Happy Anniversary to Me!

I almost forgot, and thank goodness it’s still the 6th everywhere west of me. At least as far as Hawaii. 

Anniversary?! Yup. I started blogging 11 years ago today! And A Fine Mess and Reluctant Guardian were released July 7, 2011. It was an exciting summer for me, that’s for sure. And worth remembering every year. 

So again… Happy Anniversary to me! And thank you to everyone who has read my books and encouraged me along the way. <3

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Good Evening, Weko Harbor!

It’s time for another Monroe Minute with yours truly, Joss Monroe!

Hoping all of my fellow Weko Harborans had a great day. It’s about to get better with these fantabulous tidbits from Mayor Adams and a couple of our local business people.

First, our lovely mayor would like to send out a reminder to everyone. With the last day of school behind us, the summer season is officially underway. And we all know what that means. Yes folks, the Friday night concerts at Chandler Park will kick off tomorrow night with the Weko Sound Machine. For those who have never enjoyed concerts at the high school, you’re in for a treat. Each year, the band includes the best of the best from the current graduating class.

The concert runs from seven to nine, but you’ll want to arrive early for the farmer’s market. The food truck will be manned by Smitty’s Family Restaurant this week. He tells me batter dipped cod and crispy crinkle cut fries and tacos in a bag are on the menu this week.

Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs, cold nonalcoholic beverages, and a sweater. With a high of only 62° this afternoon, you can bet your boots it’s gonna be a little chilly at the park, with highs in the low fifties during the concert. Hope to see you there.

Moving on…

Amy Bristol, from Tie-the-Knot Wedding Attire & Planning will be hosting her annual Bride’s Day. Show up bright and early on Saturday to see the latest in bridal fashions, check out available venues, sample some of Sweet Creations wedding cake flavors, and find everything else you might need to make your special day spectacular.

Next on the list…

To celebrate the beginning of summer vacation, Rich Deeson will be offering a 25% discount on season passes for the Weko Water Park. The discount is only available to students in the Weko Harbor school district, and the offer is good through June 15th. It might seem a little early to be thinking about it, but let me tell you, when you’re melting in ninety degree temperatures, you’ll be glad you took advantage of this cool deal.

And finally, Kristy is up to her eyeballs in editing woes and has asked me to provide a little more musical inspiration. I aim to please, so here we go. So sit back. Relax. And enjoy the music. (special note to Kristy – hope you  enjoy the last one 😀 )

Oops. I almost forgot. She wanted me to remind you that you can get your free copy of the Weko Harbor prequel, Hard Goodbyes and New Beginnings by signing up for her newsletter (click here). I’m also supposed to tell you if you don’t want to to get anymore updates in your email inbox, all you need to do is scroll to the bottom of the newsletter and click ‘unsubscribe.’ But don’t do it until you get the prequel! And if you like the prequel, go to the home page on her website for links to get book 1 in the series – Loser Wins the Girl.

 

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A Chilly Sunday Night at the Lighthouse!

Hey, everyone! 
Just popping in to introduce Weko Harbor’s number one disc jockey, Joss Monroe. Technically, he’s Weko Harbor’s only disc jockey – if you don’t count a couple of high school studen who work for him to earn credits toward graduation.

In a quick ‘get to know Joss bio, he’s in his early forties, single (which a few local ladies are hoping to change), and has lived in Weko Harbor since he was a boy. When the lighthouse just north of town, including the radio station and small attached house, went up for sales about fifteen years ago, Joss sold everything he owned – and borrowed a small fortune – to make a dream come true. 

Now, he’s going to be joining us here on occasion, or however often I can talk him into it. Hope you enjoy the ‘bits and bobs’ he’ll be sharing with us (I understand his paternal grandparents moved here from the UK). I’m looking forward to the music he’ll be playing for me – and I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know more about Weko Harbor from his perspective.

Kristy

P.S.: If you haven’t gotten your free copy of the Weko Harbor prequel, all you need to do is sign up for my newsletter (click here). If you don’t want to continue getting updates in your email inbox, just unsubscribe at the bottom of the newsletter. But don’t forget to get the prequel first!

