Archives for : Thursday Thirteen

Hooray for Sunflowers and Seeds of Hope

Do you have favorite flowers?


Sunflowers from my garden

Sunflowers are some of mine! I’ve grown them in my garden for many years, so a sunflower maze near Eau Claire caught my attention and when I learned it also funded cancer research, I just had to visit.


The maze and vast field of sunflowers is known as Seeds of Hope. It is a tribute to Babbette, whose valiant struggle with Multiple Myeloma ended in 2014. She dreamed of a world without cancer and after her death, her family started Seeds of Hope to help fund hospitals, research and to support those suffering from cancer.  I’d like share the link for Seeds of Hope ( and, of course, thirteen pictures that reflect my experience there.

Budding 13



















Do you have a favorite flower? Or do you know someone cancer took far too soon? Please share.



Thirteen Tulips from My Garden



Celebrate Tulips

Do you like tulips? Here are thirteen blooms from my garden.



























Thirteen Encouraging Comments from the 2016 Wisconsin Romance Writers’ FAB FIVE Contest


Writing communicates. I hope that’s what my stories do, but often, especially with an early draft, I’m not so sure the scenes or characters work. Critique partners reassure me, but sometimes it’s fun to enter a contest to discover what readers, who don’t necessarily have to be kind candidly think.

path tt

Recently, I entered the FAB FIVE and here are thirteen of the best comments my manuscript received.

  1. The story is off to a very strong start. With a bit of tweaking and editing it will be ready to submit.
  2. Dialogue: Unique concept started in these few pages. Again, would like to read more.
  3. Dialogue: Seems natural for a YA.
  4. I love these lines: She didn’t trust him. Probably wouldn’t for weeks. He and Jilly had done this dance over and over and still he was no closer to figuring it out.
  5. The author has a nice voice.
  6. The opening scene was nicely written with enough intrigue to keep the reader in. The author’s voice is different and fits the YA story that is unfolding.
  7. The author got a lot of information and emotion across in a very short time.
  8. I liked both the Hero and the Heroine, and I’m already rooting for them.
  9. Your manuscript really impressed me. There’s always polishing that can be done, but this is close to submission worthy, in my opinion. Good job!
  10. I was caught by the story right off, and continued reading, surprised when I reached the end so fast. Nicely done.
  11. Interesting opening. A fresh set-up that makes the reader want to know more.
  12. Unique concept started in these few pages. Again, would like to read more.
  13. Toby was an excellent character. Trying to conceal his peculiar power makes me want to know more.


Now, I bet you’re wondering—were all the comments good? My answer is yes, although I didn’t include the ones that had suggestions for improvement. I’m simply going to apply the ones that ring true and. God willing, I’ll have an excerpt or two to share with you in a future post.

I’d also like to share the Fab Five finalist banner.


Thanks for sharing my good news. And thank you WisRwa members, friends, and volunteers.







Bewitching Desires- Readers’ Favorite Pick


BD Halloween Treat

Do you like scary movies? Are you in the mood for a spooky romance? A bunch of my chapter sisters have joined together to pen a collection of spine-tingling stories just in time for Halloween. Here’s the blurb—
Twelve Paranormal Stories of Love, Hate, and Desire. Bewitching Desires, The Savannah Coven Anthology, is packed full of Witches, Warlocks, Werewolves, Ghosts, and even a Reaper. All based around the great holiday of Samhain – or, as mere humans call it, Halloween. The witches of the Savannah coven are all preparing themselves for their favorite holiday, but on the night when humans and spirits collide, nothing ever goes as planned.

Journey with an angel across the country, with a reaper chasing a soul hiding in someone else’s body, to a haunted hotel, with a reluctant supreme witch who’d rather give her powers to someone else, not to mention eight other wild and intriguing encounters.

Twelve interwoven tales from bestselling and up and coming authors will have you wishing Samhain came more than once a year…
A few weeks ago, I published the loglines from each story and asked readers which one they wanted to read most. They selected Love Spell by Jennifer Ray.

