I’ve gone to the same grocery store for years now. Here in Los Angeles, there is no shortage of available stores to shop at, but the local Ralphs (Kroger in some states) had two locations close to my house, and was the most convenient. Armed with my Rewards card, one of those two stores was where I went Saturday morning to stock up for the week.
Of course, inflation has been skyrocketing. As oblivious as I can be to these things, I started taking note of the rising prices and/or the lack of sales on items that used to be regularly priced competitively. One week, on a whim, I started checking out the circulars for eight grocery stores that come to the house every Tuesday. The flyers are for: Ralphs, Vons/Pavilions, Vallarta, Super King, El Super, Food 4 Less, Jons, and Smart & Final. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but I started noticing that many of the things I wanted to buy could be found for less if I shopped competitively.
I don’t want to be spending hours driving around town to save a dollar on eggs, but I have found that if done right, adding some of these stores to my weekly run just makes good business sense. Produce is often much less at Super King or El Super than it is at Ralphs. I am less comfortable with the meat at those stores, and still purchase that at Ralphs. But I can get peaches, nectarines, etc, for sometimes half the price at Ralphs – or even less. I’m not cheap, but I’m thrifty and like to save a buck as much as the next person.
I started testing the waters. I decided only to go to those stores that would not add a lot of time to my morning grocery run. That put Food 4 Less off the list, as well as Vons. I have no reason to drive the five or so miles to get to either one just to cash in on a few specials. El Super is a little out of the way, but not too far. If I bundle it with a trip to Super King, the timing works. Smart & Final is off my weekly path and only works if I’m heading to PetSmart—they are right across the street from each other.
One time I did do a giant grocery run of all the stores and found that it wasn’t worth my time to make that many stops that far away. I’ll stay closer to home. Now I eagerly wait for the weekly circulars to plan out the bargains store by store. A co-worker has also pointed me to the Flipp app, which is amazing. I can check all the prices for the items I buy regularly – and it has circulars online of stores that I never see. Revolutionary!
How about you? Do you bargain shop? Do you still do your own shopping? Tell me how the rise in prices has affected your shopping habits!
Not all enchantment happens as planned, and romance is not always for the young. This story was placed first in a Fractured Fairy tale competition. It and others are available in my book of short stories Tales of Imagination. I hope you enjoy it!
The Crone’s Fairytale.
I champed my gums, turnip surprise took some gumming when you are down to your last tooth. Suddenly something crunched, and with some effort I spat it out.
My last tooth. Must be the day for it, my last bra had given up, and I could feel my withered old woman breasts resting contentedly on my knees. I scratched my hairy chin and reached for the scissors.
Magically growing hair is great in theory, but over the years I had stuffed my mattress, woven new curtains, a bellpull, and my clothes. I was too old to care now and chucked it out of the window.
What did I care, I was still stuck in this damn tower, cursed since babyhood to wait for Prince Charming to climb my wretched hair and break the spell. I had outlived the witch who enchanted me, and she never did say why, curse her bones.
Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair. How I had dreamed, my young girl dreams of romance, of excitement, then just seeing someone other than the witch and her servitor. Fortunately he still lived, or else I would have starved in this forsaken tower on the edge of the world.
Where did he go, my Prince? Did he vanish in the steamy swamps, eaten by hideous creatures? Get waylaid by werewolves? Beguiled by milkmaids made pretty by proximity, while I languished in my tower? I had a letter once, he was coming, but it too vanished one day, and my hopes with it. I withered with my hopes, and stared at the horizon, while around me my hair grew and grew.
Escape? Yes I tried, but this is a story of magic and enchantment, and escape by females is simply forbidden. I tied my hair around the bed and leapt out of the window, but magically looped around and re entered the tower. I did this for fun a lot after this, sometimes not even tying my hair. I could not escape the tower, and I didn’t escape time either.
