Relaxed Friday 25

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
(from a new WIP)
Ellie nodded, then frowned. “We do still think it’s a noble cause, right?”
June sighed. “Sarah is still pretty angry with me for interfering in her life. What about James?”
“James was angry at first, and that was rough,” said Ellie, her eyes filling with tears. “But darling boy that he is, he has forgiven me, and now things are right as rain.”
“I think, in time, Sarah will come around, too. We have to keep focusing on the greater good. Helping people find their happy-ever-after.”
“Yes! Look how successful we’ve been!” Ellie’s eyes gleamed in the fluorescent light.
“We do have a knack for this, it seems. I think . . . it’s our calling.”
“Yes! Finally, at our age, we have found what we were meant to do.”
“I think we owe it to the world to share our talents, and help the lonely. Or, at least, to the residents of Shady Oaks.”
“And Fairview.”
“Yes, fine, Fairview, too,” June grumbled.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is State. [More info] There are so many meanings of the word, but the puzzle on this page contains all fifty states of the United States of America. In case you are considering a rise to the challenge, we’d like you to know beforehand there’s no answer key provided and you’ll need to look in every direction—even diagonally—to find them all.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Character. [More info]

Image by Charnchai Saeheng


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Little. [More info]

Photo by Erik Karits


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is City. [More info]

Photo by Michael Pewny


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is How. [More info]

Photo by nextvoyage on Pixabay

Relaxed Friday 24

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by annca


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Why. [More info]



Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Where. [More info]

Photo is by NASA/JPL-Caltech/SAO. It is slightly altered. More specifically, CleanWIP Magazine enlarged a portion of the original photo for use on this article.

Scott R. Rezer ~
The Haberdasher’s Wife
1800—Überlingen, Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire.
Change is on the wind. A new century has begun and war with Napoleon Bonaparte continues to spread like wildfire, while the Enlightenment quietly breaks down traditional barriers of class, education, and the arts, in the last holdouts of Absolutism in the old German States.
For Josefa von Bandel, a nobleman’s daughter, her life on the quiet shores of the Bodensee is caught up in the dramatic changes sweeping across Europe—and in her own troubled life. She is young and beautiful and willfully stubborn. She risked her reputation for a scandalous affair—but will she sacrifice everything else for love?

Arthur Daigle ~
William Bradshaw, King of the Goblins
The Kingdom of the Goblins boasts the largest maze on the world of Other Place. Nearly every square yard of it has been trapped, and a fair number of goblins live in the maze full tim e. The maze grows by the day as goblins tirelessly and pointlessly add to it, with overhead walkways, underground tunnels, and always more traps.
Most mazes have a reward for success, but not here. Goblins are dead broke and plan on staying that way, thank you very much. This means there is no reason whatsoever to enter the maze, and few if any even consider it. Nevertheless, goblins continue work on their maze as the poorly built eyesore takes up ever more real estate.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is When. [More info]

Photo by Vincent Ciro


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is What. [More info]

Scott R. Rezer ~
WIP—The Haberdasher’s Wife:

“You—in love?” he said, chuckling again. He held her by the arms and kissed her brow. “I didn’t think you, of all people, were interested in love, Johanna. I thought you had devoted yourself to the life of a spinster.”
His words struck her like a slap across her cheek. It stung, but immediately she wondered if it was true. She had never considered it. Had twenty-eight years of turning away proposals, hardened her heart to reality of love? Did she even know what the love between a man and a woman was—or had she mistaken the playful games of romantic rendezvouses and secret trysts she and Friedrich had enjoyed for the last six months as love?
“A spinster, am I now?” She pulled him down again to her mouth and kissed him more passionately than she ever had before, her breath quickening with each prolonged moment.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Who. [More info]