Love Spell
Here’s its blurb: Keira Weathersby loves to help people with the matters of the heart and the body as a witch and pharmacist. But when her childhood rival demands her help, Keira will have to use her craft on the one man she can’t get out of her mind or heart.
Wade Hadley’s girlfriend enjoys leaving hints that she wants to get engaged. The only problem is he doesn’t want to get married right now especially when he’s unsure of his feelings.
When Keira messes up a love spell and Wade professes his love for her, she must figure out how to undo her spell, even if that means Wade will run back to his dreadful girlfriend.
This story sounds like a fun read and to prove it, I’d like to thirteen-some lines from the story.

tt-143 Scared

1. Keira locked the shop behind her and met Wade at the side door. She held the book up to show him she’d gotten what she needed.
2. He grabbed the tome from her hands. “This old book holds the power to break the spell you have over me?” He gave her a dimpled grin.
3. Oh goodness, she was in trouble. His kisses alone about did her in. But if he wanted to confess his love for her, he needed to do it spell free. It had to be the real thing.
4. Unfortunately, when she reversed this spell, it was guaranteed he would run screaming back to Ginny and all of her perfectness. Someone like Wade didn’t fall for someone like her.
5. “Do you want a beer?”
6. He stopped mid-stride and gaped at her. “You have beer?”
7. “Um, yes. I drink it too.” She yanked open the fridge and grabbed two bottles of beer. She used the bottom edge of her shirt and twisted a bottle open, handed it to him, and then opened one for herself.
8. He watched her take a swig off the bottle before he lifted it to his mouth. “You know, you could just forget about reversing the spell and leave things the way they are.” He winked.
9. She snorted. “I’d rather be loved for more than my beer drinking abilities.”
10. He shrugged.
11. She led him into the small dining room next to the kitchen. He brushed past her and pulled a chair out for her. She paused and looked at the chair.
12. “Don’t tell me you’ve never had a man pull a chair out for you? There are still gentlemen around.” He gestured toward the chair.
13. Sitting, she looked up at him. “I’m sure there are still gentlemen, but I don’t seem to find any.” She opened the grimoire he laid before her. The paper marking the page peeked out the bottom, and she carefully turned to the page.
14. Wade leaned in to look at the page too. “What language is that? Latin?”
15. “Yes.” She reread the translated information. There wasn’t any mention of undoing the spell or another spell that would counteract it.
16. “Do you know what it says?”
17. “Um, no. But it wasn’t necessary. I had to do the spell in Latin anyway.” She flipped back to the beginning to find the list of spells.
18. “You chanted a spell and had no idea what it meant?” He frowned at the book.
19. “I knew what the spell was for and the gist of what was said just not the exact translation.” She went back to reading the list of spells as he chugged his beer.
20. “Thank God I didn’t sprout a second head or something.”

If you’d like to read more of this story or any of the novellas in this anthology you can find them by following these links.

iBooks Buy Link    Amazon Buy Link     Barnes & Noble Buy Link

And you know, I’m always grateful for your visit and any comments you leave me.

Ask an Editor: A Conversation with Cheryl Yeko Continued

Cheryl Author Photo w

Want to find out how a fiction editor and an award-winning writer thinks?

I know I do. Last week Cheryl Yeko, an acquiring editor at Soul Mate Publishing, was my guest at The Otherworld Diner. Her comments were so interesting I asked if we could continue our conversation on MiaCeleste(dot)com. She graciously agreed.


Header by Samulli

  1. What are some of your favorite movies?

Speed with Keanu Reeves, Dirty Dancing and Ghost with Patrick Swayze

  1. Do you have a favorite quote?

Of course…from Dirty Dancing: “I’m scared of everything. I’m scared of what I saw, I’m scared of what I did, of who I am, and most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling the rest of my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.” -Baby

  1. If a writer makes changes to their manuscript due to feedback should they resend the query or only if material was requested?

Only if I ask for a fix and resubmit.

