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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wednesday on Writing: The Query


One question I am often asked is what are you looking for in query?  My answer, almost always, is this: professionalism. 


What do I mean by that?


Gosh I’m so glad you asked because I could go on about this all day! LOL.


Let’s start with the salutation.  Yep, it starts there.


So you’ve reviewed the publisher’s website and you know what to submit and to whom.  How do you start your letter?  Well the name of the person is Jane Doe, so let's start with 

Dear Jane.


Insert loud buzzer sound here.


Are you sure you want to start with Dear Jane?  Does Jane know you? Have you met Jane? Are you acquainted well enough to be on a first name basis with Jane?? If you cannot answer any of those questions with a resounding “Yes!” then don’t do it.


I’ve polled fellow editors and found them split fifty fifty on whether or not this bothers them.  Some of us find the over familiarity off putting and unprofessional, some don’t even think twice about it.  Since you have no idea of knowing which category Jane falls into, I’d start with a more formal greeting.  You can say Dear Ms. Doe, or even Dear Editor.  But I would not recommend starting with Dear Jane. (And I cannot believe I have to say this, but don't start with Dear Sir.  I still see that one sometimes.  It's way too outdated.)


Next.  What does the editor need to know at this point?  Well you want to pitch a story to her, right?  So let’s start by talking about that.


Some important things to mention up front: whether or not the story is complete.  This is more important than you might think. Finishing a story is an accomplishment and tells me you are not just a hobbyist.  A lot of people start books; a professional author finishes them.


Next: what is the word count?  If the publisher’s website says they accept books up to 85k and you submit one that is 140k, it is not going to end the way you want.  They will either tell you it needs to be cut down to their word count requirements, or they will simply flat out reject you.


But Nic, if the editor loves my story, won’t they tell me where to cut?


Let me set the record straight on this one.  That’s a common misconception.  I wish I had that kind of time.  But publishing houses are swamped these days.  As more and more go under due to the economy or the world of self-publishing, the more authors who don’t want to self pub come to our doorsteps.  But in my 35+ years in the world of publishing I have never seen an editor do that for an unpublished author. Let me put it this way:  I would never ask someone who isn’t contracted to do edits.  And I can’t contract a story that’s longer than the maximum word count allowed by my publisher.  See how that works?  So there is only one way for that scenario to end, I’m afraid.  (If you are truly committed to your story, the only real option for outside help would be to hire an independent editor to evaluate the story and offer you some suggestions.)


When we get to the “how to” section of this writing series, we will talk about knowing when and where to cut.


Next.  The genre.  If you don’t know it, am I supposed to guess?  It’s a cozy mystery, or it’s a sweet young adult romance, or it’s a romantic suspense.  I may know based on what you are telling me, but I need to know that you know.


So now we have the opening lines of our query letter.  What is it, is it complete and how long is it?


I’ll start with what’s familiar to me. 

Dear Editor,

 Wild Texas Wind is a work of western historical romance complete at 85k words. 

There, that wasn’t so hard, was it? 

Next tell me as little about your story.  Again, I’ll work with one of my own since that’s easier. 

Arden O’Hara has faked her own kidnapping to test her fiancé’s affections.  Does he love her, or her father’s money? What she doesn’t realize is her plan has gone horribly wrong and she has actually been kidnapped. 

Raz Colt is the bounty hunter hired by her father to find her.  For the amount of money being offered, he’ll walk through hell itself if that’s what it takes.  Only Raz is expecting a little girl, not a full-grown woman.


Okay that’s enough to get my attention. It hints at the conflict gives me an idea of what the story is about and a taste of the author's voice.   

Next you may want to mention any professional affiliations.  If you belong to any writing groups, now is the time to mention them.  This tells me you are serious and since some of these organizations actually focus on professionalism, it tells me you are a step above many of the other authors waiting in my inbox. Are you already published? If so, with whom? Even if you are self-published, it still tells me you know how to finish what you start, so don’t feel you can’t mention that.


If you don’t have any of those to mention, that’s okay, it’s not a deal breaker.  Mentioning that you saw on the publisher’s website that they are looking for –insert genre here-- is helpful, too, or if you met them at a conference, remind them.  That tells me you actually know who you are submitting to and did your research.


A little bio about yourself never hurts, but I don’t mean how long you’ve been married, and how many grandkids/dogs/cats you have.   A query is an inquiry after all, not an invitation to tell your life story.  So just share the stuff that’s relevant to your writing self.  After all, this is a business, not a dating website (I know that sounds harsh but imagine wading through dozens of these on a daily basis).  So anything included should be related to your story—if you are a western author and have worked with horses all your life; a Civil War author and you are a reenactor; a medical professional and your main character is a doctor.  And definitely, if you did hands on research on your story topic, mention it here. 

Otherwise it’s perfectly appropriate to just cut to the chase and say the synopsis and first X number of pages (if the publisher requests those, some find it helpful to expedite the review process, others don’t require it) are below. 

I’ll do a brief recap.   This is what an editor wants to know at this point in the process:

·         What is the genre?

·         What is the length?

·         Is it complete?

·         What is your experience as an author (aka do you know what you are doing?)

·         Can you write? This is where the synopsis comes in and in some cases those sample pages.

      This is another area where it’s very important to give the publisher exactly what they asked for, no more, no less and no different. 


We will cover that next week with some dos and don’ts. 




Monday, October 25, 2021

Monday Morning Musing: Gratitude

We are heading into the season where we give thanks, and I had a wonderful reminder just a few days ago to be more thankful.

 I had a health scare.

 Not the “we need to run some tests” kind of health scare.  The kind where your body lets you know in no uncertain terms that something is wrong.  Very wrong.  Maybe even seriously wrong. 

Chest pain.  It can be so many things, and our mind always jumps to the worst possible conclusion.  

But despite being a short, pudgy kind of gal who loves wine and peanut M&Ms I am pretty healthy overall, so this was something new for me. 

Those who know me know I have a lot on my plate.  As do we all. Mom. Wife. Editor. Author.  Caregiver to an elderly FIL who needs full time care—but no one has 24 hours to give him.  We are with him as much as we can be and paid caregivers help with the times we cannot be. Modern technology fills in the gaps—there are times when I may not be there in person but I have eyes on him via camera pretty much anywhere inside or outside the house.  If anything happens I am a short drive away. I have a husband who is getting older and dealing with his own health issues while also caring for said elderly parent.  I home school my teenager, who also helps with his grandfather’s care.  My older son has taken a year off from college to sort things out in his head and help with his Grandpa’s care, as well and he helps me as much as he can. 

I am also self-employed.  In recent years I have found it necessary to add an e-commerce store to supplement my income in a post pandemic world where filling my gas tank alone can wipe out half my grocery budget, and my grocery expenses rival my mortgage.  On top of that FIL’s money doesn’t stretch as far as it used to with expensive prescriptions, pay for caregivers and meals for his special dietary needs, so there are times when my already straining budget must stretch even farther to make sure he has what he needs as well. 

Life is hard.  

In the past two years it has gotten much harder for many of us. 

The last few weeks have been rough for me, with my “to do” list growing longer from week to week and the demands on my time and energy increasing.  

I love my husband, but he has a tendency to dump as much on me as he can.  In the past it hasn’t been an issue, I work from home, sometimes it’s just easier for me to handle appointments for my FIL and other odds and ends of things that come up. But when those things start coming back-to-back-to-back on top of the other hundred-and-one things I do in a day, it can really cause the stress to pile up.  And sometimes he is so busy thinking about moving things from his to do list to mine that he doesn’t stop to realize how full my list already is.  

Which brings me back to the chest pain. And the gratitude.  

So there I was with this horrible pain in my chest. I looked up heart attack symptoms online—I know, I know.  Don’t do that!  And I usually don’t.  But I was really getting worried. 

Numbness in the arm? Duh, I type all day, I have carpal tunnel, my arm is numb and tingly most of the time.  Sweating?  Uh I’m a 54-year-old female, put me outside in an ice storm—naked—and I’d still be sweating.  

I had none of the other symptoms though.  

Well that was inconclusive.  I also saw some scary stuff about a certain vaccine many of us have had to get recently (whether we really wanted to or not) and the increased risk of heart attack.  Oh boy.  That was an even scarier thought.  

So I did what I always do.  

I IM’d Kim.  

Kim Turner, amazing author and nurse extraordinaire.  And one of my BFFs.

I didn’t want to bug her with this-I bug her with so many things-- but I had to know if I should be worried. 

She wasn’t there. 

So after a bit when Kim hadn't seen my message yet, I phoned my friend Kat.  Also a nurse. 

Got her voicemail. 

I don’t know about where you live, but where I am, vaccine mandates have caused a lot of staff shortages in hospitals.  So trust me the last place you would want to be right now is an ER.  People can wait for days just to be seen, let alone treated.  So the thought of heading to one was not welcome at all.  

I finally decided I’d take a swing by the urgent care center near my FILs house and if the parking lot wasn’t overflowing, maybe I’d take a stroll inside (my oldest son was driving). 

Kim IM’d me back while we were in the car.  And calmly asked me some questions and basically talked me down. 

Was I having a heart attack?  Maybe. Maybe not.  We talked some more.  Kim is my person, my bud, we chat off and on all day. I would be lost without her.  And in those moments I was so grateful for her.  Even though we were texting, her very calm and caring demeanor came across loud and clear and really helped to calm me.   

So rather than urgent care I went to my FIL’s house and got him his breakfast and his morning meds and took care of him.  Kim stayed with me via IM and long story short helped me see that anxiety and stress—and maybe lifting some heavier things than I should have been recently—were more likely the culprit.  I slowly began to breathe easier and as the panic began to subside so did the pain in my chest. Once my mind stopped imagining all sorts of scary scenarios, it was easier for my body to settle down.   

I was on my way home a couple of hours later when Kat returned my call.  I was feeling somewhat better by then but told her why I had called, and she talked to me in that calm, no nonsense way of hers (it's a tone that comes from years of being a nurse, that’s the only way I can describe it) asked me a bunch of questions, talked to me for quite a while and reassured me as well.  I have know her for more than twenty years and hearing her voice always soothes me.  She is the sister of my heart.  

I went home and got some much-needed rest, not sleep, just rest.  Some things on my to do list for that day didn’t get done because I chose to rest instead. And you know what?  The world didn’t end because I didn’t do them.  Go figure. 

My oldest son didn't leave my side the entire afternoon, he talked to me, made me laugh a lot and hovered like the mother hen he is until he was sure I was okay.

But I began to realize how blessed I am to have two such wonderful friends in my life--not to mention my amazing son-- and I am pretty sure I don't deserve any of them.  

And that was what got me thinking about gratitude.  

My chest still hurts somewhat, and the more I think about my “to do” list the tighter it gets.  But I am taking it a bit easier, doing a bit more deep breathing and praying a bit more, not to ask for the things I don’t have, but to say thank you for the things I already have.  

And feeling grateful.  Not just that I didn’t have a heart attack, but that I am blessed in so many ways. 

As we head into November, my favorite month, I am going to focus on the things I am grateful for. And that includes the things that worry me.  The freezer is full and there is food in the pantry—groceries may cost more right now but we won’t starve anytime soon.  And my FIL may be a pain in the arse, but the Good Lord put us in each other's path for a reason, and if He decides taking care of FIL is what I do in this season of my life, so be it.  

Best of all I am still here. 

For a few hours the other day I wasn’t sure I would be. 

Gratitude really does change everything.  



Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Wednesday on Writing: Key Issues to Search before Submitting Your Work


Last week we spoke about doing your research to find the right publishing house for you.

Brief recap: 

 ·         They accept the genre you write

·         Your story falls within their word count requirements.

·         You’ve reviewed their requirements and removed/don’t have any content they don’t accept

·         You have researched them as a publishing house, possibly even talked to some of their published authors and are happy with what you found


Great, let’s get this thing submitted!


Ahhh but wait.  Are you sure it’s ready?  A clean manuscript can be the difference between a form letter “doesn’t suit our needs” rejection and a request to review the full manuscript, or at the very least, a rejection that asks you to make some revisions and resubmit.  Before we get to the why’s and wherefores of rejections, let’s do our part to make sure your story gets some positive attention from an editor:


Disclaimer time. Obviously I don’t know how many years you have spent learning the craft of writing, how far along in the process you are or what your skills are.  I only know from an editor’s perspective and the perspective of one who has often been asked to look at the work of beginning authors for feedback. 


Let me pause here a moment and say every author needs feedback.  No matter how good you are, or think you are, there is always something to learn.  If you are only just starting out—just typed “the end” and have had no feedback except from family members or friends --who may or may not know the writing craft and may or may not know how to be honest with you-- I’d take a big step back from “ready to submit” and focus on the writing and the story.  Find a writer’s group, or an online group.  A good critique partner can be as difficult to find as a good fitting pair of jeans. And all the trying out can be just as frustrating, discouraging and disheartening as trying on a hundred pairs of jeans in a department store fitting room. But keep going until you find the right fit. 


Anyway, with the rise in self-publishing and people’s attention spans ever shorter, not as many people focus on the actual craft as they used to.  And why would they? As I’ve already noted, self-publishing is just a few mouse clicks away, people don’t want to write well anymore, they just want it out fast. 


I feel it’s important to wait and get it right, but that’s just me.


End of rant, let’s get back to where we were.  Whether you are a true novice or a seasoned writer, giving your MS a once over to search for key issues before submitting to a publisher is never a bad idea. 


Don’t fall into the trap of over-editing your story.  Constant reading and tweaking is not what I’m talking about.  I mean search (Ctrl F) for key issues.  While genres like mainstream fiction, YA and women’s fiction are not quite as picky about things like telling and passive voice, it doesn’t hurt to look for these things in your story and address them.  Active writing, after all, is what makes a reader feel as if they are “there”.


I won’t get into the nitty gritty on active versus passive writing, viewpoint, showing rather than telling or dialogue tags just now—each of those are a subject on their own and could fill pages. We will save those lessons for later in the series.  But some basic things I would recommend you address before submitting are:

Name over use.  How many times are you using your characters’ names per page?  Does almost every line of dialogue begin or end with someone saying the other character’s name, and that character then responding using the other character’s name?  Trust me that gets old fast.  Soap operas are not much of a thing these days, but once upon a time they were notorious for doing that so that new viewers could keep track of who is who. But I still see it a lot on TV and in movies.  So let’s fix that.  As long as the reader knows who is in the scene, it’s not necessary to hit them over the head with names.  You can easily substitute things like “the dark-haired woman” or “the older man” or “the boy” in place of proper names. 


So do a search on those—you may be surprised how much you have actually used them.  And just a warning… once you get in the habit of noticing this, you cannot not notice it—in every book, television show or movie.


Word overuse.  This same repetition can also be applied to pet words.  Most authors have a word or phrase they love and use way too much.  Frequent ones are that, just, and really.  But it can also be a phrase or gesture. A good way to know if you are doing this is to read your work aloud.  To yourself, to your dog, to your spouse—whoever will listen.  If that doesn’t work for you, search for the “read aloud” feature in your version of Word (only newer version have this) and have the computer read it to you. 


Passive words.  Other passive words that can drag the pace of your writing down are:  was and words that end in ing or ly.  This is especially true if the word preceding those ing or ly words happens to be was.  Other words you might want to look for: saw, watched, heard, thought, felt, knew, moved, reached.   We all use them, and sometimes there is no way around them, but it’s important to eliminate where you can.  So quick lesson: he was riding becomes – he rode.  She was crying – she cried.  He was ugly—describe it instead.  As for the filtering words like watched, saw, heard—just describe what they are seeing instead “he saw a blue sky” instead try describing it.  White clouds floated in an azure sky—you get the gist. 