Relaxed Friday 23

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

Photo by Leonardo Valente

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
(sharing a favorite scene from a WIP)
Pa,” Louis said gently. 
“Yes, son?”
“I’m sorry.”
“You should never be sorry about telling the truth.”
There was a long silence. Then Louis spoke again. “Pa, I’m taking the position.”
Pa nodded. “As you should.”
“Really? You’re not upset about it?”
Pa puffed on his pipe. “Right is right. It don’t really matter how I feel about it.”
“But Pa–” 
“You just do a good job, son, and never give him a reason to doubt your character.”
“Yes, sir.” Louis exhaled slowly into the evening air. “Pa?”
“I plan to marry Nellie. She’s already agreed.”
Pa smiled, and his eyes flickered in the lamplight. “Is that a fact?”
“Yes, sir.”
“Well, ain’t that somethin’.”
“I’d like your blessing.”
Pa sent a few more rings of smoke upward toward the porch roof. “Well, you have it. Nellie’s a good woman. I hope . . .” Pa shifted in his seat and gazed up into the sky. “I hope you have a good long life together.” He put his pipe back in his teeth and said nothing more. The two of them sat until the sky darkened into a gray void pierced with twinkling stars, and the trees turned into looming black shadows in the distance.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife… 
The sting of her brother’s rebuke was like a slap across her face. She hadn’t planned to do as he said, but it hurt that he thought she would. They had never been close. They had rarely ever spoken together alone except in the presence of other family members. She knew nothing would ever draw them close. They were just too different. Despite their differences, they both shared their father’s stubborn willfulness.
“I admit we have never been close, Anton, but I would never do something so cruel as to expose your secret for my own gain, no matter what you may think of me,” she said, emboldened by her words. “If anything, I hoped it might make you amenable to the offer I wish to make to you.”
“What kind of offer? An offer of money?” he asked, a dark, thin eyebrow arching, intrigued. A hopeful gleam registered in his calculating eyes.
She stepped closer, arms crossed. Steeling her resolve, she lifted her chin, letting her hands drop to rest protectively on her belly. “As head of our family, I want you to stand as my child’s sponsor at its baptism. And by so doing, taking on the full responsibilities of a godfather in all its conditions. I’m told by old women who claim to know such things that I carry a son. If so, I wish to have him named after Father.”

~ Laurean Brooks ~
(sharing an excerpt from Not What He Ordered)
Josh was trailing Carrie. And she didn’t like it. Did he think she was a thief–that she would steal a fancy dress from Carina’s Style shop? Or that she would pocket an item or two from Woods’s mercantile? The shimmery pink fabric sprinkled with baby blue flowers was the only thing that had caught her eye.
Why didn’t Josh just come out and accuse her? He’d stuck to her like a tick to a dog. When he wasn’t breathing down her neck, he was no more than a holler away.
Carrie decided to give him a dose of his own medicine. “You insisted on following me to the dress shop. I noticed you didn’t buy anything either. You didn’t even look at the merchandise, except when you checked the price tag on that expensive green dress.”
He’d walked the aisles to keep her in sight. Like he was doing now. She squirmed under his dark gaze like a jackrabbit caught in the sights of a rifle. It was as if he could see through to her soul.
“No, I didn’t buy anything.” He clapped a hand to his face, arched his back, and spoke in a falsetto voice, “Sonja didn’t have a single dress that flattered my figure.” Carrie giggled in spite of herself.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Repair. [More info]

Photo by Ryan McGuire

Here’s a #CleanWIP #ThemeBender from The Haberdasher’s Wife  by Scott R. Rezer. The Haberdasher’s Wife is a work-in-progress that is nearing the final stages before publication. As for the #Themebender, it was created back in early February of this year when several historical fiction authors were not amused by the announced RADIO theme. We decided to add #ThemeBender to #CleanWIP tweets and posts whenever only a very loose connection with the theme is possible. This helps avoid theme confusion among the authors and lets readers know we’re aware of the stretch.

In this case, Scott is fixing his character’s problem…

“I understand you wish to withdraw from the world for a time to have your child and reassess your life and future. Obviously, those are not your exact words, but I believe they sum up your request, do they not?”
Josefa nodded. The request sounded so simple, so distant, yet near—as close as a whisper. She slid forward on the edge of the hard wooden chair. “It does, indeed, Mother Abbess.”
“And the child? Do you still intend to leave it with us when you return to your life in Überlingen?”
“I do,” Josefa said. A pang of regret nearly choked the words in her throat. “What will happen to my baby?”
The Abbess clasped her hands on the desk. She had no doubt had the same conversation before with more than one young noble woman who found herself in similar straits. “If it is a girl, we will keep her here with us and raise her as one of our own—you are noble born, after all; if it is a boy, however, he will be given to one of the local farmers. Does this trouble you?”
“No,” she said, fighting back tears. She failed. A hot tear slid down her cheek. She dashed it away with the edge of her shawl. “It is probably better the baby never knows its parents or that it was unwanted.”
“No child is ever truly unwanted, my dear. Your child will find a home, even if it is not with those who gave it life.”


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Chaos so we’re asking authors to introduce one of their more chaotic characters from either a work-in-progress or a published book. However, we’re asking them to be as nice as is practical with their introductions. [More info]

Photo by Hans Braxmeier

Scott R. Rezer ~
The main character from my current WIP, Josefa, is a spoiled, arrogant, and willful noblewoman who discovers that she would sacrifice everything she knows for true love.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Order. [More info]

Photo by Coco Parisienne

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
“You should have shot him,” said Henry. “That dog’s a menace. I ran at him with a pitchfork the other day, and he lunged at me like he wasn’t even scared. Once I whacked him with it he knew I meant business, and he ran off.”
“I told Frank if he didn’t get him under control, I’d end up shooting him eventually.”
“Why does Frank even keep a dog like that?” asked Henry.
“Vernon Peedin got him for protection when the Willis brothers threatened to burn his house down, with him in it, after he testified against them in court. Vernon kept the thing on a good solid chain, and he always took proper care of his fences. And, the dog obeyed him. But you know Frank. He’s lazy and careless. He don’t even look after his mama, let alone keep his dog secure.”
Henry shook his head. “Some folks just don’t have any sense of decency.”
“Too true,” said Jim. He turned to Louis. “So, your first order of business is going to be filling in the hole that hell hound made, and making sure the coop is secure.”

Scott R. Rezer ~
From my current WIP, The Haberdasher’s Wife
“Herr Trinkaus,” she said, removing the hood of her cloak and gloves. “A joyous New Year to you.”
He rubbed his meaty hands together and winked at her. “And to you as well, fräulein. Might I interest you in some chocolates, today?”
It was a familiar game. One she often lost. “Not today,” she said, laughing, though she loved the rich chocolates that had made Herr Trinkaus the talk of the city. “Perhaps just a strudel for my mother and me.”
He touched a finger to his lips, smiling. “I have some that just came out of the oven.”
He led her to the counter, where she waited, glancing over the assorted baked goods in the display case while he assembled her order. A few moments later, he returned. The divine scent of the warm cinnamon and sugar wafted up from the package as he fastened it with a length of twine. He leaned over the wooden counter, pretending to brush off some imaginary crumbs with a cloth. “I included a few krapfen for you and your mother. A treat for New Year’s.”
Josefa giggled like a schoolgirl. “You will make us both very fat with your generosity, Herr Trinkaus, if you insist on adding treats to my order every time I come in here.”
“Indulge me, fräulein, and consider it favor to an old man,” he said, winking. “I have little to delight in beyond seeing the joy it brings you.”
“Very well,” she said, “but I insist on paying for it mind you.”
He held up a hand and shook his head. “Then you will simply force me to add a few more.” It, too, was another game they played together. He never let her pay for more than she ordered. He had never had a daughter and found it a joy to spoil her.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Certain. [More info]

From the upcoming The Haberdasher’s Wife by Scott R. Rezer.
Her brother was never good at hiding his displeasure. She often wondered if their father had been same. Anton’s eyes narrowed, his gaze dark and turbulent. His thick, brooding eyebrows too often reminded her of winter storm clouds just before they broke over the rough waters of the Bodensee.
“I’ve heard certain rumors circulating throughout the city that trouble me,” he said, biting down on the stem of his pipe. “Rumors about you, Johanna.”
“You need to be more specific. Tongues have always wagged in Überlingen about our family, Anton. Not everyone in this city likes us. Father had enemies as well as allies, and too many of those friends are now gone.”
“All the more reason not to feed the whispers with the way you conduct yourself in public.”
There it was—he had said it. Finally. She had waited for months for him to mention her secret trysts and late night rendezvouses with Friedrich. She knew she hadn’t been discreet enough, even when she tried. Last night was only the latest example. But she didn’t care. Not any longer.
“How I conduct myself, is my affair, Anton—not yours.”


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Possible. [More info]

Photo by An Brechtel

Relaxed Friday 22

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
Just finished editing the 13th chapter of my current WIP—The Haberdasher’s Wife—one my favorite chapters, and thought to share a small bit…
Josefa had fallen in love with the church at once, its plain exterior awash in soft pink and white, surrounded by trees and vineyards and the overarching blue sky; it was a jewel of the Baroque style so prominent in the churches of southwestern Germany. Its plain, but beautiful exterior, though, belied the rich interior that overwhelmed the senses with color and light and ornamentation worthy of a pilgrim church. The schemes of pink and white and glittering gold extended to the inside. Every statue and painting exuded a sense of movement, of life, a place where light and shadow could dance together.
Aside from the gorgeously painted fresco arching overhead, she adored the Honigschlecker—the honey sucker—a gold and white plaster sculpture of a cherub sucking honey from its finger that it had just drawn from a beehive. She couldn’t keep her eyes off of it. It made her smile to see such playful artistry amid the sensory-numbing opulence of the Wallfahrtskirche. Pilgrim visits had certainly filled the coffers of the church to overflowing to infuse the building with so much beauty and art.
In the opulence and breath-taking art surrounding her, she caught a small glimpse of the deep, abiding faith of the creators that had given birth to such beauty. It called to the depths of her soul, and her soul responded in kind.

Earlier this week…


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is War.

Photo by Alexa

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
(For the soon-to-be-released The Haberdasher’s Wife.)
1800—Überlingen, Imperial Free City of the Holy Roman Empire.
Change is on the wind. A new century has begun and war with Napoleon Bonaparte continues to spread like wildfire, while the Enlightenment quietly breaks down traditional barriers of class, education, and the arts, in the last holdouts of Absolutism in the old German States.
For Josefa von Bandel, a nobleman’s daughter, her life on the quiet shores of the Bodensee is caught up in the dramatic changes sweeping across Europe—and in her own troubled life. She is young and beautiful and willfully stubborn. She risked her reputation for a scandalous affair—but will she sacrifice everything else for love?


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Peace. In addition to sharing lines from works-in-progress, we also encouraged authors to introduce us to a peacekeeper of one of their published works. [More info]

Photo by David Mark

~ Jessica L. Elliott ~
In my Through the Rainbow series, Treasa is often the peacekeeper between her sisters Dierdre and Darcie. She also tends to be more level-headed, which between impulsive Dierdre and snarky Darcie is important.

~ Katy Huth Jones ~
The title heroine of my fantasy series, He Who Finds Mercy, is a pacifist Healer in an often violent medieval society. She remains true to her vow of peace even when it would sometimes be easier not to, and ends up encouraging others to rethink their less peaceful ways of dealing with situations. The first book (standalone) is Mercy’s Prince.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
My heroine’s Aunt Violet was the peacemaker in Journey to Forgiveness. She keep Jenny Largent (heroine) from acting on her impulses. One example: Jenny labels Austin Brady (hero) a thief when she spies him fleeing with her vanity case at the train depot. Later, Austin stands behind the podium at Aunt Violet’s church to ask for an offering to help victims of a tornado in South Pekin (actual event 1938). Jenny is sure Austin will keep the money for his own use. Aunt Violet tries to reason with her, but to little avail.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
In my Biblical novel, Shadow of the Mountain, the peacekeeper character is Noah’s wife, Naamah. Although the book is written entirely from Noah’s POV alone, she is the ever-constant presence that keeps the peace in the family and peace to her husband’s often troubled heart.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Trust. [More info]

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Doubt. [More info]

Photo by Deedster from Pixabay

Cherry Christensen ~
Excerpt from Love’s Full Circle: With that painful realization, Liam climbed out of his silver Jeep Cherokee and slammed the door. He headed for his office, thankful he didn’t have a class to teach for another hour. Perhaps by then he’d calm down, but he doubted it.
Dr. Kayden James.
The name echoed in his mind as he paused at the stairwell leading out of the garage, gazing up at the fifty-four story Elway Plaza where the KDEN traffic copter circled in for a landing on the roof. He stared a long moment before letting the door close behind him and his fantasies.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Faith. [More info]

Photo by Annette Meyer

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my soon to be released novel, The Haberdasher’s Wife:
She laughed to herself about the thought of her meaningless prayer. Despite an upbringing by the faithful friars of the church, she was hardly the sort God would listen to her prayers. She was never a praying sort of woman, nor devout in her beliefs, or mindful of anything else having to do with the church, though she did go to confession, but only to please her mother and to try the patience of Father Anselm. Ironic, since she and her mother had lived by the good graces of the friars of the Franziskanerkirche. Just that day alone, she had found herself praying several times for her mother that she would recover from her current illness. Prayer wasn’t a habit she had thought she would start at her age.

Cherry Christensen ~
An excerpt from Love’s Full Circle: Kayden lifted her head slightly and observed the plane. She gulped and wadded a handful of Liam’s shirt in her fist.
“Liam, if we don’t make it…”
“We’re going to be fine,” he said, cutting off her words. “Have faith.”
Kayden’s knees weakened as she worried about the people on the plane. She tightened her grip on his shirt, stifling a scream. The balloon blustered again as smoke plumed in the cockpit of the plane.
“Listen to me,” she pleaded. “Things can’t end this way with us.”

Relaxed Friday 21

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Steve Mathisen ~
I have a story I have been working on slowly over the last couple of years. Here is a scene that I wrote for it recently. (Inspector Elliott McGinty)
Inspector Elliott McGinty awoke with a sinking feeling. The last time this happened was when his waterbed had broken and flooded his bedroom. This time, however, he was not in bed. In fact, when he opened his eyes and looked up, he could see white, fluffy clouds in the blue sky above him. Then he realized that he felt wet. His arms felt wet and so did his legs.
Lifting up his head to look around, Elliott could see nothing but water all around him. He tried to prop himself up on his elbow to get a better look and discovered that he was on a small, wooden raft in the middle of what looked like the ocean. He licked his lips to discover a salty taste and the air also smelled like the sea.
“How did I get here?” He wondered.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
(an excerpt from To Trust Her Heart)
Her smile was a sad imitation. “No. We’d planned to, but it never happened.” Mistaking her reason, he asked, “Did you ever consider adopting? Adoption is our specialty at Tyler Law Firm. There is nothing as rewarding as placing a child with the right parents.”
His voice rang with sincerity. How could Amanda explain her situation to her boss, without giving away too much? She cleared her throat and swallowed a growing lump. “It wasn’t that we couldn’t have children.” She paused, looked out the window. Rain pelted down. Miserable weather.
“The timing was never right?” he guessed.
“Something like that.” At least it never was for Greg.
He sucked in his bottom lip. “Too bad. You will–would–make a great mother.”
How could he say that when he knew nothing about her?

Cherry Christensen ~
Excerpt from Secret Valentine: Hannah shook her head at her main male man. “You’re encouraging his bad habit by feeding him those.”
Jasper smirked and scooped Jingles into his arms. Trudging back toward the store, Jasper said, “I keep a sampling of cat and dog treats handy for the pets on my route. Makes it easier to corral the cats and stop the dogs from biting my ankles.” He stopped in front of her and gently kissed her cheek. “I missed you the other night.”
Heat coursed through Hannah, chasing away wintry shivers. “I’m sorry I had to cancel our plans, but I had to attend a faculty meeting.” The wind gusts intensified, and she pinched her coat collar tighter around her neck. “We better get inside. Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
“I thought you would never ask.”
“Let’s go.” Hannah wriggled out of her coat and returned it to the hook, waiting for Jasper to deposit Jingles on the floor. The cat meowed and ran off, bounding up the stairs. Hannah slid behind the counter and powered off her CD player before filling Jasper’s cup with steaming black liquid. “This will warm you up.”
He loosened a scarf tied around his neck and took a long sip. “Ah. It’s nice, but I can think of more interesting ways to thaw out.” He winked and set the cup aside.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Shelf. [More info]

Photo by Jay Mantri

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my soon to be published novel, The Haberdasher’s Wife:

Stacks of books lay strewn about the small office. She had searched the study all morning, pulling down every volume of the massive collection of books lining the floor-to-ceiling shelves, and found nothing. She was certain she would find something tucked into the front cover of one of the books. She had rifled through the drawers of the large desk. Nothing. The drawers of two large letter cabinets yielded the same. Nothing escaped her search. She found notebooks, family records, newspapers, and decades of letters written to a host of well-known men, but nothing that hinted at a scandal or secret between her parents.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Book and since we know quite a few authors who write along the clean end of the spectrum and since every published book was once a work-in-progress, we’re showcasing some of their published books among the #CleanWIP posts in this Special Edition. [More info]

Photo by Lubos Houska

~ Earl Chinnici ~
Somewhere or some time along my journey to be nicotine-free, I began to consider that I might be able to use my handwritten notes from my composition book to get ideas for writing an actual book.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
“Oscar,” Jenny interrupted, “I have plans for this afternoon. But I appreciate the invitation.” She did not inform him that her plans were to curl up with a good book and fall asleep. If she had, he would barge into the house uninvited.

~ Cherry Christensen ~
“You think I’m cute?”
“I, um…” She squirmed in her seat as his eyes sparkled.
“On a scale of one to ten, what’s my cuteness number?”
“You’re a ten in my book,” Sabela answered as her feet scuffed across the floor. She placed the water glasses on the table. “Ready to order?”


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Study. [More info]


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Learn. [More info]

Photo by Dimitri Houtteman


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Teach. [More info]

Photo by Michal Jarmoluk

~ Laurean Brooks ~
It wasn’t Mama’s fault that Emily’s tongue had a mind of its own. She had tried to teach Emily to use discretion, but sometimes blurting the truth was better than hiding it. If the truth was better, then why had Emily fibbed about her true reason for coming to Abilene?

Relaxed Friday 20

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

M. L. Farb ~
Q: Where did you get your idea for Vasilisa?
A: The idea came from a children’s picture book “Serpent Slayer: And Other Stories of Strong Women by Katrin Tchana” (with gorgeous art work by Trina Schart Hyman). A woman dresses as a man to rescue her husband, and to do so she passes three tests of strength, skill, and strategy. The picture book took on tall-tale quality as the woman injured her opponents in wrestling and shattered a tree by shooting it with an arrow. How did she become so strong? I wrote Vasilisa to answer that question.

(Vasilisa coming 2020)


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Answer. [More info]

Image by Molly Roselee

~ Jessica Marie Holt ~
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: The short answer is . . . everywhere! The long answer: 1) Details. I notice lots of really obscure details, like the pattern of wrinkles on an old man, the way a note hovers and trills in the air, the number of cans of cat food in the man’s shopping cart behind me. This is bad in the sense that these details crowd out important ones, like where I put my keys, whether I am wearing two different shoes, and whether my son’s face is smeared all over with chocolate. But it’s good in the sense that they feed my imagination. 2) My life. My everyday life is a deep well of delightful absurdities, pathos, and interesting, over-the-top characters, and I draw from it quite a lot. 3) Music. So many of my stories come from music. Some, like On the Other Side, are an attempt to flesh out an existing song into a longer story with greater specificity. Some, like Just Before Dawn, I wrote while playing a specific song again and again, to help me stay within the exact mood and tone I was trying to capture (it was The Stable Song by Gregory Alan Isakov case anyone is curious). 4) Nature. I love using nature–seasons, wind changes, sunlight, storms–to set moods, create foreshadowing, and establish metaphors. I could go on, honestly, but I’ll end here, with my bases mostly covered. 🙂

~ Naomi Musch ~
Q: How long have you been writing, and how many books do you have?
A: When I was a 10-year-old, I began writing my first stories and informed my family, teacher, and friends that I planned to become an author (novelist) someday. Someday finally arrived during my 40s, though I’d been publishing in a number of magazine/newspaper/online venues until then. I’ve written 20 novels/novellas, 13 of which have been published.

M. L. Farb ~
Q: Where did you get your ideas for the maze and riddles in The King’s Trial?
A: I wrote the riddles first and then wrote scenes that answered the riddles. It was a fun bit of reverse engineering and discovery. I didn’t know what would happen any more than my main character did.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
Q: What, or who, spurred you to start writing?
A: My 5th-Grade teacher, Mrs. Mary Brann enjoyed my oral book reports. Probably because I left a cliffhanger at the end which caused struggles among other classmates to be next in line to read it. