Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Prize by Kayleen Reusser


Kayleen Reusser

Joan Brewer as told to Kayleen Reusser (her daughter)

When I was eight years old in 1938, the preacher at our church in Ossian, Indiana, made a surprise announcement: “The person who brings the most people to church next Sunday will win a prize.”

My mind raced around the word “prize”. What if they were giving away a doll? At recess the next day I looked for someone to invite. A new girl in town, Joyce, seemed like a prospect. I wasted no time meeting her and asking her to come.

The next day she said she could go. I asked Joyce if she needed a ride. She said, no, her parents would bring her.

Sunday morning I dressed hurriedly, eager to get to church and see my friend. Upon arrival, I had a delightful surprise. Not only Joyce, but also her parents and five brothers and sisters stood outside the church waiting! I could almost feel the doll’s porcelain features under my fingertips.

The preacher’s sermon seemed to last forever. Finally, he closed his Bible and asked all the visitors to stand, introduce themselves and tell who had brought them.

Joyce’s father said they were new in town and that I was the first person to ask them to church. When asked to stand, I did so, blushing profusely.

The preacher welcomed all the newcomers. I wiggled in my seat. No one had brought more than eight people, so the prize should be mine, but you could never tell with grownups.

“We thank our visitors for coming today,” the preacher said. “We commend every person who took the time to invite someone. One person has done more than what was expected. The Bible would say she has committed her work unto the Lord.”

Guilt overcame me. I hadn’t thought about God when I asked Joyce to church. I only wanted the prize.

“Joan, would you come up here, please?”

I had won! The preacher nodded to someone at the back and I almost clapped my hands to hurry them along. With my back turned, I was unable to see what was brought in. I began to suspect something was amiss when the boys on the front row began to snicker. My excitement changed to horrified disbelief, when “the prize” was set before me.

The preacher laid a kind hand on my shoulder. “Unfortunately, our prize probably isn’t something a child dreams of winning,” he said.

He was right. Twenty-five pounds of flour had never entered my mind.

The congregation laughed, and I made my way back to the pew. I wasn’t crying but wanted to.

Understanding, Joyce squeezed my hand.

My parents couldn’t afford to buy me a doll, but I got over that. More importantly, Joyce and I became best friends and stayed that way throughout school.

We still live near each other and get together occasionally. When we do, we laugh about the “pile of dough” that brought us together.

The End


During Kayleen Reusser’s 30-year writing career, she has written 25 books for adults and children. Her nine books on World War II are based on interviews with 260 veterans. She has presented programs to thousands of people, in-person and virtual. She is a proud Air Force wife/mother.

Check out her Youtube Channel of World War II Shorts


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Musings... by Liz Flaherty

Happy birthday to Grandma Neterer, born this day in 1888. While I wasn't a fan of childhood, I remain eternally grateful for the part she and Grandpa played in it. I still feel all mushy when I think of the house on Roys Avenue in Elkhart.  

When they moved there, I think the house was still in the country. Their lot was a large one, and they had sheds and a chicken house in the back. In the side yard was a well with a hand pump where my siblings and I went when we wanted a drink because we couldn't abide the taste of city water. 

Grandpa always went barefoot outside, weather permitting. When he broke his hip, the doctors told him he couldn't do that anymore. I think that bothered him more than the hip.

I so wish I'd asked them more questions, hadn't gotten so busy being a grownup that I forgot about being a grandkid. 

Happy birthday, Grandma.



I ordered a new weed whacker last week. It came, its box crunched up and taped together. Now it's snowing. Makes me think I jumped the gun when I ordered. By the time stuff grows enough for me to whack it, I'll definitely be out of the mood.

I'm on this morning, My friend Nan referred to it as going down the rabbit hole. Hmm... I'll see you in a few weeks...

The problem with cleaning off countertops is that you don't remember what you did with the stuff you had lying there. And you know the other part--as soon as you put it away, you need it.

Do you watch Call the Midwife? It's my favorite show since The West Wing, but I gotta tell you, being in labor with all those new mothers is exhausting--Duane and I breathe and push right along with them. And all those babies are so cute! None of them look very squashed or anything.

In my next book in the Second Chances series, the hero is a pastor named Jake McAlister. I couldn't see him in my mind's eye, but then I saw Jack Ashton playing Tom Hereward and there was Jake. Jake's about 20 years older than Ashton, but I didn't have any trouble seeing him anyway
When I walked outside this morning and the wind gave its best effort to blowing me off the porch, it felt exactly like November wind. I am grateful and relieved that it's not November, and history tells me the wind will eventually stop blowing--at least for a while. 

