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Glad you stopped by. I hope you'll stop by again for Monday Morning Musings, Meet the Author Thursday, Who's For Dinner Fridays, and Saturday Sampler.

Monday, March 20, 2017

What Do Teens and the Elderly Have in Common?

While writing The Case of the Meddling Mama (which is with my editor, btw), I touched on the topic of teens and drugs. A recent public service announcement on TV hit me harder than "This is your brain on drugs" with the fried egg from the 1980s.


Credit: The Partnership at Drugfree.org

I used the information in this video for a teacher in my story to explain to Alex one of the ways teens get hooked on drugs. Todd, a teen who trusts her, is worried that his buddy might be taking drugs. Here's the excerpt:

“I have a question, Steve. It’s about drugs at the high school.”
For a moment, he looked startled, then his countenance turned dark. “You’d think in a small town like this we could keep out drugs and the dealers.” He cocked his head. “Have you heard something?”
Not wanting to betray Todd’s confidence, I hedged. “Just what was in the paper about the girl dying of an overdose.”
“Yeah, that was bad. The parents are in denial, of course. Considering what I know of Julie, I think it was accidental. She might have flirted with the drug then discovered the hard way she couldn’t tolerate it.” He shrugged. “When will kids realize they aren’t danger-proof?”
Laraine leaned over and patted his arm. “Weren’t we like that back then? Nothing could hurt us. We were invincible.”
“Is this some new kind of drug?” I asked. “Or is it same-old, same-old? Like marijuana.”

“We’re seeing an increase in opioid addiction,” Steve said. “A parent, or grandparent, is prescribed an opioid for pain, and the kid sneaks a couple just to try it out. Likes the feeling and wants more. So they seek out other kids whose parents still have the meds, but aren’t taking them anymore. When that's not enough, they find a dealer.”

 The reason the video hit me hard is that I take prescription drugs for chronic back pain, and I have grandchildren who visit often. Granted they're still young, but it's a warning to me and anyone who has prescription pain killers to be careful.

My physical therapist gave me more disturbing news. The age group with the largest growing number of heroin addicts are the elderly. Doctors prescribe opioids for chronic pain. They also restrict the number of pills prescribed. The body becomes used to the amount of opioids and needs more to ease the pain. When the doctor won’t prescribe more, they turn to street drugs, and heroin is cheaper than oxycontin or morphine sulfate.

So, it isn't just teens who get hooked on drugs. But one thing we can all do is be careful where we keep our medicines.




Saturday, March 18, 2017

#WeWriWa #8Sunday: Secret Marriage? The Case of the Meddling Mama


Welcome to Weekend Writing Warrior and 8 Sentence Sunday, the weekly hops for everyone who loves to read and write! Writers share an 8 to10 sentence snippet. Be sure to visit the other writers. You can find them here.

My snippet is from my upcoming release, THE CASE OF THE MEDDLING MAMA, an Alex O'Hara Novel, third in my PI mystery series. Along with some creative punctuation, it hasn't been edited yet, so suggestions are welcome.

This snippet comes immediately after last week's. The ending of which said Maria Palzetti didn't know she was Alex's mother-in-law. Here's the explanation.

It’s like this—last fall, her son Nick returned to Far Haven. Dumb me, I thought he came to either A) take my business away from me, or B) see me. Wrong on both fronts. Seems he wasn’t a pencil pusher for the State Department, like I’d always thought. Nope, he was a spy for some agency that didn’t exist—well, it did, but you know what I mean. And he’d come home on a mission, which of course he hadn’t shared with me.
Once it was over, he declared he loved me. Me, the girl he’d grown up with, who’d had the biggest teenage crush on him, who’d given up on him ever seeing her as a woman, not like a kid sister. Not only that, we were so crazy in love—or was it lust?—that we “got married in a fever” as the song goes.
My dad and Nick’s folks had been on an Australian cruise of a lifetime, so they still didn’t know about the wedding. See, Nick disappeared on our wedding night.



