Posted in inspiration, Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Stagnate We Die

I do not believe a writer ever stops learning. If we stop learning, we become stagnate and die. Like something caught in the old pool in the back yard, you can swim around in the sludge for a while a little slimy but happy enough. After a while, the things that begin to grow on the bottom of the pool start to choke out the cool water and oxygen turning it into a hot soup of old gross things. No one wants to be a part of some old gross thing.

There are somethings that should never go out of style: good manners, good grammar, and good food. Everything else is subject to change. When I think of the writer I was twenty, thirty years ago, I can feel myself blushing and ducking my head. It is one of those times when I’m actually glad none of my old stuff survived our house fire. As a person I’ve changed a lot over the years. When my husband, David and I married, we talked often of racial differences and how we were raised. Though my parents were not racists, they weren’t inclusive either, part of growing up in a rural southern community. My husband’s mother was raised a lot like my parents, the only other races she knew before adulthood were Native American, Black and Dutch, and that was from working on a farm out in eastern North Carolina.

Our parents were taught that the races were separate but equal but as they became adults in the sixties, they began to see things weren’t quite the way they believed. A conversation with my mother after watching the movie “Hidden Figures,” made me realize just how little the white community really knew of what was going on historically right outside their front door. We lived in Hampton, Virginia from 1967-1973. The last year we were in Virginia, I was bussed across town to Bassett Elementary School. I loved the school and the principal, a black man with a gentle baritone. Yet until that movie, my mother and I (I was only 9 at the time) were unaware of the racial problems and Virginia’s refusal to integrate. As a nine-year-old black child I would have known.

After marrying my father-in-law, a marine who grew up in upstate New York, my mother-in-law became exposed to many more races: Puerto Rican, German, Italian, Dominican, Chinese, Caribbean and West Indian when she visited his family in Amsterdam, but in the marine corps she learned that there was only one race, olive drab. She raised her children with no color barriers.

My husband and I often discussed whether I’d have been brave enough to take a chance on loving him had he been of a different race or religion. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have been thirty years ago. He is part of what has made me stronger, braver, he’s expanded my world and given me the courage to take chances, even disagree with him.

The adventure continues

As children our worlds are often small. They include family and friends, maybe a few neighbors, church members. When we venture off to school we are exposed to more people, teachers, faculty and students from places just a little out of your neighborhood, maybe people who have moved from other places. If you are lucky enough to travel, you might be exposed to other races, religions and cultures but most of us grow up knowing only what is in our own backyards.

I was so proud when I finally received my Profession Authors Network Pin from RWA

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) and writers in general have been fighting a battle of inclusivity and diversity for several years. Romance and especially love, should not come with qualifiers. Everyone deserves to be loved. Reading authors who are different from us, about heroes and heroines of other races and religions, writing about characters who are unique with an educated and respectful attitude, that is allows us to live in another’s skin and share their experiences. Not all rednecks are racists, not all blacks are thugs and not all Asians are submissives. We need to stop typecasting and start doing our homework. We need to keep learning. Will we make mistakes and say something or do something that comes across as prejudiced or unenlightened? Probably. We are human and we make mistakes in everything else we do, but if we are truly trying to learn and be different than the person we were before, then we need to open the dialogue and ask the intelligent questions. We need to look further than our own backyards, heck, maybe we need to add a few more people to our invitation lists. Learn about real people of color, real people with physical and mental challenges, people with other lifestyles and from different cultures, take time to read, listen, and discover more information. No one says you have to join a movement, but if you plan to write about someone diverse characters then learn about them first.

Big Shot’s Birthday

I like to people my stories with characters who represent my friends and neighbors. In “Titanium Blue” my hero lost a leg in Afghanistan. My son, a former soldier with two tours in Afghanistan answered questions for me. Two of my friends have prosthetic legs. One lost his leg in a farming accident as a child, the other a car accident as an adult. Both men were willing to answer my questions about their prosthesis.

Firsthand information, books and the internet offer readers a realistic experience. Modern technology has allowed writers something they’ve never had before, a chance to go places without ever leaving their chairs. We no longer have the excuse of ignorance for the information is too easily available. We, as writers, owe it to our readers to do our best to portray diverse characters with honesty and respect.

I’m looking for sources to add to my list. If you have any suggestions, I’d appreciate your input.

This is a new source I cannot wait to learn more about, UNCTV/PBS Learning Ken Burns Classroom

For many cultures from African American to Ukrainian American can be found at the Library of Congress It lists many sources both historical and current.

Poli-Sci Course on “Who is American”

100 Most Significant Americans of All Time

100 Most Influential Figures in American History

Gay Rights/Culture


Black/African American:

Latino/Hispanic American:

Posted in backstory, my books, Thoughts

Criminals and Monsters

Not all Criminals are Monsters

In my Leeward Files novels, I have truly horrendous monsters: murderers, pedophiles, rapists, sex and drug traffickers, and extreme racists, but not all bad guys are truly monstrous. Sometimes, a good guy can be pushed into doing bad things, other times, a good person will do bad in the hope of something good coming from it. The old adage, “The end justifies the means.” In fiction, as in real life, we know that someone committing a crime, even for the “right” reason, is still guilty. Murdering the men who raped your daughter or wife might be justified but it’s still against the law.

What would cause you to commit murder? We are often quick to say I would kill for this or I would never kill for any reason, but I don’t believe we truly know what we are capable of until we are faced with it.

As I am finishing up the Leeward Files series and moving into the next series, The Heroes of Leeward, I am delving into why Todd, Devin and Phil were so evil. It has been documented that too often, children of abuse become abusers. These men were emotionally tortured and sexually molested as children. Todd went from a sadistic little boy to a serial rapist and murderer. Devin is more of a manipulator. He preys on those he sees as weaker but runs from confrontation. Phil believes he is a hero and wants to rid the world of the monsters, but he doesn’t have the honor and guidance to aid him. He believes the ends justifies the means, and it is more important to stop the bad guys that preserve the good.

Not all criminals are monsters, some are coerced into a life of crime, like Dana’s cousin in White Gold. Family is everything but what if you come from a family of monsters, does that make you a monster too? After his father dies, Robbie JR is raised by his angry, racist grandfather who blames him,( sins of the fathers and so on), for the disappearance of his rebellious daughter and her biracial daughter. The grandfather feels it is his duty to rid the world of the abomination who shares blood with him. His sadism and anger drive him to attempt murder.

In the real world we see crimes committed in the name of religion and morality. People too often hate and fear what they do not know, they lash out and try to conform it, or erase it. Centuries of wars fought in the name of religion or country has seen whole tribes wiped out. We may have evolved in some aspects but we have devolved in others. People still hate, are still consumed by vice and greed, no matter how much we preach love and compassion, there will always be those who refuse to live in peace. But thankfully there are those who overcome prejudices, fight the battle for equality, heroes who keep the world safe, and give us hope for the future. I believe in hope and happy endings. Wishing you all your own happy ever after.

Posted in Book Review


Rebel: Women Who Dare by Beverly Jenkins, Narrated by Kim Staunton

Women of strength and courage make history, forge nations and make a difference. Ms. Beverly Jenkins is a genius at building characters and setting them in familiar places and times, and showing what true courage looks like.

Reconstruction in New Orleans, or any place in the south, was hardly a romantic time period for people of color. Supposedly free, they still faced the hate and bigotry of being people of color. Still, life did not end, people still loved, lived and survived, to spite the cruelties others inflicted.

Valinda Lacey is representative of the strong, determined young women who came south to teach former slaves. When she meets Drake LeVeq, he brings out that spirit in her she’d tried hard to suppress as a young lady of the time period. Together, this amazing couple will build a better world one generation at a time.

If you love historical romances, strong characters and a blend of family and friends with a New Orleans setting, this is the story you have to read. Fabulous romance and wonderfully picturesque setting.