10 Authors on my Keeper Shelf

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Helen Johannes. Today, Helen shares ten of her favorite authors and her latest release, Lord of Druemarwin.

Here’s Helen!

Ten Authors on my Keeper Shelf—in no particular order—and what makes me return again and again to their work…

#1 – Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Breathing Room, First Lady, It Had to Be You, etc. – Complex, fully realized characters whose sometimes wildly inappropriate actions are always properly and expertly motivated and who have a deep and authentic backstory.

#2 – Deborah Crombie, Duncan Kincaid, Gemma James (A Share in Death, Bitter Feast, etc.) series – Careful world-building, engaging characters that have become a family, and seamless interweaving of past and present so that the anatomy of a crime can be traced to the root cause.

#3 – Elizabeth Peters, The Amelia Peabody mysteries – The creation of characters, relationships, and settings sufficient to sustain a thoroughly fascinating series set during the archeological heyday in Egypt.

#4 – Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Heroes of Olympus series, Magnus Chase series, etc. – Can’t-put-it-down pacing, humor, wildly imaginative world-building, great characters whose strengths are also their flaws, and—not to be forgotten—terrific chapter titles.

#5 – Jennifer Crusie, Faking It, Welcome to Temptation, Agnes and the Hitman, etc. – Fascinatingly flawed characters who fail at love at first but keep trying—in often hilarious ways—until they get it right.

#6 – Louise Penny, Inspector Gamache/Three Pines series – Amazing ability to lure the reader into a story with apparently ordinary words that nonetheless resonate and make the reader care and care deeply about these characters.

#7 – Janet Evanovich, Stephanie Plum series – Humor, pacing, snappy sentences, an unmistakable voice, and something never fails to explode.

#8 – JRR Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings – Incredible world-building, vast scope, great and memorable characters, and a mind-blowing ability to weave all the threads of an enormous plot together over three epic books.

#9 – Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick – Hook openings, flawed but immediately engaging characters who find a way to confront their demons and heal their wounds, effective dialogue, and fast pace.

#10 – Dick Francis – Spare, tight writing, intense action scenes, moral conundrums realistically handled.

Give me great characters and a strong sense of place, throw in some action, humor, and a mystery to solve or crisis to avert, and I’m likely to pick up your book. And because these elements please me as a reader, I try my best to incorporate them into my own writing. Well, except for the chapter titles; I bow to others’ greatness there.

*************LORD OF DRUEMARWIN*************

PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance

Tag line: In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?

Blurb

Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father’s household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.

Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he’s a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.

With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.

Excerpt

“Raell, now is not the time—”

Aye, it wasn’t. They stood in torchlight on an open parapet while assassins stalked them, but this might be her only chance to reach him across that precipice he’d thrown up between them, to secure the future they were meant to share.

“Does my honor mean naught? When weighed with D’nalian honor, is mine lesser because ‘tis a woman’s honor? Or because ‘tis a Tolemak’s honor? Be honest and tell me that.”

The world had gone silent; Raell could hear nothing over the rush of blood in her ears, the terrible heavy beats of her heart while she waited, dizzy with fear, breathless with longing, for the man she loved to respond with a word, a look, even a blink. Even a shift of his gaze she’d take as a sign he’d at least heard, mayhap begun to consider—

“Yes, be honest, Lord Naed,” said a voice she’d heard but once, a voice that raised all the fine hairs on her body and made her innards contract into a cold, tight knot. “Tell us both how much honor means to a bastard who’s betrayed his countrymen and his blood.”

Buy Links

Amazon | Nook

Author Bio

Helen C. Johannes writes award-winning fantasy romance inspired by the fairy tales she grew up reading and the amazing historical places she’s visited in England, Ireland, Scotland and Germany. She writes tales of adventure and romance in fully realized worlds sprung from pure imagination and a lifelong interest in history, culture, and literature. Warriors on horseback, women who refuse to sit idly at home, and passion that cannot be denied or outrun—that’s what readers will find in her books.