Once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.





Thursday, March 16, 2017

Alexandra Christle Blog Tour



At a party one night, I overheard a friend use the term “between nowhere and lost,” and with a writer’s brain, thought, Wow. What a cool title for a book. Of course, a title is a long way from a story, but every author will tell you each story we write sprouts from a different seed.

The seed planted, I needed a little fertilizer, so I started researching careers for my hero. Whether just dumb luck or some twist of fate, I stumbled across a Supreme Court brief on Darlington Manufacturing Company in South Carolina. In 1956, by a very slim margin, the plant employees voted to bring in the TWUA (Textile Workers Union of America). In retaliation, the mill’s owner shut down the plant.

At least three leaves sprang from the seed that day, and I was on my way. I usually write without an outline, and frequently without a plot, but as I became immersed in my tale, I realized I wanted some historical accuracy to give the book some grit. So I hopped in my car and drove to South Carolina. At the Darlington County Historical Commission, I hit paydirt. With a banker’s box full of newspaper articles dating back to the 1890s, I found more information about the case than I ever dreamed possible.  The legal battle between the Union and Deering-Milliken (owner of the plant) spanned 24 years—the longest running labor case in history. I have since returned to Darlington at least five times, and while Between Nowhere and Lost is fiction, I pulled many of the facts from the case to give the story some authenticity. The true story of Darlington broke my heart, and I have tried to bring some of that feeling to my story:


1960s housewife Helen Hodges has reconciled herself to a quiet, childless life in a small South Carolina mill town, but when she has a happenstance encounter with David Drummond, the mill owner’s son, her repressed longings for a child are reawakened and discontent floods over her. David is immediately taken with Helen, but tries, without success, to focus on his problems at the mill and the union takeover looming over his plant.

As the union fight becomes heated, racial tensions emerge and the town is polarized; violence breaks out and the situation intensifies, putting David in danger. Helen’s husband, the union representative, becomes David’s unlikely guardian, and although on opposite sides of the issue, the two men become friends. And as Helen is torn between her duty to her husband and her desire to be with David, as well as reconciling herself with her Catholic faith, events escalate until she learns some life-changing news and rushes to tell David before he leaves town, and her life…forever.

The Historical Commission will be erecting a historical marker for the mill (which has since been demolished) sometime this fall. The director has kindly invited me to that event, and I’m excited to attend. This town and its story has become a part of me.
More information about Darlington is on my website: alexandrachristle.com

Between Nowhere & Lost
By Alexandra Christle
Genre: Romantic Drama
Release Date: January 5, 2017
Length: 283 Pages

EXCERPT



ABOUT ALEXANDRA CHRISTLE



Born in New York City, Alexandra was transplanted to a small town in South Carolina at the age of 11, after the death of her father. Embracing the south took some adjustments for a Yankee child, but now a resident of Norfolk, Virginia, she loves and claims the south as her home.

With a degree from the University of Missouri Journalism School, her career has spanned newspaper advertising, teaching high school English, and working as a graphic designer for a commercial print shop. But writing fiction is her passion -- she started her first "novel" at age 7 and made it through two chapters before abandoning it for Barbie and Ken. And when most young girls dreamed of being Miss America, Alexandra's dream was to appear on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, talking about her latest novel.

THE GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Novel Book Tours

Monday, March 13, 2017

Going to the Moon Again

Today is my turn at Paranormal Romantics blog. I write about SpaceX's proposed flight to the moon in 2018. Exciting, especially for me as a science fiction writer. Come on over and see.

Fly Me To The Moon on Paranormal Romantics.

And return next weekend for another snippet from The Case of the Meddling Mama.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

#WeWriWa #8Sunday - Meddling Mama: Meet Maria


Welcome to Weekend Writing Warrior and 8 Sentence Sunday, the weekly hops for everyone who loves to read and write! Writers share an 8 to10 sentence snippet. Be sure to visit the other writers. You can find them here.