Wishing you a great week. Laugh hard and often. Be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Candy Cigarettes, Bun Candy Bars, and Other Memories by Joe De Rozier

After my wife and I enjoyed a nice meal at The Twenty Restaurant in Wabash, we decided to walk around the Charley Creek Inn, in which this dining area is located.

We ended up strolling through their candy shop that contains about every confectionery delicacy you can imagine. 

When we were there a few weeks ago, I picked up Candy Cigarettes.   I had no idea they existed, anymore! I had no intention of eating them because, honestly, I think they taste like chalky antacids. I got them for the sheer nostalgia.

Luckily, I hid two of them from my wife because she scarfed down an entire box before we left the city limits.

Today as we walked through, I spotted something out of the corner of my eye.

It couldn't be... I hadn't seen this candy bar for the longest time.  I went back, and even though the packaging seemed different, it was definitely what I thought it was...a Bun Candy Bar.

Suddenly, in my mind I saw my dad walking in our family home with dust in his hair, paint on his shoes, a smile on his face, and Aqua Velva wafting in the air... I hadn't seen this candy bar for the longest time.  I went back and it was definitely what I thought it was...a Bun Candy Bar.

  When I was young, my parents didn't have much.  Mom and Dad paid all of their bills, we were clean, and we were always fed and clothed.  We weren't poor...there just wasn't much left..

A couple times a month, Dad would bring home with him a Bun Candy Bar. We'd be ecstatic. He would say the whole bar was too much for him to eat and Mom would always say she wasn't hungry, so he had to split it with us. Dad would open the wrapper and break the bar in four pieces, being very careful to make them perfectly equal.

This was the highlight of our week!

It isn't until you're an adult that you realize the sacrifices your parents made...

I'm sure Dad would have loved to have the whole bar, and I'm equally as sure that Mom was indeed hungry.

So, with some mist in my eyes, I bought three of those candy bars...

One is for me to remember Mom and Dad's love for us.

The other two I'll send to Mom.

She can finally enjoy one to eat, and maybe just hang on to the other one to remember Dad...remember Dad coming home with dust in his hair, paint on his boots, a smile on his face, and Aqua Velva wafting in the air...

Find dusty baker Joe on Amazon or stop in and visit him on Broadway in Peru, Indiana. I guarantee you'll enjoy the visit. - Liz

Saturday, March 19, 2022

"The tongue has no bones..." by Liz Flaherty

"The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words." -Unknown

I have a fondness for words, which probably isn't much of a surprise to anyone. I have, in recent years, come to flinch from the cruelty of some of them. I learned to love being called a snowflake because before it became a universally loved and accepted pejorative term, it meant something beautiful that brought joy. 

I've learned not to resent stupid as much as I used to because I know I'm not. Calling  me that is likely to make me beam and say bless your heart and think of you sound using words willy-nilly for the simple purpose of hurting someone. I figured this out just recently, when I was called stupid because of my opinion and decried for using good grammar by the same person in the same conversation. 

I was stung a few weeks ago when I read in more than one place that lives and opinions of the elderly had no relevancy. Not only because it shocks me every time I re-realize I am one of the elderly, but because I don't understand why anyone would say such a thing about someone else.

This morning on Facebook--yeah, I know, how did I ever write before Facebook?--I read this, written by Martha Floyd and used with permission. 

Only nine signatures. Today it took only nine signatures to sign my mom up for hospice, but those signatures felt like nine million. Those nine signatures were some of the hardest ones I’ve made. Those nine signatures said No more doctor visits, no more tests, no more needle sticks and no more working toward a goal to get better. Today we ordered the meds to “keep my momma comfortable.” Today the big truck pulled up and dropped off the needed furniture and oxygen. Tomorrow my beautiful momma turns 83. But today I signed her up for hospice. Tomorrow will be a special day just for my momma. But tomorrow will be another day wishing I never had to write those nine signatures. Tomorrow will be a birthday celebration filled with joy, laughter, family, friends…and tears. Please keep my family in your thoughts and prayers as we begin this journey together.
I've read those words several times since the first time. I swiped them from social media and sent Martha a message asking if I could use them. She responded in time for me to add them. I imagine she's busy. It's her mom's birthday. Her heart is breaking. I've been there, haven't you?--in that aching, shattered place where loss resides. 