Search and Highlight.  You can do a simple search in Word and see the actual number of times you have used these words and in newer versions, you actually will get a snippet with all the results.  But you can also do a search and highlight (Ctrl+H) and highlight those words to better show you.  Your goal at this point should be to eliminate at least half.


Now this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to writing craft.  But let’s start there. 


Spelling and grammar. Next run a spelling and grammar check.  You’d be surprised how many manuscripts I’ve seen with typos and misspelled words.  While the odd typo is not grounds for immediate rejection, too many of them suggest to me that you rushed or are careless. There is a very good spell/grammar check in Word, or you can download the free version of Grammarly.  If spelling and or punctuation are areas you struggle with, you may want to go into your version of Word and enable the “check spelling as your type” option (with so many versions of Word out there, it would be difficult for me to pinpoint where to find it, but a search in the help field should do it).


Formatting. And finally, once all of that is done, make sure your MS is formatted to the standards required by the publisher.  Every publisher is different, so pay close attention to their specifications.  If their website says all submissions must be in 12-point Times New Roman or Courier with one-inch margins all around, then you better be sure your format is exactly that.  Well Nic, surely they wouldn’t reject an author for not submitting in the proper format, would they?  It’s hard to say, but why take the chance—and does an editor really want to work with someone who can’t follow directions?  I know I don’t.


Now that we’ve done all of that, you may be ready to submit your story to a publisher.  And while taking the necessary steps listed above will not guarantee you a publishing contract or even a request to review the entire story, they are important craft issues, and it never hurts to be aware of them. 


If my years in the publishing industry have taught me one thing, it’s that everyone has a story—but not everyone can write it.  The good news is writing is a process we learn by doing, so keep at it!

So let’s move on to the next step---insert spooky music here—The Query.


We will talk about that next week!


Friday, October 15, 2021

Friday Friends: Am I friendless???

 Once upon a time, this day of the week was reserved for spotlighting "friends"--those who wanted to share a little bit about their published stories and their writing journey.  

But it's empty, so apparently I have no friends!! 😭

Please contact me at or IM me on FB messenger if you would like to be featured in my Friday Friends section.  First come, first served.  

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Wednesday on Writing: The Publishing Process (Part 1 of a weekly series)

 Welcome back! 

So let’s begin with a few disclaimers. I am not an expert.  I don’t pretend to be an expert.  But I have picked up a thing or two along the way and I’m more than happy to share.  If what I say works for you or opens your eyes to something you didn’t know, I’m glad.  If not, ignore me and move on.


Second disclaimer.  The opinions stated here are my own.  They are not intended to represent the opinions of any publisher, including those for whom I have worked or currently work.  They are all in my own little head.


Now eventually I’d like to get into the whole “how to write a book” thing, but for now, since nobody had any suggestions for a jumping off point, we’ll start with what’s on my mind.  The Publishing Process.


Let’s assume you already have written a book or at least have one in progress.  First of all, good for you.  A lot of people want to write a book, but it takes commitment and dedication to make it happen.


The good news is that we live in a world where self-publishing is just a click away and you can do it all yourself. There are pros and cons to doing both, and we can talk about those down the road but for now I am going with the assumption that you want to submit your work to a publisher.


Insert magical harp sounds to indicate the passing of time.


Your story is ready.  You’ve worked hard and you are ready to share your baby with the world.  Surely every publisher will want to jump on it—you have written The Great American Novel, after all!


Where to start?


Step 1.  The research.  So you’ve heard that your best friend’s mother’s cousin’s sister-in-law twice removed just got contracted with XYZ publishing house.  So you decide to start there.  You send them your newly finished manuscript. You browse their website, but not to see what they are looking for, only to see where to submit.

You hear nothing back.


Turns out, they only publish cookbooks.


