Re-Visit Your Priorities

Wow Claire, this is terrific, get back in the saddle. I didn’t know we shared this other common love besides writing. My daughter, Natasha, was a grand prix champion, Western regional champion. We’ve owned a lot of horses and still have the superstar that took her to the top. I spent years at horse shows, every weekend. You really do need to read my first book The One, my heroine is a grand prix equestrienne and lots of the book take place at horse shows. Anyway, thank you for sharing.

We hear the advice all the time, and turn a deaf ear in its direction (cliché alert):

  • Stop and smell the roses
  • Take time for the things you love
  • Lavish the people you love with love
  • Don’t put off until tomorrow . . .


I recently got bitch-slapped upside the head by Mother Earth, or Father Time, or whoever it is that comes up with and promotes the above mantras. You see, in October of 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer.

“If you had to get cancer,” I was told, “you got the best kind.”

Oh goody. What an overachiever I am—no matter what I do, I have to be the very best. Cancer, however, isn’t one of those things I would have chosen to compete for any titles in.

They told me it was “very curable.” “98% remission rate,” is what they told me. They also told me I’d…

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Re-Visit Your Priorities

We hear the advice all the time, and turn a deaf ear in its direction (cliché alert):

  • Stop and smell the roses
  • Take time for the things you love
  • Lavish the people you love with love
  • Don’t put off until tomorrow . . .


I recently got bitch-slapped upside the head by Mother Earth, or Father Time, or whoever it is that comes up with and promotes the above mantras. You see, in October of 2016, I was diagnosed with cancer.

“If you had to get cancer,” I was told, “you got the best kind.”

Oh goody. What an overachiever I am—no matter what I do, I have to be the very best. Cancer, however, isn’t one of those things I would have chosen to compete for any titles in.

They told me it was “very curable.” “98% remission rate,” is what they told me. They also told me I’d have to undergo a course of radiation, which I can tell you, is no walk in the park.

But am I going to spend my entire blog crying on your shoulder because I had to enter the arena against the “Serpent C”? No. I’m going to tell you how it has changed my life—for the better.

You see, as I’ve aged, and heaped more and more on my life’s plate (including a full-time job and a full-time writing career), I’ve let some of my other joys fall to the wayside. Family? Husband? Children? Grandchildren? Never. But the other, seemingly menial things that brought joy to my life, I put on the back burner for, “Someday. Maybe when I retire.”

Don’t do this.

Because you know what those three little words—“You have cancer”—did to my outlook? My worldview? My life plans?

As I said, I got bitch-slapped. That beautiful, someday-horizon I’d been imagining? A big, steel door came down and locked itself right between me, and it.


I used to be an equestrienne—I mean, an obsessive horse person. My mother claimed the first word I ever said was “horthie,” although nobody in my family had anything to do with horses. There were no horses in the neighborhood (no pun intended) where I grew up. My first horse came to live in my parents’ garage when I was 13, and I’ve pretty much never stopped since then.

Until about five years ago, when hitting my mid-50s, and life, got in the way. Also, we’d moved from the warm climate of the South to New England for my new job. Believe me, owning a horse in Massachusetts is a bit more challenging than owning one in Florida. I sold what I swore would be my “last horse” about four years ago. I still cry when I go to visit him.

“I’m almost sixty years old,” I rationalized. “I’ve gained a few pounds, and I don’t bounce off the ground quite as well as I did when I was in my thirties. It’s just time. Time to give up this dream.”


On day thirteen of my radiation treatments, I got a fluke email from the Pinto Horse Association (I haven’t been a member in about ten years). As I was sitting waiting for my treatment, I showed the picture on my phone to my husband.

“Isn’t this a pretty horse?” I asked.

“Yes, it is. You should really think about getting back into it. Somehow,” he replied.

Fast forward about two weeks and a dozen phone calls, and I am now booked to fly out tomorrow to Florida to test-ride a horse I hope to lease for the next year. Geez, I fly down to Florida about every other month anyway since my kids and grandson are there—why not keep a horse in training, and travel down to enjoy him/her while I’m there, and to show in the bigger competitions?

Sound crazy? It probably is. So much so that when I called to tell my daughter I was coming for a visit, I was afraid to tell her the real reason—this time.

“I’m actually coming down to ride a horse. I may lease one down there to show.” Then I cringed, waiting for the snort of derision, the ridicule, the “what the hell are you doing that for?” But you know what her response was?

“Oh Mom, I can’t tell you how happy I am you’re doing this. Horses were such an important part of your life. You haven’t been the same person since you sold your horse.

I was shocked. Had I changed? Was I really “incomplete” without a horse in my life?

“I mean, I know you love the writing, and you’re really good at it,” she continued, “but honestly, you just haven’t been as happy since you gave up your horse.”