Two families (that I know of) in the community have suffered double bereavements lately, leaving mourners' lives with huge empty spaces. I can't pretend to know how they feel because even in the broken place I just mentioned, grief is far too personal to claim someone else's as your own. But I am so sorry for their losses. For the silences and the emotional bruises that have to heal in their own time if they heal at all.

I started this talking about words. They are to me what music is to some people and art is to others. I've complained--again--about their cruelty when they're used only for the purpose of hurt. I've shared someone else's with admiration for Martha's eloquence. And, like every time I've ever visited a funeral home, I realize that I really don't know what to say. 

Which makes it all the more important that what I say doesn't hurt anyone. No, let me fix that, because the truth is we all say and do things that hurt other people. So maybe what's important is that we don't cause harm and hurt purposefully. Maybe it's recognizing that the old Love Story saying of "Love means never having to say you're sorry" is likely just so much BS. Maybe it's nothing more than remembering that you can't unsay things. 

Have a good week. Be a friend. Be nice to somebody.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia

I worked in the casino industry for a long time. As a child watching Ocean’s Eleven, they were so grown up and glamourous. They were open 24 hours, which made them seem so alive.

I was never lonely working in the casino. I always made good money and got to travel the world. To get my first job I drove across country from North Carolina to Nevada. The first casino I saw was the Cal Neva casino on the beautiful shores of Lake Tahoe. Dealing there allowed me to look out at a panoramic view of the lake. I lived in America’s all-year playground for three years. I was young, single and worked nights, so I could go to the lake or ski during the day. 

I later worked for Princess Cruises traveling the world as a croupier. I met my Scottish husband on the Star Princess, and when we left ships, we moved to Palm Springs. My point is not every casino is in a beautiful place, but you can find one in a beautiful place if you want to.

The catalyst of my novel, Casino Queen, was the boom and bust of the first decades of this century. My husband and I moved to Palm Springs the same week a Native American casino opened downtown. Thousands of people from all over the world were flocking to the desert to work at the casinos, money flowed like water, and real estate became the new status symbol. 

Tribes all over California were claiming their sovereignty. Our casino went to work sneaking in slot machines, defying the federal government. Until Proposition 5 passed, legalizing tribal gaming, we were scared of being shut down. But the best part was that we got to live in Palm Springs, with majestic mountains hovering in the background. And then came The Great Recession, and suddenly the partying stopped. My goal was to write a thriller filled with twists and turns to capture that special time and place. 

I found the perfect backdrop for my novel in the High Desert of Southern California. A refuge for artists, ex-Marines and desert rats. The sky was always blue, and the rocks at Joshua Tree National Park looked like giant Jenga pieces precariously balanced, ready to fall. We loved hiking in the park, an isolated place near the largest Marine base in the world. The Night Hawk casino near that base became the setting for my novel.

The characters in my book were familiar to me from my two decades working in the casino industry. Fortunately, my boss was the most charismatic tribal chairman in America. People always asked me, “What’s a nice girl like you doing working in a place like this?” Now I could honestly say, “Research.” The characters in my head just kept letting me know how they wanted their story told. All the pieces of the story came together in an organic way to capture that special time and place. It was important to me that my protagonist would be a strong woman running the casino. Because I worked with so many smart, strong, independent women.

The casino industry had been good to me, but I always witnessed an underbelly just perfect for a thriller. Millions of dollars passed through the casino every week, casino fleas operated their personal side businesses on the gaming floor, and you never know who might walk in the door itching for a fight. My hope is that after reading Casino Queen you will never walk into a casino the same way.

What you don’t know reading my novel is that the series was inspired by actual incidents so coincidental that if you put them in a novel, they would sound like a contrivance. We arrived in Palm Springs and got married three weeks later. Dave, his roommate from the cruise ships, was the best man at our wedding. Dave left his job at our casino and moved to Albuquerque to take a job as a shift manager there. Working there, he met Julian and encouraged him to move to Palm Springs for greater opportunities. Even though they switched places, they couldn’t avoid their fate. They were both murdered under mysterious circumstances.

I would like to thank Window Over the Sink, for giving me the opportunity to chat with you.


Caroline Popov, alone, heartbroken, and deeply in debt ends up in glamorous Palm Springs, California. Native American casinos have just opened, thousands of people from all over the world came to work there, money flowed like water, and real estate became the new status symbol. And then came The Great Recession, and suddenly the partying stopped.  

 Alone, desperate and deeply in debt, she lands a job at the Palm Oasis Casino. She is mentored by the charismatic tribal chairman, John Tovar. Embraced by casino culture, Caroline works her way up to casino manager of the Night Hawk, in the High Desert town of Joshua Tree. There, she is responsible for managing multicultural team members, satisfying the demands of challenging guests, growing revenue while rooting out corruption. As she moves up through the ranks of management, her bond with John deepens.

 In the process of uncovering the underbelly of corruption her list of enemies grows. Sometimes you have to gamble like your life depends on it. With her life on the line can she pull out a win?

Casino Queen by Cara Bertoia | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (

Casino Queen (Night Hawk Casino Series Book 1) - Kindle edition by Bertoia, Cara. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @

Cara Bertoia grew up in a strait-laced Southern family, but she was always fascinated with casinos. In her twenties on a summer hiatus from teaching in North Carolina, she drove to California and became a dealer at Caesars in Lake Tahoe. She discovered that after teaching high school, handling an unruly gambler was a piece of cake. Her mother highly disapproved of her working in a casino, "a place so bad it has 'sin' in the middle." 

Eventually, she succumbed to pressure from the family and returned east to take a high-tech job in Boston. She also began working on her MFA in writing at Emerson. Her goal was to write the first realistic novel about casino life from the perspective of an experienced table games dealer. She is always amazed that normal and sometimes quite intelligent players become absolutely clueless in the casino. They repeat superstitious nonsense and no amount of logic can change their position, maybe her novel will.

While in Boston she was offered the opportunity to join Princess Cruises as a croupier. Jumping at the chance, she spent the next five years circling the globe. Sometimes life exceeds your dreams. She was awed by the wonders of Venice, the fjords of Norway, and the Northern Lights in St. Petersburg.

Cara returned from ships with a very special souvenir, her Scottish husband Ray. They went to work at the Spa Casino in Palm Springs, and now live in Hollywood, Florida, where she writes about her casino years while wistfully gazing out at the ocean.

I love to connect with my readers. Please send me a picture with Casino Queen. I will post those pictures to my social media.

 Cara Bertoia’s Blog


 Cara Bertoia – Author (

 Cara Bertoia (@carabertoia) • Instagram photos and videos  



 Amazon Author Cara Bertoia

 Casino Queen (Night Hawk #1) by Cara Bertoia | Goodreads  

 BookBub Cara Bertoia

 The Big Thrill is a monthly publication of the International Thriller Writers Association. They say they have 200,000 hits a month. But all the big names are in there. I don't know why they picked me, but I am very happy. Check it out. Here is the link. My author interview will appear April 1st.

 The Big Thrill Online Magazine 

 This is a link to Little Miss Book Lovers 87 review of Casino Queen. The blog is hosted by Vikkie Wakeham a member of the Squadpod, a group of book influencers. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Am I the Only One by Liz Flaherty

On blogs I write for, I occasionally make the post a list. I do this in part because I can't think of anything to write and in part because I have all these miniature thoughts that don't have enough to go with them to make a column of their own. So here's my list for the week. It's called Am I the Only One and I encourage you to add to it. 

Here we go: 
  • Am I the only one who thinks a middle-of-March snow without any wind in it is pretty? 
  • Am I the only one who takes fair-weather-exercise to the extreme? As in, I decide what's fair weather, not the 
  • Am I the only one who thinks woodpeckers are cool?
  • Does anyone else hate those bugs that look like ladybugs but aren't?
  • Does anyone really like Daylight Savings Time?
  • Surely I'm not the only one who thinks kids should read whatever they like and learn the truth about history but should watch their language and maybe clean it up some. 
  • Speaking of kids, am I the only one who thinks the phrases when I was your age and those damn kids should be abolished from the English language? Or any other language.
  • Does anyone else love blue cars? I've had two in a row, which I never wanted even a single minute I was growing up, and I just love them.
  • Am I the only one who loves being alone? Unless I have to be, and then I don't like it at all.
  • Am I the only person in the world who doesn't like being either scared or deafened by entertainment I have chosen to see? This question isn't really what it looks like, is it? Why did I choose to go see or hear something I knew I probably wasn't going to like? So, here's the other part--am I the only one willing to smile, say goodbye to anyone I'm with, and get into my car with my quiet, unscary audio-book and go home?
If I continued this, I'd have a lot of questions about choosing, so I'll stop here. I'm sure that big sigh I just heard was the wind and not relief, right? Wishing everyone a great week. Stay well, laugh a lot, and be nice to somebody. 

Tonight at Gallery 15 in Peru...

Available now...

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

What Freedom Means by Debby Myers

With all that’s going on in the world around us, the word "freedom" is at the forefront of our minds and of our discussions. If you look up the word freedom, you’ll find many definitions. Many who are discussing it now are referring to communist Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and losing the freedom they’ve had for thirty years. In that sense it means the absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. That kind of freedom is unquestionably the most important to anyone living here or in any free country. Pray for the people there.

I decided to ask a 13-year-old girl what freedom means. The answer was, “It means we can do whatever we want.” That is technically correct, to a degree. The freedom she was talking about is the right to act, speak, or think without hindrance or restraint. We are fortunate that our children and grandchildren are growing up free. But I think our young people take it for granted. They have the power of self-determination, the quality of being independent of fate or necessity without giving it a second thought.

Think about what freedom means to you. With its broad definition, it can mean many different things to different people. It’s what I’ve been pondering lately, and I’m sharing at the Window today.

Since having been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I’ve shared information about my journey. One of the most personal ones I feel is a lack of freedom. Not exactly like the definition meaning not being imprisoned or enslaved, but I do feel imprisoned in my own body. Many would call that a selfish thought. Yet there are definitely things I can no longer do, so I can’t do whatever I want any more, like the teenager said.

Having a chronic disease like this has forced me to accept the limitations on my independence, but that doesn’t mean I like it. There are freedoms that aren’t often questioned until something like this comes at you head-on. Driving was the hardest thing I was told I had to give up. Driving a car gives a feeling of independence and freedom and is a part of learning to take care of yourself. I was in denial that I had to give it up at first, but I was convinced by others that it was for the best, and there’s no way around it. Due to the lesions on my spine, I have little feeling in my right foot and ankle. The entire leg is weak, forcing my left leg to compensate. In addition, cognitive issues not only make driving unsafe for me, but for others. The lesions I had in my brain can randomly get overstimulated. Especially at night, traffic lights, headlights, and rain cause me to get anxiety now, something that didn’t bother me before MS. I can’t think clearly, my eyes lose focus. Both of these symptoms hamper my reaction time. It all becomes a chain reaction of events that mean no driving for me. I still miss this freedom. I have to ask my family or friends to take me wherever I go.

I remember when I complained daily about my job. Truth is, I loved working and miss it terribly. It was another piece of being able to take care of myself. It was rewarding to be able to work hard to be successful, be with people and engage every day, and share my job experience with those around me. It provided financial stability, giving me freedom to give to others, something I miss.

I’ve brought to the Window my love for theater. It’s been more than a hobby for me for half my life. I didn’t want to give it up, even some of it. I’m not free to act on stage due to my physical limitations. It was how my love for theater began. I used to work on the set when I was in a production. I can’t do a lot of that kind of work, either. I can still be involved in directing, but even then, I rely on my assistants more than I used to. I lost part of my creative freedom.

I have to depend on others much more than ever before. Think about who you would turn to. It may be what I’ve fought the hardest. I’ve said I hate it, I won’t do it, it isn’t fair, I don’t need help. Yet what I’ve learned from those who do help me is that they want to do it. They don’t hate it or think it isn’t unfair. They are happy to help. I was talking to my son about paying someone to paint my kitchen cabinets, because I couldn’t do it myself. He told me he would do it. He would buy the paint and accessories, and he wanted to do it because he wanted to help. My cabinets look brand new! And, my husband helps take care of me, as well as care for his ailing mom in her home. He is giving up some of his own freedom. Yet he wants to help us.

I asked you earlier to think about what freedom means to you. Also think about who you could turn to if you lost freedoms. I’ve learned that any kind of freedom that is challenged is met with people who want to help. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask. I have to think about that whenever I feel imprisoned. It sets me free.

Thanks to Liz for letting me share today at her Window. Please pray for Ukraine’s freedom – they need our help.