  1. Is it important to you for a writer to be active on line? Could a twitter account or blog presence by a writer tip the scales in getting a request or offer? And do you require writers you sign to start one?

Yes, yes, and sorta… The author is our partner in this writing journey, and they need to be onboard with us in every way. That includes marketing their novels. More and more, I’m looking at an author’s web presence, and it definitely has an impact on my decision. If I’m considering a brand new author, the impact is slight, but if I’m considering an author who’s already published, the impact is great. I have rejected manuscripts because I’ve found no marketing at all by the author, which makes me doubt their longevity in the business. Soul Mate Publishing is looking for authors who are seriously interested in a writing career.

  1. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (i.e. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?

Yes. If I’ve met the person, I’m more inclined to pull it to the top of my slush pile. I think that is just human nature. But, only if the story grabs me will I offer a contract. I have many times rejected manuscripts submitted via conference meetings.

  1. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, i.e. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writer’s organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, etc.?

Cooperation is high on my list. I’m here to help make the author’s story shine, and I would never change their voice, or ask something of them that wasn’t necessary to the story. I want to work with authors who are professionals and willing to accept constructive advice.

  1. How do you balance your writing and your editing careers?

It can be a challenge, and my own writing is usually what gets pushed to the side, as I have a responsibility to the authors, which I take very seriously. But I try to at least write a little each day, and I’ll take a few days between editing deadlines to just concentrate on my writing.

  1. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

Life experiences drives my writing in many ways…and I also look at news headlines and historical events for ideas.

  1. How long does it typically take for a manuscript to go from being a submission to being accepted?

That depends on the author and the quality of their work. A normal turnaround time, once the editing process starts, is a couple months and 3 rounds of edits, if the book is in good working order. But at times a book takes much longer, and I’ve had a few take up to a year with 10 or more rounds of edits.

  1. How long does it typically take for an accepted manuscript to become a published novel?

Eight months to a year, depending…

  1. What are you working on now?
As an editor, I currently have 13 manuscripts in my pile, actively working on about half of them, and they’re close to being finished, hopefully within the next few weeks…then I‘ll start on the next batch.
As an author, I have 4 manuscripts in the works. Between Midnight and Dawn is about 75% completed and already signed with Soul Mate…I’m working on the 3rd book in my Hero series, and I’m also working on the 2nd novel in The Dustin Lovers Series, Roping Her In, which is a co-written novella series, with my BFF, and co-acquiring editor for Soul Mate Publishing, Char Chaffin.

I also have a paranormal I’ve been kicking around for a few years, and have the world outlined, and about 4 chapters written…it’s a slow go, but I’m determined to get it completed.

  1. You write romantic suspense, right?  What are your tips for doing this and writing a romantic suspense in general?

The best advice I can give for writing romantic suspense, is to keep the pace of the story flowing. Readers of romantic suspense want a fast ride, and if you use too much backstory or visual details it can slow down the pace. Give them just enough to understand and visualize the setting, but don’t bog it down with unnecessary details. For instance, if your hero rents a motel room, we don’t need to see every single detail of what that motel room looks like, unless it plays an important part in the story…

  1. Tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.

Back in 2010, my awesome husband gave me a Kindle for Christmas, and I rediscovered my love of all things romance. After a couple years of reading romance novels, I decided to try to write one. So, I checked out some books from the library, signed up for some online classes, and began my manuscript for, Protecting Rose. It took a year to write and edit, Protecting Rose. I sent my baby out to three publishers and received two offers. I signed with Soul Mate Publishing, and Protecting Rose went on to win the 2012 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. It was very exciting!

ProtectingRose w

Cheryl has won a number of awards. Just recently one of her latest releases, The Mountain Hero, became a finalist in the Carolyn Readers’ Choice Award, but I asked her if we could feature one of my favorite of her books, The Notary. Here’s what she had to say about it.

the notary

THE NOTARY. This story was fun to write and had been percolating in the back of mind since I wrote my first novel, Protecting Rose. I worked as a Mobile Notary for over ten years, conducting real estate closings for title companies in people’s homes and business, coffee shops, and other totally off the wall places. Wherever the borrower needed me.

