Amazon Ratings Today

On the paperback copy, even though I’ve only sold two paperbacks, Amazon has the ratings for all the books including the starred only ratings with no reviews:
4.4 out of 5 based on ratings from 47 Amazon customers
Customers can now submit ratings without writing reviews.
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5 star 32
4 star 7
3 star 6
2 star 1
1 star 1
On the digital version it only shows star ratings with reviews:
4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star

It would be in my best interest for them to leave this up, I think, but why do they keep changing it? I don’t think many people click on the paperback page. It would be nice if they showed the full starred ratings on the digital version page.

That’s seven more five star ratings. But you have to be on the paperback page and hover over the star ratings to see them…bummer.

Early Morning in the Middle of the Day

I don’t usually lie down and nap in the middle of the day. I take meds at night that usher me off to sleep and if I try to nap during the day I often have wild and crazy dreams.

I ate some leftover pizza that didn’t quite agree with me so I went to lie down and drifted off into sweet slumber.

It was early morning around 5:00 a.m. I woke up in a housing project and went into the kitchen to make some breakfast. I was making biscuits when this large black man walked in through the kitchen door. He was dressed in a headful of blond dreads, but holding a black wig in his hand. He hardly had any neck at all. That’s how heavy-set he was. He made his way past me into the bedroom, stripped off his big, black boots and his clothes. This huge, strange, naked man stood in the center of the room.

I grabbed the phone to dial 911 because I didn’t know this man. When I peered into the bedroom he was wearing pale blue scruffy house shoes and pink, lacy, see-through, longjohn style pajamas. His jeans, underwear, shirt and jacket were lying in a pile on my bed. I told the dispatch operator what was happening. She kept telling me to repeat things to her and I was getting frustrated.

His eyes rolled back in his head and I thought he was going to fall onto the bed. I grabbed him by the arm and he pulled my arm around his shoulders and leaned into me. He didn’t say a word. Thinking he was drunk or under the influence of drugs, I tried walking him and he followed me into the kitchen, bumping the table and knocking the flour sack over.

Then he pulled me toward the door, out the door and across the parking lot. A heavy rain started falling. Within minutes the parking lot was flooded and we tromped through the parking lot in the downpour, me in my house shoes and he in his house shoes. My arm was still around his thick neck.

I had given the dispatcher my address and she told me she could not send anyone to help me. I went into a tangential rant about who I would call and what I would do if she couldn’t do her job and get some help to me. She tried to explain that the address I gave her was for a building and she needed the apartment number. I calmed down and gave it to her.

Pulling him back into the kitchen to get out of the rain, sliding across the wet floor, we both collided into the table, which went crashing to the floor with us along for the ride. Drenched, we sat on the floor making dough out of everything we touched.

The police and paramedics came inside and asked if I was okay. I told them I was and explained what had happened.

The over-sized doughboy was passed out face down in a pile of white powder, slimy, sticky goo clinging to his pink, lacy p.j.s.

They checked his eyes, started an IV of narcan, and hoisted him onto a stretcher. Within minutes he was gone.

About that time, my three kids appeared at the door. I woke up before I had to tell them what had happened.

This is the reason I take meds.

P.S. There is no sufficiently appropriate Google image to pull for this scenario, I checked.

Way Back in the Day…


My grandmother never bought her clothes. She made most everything she wore. Sometimes her sister in Montgomery, Alabama, would send her store bought dresses.  That was a time when the sewing machine (and the piano) was the most prized piece of furniture in the house.

She baked her own bread, biscuits, cornbread, hoecakes, white bread, and pancakes. The flour and meal came in big fifty pound fabric bags. The feed sacks and flour sacks came in pretty floral prints and stripes, bright calicoes and solids.

cutting-the-pattern-out-pioneer-dress-300x225She would wash and dry the fabric and lay it out on the dining table, pin a pattern in place, trace it and cut it out. We would have to stand for what seemed like hours while she pinned the hems. She made all of our clothes that way. We literally wore flour sacks to school.


Here’s a picture that made it in the local paper of my older sister and I picking apples. These were clothes my grandmother made. Too bad it is not in color.




Sometimes she sewed rick rack onto them to fancy them up or did smocking across the bodice.


Here is the interesting part. She sewed everything on an old foot powered sewing machine. No electricity, just a rhythmic motion of her foot rocking the floor pedal back and forth. It rocked the entire house.


We have the old sewing machine up for sale now, trying to clean out the garage. All of the books and accessories are with the old machine. It’s a 1927 model, The Sphinx and it was trimmed in gold, a really fancy number.

Can you imagine having to sew your whole family’s clothes by a pedal powered machine? I can’t even imagine doing that on an electric machine like my other Grandma had. And nothing got thrown away. If it did not fit, it was altered or passed along and altered to fit someone else. We’re such a throwaway society now. That’s hard to imagine. We take so much for granted nowadays.

Naked Alliances Coming Out of the Closet


Not reading. Not writing. Lying in wait. In a place of limbo. With nothing much to do.

I have a couple of new beta readers. A man who works with the rocket scientist wants to read, and a nice lady in the Caribbean who has written a crime fiction book. That brings the total to twelve.

I threw the net wide. A dozen opinions. I won’t be taking anymore. I thank you all for your participation!

I took two more readers because two potential readers, a male and a female, have said the book is not for them, and that’s okay. It is not a book for everybody. I knew that going in. Everybody who has provided feedback loves Brandi, she’s a kick arse companion. (She’s been compared to Chablis in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”.) Richard is a likable character and the Dragon Lady is despicable.

Those are three things I wanted to accomplish with book one. Most have found it thoroughly enjoyable, a few have called it, “A great read,” and all who have read said it was entertaining and they liked it.

With two ones (I’m assuming because they could not read), and four solid fours, and two fives, my average for this book sits at 3.5 and I just don’t think that’s good enough. But, if I drop the two who could not read, it sits at 4.3 and that might be worth publishing.

Several mentioned that they enjoyed the characters enough to want to read more and would love to read the next book in the series, so that’s a big positive!

There were no plot hole, continuity or plausibility issues that couldn’t be easily resolved. Very minor things that just make the read a bit better. Nothing requiring any major rewrites.

We’ll see what the next four say based on the editing. I am also taking into consideration that these readers are not typical of Florida regional crime fiction audience. Only one reads it regularly. (Even though he was one of the fives.)

The edits have been done based on eight reader’s feedback and there are four more to go.

Most all of the narrative slang has been pulled out and put into dialog.

I reread it over the weekend with all of the fleshing out and editing and my only problem is that the things that seemed funny when I wrote them don’t amuse me anymore and sometimes they seem silly and trite, but I wonder if that’s because I already know the outcome. It’s hard to go back and read your own laughs. There are parts that seem tacky, even offensive. But my husband also reread it and he was laughing out loud.

I am not nearly as clever as some of the wacko regional Florida authors I have read, but in many ways I feel it is better than some.

Here is an interesting observation to leave you with: Most of the men liked the nudity in the story and wanted to see more references to it and most of the women said it was distracting and sort of pulled them out of the story.

So that’s a wrap on where we are with Naked Alliances today.

I should have the final wrap up next week.

Never Too Old To Fall In Love

I am going to get really personal here, and I am glad to share. This week has been lonely. The Rocket Scientist has been in Boston all week and spent the weekend in South Florida working on the boat. When you have someone you love in your life every day and that person is gone…well, things seem gloomy.

He makes me laugh every day and sings to me songs he recalls from the seventies and then some. His chronic jokes and puns make me roll my eyes but I giggle inside. He’s quite a comedian. He’s traveled the world and speaks three languages. Reads two or three books a week and works math problems I don’t even understand the symbols for. He loves art and music. A real Renaissance Man.

We have been together for eight years and celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary October 3rd.

It is sometimes difficult for me to recall a life without him. He is sensitive to my needs and the feelings of others, very gregarious, humble and warm.

We talk about everything from spirituality to current events. More than that, we both listen. He’s a great conversationalist. We’ve been from the oceans to the mountains together. I could not imagine life without his support. He encourages my writing and everything it encompasses.

I was twelve years single when we met and fiercely independent. I had made my own way, raised a family, had a professional career, and bought my own home. Marriage was the last thing on my mind. We had both signed onto a dating service, Great Expectations.

We had both had bad experiences with dating services…had ended up spending entire days and evenings with people we just didn’t click with. It broke the boredom of living alone, but got us into awkward situations with others. So we agreed to meet at a coffee shop.

We ended up talking for four hours, about everything. I loved his seafarer’s look with the graying beard and when he said he had a boat I knew we would be great friends. I grew up on the Chattahoochee River and spent the fondest days of my youth on a boat. He loved my snakeskin stilettos and complimented my pretty feet and soulful green eyes.

We fell in love that day.

Then he said, “I’ve enjoyed your company and I would like to go out again on a real date, but I need to be totally honest with you. I am over fifty, bipolar, a recovering alcoholic, and technically still married.” (Seriously? That was enough to scare anyone away, but he was straightforward and honest. I respected that.)

I told him very quickly that I did not date married men. He insisted the marriage was for paper purposes only and they had been legally separated for two years. I wasn’t dealing with it.

I had a rule. I did NOT date married men. After all…he could not possibly have closure on that relationship, nor had he had opportunity to explore others in my mind…he was not ready. (I decided.) He left me his number in case I changed my mind.

He says I broke his heart.

I was upset with the dating service and thought he had lied on his profile where it said “Never Married”, but they assured me that it was their fault, not his. They had recently updated their website. He had originally said “Separated” and someone at the dating service had keyed in “Never Married” by accident.

So I called him.

We gave each other a chance.

No regrets!

The rest is history. And it has been a wonderful history.

We still talk. We still hold hands. We still hug every day and say I love you. Forever and always!

 Happy Anniversary, Honey!

 Gregory Dymas Nicholls

I love you!


The ten most valuable writing tips I’ve received


Great tips for any writer. Keep writing, keep reading, edit carefully, and keep your chin up.

Originally posted on Suffolk Scribblings:


image source:

The internet is full of advice on how to write and it can be confusing and contradictory at times, especially when you are starting out. This isn’t because people like to give false advice but because each writer – and their writing process – is different. However, out of all the good advice I’ve received, these are the ones that have worked best for me. I hope by sharing them they will be of some help to you too.

1. Allow yourself to write poorly

Some days I find writing easy, some days it’s as if the language centre of my brain has decided to go on vacation, leaving my fingers to fend for themselves. However, even if I’m having one of the latter days I still write. It may be painful at the times, even more horrific when I read it back, but at least I have something on the page to…

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Fall at the Cabin Near Asheville

This has been a wet week, but at least it has cooled down a bit. While Florida is perpetually green season by season, there is a bit of a weather change with the nights cooling down to tolerable temperatures. It makes me nostalgic and makes me miss the changing of the seasons. Fall is magical. These are pics from last year.

We are blessed to be able to retreat to an Appalachian mountain cabin in North Carolina, complete with a huge stone fireplace in the center. It’s in the Pisgah National Forest. It’s not much of a cabin, needs lots of work, but it’s a nice getaway. This is the rocket scientist on the ground with his friend working on the roof. Just wish we had more free time to travel.


The cabin is about ten miles from Waynesville, just outside of Canton, near Asheville. It is three miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The winding road is dotted with waterfalls. Many smaller ones spring out of the side of the mountain and run across the narrow, winding roads. This is a larger waterfall, Looking Glass Falls, on the Pigeon River just south of the cabin on Cruso Road.


There is a slippery mountain river stone down the road where swimmers gather year around for the challenge, but we weren’t brave enough to try it.



The river meanders through the mountain passages around boulders and under fallen trees.


The fall colors set the mountains on fire this time of year. This is the view off the porch of the cabin.



Waynesville has neat little shops where you can pick up local art without paying the Asheville prices.

Handcrafted painted, sculptured gourds.

Decorative hand carved gourds.

Raku pottery: Watching the artists fire the pottery at night is a fantastic experience.  It’s not painted. The colors leach out of the minerals in the clay. We always pick up something from the Rock Shoppe, geodes or crystals.

Raku pottery: Watching the artists fire the pottery at night is a fantastic experience. The fire pit glows red and orange. It’s not painted. The colors leach out of the minerals in the clay when fired. We always pick up something from the Rock Shoppe, geodes or crystals.

The people are friendly and the community has a folksy feel to it.


This is about the closest I’ll get to an autumn posting. I look forward to my blogging friends sharing the sights, sounds and smells north of us this season.



Enjoy the fall leaves.

Does your community transition with the seasons?

How do you get your fall fix?

New Review: Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast


I have to share this with you! One of our WordPress authors has made the “Big Time” in an unlikely manner. A scholarly, academic book reviewed by “Playboy”.

Originally posted on Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings:

Forgive me for sharing another review of Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast (along with the companion volume, Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis). I value the reviews from academics so much, and I’m happy to see it has received great reviews from scholars. I hope they continue. But I’m thrilled to see this book also receive mass-market attention, as in really mass market, as in Playboy. I write academic history books and reference books; my books are typically reviewed in academic journals and more specialized sites. So I’m going to take my few moments of almost-fame and share this review with you.

“Readers of this magazine may be forgiven for thinking they know a thing or two about body parts. But with two new volumes, Cultural Encyclopedia of the Breast and its companion, Cultural Encyclopedia of the Penis, publisher Rowman & Littlefield shows there’s always more to…

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100 Reasons to Celebrate Being Over 50


This just says it all for me! If you are over fifty you’ll get them all right away and if you’re not, you’ll know what to look forward to. ;)

Originally posted on Fat-Bottom-Fifties Get Fierce:

100 Reasons to Celebrate Being Over 50

  1. We can truly appreciate the wisdom of our parents.
  2. “Because it’s in” is no longer a motivating force to make a purchase.
  3. We know the difference between being fat and being shaped different than the cool kids grandmas.
  4. We have a true appreciation for the ‘cut and paste’ feature on our word processors that those who didn’t experience typewriters will never know.
  5. We were able to stop carrying dimes in our shoes and (later) quarters in our bras in case we had to make an emergency call.
  6. We understand the concept of ‘groovy.’
  7. 100 Reasons to Celebrate Being Over 50
  8. We now know that cute, pretty, handsome, and beautiful can co-exist with wrinkles.
  9. We get that more hair, longer hair, is not necessarily better. To borrow some real estate jargon it’s all about location, location, location!
  10. Our bullsh*t detector has incredible range.
  11. Sympathy can be effectively conveyed with a heartfelt look because they know we get it.

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