No young lass sits here now, waiting with heaving bosom for the Prince to call. A withered crone, in a story with no happy ever after. Where is he? I have long since stopped asking the question, yet tonight as the sea breeze wafts warm through the tower, I yearn as though I am 18 again.
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,” a voice quavers from far below.
I clutch my heart and breathe for a moment, I am a bit old for this now. I hobble over to the window and peer out.
“Yes?” I can’t believe I am still hopeful, after so many times hearing this in my imagination.
I flip out my hair, magically long and plaited again, the long white rope trembles as for the first time in years someone climbed up.
A wizened old man climbed creakily over the window sill.
“What the hell kept you?” I shrieked. I hadn’t thought it would be like this.
“Sorry Princess, your note didn’t mention the 800 other towers and that you were an entire continent away. And my horses kept getting eaten, I had to fight off milkmaids, werewolves… it took longer than I planned. Lucky I saw the pile of hair outside.” He grinned gummily at me, and I noticed the network of scar tissue that traced a map of battles past.
His rheumy old blue eyes held me, and I felt 18 again. He held his hand out, and it suddenly didn’t matter where he had been, he was here now.
We kissed an old people kiss, dry and gummy and smelling of liniment and incontinence. And the enchantment broke, and the magic lifted us up, still kissing, and now it was with fire and passion and youth. My hair swirled, red gold, my waist cinched in, and I could feel the flush of hormones racing through me- through us. A tall dark haired young man held me, laughing.
Cindy Tomamichel is a multi-genre author, with her SMP series Druid’s Portal a time travel action adventure romance set in Roman Britain. Short stories of fantasy, scifi and romance can be found on her website, where she blogs on aspects of world building. The 30 Organizing Tips for Writers provides much needed help for authors trying to navigate social media and build an author platform. Doing NaNo this year? Check out her free book NaNoWriMo Ready. Or pick up a copy of the free Romance Short Stories.
Tomatoes grew as never before with the record heat the Pacific Northwest experienced. I planted Park’s Whoppers, the slicers, from seed. A friend gifted me organic tomato fertilizer for Mother’s Day, and I’m a believer. The brick collars I created help facilitate root growth on buried stems.
Our favorite Douglas Fir has blight. The Osprey in the lower left and the Blue Heron above don’t seem to mind while they scan the lake for fish. My Rose of Sharon bloomed more than ever.
Tomorrow we say a final goodbye to Cheeto, my son’s beloved, feisty, opinionated kitty. Told she was two in 2019 when she chose Neil as her champion, we’ve learned she’s most likely sixteen+ and previously lived in survival mode. Rest in peace little warrior.
If this is your first time to read a Soul Mate Publishing blog post, allow me to introduce myself. I write historical romance novels with a dash of suspense under my pen name, Wareeze Woodson. Six of my books are published by Soul Mate and have been released on Amazon. Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman, An Enduring Love, A Lady’s Vanishing Choices, Captured by the Viscount, The Earl’s Scandalous Wager along with a historical romance western: Bittersweep. I have a self-published one as well, After She Became a Lady. That is number seven. Self-publishing is not for me, however.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article. I have discussed the ins and outs of writing in past articles, the hero, the heroine, the villain, setting the scene, character development, where I find my inspiration for each story, and the lists continues.
If you’ll be kind enough to read forward, perhaps my words shall offer a little more insight into writing and the turmoil therein. There must be a transition between the action scenes to move the story forward.
Have you have read a book that went on and on without an advancement to the story line? I have and I did want to turn the page alright, but only to escape the tedium of hashing the same thing over until it made me yawn. I hope to show examples of what not to do along with something to move the story forward.
One of my favorite authors wrote a book where the hero could never convince the heroine of the reality of the situation. She couldn’t commit to him or accept him in her life. Although evidence of the truth of his words was all around her, she fought against the reality of being in another world. I wanted to slap her on the back of the head. Harping on that one element was very off-putting. Start with a strong premise and with characters not as blind as those who choose not to see.