The Notary’s premise, where the heroine is given an incorrect address for a closing appointment and shows up at the wrong home, actually happened to me. Of course, I didn’t walk into the middle of an undercover operation with a sexy cop to save me. But it could have happened! J

I’d like to share the Blurb for The Notary with you.

Adrianna Morgan’s life takes a dangerous turn when she’s given an incorrect address for a notary assignment, ending up in the wrong place, at the wrong time.

Attempting to take down a local drug ring, Lucas Hunter’s cover is blown when he goes to the aid of a beautiful woman during an undercover operation.

But the bad guys better watch out, because this sexy cop will do anything to protect the woman he loves, no matter how high the body count.

I created the book trailer for The Notary myself. I love how it turned out. It helps that I had such an awesome book cover! Book Trailer:

Amazon Link:

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Cheryl Yeko and her work. Please consider leaving a comment. We’d love to hear from you.

Flying Mutant Zombie Rats–A Sure-to-Be Middle Grade Classic

When my sons were in elementary school, they thrived on HARRY POTTER, WALTER THE FARTING DOG and the adventures of CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. Now I can’t help but welcome a book that adds a supernatural twist to the mischievous-guy humor my sons so enjoyed— FLYING MUTANT ZOMBIE RATS.

Flying Mutant Zombie Rats


I’m guessing your elementary or middle school sons, nephews or neighbors will get a charge out of this story, but I’ll let you decide. Here are thirteen lines.

  1. Two blocks till the viaducts—under street tunnels that channeled runoff water through the city—and then at least they’d be off the main drag.
  2. They passed two teenagers perched on their front stoop, staring at them.
  3. It probably looked like they were being chased by a mob of crows.
  4. No time to explain.
  5. When they hit the viaduct, Pea and Paco hugged the berm hard, practically riding sideways.
  6. The others rode dead through the three inch-deep water in the middle.
  7. The flock of mutants hissed and squealed as they tried to advance on them.
  8. They got closer, now that the boys couldn’t duck and weave as much.
  9. Pea sped up and led everyone underground.
  10. They left the light from the city behind, relying on a few cracks of light from above to show them the way.
  11. Good thing they’d all taken this path so many times before, they could stick to the dark, watery trail in the center, knowing by heart when and where to turn.
  12. “Where are you going?” Tad yelled. “They’re gaining on us.” He swung a baseball bat he must have had in his saddlebag over his head to ward off a rat flying too close.
  13. “The park!” Pea yelled over his shoulder. He risked a glance past Tad, into the tunnel behind him. Red eyes. Tons of them.

Want to know more? Here’s the back cover blurb.

Summer vacation is almost here! And Pea O’Neil is stoked to try out the new local BMX track which is finally open. He and his gang of friends can ride all summer long!

But when Pea tries a back flip, he unwittingly opens a portal to another dimension and hordes of flying mutant zombie rats are unleashed upon the city. With the help of an otherworldly talking cat sent to help prevent the demise of humankind, Pea and his friends must hunt down the hungry mutants and send them back before the portal closes.

But when the zombie rats attack a neighbor man, the boys have to enlist the help of a graveyard looney and the city’s stray cats. With time running out, Pea and his gang track the monsters to the city’s sewer system. But in the city sewer of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, it’s eat…or get eaten.

conference Kat and SL

Author Kat de Falla and her sons wrote this book. She was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she learned to roller skate, ride a banana seat bike, and love Shakespeare thanks to her high school English teacher. Four years at the UW-Madison wasn’t enough, so she returned to her beloved college town for her Doctor of Pharmacy degree and is happily employed as a retail pharmacist where she fills prescriptions and chats with her patients. She is married to her soul mate, composer Lee de Falla and raising four kids together ala the Brady Bunch.  

You can contact her at the following links:






If you’d like check out or buy the book for under a dollar or be a lucky winner follow this link.a Rafflecopter giveaway

And of course, I’d love it if you left a comment.  Thanks.


Is it Middle Grade or Young Adult? Thirteen Considerations to Clue a Reader In

Even though I’m a voracious reader and like to read everything from adult mysteries to picture book fantasies, I’m still learning the categories and genre classifications of fiction. Perhaps, like me, you’re a talented but struggling padawan in sorting your literature. I can help. Let’s start by looking at the differences between middle grade (MD) and young adult (YA) stories.



  1. Typically, MG readers are between eight and twelve years old while YA readers are between thirteen and eighteen.
  2. MG books are between 30,000 and 50, 000 words although some might be as short as 20,000 words. YA novels can be between 50,000 and 75,000 or even 80,000 words; however, fantasy might be longer in either age group because of the world-building required.
  3. Generally MG tales don’t have profanity whereas YA novels might.
  4. The protagonist in a MG story is usually between ten and thirteen. YA tales can feature a hero who is fourteen to eighteen.
  5. Commonly MG adventures are written in third person. YA stories are often told from the first person perspective.
  6. MG novels often end on a hopeful happily-ever-after note, which is not necessarily so in a YA book.
  7. MG heroes focus on the external—what is happening to them, which often means more action and adventure while YA protagonists are more internal, more introspective and in their own heads.
  8. Sexual Attraction is sweet, a first kiss or a crush in MG tales, but it might be more involved and developed. A dating relationship can be explored in a YA story.
  9. MG protagonists think about their friends and family, their own personal bubble while the main characters in YA stories are trying to figure out how they fit in the world outside their family and friends.
  10. MG protagonists often focus on their personal struggles and all the story events are seen in light of how they affect the protagonist whereas YA heroes frequently focus on the struggles of others whether or not those struggles affect them.
  11. Although not always true, a general rule of thumb is a MG novel won’t have graphic violence. A YA novel might.
  12. Often MG readers have to go through a gatekeeper, a librarian, teacher or parent to obtain a story selection. Typically YA readers have more freedom and possibly a driver’s license. This means MG writers might want to consider how an adult guardian might view the MG novel.
  13. It wouldn’t be fair to say that there are no similarities between YA and MG books. Here’s one thing they have in common. The “read-up” phenomenon. Both YA and MG readers want characters that are older than they are. They are eager for glimpses of what life could be a year or a few years from their present.

As I said before I’m still learning to sort my fiction into YA and MG categories. Can you think of any other distinctions that should be mentioned? Please leave a comment.


Works Cited

Backes, Laura. “The Difference Between Middle grade & Young Adult.” WriteForKids Writing Childrens Books. 12 Jan. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.

Lamba, Marie. “The Key Differences Between Middle Grade vs Young Adult.”WritersDigestcom. Writers Digest, 7 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.

Lo, Malinda. “An Introduction to Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction, Part 1: Definitions – SFWA.” SFWA. 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.

Rosen, Judith. “Middle Grade and YA: Where to Draw the Line?” 18 July 2014. Web. 27 Jan. 2015. <>.

In Celebration of School

School’s in full swing and I’m still trying to catch my breath and get used to the wonderful but busy routine. I love academic life—books, pencils, computers, assignments, dry-erase markers and white boards—pretty much everything including quizzes, so in celebration I’ve found thirteen quotes about education.


  1. You can get all A’s and still flunk life. ~Walker Percy
  2. They spent the first three years of school getting you to pretend stuff and then the rest of it marking you down if you did the same thing. ~Margaret Atwood
  3. He, who opens a school door, closes a prison. ~Victor Hugo
  4. The human heart is my school. ~ Anee Rice
  5. It’s a mistake to think that once you’re done with school you need never learn anything new.~Sophia Loren
  6. As we approached each other, the noise and the students around us melted away and we were utterly alone, passing, smiling, holding each other’s eyes, floors and walls gone, two people in a universe of space and stars. ~ Jerry Spinelli
  7. A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad. ~Theodore Roosevelt
  8. CONJUGATE THIS: I cut class, you cut class, he, she, it cuts class. We cut class, they cut class. We all cut class. I cannot say this in Spanish because I did not go to Spanish today. Gracias a dios. Hasta luego.  ~Laurie Halse Anderson
  9. The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.~ Tom Bodett
  10. Instruction does much, but encouragement everything. (Letter to A.F. Oeser, Nov. 9, 1768) ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  11. In school we learn that mistakes are bad, and we are punished for making them. Yet, if you look at the way humans are designed to learn, we learn by making mistakes. We learn to walk by falling down. If we never fell down, we would never walk. ~Robert T. Kiyosaki
  12. I think the key indicator for wealth is not good grades, work ethic, or IQ. I believe it’s relationships. Ask yourself two questions: How many people do I know, and how much ransom money could I get for each one? ~Jarod Kintz
  13. You learn something every day if you pay attention. ~Ray LeBlond


How do you feel about school? Was it something you loved or dreaded? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear.




Up North in Wisconsin

Did you know Wisconsin has over 15,074 lakes? Like many kids who grew up in Wisconsin I dreamed of owning a cabin on a lake and spent lots of vacations going to a lake “up north.”

I’m lucky enough to have a relative with a house on a lake. He invited my family to visit. It’s one of our favorite places to go, so we did. Here are thirteen pictures from our recent vacation.


Budding 13


1. Many lake associations have boat decorating contests and parades. This one, a Duck Dynasty motif, was one of my favorites.



3. This fire truck won first place.




4. This boat Thrift Sale Pickers also placed.



5. Hiking is one of the things my friend and I do up north.



6. As you’ve probably guessed, I also like taking pictures.











10. Big Falls, Wisconsin











Where do you like to vacation? What do you like to do? Please share.




Lakefly Literary Conference

Wanna Recharge Your Writing? Consider attending a conference.

lakefly lit


Last weekend my critique partners and I went to the Lakefly Literary Conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Here are thirteen of my favorite conference memories.

Hallie Ephron

Hallie Ephron

1. The  keynote speaker for Saturday, Hallie Ephron encouraged us to press on in her talk The Writing Life: Are We Having Fun Yet?(I’m going to share thirteen of her inspiring comments next week in another blog at


2.  After Hallie’s talk, we had a blast learning about the Wonderbra approach—how to put our best stuff up front, a class about story beginnings, Patricia Kilday lead an interactive activity where we as the audience got to vote on successful story starts. Then she gave us a chance to write our own and present it.  I think she writes The Escape Diaries as Juliet Rosetti.


3. In the next session, we picked up tips in How to Read So People Will Listen. Barry Wightman, who is a voice actor as well as a writer, read the opening of Moby Dick as the dark literary tale it’s meant to be. Then he read it in the tones of a romantic comedy and as an over-the-top sales pitch. Each was it’s own you-had-to-be-there moment.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 006

4. And then it was time for lunch. The salad was really good.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 013 - Copy

5. My critique partner, Linda took Third Place with the beginning of her second novel, Everything Essential.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 014 - Copy

6. Here she is actually holding her award.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 018 - Copy

7. Linda’s a very talented writer and she proudly took her place beside the other award winning writers.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 004

8. These cupcakes were the dessert. I selected a chocolate mint one and discovered it had luscious cream inside.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 020 - Copy9. There were lots of great presenters. I wished I had time to attend more sessions, but here they are in a group photo.

10. After lunch, Dixie Jarchow, author of The Love Thief, discussed different approaches to plot our novels. The Snowflake Method, Mind Mapping and 250 Questions were just a few of the methods she presented.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 027 - Copy

11. Did I mention there were books to buy? And door prizes?

12. Then we went to Ruthie Knox’s session on Editing and Revision. I took a ton of notes because I’m always looking for tips on improving my manuscripts.

Lake Fly Writer's Conference 028 - Copy13. We concluded our day with hugs and promises that we’d attend Lakefly Literary Conference together next year.  Inspired, I raced home to write.