Vex and Valor - Book 1 - Vanessa and Jason Hayes

Being the oldest at 10 years old, she knew she’d have to console her little brother, JJ, all the way to school. She told him a fib. She told him she found out that Mama and Daddy were both at work. It seemed to appease him. The two started their eight-block walk to school. Vanessa wanted to just forget. She wanted JJ to forget too. By the time school let out, he will have, but not her. Mama never would have left them alone. And it had been a doozy of a fight. No, she wouldn't forget after what she had seen. A large pool of blood on the patio. Bigger than the ones inside.

Verdicts and Vows - Book 2 - 10 years later 

“Well, sis. Best I just say it. Dad...Ben, got early release. He got out yesterday. He hasn’t contacted me, but the correctional facility called my number to set up his probation appointment, so I assume I will see him soon. I’m not sure where he is. But…” Jason stopped when Vanessa abruptly ran out of the room. “Ness, what are you doing? Vanessa!” Jason yelled, but she had exited into the stairwell.

“Jason, what happened? Why did she take off like that?” Vanessa's husband, Joe, asked.

Jason told Joe about their dad, Ben. His sentence had four months left. Now it made sense. Joe didn’t think he’d heard Vanessa mention Ben since the family dinner at Nana’s all those years ago, when she disclosed to everyone that she had seen him strangle their mother in a drunk rage when she was ten, hiding in a closet with Jason. Their mother died the next day.

Coming in late May, Verve and Virtue - Book 3 - 20 more years later

He began to explain going to talk to Dr. Bashar asking her to check into Ella’s case again. While he was in prison, he read that new DNA evidence was proving more and more useful in solving crimes and determining autopsy results. He tearfully told his children that being locked up, all he had was time to think. Knowing that Vanessa held him responsible for their Mama’s death was what weighed on him the most. He said he knew in his heart of hearts he would never have done anything to hurt Ella, no matter how mad he was, or she was. He thought it was worth a shot to have Dr. Bashar check.

Then Ben told them. Their mother had a disease she didn’t even know she had. She inherited it from their Papaw Tim, who also didn’t know he had it. No one did until he passed away and an autopsy was done. It was Ellers-Danlos syndrome, a disease of the connective tissue in the brain. It is what caused the aneurysm that led to her death. If she hadn’t died then, she would have died soon because the disease had built up a blood clot. He didn’t cause his Ella to die.

The only person who didn’t react much was Vanessa. She was skeptical, but afraid too. She watched Ben…her dad. He must have believed he was responsible too. She knew something did happen in that kitchen all those years ago, while she and Jason hid in the closet. She still wanted to keep pushing him to remember how her Mama ended up bleeding and unconscious on the patio. It may have been an aneurysm or mystery disease that she died from, but it didn’t explain her being battered by her drunk husband, Ben.

Debby Myers lives in Peru, Indiana with her husband, Alan. She has three grown children. She has five grandchildren who are the apples of her eye - Makenna,Taylor, Izaac, Jameson, and Joelle. Debby is a graduate of Maconaquah High School and International Business College, where she studied business management. Most recently she was employed as a co-manager for Kroger for 15 years. In the past she co-owned & operated a local day care for seven years, worked in development at the Honeywell Center for five years and "played" as a radio personality for Peru's former radio station 98.5 FM for nearly 10 years. Debby has been involved with Ole Olsen Memorial Theater for 25 years now. She has performed, worked backstage, costumed & served on the Board of Directors. But her true love is directing. This season she will direct her 25th show. Debby is also a member of the Ole Olsen Hall of Fame. Since her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis in 2016, she has embarked on doing some writing. In her spare time she likes to read, listen to country music, and travel. Having been to 40 of the 50 states, her next destination will be the Eastern part of the US, particularly New York City to see a show on Broadway.

Saturday, March 5, 2022

When Something Changes by Liz Flaherty

Book 1 of the Second Chances series. Picture by Chris McGuire.

Last night, long after I'm usually done for the day, I typed "The End" on the last page of the second book in the Second Chances series for Magnolia Blossom Publishing. While I know I will go back into that last chapter and rip it apart and put it back together with different seams, there is still a certain kind of peace in having finished the book. It's also bittersweet, leaving those people I've spent more time with in the past six months than my own family members. I am reminded of when my kids first left for college, when I was so excited for them and yet I still cried all the way home from drop-off day. 

However, just like after we dropped those kids off, I'm pretty drained. The main characters of the next book--Dinah and Zach--have been bothering me all morning, but not really telling me their story. All I really know is that something's going to change, because that's where the story always starts. 

How many times do you wake up with that surety? Whether it's with dread or anticipation, you know something's going to change. I took a picture of the sun rising this week, and it (the sun, not my picture) was beautiful. Right at this moment, it's rising again, red and promising, but not like it was the other day. 

Every day is a new story. Every day has changes in it. In my best Suzy Sunshine voice, I urge you to embrace the changes. In my lived-a-long-time voice, I admit I know that's not always possible, but that same voice reminds me (and you) that there are always silver linings. Sometimes, it's the looking for them that's hard. And sometimes, they are the beginnings of a great new story. 

So, there's Dinah and Zach. They're in their 30s, younger than I usually write, and they like music I don't know or like. I need help with that, if you have any advice. One of them has a dog. Maybe both of them. He inherited the old B & B on the lake in Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania and he doesn't want it. But she does. Hmmm... What do you think?

Have a great week. Pray for peace. Be nice to somebody. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Unlock My Heart by Jennifer Wilck

I love having Jennifer Wilck here today, and I love what she's written her post about, too. See if you recognize anyone you know in what she says. - Liz

It’s release day for my latest book, Unlock My Heart, and this book hits a little close to home. The hero is hard of hearing. As am I. Not to the same extent that he is—I needed to make his condition more severe for my story to work—but I also wear hearing aids, and I also mishear things (boy do I have some funny stories), and I can attest that it’s exhausting to lip read.

As writers, one of the first things we’re taught is to write what you know. That’s all well and good, but sometimes what I know means having to give up my privacy. While I don’t mind providing authenticity to my characters, and I believe it makes the reader relate to them more, I don’t necessarily want my life on the page. Just like I don’t write sex scenes that imitate real life—one of the first questions I get asked when people find out I’m a romance author—I don’t readers who know me to think that what my characters think and feel are what I think and feel.

In this case, my hero’s biggest concern is that his clients and other people will think he’s stupid if he doesn’t hear them correctly. I can say quite honestly that I’ve never been concerned about people thinking I’m stupid. Number one, I’m aware of my own intelligence. Number two, I make fun of myself all the time for mistakes I make, few of which have to do with mishearing someone.

No, my biggest concern when I received my hearing aids was loneliness. We all want to fit in and have things in common with those around us. At forty years old, when I looked around, the only people I saw wearing hearing aids other than me were those who had significant hearing loss—and by significant, I mean much worse than mine—or those who were twenty to thirty years older than I was. Knowing there were few, if any, people my age with my circumstances was lonely. It didn’t prevent me from being friends with anyone, it didn’t stop my family (at least, those who knew) from loving me, but it provided another “difference” that I had to consider.

Eventually, I got past it. I adjusted to both the psychological aspects, and the physical aspects of being able to hear things I never knew existed—like background buzzing from lights or appliances. I paid more attention to people’s eyes, instead of focusing solely on their mouths. I still say, “What?” a lot, but I think that’s just me. And now, twelve years later, I’m less lonely, in part because I pushed past it and in part because people my age are starting to, well, age.

So, would I recommend writing what you know? Yes. Just be careful how far you go.


Blurb for Unlock My Heart:

Abby Marlow, computer security expert, lands a job at the best IT security firm in the country. Her sole focus is financial independence so she never has to rely on others again, especially a man. But why does her boss make her wires short circuit?

Ted Endicott, CEO and founder of the IT security firm, is hard of hearing. Although an expert in his field, he’s still uncomfortable admitting his difficulty hearing to his clients or employees. So why is he willing to accept Abby’s help?

As Ted and Abby work together, barriers fall away, and soon the lines blur between colleagues and lovers. But a security glitch in a client's system indicates one of his employees is the hacker, and all signs point to Abby. Can they get past the suspicion and find a future together?

Buy Links:

Universal Link:


Barnes & Noble:



Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Pretty soon, her head was filled with these stories and the characters that populated them. Even as an adult, she thinks about the characters and stories at night before she falls asleep or walking the dog. Eventually, she started writing them down. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.

In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and does not believe in sharing her chocolate.

Jennifer Wilck is an award-winning contemporary romance author for readers who are passionate about love, laughter, and happily ever after. Known for writing both Jewish and non-Jewish romances, her books feature damaged heroes, sassy and independent heroines, witty banter and hot chemistry. Jennifer’s ability to transport the reader into the scene, create characters the reader will fall in love with, and evoke a roller coaster of emotions, will hook you from the first page. You can find her books at all major online retailers in a variety of formats.

Author Links: