Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal. . . ”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
“Declaration of Sentiments of the Seneca Falls Convention (1848)”

In this election year, it seems fitting to remember American women’s long struggle for voting rights. The Seneca Falls convention in 1848 is often noted as the beginning of that struggle. In 1920, seventy-two years later, the 19th amendment to the Constitution was ratified, and women throughout the United States gained the right to vote. Let’s all honor our foremothers by exercising the right they fought so hard to win for us.

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Possessing Sara: A Sequel?

How far will two men go to possess the woman they both love?

How far will two men go to possess the woman they both love?

According to my Webster’s New World Dictionary, a sequel is “any literary work complete in itself but continuing a story begun in an earlier work.” Possessing Sara continues the stories of George Lawson and his son Junior that began in my first novel, The Night before Christmas. In the first novel, George Lawson is a new but dedicated member of the Church of Light, a fundamentalist church in the small town of Elm Grove. Junior Lawson is his year-old son.

The thought of a sequel didn’t come to mind until thirty years later when I needed a challenger to Garth Drummond, the psychic in love with Sara Kramer in Possessing Sara. Who better than Junior Lawson, the son of Brother George Lawson, who took over as leader of the Church of Light when the original minister retired, to complete the love triangle?

Or is it a love triangle? Sara Kramer doesn’t see it that way. Garth was once her best friend, but she doesn’t trust the psychic he has become–and she’s never liked Junior Lawson. In fact, she’s considered him a stalker for years. For more on Junior Lawson, check out this Keyhole Conversations blog post.

Books on sale this week

Both The Night before Christmas and Possessing Sara are on special this week, so this is a perfect time to get both. I have reduced the price of The Night before Christmas to 99 cents on Amazon until December 31, 2015. Possessing Sara is on a 99 cent Kindle countdown deal from now until December 21, 2015

In addition, The Night before Christmas is available on Smashwords for 99 cents until December 31, 2015 if you use the coupon code QX62S at checkout.


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Where Home Is

hazel's blog photo

Where Home Is was the working title of the novel that is now The Survivalist’s Daughter. Kindra, the main character, kidnapped by her father when she was a toddler, is sixteen when she learns that the woman she has always believed to be her mother is, in fact, her stepmother. When the woman she has called “Mom” for as long as she can remember is killed in an FBI raid and her father is arrested for illegal gun selling, she learns the truth and is taken from her isolated mountain home to her birth mother’s home in small town Kansas. The changes in her life are many:

  • She must adjust to a new mother, three sisters, and a stepfather.
  • She must attend a public high school; previously she had been home-schooled.
  • She misses and worries about her baby brother, Michael, who has been taken into protective custody.

Even as Kindra begins to adjust to her new life, she knows that no place can truly be home without Michael in it. But what can she do? The FBI won’t tell her where he is.

The Survivalist’s Daughter addresses several current social problems, including parental kidnapping, the reunion of a kidnapped child with the left-behind parent, and overcoming a traumatic event.

Kindle Countdown Sale starts December 8. The Survivalist’s Daughter, regularly $2.99 will be available for  99 cents until December 14, 2015.



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Reflections on My First Novel


A Psychological Suspense Novel

A Psychological Suspense Novel

When December rolls around, I always think about my first novel, The Night Before Christmas. I began writing it in 1970 and published it in 2008. Recently, I was asked how many times I revised it. Truthfully, I lost count over the years. There were several times I thought it was finished, and then a new change came to mind. The characters, good and bad, are forever in my heart as well as my mind.

  • There is Betty, a wife and mother, only 23 with three daughters and no skills to support them, so she decides to go back to an abusive husband.
  • Then there is Wes, a husband and father, a man who loves his family, an alcoholic trying to stop drinking, a man of faith but lacking in understanding, a lack that puts him on a deadly path.
  • Finally, there is Sadie, the strict grandmother who raised Wes in her fundamentalist church, the Church of Light, and prays for his salvation.

Each has a point of view and a way of seeing things. Each has a hand in bringing about the crisis that threatens to destroy them all.

Through December 31. The Night before Christmas, which is regularly $2.99 will be available on Amazon for 99 cents. It will also be available for 99 cents on Smashwords if you use the coupon code of QX62S at checkout.


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Relentless Writer Friend Publishes Novel

angel of mercy book cover final gak

I’ve written about my relentless friend, Bonnie (pen name B.J. Myrick) before. Those articles have centered on how she prodded me to write. This week, Bonnie did something amazing. She published Angel of Mercy, a mystery novel completed in 2003 and lost in the mail following a computer crash.

The story began (or would that be ended) with Bonnie completing the final draft of Angel of Mercy in 2003. She had barely finished celebrating her accomplishment when the blue screen of computer death flashed in front of her. Nothing could resuscitate the hard drive. That’s when having a computer-tech daughter came in handy. Or maybe not.

Saying she could retrieve the files, Bonnie’s daughter urged her to send the dead hard drive to her. Bonnie bundled the computer for mailing and took it to the local post office. The package never arrived at her daughter’s house. A tracking number had not been given at the time of mailing. The hard drive with manuscript inside was lost.

Many people would have given up at this point. In fact, the loss stopped even relentless Bonnie for a few weeks. But then she remembered her online critique group and wondered how frequently we deleted the critique files she sent us. She hit the jackpot. She was able to gather all but two chapters from the four members in the group, enough to reassemble the novel.

But a new obstacle, a family crisis, blocked her writing path. Her older sister became disabled and moved in with Bonnie. Caregiving became a round-the-clock, unpaid job and left Bonnie no time or energy for work on Angel of Mercy.  After six years, her sister’s condition deteriorated to the point Bonnie could no longer care for her at home. Reluctantly, she found a nursing home and had her admitted.

It took a few weeks, but Bonnie finally started work on Angel of Mercy again. She finished it the beginning of this month, October 2015. Just as she was about to upload to Create Space, the computer screen froze. After much mouse-clicking and rebooting, she was able to get some movement. Next, she dumped many files and a new program that might have been responsible for the problem. Finally, she got the machine working again.

With some relief, Bonnie started the publishing process on Create Space—but her upload speed was too slow. Discouraged, she called me. After some discussion, she sent me the files, and I uploaded them for her.

Twelve years after the book was first completed, Angel of Mercy is now available in e-book and paperback on Amazon and Create Space. Check it out and you’ll find Emma McBride, the main character, as relentless and feisty as her author.

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Possessing Sara: A New Look

A new format and a new vision

I published my suspense novel, Possessing Sara, as an e-book on September 15, 2012, so this is its third anniversary.  I have long wanted to publish it in paperback, but the e-book cover wouldn’t work–not enough dpi–and my cover creating skills are limited. Finally, I resorted to a new cover photo and the Create Space cover creator. While formatting and proofreading the paperback, the story took on additional meaning, which is shown in the book descriptions of the two books.

First the e-book

When I first started writing Possessing Sara, I planned to write a romance. While there is some romance in the finished novel, I realized most romance readers would be dissatisfied. Forget one star; it might get a minus one from those passionate about romance. With this in mind, I chose the suspense category. Sara Kramer, the main character, is being stalked, and their is a list of possible suspects. Below is the eBook cover and book description.


How far will two men go to possess the woman they both love?

How far will two men go to possess the woman they both love?

eBook Description

Sara Kramer, who doubts everything, is pursued by two men of opposite but equally strong faiths: Garth Drummond, a New Age psychic healer and Junior Lawson, a fundamentalist preacher. When Sara refuses the preacher’s proposal, he blames the psychic healer, believing the man has put a curse on Sara and she is now possessed by demons.

The paperback

Yes, the edges of the paperback are hard to see because the cover background is so light. Amazon has turned the book sideways so the spine with a black bar is visible which makes the book easier to view. I had to go with available cover creator colors that wouldn’t clash with those in the photo. The physical book is attractive, and that matters most to me since I will be taking it to book fairs and other events.


Childhood friends. . . Adult adversaries . . . Can an old friend be trusted?

Childhood friends. . .
Adult adversaries . . .
Can an old friend be trusted?

As you can see by the caption under the book and the description below, the paperback version has a different take. I have removed the emphasis on two men competing for Sara’s affections and put it on the danger she is in, which, hopefully, steps up the suspense aspect.

Paperback description

Childhood friends. . . Adult adversaries

Raised in a carnival until she is thirteen and then abandoned on the doorstep of her fundamentalist Christian grandparents, Sara Kramer has a loathing for scams. When former best friend Garth comes to town as a psychic healer, Sara vows to shut his business down if she detects even a whiff of swindle. She has barely begun her investigation when she becomes the target of a stalker. Then a rock with a note attached crashed through her living room window. The message:
Mind your own business!
Garth says he is not responsible and offers his help. Can he be trusted, or is he behind the threats?

Suspense–and more

There is plenty of suspense in Possessing Sara, but as I proofread the pages, I realized the story was deeper than a woman in jeopardy or two men battling for the affections of one woman. Sara, Garth, and Junior, the three main characters in the novel, each have their own stories of faith, friendship, and family secrets. We get to see what they believe and why and come to understand how those beliefs affect their lives.

Which book description do you like best? Would either make you want to read more? Leave a comment and let me know.

If Possessing Sara sounds like a novel you would enjoy, check out the eBook or the paperback on Amazon. If you like Possessing Sara, check out the other novels on my author’s page. You’ll find they all focus on faith and family in some way.

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Audience Matters

In a recent Write to Fit blog post, I wrote about identifying your audience before you write. Two recent reading experiences underscored the importance of audience regardless of whether you present your ideas in person or in print. The first was related to presidential politics and the second to the perceived audience for a book.

Presidential politics

In an article titled “Right Turns Only: Ted Cruz’s Radical Plan to Win the White House,” (Time, September 7-14, page 55), author Alex Altman states, “If Cruz’s politics are guided by gut, his campaign is ruled by data. . . . At the front of the office. . . sits a team of 12 data scientists working to divide primary voters into ‘psychographic clusters’ on the basis of their personalities, interests, and values. The goal is to determine their target audience and feed each segment a message calibrated to sway them.” That Cruz tailors messages for specific audiences is no surprise. I’m sure most politicians do. That it requires 12 data scientists to analyze voters amazes me.

A book’s audience

I recently read The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown because it was the chosen title of the month for my book discussion group. When I reviewed it on GoodReads, I gave it three stars because I liked the book, but I didn’t reach the level of really liking it. If I had reviewed it on Amazon, I might have given it five stars because that system is more about the quality of the book instead of how much I liked it. For lovers of the history of college rowing competitions and the quest for Olympic gold in a sport, this nonfiction book is phenomenal. Readers get a stroke-by-stroke description of every race the Washington team competed in over three years. In addition, the author tells how racing shells were made, how coaches prepared the team for competition, how reporters covered the stories, and how Hitler prepared Germany for the 1936 Olympics. But what kept me reading was the story of Joe Rantz, his survival of childhood poverty and abandonment, and his tenacity for getting an education. As for all the racing details, I started skimming them about halfway through the book.

What goes in? What stays out?

Writers often ask how much of their research on a topic should go into a book. Before that question can be answered, a knowledge of audience is essential.


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Jury Duty

About ten days ago, I received a summons to report for jury duty on August 31. The summons contained a number to call after 5 p.m. on the day before the trial to see if I was excused. In the case of a Monday court, I could call after 5 p.m. on Friday.

At 4:30 p.m. on Friday, August 28, the newspaper arrived. When I opened it to the front page, the side article headline read “Murder Trial to Begin Monday.” My first reaction was “No! I don’t want to be on a murder trial jury.” I looked at the clock. Twenty-nine minutes to go before I could call and find out if I would possibly be on the jury. I paced the floor. I thought of people to call but none were available. Finally, at 5:05 p.m. I called the number. There were several courtrooms mentioned. I thought mine was one for which I was excused, but I hadn’t read that part of the summons carefully. I called back to be sure.

While I was relieved at not having to serve on a jury, I would have done so without trying to be dismissed. In a section of the summons was this statement: “Jury Service is one of the highest duties of citizenship and one that no good citizen should shirk. Your willingness to serve as a juror indicates your faith in the principle of free government. You should not ask to be excused except for serious and compelling reasons.” I believe in the statement and know that my reasons for not wanting to serve were neither “serious” nor “compelling.”

I did serve on a jury once. It was a child molestation case. It was Christmastime when a mother took her two daughters, ages 3 and 5, to a man’s apartment to give him a plate of cookies as a gift. She left the girls with him while she ran back to her apartment to take another batch of cookies out of the oven. She had brought the children to the man’s apartment wearing only their panties. When the mother returned, she learned the man had given them money to buy her a present. Because they were wearing only panties, they tucked the bills into the waistbands. The girls were also making use of his bed as a trampoline when she returned. Feeling uncomfortable with the situation, she began questioning the children when she got them home. Finally, convinced that he had touched them inappropriately, she called the police.

The way the police interviewed the children was the cause of we, the jury, finding the man not guilty. They questioned the two children together with the mother present and able to give her opinions of what might have happened and influence her children’s answers. While it was possible the man had done something inappropriate, we weren’t certain “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard for a guilty verdict.

Once we delivered our verdict, the judge met with us in the jury room to thank us for our service. Perhaps he noticed our unhappiness with the verdict we had felt compelled to deliver. He revealed that this had been the second trial; the first resulted in a hung jury. It was some comfort to know that others had listened to the same evidence and come to the same conclusion we had–even when others had seen it a different way.

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