Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tag, You’re it!

So, a few weeks ago that wonderful writing team of writers, known to me through their work at our publisher Desert Breeze, the Cuffie Sisters, Sadie and Sophie, tagged me on their blog. Their books are well known to lovers of romance and those who follow romance from a Christian perspective. Check them out at and you can see their answers to the questions at

The challenge with such tags is to tag two other writes and then provide the answers to four questions about the writing process. The latter was the easy part! Evidently these tags have been going on so long that may folks are tired of them. So, I reached out beyond the ranks of those known to me in desert Breeze into the Heart of Carolina Romance writers to friend, JoAnn Matthews who has written a romance and is looking for a publisher and to self published Waldron Caldwell, whose humorous novel Wild Parsely is a romance and family saga rolled into one. (You can read my review of her book In the Sunday June 15 Sun News!)

Here are the four questions:

!.What am I working on now?

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

3. Why do I write what I do?

4. How does my writing process work?


1. What am I working on now? Well, to be very specific, in addition to the fourth novel for my series for Desert Breeze, Secrets of the Heart a part of the Legacy of Honor Series, I am finishing up an article and starting another for my business client. SMG ( and two articles for the Sun News. Have several pieces of poetry I am polishing and two short stories in process. I like variety.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre–romance, I presume, since that is the main thing most of us are talking about on this blog hop. My work is different just as anyone’s is different–Each person’s work comes out of his or her own imagination and we are all made different and unique by the Creator. My work in this series shows the struggle of woman in each era, the recognition of family honor and its relationship to national honor. I love research and try to put details from each time period into the books. This latest book will cover two time periods–Civil War and First Gulf War.

3. Why do I write what I do? I write what I like to read, what I like to learn about and oh yes, for the mysteries to solve puzzles. Sometimes I see something in the news and wish it had a different outcome–as a writer, I can do that for my characters. I like happy endings.

4. How does my writing process work?

I am a person who likes to be discipline, but I combine outlines for plots with letting my characters run free. I need deadlines to keep me on track.

Now to introduce you to my guests!

I am not good technically, so I am not sure where their photos will land in this post but do look for the work of these two remarkable writers.

Here is JoAnn Matthew’s Story

Bio for Blog Tag

I’m a freelance feature writer with more than 1,000 bylines to my credit on topics from autism to zoology. My column, “Events on the North Strand,” appears in The Sun News, the Myrtle Beach, S.C. daily. I post two blogs, “Find Your Writing Niche” and “Women and Adversity,” on my Web site at

 Joliet, Ill. is my hometown. My bachelor’s degree is from College of St. Francis, Joliet, and my master’s degree from University of Notre Dame. My husband, Steve, and I live in Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. Our two sons are grown, and we have three grandsons.

JoAnn’s photo will be added Tuesday and she will post on her blog next Tuesday

Here is Waldron Caldwell’s Bio!


Waldron Caldwell was born and raised in southern West Virginia and  ‘adopted’ the state of South Carolina at the age of seventeen. She followed her high school career  in west Virginia by obtaining her college degree in Political Science with a minor in English in South Carolina. Still being extremely proud of her West Virginia roots, she is now a true Gamecock fan and a southern literary fanatic.

She presently lives in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and is happily married with one son and has the cutest Maltese ever named, “Frosty”. Waldron Caldwell is the author of “Wild Parsley”, which gives a comical point of view to medicinal marijuana and is due to release a new book, “Ollie” in July of this year. You can find her on Facebook at which is where she will post the answers to the four process questions. Like her page to see them.








Summer Wind–Book Review

The Summer Wind

By Mary Alice Monroe

Simon and Shuster

Hardback, $27


This is the second installment in the Low country Summer trilogy. In Last year’s opening edition The Summer Girls, Monroe introduced us to MeeMaw and her best friend Lucille and MeeMaw’s three disparate granddaughters–half sisters who seem to be living life as a crash course. MeeMaw brings them back to her Pawley’s Island home where they can spend the summer with her, as they did when they were children. It is her hope that before she sells the house to move to an assisted living, the idyllic life of the Island and her love for all of them can bring the sisters together again and restore their sense of adventure and belief in themselves. Dora, the eldest suffers from an unhappy marriage and is working hard to raise her autistic son, Nate without much input from his father.  Harper, the youngest, is out of a job and Carson, struggling against alcoholism has also lost hers.


In the first book we meet Delphine the dolphin and are introduced to the damage human relationships can bring to wild dolphins. In this, the second book, all of the family is working at various ways to help Delphine recover and how to heal their own wounds. Lucille takes a greater role in this book, providing direct counseling to Carson and we see the depth of her relationship to MeeMaw.


In this, the middle book of the trilogy, Dora finds that although her family has rallied around her, she must find the power to heal within herself. Harper is challenged when an unexpected visitor causes her to rethink the direction of her life. Carson, who took the lead in the first book and has been prime in the work to save Delphine, returns from the Dolphin rehabilitation Center in Florida to face a critical, life changing decision.


I loved how each incident, each new character and every conversation in the book move the story along. Monroe’s writing is as lean and elegant as the lovely young women who grace the beach. If you did not read the first book, it’s not a problem. Monroe skillfully provides enough back story in this one so that a new reader can enjoy it and old readers are lightly reminded without being bore, of events key to the lives of the main characters and that will be key to the plot of this book.


Like the Summer Wind of title, this book is a cool, refreshing breeze of a read, geared for the beach blanket season but with thoughtful issues, such as dolphin and turtle preservation introduced in just enough detail to give us substance in the story.

There is only one small problem with this book–I didn’t want it to end! I have to wait an entire year now to find out what happens to the Muir sisters and their grandmother.


Gimme a Hug

Gimme a Hug!


So, a new product–yes, to be sure, they sent it to me free to try. But I was very skeptical, The product is a silicone specially shaped array of “huggers” to put directly on to a cut onion, orange, lemon, and even two (one small , one large) made just for avocados.


I have plastic containers for my cut fruit. Some specially made for that fruit.

Onions , even in their container often not only dry out where I cut them, but also allow aromas to fly about my frig.  Not so with the huggers.


My first try was with the lemon. Worked fine. After two days, my half lemon still juicy and good to use. Onion is still in there, but he is not emitting any smells into the rest of the vegetable drawer. Love it! Best of all is the avocado, an item which browns if left out even for a few minutes. I used half of my avocado; put it into the hugger, (with seed still in place).

After an entire day in the frig, my avocado remained perfect!!!! Yes, I should have photographed it all, but I did not. Mea culpa. The included photos in this blog are from the company.  They are extremely easy to clean and while the set of two avocado huggers is 9.99 plus shipping and the set of four other veggie huggers is 14.99, this is cheap in the long run–no twisting in plastic wrap or smelly containers. Best of all, less food waste since these really work.

They were developed through a kickstarter campaign and it is no wonder folks invested. The idea is wonderful! And so is the final product.

The material is food safe; one hundred percent FDA qualified silicon. The product was just introduced at the spring 2014 Chicago Housewares show and hopefully will make it to your specialty stores soon. Right now you need to buy it online at


So now the question–what do they cost and since I have a free set, am I willing to purchase a set? Yes, to the latter. In fact, I plan to purchase a set of the avocado for our daughter! She lives in an apartment and the ease of storing these flat silicone pieces will appeal to her.


Again check them out on  It may be too late to get them to your dad for Father’s Day, but  there is a whole summer of grilling ahead where cut up veggies may require the storing of bits and pieces of vegetable. And do be sure to order a set of the avocado huggers for the avocado lover in the family !



Blog Relay–I’ve been tagged!


So, just watched a really great little photo essay on the importance of Dads and thought I would share this poem about my Dad and the wonderful man he was.
Shells of the Summer of ‘62
by Joan Leotta
The soft ripple of low tide
rolled in to chill our toes.
Dad said the damp sand
was good for walking.
He pulled up the collar of my jacket.
Wind was pushing dark clouds our way.
There’d be no afternoon of sun and sandcastles.
We hopped over lines of soft white foam
zigzagging across the strip of brown sand
between our place and the ocean.
Gulls screeched, “Go back!”
I never looked up. My eyes were set
to hunt treasures in dawn’s tide.
At last I spotted something!
An orange fan! A perfect scallop shell!
Surf crashed with sudden interest in my search.
Foam fingers fastened on my prize,
pulling it back out into the ocean.

Without even rolling up his pants,
He chased the wave back out toward the rocks.
He bent over and put down his hand.
Another wave swelled up.
“Dad, look out!”
In another second he was completely soaked.
But he had my shell.
I have it still.

_____My beautiful picture__
So, postscript to the poem. I married a man with the same wonderful qualities as my Dad. He is a great husband and a great father. Virtual hugs to my Dad (now in heaven) and to my beloved husband, real hugs and kisses and best wishes on Father’s Day



Read me!

Alice in wonderland inspired the title. Two short works of mine accepted, one is up today. The other, a print acceptance will be put much later but e acceptance brings joy today as I return the contract in the mail.
My short mystery, Ups and downs, will be up on the site or tomorrow. I just cleared the copy.
Thema magazine out of Metairie, LA will be publishing my poem,
The Printer’s Out of Ink in their March 2015 hard copy magazine
Excited about both!

So, working on my book

Just asked for an extension on book 4 since book three came out late–but hope you will journey to the jungles of Vietnam with my nurse heroine as she tries to figure out life, who she should love, and learns a lot about herself, honor and friendship along the way.


Book Four will take you backwards in two directions—the Civil War and First Gulf War

Sweet and Hotter than Honey!

Sweet thoughts for Dad


In the course of my work as a food writer, I am sometimes offered new food products to try. This one is a timely offering for those of you who have Dads who like their food with a bit of extra “kick”. These products, as a group are known as Henry’s Humdingers. They are a set of are honey sauces with spices that bring up the heat. Eaten alone or, better yet, used to flavor foods on the grill, from the roast pan and on appetizer cheese, these will make meals more lively. Made with raw honey and spices, there is one more sweet fact about these items which may well become as the ad says, the “secret ingredient” in your summer cooking. That extra sweetness is that these sauces were developed by a young man who is donating part of what he earns to The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees. You can find out more about the product and the need to care for our precious honey bees at the Humdinger website,

 In 2011 founder Henry won the award for Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011. His product is on shelves in stores in 27 different states and the District of Colombia. Stores that carry the product range from small organic specialty shops to top-of-the-line grocery chain, Wegman’s.


At this time, there are no stores in my home area carrying the delightful piquant-power packed sweets. Mine came in the mail. I received, from the company, to try, their

Father’s Day, the company special four-pack that includes of some of its most popular sauces.  It’s priced at 19.95 plus shipping for Father’s day. The four are Grumpy Grandpa – garlic & cayenne, Naughty Nana -ginger & pepper, Phoebe’s Fireball- chipotle & cinnamon & Diabolical Dad – habanero & lime.


My husband (appropriately for Father’s Day!) is the hot food lover in our family so he gave the four products a taste test from the point of view of a heat loving palate.

Here are his findings from tasting the four varieties plain.

Grumpy Grandpa: a little heat, not too much, garlic aftertaste

Phoebe’s Fireball: Good taste, nice heat and counterpoint of cinnamon. No aftertaste

Naughty Nana: The pepper and the ginger work well together,

Diabolic Dad: hottest of the four, the lime offers a cool counterpoint to the heat. This one was my husband’s favorite.


My husband said that while the four were ok as dipping sauces on their own, he’d like to see them paired with food in recipes and for that, the website offers plenty of suggestions/ www. I was happy to learn that the products contain no msg, and are therefore, safe for me to eat when I try out some of the recipes on the site. I’m looking forward to it.


If you have a heat loving Dad in the house, place your order soon so you can get the package in time for Father’s Day. Maybe place another order for Fourth of July entertaining while you are at it!



Joan’s Humdinger Wings in the oven.

Simply apply about 1 T of your favorite blend to each wing and bake until done. Delicious! The company offers a recipe for Icarus chicken wings (see below) for two dozen wings, enough for a party.


Joan’s suggestion for Have you a favorite honey and carrot recipe? Use one of these honeys instead of a plain honey and the veggie will add zip as well as color to your meal. I usually add a couple of tablespoons of honey, and an equal number of T of butter to the carrots and then bake them in the oven at 350 until tender.


       Here is the recipe for Henry’s Icarus Chicken Wings–courtesy of Henry’s Humdingers


24 chicken wings

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

3T garlic powder

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp white pepper

Vegetable oil for frying

One 6 oz jar of Diabolical Dad tm

3 T dark brown sugar

Ranch dressing for serving



Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine flour, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Put wings in the flour, shake off excess and set on plate, in a large pot, heat several inches of oil to 360. When oil is hot, put wings in flour one more time, shake off excess.

Deep fry the wings until crispy and golden, while wings are frying, mix the Diabolical Dad and brown sugar. Remove wings form oil, pat dry and then dip in the honey mix to coat. Lay cooked wings on baking sheet, bake until dry, about 12 minutes. Serve with ranch dressing.

Listening: Key to Good relationships and good writing and performing


Learning to Listen with Significant Others by Bob Bohlken, PhD
Images Unlimited Publishing
Call 800-366-1695 for price

Listening is the stock in trade of writers and performers. It is how we fill up with ideas, emotions and voices to use in our performances whether on stage or on paper. Unfortunately, this does not sometimes carry over into personal life–for me. So, when I received the copy of Learning to Listen, I was excited to see by the title that it is aimed at the personal. While the book is meant to be a workshop on paper for couples, I found it helpful as an individual.

Listening involves hearing and interpreting what is heard. Beyond that it means giving respect to the other person’s words and ideas. It is a necessary skill–hard enough to learn and practice in real life, but imperative if we are to truly communicate, the respond to the heart message that is being sent to us.
The exercises contained had the additional bonus of being helpful in my trade–both as a performer and a writer–ways to hone listening skills and bring voices and thoughts of others into my work. Using the exercises in the abstract that is working through them as if you are one of your characters offers many insights into the character and how to work out dialogue for the listeners. I particularly liked the section on non-verbal communication and the section on empathetic listening. The exercises accompanying that segment are rich with information for inspiration for writers.

For instance, this prompts or exercise: As an empathetic listener, what is your most effective non-verbal response to the 5th question in the exercises? “What physical element affects your empathetic listening situation the most?

Then Bohlken lists several examples including eye level, furniture or artifacts in the room, area space , use of absolute quantifiers and modifiers (presumably in the language used by the speaker).
These exercises are gems for a writer–helps to bring more depth to the conversations of your characters as well as wonderful aids to making communication more effective in your personal life. Bohlken is well qualified to direct us to better ways to listen. He has a PhD in interpersonal communication and is in the Hall of Fame in the International Listening Association.

Listening is more than just hearing the words being spoken. Such listening to a lecture means simply taking in information. Listening to a person speaking to you is far more significant.
At times, listening means simply taking it upon ourselves to be still–in mind, body and spirit. Psalm 46:10 tells us that God Himself demands such listening. We cannot really hear Him unless we listen in that way focused on Him and not on ourselves. This is also true for listening to others, especially those we love. The focus needs to be on them, not on what we are going to say next. One of my faults, one this book tries to help me with–and in the process of doing that, also helps my characters on the page and stage to learn the same lesson.