Other Books: The Prince of Val-Feyridge | Bloodstone

Where to find Helen…

Blog | Author Central | Goodreads | BookBub | Email


10 Things I Have Learned from Being an Athlete

I’m happy to welcome paralympian, speaker, author, and disability advocate Tricia Downing. Today, Tricia shares ten lessons learned from sports and her new release, Chance for Rain.

Aside from looking for love, my character Rainey Abbott, spends her time split between the ski slopes and the race track, chasing her athletic and competitive goals. One of the reasons I wrote Rainey as an athlete is because sports have been such a great part of my life, teaching me about overcoming obstacles and staying in the game even when things get tough. Sport has taught me:

1. The quicker you forgive yourself (and your mistakes), the quicker you get back in the game. How often have you beaten yourself up for making a mistake, not accomplishing a goal or doing something that you later thought to yourself, “Well, that was a dumb thing I said/did?” I think one of the greatest keys to success is to acknowledge a mistake (“yeah, THAT happened”), let it go (this is the hard one, because most of us tend to continually roll mistakes over in our minds), set a new course and refocus on the goal. The faster you can cycle through those steps, the faster you will get back on track.

2. You have to feel like a winner, even before you get to the start line. I have been an athlete nearly my whole life and I can tell you about the races I won or did well, and how the key was going to the start line believing that anything was possible. I can also name the events I went to doubting my preparation, my abilities or fearing my competition. Guess what? Those were the events that ended poorly. We are only as good as we believe ourselves to be.

3. Saying the word TRY is like having one foot on the track and one foot off. How many times have you said, or heard someone say they were going to “try” to do something? Once that word slips from between your lips, it builds in an automatic loophole…one through which you can escape to save face in case you don’t make it. Most of the time when we are worried about failing it’s not even about us. We wouldn’t be as afraid of failing if it weren’t for what we thought other people would think about us. Sports have taught me that whatever you’re going after, you have to own it to get it.

4. Keeping a journal is one of the best ways to help you achieve a goal. Here’s where athletes and writers definitely have something in common. Whether it’s writing down my workouts, my successes or things I need to work on, my journal keeps me focused on what I am doing and working to accomplish. The same goes with writing. You can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment when you go back and see all that you have written and the ability to get words on paper. To everyone who says, “I could never write a book!” I say, you just have to sit down and start.

5. To Ride My Own Race. I think this is one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. A fellow racer once said it to me, and I’ll never forget. There are so many things we don’t have control over. We spend time comparing ourselves to other people on social media, trying to be someone else, not thinking we’re good enough. But each one of us is on Earth experiencing our own journey and the most important thing we can do is honor OUR UNIQUE path and let it unfold. You can’t ride someone’s else’s race…only your own.

6. To take control. Resistance is typically due to fear. But if you’ve outlined your stretch goal, reverse engineered it and know where you’re headed, it’s time to take action. Think of a challenge you’re facing or a goal you have. What bold steps would you take if you knew you couldn’t fail?

7. To Be kind to myself. Have you ever listened to the voices in your head that tell you, you aren’t good enough? That you don’t have the talent to be a writer, a musician, a doctor, an engineer? Those words that we say to ourselves are often exactly what we get in the end. As an athlete I haven’t perfected the never-talk-negatively-to-yourself habit, but I am highly aware of it and when those bad thoughts seep in, I work to chase them out as quickly as they surfaced.

8. Consistency is a must. Whenever you want to be good at something or see the fruits of your labor, it takes discipline and regular attention. As an athlete, I know that if I don’t practice regularly my results mimick the effort I have put in. Same thing goes for writing. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

9. Work hard, do a little more every day, stay patient and don’t give up! I think this lesson explains itself!

10. When things get difficult, take off the dark lenses and try looking through some rose colored glasses. How do you do this? Here are a few suggestions: 1) As my Grandmother would say, “always count your blessings,” 2) Let yourself dream. Get out of your head or your body for a little while and think about the possible positive outcomes to your situation. Start by saying, “What if…” 3) Create a power statement that you can say to yourself every time things get tough for you. For example, “I am strong, able and nothing can get me down,” or “I am on an adventure, and will embrace the uncertainty because good things are going to happen.”