On to moving the story forward. While working toward that end, remember the characters can’t be in one place and simply arrive at another location without forward motion. A transition must occur.
The reader must be drawn into the story by a description of the place, smells, noises, and relatable things that happen in everyday life plus wanting to know what happens next. FORWARD MOTION.
An example while traveling: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman
The next morning, Adron appeared on the steps as Horace, a big, burly dark complexioned man with black hair and eyes, pulled the coach round to the front entrance. He dismounted and scanned the sky. “Weather appears nasty, Milord.”
Laurel rushed down the stairs. “Please! I must go to my aunt.”
In a slight upward nod with his chin, Adron acknowledged her statement. “The weather does appear dubious but if it becomes too inclement, Horace will pull in at the nearest inn or posting house. Have a safe trip and wish your aunt the best health.”
Breathing a sigh of relief, she climbed aboard and took Jamie from Hester’s arms as the maid flopped on the opposite seat. Laurel waved and watched Adron as he returned her wave before mounting the steps.
Delighted to be well on her way, in spite of the threat of a pending downpour, she was even happier to have Jamie with her. With the gentle sway of the coach, Jamie fell asleep, and Hester nodded off soon after. As the day advanced, Laurel’s eyelids grew heavy and drifted down as well.
The smell of rain-drenched air brought her round and she glanced out the window. The sky had darkened considerably since the morning and the storm broke with a vengeance. Rain pelted the vehicle making it advisable to put up at the closest inn. Horace drove the coach out on the pike-road, a mile or so north of Han’s Cross on the lookout for the lonely posting house. He pulled to a stop and helped the ladies down.
TRANSITATION INTO THE NEXT SCENE MOVING THE STORY FORWARD
Laurel and her group traipsed into the inn, shaking the moisture from their traveling cloaks. Following the Innkeeper into the interior of the inn, she approved the private parlor off the coffee room with a nod. A cheerful fire chased the dampness from the chamber and chairs were placed before the hearth. She rubbed her hands together before the blaze and pulled Jamie’s chair a little closer before ordering a light repast to accompany the tea.
Hester tripped into the room. “Everything is right and tight as is proper for your ladyship and the little one.” The maid bustled about the room, fluffing pillows, and drawing a small table and chairs closer to the fire. “I’ve unpacked, Milady.” At the rap on the door, Hester hurried over to open it. “Here’s your supper now.” She arranged the meal on the table and bobbed her head. “Your ladyship.”
“Thank you, Hester. I’ll be fine. Jamie and I’ll go straight upstairs to our chamber. We’ll both go to bed so don’t concern yourself with us again tonight.”
THIS TRANSITIONED INTO THE NEXT SCENE BELOW
Hester curtsied and bustled out of the parlor. Before the meal was half consumed the maid briefly knocked and burst into the room, drawing a long breath. “Milady, my chamber has been disturbed, searched and everything is in a scramble. I was that scared so I called, Horace and showed him the mess.”
Another example from Vanessa
Vanessa is my present work in progress
Vanessa peered out the window and caught her breath. Indeed, three men with masks over their faces and pistols drawn were riding hard after the coach. A shot rang out and she jerked back, watching in horror as the coachman tumbled from his perch and rolled on the ground. The horses snorted and careened out of control. With every muscle in her body tensed, she clung to the strap above the seat. The carriage bounced in and out of a deep rut followed by a loud explosive crack sending the frightened animals into a frenzy. The scream of splintering wood filled the coach as the shaft convulsed allowing the panicked horses to break free. The carriage swayed nearly over-turning before it verged into the underbrush beside the road and crashed into a tree. Vanessa was thrown to the floor with the other passenger on top of her.
After what seemed like hours, her mind cleared, and Vanessa came to herself. Her head ached and the other lady’s loud weeping made the situation worse. “Mrs. Latham, please hush and move off of me. I can hardly breathe.”
The other passenger struggled upright and moved onto the tilted seat. She sobbed into her handkerchief. Vanessa lifted her skirts and spied her pistol at her feet. Scooping up her weapon, she scrambled onto the other banquette, and sank back with her hand at her chest to halt the pounding of her heart. After taking a minute to compose herself, and to listen intently, she leaned out of the window to take a quick peek in both directions. There was no sign of the guard or the crooks—no one. Only the distant slowly fading beat of running horses reached her over Mrs. Latham’s whimpering.
“Mrs. Latham, are you injured in any way?”
The other passenger peered at her over her handkerchief. “My nerves are shattered. I may have one of my spasms if something isn’t done to recuse me this instant.”
Exasperated with the woman, Vanessa fought to keep her tone civil. “This is a well-traveled road. Someone will come along to help us.” She wanted to slap some sense into Mrs. Latham’s wilted, self-pitying head. “I intend to walk back the way we came to discover how badly the coachman is injured. Perhaps I can render aide.”
The other woman cried, “No. I shall perish with fear if you leave me all alone.”
TRANSITION TO THE NEXT SCENE
“I shan’t be long. He should be a little way beyond the bend in the road. If you are afraid to remain here by yourself, accompany me.” With that, she climbed out of the coach, wrapped her cloak snuggly around her, gripped her pistol, and walked away.
These were two examples of scenes and transitions always moving the story forward. Characters moved from one place, a physical location, to another. The tale advances, both in traveling, but also in further actions, hopefully making the reader want to read the next page and the next.
I hope I’ve given the reader a brief glimpse into using a transition to move the story forward. To learn more about my writing, visit my website or visit my facebook page.
Today is Labor Day here in the US, a holiday originally created to celebrate the efforts of unions and the labor movement for the rights of working people (and the creation of things like the weekend, which is certainly worth celebrating!) These days the extra day off at the beginning of September is mostly used as an excuse for picnics and barbecues– all that outdoorsy fun one last time before the cooler weather sets in. Where I live, it also marks the end of summer break, since schools starts right after the long weekend. With three kids at home, this time of year is full of big changes, and feels like the true beginning of fall.
On a more personal note, I have an early September birthday so I have a soft spot for Labor Day. The holiday sometimes falls on my birthday, which always feels extra special, like all those celebrations are for me. This year we took advantage of some Labor Day sales to do some early birthday shopping–another perk of the timing. Family legend has it that my mom stayed up until midnight on Labor Day the year I was born just because she thought it would be neat to be in labor–no such luck though!
Do you have any fun plans for the long weekend? Or if you aren’t in the US (or don’t get the day off) do you do anything to mark the changing seasons?
Jaycee Jarvis has been an avid romance reader since devouring all the Sweet Dreams books her middle school library had to offer. Also a fantasy fan from an early age, she often wished those wondrous stories had just a bit more kissing. Now she writes stories with a romantic heart set against a magical backdrop, creating the kind of book she most likes to read.
When not lost in worlds of her own creation, she resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children and a menagerie of pets.
Jaycee is a Golden Heart® finalist and author of the Hands of Destin series. The award winning first book in that series, Taxing Courtship, released in June 2018. The final book in that series, Crowning Courtship, came out in May 2021.
I know. Most people say “winding down” since summer is almost over and there are only a few months left in the year. That’s not the case for me. Ha!
Writing was going great. Until it wasn’t. Now I’m struggling to get any words on the page. And that stinks because I love the story I’m working on. And the other one. And the Shiny New idea that popped up. I will get back there, despite myself. Because that’s exactly the problem. Me. I’m in my own way and I need to step back.
Of course, all of the things coming up and going on don’t help. (This is where the “stress” part comes in) There’s some family drama happening. Well, it’s been happening. It’s beyond my control, but that doesn’t mean I don’t constantly worry/am sad about it. There is literally nothing I can do and I know that. But it does affect so many parts of my life, writing included. Anyway. I hate it when people are vague on social media and I just did the same thing. Maybe one day I’ll talk about it, but it’s too complicated and painful to discuss right now. But it’s a direct contrast to the “good stress” I’m about to lay on you.
Our weekends have been and continue to be booked. This coming weekend is camp with the oldest grandboy, which should be a blast. I’m currently preparing my grocery list and hope to heck I can get enough food for the kid. He’s a string bean, but eats constantly. He’s an awesome kid and I’m looking forward to spending time with him. Our whole family group will be there for the first time in ages, so it should be a blast.
After that…it’s birthday parties, a big book signing for me that I’m equal parts nervous and excited for, another round of birthday parties (our friend group all has “milestone” birthdays this year–yeah, we’re getting old), an event in our town which will bring many people to my porch and street, and then our family beach trip. (Beyond ready and excited for that)
When we get back, our youngest son is getting married. They sprung this on us a few months ago and we’ve been helping them wherever we can. It’s not going to be a huge event by any means. Their guest list is about the size of a family party, so it’s manageable, and the space they procured is big enough to feel comfortable. I’m making the food, which seems daunting, but it’s not. The plan is set and is starting to come together. My biggest issue is figuring out what to wear, including shoes, and that’s a huge stressor. We also need to work on flowers more, but other than that… it should be good.
Then it’s more family birthdays and the holidays! Ha!
And I will continue to do the best I can to get words on the page. I need to finish this book. I’ve been working on it for far too long.
I hope your world is looking bright! And if it’s not, you’re not alone. There’s no magic balance that I’ve found. Basically we just do the best we can and if we screw it up, tomorrow is a chance to start over. Hang in there!
I’m re-posting this because I think it had disappeared into cyberspace last month! Sorry if there was no post:
Jude Mooney: Man and Legend
The character of Jude Mooney appears in several of my novels. In From Ice Wagon to Club House, Jude works in Storyville as a young man, drives an ice wagon, fights in WWI, and bootlegs during Prohibition. He also trains prize-fighting boxers as well as race horses. In The Progeny, Jude has settled into a legitimate businessman whose children then face the turmoil of WWII. Where did I create a character like Jude Mooney? Well, except for differences, my father also did many of the things Jude did.
I wrote my novel Love at War when I read letters my mother’s brothers’ had written home after WWII. I wanted to tell the story of that time and honor that generation. The family in that novel is not mine, but they possess many characteristics that are like mine. In fact, some of my relatives embroiled me in a debate over the gravy Grandma Viola used for her Sunday dinner. Some argued it was red gravy, others brown. As I said, some scenes resemble my own family quite a bit.
I then decided to write the story of my father’s generation. My father, Sam, was much older than my mother. She was his fourth and last wife. He said that life was never so sweet as with her. So—who was this man, the model for Jude Mooney? Like Jude Mooney, my father started his life driving an ice wagon. At the turn of the 20th century, families still had “ice boxes,” not refrigerators. My grandmother called the refrigerator an “ice box” her whole life. My dad was from a poor New Orleans family, very like Jude’s. He knew Storyville in its heyday. He also bootlegged during Prohibition. His first wife had died of tuberculosis during the Depression. Like Jude Mooney, my father’s brother had committed suicide after a scandal. The Depression saw him responsible for a young son as well as his widowed mother and an unmarried sister. When he and his best friend decided to bootleg, his mother said, “Your father would roll over in his grave if he thought you were doing anything illegal.” My father replied, “My father would roll over in his grave if he knew we were starving.” I recreated that scene in Ice Wagon. The conversation was legendary in the family. After Prohibition, my father opened a bar with that best friend. They also worked together promoting professional boxers; later, my father branched out into the horse racing business and worked as a bookie.
Sam died when I was almost twelve. When he met my mother, Sam was still a bookie. My mother would tell her nieces and nephews “Never answer the phone!” After all, that was business and not for children’s ears. Sam also had a very old-fashioned, even chivalrous, attitude toward women. He gave up the booking business when I was born. He had a little girl and wouldn’t disgrace her by spending time in jail. I carried this sentiment into The Progeny, when Jude becomes the father of precocious Aoife.
Jude would do anything for Aoife—or any of his children, and Sam would have done anything for me or for my wastrel half-brother. When I was about three, I had a little dachshund I adored. One day, a horse kicked her when she was snooping in a stable. My father rushed her to a veterinarian while I stayed home to wail in my mother’s arms. My little pup died on the way to the veterinarian, but my parents didn’t tell me that. They said she was recovering at the doggie hospital, and my father then began a search for a dog that looked like mine. We lived in New Orleans, and after seeing many dogs he didn’t think looked enough like my sweet girl to pass as my dog, he finally found a puppy in Baton Rouge that looked enough like her to fool me. My mother told me that the dog had lost weight, and she would look smaller. (Remember I was three and very naïve). Later that day, Sam handed me another precious dachshund. That memory stays with me and always reminds me of just how far my father would go to spare me hurt. My father and my mother were much better parents than I deserved.
That’s me on the back far right. Yes, we are wearing our tiaras for a special tea on this day! Birthdays!
For years, my gal pals and I have tried to work out doing birthdays. On my birthday, it almost always blizzards. Other things have prevented my other friends’ birthdays from being celebrated in a timely fashion!
So what do you do?
Our solution was to choose one day in August.
On August 23rd, we donned our tiaras for a special tea. The table was set with fine china. Note: Each person has their own teapot with their favorite tea inside.
Menu: (Please, note. Mixed china patterns are the current fashion.)
Personal Tea with clotted cream and sweetener of your choice
Scones with Jams
Green Salad with currants and walnuts
Ice Cream Cake or Chocolate Cupcake
We sang “Happy Birthday” to us and everyone got presents! What fun!
There is something unique to the romance writing community that I want to be sure to celebrate today: acceptance and belonging.
I can still remember my first meeting at Georgia Romance Writers back in February of 2013. I was absolutely petrified about going to my first meeting, but everyone I met was encouraging, friendly, and wanted to know what stories I wrote and who I was as a writer. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a clear answer to either question yet. There was no judgement or expectation but merely acceptance. I remember standing up to introduce myself as a new person and people clapping after I finished. And in that moment, I felt something I hadn’t felt in a long time: that I was enough, that I was welcome, and that I belonged.
Despite the many controversies that have shifted and stirred the waters in romance writing communities, I still believe and know in my heart of hearts that the people within our community, readers and writers alike, are still incredibly welcoming and accepting. I cannot even count the number of people that have helped me along my way to being published, and I hope that in small ways I can ease the path for others.
Over the years, I have heard many romance writers say that we are not competitors but cheerleaders for one another and that there is always room at the table for another romance author. That one person’s success doesn’t diminish anyone else’s, but that we all rise from romance community wins. I couldn’t agree more.
So, as we celebrate Romance Awareness Month this August, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate all the amazing romance authors who bring those many books and stories to life and to thank all of them for what they have given me as not only a reader but writer of romance.
Care to share a favorite romance community memory? Feel free to drop a comment below to help me celebrate Romance Awareness Month!
Jeanine Englert’s love affair with mysteries and romance began with Nancy Drew, Murder She Wrote, and her Grandmother’s bookshelves full of romance novels. She is a VIVIAN® and Golden Heart® Finalist as well as a Silver Falchion, Maggie, and Daphne du Maurier Award Winner in historical romance and mystery.
Her Scottish Highland historical and historical romantic suspense novels revolve around characters seeking self-acceptance and redemption. When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved rescue pups, as well as mysteries and romance with other readers. Visit her website at www.jeaninewrites.com.