Inspired by the 2014 Great Expectations Contest

Do you enter writing contests? There are a lot of them out there. Some give wonderful advice. Others not so much.

One of my favorite contests is the Great Expectations Contest. The North Texas Romance Writers run it and I know from taking part in their judges’ training and from receiving great feedback, they encourage judges to make constructive and positive comments.

A few months ago I entered my latest manuscript, SUCKER PUNCHING MAGIC in the 2014 Great Expectations Contest and I received the news that my entry had made it to the finals.  That in itself was exciting.

Then recently, I received the final results. My manuscript didn’t wow the final judges–maybe because it’s more of an Urban Fantasy and less of a cookie cutter romance. Both leading character are misfits. The hero is a shy teenage troll, who finds the courage to be himself while the heroine is a screw up, who is a little ditsy, but, by the end of the story, she manages to do a number of things right.

I didn’t win a huge prize or get a request. That’s okay. I felt affirmed by the judges’ comments. Both final judges agreed that my piece was well written and unique. I consider that a victory.


And the feedback from the first round was the kind that inspires me to wake up each morning and churn out chapters.  I’d like to share thirteen of my favorites.


Thursday Thirteen Polyhedron courtesy of M.C.

Thursday Thirteen Polyhedron courtesy of M.C.

Thirteen Compliments

  2. I think the author has done a good job of creating two interesting characters.
  3. Great Job. Thanks for the read. I wanted more.
  4.  I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the story. I also really enjoyed the way you introduce the fantasy.   
  5. I ABSOLUTELY think the pacing is amazing and that this story has such a fun voice. I applaud you also, for keeping the voice going even though the character perspective changes a bit.
  6. You as the writer have a vivid imagination and the story certainly has a unique twist.
  7. You have a very original story here. I liked the twist on things.
  8. The writing is excellent. The voice is fresh and unique. Characters are very relatable and inviting.
  9. Most everything was done right.
  10. The concept was unique and unusual – you kept the reader reading. The writing was tight and inviting, again, keeping the reader reading.
  11. I really like Jude’s point of view voice.
  12. Right into the story and that this isn’t our normal world. Smiling.
  13. The flow is very well handled. I got right into the story and understood what had happened and why the world was how it is without any info-dumps. Also, the characters are all very unique, their own persons, within a short amount of pages. Nicely done.

Have you ever entered a contest? What happened? What was your experience? Please share.





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An Author I’d Love You to Read

Do you want to hear from a talented author who is close to seeing her first novel, Wonderfully Wicked, in print?

WW Cover

Come to

I’m interviewing my critique partner.  C.J. Burright

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Cold Weather and Warm Knits–They Go Together!


Winter is definitely here with all of her bluster. Just last week, I motored through a snow storm that apparently hit not only my state but over 30 others. A chilly situation made worse by the groundhog’s prediction of another six weeks of cold and my friends say another freeze is on the way.

Brrr. I want to bundle up. Put on my warmest woolly sweaters, mittens, hats and scarves and curl up with a good book.  In case you’re feeling the same way, here are thirteen of my warmest picks.

  1. This hand knitted wool scarf, can be used as capelet as well. It’s stylish and cozy and I bet it would go with almost any coat.

2. I like this shawl wrap. knitted-wrap-shawl-wool-blend-yarn

3. A hand knitted wool capelet in burgundy wool. Notice the original lace and cable pattern?

4. Isn’t this cowl something?

5. Look at this cute hat! It’s purple with orange and pink stripes. I like the pompom and the fun bobbles.

6. Grin. This would be fun to wear–a stylish black infinity scarf.

7. Another awesome infinity scarf.

8. Need a warm hat? Here’s one.

snow dog tt

9. Wow! Isn’t this red cowl gorgeous?

Do you like the earrings in the picture above? Here they are–close up.

11. This unique scarf has a garter stitch with lacy elements in the pattern. Wow, it looks warm and elegant.

12. Look at this one of a kind handmade shawl.

13. I love this funky slouchy hat. I think the flower is my favorite part.

As you might have guessed, the creator of these beautiful scarves, hats and shawls is a friend of mine. I’ve watched her create some of these very items and I want to support her artistic endeavors just as she encourages me to string my words together.

I hope the weather’s warm where you are, but I’m guessing it’s not. So, I’ll wish you lots of warm clothing and many wonderful stories. Thanks for stopping by.






