Monday, March 28, 2016

Where Did They Go?

by Fran McNabb

Ever wonder where the years have gone. If you’re in your twenties or even thirties, you may not be spending time on this question, but if you’re over fifty, it’s a different story. One moment you’re thinking you have your entire life ahead of you, and then, boom, you wake up one morning and you’re retired or getting near retirement.

 I'm well into my retirement years, and it seems there are always things that make me remember how fast the years have gone. I gave a baby shower for my great niece last weekend, and it was a reminder of how it was for me just yesterday—or so it seems—when I was like this young lady going through the exciting and sometimes scary months before the birth of

her baby.

Where did those years go?

If I’m serious with myself, I realize those years didn’t just vanish. They were lived. That young lady who had a baby over forty years ago lived each day that went by. Those days might be a blur today, but they weren’t blurs back then. Each day was lived and cherished. Each little thing that my two boys did as they grew into young men was a wonderful experience, and even though the moments seemed to fly by, they did exist.

I look at this sweet niece and realize she too will make those same kinds of memories, and one day she’ll look back on these exciting days in store for her, and, like me, will wonder where those days went. Let’s hope she and all the young ladies about to start a family will live and cherish each day with their little ones because one day they will be just memories.

Does that make me sad? Certainly not. Those two boys of mine are now giving me memories with their sons! Can't get better than that.

FRAN MCNABB spent most of her life on the Gulf Coast where she and her husband raised two boys. They now have two grandsons. She loves to include children in her light romances, i.e., six little orphans in SAVING THE CHILDREN,  a child in WINDSWEPT , ONCE IN A HALF MOON , and PLAYING WITH FEELING She loves to hear from her readers at  and at

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Finer Things

This last Friday, one of my neighbors and fellow commuters arrived at the bus stop dressed in denims and a t-shirt. He is a civil engineer from Ireland, recently brought in from Australia to work for a construction firm in the Bay Area. His Friday garb reminded me that Dress-down Friday is still common these days.

This particular practice became popular years ago and was a particular favorite among employees in the tech industry.

Dressing down became the norm for 'techies' and spilled over gradually into other office-based working environments, depending on the industry. Dressing down in a law office is still rare. Like my character, David Gitano, in Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls imposed on his staff, a dress code is in place in most legal establishments, banks, financial management, accounting - in fact, wherever there is a high level of fiscal, social or governmental responsibility.

Working people dress according to the perceived respect owed to their establishment. That particular aspect of dress reminded me of expectations for proper dress etiquette when I was a child.
We had recently moved to the Bay Area from rural Maine. My mother was adamant that certain conventions and standards were to be maintained, regardless of what anyone else did. For example:

  •         A lady always wears gloves (a good idea when you consider recent health reports regarding public transportation) 

  •         A lady of whatever age always wears her Sunday best to go Downtown to shop (this now applies to shopping malls)

  •       A lady of whatever age always wears a hat in church (particularly important at Easter)

These simple requirements became archaic and unnecessary in the mid-1960s when any form of dress or lack thereof became acceptable.

They may seem inconsequential but this sort of elegance is a function of civilized society and their gradual disappearance and replacement with less formal and occasionally rude behaviors allows an erosion of basic etiquette.  

In societies where close quarters means very little privacy, the development of strict formal behaviors is essential. Civility in crowded circumstances prevents altercations and my mother’s charming, superficial dictates were the cream on top of a standard of behavior my mother expected of us, as young ladies.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Look What I Found on YouTube!

by Victoria M. Johnson

Have you ever wanted to hear bestselling author James Patterson's secrets to writing success?  How about hearing inspiring tips from Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz?  Perhaps you wished you could pick Stephen King's brain for writing advice.  I have seen and heard these experts, and many others, speak from the heart.  They open up and give a peek into their writing lives, share their writing knowledge, and offer thought-provoking insights.  I found them on YouTube.

Don't worry.  I'm not sending you on a wild hunt.  I've already created my own YouTube Channel and the Playlist where all these videos are located is titled: WritersAdvice & Inspiration.

Here is my favorite one. In just under four minutes Junot Díaz, who is also an editor at Boston Review and a creative writing professor, provides many gems of wisdom.  He's quite inspiring.

Prolific author James Patterson shares what's he's learned about writing bestsellers.  Get out your notebook and a pen for this six minute video.

Another example is this five-and-a-half minute video of novelist, short story writer, and poet Joyce Carol Oates talking about creating characters.

So far there are ten videos in this playlist, including Amy Tan, Ray Bradbury, Kurt Vonnegut, and Nora Roberts.

One of my other playlists is titled: LikedVideos
Here I have the videos of authors like J.K Rowling and Ken Follett, and poet Joy Harjo, among others.

If you'd like to check out my Channel, here is the link to that: FilmsByVictoria
My channel has seven playlists and includes my short films and other things.

In case I confused you, here's a wrap up of the links:

Writers Advice & Inspiration

Liked Videos

My YouTube Channel:

I love YouTube.  There are so many videos to learn from and be inspired by.  Do you have any favorite videos?  Do you have a channel?  Let us know in the comments below.

Victoria M. Johnson knew by the time she was ten that she wanted to be a writer.  She loves telling stories and she's happiest when creating new characters and new plots.  Avalon Books and Montlake Romance published Victoria's fiction debut, The Doctor’s Dilemma, (A 2012 Bookseller’s Best double finalist).  Her other fiction book is a collection of romance short stories titled, The Substitute Bride and a novella, Hot Hawaiian Christmas. She is also the writer and director of four short films and two micro documentaries.   Visit Victoria's website at for inspiration and tips and find her Amazonauthor page or connect with her on Pinterest and Twitter.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Virginia Woolf, What Were You Thinkin'?

"A place of one's own" Yep. That's what Virginia Woolf said, a directive toward becoming more productive was to square off a "place of one's own" - a place free from kids, spouses, distractions. Dedicated space.

So if you recall, in January I began this pursuit. I emptied the "She-She (chichi) Shed" toward creating my writing cave - something away from the daily hub-bub of domestic bliss. It's still rough, but it's coming along nicely.

Then last night reality set in. For the first time in 20 years, my husband and I had a childless night. I kid you not. For some reason, our children have never been both out of the house at the same time. But last night, the stars aligned and our off-spring were both away on the same night with separate housesitting gigs. It didn't occur to me until we were seeing off the sixteen year old to his housesitting job that this was it. We were, (at least for one night), empty nesters.

I'll admit it. There were a few tears. I missed the noise - the sound of an electronic device in operation in every room of the house, lights left on in the wake of leaving a room, the microwave beeping at midnight when someone decided they needed hot cocoa or the toaster popping, or an all out gourmet meal being prepared unbeknownst to me.

I slept like a baby.

Slept until 6AM, (which is an accomplishment for this insomniac), until the phone rang. It was the twenty year old calling to inquire about the driving conditions from her housesitting gig to the home where she no longer officially lives, but spends every non-sleeping, non-schooling hour. (Yes, she has an apartment of her own, but there's food at my house.)

By 7:30 - when I was about to walk out the door to work - the sixteen year old called to say he was ready to be picked up from his housesitting gig. (He refuses to get a driver's license, which is the topic for a whole other blog.) He had to shower at home with his stuff. It seems like I'm the only one who slept through the night.

Sigh. Well, the She-She Shed continues, (or will continue.) But in the interim, I've had a taste of life as an empty nester with mixed reviews. I'm at work now. Both kids are back at my house, sleeping off the anxiety associated with responsibility. Whew. Virginia Wolfe? Really? Is there such a thing as a "place of one's own"?

Guess I'll see.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Just To Be Sure...

by Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson

At long last it’s here. The release day of your new book. The cover is gorgeous, the print PDF and the electronic versions are pristine. All the editing passes and revisions are finally over with and each sentence has been polished until all of them shine like diamonds. You’ve got your excerpts ready for publicity, the various sizes of your cover are waiting to be posted, you’ve done your keywords and metadata for release… all that awaits is for you to push the ‘Publish’ button.

And your finger hovers hesitantly over your mouse as you frantically search your mind and your manuscript for anything you might have forgotten. Stress brings a sheen of perspiration to your forehead as your clicking finger starts to tremble. Remember the old saw “Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow”? Well, just about now I always start to glow like a horse.

This is it. This is what you’ve been working for for so long. But is your precious book ready? Really ready? Maybe just one more check… just to be sure?

Believe me, you can ‘just one more check’ yourself into total stasis. I know. I’ve done it. Especially when the book is a very important one.

You see, that’s where I am right now. One year ago this month The Husband and I started out for Egypt, where we had been invited to stay at an archaeological dig house. The excavation director is a very dear friend and had suggested I might want to set a murder mystery in this lovely old house built in 1906 by an English Egyptologist named Somers Clarke that is now the excavation headquarters. Of course we went and though we have been to Egypt several times it was just about the most magical trip of my life.

The resultant book is A KILLING AT EL KAB, and it’s going to be released in the middle of this month – almost to the day we arrived at El Kab. As I am an avowed Egyptomane, this is one of the most important books of my entire life.

And I want it perfect. I have driven both my cover artist and formatter almost to madness with my pickiness and these last few weeks The Husband has been positively grateful to escape to his job every morning. I have been through the manuscript and the various formatted copies so many times that I can recount great chunks of copy from memory. Yet still I hesitate to hit the ‘publish’ button. I tell myself it’s because I haven’t yet received the paperback proofs.


More likely it’s because I know that somewhere deep in the manuscript there lingers a malign typo, waiting in hiding until the book is available to the world before it makes itself known…

Maybe I should go through the book again… Just to be sure.