I know you are excited and eager to see your work in print so you can start raking in millions (uh… yeah remind me talk about that little harsh bit of reality later) but it is important to take the time to do your research and choose the right publisher for your work.


I know, I know.  You just want it out there. Patience, Grasshopper.  We’ll get there.


You don’t start where you would think, by putting a note out on social media asking friends where to submit.  I mean yeah, you can do it that way but here’s a crazy, wild totally out there thought: read.  Whether you write traditional westerns, cozy mysteries or sweet romance, find out who is publishing those.  Are the stories any good?  Do you like the cover art? Are they well edited? And here’s a biggie—what’s the maximum word count the publisher allows?


In a perfect world, you might even start doing this research before you start writing or before you finish your story. Tailoring it to the requirements of the publisher you want to work with is never a bad thing. 


Next you can start by asking around about the publisher-- and this is where it helps to belong to writer’s groups or at least have a presence on social media. Do they pay royalties on time? Advances? Publish in print or just electronic format? Are their authors happy? Do they have a lot of staff turnover?


Do an Internet search on any company and you will find the good, the bad and the disgruntled.  I would strongly encourage you to do that, but keep in mind that some of the bad will be authors who didn’t make the cut or had control issues (we’ll get to those, too). Word of mouth is your best friend.  If you hear the same complaint over and over from several different people, then you are well within your rights to be concerned.  But if you only hear it once, take into account that no one can please everyone all the time.


And depending on the publisher , you can even ask them for references.  Let them know you are thinking of submitting but you’d like to talk to some of their authors and ask questions.  If they ignore you or don’t like that idea, take that as a huge red flag and move on.


So you’ve nailed it down to a few publishers and you are ready to query.  What to do next?


Hint: it’s not what you might think.


And because this has already gone on rather long-- and because I love cliffhangers—we’ll talk about that next week!

Stop back next Wednesday for part 2: How to know when your MS is ready! 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Wednesday on Writing: New writing series coming soon!

 Because I have been in and around the publishing industry for so long  (uh we are talking 35+ years, people.  Which, of course, means I started in the womb! LOL) I am often asked to share some of what I have learned along the way.  Not just as a prepubbed author and a published author, but as many of you know, I also work in the publishing industry as an editor and have done freelance editing as well.  So... there's a lot of clutter rattling around the cobwebs in my brain and sometimes I think it might be nice to clean house, give some of this info away.

Stay tuned here each Wednesday as I talk not just about the nuts and bolts of writing but the how-to's of the publishing world.  How to get an editor's attention --both good and bad.  Sort of a do-this- not-that series.  

So leave me your questions below and I will do my best to address them in the series.

Til then, 

Happy Hump Day!


Monday, October 4, 2021

Monday Morning Musing: What's New with Nic?


 So if you follow me on social media, by now you know my exciting news.  Not one, but two Christmas stories coming out this year.

After too many years of life getting in the way of me finding writing time, it feels great to finally be able to make time for it again.  And to be able to celebrate my favorite time of year with the release of two holiday stories... that's just the icing on the cake!

While the stresses of life have only piled up even more, it's nice to have that escape from reality to look forward to every day.

Look for another Wylder story early 2022 and then hopefully I will get back to finish my Wild Texas series and from there, who knows!

I had so much fun working with Kim Turner on Christmas in the Wylder County Jail that I just may bug her to try another team project!

Til next time!


Friday, October 1, 2021

Chocolate Chip Christmas Wishes (Christmas Cookies Series)

 Coming November 30! (Available for preorder now)

Jake Mistletoe is the North Pole's resident bad boy.  Half elf, half human, he is the only child of a single mother who just happens to be Santa's head elf. Fed up with his wild, partying ways and lack of direction, his mother sends him to the real world for a dose of reality.


Lucy Prescott is all alone in this world.  Since the death of the grandparents who raised her, she has struggled to keep their Christmas novelty shop running in a dated, dying Christmas-themed tourist town. 


When Jake appears in town, magic seems to be in the air. For the first time in ages, life holds excitement, and Lucy finds herself wondering … what if?




She studied him as he sat up. Unconscious, the several days’ growth of stubble and mussed dark hair looked sloppy. But awake, that disheveled look gave him a devil-may-care aura.

How had she missed the chiseled jaw line, the dark brows that framed eyes fringed with long, sooty lashes or the fact that he was drop dead gorgeous?

He looked around the room, wiped a hand over his face and turned a slow half circle on the couch, gaping at the racks of holiday ornaments, animated characters, motion-activated novelties and Santa figures that played Christmas tunes.

She cleared her throat to draw his attention. “Good afternoon.”

He pulled the Santa hat from his head and pulled a frown before tossing it aside.

For lack of anything else to say, she chose the standard, cheery greeting used by locals. “Welcome to Christmasville, where it’s Christmas all year long.”

He turned to her with eyes a startling shade of blue. “Let me guess. I died, and this is Hell.”

Christmas in the Wylder County Jail: The Wylder West series

So what do you do when you write a story and your readers fall in love with one of your secondary characters?  Well usually you write a story for that character.

But wait... What if that character is already involved in a romance with another character--and that character belongs to someone else?

Well... if you are lucky enough that the other character belongs to a good friend, you both write the story!

This is exactly what happened to Kim Turner and me when we both were chosen to write stories for the Wylder West series. We thought it would be fun if her hero's uncle (Wylder Hearts) was having a secret-not-so-secret romance with my heroine's mother, who just happens to be the town madam. (The Wylder County Social Club)

 We never expected for Uncle Russ and Miss Addie's romance to be so fun.  Or for readers to connect with them the way they did.

So coming this December--no date available yet--readers will finally get to find out how it all began with Russ and Miss Addie and does she ever agree to finally marry him???

Even more fun, their story is part of a three story "series within a series".  It's a week before Christmas and a train derails just outside of Wylder as the town is besieged by a whopper of a blizzard.  Sarita Leone and Laura Strickland have written the other two stories in the series.,  You will be hearing a lot about this Christmas mini series over the next few weeks, but for now... here is the blurb and excerpt from Christmas in The Wylder County Jail!


Adelaide Willowby is having a bad day. It’s a week before Christmas and she has just kicked out the love of her life. Her sister and her daughter are barely speaking to her, one of her best girls is getting married, and ownership of the Wylder County Social Club is in jeopardy. Now she has landed in jail—for murder.


Russ Holt has relied on alcohol to quiet the ghosts from his past for far too long. His latest bender has caused him to let down both Addie and his son, and he knows something has to change. When a stranger in town is found dead and Miss Adelaide is arrested for murder, Russ smells a rat. 


Can he battle his demons, hunt down the real killer, and win back the woman he loves?



He glanced at the drink again. One small glass at a time or the whole mattered little...Addie was right. He was no longer the man he even thought himself. Hell, he wasn't the same man as clear back to Sarah. And he'd loved her with all his heart, the same heart that broke when she'd chosen his brother Rick.

He'd left Wylder out of necessity, letting his brother raise the son that by rights belonged to him. But the shredding of his heart had come much later when he'd lost his second wife and daughter to a fire while out hunting. He hadn’t been drinking then, not even a little—and look what had happened.

He wrapped his fingers around the small glass and with the other ground out the butt of the cigar. He'd buried his wife and later his brother, though nothing had come close to the pain of placing his small daughter in the ground. He pushed the glass aside once more, the bronze drink the one thing between him and the hurt that never ceased.

But Addie. Her touch brought a calm to the storms inside his heart and eased his mind. This time, he'd seen it in her precious blue eyes. He'd gone too far. Something lost, hidden behind disappointment if he were guessing. She was done and he damn well knew it. The decision was now his to make...the bottle or Addie.

The Struggle is Real Week 8: When Life Hits Back

  It’s been nearly two weeks since my last post. Did anyone notice I was missing?   But I have good news/bad news.   The good news. I wr...