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Dear Readers: An Apology

It’s been months since I posted and I’m sorry. A bunch of circumstances came together to curtail my blogging. First cyber attacks shut down the free site where my blog used to be.  Then my aunt died.

Long story-short, family wagons circled and responsibilities claimed my attention.  Along the way, I learned a lot about estate sales. Thanksgiving and Christmas came and I started a new job.


picture from:

When I returned to my site, I discovered that my former free host had deleted my stuff–your comments, my replies and the posts themselves

Luckily my husband had backed up a few dates and I love starting new projects so… I invite you to come with me into something new.

Thanks for reading.

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Inspired by Kindness: A Shout Out to the Judges and Coordinators of the 2013 Great Expectations Contest as well as the Members of the North Texas Romance Writers


Like a lot of romance writers, I’ve entered a contest or two. Sometimes, my writing finals and gets awarded a first, second, third or fourth place. Often, I receive good feedback, but, for me, it’s the little kindnesses that make the difference—the gentle words and the small gestures of good intentions. I opened an envelope last week to find a whole page signed by well-wishers. It brought a huge grin to my face.

This post is my way of saying, “Thanks, I appreciate you, too.”

Kindness is an awesome quality. I know I’m not alone in delighting in it. Here are what 13 great thinkers have to say on the subject of kindness.

Thursday Thirteen Polyhedron courtesy of M.C.

  1. Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind. ~Henry James
  2. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. ~Plato
  3. There is nothing so rewarding as to make people realize that they are worthwhile in this world. ~Bob Anderson
  4. If you can’t be kind, at least be vague. ~ Judith Martin
  5. No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop
  6. All I’m saying is, kindness don’t have no boundaries. ~Kathryn Stockett, The Help 
  7. Moments of kindness and reconciliation are worth having, even if the parting has to come sooner or later. ~Alice Munro
  8. Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary. ~J.M. Barrie
  9. But remember, boy, that a kind act can sometimes be as powerful as a sword. ~ Rick Riordan, The Battle of the Labyrinth 
  10. Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. ~ Mark Twain
  11. Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ~ Mother Teresa
  12. The simplest acts of kindness are by far more powerful then a thousand heads bowing in prayer. ~ Mahatma Gandhi
  13. The shortest distance between two people is a smile. ~ Victor Borge


It’s fun to brag about kindness. Do you an experience you’d like to share? Or a quote that exemplifies charity or compassion? I’m all ears. And, as always, thanks for stopping by.

A weekly blog hop where writers share their inspirations. Please join us!


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Inspiration: Coloring Easter Eggs with Friends


Tired of the same old, same old…Easter Eggs? My friend Kathy showed a new and easy technique to enliven the traditional boiled-and-dyed egg color.


  1. Gather supplies. You’ll need: eggs, scissors, rubber bands (lots of rubber bands), vinegar, a big pot with a lid, a seam ripper, if you have one, and old silk ties. My friend bought hers from rummage sales. I picked up a few at Goodwill.
  2. Take the ties apart. If you don’t have a seam ripper, you can use your scissors to remove the threads. Take the batting, the inner part of the tie out, and set it aside, so you’ll have a pile of brightly printed silk and a pile of white heavier fabric. To start pick a piece of silk.
  3. Put a raw egg on the pretty or showy side of the silk and estimate how much of the fabric you’ll need to cover the egg.
  4. Cut that much from the tie.
  5. Wrap the fabric around the egg. Again, make sure the pretty side of the silk is facing the egg. Use lots of rubber bands to secure the silk to the egg. I believe more rubber bands equal more color and design on the egg. (On some of the eggs, where the silk seemed particularly slippery, we also banded the tie’s inner batting around silk as a second layer.)
  6. Put the egg-tie bundles in a large pot of cold water.
  7. Add vinegar. I think Kathy poured about a cup into water.
  8. Heat the eggs and water until the water boils. Then turn the heat to simmer and cover the pot. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Take the pot from the stove. Run cold water into the pot to cool the egg bundles to the point where you can touch them.
  10. Unwrap the eggs.
  11. Admire your handiwork. Don’t they look different? I’m sure these eggs will spark conversation.
  12. You can call your eggs done or if you’re feeling artistic, you can mix a cup of hot water, with a few tablespoons of vinegar and food coloring and, following the traditional method—dunk or dip your egg in the cup with a spoon. Or you can use a paint brush to add a splash of additional color to your creation.
  13. If some of your eggs break, feel free to peel and sample as we did.


Well, I hope you enjoyed learning this new method for creating Easter eggs as much as I did. I’d like to thank my friends Kathy and Zac for teaching me and I’d like to thank you for visiting.


As always, I wish you much happiness and many blessings.

And…a quick shout out to my Thursday’s Children blog buddies.



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Inspiration–A Newly Published Friend


This week for Thursdays Children, a weekly blog hop, where writers discuss their muses and motivations, I have a guest who I believe will inspire you–my new friend, Barbara or as she’s known professionally B.L. Bates.

She grew up reading speculative fiction. Then she received a BS in electrical engineering and worked for several years in the computer industry. When a head injury left her totally blind, she turned to writing speculative fiction to stay sane. With her youngest child in college, she lives with her husband in Massachusetts and plots ways to spend more time with her grandchildren.

She’s had short stories published online, and some like “GreenWorld” published in print.

I asked Barbara to share some of her hard-won knowledge along with a few writing tips. She agreed, so…without any further ado, here are Barbara’s thoughts.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Barbara and here are three pertinent facts about me. I’m a mother, step-mother, and grandmother. I have a degree in electrical engineering. And, I’m totally blind. And the most important fact (right now) is my first novel, AsterIce, has recently been published by Eternal Press. It’s available on Amazon for Kindle and in print.

Below are thirteen things I learned from writing my novel. Here’s what I learned, in no particular order.

1. You have to find the “I’m finished” point. Or else the novel will never be (finished, that is).

2. You don’t have to change every little thing that’s commented on. You should consider them all, though, and rewrite or delete those you think need to be.

3. You do have to make those changes deemed intrinsic and necessary to the publishing house.

4. Sometimes you just have to walk away and think.

5. When that dish of ice cream, that brownie, or those cookies call, you are required to eat them. Right then. Just to stay sane.

6. Your family will live if they eat pizza once a week. Takeout food works too.

7. The house will NOT fall down if the chores are neglected — for a while anyway. (This one works for me, as I can’t see the mess. What mess?)

8. Most people out there are willing to help, providing you ask nice. The converse — there are some people who need a good kick in the butt before they even notice you. It’s up to you if you want to deal with this second group. Sometimes, though, you don’t have a choice.

9. Sometimes you have to step outside your comfort zone and learn new things, including new software programs. It only hurts for a while.

10. Always have some way of taking notes with you. Odds are, that “ah-hah” moment will occur when you’re standing in line at the register counting out change. Or just after you lather up your hair in the shower.

11. You should never sit there without typing something. Consider reading, exercising, or cooking, to get inspiration. When inspiration does hit, have the computer warmed up and waiting.

12. Save those large sections that don’t make it through the first (or second) draft. Maybe they can be used later in a different form, in a different story, or for inspiration for something else.

13. Enjoy writing, or just don’t write!

Yes! Isn’t that inspiring? Please check out Barbara’s book, AsterIce.

Here’s an excerpt:

“It’s worse than that.” Tanya rubbed her temples. The mother of all headaches waited in the wings, ready to pounce.

“How so?” Colonel Frade said.

“A computer simulation indicates AsterIce has spread to every known water source on the planet through drainage, evaporation and condensation. Using some process we don’t yet understand, the additions to AsterIce multiply when added to normal water, even sea water.”

“All of Earth’s waters are now…polluted by the virus?” Richard stared at Tanya.

She met his eyes, closed hers, and nodded.

“What percentage of the population will be affected by it?”Virginiaasked.

Tina, seeing her mother’s agitation, brought her a glass of water.

“One hundred percent.” Tanya gulped the water Tina handed her.

“All this scientific jargon has me muddled. In English, please. What does this all mean?” Colonel Frade asked.

“In addition to the vitamins and minerals in AsterIce, there is what we originally thought to be inert organic matter. It turns out we were wrong.”

“How so?”Wattsasked.

“The inert matter is actually a shell containing an alien virus.

“Tests show the AsterIce virus is originally passed to its subjects through the digestive system. The virus is then released in the stomach, where the outer shell is removed by our digestive acids. The virus spreads into every cell in the human body. This leads to a build-up in the lungs.”

“So, now the virus can become airborne.” Richard’s visage looked grim.

“Not quite. By the time symptoms begin to occur, the lungs are filled to capacity with the virus. The question is not when will it begin, but how long has it been going on? Also, how many of us are infected?”

AsterIce is available at:
EBook ISBN: 9781615728503
Print ISBN: 9781615728510

Eternal Press:


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Snow On the Mind

A wet, heavy snowfall has me shoving. Once, twice, three times today alone, I’ve helped dig out my driveway. My muscles groan and I briefly consider making a few snow angels on the remaining area needing to be cleared and calling the job finished.

Don’t get me wrong I love snow, but I like it best when the white stuff falls gently like the glitter dust in a snow globe. I like to catch individual crystals on my glove and study the tiny artwork. When I gaze the little, intricate wonders, I’m inspired to learn more and to share what I’ve discovered.

  1. Every winter, one septillion or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 snow crystals fall.
  2. Why so many? Probably because it takes almost a million crystals to make a snowflake.
  3. Not only that, there are about 180 billion molecules of water in an average snowflake.
  4. Snow, like water, actually is clear and colorless, even though it looks white.
  5. Snowflakes always have six sides.
  6. People believe each snowflake is unique. I can’t dispute it.
    Yet there are some general rules to their creation. No. 1: When the temperature is close to freezing, snowflakes are larger and more complex.
  7. No. 2: When the temperature is very cold, well below freezing, flakes are needle- or rod-shaped and simpler in design.
  8. In 1951 the International Commission on Snow and Ice produced a fairly simple and widely used classification system for solid precipitation. This system defines the seven principal snow crystal types as plates, stellar crystals, columns, needles, spatial dendrites, capped columns, and irregular forms.
  9. Of course, snowflakes never fall singularly. Often they came in storms. The United States experiences an average of 105 snowstorms a year.
  10. The intensity of the storm determines its name. A snowstorm is a heavy snowfall.
  11.  A blizzard has wind and snow and obscures visibility. A snow shower, on the other hand, has intermittent precipitation. And, of course, flurries are the lightest and briefest snowfall.
  12.  When it snows, the reported average amount of snowfall per day is about two inches.
  13. And what about mountain snow? Well, in the western United States, it provides 75 percent of the water supplies there.

Do you like snow? Has it snowed yet in your hometown? Please let me know. Thanks.


The snow pictures came from: If you’re a fan of snow, you should consider checking out this site.

And if you’re a fan of inspiration and writing that follows your heart, check out the Thursday’s Children posts.

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Roses, the Color of Love or Something Else…what does my bouquet mean?


Huzzah. I got roses this Valentine’s Day.


Happy Valentine’s Day! Roses are some of the most popular tokens of affection exchanged on this day, but did you ever wonder if there was a hidden message in the bouquet? In Victorian times the color of the roses had significance and some say roses tell secrets today. Want to know what the hue of your roses means? Here’s what I’ve discovered.

  1. Red. These ruby beauties talk of true love and passion, but they can also say, “Congratulations!”
  2. Deep Red or Burgundy-say, “You’re beautiful.”
  3. White shouts purity and innocence, yet sometimes they whisper, “keep quiet, keep the secret”.
  4. Pink says, “Thank you,” and signifies appreciation.
  5. Peach smiles and gives you the nudge and the wink. “Let’s get together.” Then again, sometimes it speaks of sincerity and gratitude.
  6. Coral whistles desire.
  7. Black, that deep, purple blue, can be used for death or farewell.
  8. Blue announces the unattainable, the impossible.
  9. Thorn-less roses or lavender roses are for, “Love at first sight.”
  10. Orangeis for enthusiastic desire.
  11. Red and white together speak of unity. They say, “I’m with you.”
  12. Yellow with red tips might mean just friends or they might hint at falling in love.
  13. Yellow has various meaning. Sometimes they’re used for joy, gladness or friendship, but other times they mutter about jealousy or trumpet about new beginnings.


Did you get or give roses this Valentine’s? Care to share. What color were they? What did you want them to say?





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A Bucket List Win

When I first joined the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Special Interest Chapter of RWA, I dreamed about writing something that might place in the Chapter’s On the Far Side Contest. For several years, I entered and my manuscript failed to place.

So I reviewed the comments of the judges, read some of the works that won and kept trying. Over the years, I realized this win was a bucket list thing for me, a quest I won’t easily give up on. I thought if my piece actually made it to the finals, and even better if it took a first place, I’d have made it as a writer.

Well, this January, the results of The 2013 On the Far Side Contest were published in the Romance Writer Reader and…drum roll, please…my manuscript, Dark Bringer, took a first.

I don’t know if I’ve made it as a writer, but I will be crossing off a goal on my bucket list. I appreciate all the judges, friends, family members, critique partners and chapter mates who helped me. Thanks.

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