Today, I drove down to a local farm here in Massachusetts where I’d boarded my “last horse.” The owner/trainer saddled up one of her better trained school mounts and helped me climb aboard. I had to be sure I could still do this. I didn’t want, after almost 5 years out of the saddle, to fly down to a fancy barn, climb on an expensive show horse, and discover I could not.

Today, I realized three other really big, important words in my life.

I still can.Robbie


Claire Gem writes intensely emotional contemporary romance and supernatural suspense. You can find out more about her at and

And she can still ride a horse. Pretty damn well.

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The Write Word with Wareeze

Goal Setting

Hello readers. Thanks for allowing me to share a few insights about writing with you. Although I personally love the medieval period, I write period romance, Regency at present. The elaborate ball gowns of silks and satins, trimmed with lace, over gowns sprigged with spangles all over jeweled or embroidery along with more demure morning dresses, worn with gloves and fashionable head gear, bring the past to life. Think of the music, the theater, the house parties and all the other activities of the Ton to stave off boredom. Even the on-dits were amusing and if the rumor mill seized a fancy tidbit, society waited with bated breath for the next crumb to fall.

Social norms dictated strict codes of behavior many would scoff at today. The slightest slip and a young lady may be ruined for life—if her misdeed became common knowledge. I love to escape into another era to witness the mannerisms, the apparel, the modes of transportation, and even the rather stuffy rules a young lady must adopt. Not so the gentleman—hardly fair, but oh well. That alone is all the more reason to merely visit the past without fully embracing a life without electricity.

This era is possibly not your cup of tea. Beside the era and the genre of the story, what makes reading a book interesting to most readers? Personal stakes, emotions involved with that goal usually draws a reader into the story.

Example: Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman

Freedom. Freedom. Freedom. Each rotation of the hired coach’s wheels whispered the word. Laurel cradled her sleeping two-year-old son, the new Lord Laningham, as a heady sense of satisfaction curved her lips. She didn’t even mind the slight musty odor pervading the vehicle, although she leaned over and raised the window cover for a breath of fresh air. With a sigh she settled back against the seat. At least for a while, Rhonda’s constant complaints would no longer ring in her ears and for that she was devoutly thankful.

Out of nowhere, a rider flashed by the coach window and her startled gaze locked with his brief glance. Although she’d caught only a glimpse of the stranger, in that instant his intense, deep-brown eyes mocked her and unease shivered down her spine. She stared after him for a second before instinctively gathering her child closer. Laurel planted a kiss on his blonde curls, drawing reassurance from the nearness of his warm little body. As long as she had Jamie nothing else mattered. Her son must remain safe.


Final Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman #b copy

Heroine goals is the keep her child safe. Are you curious to know if she succeeds in her goal?

How do you set a goal for the heroine/hero? What does the heroine/hero want and why does the heroine /hero what that particular results? Each one tries something to win his or her goals. If that doesn’t work, he or she tries again. That still doesn’t work (conflict).

Finally, the heroine/hero seems to have solved the problems only to reach a hopeless outcome. Both must learn and change—grow into a changed, improved character. Happy ever after naturally is the end results.

I hope you enjoyed this brief dip into setting a goal.

To learn more about my writing, visit my website:

Wareeze Woodson

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One More Time is Not Enough-Belle Ami

Thank you Rhonda for hosting me on your beautiful blog site.
Tema Merback
Writing as Belle Ami

Author Rhonda L. Print


Adelia Lindstrom Bremen seems to have it all: wealth, beauty, perfect twin children, two men in love with her, and a career she loves. But, beneath the veneer of success and prosperity lies disappointment, tragedy, and unending lies. Her parents were murdered, her marriage ended in a custody battle, and she is swept up in a love triangle. Now she has discovered the existence of a half-sister who wants nothing to do with her.

Someone is killing scientists that deny man-made climate change, and Adelia is about to find out that putting her life back together and opening herself to love may be the least of her worries. Can she find her true love and survive being the prey of a serial killer? Can the two men who love her rescue her in time? The clock is ticking.

One More Time is Not Enough

 Chapter 13

She was prepared to…

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It’s Hard to Say Goodbye: To My Characters

schoonersailsI typed ‘The End’ on Storm Watch: Book Three in the Unfinished Business series a week ago. The gift of a late winter snowstorm, and an unexpected day off, allowed me to finish the final edits. Multiple challenges made this the hardest book of my writing career to complete. I didn’t have the melancholy many writers describe when they have to pull themselves out of the story–and their characters’ lives, even when it’s a happily ever after. Until I did the formatting, uploaded the manuscript, and sent it off to my editor.

I now have this big void in my head: no more flashes of inspiration on how to perfect a scene. No insights on how the friends that my characters have become over the last ten years react to the challenges they’re facing. No more anxiety about finishing the story-and what is likely to be the last book in the series. The melancholy returned as I went about my business and realized that there is a part of me in every single one of them–and that there are pieces of the challenges I face in each of their’s.

They’ve had health crises, lost pets and loved ones, faced turmoil in their worlds, and weathered both meteorological and emotional storms. They have scars, visible and invisible, that affect how they act and react. This makes them feel real to readers, because they are very real to me.

Thirteen years is a long time to live with someone and have to not only say goodbye, but also to abandon them to immerse myself in someone else’s world for the next story in a different series. Of course, I can pick up the books and read them any time. And all three books are set on Cape Cod, where I spend much of my summer vacation. The inspiration for all three books came to me while sitting on the beach, and perhaps I will meet Mike, Liz, Mae, Kevin and their friends there again this year–and Book Four in the Unfinished Business might be born.



From Storm Watch:

Mike and Liz thought they’d gotten control of the specters haunting the Barrett Inn. But things get very complicated when they’re the ghosts from your past life. The Category Five Hurricane bearing down on Cape Cod appears to be headed directly for them–or has it been spawned from inside them?

Jared was stirring up a tempest, and Mike couldn’t sit still any longer. “I wish I could get there, Liz, but it isn’t like that for me. Jared is like this annoying son of a bitch pushing me off a barstool. No matter how many times I tell him to get lost and get back in the seat, he does it again.”   

He got out of bed and paced. “And what’s worse, he makes me do things and say things that I’ve never done–like yell at you. I’ll never forgive myself on the night we got home from England and I was way too rough.” Shame spread through him like a stomach virus.

“And that’s why I’m telling you all this. When Jared and you become one, it’s hard to separate yourself. But if you embrace the presence of the ghost it might be cleansing.”

Mike wished he could look out a window and take a breath of fresh air, instead of feeling like he was locked in a coffin, and trying to get out. “This afternoon, it was pretty terrible to be inside the poor bum he became, because Elisabeth decided to follow Edward into the ocean instead of being his lawfully wedded wife. He’s hell bent on not letting Elisabeth go. There just might be a ghostly duel.”








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The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide

Written by a research scientist, author Claire Gem’s book The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide, will be released Friday, March 17, 2017. This is a book all writers must own. Claire is an excellent teacher and has shared her knowledge with me. I benefited from her expertise. She is a driving force, doesn’t give up, and isn’t satisfied until she reaches her goal. She creates fantastic book trailers to accompany all her books. Please find links within this post.

Book Trailer Magic

Those of you who know me at all, know that I have a penchant for designing book trailers to go along with my novels. I guess perhaps in another life I might have been a movie director—maybe I still have that to look forward to in the next! In any case, after my initial struggling for several weeks with the iMovie software on my Mac, I hit a rhythm. I learned the ropes. And just like that, voila, my first book trailer came to life.

I honestly believe the trailer for my debut novel sold more books for me than any other marketing ploy I used. Even though I cheated a bit on that one. You see, iMovie has two facets: An option to produce a Trailer, and one to produce a Movie. The Trailer function is pretty much automated, with templates you simply use to produce the trailer. There are pre-programmed themes, accompanied by music. All you do is drag and drop in the images, determine how they will be viewed (movie clips, still-shot photos, or panned to appear in motion), and type in the script you want to use. This worked fantastic for the first trailer I ever produced for Phantom Traces.

But as those of you who know me also know: I don’t like to do things via template. I like scribbling outside the box. So, I made it my goal to learn how to use the iMovie function for “movie.” This one wasn’t so easy.

Thanks to Google searches, a dozen or more very informative Youtube instructional videos, and about a thousand hours of swearing at my laptop screen, I produced my second trailer, sans template. And the next. And the next. I even produced a trailer for my gracious blog hostess, Gail Ingis, for her debut novel, Indigo Sky, which you can view HERE.

The takeaway? I love producing book trailers. Almost as much as writing the book itself. In fact, the practice has actually helped me when I’ve been stuck on a novel—when I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next. In that case, I crafted the trailer before the novel was complete. The process of choosing the photos and condensing my story down into a handful of words helped me figure out how the plot would progress.

So, did I design a trailer for my nonfiction, Author Resource craft book coming out this Friday, March 17th? Yes, and no. I wasn’t sure the book needed one, being nonfiction and all. But my sister, dear friend, and cover designer, Terri DelNegro, disagreed. She put together what she called a “trailer kit” of uniquely designed images to describe the contents and purpose of The Road to Publication. Then she sent those images and word snippets to me, saying, “My movie software can’t handle putting this together and adding music. You’re the expert. You do it.”

And so, I did. You can view that joint effort book trailer HERE.

Book trailers are not only fun to produce, they help in clarifying the story you are trying to tell, helping you distill the plot or details into their pure essence. I highly recommend the practice.

The Road to Publication: A Writer’s Navigation Guide

The Blurb: “This is the book I wish I could have found at the very start of my career as a novelist.”

The multi-faceted, complex, and somewhat mysterious world of the publishing industry can quickly turn into a maze, ensnaring aspiring or new authors within the twisting alleys of its labyrinth.

Multi-published, award winning author Claire Gem spent the first five years of her career floundering, wandering through a tangled jungle without a guide. In “The Road the Publication,” Ms. Gem takes charge and assumes the duty of cartographer—map-maker for the aspiring author.

You know your goal, right? You want to publish your book. Ms. Gem provides a comprehensive, entertaining tour of the publishing industry and its many facets. It’s then up to you decide which route you’re willing to take to reach your pot of gold—your published novel at the end of “The Road to Publication.”

“This is a great book, and I believe a necessary one…so much more entertaining to read than a straight how to guide.” Allie Rottman, Editor

Book Trailer:    

About Claire Gem:
Strong Women, Starting Over
~Redefining Romance~

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of five titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books, and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.

Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. The manuscript for her women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, won FCRWA’s The Beacon Contest in 2014 before it was even published.

Books by Claire Gem: Phantom Traces, Hearts Unloched, A Taming Season, The Phoenix Syndrome, Spirits of the Heart

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

You can get in touch with Claire here:

Ask Claire!

Indigo Sky available on Amazon buy link:
Author page:

Gail Ingis’s Indigo Sky
“A beautifully spun tale of love, heartache, adventure and sinister perils….” – David S. #bookworm #greatreads

In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger—she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.


Amazon Author Page:



Audio (bit-ly)

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Putting the “Co” in Co-Editing, by Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko

Anyone who co-works a project with someone knows there are rewards as well as problems in the process. Differing opinions, opposing work ethic, power struggles, etc., those stumbling blocks are all real and frustrating. On the reward side: satisfaction for a job well-done, an improved attitude toward creativity in general, and stronger personal/professional relationships that result from co-working.

It’s the same when editors co-edit together. Fellow senior editors and BFFs Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko found that out, when a vague idea for a year-long, multi-author project came together over months of plotting and planning. Once they gathered up their ‘stable’ of authors, set project parameters, and the stories started rolling in, the work began.

Here’s what they both learned, in the process.

CHERYL:  What’s it like to co-edit a series for a publishing house? Well, in a nutshell, I love it. I believe the stories are better served since each editor brings their own special skills to the project. I’m not sure how the authors feel about it, because they get double the work, and I’m sure we drive them a little bit crazy. But no one’s complained so far!

CHAR:  I figure some authors might see the advantage of having two sets of editing eyes on their work. Authors miss things during the revision process, and so do editors; it’s inevitable. But the fresh eyes of one editor can take up the slack from another and see places where something—often small—might have been overlooked. Win-win for the author!

CHERYL:  For example, here’s how it’s working for me and Char on The Soul Mate Tree project. When planning the series, we initially split up the editing duties according to genre preference, and whether we were editors for a project author in the past. However, when we began working with the manuscripts, for one reason or another, we ended up passing the stories back and forth, making edits and suggestions to each one, until we were both happy with the outcome. This worked very well, and the books are better for it.

CHAR:  The Soul Mate Tree Series was the perfect venue for us to see if we blended together solidly as co-editors. Each of us brings something different to the revision and developmental process. We each have our strengths, so it’s been a learning process as well. 

CHERYL:  It helps that Char and I write together as authors, and that is also how we work on our manuscripts. We make a great team! We hope to bring many more great Soul Mate Publishing projects to our readers.

CHAR:  In fact, our second Soul Mate project is in the works, with a tentative release schedule of January, 2020. This time we’re going after the elusive Paranormal Trilogy, a most splendid creature. ::grin:: There will be more discussion and idea revelation as we progress in the planning stages, but once again we’ll be working with Soul Mate authors to create a year-long book release effort.

Co-editing isn’t for everyone, any more than co-writing is. When Char and Cheryl started co-writing, they never imagined what they’d learned could spill over into the editing process. One big thing they figured out: compromise and cooperation is key, whether they edit the pen or wield it.

Work? Yes, indeed. Satisfaction for the end product? Definitely. Differing opinions, and all those other things? Well, sure.


Fun? Oh, YES. And that makes everything else so worthwhile.



Char Chaffin and Cheryl Yeko are Senior Acquiring Editors for Soul Mate Publishing, as well as multi-published authors writing solo and also under the pen name of CiCi Cordelia. They can be found buried beneath a mountain of tasks, projects, and other writerly and editor-ly stuff, in their respective geographical locations and pretty much everywhere the Internet goes.

Want to find them? Start here, with CiCi Cordelia:

Individually they can be found here:

Cheryl Yeko:
Website: ‘Where Love Always Wins’

Char Chaffin:
Website: ‘Falling In Love is Only the Beginning’


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