, held against the refrigerator by matching pink magnets. Dear Carolyn’s life had ended early at the hands of a drug dealer who’d mistaken her for one of his customers. He’d served fifteen years in the state penitentiary, not nearly enough in Marge’s opinion. Fortunately for him, she’d been on assignment when he was released from prison, or she might have been tempted to carry out her own brand of justice.
“Time to stop wool-gathering, Marge.” The admonishment sent her into a frenzy of activity. She finished adding the extra ‘spice’ to Ben’s coffee and returned the tiny vial to its safe place in the far corner of the cabinet.
Then squaring her shoulders, she lifted the two mugs of coffee and carried them to the dining room table. The clock was ticking, and she simply had to see if Claudia was going to accept Brock’s marriage proposal.
I've been a writer for a long time, a published author for over twenty years. Along the way, I met a wonderful woman who helped me learn to promote my books, market myself, and be a better author and friend. An author herself, she has accomplished so much in her career, but she has never forgotten that once upon a time, she was a struggling writer.
Many of you know this author, and if you don't, you should because Lisa Renee Jones is one of my favorite people and one heck of a writer. She's funny, smart, talented, driven, and an absolutely incredible person.
She's a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, and one of her series, The Secret Life of Amy Bensen is now a series on Passionflix. And even with all her successes, Lisa is one of the most humble people you'll ever meet. And I share all of this with you today because every writer should have a Lisa in their lives. I'm just lucky enough to have found mine early in my career. Here's hoping you find yours!
If you were or are a fan of Dukes of Hazzard, then you already know who Cooter is. He was the mechanic who always helped keep the General Lee running. And Ben Jones, the actor who played Cooter, has three museums dedicated to the series, and I was fortunate enough to visit one in Luray last month. Gosh, did this bring back memories from my childhood!
After our brief trip to Asheville and Brevard, NC, my friends and I headed to Luray, VA. We wanted to see the Luray Caverns, and they did not disappoint. The self-guided tour is about 1 1/4 miles in length, and there are some farily steep inclines on the way in, which makes the route out mostly downhill and a little treacherous. So be forewarned if you're planning a trip!
The caverns were nice and cool inside even with the heat outside. If you get cold easily, you may want to bring a sweater. I did, and I'm glad! I would have shivered the entire way through it.
The caverns are simply magical, and it gave me all types of story ideas. It's something that has to be seen and experienced for yourself as the pictures really don't do it justice even though I have about seventy-five more. It's just an incredible place, and one you should definitely put on your bucket list!
I just returned from a wonderful six-day vacation that included travel to four states and five cities/towns, all of which had something wonderful to be seen and experienced. There's so much beauty in the United States, and I'm glad my friends and I chose this particular journey this year. Last year, we went to Great Smoky Mountain in Bryson City, NC and rode on an old steam engine, which was incredible!
This year, our first stop was in Asheville, NC. I've been there many times, but I always love returning. My friends and I had a wonderful dinner at 131 Main, an incredible dog-friendly restaurant, which is good since we brought along their Shih Tzu, Lilly.
Then, we enjoyed the beauty of the city before returning to our hotel room. The next morning, we were up bright and early and headed to Pisgah National Forrest in Brevard, NC to see Looking Glass Falls, which is one of the most photographed waterfalls in America. (See picture above!) (I used to live in Brevard so this isn't the first time I've seen it, and I also returned in 2019 to see it again. It's still just as stunning as I remember.) There was a chill in the air despite it being summertime, and the rush of the water and the excitement of a busload of visiting campers only made me want to stay longer. But the road awaited us, and we had to leave as Luray, Virginia was calling. Stay tuned for part two of my vacation!
i saw this question on Twitter, and I thought "what a great way to get to know people a little better." You can tell a lot about someone from what they carry in their purse. For example, I carry copious amounts of Refresh eye drops. Easy to deduce that I have dry eyes. So what else is there?
I'm constantly on my laptop so it's no surprise that I go through them fairly quickly. Though I could pay to get them fixed and try to keep using them, I'm too paranoid that something will go wrong with them while I'm in the midst of writing. Not that I don't have everyting backed up. I have back-ups for my backup, but when it comes to laptops, you could be right in the middle of something, and poof! The computer goes off, and you've lost what hasn't yet backed up. That's a horrifying thought to me, and it has happened.
So when my laptop starts to give me problems, which is usually 18-24 months after I purchased it, I begin the search for another one, and I'm extremely picky. It can't just be any laptop. I have to have a backlit keyboard, a touch screen, and a number of other things that I could probably live without but now that I've had them, I don't want to.
