Blog Schedule

I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

IWSG, Chocolate, and Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

This month's question is: What's the strangest thing you've ever googled in researching a story?

I don't know that I'd call anything I've researched strange. Interesting yes, but not strange. I haven't researched anything like what kinds to poisons to use, or how long does it take to choke a person to death, or is there a ghost of JFK haunting the White House, but I have done some very interesting and in depth research on, among other things, chocolate. 

Cocoa Pods
Cocoa beans come from this fruit. The seeds are
surrounded by a sweet meat.The trees are native
to Central America and only grow within a small
 latitudinal range.
Did you know that cocoa beans were literally used as money? A 100 beans could get you a jackrabbit or a turkey hen. A tom was worth 200. A turnkey egg, an avocado, or a fish wrapped in corn husks was worth three beans. Among the Maya and Aztec only the wealthy and royals drank hot chocolate - which was laced with chili - because doing so meant they were literally drinking their wealth. It is because of these two facts that we get the term about money not growing on trees, which at one time it really did. 

Supposedly chocolate in candy form didn't make an appearance until the 19th century. However, there's strong indications that soon after the Spaniards conquered the Aztecs and Mayas nuns added sugar to chocolate and were the first to make candies.  In 1544 it was a delegation of Maya nobles to the court of Prince Phillip who first brought chocolate to the Old World, not Cortes as some would have us believe. The Spanish crown became so enthralled with drinking chocolate they wanted to keep it secret and only a few monks, hidden away in Spanish 
monasteries, knew the recipe for preparing the beans. But eventually the secret was leaked and it became the new rage in Europe.
Cups and saucers (3) MET DT3891
Pedro de Toledo
By the way, it's because of drinking hot chocolate that we have saucers. Sometime between 1639 and 1648 the Viceroy of Peru, one Pedro de Toledo the Marques de Mancerea, became concerned when a lady spilled chocolate on her gown. He had the problem corrected by having a silversmith make a plate with a raised ring in the center of it. A small cup could then be set on the plate without fear of it slipping off. The "mancerina," or saucer, was born. This lead to potters making matching cups and saucers.

Here endth the lesson.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for, what else, chocolate!

What are you thankful for? Do you have a favorite kind of chocolate? A favorite candy bar? And what's the strangest thing you've ever researched?

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

IWSG, Being Thankful

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Mary Aalgaard, Madeline Mora-Summonte, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

This month's question is:  It's been said that the benefits of becoming a writer who does not read is that all your ideas are new and original. Everything you do is an extension of yourself, instead of a mixture of you and another author. On the other hand, how can you expect other people to want your writing, if you don't enjoy reading? What are your thoughts?

I seem to have something to say on this question...

To me, writing without reading is like running without first learning to walk. Reading and writing go together like soil and plants. Inotherwords, I think it's pretty impossible not to have one without the other, they are intertwined. We learn our letters and we learn how to write them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to read them. In learning to write our letters, we learn how to put them together into words that form sentences which teaches us how to read. In learning to read words, we learn the best way to put those words together. The more we read the better we get at putting words together. Music works much the same way. All musicians are influenced by what has gone before. All writers are influenced by what has gone before.
קלף, נוצה ודיו
If we want to be good writers I think it stands to reason that we must seek out good writers to read. It's true that not all of us will like every good writer. As an example, I'm not a fan of Hemmingway, but I love Steinbeck. And yes, for a while, I wanted very much to write like Steinbeck and made vain attempts to copy his "style." But if we read enough and we write enough eventually we find our own voices, our own styles. 

To not read for fear that your ideas won't be original is, in my mind, a kind of lie. All stories have at their root a few basic themes. Shakespeare did a very good job at showing us how to manipulate those basic themes - comedy, tragedy, revenge, love, fear, longing etc. - and write different stories around those themes. The stories we make up using those themes as our foundation are just as unlimited as the arrangement of 26 letters into words.
The first page of Chaucer's
Canterbury Tales.

Out of 8 notes, we get everything from Classical music to jazz to rock to country and everything in between. Out of 26 letters we get everything from Shakespeare to comic books and everything in between. 

If one never listens to music how will one learn about all the different ways those 8 notes can be put together? How will one know that repeating the same arrangement of notes over and over and over will be dull and boring to ears with a broader exposure? If one never reads how will one know that writing the same arrangement of words over and over and over will be boring to eyes with a broader exposure? 