Blurb

Elite athlete Rainey Abbott is an intense competitor on the outside, but inside, she feels a daunting apprehension about her chances of finding true love. Her life as a downhill skier and race car driver keeps her on the edge, but her love life is stuck in neutral. A tragedy from her past has left her feeling insecure and unlovable.

Now that she’s in her thirties, Rainey’s best friend Natalie insists she take a leap and try online dating. Rainey connects with brian85 and becomes cautiously hopeful as a natural attraction grows between them. Fearful a face to face meeting could ruin the magic, Rainey enlists Natalie to scheme up an encounter between the two where Brian is unaware he is meeting his online mystery woman. Rainey is left feeling both guilty about the deception and disappointed by something Brian says.

When they finally meet in earnest, Rainey’s insecurities threaten to derail the blossoming romance. As she struggles with self-acceptance, she reveals the risks we all must take to have a chance for love.

Excerpt

“Sometimes going shopping is work,” Natalie announces as we head back to her house after a morning at the mall. “You can’t be creative when you’ve been jammed up in an office for five hours. You have to get out for new ideas to come to you.”

“I love how you can rationalize almost any of life’s indulgences,” I say. Nat turns and winks in response to my playful smirk.

“Life is too short to deny yourself all self-indulgent behavior.” The words hang in the air slightly, as we both know it was an off-handed comment, but our minds go immediately back to the event that reinforces her words.

“Yes, life is short.” I say this in a way that reassures her that her comment was taken in the spirit it was said, rather than meant to dredge up bad memories. Though I can’t help but elaborate on the subject. “Do you realize I’m only six years shy of my mom’s age at the time of the accident?”

“Yep,” Nat answers a bit too quickly. “I do. And I also realize something else. Your mom was thirty-eight, married to the love of her life and had two charming young girls.” I quickly realize I have given her the perfect segue into a lecture that has been constructed, rehearsed, and delivered to me many times in many different iterations over the past ten years. Now, as if she is attempting an intervention while we drive down Colorado Boulevard, Natalie blurts out, “Rainey, it’s about time we found you a man.”

“Why? Are you getting tired of hanging out with me?”

“It’s not that,” she says. “It’s just. That. It’s time,” the words spit out of her mouth. It’s obvious she wants to punctuate her points. “You can’t keep running away from it. You’re an incredible catch—beautiful and charming to be around. Athletic. Everything most girls would die to be.”

I know she is keenly aware of my resistance, but I get the feeling she isn’t going to fall for it today. But I also can’t ignore my feelings or my truth.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Author Bio and Links

Steve and Trish

Paralympian, Speaker, Author, Disability Advocate

On September 17, 2000, Tricia Downing went from being a competitive cyclist to a paraplegic requiring a wheelchair for mobility. Her life was changed forever, but Tricia’s competitive spirit and zest for life continued on. Making the transition from able-bodied cyclist to an athlete with a disability, Tricia has completed over 100 races, including marathons and triathlons, since her accident. She was the first female paraplegic to complete an Ironman triathlon and qualified for the Hawaii Ironman World Championship twice. Additionally, she was a member of Team USA at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Tricia’s professional life has been immersed in sports as she earned a master’s degree in Sport Management in 1995 and worked at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was the press officer for the USA Table Tennis team at the 1996 Olympic Games.

She has received many sports accolades, including the USA Triathlon Physically Challenged Athlete of the Year (2003), Sportswomen of Colorado—Inspiration (’03), Triathlon (’05), Hall of Fame (’12) Awards, the 2006 Most Inspirational Athlete from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the 2008 Courage Award from the Tempe Sports Authority.

As a community leader and disability advocate, she was a member of the 2013 class of the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction. She also received the 2019 Inspiration Award from Craig Hospital for outstanding community contribution from a Craig Hospital “graduate.” (Craig is a world-renowned spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation hospital) Tricia has truly excelled despite her life-altering injury.

In addition to her sports pursuits, Tricia has taken an active leadership role in her community as a peer mentor to others experiencing spinal cord injuries, she founded Camp Discovery (and subsequently The Cycle of Hope non-profit) dedicating 10 years to helping female wheelchair users gain confidence and self-esteem through a yearly sports and fitness retreat. Additionally, she serves on the board of USA Shooting, which is the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport of shooting.

Tricia published her memoir: Cycle of Hope—A Journey from Paralysis to Possibility in June 2010, with the second edition released in January 2017. In August of 2018, she published her first fiction novel Chance for Rain.

Website | Facebook | Twitter| LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest

Giveaway

Tricia Downing will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Tricia on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


Night Shifts: Love’em or Hate’em

I’m happy to welcome multi-published Canadian author Dr. Melissa Yi. Today, Melissa shares an entertaining post about night shifts and her new release, Graveyard Shift.

Here’s Melissa!

Graveyard Shift, the name of my new Hope Sze thriller, is slang for the night shift.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, night shifts are powerful beasts that you must know how to control as an emergency doctor. So it seems like an appropriate subject for the Power of 10.

Here are five reasons to hate ‘em mixed with five to love ‘em.


Hate #5: Fewer tests

At my tiny rural hospital, I don’t have access to extended labs or any X-rays after hours, let alone ultrasound technicians, CT scans, or MRI’s.

This is scary. Sure, we have a portable ultrasound and our stethoscopes and our training, but anything could go wrong.

Love #5: Bragging rights

No one admits this, but if I’m doing a night shift, the whole world has to know about my extreme dedication. I post signs on my door saying, “DO NOT DISTURB! NIGHT SHIFT!” I warn new friends that I don’t answer my cell in the ER, and I turn everything off before a night shift. Because I’m doing a NIGHT SHIFT. Are you doing a NIGHT SHIFT? No? Then you are not as wild as me. Sorry

Hate #4: Skeletal Staff

We only had one nurse in my rural ER overnight a few years ago. Now I have two, but the volumes have gone up, meaning that we can have many people, some of them on cardiac monitors, including patients who have been admitted but don’t have a bed on the floor, or who’ve had a heart attack and are waiting to be transferred to the heart institute. We can only juggle so many patients before our brains and beds overload.

Love #4: Chill patients

Some night shift patients are a different breed. They’re not the high-strung 40-year-olds who’ve been hanging out with Dr. Google and getting themselves revved up for the past six hours. They’re the teenagers wandering in at 3 a.m. because their toe looks funny. Tell them their toe is fine, and instead of saying, “But don’t you think I need a C-reactive protein? I read that a CRP can be extremely helpful in situations like this,” they say “Okay” and go home.

Hate #3: Drunk or wasted patients

Okay, not everyone. But many people! More than you’d think. The ones roll in regularly (“Is that Sam again?” “Of course it is.”). And the ones who think a company Christmas party is a good reason to do shot after shot after bottle after bottle.

Love #3: “If I work nights, I can be home with my kids during the day.”

This is the #1 reason nurses give for working night shifts. Personally, I would deteriorate into a seething mess if I worked all night and then spent all day with my knee-high offspring, but I admire the people who do this.

Hate #2: I am alone for a long time

I work in a single coverage emergency room. That means I’m the only MD guaranteed in house. Family doctors have clinics during weekdays and some evenings, but after 7 p.m. and every weekend, I am the only physician. The buck stops with me. Every code, every lawsuit, has my name on it.

Yes, I can call specialists at other hospitals for help. It doesn’t mean they’ll be instantly available.

And night shifts last from 6 p.m. until 8 or 9 a.m.—if you leave on time. Many times, we stay late to see a patient through or chart.

Love #2: I’m alone with good people

The nurses focus on me. When I first started at one of my hospitals, we used to have a single nurse dedicated to the doctor, so that every time a wrote an order, he or she was on it. Now, when up to six doctors are work, the nurses are sometimes like, “Aaaagh! Too many orders! Take a break.”

I miss those dedicated days. But on the night shift, I’ve got it back.

And the nurses are some of my favourite people. We make jokes. We laugh. One super doctor (not me) makes fancy desserts before her night shifts, so it’s kind of a party.

Hate #1: I’m tired and more prone to mistakes

Some people may love all-nighters. Not me, and certainly not multiple ones in a row. Studies have documented more medical errors at night, when staff is tired and overworked. I try to counterbalance this by double-checking doses and by telling nurses to please let me know if they spot anything amiss. Two or three heads are better than one, and we need all brains on deck at 3 a.m.

Love #1. I get all the cool cases

No other doctor siphons off the shoulder dislocation or the pre-arrest. I’m it. And that is the #1 reason to do emergency medicine—because you love the thrills, the bizarre, the extremes of humanity.

So there you have it. Love it or hate it, night shifts aren’t going away.

And if you want to read about the world’s worst night shift, I wrote my next thriller about it: Graveyard Shift! Thanks so much to Joanne for having me.

Buy Links

Amazon | Wind Tree Press

Kobo is kindly offering a promo code, GRAVEYARD100, so you can grab a free copy here.

Some of the proceeds will prevent violence against women. Part of them will go to a scholarship in honour of Dr. Elana Fric, and some will go to the Akwesasne Family Wellness Program.

Thanks again!

Bio

Melissa Yi wields a stethoscope and a scalpel as an emergency physician. She also pens the Hope Sze medical thrillers, which have been named one of the best Canadian suspense books by the Globe and Mail, CBC Books, and The Next Chapter. Yi was a finalist for the Arthur Ellis Award for best crime story in Canada and shortlisted for the Derringer Award for the best short mystery fiction in the English language. Her novels will debut in audio as Kobo Originals on November 5th. Sometimes, she sleeps.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Sgt. Scott Coulter – Inspired Graveyard Shift

Sgt. Coulter will attend this evening’s Facebook Launch Party for Graveyard Shift. All are welcome. Find out more here.


Spotlight on In Over Her Head

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Krysten Lindsay Hager. Today, Krysten shares ten life lessons from her dad and her new release, In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety.

10 Life Lessons from My Dad

I love the idea of sharing life lessons from my dad because not only was he the one I went to for advice, but he inspired both the character of Cecily’s dad, Mr. Damone, and her vice principal, Mr. Warwick, in In Over Her Head: Lights, Camera, Anxiety.

My dad was always the one people went to for advice and we lost him far too soon, but I still have people ask me what he’d advise them to do on things. So, here are some life lessons from my dad.

10. You know how people will say to treat the janitor the same as the CEO? Well, he didn’t just say it, he did it. Years ago, my sister left my dad’s golf club behind at her down. Weeks later, the janitor came down the hall saying, “Amy’s dad, I have your golf club!” Someone else found it and wanted to keep it, but since my dad had always stopped and chatted with the janitor, the guy went out of his way to return it. He said he locked it up so no one could steal it because he appreciated my dad always taking time to talk with him.

9. He always said people want to feel remembered, so he’d visit people in nursing homes, attend funerals, and visit people who were ill.

8. He told me the hardest thing was being there for someone as they’re making a mistake. I didn’t fully get this until a friend of mine got engaged weeks after dating someone. He told me if I said anything, she’d double down, but if I let her talk, she might need someone to talk to about any doubts she had. I half did it just to show him how ridiculous that was, but you know what? It happened JUST like he said.

7.Follow your passion and not a paycheck. My dad’s passion was helping people find their path in life. After he passed, we received condolences from students saying, “he took the time to really listen to me,” “He cared. No one else had, but he did and I turned my life around.”

6. Take time to appreciate the simple things. He always pointed that out to me and so I gave Mr. Damone this line, “You don’t always appreciate the good things or even the everyday things if you haven’t been through some storms. I remember when my dad got well after being sick and I woke up that morning and it was the first time I truly appreciated a sunrise. That first sip of orange juice was like nothing I ever experienced… Now I make it a point to appreciate the little things like a sunny day.”

5. Integrity is everything. He always kept his word even when people took advantage of that. Integrity is something people don’t put value on because it isn’t something that brings monetary value, but it is invaluable.

4. Education and books are always worth it. He was a big supporter of education and a great Dad to have when you have a book addiction. You’ll never regret paying for something you learn from.

3. Look out for others. I have countless stories of people who told me how my dad made them feel safe during times when they felt intimated by someone else. My dad really hated seeing people of all ages being intimidated and bullied. He even stuck up for a nurse getting bullied when he himself could barely walk.

2. If you have to correct someone then do it without making them look stupid. Remembering that is what gets me to delete responses I soooo want to send, but I know it’s not right.

1. Let people talk and they’ll let you know everything about them. You know how some people just wait for the other person to stop talking so they can start? He was one of those rare people who actually listen and hear what a person is saying. And he was right—you can learn so much just by letting someone talk.

Blurb

Cecily feels like she has it all: great best friends, the beginnings of a career as a model/actress, and she’s dating her favorite singer, Andrew Holiday. Then Cecily’s best friend Lila begins to ditch her every time Lila’s boyfriend calls. Cecily feels lost, but she and Andrew begin connecting more and she’s never been in a relationship where she felt so understood. Andrew even begins to confide in her about his anxiety. Soon Cecily experiences her own anxiety on a magazine photo shoot, but she manages to impress the magazine staff. Just when it seems like all her dreams are coming true, everything comes crashing down when a photo of Andrew with another girl appears online. He swears nothing happened, but Cecily is crushed. She feels like she’s lost two of the people closest to her.

Was her perfect relationship real or was she in over her head?

Excerpt

One day I had the career and the guy of my dreams. Then Danielle King came along. If people could be trusted, maybe it would have been okay, but they can’t. They suck. And now my dream relationship was gone and no one would ever know what had actually been in my grasp.

How can a person go from having a whole life with someone, and then it ends like you were never even together? No wonder people talk about how awful divorces are. That must hurt a million times more. Sure, I don’t have to see Andrew every day at school like I did Zach, but it seems like Andrew was everywhere. I went to the grocery store with my mom and they were playing one of his songs because he’s technically a local.

Andrew’s music was always what I listened to when I was sad. His heartache music got me through the worst times and now, not only could I not stand to listen to it, there was now the chance I could end up hearing music about our breakup. Actually, I didn’t know which was worse: the possibility he’d use our relationship as inspiration for a song, or finding out I was barely a blip on his radar and not even warranting a mention.

What was I supposed to do with my life now?

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Canada | Amazon Japan | Amazon IN

Author Bio and Links

Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends…Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True. True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers’ Favorite Book Award Finalist. Landry in Like is a Literary Classics Gold Medal recipient.

Krysten’s work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News and on Living Dayton.

Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Giveaway

Krysten Lindsay Hager will be awarding a $10 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Krysten on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


Honoring Toni Morrison

The first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize in 1993, Toni Morrison lived a life filled with achievements and presidential honors. Her novels, among them The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, contain rich prose and unforgettable characters.

Ms. Morrison also taught at Princeton University and held workshops for aspiring writers. Her advice to her students is even more relevant in today’s world.

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

Last night, Toni Morrison died at the age of 88.

Here are more of my favorite quotations from Toni Morrison:

You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.

The function of freedom is to free someone else.

Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion…you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling. I don’t think it’s any of that—it’s helpless…it’s absence of control—I have no use for it whatsoever.

You are your best thing.

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

Make up a story…For our sake and yours, forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light.


Loving Those Oxymorons

Technically they’re oxymora, but according to the wordsmiths, oxymorons can be used as the plural form.

Whatever form you choose to use, one thing is certain: Oxymorons attract attention. And people who like to pepper their conversations with these literary devices are well aware that their listeners will stop and think, wondering whether they should laugh or not.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


10 Important Life Lessons My Cats Have Taught Me (and how they live on in my writing)

I’m happy to welcome author Jodi Rath to the Power of 10 series. Today, Jodi shares ten important life lessons she learned from the felines in her life and her new release, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder.

Here’s Jodi!

10. No matter how bad life can be, learn to be resilient and love IN SPITE of it all. Our cat Stewart has one-eye from being abused as a kitten. Yet, when we adopted him, we thought we couldn’t do it because it would be too sad. Stewart doesn’t care at all that he has one eye. He loves us unconditionally and is the happiest little guy in the world. He is on the cover of book two, Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread Murder, that comes out 6/21/19 and plays a role in the book.

9. Sleep is a good thing. Cats sleep A LOT. I’ve always been one to sleep a routine 6 to 8 hours a night. After I began my business, my sleep schedule has changed a lot. My cats remind me to take naps if I can’t get a full night sleep. No, they aren’t running a business—but they also aren’t stressed, and they sleep a lot—AND their fur is shiny and beautiful! Great for us ladies and our skin too!

8. When it’s time to play—PLAY HARD LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING! Recently, we adopted three five-week-old kittens. We mostly have adopted adult cats because most people want kittens. Our adult cats are playful at times, but they prefer food and sleep to play. NOT THE KITTENS! They are NUTBALLS! They do love to sleep and eat, but when they play—it’s like they are partying like it’s 1999! That’s important in life—adults need to play and let loose at times—AND don’t worry about who sees you or what they think. My three little girls, Lily, Lulu, and Luna, sure don’t care!

7. Race doesn’t matter. One of the themes of my culinary mystery series, The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series, focuses on a small village where the villagers are tolerant and caring for those around them. They aren’t so much with outsiders when people from the city (politicians) begin to buy up land for urban sprawl purposes, and the villagers have to (what they think) “allow” outsiders in. Being tolerant means being tolerant to ALL—not just to those that it is easy to be tolerant to—think about it. That makes no sense anyway. Some of my cats are black; some are orange and white, some are golden brown, some are black and white mixed—they don’t look at the color of each others’ fur and judge based on that or stereotype—they equally love each other as is.

6. Stop and smell the flowers every so often. We keep fresh flowers in our house weekly. Our cats get SO excited when we bring them in, and they always are on the counter wanting to smell them and maybe be sneaky and chew on the stems too. My husband and I have bought or picked fresh flowers weekly for each other for 17 years now. It makes a HUGE difference in our relationship.

5. Good litter box manners are important. Enough said! LOL

4. Don’t sweat the small stuff. We’ve had 16 cats in 17 years—never more than nine at one time. Many passes, especially when we adopt them as adults. Our first cats, unfortunately, are the ones we learned from. They would do things, and we would punish them getting SO upset. Once we lost them, we realized how stupid we were being. Some scratched furniture here and there? Who cares? It’s things—the things do not give unconditional love and trust.

3. Keep your mouth shut when you snore. My husband snores while sleeping on his back—LOUDLY. Stewart, the one-eyed cat, did not appreciate it—he sat on Mike’s mouth while he snored. Mike freaked out in the middle of the night. I’ve never laughed so hard in my entire life!

2. Understand your place in life. We do not own our cats—we are their servants. We want it that way! They bring us joy and happiness. I’ve had a very good reason not to trust many people in my life—I’ve dealt with abuse as a child and in a first marriage. I’ve worked with many teens who have experienced horrific trauma. Not all people are bad—but animals love unconditionally.

1. Advocate for those without a voice. I learned this lesson the hard way when my 13-year-old diabetic cat was taken to a vet we typically don’t see, and she recommended we take him to the vet ER. We did; they kept him, and everything in us said not to let them. They kept him four days, and he died of a blood clot. None of that had to happen. We trusted those with an education that we didn’t have—but our hearts told us differently. Maybe he would have died anyway—but he would have at home—we spent close to 13 years loving and spoiling him, and he had diabetes for six of those years. We never left overnight to be sure he got his insulin twice a day. Because we didn’t advocate for him, he suffered for it. Trust your instincts and be willing to live with consequences.

Blurb

Welcome to Leavensport, Ohio where DEATH takes a delicious turn!

Financial fraud of elderly villagers in Leavensport, an urban sprawl threat to the community, disastrous dates, cross-sell marketing gone wrong, and another murder? Jolie Tucker is ready to try dating again. Well, she has no choice—since her family auctioned her off to the highest bidder. Her best friend, Ava, has agreed to a double date, but both friends find out hidden secrets about their partners as well as deception by one of the village’s own, who will soon be found dead. This plot is sure to be spicy!

Buy Links

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Author Bio

Moving into her second decade working in education, Jodi Rath has decided to begin a life of crime in her The Cast Iron Skillet Mystery Series. Her passion for both mysteries and education led her to combine the two to create her business MYS ED, where she splits her time between working as an adjunct for Ohio teachers and creating mischief in her fictional writing. She currently resides in a small, cozy village in Ohio with her husband and her nine cats.

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