And, if you enjoy the prequel and want to read more about the citizens of Weko Harbor, you can buy Wesley’s book at most online retailers by clicking here and choose your preferred store. 

Good Evening, Weko Harbor!

So… Kristy says I need to demonstrate my greetings. Mornings, afternoons, and evenings, imagine me sounding like Robin Williams in the clip below. Some people might say I’m copying his style – and they’d be correct. But imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right? 

Moving on…

Just when you think summer has won the wrestling match with spring, winter jumps back in the ring again. Yes, folks, the National Weather Service has issued a freeze warning overnight, so make sure you bundle the kiddos up when they head off for school in the morning. 

In other news, I ran into Craig Butler this afternoon. If you haven’t already seen this week’s ad for Butler’s Butcher Shop, you might want to take a minute and check it out. With Memorial Day fast approaching, and warmer weather just around the corner, I’ll be breaking out my grill soon. So you know with these great prices, I’m going to be stocking up on steaks and burger. You might want to do the same.

Beachy Bargains is also slashing prices on their winter apparel again. If 60% off doesn’t get you lining up at the door tomorrow, I guess you’ll just have to pay full price in September. 

And finally, Kristy tells me she needs a little inspiration tonight – and she’s left it to me to provide it. So settle back, get comfortable, and close your eyes.  And make sure to meet me back here in the morning.

Joss

 

 

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Ever Have One of Those Nights?

The kind when you wonder where you’d be today if you’d turned right instead of left? Or not said yes when you should have said no? Or said yes – and you didn’t?

Yeah. I’m in a mood tonight. And I’m listening to sappy songs. But reflection helps to get in the right frame of mind to write, so it’s actually a good thing.

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A Free Story … Fabulous Feedback!

Finally!

Finally what, you might ask…

The Weko Harbor prequel is finally finished – and ready for new subscribers to my newsletter (<<< just click there). Yup. The story is my gift to you for signing up.

Here’s what one reader had to say about it… (Thanks so much, Kathryn!)

Perfect title to a new series that has so many wonderful stories just starting to unfold. A group of childhood friends reunited when coming together to celebrate the life of their longtime mentor after his passing. Mending fences, renewing friendships, healing hearts and souls. Sharing tears, smiles and opening up for more memories. No one tells a small town story like Ms. James does.

Just wanting to add a couple of things before I post this…

If you enjoy the prequel, you can click here (<<<), or on the title below, for links to the first full-length novel in the story, Loser Wins the Girl. Just so you know, the Amazon links are affiliate links. Learn more about those by clicking here.

And finally, I just want you to know that if you only want to subscribe to my newsletter to get the free story – and then immediately unsubscribe – that’s okay. No hard feelings. I promise. If you don’t like being on a mailing list, I understand. It can be quite overwhelming to keep getting slammed with emails. So, just click that unsubscribe button in one of the emails right after you get the book.

Why? Because the prequel is free for anyone who wants it. The newsletter is for those who want to know more about me, my writing process, my dog, cats, and chickens, updates on writing progress, and new releases. It’s okay to want something to add to your library but not want the rest. 

So whether you sign  up and hang around, or you sign up and unsubscribe, I hope you enjoy getting to know the residents of Weko Harbor. 🙂

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Pure Michigan – It’s Where My Characters Live

Most of them anyway…

One of the perks of being a ‘Michigander’ is that you basically live in a mitten. At least the trolls do. ‘Trolls’ are what the folks in our Upper Peninsula (aka, the U.P.) call anyone residing south of the Mackinac Bridge. Because, of course, trolls live ‘under’ bridges.

Another perk is that when there is no map handy, we can just use our hands. No, they’re not a perfect substitute, but in a pinch, they get the job done (as you will see below). Yes, that’s the outline of my hand. And, for the record, when using your hand as the Michigan map, you have to kind of twist and bend your thumb to get it to sort of look like that part of the mitten – and Saginaw Bay, which is why my thumb looks short and fat.

Now, let’s talk Mackinac. Or Mackinaw?

Looking at the ‘map,’ you’ll find Mackinaw City, but we also have the Mackinac Bridge, Mackinac Island, the Straits of Mackinac, and Fort Michilimackinac –all in northern lower Michigan.

Northern lower Michigan is where you’ll encounter your first trolls, if you started out in the U.P. If you started out somewhere in the south, it’s where you’ll encounter the last trolls before crossing the bridge and meeting the Yoopers.

Yoopers?!

Ya. Not Da Yoopers (of the Second Week of Deer Camp and Rusty Chevrolet fame), but the Yoopers who live and work in the U.P. The ones who dubbed the mitten dwellers trolls.

Anyway… Back to the Mackinac/Mackinaw conundrum.

From what I’ve gathered, everything up there started off as Michilimackinac, thanks to the Anishinabek – or Anishnawbeck, depending on who you ask – Nation. Early Michiganders shortened it to Mackinac, but somewhere along the line, the city came to be called Mackinaw.

If you want to learn more about that, there’s a short, cute video on Facebook titled ‘How Do You Pronounce It? Mackinac or Mackinaw.

Or, to save you time, just pretend all of the names end in ‘aw.’

Now, for a little more information and interesting tidbits:

*Michigan is the birthplace of some pretty famous people: Tim Allen, Jeff Daniels, Taylor Lautner (Team Jacob!), Burt Reynolds, Dean Cain, Alice Cooper, Magic Johnson, and more.

*U.S. 31 weaves its way from a few miles south of Mackinaw City all the way down to Holland, Michigan. My new series takes place in two fictional cities on a seventeen mile stretch of that highway, between Petoskey and Charlevoix. (‘New series’ was one of two affiliate links in this article. The other will be marked by an asterisk. Learn more about affiliate links by clicking here.)

*Weko Harbor and Tulley Falls are fictional cities – to everyone but me. To me, they’re as real as any other city in the United States. Hopefully, you’ll come to feel the same way.

*Petoskey is pronounced puh-tos-key

*Charlevoix is pronounced shar-la-voy

*Cheboygan is pronounced sha-boy-gun (I added this one for those who have read the Royal Sweethearts series (*) and wondered how to say it. Also the fourth installment – Quinn MacMahon’s book – will be out in the not too distant future, and there is at least one scene in that city)

*Battle Creek is the home of Kellogg’s Cereals, Tony the Tiger, and Frosted Flakes, which are, according to Tony, Grrreeeeaaat!

We even have our own song about Michigan cities – and I’ve loved it since the first time I heard it.

*Except for Reluctant Guardian and part of the Royal Sweetheart series, I’ve never felt the need to leave Michigan when it comes to my stories. We have it all – huge lakes that seem very ocean-like from our beautiful, sandy beaches. We have a few mountains, waterfalls, sand dunes, forests, and even tropical (SO humid!) weather in the summer. You can snow ski and surf here. Yes, people can and do surf on our Great Lakes. Check that out by clicking here.

*Hell actually does freeze over in Michigan. It’s located between Lansing and Detroit. It’s also only an hour from Maybee.

When my kids were in grade school, I always thought it would be fun to travel around the state, so when they went back to class at the end of summer, they could say they’d visited, Brooklyn, Holland, Bangor, Washington, Newark, Billings, Frankfort, Sandusky, Christmas, and Paradise … which are all cities in the great state in which I live.

And this concludes today’s lesson on Michigan. 🙂

***Just so you know, I will probably be putting this in the front matter of all Weko Harbor books – and any others set in Michigan. Some people start in the middle of the series, or don’t ever see my website, and some of this information could come in handy.

 

 

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Color Me Surprised! (and FREE Books!)

One of my goals this quarter is to put my nose back to the grindstone – for both writing, editing, and …. yuck! … marketing. In a word, I stink at marketing, so I’m trying to learn more about it, and gather a lot of information that may, or may not, help.

Today, I found myself on the Goodreads website. I’ve never done much over there because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to live my life, get any work done, and try to do all manner of social media. However, I wanted to check my ratings there. I don’t do it often because readers at Goodreads are notoriously rough on writers when it comes to rating books.

And while the following authors obviously have many more readers than I do (and therefore, more reviews), I was really surprised to see where they ranked on Goodreads.

Nora Roberts – 4.24
Richard Paul Evans – 4.17
Jane Austen – 4.14
Nicholas Sparks – 4.09
J.K. Rowling – 4.06
Stephen King – 4.05
Debbie Macomber – 4.0
Dickens – 3.9
Mark Twain – 3.87
Hemingway – 3.79

All of these authors are/were considered to be very good at what they do – writing books. And yet, on Goodreads, none of them have hit the coveted 5.0 average rating. It gives authors like me hope though.

Why?

Because my average at Goodreads is 4.01. Thanks to the 4,419 readers who took the time to rate my books, I could slip my name between King’s and Macomber’s. Of course, in the writing world, they are massive boulders and I’m just a teensy, tiny little pebble, but that’s okay. It’s close enough for now.

In the meantime, the task that sidetracked me was advertising my ‘Free Starter Library.’ <<< Click that blue link (or the covers below) to find out how to get your free digital copies. And full disclosure, the links for Amazon are affiliate links. Learn more about those here.

And now, because a spring cold has left me feeling a bit wimpy this week, I need some motivation – in the form of one of my favorite, probably over-shared videos. But, maybe you need some inspiration too.

 

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A Blast From the Past

While looking for something in previous blog posts, I came across one from December 6, 2012. I’m not sure why I forgot about it, because it was totally cool. But after nearly eleven years and 798 (this will be 799!) blog posts, I lose track of everything I’ve done through the years. Technically, it’s not actually a ‘post,’ it’s a link to an interview on Diane Capri’s website. Yup. She interviewed me.

If you haven’t heard of Diane, she is a friend of Lee Child and writes a companion series to his Jack Reacher series – The Hunt for Jack Reacher.

“#1 New York Times bestselling author, Lee Child (author of the Jack Reacher series), says of Diane’s books, “Full of thrills and tension – but smart and human, too.””

So while you’re checking out the interview (click here to read it), you might want to have a look at her books. 🙂

Just to be clear, this is the movie based on the novel by Lee Child. But in case you didn’t know who Jack Reacher is by now, this is the guy they’re both writing about.  🙂

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The Weko Harbor Gazette, Edition 4

I’m having so much fun working on Quinn’s book! I never suspected, when I wrote A Prince on the Run, that he would one day be the star of his own book. Of course, I didn’t know that Nolan or Fin would have their own stories either. And yet, here we are. Full disclosure – those are affiliate links. Learn more about those by clicking here.

Did you know you can also get A Prince on the Run and The Physician to the King in audible form – but under their original titles? Yup. Laying Low in Paradise (Cam) and A Cool Summer in Paradise (Nolan). Unfortunately, the narrator for that series wasn’t able to do Fin’s book. Someday, I hope to make that happen though.

The reason I mention this series is because if you haven’t read the first three, you’re probably not going to love Quinn like I do. 🙂

But enough of that! Here’s the latest Weko Gazette installment. 

 

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A Change of Plans

At one point this month, I thought I’d write about all the ‘anniversaries’ from February 2020. That just smacked of beating a dead horse though. Then I thought, I still need to come up with something interesting, because I can’t just keep doing the monthly Weko Gazette posts.

I’d already accepted that the Christmas book I’d wanted to put out in December, and then January, was going to have to wait until the annual Christmas in July celebration. There wasn’t much I could do to prevent getting hit with two viruses in less than two months and, unfortunately, it took a while to bounce back from them.

Still, I needed to do something – but, I couldn’t think of anything. 

Until tonight.

And so, it’s back to the next book on the list. I’m partway through the final edits/rewrites on Quinn’s story (fourth in the Royal Sweethearts series – this is an affiliate link, learn more about those by clicking here). That means it’s time for another sneak peek. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂

~~~~~

Heart pounding like a jackhammer, Quinn MacMahon could feel beads of sweat breaking out on his upper lip. Willing himself to calm down, he laid on the bed in the dark room trying to focus on slowing his breath from panicked gulps of air to a more relaxed and normal rate. But he couldn’t break free. He could never break free.

“It’s a dream,” a disembodied voice chanted, like its owner was reading a child’s nursery rhyme. But it was his voice too. “It’s just a dream. It’s all in your head. Wake up, wake up before you’re dead!”

But no matter how hard he willed it to happen, the scene continued to play out in a nightmare that had been haunting him for the past five months.

It always started out innocently enough, trying to fool him. Trying to make him think it was all in good fun. Nearly everyone he cared about was there in the courtyard. Prince Cameron and his family. Nolan and Abby. Fin and Princess Briannon. Some of the other guards.

Unseasonably warm temperatures had melted most of the snow, more than a month earlier than usual, and the volleyball net had been set up as soon as the grass dried.

He heard the laughter and good-natured insults as each team gave their best effort to win the game.

Yeah. A perfect spring day. Or it had seemed to be.

Except he knew what was coming. Knew he couldn’t stop it from happening this time, any more than he’d been able to stop it the other times.

Fear set in and he could feel his heart begin to pound harder when the white ball sailed out of bounds and rolled toward the edge of the cliffs.

“It’s just a ball, let it go!”

The voice was frantic now, shouting. But, like a spectator sitting in a theater, he watched himself run after it. Like it mattered. Like they didn’t always bring extra balls because the odds were better than good they’d lose at least one more to the icy Atlantic.

But he was determined to save this one, laughing as he chased it. And then the dog appeared, as if from nowhere, probably thinking it was a game. Whatever the reason, the warnings came too late.

“Quinn! Look out!”

“Quinn, stop!”

“Quinn, no!

One step too far to the right to avoid crushing the little ankle biter and the ground gave way beneath his foot.

In that instant, he accepted the fact that he was going to die. Not protecting his king. Not protecting the king’s family. Those would have been noble reasons to give his life. But no. He was going to die because he tried to save a volleyball.

And then he was falling. Somewhere in the mess that was his mind, he remembered that part happening fast. But now, as he tried and failed to escape the clutches of the dream, it took forever.

The sky above him seemed larger than life, a vivid, impossibly brilliant shade of blue. The sun was bright, and perfect cottony clouds looked as though they’d been painted by the hand of the world’s most gifted artist.

He tried to concentrate on those, grateful he didn’t have to watch the jagged rocks below getting closer by the second. Once had been enough. More than enough. Like the impact. At least he always woke before reliving that moment, though he seemed to be getting just a little closer each time.

Being forced to remember the brief moments before he’d lost consciousness would have been too much. He’d never known such pain. He’d never prayed to die before either, but he’d done so that day.

Heart pounding fast now, Quinn could barely catch his breath. Then, mercifully, he woke, his body jerking so hard the bed shook.

Except for the drug induced sleep in the first few days following the accident, and for a time after each surgery thereafter, he’d relived the nightmare so often, he was almost afraid to close his eyes. He never knew what might trigger them, or what he might do to prevent them from happening.

Skin clammy and his body trembling, he commanded himself to calm down, to focus on the waves washing up on the shore outside his window. A soothing, relaxing sound, it should have helped, but it never did.

“It was just a dream,” he muttered, echoing the voice in his head, knowing that it really wasn’t. More like memories he couldn’t get rid of no matter how many ‘happy thoughts’ he tried to think after the sun set each night.

He wished he could forget it. Or that it had never happened in the first place. He wished he was back on Casteloria, doing his job instead of recovering here on Bois Blanc Island, praying he’d walk again. Knowing he never would. At least not like before. Before he was ruined.

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