Posted in A Stone's Throw, Authors, blog challenge, Books, Characters, Cloudy Rainbow

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: How I Create Characters

blogchallengegraphicupdatedThis week’s blog challenge is called character inspiration. Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created this challenge (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the posts from the great participating authors).

interviewblogpostThe characters I feature in my books are fictionalized composites of people I know or have known. The main character usually shares some of my personality or background. For instance, in “A Stone’s Throw,” Alicia Fairmont is a librarian like I am. Although my husband is still alive, thank God, Alicia is a widow. Her marriage was quite different from mine, as her husband kept his past secret. When she searches for his family that she has never met, she ends up meeting and falling in love with John McKinney, the publisher of a small town newspaper. John’s character is mostly imaginary. His occupation and interest in journalism and novel writing is another aspect of my personal experience. I worked as Features editor on my college newspaper and also edited and published my library school newsletter before writing articles, short stories and novels.

What's the Secret Ingredient in the McKinney's PB&J Recipe-John’s father, 80-year old Mac, is another central character in my book. He is a librarian and previous library director at the Cobble Cove Library in upstate New York. One memorable characteristic of Mac is his love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When I worked part-time in the special collections department of my college library, I worked with an older gentleman who ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day. I gave Mac this similar quirk and also his propensity for creative quotes. The tagline of the book, which comes from one of Mac’s sayings is, “Things happen for a reason.”

Sheila, the current library director and a close friend of Mac and John is not based on anyone I’ve worked for. She’s a complex character who is difficult to know initially. As the story unfolds, we learn her hard exterior was built after the tragic loss of her young husband to a brain aneurysm that left her to raise her daughter alone.

There are many other characters in the book including Alicia’s best friend, Abigail Nostran, known as Gilly, who worked with her part-time as a clerk at their library on Long Island. Gilly has three sons and is a very down-to-earth person who likes to wear sweatshirts and casual clothing. She loves to bake and, despite a messy divorce, is a positive person who enjoys talking about the opposite sex. I based Gilly on several women I’ve known throughout my life. I also had a friend at my library who worked as a clerk.

Dora, the innkeeper, who Alicia first meets when coming to Cobble Cove, shares some similarities with Gilly. She has never married and, during the course of the book, develops a love interest in someone. An older woman who runs a bed and breakfast in a small town, she’s a bit wary about new guests. As she gets to know Alicia, she becomes friendlier. Her interests also include baking as well as gardening and making the inn’s bath soaps and lotions.

teaser6teaser5dogTwo other characters that play important roles in my book, although they aren’t human, are the library Siamese cat, Sneaky, and Mac and John’s golden retriever, Fido. The cat is based on my own Siamese cat, Oliver, who is older than Sneaky. The dog is also based on some dogs I grew up with and those I’ve read about in books.

For more information about my characters, you can read  “Interview with My Characters” and/or  “Celebrating Christmas with My Characters” both on this blog.

The sequel to “A Stone’s Throw” will feature several new characters. Without giving the story away, some will be college-age and others children. I base the kids on my own daughter when she was the age of the characters. One young girl who plays a big role in the book, Angelina,  suffers from leukemia. Her character is based on my niece who underwent a bone marrow transplant ten years ago at the age of 12 and is now completely recovered with a baby daughter.

The new book that I am currently writing with totally different characters, features themes of alcoholism. mental illness, and infertility. The main character, Sarah Lloyd, is a children’s book illustrator this time instead of a librarian. She is having problems conceiving which causes stress on her marriage. I have a familiarity with this topic because it took me many years and some fertility treatments to conceive my daughter. Sarah’s mother, Jennifer Brewster, is the alcoholic in the book. While my experience with this topic is limited, I used my knowledge of alcoholic characters I’ve read about and seen portrayed on television. Without revealing the plot or other characters because the book is only in a draft stage, I will say my characters are different from those of “A Stone’s Throw” and my first self-published novel, “Cloudy Rainbow,” although there are some similarities.

I believe most authors put some of themselves in their main characters as well as other aspects of their personalities in non-leading characters. I’ve also found that, once you name a character and begin to feature that person in your book, they start taking on characteristics and motivations that often surprise you.

In case the descriptions of my characters have interested you, you might consider joining my mailing list for updates on my books and monthly contests for prizes at (just complete the pop-up newsletter form and confirm through the email you are sent). The next newsletter will be out on June 1st where I’ll be announcing the June contest and awarding the May prize.







Posted in Monday Blog

Do you want to be happy, lose weight, and have a better memory?

sports-1050966_1280I started an exercise program a few months ago. I’d tried to make exercise a habit many other times in my life, but I always ended up making excuses and falling back into a sedentary lifestyle. A few factors made it harder for me to adopt a fitness routine. The first was that I grew up in a family that didn’t exercise regularly. My father’s favorite activity when he was home was sitting in front of the television watching his favorite shows. My mother enjoyed walking but had some issues with her legs and couldn’t keep it up. Another strike against me was my weight. I was an obese child and, although I lost weight in my teens and early twenties, the pounds crept back on as I entered my 30’s.

I became a member of a gym, but like most people, wasted the money by always finding a reason not to go. I purchased a treadmill and only used it a few times. I even hired a personal trainer to come to my house, but I found it too costly and could barely do the exercises she suggested. When I joined Jenny Craig to try to lose weight, I expected the program to include exercise. However, they stressed following the diet first. As the pounds started to come off, I felt more able to perform even the basic moves of getting up from a chair, walking up and down stairs, etc. When my counselor suggested I try some Leslie Sansone walk-at-home videos, I took the beginner ones out of the library and then purchased a few that I liked. I alternated them and, as my counselor suggested, followed the recording twenty-minutes three times a week to start. When it was nice, I also took walks outside. Eventually, I felt that I could exercise longer and increase my pace. I also started to add short jogs to my walks.

After 18 months on the Jenny Craig program and having lost 60+ pounds, my weight loss is slowing down, but I’m now walking 30 minutes every day. There are days I have to push myself and days I can hardly make it through the half hour, but most of the time I feel great afterwards. I especially like a morning routine that helps wake me up and get my day to a nice start.

jackbenimbleBesides helping to keep one’s metabolism high to help weight maintenance and loss, exercising has many side benefits. Everyone knows it’s good for you, but not everyone is aware of all its benefits. Like the nursery rhyme, “Jack be nimble, Jack be quick, Jack jump over the candlestick,” exercise can truly help you clear any hurdle. It’s a safer stress reliever and mood lightener than any anti-anxiety pill or anti-depressant. It has even proven to aid one’s recall and brain function. It is even believed to slow aging and prevent many illnesses from heart attacks to strokes to high blood pressue and even cancer.

circleI’m not a doctor, but I recommend starting slow and always consulting your physician before you start an exercise program. If you are severely overweight or lead a very sedentary life, you need to build up your endurance slowly. The  main thing is to keep at it. Set up a routine. Schedule a time to work out. Thirty minutes a day is all it takes, even if you break it up or begin with 20 minutes three times a week as I did. Another important tip is to keep moving throughout the day, not only when you exercise. I have one of the Apple watches that monitors your daily activity. It requires you to try to close three circles that measure the amount of exercise you’ve completed: the additional calories you’ve burned through activity; and the optimum of standing you do during the time you wear the watch. It even alerts you when you’ve spent too much time sitting which has also been found unhealthy even for people who exercise regularly.

Below are some links to articles about exercise benefits. After reading them, I hope you consider making exercise part of your life so that you live a longer, more productive one.




Posted in Authors, Books

Have You Read Fallback by Lori Whitwam?

fallback1From @limitlessbooks! FALLBACK by @ripleygold is LIVE!

FALLBACK (The Dead Survive Book 2) by Lori Whitwam is available for purchase on Amazon!

► #oneclick →→

► Publisher: Limitless Publishing ~ #TeamLimitless

►►► SYNOPSIS ◄◄◄

After being rescued from a brutal band of marauders, Ellen Hale rebuilt her life in the fortified neighborhood that became her home. A heartbreaking decision and devastating loss pushed her to become a fierce fighter, because weakness only got you and those you loved killed.

fallback3Now her community is facing a deadly threat, and Ellen has another choice to make.

Ellen volunteers as a member of fallback team three, tasked with establishing a temporary refuge for their citizens in the event their community is overrun by the enemy. As the danger intensifies, she and her adopted sister, Melissa, set off with the rest of their team on the road trip from hell.

Their mission is cloaked in secrecy, but suspicions of a traitor arise.

Something is affecting the zombies’ migration patterns, and when blacksmith Tyler Garrett is discovered trapped in a farmhouse, the team refuses to trust him. But Ellen believes his story, and it’s not just because of his rugged, blond good looks and soft-spoken manner—his skills can greatly benefit their team.

As the team struggles to reach the fallback, previously secure locations are overrun, and their chances of success seem remote. With the likelihood of a traitor nearly certain, and the lives of everyone she loves at risk, Ellen must figure out who to trust before the traitor—or the zombies—destroy them all.

Is there a spy among the fallback team,

or is there another threat lurking in the Kentucky hills?

fallback2►►► Meet the author: LORI WHITWAM ◄◄◄

Lori spent her early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found her and her husband moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, she fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. She will never leave, and if you try to make her, she will hurt you.

She has worked in public libraries, written advertising copy for wastewater treatment equipment, and managed a holistic veterinary clinic. Her current day job, conducted from her World Headquarters and Petting Zoo (her couch) is as the Managing Editor for Limitless Publishing, as well as editing for a select group of indie authors.

Her dogs are a big part of her life, and she has served or held offices in Golden Retriever and Great Pyrenees rescues, a humane society, a county kennel club, and her own chapter of Therapy Dogs International.

She has been a columnist and feature writer for auto racing and pet publications, and won the Dog Writers Association of America’s Maxwell Award for a series of humor essays.

Parents of a grown son, Lori and her husband were high school sweethearts, and he manages to love her in spite of herself. Some of his duties include making sure she always has fresh coffee and safe tires, trying to teach her to use coupons, and convincing the state police to spring her from house arrest in her hotel room in time for a very important concert. That last one only happened once—so far—but she still really, really appreciates it.

You can find her online at

Her Facebook author page is

Also on sale a limited time, the first book in the series:

deadsurviveLori Whitwam – The Dead Survive

It should be easy to tell who the monsters are in the middle of a global zombie pandemic…

The blank-eyed swarms of animated corpses who want to gnaw on your flesh. Well, those are the obvious choice, of course.

In reality, though, it’s not always that simple.

In the early days of the global zombie pandemic, Ellen Hale learned a brutal lesson.  While trying to survive the hordes of zombies, Ellen was abducted by a band of marauders and subjected to abuse almost beyond her ability to endure.

She is broken both mentally and physically, and fears she is on the verge of becoming a monster herself

Until she is rescued by a growing band of survivors and given a second chance.

 Ellen is taken to “The Compound.” Where she meets ex-convict, Quinn.

He’s everything she’d ever been taught to fear, but his presence is the only thing that makes her feel safe.

Will she be able to look past his rough exterior and learn to trust him? Or will the memory of the men who subjected her to such sadistic horrors ruin her chance at a new life?

Tag Line:

Sometimes the shambling animated corpses aren’t the worst things out there. Sometimes the monsters are human…

Posted in Authors, blog challenge, Books

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: 6 Marketing Tips

blogchallengegraphicupdatedThis week’s blog challenge is about marketing tips. Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created this challenge (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

I don’t have many book marketing tips I can recommend and hope to learn something from others taking this challenge, but here are six things I’ve done that seemed to help my sales of  “A Stone’s Throw,”so far:

  1. thanksreadersarticleI spoke to the editor of my local paper about my book before it first came out, and she interviewed me and published an article the week of its release.
  2. Since I’m a librarian, I sent a press release to the Nassau County Library Association, and they featured me and my book in their monthly newsletter. This can work for anyone who is a member of any association or group that publishes a newsletter which features member news.
  3. I contacted book blogs for reviews and interviews. See my Media page for those that featured me.
  4. I organized a Thanksreader’s Facebook party around the time of my release. Since my book came out around Thanksgiving, I used a theme of a virtual feast at which each author taking over brought a “dish” as well as giveaways. The dishes often included recipes and yummy photos.
  5. I signed up for a release blitz with Book Enthusiast Promotions.
  6. I created teasers using with scenes from my book, as well as review quotes that I used on Facebook posts and Twitter tweets.1stonesthrowcatcatcherteasaerIn addition to these marketing tips, there are some things I tried that weren’t productive for me but that doesn’t mean they won’t be productive for you. These included posting in FB groups, taking out Facebook ads, and holding Goodreads and Facebook giveaways. While these didn’t result in much sales for me, I may not have promoted them properly. You might have totally different results. The main thing is to try many avenues to reach your target market — both online and through personal appearances, signings, etc. It’s a tough market, but if your books  are good, you don’t give up, and you keep writing, you will be noticed, build a fan base, and eventually earn some profit from your hard work.
Posted in Monday Blog

Can you believe the exciting services Libraries Now offer?

libraryconferenceOn May 5th, I attended the 41st Long Island Library Conference at the Melville Marriott. This annual event brings together librarians and other library staff members from both Long Island counties. Three workshops are offered during this day-long conference as well as a break for lunch during which attendees listen to a keynote speaker. There are also many exhibitors from vendors to library associations and groups that fill up the exhibit hall.

I was impressed, as I have been at the previous libraryconference3conferences I attended, with the many volunteers who helped organize, run, and man the tables at the event. I found the workshops enlightening and inspiring and was again proud of being a librarian in this day of fast answers by Google and Siri.

Below is the report I wrote about the conference that I feel will be of interest to not only library employees but library patrons. The conference was appropriately titled, “Shaping the Future,” to emphasize the new role of today’s libraries that has shifted from a place to borrow books to one of a community gathering space featuring programs, services, and materials that support people of all ages, incomes, and interests.

If you don’t currently have a library card or make use of your local library, I urge you to read my report and consider the variety of new services libraries now offer. There’s something for everyone, and the workshops I attended just addressed three of the multitude of offerings. Check the ones that are available at your own library or request some you’d like to see. Libraries are always open to patron suggestions.

Crowd-Pleasing Memory Programs at Half Hollow Hills

The first workshop, sponsored by the Half Hollow Hills Library, was entitled Crowd-Pleasing Memory Programs. It entailed a description of the four memory-themed programs the Half Hollow Hill Library offers its patrons and the Long Island Community and also included many informative handouts. The presenters were Catherine Given, Virginia Pisciotta, and Kate Anastasia of Half Hollow Hills Library. They stressed the feelings of accomplishment these programs gave them and the importance of serving the memory-challenged community on Long Island. Nationwide, Alzheimer affects 5 million people and is the 6th leading cause of death killing 1 in 3 seniors.

The four programs featured at Half Hollow Hills are Memory Fitness, Memory Café, Music and Memory, and Alzheimer’s Association 8-week programs. The library markets these programs through releases sent to neurologist offices, churches and Jewish centers, Assisted Living residences, through word of mouth, and by announcements in the library’s newsletter.

The Memory Fitness program takes place weekly at the library. Run by Ginny Pisciotta, this program allows those with memory difficulties to challenge their brains through puzzles, games, and other activities. The program attendees are seated at tables to encourage social interaction which is also very important for these people. The cost to start this type of program is not high, approximately $200, and many materials can be borrowed from the library’s children’s or YA departments. Half Hollow Hills also has a collection of memory-related materials that can only be used by their patrons.

The Memory Café meets monthly at a local restaurant. The LI Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association pays for the restaurant’s buffet in a room provided free by the owner. Participants eat, dance, and sing along to CD’s. Last month, the library had 50 participants.

Music and Memory is a program whereby the library offers lifetime-loaned iPods for patrons’ family members affected by dementia. These iPods are loaded with a playlist of the memory-challenged relative’s favorite tunes. The material costs are $49 plus $3 for headphones. Alternately, a library can launch a donation program.

The 8-week early-stage Alzheimer’s workshops are conducted by the Alzheimer’s Association at libraries that have two rooms available. One room is used for caregivers; the other for Alzheimer patients. While the Alzheimer patient attends a recreational program similar to the Memory Fitness one given by Half Hollows Hill staff, the caregiver attends a support group by the Alzheimer Association’s Program Director.

Serving the Business Community

The second workshop I attended, Serving the Business Community, featured speakers from the Miller Business Resource Center at the Middle Country Public Library and the Business Resource Information Center at Freeport Memorial Library. The purpose of a library targeting its business community is that small business is crucial to the economy; the library can build its brand with different groups, new groups of people look to start businesses, it can fill a niche, and there will be new funding opportunities. The business community needs one-on-one assistance (owners come in to ask questions); free resources; and subscription databases. A business blog is also helpful.

The program described some of the programs Middle Country and Freeport offer to the business community. The speakers mentioned that while it is not necessary for every public library to have a dedicated business center, libraries should all be prepared to help the local business community, new entrepreneurs, and job seekers. A library can make a small physical space and/or an online space for their business patrons. The Miller Center uses LibGuides, the Reference USA database that it highly recommends along with Business Source Premiere and Gale Virtual Reference. They also have a business blog.

Two interesting programs that were discussed were the Miller Center’s Business Bites program and a Trade Show event. The Business Bites program is a 45-minute workshop for business people at hours that are convenient for library staff and patrons. The Middle Country Public Library conducts these workshops before the library opens and before busy people need to get into work. Other libraries may find an evening or weekend program would work better for their communities. The workshop can feature topics of interest to business people such as social media marketing on Facebook, twitter, and other platforms. Librarians can run some or an hire a presenter from an outside company. The Brooklyn Public Library also offers this program.

The Strictly Business Trade show that Middle Country just began takes a lot of work, but they’ve had a good reaction to it even though it’s in its early stages. They hold the show at the library between 9 and 1 on a Tuesday and include breakfast with admission. Their previous show included 100 vendors and 800 attendees. They had a speaker from the Long Island Library Association and distributed evaluation forms for feedback which was quite positive.

 Building Communities of Readers Using Library Readers “Staff Picks”

This program was presented by speakers from the New York Public Library, Darien Public Library, and Queens Public Library. It focused on how library staff can recommend books to readers all over the country through a program called LibraryReads. The presenters explained the process of registering as a public library staff member with LibraryReads, requesting digital ARC’s (Advanced Reader Copies), and nominating their favorite titles. The object of the program is to increase a library staff member’s awareness of new books.

There are several advantages to becoming a LibraryReads reviewer. One is that it will enhance a library’s reader’s advisory services because books that are included in LibraryReads do not need to be by well-known authors or big publishers. The source for these selections are found through Edelweiss and Net Galley that feature debut authors as well as small and independent publishers. Another benefit to reviewing on LibraryReads is that your review may be featured in newspapers and other nationwide publications.

After the presentation on LibraryReads was complete, the floor was opened up to a discussion by participants regarding other ways they promote reader’s advisory at their library. I spoke about our monthly staff picks newsletter where we feature debut as well as popular authors and the fact that those books reviewed see a high circulation rate. Other libraries use other methods such as shelf talkers, book discussions, and displays.

libraryconference2Besides the workshops I attended, I also listened to the keynote speaker, Tad Hills, a Children’s author known for his books featuring duck and goose the mascots of the conference, and gathered some handouts and other materials from library vendors and associations on the conference floor I felt would be useful information to myself as well as my co-workers.

Attending the conference made me realize how much my profession is growing and how much it offers to people both those who visit and those who log in from home. These new programs and services are not restricted to Long Island libraries. Libraries around the country and the world are adding new services and programs every day.


Posted in Authors, blog challenge, Books

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: My Bookshelf/Latest Reads

blogchallengegraphicupdatedThis week’s blog challenge is on the topic of My Bookshelf/Latest Reads. Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created this challenge (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).



bookshelf2bookshelf4I actually have several bookshelves in my home. What do you expect from a librarian who is also an author? Even though I borrow many books from the library, I have a large collection of my own. My bed’s headboard actually holds some paperbacks, and there’s room in my bureau’s shelves. I also decorate my bookcases with knick knacks and curios, most of them cat-related.

bookshelf1Of course, my own books, Cloudy Rainbow and a Stone’s Throw, have prominent spots on my bedroom bookshelf as well as the Cat Crimes in Time anthology in which my short mystery, Stitches in Time, appears.


My bookshelves are not limited to the space in my house. I also have a virtual bookshelf on my Kindle Fire with many books waiting to be read including ebooks by fellow Limitless Publishing authors.

Since I write for and edit my library’s Staff Picks newsletter, I need to review at least one book a month, and I usually try to review two. I used to be a much more voracious reader, but my reading time is limited by the hours I spend writing and promoting my own books. Occasionally, I ask my cat, Oliver, for help choosing what to read next from my huge TBR pile. My latest choices are pictured below. I just began “House of Dreams” by Kate Lord Brown, one of my newest favorite authors. Her previous book, The Perfume Garden, was a page-turner.bookshelf7housedreams

If you’re interested in learning more about me and my books, I’d love to connect with you on the following sites:




Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:





Posted in Monday Blog

How did you celebrate Mother’s Day?

momdebbieMother’s Day has always been a special holiday for me even before I became a mother because my birthday lands on it about every seven years. My husband’s birthday, two days later, is the same way. I guess we were both special Mother’s Day gifts to our mothers when we were born. I arrived the day after Mother’s Day on Monday, the 9th of May. I recall my mother saying I just missed being in the newspaper as a Mother’s Day baby. My older brother tells me there was snow on the ground that day, although most of the birthdays I remember were rainy. This year my day is predicted to be nice after a week of rain.

2016-05-07 14.39.49

momsdaybowlMy daughter painted me a pretty bowl for Mother’s Day, and my husband bought me an Apple Watch that is also part of my birthday present. He made waffles for breakfast and cooked dinner. I also received a beautiful vase of flowers from both of them. I visited with my mother and brought her some candy and a basket of flowers in her favorite purple color from all of us.

Me and My Second mom, my Mother-in-law, Carol

I am blessed to have had two mothers in my life and also to be a mother when there was a time I never believed that would happen. My mother-in-law, Carol, to whom I dedicated my book, A Stone’s Throw, passed away from Cancer two years ago. She was a wonderful lady, and I considered her my second mother. I still miss her greatly. I remember how much she helped me after my daughter was born and was always there for me. Like my own mother, she was only 17 when she married and did not have an easy life, but she raised five kids and had many grandchildren and a few great grandchildren when she passed away too young at 71. My mother just turned 88. She’s in a nursing home but doing well so far despite being confined to a wheelchair and suffering from dementia.

My beautiful baby, Holly, in her Christening dress
2016-02-28 10.05.04
My lovely daughter, Holly at 11

My daughter came along when I had despaired of ever becoming a mother. My husband and I waited a long time before we decided to have children because we married late but were still establishing our careers and paying off college loans. By the time it seemed right to start a family, some obstacles stood in our way. I became pregnant a few times but miscarried each baby. The first one required a D & C because the heart beat had stopped after nearly 8 weeks, but my body wouldn’t let the fetus go. Neither could my heart. In my sorrow, I found the strength to try again. After another miscarriage, this one earlier and not as traumatic, I questioned if I should keep pursuing my dream of motherhood.

Each Mother’s Day that passed was painful when I saw other mothers with their children. Then, miraculously, I became pregnant again. I was so afraid something would go wrong. When I started bleeding just two months into the pregnancy, I thought for sure I’d lose the child again. My doctor assured me it was normal and that all was well. Seven months later, my water broke unexpectedly one morning the week before Halloween. I panicked fearing that it was too soon when my baby wasn’t expected until early December. Luckily, my daughter was born healthy at almost 5 pounds. She had to stay in the hospital for ten days, but we were assured she was fine. She’s nearly a teenager now and taller than I am.

debbiemomhollyeditedWhile I’m thankful for my Mother’s Day gifts, I’m more thankful for the love and memories, for the time I can share with my mother and my daughter. That’s what I celebrate most on Mother’s Day and all year long.





Posted in Authors, blog challenge, Books

#LifeBooksWriting Blog Challenge: My Writing Room

blogchallengegraphicupdatedI’m very excited to participate in the blog challenge Sophia Valentine of Lifestyle and Literature created (see graphic for topics and dates if you have a blog and would like to participate. If you’re a reader, I’m sure you’ll enjoy learning about some of the great participating authors).

My Writing Room is the first subject of this new blog challenge, and I find it challenging indeed because I don’t have a writing room at this point or beautiful photos to share with you of to-die-for offices or dens that some other authors do. I get up at 5 a.m.  each morning to write (a little later on weekends or when I’m off from work). My computer is set up on my kitchen table which is good access so I can have my coffee and eat breakfast as I write (although I do get crumbs in the keyboard sometimes that frustrates my husband to no end).

bookandOliverstripeytypingThe other place I do a lot of writing, if only mental writing, is in my bed at night curled up around my Siamese cat Oliver (which also irritates my husband). I mull over the next scene of my book in my sleep and, when I wake up, I am ready to write. Occasionally, my other cat, Stripey, lends me a paw typing on his laptop.

writing4 One day I may have an official office with windows all around overlooking a beautiful garden or the seashore.

writinggraphic1For now, until my book “A Stone’s Throw” or one of my forthcoming ones becomes a bestseller, I am typing at the table like a starving artist literally because while food is within my reach, I’m still trying to stay on my diet. On the other hand, when I get a touch of writer’s block, a handy piece of dark chocolate always seems to do the trick to help get the words flowing again.

writinggraphic3If I did have a writing room, it would be a cross between a library and a peaceful retreat. I’d move the Kittendales calendar featuring hunky men holding kittens from my bedroom to feature on one of the walls, and my books (the current two I’ve published and the next 100 I have in my mind and plan to write when I have time) will fill several bookcases along with my favorite authors, Nora Roberts, Mary Higgins Clark, Jodi Picoult, and Sandra Brown. The only problem is with all the bookcases and the calendar, I wouldn’t have much room for windows, and I’d have to have at least one with a window seat where my cats could sit while I composed my masterpieces and looked out at the flowers or the sea.

writinggraphic2Instead of filling this blog post with photos of my writing room, I’ve filled it with photos of my dream writing rooms. If you’d like to support this starving writer so she can afford a writing room  of her own, please order my book through any of the following links. I’d also love you to connect with me on the social media sites listed after.

Buy links for A STONE’S THROW:

Amazon U.S.: KINDLE:

Amazon Australia:

Amazon Canada:

Amazon U.K.:

Barnes and Noble:


Also available on iTunes and Ingram

Connect with me on:




Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up:





Posted in Author Spotlight, Authors, Books, New Releases

Author Spotlight A.K. Morgen

authorspotlightaydenmorgenWelcome to the Library Lounge where I interview fellow authors. Today, I am chatting with Ayden K. Morgen aka A.K. Morgen from Little Rock, Arkansas.

Thanks for joining me, Ayden.  Please have a seat and make yourself comfortable.


How long have you been publishing and what titles have you published? Have you self-published any titles or published with another publisher? Please give details.

Close woman portrait with the world reflected in her eyes.
Close woman portrait with the world reflected in her eyes.

The first title I published with Limitless Publishing in March of 2016, STRICKEN (The War Scrolls #1), is actually my seventh full-length novel. I’m also published with Curiosity Quills Press, Enchanted Publications, and Cobblestone Press. All Over You, my latest release, is my eighth title.

That’s great. I understand that All Over You is releasing today. Can you tell us a little bit about it as well as what genre you write and your other books?

I write romance as well as fantasy with strong romantic elements. All Over You is a New Adult romance, featuring Ivy Kendall and Cameron Lewis. Ivy is a kindergarten teacher who finds her life unraveling around her when a catfish steals her identity and lures a college student into an online relationship and, ultimately, to his death. Cameron (Cam), a San Francisco detective, has to help her clear her name…and convince her that giving him a chance won’t drag him down with her. That’s easier said than done when Fake Ivy has made sure that the real Ivy looks guilty! The book is a very steamy standalone companion to the All Falls Down duo.

allsfalldownIn addition to All Over You, I also have Rapture coming out later this year, which will complete the Teplo Trilogy. FLAME, the third book in a New Adult urban fantasy series centered around Norse mythology, will release early next year, followed by the second book in the War Scrolls series.

Sounds great. How would you describe your goals as a writer? What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

My goal as a writer is to spread a little love and share the things that matter to me. I work in the Criminal Justice/Social Services fields, so a lot of my novels feature characters in the same fields…law enforcement officers, federal agents, and even those accused of a or victimized by crime. Others deal with the mythology I grew up devouring. I love getting to share those perspectives and stories with readers while giving them a well-earned HEA! Ultimately, I would love to write full-time, and am working toward that goal every day through writing and author branding.

I also feature characters that are either librarians, researchers, or authors, as I am in my novels. It’s interestintg that you mention mythology because I loved reading them as a child, too, but haven’t included them in any of my books. Like you, I would love to work full-time in the future.

Close woman portrait with the world reflected in her eyes.
Close woman portrait with the world reflected in her eyes.

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

Readers who love romance, heat, suspense, and HEAs are sure to find something they enjoy in my fictional worlds. So are those who love a little angst, flawed characters, and a dose of reality. I don’t shy away from putting characters into tough situations and letting them find their way together. That’s part of what love and relationships are all about, right?

Exactly. You sure have your target audience pegged.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Don’t give up! There will always be someone out there who doesn’t like what you write or how you write it. That’s perfectly fine, because there will also always be those out there who love what you have to say and how you say it. I’ve had people tell me that they hated X, and then had others come along immediately after and tell me that’s exactly what they loved about the story. Rejection and bad reviews are inevitable, so don’t let them discourage you.

I agree completely. Persistance is an important trait for an author. You need to have faith in yourself and  your writing and, as you said, realize that not everyone will love it but that’s the way it is with every book.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

Quite honestly, I didn’t ever plan to publish. My mom badgered me into it, and I had a very different experience than most. I sent out my first query in late 2011, and 3 months later, I had my first contract offer, followed by another soon thereafter. That’s not the norm, so I always kind of feel like I lucked into publishing initially. I’ve put in a lot of hard work and sleepless nights since, but yeah, I definitely got lucky to begin with!

Yes, that’s unusual. I think I became published rather quickly myself once I started concentrating on submitting material, although I’d had a few rejections but nothing close to what some authors receive.

Have you taken any writing or publishing classes? If so, please provide information about them and if you feel they helped you further your professional skills.

I took a creative writing course as a kid, and various lit courses in high school, but I haven’t taken any classes since. I did help TA College Composition I and II in college and grad school, so that helped strengthen my knowledge of the technical and mechanical side of writing, I think.

What hobbies and interests do you have besides writing?

I’m a huge hockey fan, especially when it comes to the Chicago Blackhawks. Hockey season is a little frightening around my house…there’s a lot of screaming at the television and dancing involved. I’m also a big fan of mythology, ballet, action movies, and causing mischief. I also work as a 911 Dispatcher for my county, so I don’t have a lot of free time between my two careers, but when I do, I spend as much as possible just hanging out with my husband of twelve years and my family and friends.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

I love inspiring others and telling the stories that rattle around in my brain. Knowing that my words have helped someone else through a difficult situation or time is so rewarding. I love that! My least favorite part of being an author is how much work goes into things like marketing and branding and the whole business side of things. I spend as much time on those responsibilities as I do writing…it can be pretty exhausting!

I hear you. I feel the same way. Marketing and promoting are so important, and yet authors are usually not experienced with them and prefer to write which is just as important.

Can you  please list your social media links, website, blog, etc. so readers can connect with you.



Amazon Author Page:

Website/Blog: http://aydenmorgen/com/blog

Thanks so much for the interview, Ayden, and very best luck with your new release and the books that follow.

Posted in Monday Blog

Have You Ever Participated in a Sakura Matsuri Festival?

2016-04-30 09.10.00My daughter and husband both share an interest in Japanese anime. When I saw a Japanese festival advertised a few weeks ago that was taking place at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, I thought it might interest them. Although I am not a fan of anime, the event known as Sakura Matsuri is also known for its spring celebration featuring the blooming of cherry trees. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has hosted it for 35 years.

2016-04-30 10.07.56This was the first time my family and I attended Sakura Matsuri or even visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.  Because we were warned on the garden’s website that the event becomes very crowded, we started our day early and arrived there before the gates opened. Since we’d also purchased our tickets online, we were able to use an express entrance, but the event didn’t start until 10, so we still ended up waiting.

2016-04-30 10.19.492016-04-30 10.27.33Checking the program that was online and also listed in the brochure distributed at the festival, most of the shows my daughter wanted to attend, which  included cosplay discussions, were taking place on the Osborne Garden’s J-Lounge Stage later in the morning. Since we had some time, we checked out some other areas of the gardens including the lovely Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden before heading to the main attraction — the cherry esplanade lined with cherry trees where visitors took photos among the beautiful pink blossoms. We also strolled down the lilac walk where the flowers’ heavenly perfume scent surrounded us.

sakuramatsuripockyWe stopped for an early lunch at the Visitor Center where my husband ordered a Bento box of chicken teriyaki and my daughter just opted for a hamburger. I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but also tried the delicious pocky chocolate sticks with my daughter and got hooked on them.

2016-04-30 12.00.10In the Osborne Garden, the azaleas were also in full bloom. As we walked, we saw performers as well as visitors in costumes that ranged from Japanese geisha girls to anime characters my daughter enjoyed naming.

sakuramutsuricatsakuramatsuricatsCircling the Osborne Garden were vendors selling Japanese items and souvenirs. As a lover of all things cat, the table displaying kitties with solar-powered wagging tales was a big drawer to me. Although the Yura-Yura cats were costly, I couldn’t leave without choosing one. I also purchased a Tenugui, a Japanese cotton towel, that has many purposes including hanging for decoration. There were an assortment of choices featuring the vibrant art, and I was able to find one with ninja cats, cherry blossoms, and a pagoda to remind me of my time at the  Sakura Matsuri festival. My daughter, also a big souvenir shopper, found a hat headband that appealed to her that was also more than we’d planned to spend.

2016-04-30 13.16.53After watching a few shows including a funny Japanese comic named Rio Koike, the festival was getting very crowded, so we decided to leave. On our way out the gates, my daughter commented that she’d had a great day because it featured her two loves — nature and anime.

If you’ve never been to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens or to a Sakura Matsuri festival, I would recommend both. We had a beautiful spring day and, although we missed some of the other attractions — the bonsai and doll museums as well as the tea ceremonies and other demonstrations and exhibits, we look forward to visiting another time.