Read. Write. Expose yourself to all the possibilities. Those possibilities will open the door to new possibilities and your own original ideas will emerge. Having an idea, you will arrange 26 letters in your own original way and tell a story around one of the ancient themes that is unique to you.

Being Thankful

Today I am thankful for Robyn Campbell, who died suddenly and unexpectedly this past week-end.
Robyn was among that first group of people to follow my blog. 
She read all three of my books and gave me feed-back.
She encouraged and supported my efforts.
I know she will be missed by many. Most particularly her family.
I posted this picture on her Facebook page for her birthday,
 which was just a few days before she died.
She never got to see it.

What are you thankful for? Did you know Robyn? Do you think reading is important for the improvement of your writing?

Friday, September 20, 2019

The Blind Shot, by J.L. Campbell

Helping out our friend, Joy Campbell, on the release of her latest book. Congratulations, Joy!


Stand-Alone: yes
Series: Par for the Course, Book 3
Publisher: The Writers’ Suite
Publication Date: September 20, 2019
Genres: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction, Multicultural
Heat Level: Sensual

Book Blitz: September 20, 2019



When all else fails, love will find a way.
Kofi Danquah has travelled halfway around the globe for fifteen years, satisfying his need for advancement and adventure. In that time, he has never met another woman as intriguing as Regina Chu. She's a chameleon—a wild child with issues she hides behind a playful persona.

In Gina's eyes, Kofi is a mystery—exotic, intense and secretive. His sober nature balances her bubbly personality and unconventional approach to life. Plus, he's appealing enough to make her forget they're from separate worlds.

Time spent together changes Kofi and Gina's platonic relationship into an attraction that burns hot despite their cultural differences and the disapproval of their families. But fairy tales don't always last and true love needs fertile soil in which to bloom.

Kofi left my side and took a spin around the room. He stopped beside a window that gave a view of the yard. Even in a white tee-shirt and knee-length shorts, he was distracting—despite the state I was in. After several minutes, he faced me. "Come here." 

I dragged myself to where he stood and looked up at him. 

He took me by both hands and as he drew me in, his breath wafted across my forehead. Cherished and protected, that's how I felt in his arms. 

"What was that for?" I asked.

"Do I need a reason to hug you?" 

I shook my head and tried to lighten the moment. "You're getting to be as weird as I am." 

He kissed my forehead and then chuckled. "Nope. Since I knew you needed a hug. I supplied it." 

Stepping backward, I met his eyes. "Do you believe what I just told you?"

"Why wouldn't I? Everything you've told me supports what I thought before you said a word about what happened to you." 

"And you still want to be with me?" 

"I ask you again. Why wouldn't I?" He pulled me close, squeezing me to his chest. "Come here, you crazy woman." 

While he hugged me, I mumbled in his shirt. "I just thought that maybe you'd think less of me." 

"Why would I? It wasn't your fault." Kofi tipped my chin up, but I wouldn't look above his lips. "It only makes me love you more." 

My heart stopped for at least a couple of seconds. I was sure of it. Since I wasn't convinced Kofi's words weren't a mistake or him trying to comfort me, I let the moment pass. 

"You know the worst part?" I asked, sniffling.

"I can't know, so I'm asking you to share that with me." 

I ran one finger over the bulging muscles in his arm. "The biggest problem my mother has with you is the color of your skin … as if we aren't black, too." 

Kofi's grin was filled with mischief. "I figured that out the minute she laid eyes on me." 





a $10 Amazon gift card




J.L. Campbell writes contemporary, paranormal, and sweet romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction, as well as new and young adult novels. Campbell, who features Jamaican culture in her stories, has penned over thirty books. She is a certified editor, who also writes non-fiction. When she’s not writing, Campbell adds to her extensive collection of photos detailing Jamaica’s flora and fauna. Visit her on the web at




Wednesday, September 4, 2019

IWSG, Destination USVI, Dorian

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts: 
 Gwen Gardner, Doreen McGettigan, Tyrean Martinson, Chemist Ken, and Cathrina Constantiner!

This month's question is: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

Some place indoors with comfortable AC and/or heating, with plenty of food on hand, and a view either of the the ocean or the mountains.
The possible article I talked about last month has been written and... accepted!! It's quite the deal. It will be published in Destination USVI, a magazine that is published annually and distributed to visitors as they board their plane on certain airlines at certain stateside airports!!!! You can take a gander at what the magazine(s) look like here.

I'll let you know when it actually gets into print.

Hurricane Dorian became a cat 1 right over St. Thomas and St. John. Lucky for my family and friends it did very little damage and everyone is fine. It was the surprise of it turning north and intensifying so quickly - in a matter of hours - that had people scrambling. Not that they weren't prepared, they were. But when you're expecting 50 to 60 mph winds and get 80 to 90 (one gust was officially recorded at 111 mph) it was... well a surprise.

As for the Bahamas and the East Coast. My heart aches. What a horrible storm. The Bahamas will never be the same. And I bet some of their sandy cays have disappeared completely. Give help where/when/how you can to all those suffering. I know a lot of IWSG and blogging friends live along the coast... Difficult times.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the mundane. 
Here's a picture of an Orb spider that's taken up residence in our yard. 
Haven't seen on in several years.

What are you thankful for? Got a dream location to write in? Are you safe from Dorian?

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

IWSG, Memories, and Writing

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

This month's question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise? For example, a positive and belated response to a submission you'd forgotten about or an ending you never saw coming?

It's funny, strange, and serendipitous how this question applies to me. I've been in a writing slump for some time. These slumps have happened before and I don't fret over it, as I know no matter how long they last, I'll eventually find my way out of it.

Recently I've been posting pictures with a few lines about the history of my family on the island of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I've been posting to my Facebook author page , St. John Travel and Life, and to Voices of St. John VI. The multitude of positive and up-lifting responses has been humbling, inspiring, and totally awesome!

These postings led the editor of a magazine - someone I've written for before - to ask me to write a story for her magazine. And not just one story, but perhaps several. And, I'll get paid for it, and handsomely too.

So, to continue in this general vein, I will post here a few of the pictures I've posted on Facebook.

My mother, Erva Claire Boulon, on a donkey at about age 14, 1931 at Trunk Bay, St. John.

My grandmother riding into Cruz Bay, St. John to pick up the mail. 1945. She ran a guest house at Trunk Bay from the late 1930s until World War II then picked up where she left off after the war ended.

My grandmother, Erva Hartwell Boulon on the upper porch of the Main House at Trunk Bay, early 1950s. She ran her guest house without electricity. Doctors, lawyers, and artists stayed there for the quietude and peace she provided.

Among her more well-known guests were the author John Dos Passos, Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty, and the artist Otto Freid.

This is a postcard from the 1940s of the kitchen at Trunk Bay.
This is me at Trunk Bay, about 1957. I appear to sand skiing.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for the memories and for the opportunity to share them.

What are you thankful for? Has your writing ever surprised you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Quotes to Contemplate on the Fourth of July, IWSG

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure
Writer's Support Group
, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Happy Fourth of July
It's what I'm thankful for.

Here are a bunch of quotes to contemplate during this holiday.

Stout elderly man in his 60s with long white hair, facing partway leftward
John Adams
“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” John Adams

"The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous." Frederick Douglas

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4th, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” – Erma Bombeck

“Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. Patriotism consists not in waving the flag, but in striving that our country shall be righteous as well as strong.” – James Bryce

Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington.jpg
“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” – George Washington

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”
—President George Washington

James Madison by Gilbert Stuart 1804.jpeg
“The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” – James Madison

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."

Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance.”
—President Woodrow Wilson

“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
—President Theodore Roosevelt

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves”
—President Abraham Lincoln

"May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right." Peter Marshall

“They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
—Benjamin Franklin

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
—Nelson Mandela

“Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president or any other public official, save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country. In either event, it is unpatriotic not to tell the truth, whether about the president or anyone else.”
—President Theodore Roosevelt

America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense, it is the other way round. Human rights invented America.”
—President Jimmy Carter

A stern middle-aged man with gray hair is wearing a dark red suit. He is standing behind a table, holding a rolled up document in one hand, and pointing with the other hand to a large document on the table.
Samuel Adams
“If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.”
—President John F. Kennedy

“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.”
—Samuel Adams

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

IWSG, Historical Romance, Being Thankful, IWSG Anthology Contest

Posting the First Wednesday of every month, the Insecure Writer's Support Group, is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. YOU can sign up HERE to participate.

Every month a question will be posed that may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Remember, the question is optional. You can write about anything that relates to your writing journey.

Let's give a warm welcome to our co-hosts:  Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, 
and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

This month's question is:  Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

Did you miss me last month? May slipped past and hardly left a trace...

As for this months question, it's a difficult one for me to answer. Yes, I tend to write middle grade fantasies, of a sort, that are kind of like fairy tales with a bit of realism thrown in for good measure. Deep down inside I've always wanted to write high fantasy. To that end I've created many worlds with maps and time-lines and histories going into excruciating detail like days being longer and figuring out a different kind of calendar. But the stories languished for all my clever world-building, and not one has ever been finished. 

I've also wanted very much to write historical fiction with a bit of romance thrown in. My own family's history, on my father's side, would be a fantastic subject. 

My great-great grandfather,
James Thomas Miller
1. My great-great grandfather, James Thomas Miller, leaves Scotland by himself at about the age of 14 or 15. Would have to make up a reason he left: a younger son who won't inherit anything? A run-away from an abusive family? A destitute child with no future in the old world? 
2. He lands in Texas, right before the 1836 Texas Revolution.
3. He is somehow involved in the Revolution because he gets a land grant that was given only to those who participated. The land is in the Houston area. 
4. He apparently doesn't like Houston and trades the grant for another in north Texas.
My great-great grandmother
Sarah Haught
5. There he meets my great-great grandmother, Sarah Haught who came to the area with her family (she had A LOT of siblings) from Ohio or some such place. James T. and Sarah are the second couple to get a marriage license in the settlement called Dallas.
6. They have a son, James Munroe, my great-grandfather.
7. In 1850 James T. decides to head west and sells his land in exchange for payment of certain debts. A detailed contract was written out on the land grant explaining where the money would go. It is important to note that Sarah's signature is also on the contract stating that she understands what is happening. I have held those grants in my hand!
8. James T., Sarah, and son James Munroe (who is somewhere between 2 and 3 years old) leave the Dallas area and travel south to the Gulf Coast. 
9. It gets a little sketchy here, but family stories say they got on a ship and went to Cuba where they lived for about a year as they waited for a ship to take them to Panama. 
10. They cross the Panama Isthmus on foot. Can you imagine taking this journey with a small child?
11. Once on the Pacific side they get on another ship and eventually make their way to California.
12. James T. does not strike gold. On the contrary, it's a struggle for them. They have 3 other children all of whom die before the age of 5.
13. Eventually they leave California and head north, settling in Victoria on the island of Vancouver. 
Lovers of the horse - brief sketches of men and women of the Dominion of Canada devoted to the noblest of animals. - (1909) (14762587561)14. James Thomas dies rather young, in his 50s, and Sarah marries a man named Simeon Duck. They have no children. There is a possibility that James T. and Sarah met Simeon while crossing Panama or on the ship they sailed to California. They may have kept in touch with him and he may have been instrumental in convincing James T. and Sarah to move to Victoria as that's where he had settled. 

15. Sarah outlives Simeon and dies at the ripe old age of 92 of breast cancer. She drives a sulky racing buggy until she is 90 which horrifies both men and women as it is considered quite improper, unfeminine, and undignified for a lady to sit with her legs spread apart. But who's going to argue with a woman who traveled from Texas to California with a small child?
James Munroe and Eliza Vincent on
their wedding day, April 19, 1872/73

16. James Munroe, James T. and Sarah's only surviving child, marries Ann Eliza Vincent. 
17. They live for a time in San Francisco where several of their children are born. They run a printing and book binding business. She is the printer, he is the binder. One day a horse thief is hung from their sign and they decide San Francisco is not the place to raise a family and so they move back to Victoria where the rest of their children are born.
18. They have 9 children, all of whom survive into adulthood. However, Leland disappears while fishing and his body never is found, and Eugene dies of TB. Their youngest is my grandmother, Sarah (Sadie) Eliza Miller, who becomes the mother of my father.

This wonderful family photo show them all, except for Eugene. My grandmother, Sadie, has her hand on Sarah's shoulder...

Yes... that would make for a rousing historical romance.


Annual Anthology Contest

The 2019 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions!
HERE'S the link!

I'm pleased. I have a story to submit.

Being Thankful
Today I'm thankful for my ancestors who were pioneers and, even if afraid, dove head-first into the unknown.

What are you thankful for? Do you know anything about your family history, is it something you're interested in? What's your favorite genre to write?