I usually like to buy my laptops in person, although, I have bought them online. I prefer to be able to see the model and feel the keys. Best Buy always has a plethora to choose from, which means I spend at least an hour in the store trying out keyboards. Sure, I get funny looks from the sales associates as well as a constant stream of offers to help, but I keep to myself and move along with my phone out to take a picture of the top contenders.
I never buy on the first visit to the store because I have to go home, compare all the ones I like, and see which one edges out the others. And each time I buy, what I need changes, like RAM and speed, etc. So there's some research involved to find the fastest, most reliable computer with everything I need and want.
As a writer, buying a laptop is a lot like buying a car would be for a mechanic. I'm assuming they'd want to know everything about that car. I'm the exact same way when it comes to laptops. I read reviews, both good and bad, and I even look at the reviews on past models to see if the manufacturer is improving its offerings.
This isn't a short process for me, which is why I always dread it when the time comes around. This takes time away from my writing, but it's an investment I want to make last as long as possible to lessen my chances of having to do it again soon. To say I'm particular about the computer I buy is much too tame. But being happy with my laptop, to me, makes me a better writer. No, it doesn't write the words for me, but, if I'm comfortable with the keyboard and the screen, and the computer is fast enough, I can write at a fast clip.
And this process is about to begin. I figure I can put it off for a month, maybe a little longer. Then the ordeal begins. Ah, but once it's over, and I set up my new computer, I'm like a kid with a new toy. And life is good again...at least for 18-24 months.
In an article on Bankrate, freelance writing was suggested as one of ten side hustles. To me, side hustles are things anyone can do to make quick mone, although Merriam-Webster defines it as "work performed for income supplementary to one's primary job." That's not necessarily saying it has to be quick, but most people who are looking for extra income do want it sooner rather than later. That's not what comes to mind for me when it comes to freelance writing
Practically anyone can learn the technicalties of writing. They can learn what works and what doesn't, but that can take quite a bit of time. And if you're starting from scratch, it's going to take a lot longer to build freelance writing into a side hustle than it would being a shopper or working with a food delivery service.
It has taken most of us writers years to get to the point where we're making income, and even then, many writers don't make that much money a month, especially not enough that it could be considered a hustle.
Freelance writing is hard work, and it involves more than writing. You have to learn the process if you're not a writer at first. Then you to learn how to find publishers looking for what you're interested in writing. You have to learn how to craft a query letter, how to submit a pitch, and how to make a topic an easy read for the market.
Overall, I would never consider freelance writing a side hustle. It can be a part-time or full-time job, but iyou're not going to make a lot of money fast from it, and you're going to have to invest your own money to learn and to grow as well as to market your own work. So if you're looking to make quick money, you won't find it by freelance writing.
Most of us don't spend enough time on ourselves. We're too busy with work and taking care of others. But making time for ourselves is so important. I realized this week that I'm guilty of putting everything else before me. So this week. I'm challenging myself to complete some self-care challenges. Real Simple calls them small "but mighty" challenges. It has a list of twenty. I already know I won't do all of them so I've chosen five to start off the week with.
Stretching for ten minutes in the morning
Scheduling time for creativity
Read ten pages of a book every day
Get ten minutes of sunshine in the morning
Spending five minutes a day tidying my home
If I can do these every day for the next seven days, then I'll add more...or maybe I'll just continue these for a while. :-)
It's been a little over two years since my last book release, but this year, I've got several lined up. The first will be Letters to Laura, which will release on Tuesday, March 30th. If you like the 1950s, this is your type of novella! You can read the book description below, and afterwards, sign up for my newsletter so you can keep up with future releases and giveaways!
The Korean War is tearing apart more than just the soil on which it’s fought.
Laura has loved Mark for as long as she can remember. She can’t imagine her life without him. Mark’s feelings for Laura are just as strong, but he has a secret—one that is bound to come between them. He’s shipping out to Korea in a week.
Blindsided by the information, Laura is scared, angry, and confused, knowing she doesn’t have a choice but to let him go. Meanwhile, she’d just have to love him through letters. After all, he’s promised he’d return to her. She has to believe that, or she’ll go crazy.
After months of waiting to see him again, Laura learns a devastating secret. Mark is back, but he doesn't want to see her again. Now it's up to Laura to unravel the why.
My thoughts, experiences, challenges, and goals. Right here. At least once a week or so. Oh, and opinions, too. Those will definitely come in. Join me!