My snippet is from my upcoming release, THE CASE OF THE MEDDLING MAMA, an Alex O'Hara Novel, third in my PI mystery series. Along with some creative punctuation, it hasn't been edited yet, so suggestions are welcome.

This snippet is from the first chapter and continues after Alex returns from the dress shop.

“Alexandra, is that you?” Maria Palzetti, Nick’s mom and self-appointed office manager, called out as I came in through the back door of the agency.
“Yes, it’s me.”
“It is I,” Maria corrected as she bustled down the hall. Short and a little on the plump side, she always looked stylish. Today, she wore a floral infinity scarf over a soft lavender short-sleeve sweater and a gray skirt. Her salt-and-pepper hair framed her face on which she wore light make-up. “Always remember to use proper English.”
“Yes, Mother,” I said, hoping my grin would take the sting out of my smart-aleck response. After Mom died, Maria had become the closest thing to a mother, even though she never tried to take Mom’s place. Actually, she was my mother-in-law—she just didn’t know it.
And I wasn’t saying.


Last week, I played with the blurb. Not exactly what I want but better than before.

Once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.






Thursday, March 9, 2017

Meet Author Victoria Craven

I am so excited to present to you my friend and (almost) next door neighbor, Victoria Craven. For many years, she was a member of my RWA chapter (Mid-Michigan RWA). She has a new release that she'll tell us about, to.


Welcome, Vicki. I'm so glad you're here. Please tell us about yourself.

I live in Wyoming, MI with my husband. We have three children and six grandchildren. I worked in the Chicago area for a book distribution company and when the company was bought I was part of the downsizing. There was nothing keeping us down there so my husband and I decided to move to the Grand Rapids area to be closer to our daughters and grandchildren. Since my layoff I have changed my career to full-time writing which is my first love.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I always had a wild imagination, but it wasn’t until I got a new computer I started putting those ideas down on the blank screen. Once I started I couldn’t stop and have been writing ever since.

What does your family think of your writing?

They were surprised when my first book came out. They thought it was just a hobby. Now they are very supportive and encourage me to keep on writing.

What is the best part of writing for you?

I love character development. Creating strong characters is the challenge I love the most.

Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?

It depends on what is talking to me first. Sometimes it’s the plot, sometimes the characters. Then I start my research and drawing up an outline.

If I was a first time reader of your books, which one would you recommend I start with and why?

I would have you start with Immortal Love, the first book in my series. It’s an introduction to a family of three siblings, each possessing their own unique powers.

Tell us about your latest release.

My latest release, Destiny’s Promise, came out March 7th is a paranormal historical romance. It is a book about the last sibling in the Wolfingham family, Randolf. He is the most powerful of the siblings. His power protects the woman he loves from an evil sorceress bent on their destruction.



Last question, Vicki. Where can readers find you?

Readers can find my Love Conquers All series on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Tell-Tale Publishing

You can also connect with me on facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/victoria.craven.3
My website, Victoria Craven, http://www.victoriacraven.com/,  

I also write a monthly blog on the Paranormal Romantics  website,  http://paranormalromantics.blogspot.com/2016/09/my-own-personal-ghost.html

Vicki, it's been a pleasure learning more about you. Come back again.

Here's a little more about Vicki. Her professional bio:

Victoria Craven was born to tell stories. Throughout her childhood she was a daydreamer. Growing up she told the most outrageous tales to her friends that got her in trouble now and then. She escaped the mundane to live in her fantasies: She was a mermaid, a princess, a spy, and an explorer trekking across the tundra in Antarctica. Even as an adult she saved just a little part of herself to drift into her dream world.

Then one day she said to herself “I’m going to write a book,” and that’s what she did. She had no idea what it took to be a writer, thinking all you had to do was add some words and ideas to a page and ‘poof,’ a book, and every word was golden. What a rude awakening when her writer friends took her into the light and showed her just how much she had to learn. That process is still going on today!
Victoria has published the first two books in a historical paranormal series with the third one coming out in 2017.  

Currently, she resides in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area with her wonderful husband who spoils her rotten. And from time to time is her critique buddy.  She is the mother of three beautiful daughters, and grandmother to four wonderful grandchildren.

When she isn’t writing, she doting on her grandchildren, or curled up on the couch with her husband, or having a sleepover with her best friends. And she still saves just a little bit of her life for those daydreams. 


Monday, March 6, 2017

Home Again

Have you ever come home from vacation and felt like you couldn't get back into your old routine? That's how I've felt since returning home after five weeks with my Arizona family. First, spending all day traveling--spending most of it waiting in airports for flights--was so tiring. Getting home after 11 pm (local time, but only 9 on AZ time) meant we should go to bed but stayed up to watch a couple of episodes of Murdoch Mysteries (aka The Artful Detective). Getting this old body used to local time isn't as easy as it used to be. Even though I tried to keep up with blogs, etc. while away from home, it seemed extra hard to get back into routine.

That being said . . . If you're a member of my Facebook Readers Group, then you know I finished the rough draft of THE CASE OF THE MEDDLING MAMA (aka the story that took way too long to complete). If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you know I'm a combo pantser and plotter, heavy on the pantser part. Usually. With this book, I knew the beginning, the dark moment, and the end. I'd even worked out many of the scenes in my mind. So why did it take so long to write? I felt like I knew the whole story. Most readers would say, "Duh. You're the writer. Of course, you know the story."

Not usually.

As a pantser (one who writes by the seat of her/his pants), I don't know the story. I let it unfold as I write. A plotter, on the other hand, knows exactly what's going to happen and when. That takes the fun out of writing, for me. I'll have a vague idea for the story. As I write, I let my characters take the lead. Inspiration takes over. Not so with Meddling Mama. But now it's done and on to revising, editing, and proofing before it goes off  to my fabulous editor.

Also, if you're a member of my Readers Group or read yesterday's Weekend Writing Warrior post, you've seen the cover, If not, here it is.



When my amazing cover artist, Florence Price, and I talked about the cover for the first Alex O'Hara book, we decided to have the covers follow the seasons (since the stories would). As you can see by the tulips in the planters in front of Alex's building and people on the beach but not in the water, it's Spring.

Now it's back-to-work time. Revising, editing, proofing. Again and again.

Have a great week.





Saturday, March 4, 2017

#WeWriWa - #8Sunday Meddling Mama: Klutzy Alex


Welcome to Weekend Writing Warrior and 8 Sentence Sunday, the weekly hops for everyone who loves to read and write! Writers share an 8 to10 sentence snippet. Be sure to visit the other writers. You can find them here.

Is it the weekend already? Hubs and I returned home from visiting our son & his family in Arizona. Michigan welcomed us with snow and bone-chilling cold.

My snippet is from my upcoming release, THE CASE OF THE MEDDLING MAMA, an Alex O'Hara Novel, third in my cozy mystery series. Along with some creative punctuation, It hasn't been edited yet, so suggestions are welcome.

This snippet is from the first chapter and continues where last week's snippet left off. While Alex tries on a bridesmaid dress for her friend's (the store owner) wedding, she's introduced to a potential client.

Poor Ginnie—a deer captured in the headlights had nothing on her—with her blond hair and fair complexion, her embarrassment was even more apparent, so I figured I’d better do something to break the awkwardness. With a smile, I leaned over, held out my hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Alex O’Hara, reluctant dress shopper.”
“Ginnie Bakker, also a reluctant shopper,” she said as she shook my hand and returned my smile. “I like your dress.”
I preened—didn’t get a chance to do that very often since elegant clothes were not my normal attire. In fact, I felt more comfortable in the jeans and T-shirt hanging on hooks in the dressing room. Give me a good pair of running shoes, and I’m happy.
“The gown is for Ellie’s wedding next month,” I said as I twirled around and nearly ended up on my face, pins scratched my ankles through my socks, and I almost wrenched my ankle—high heels and I never got along.
“Whoa, are you all right?” Ginnie said, putting out a hand to steady me.
While I laughed, Ellie rushed up to us saying, “Is Klutzy Alex at it again?”



Rough blurb:

PI Alex O'Hara, just rescued from another kidnapping attack, needs a break to enjoy Nick's attention when his mother shows up, claiming she's left his father, and is moving in with Alex. No way is she sleeping with Nick with his mother down the hall. Her new case, a background check on a potential suitor, is exactly the direction she wants to take the agency. The teen boy they rescued from an abusive stepfather is sure his buddy is doing drugs. And Nick's job takes him away. Again. At least the background check should be a piece of cake.







Wednesday, March 1, 2017

#IWSG - Rewriting An Old Manuscript


It's the 1st Wednesday. Happy  Insecure Writers Support Group Day. IWSG is the brainchild Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Thanks, Alex, for starting this group and keeping it going. And thanks to this month's awesome hosts:  Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

The question this month asks: have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it?

My first novel, Switched, a sci-fi romance, was published in 2001. As soon as it was accepted, I started on the sequel, Switched, Too. The fun part of Switched was the smart-talking heroine from Earth who was accidentally transported aboard an alien spaceship. The hero (human) from an alien planet, in contrast, was stiff, formal, composed. Think Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

In the second book, the hero (from Earth) was the smart aleck and the heroine super serious. My editor hated her. Thought she should be pushed out an airlock (into space). I rewrote that story so many times, trying to please the editor, that I rewrote the life out of it.

Skip ahead ten years. Life and family obligations brought my writing career into hiatus. When things settled down and I wanted to write again, self-publishing was heating up. Since I had the rights back to Switched, I self-published it then immediately started on the sequel. Again.

I knew there were good sections in Switched, Too. I also knew I had to rework many sections as well as work on the heroine, making her likeable. Actually, what I needed to do was find a good reason for her standoffishness and share that with the reader.

Taking a manuscript that was on at least five 3.5” floppy disks and working it into a cohesive story became a Herculean task. It had been written in the days of saving each chapter in a separate file. I’m pretty sure I wrote it in Works. Not Word, Works. I printed out each chapter, used a spreadsheet to identify each scene, its purpose, etc., then used colored markers to highlight what I wanted to keep and what to delete.

The next step involved cutting and pasting. We’ve gotten used to doing that electronically. I used scissors and Scotch tape. Now I didn’t want to retype a 100k manuscript, so I had to identify where each section came from. I also had to write transitions between scenes. Eventually, I had a rough manuscript. Revising, editing, revising more, editing again. Finally, I had the story the way I originally “saw” it. And I liked it. Off it went to a freelance editor who’d read Switched. Her suggestions made the story stronger, and at last it was ready for publication.

In the time it took to go from an old manuscript and put it into publishable form, I could have written two 100k books. When I started, I had no idea how much work it would be. Was it worth it? Yes. I’m glad I persisted. Writing the third book in the series was much easier. Would I do it again? I’m not sure. I’d really have to feel strongly about the story.

I read that Jennifer Crusie said it was easier to write a new story than to rewrite an old one. From my experience, I can say she’s right.


Be careful what you wish for...you might get it.

Down-sized astronaut candidate Scott Cherella leaps at the chance to go into space. He just has to pretend to be the captain of an Alliance of Planets starship. His lifelong dream quickly becomes a nightmare when sabotage erupts. To save the ship and crew he has to depend on an uptight, disapproving colleague.

The only time Veronese Qilana broke the rules tragedy resulted. She vowed never again. Now, to protect the real starship captain, she'll have to deceive the crew by helping the imposter. They must work together to uncover the saboteur and get the crew safely home. In doing so, they discover opposites really do attract.



Click here to find others on the Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop. Or go to IWSG on Facebook to see who’s blogging today. 

I'll be late responding and visiting because I'll be traveling this week.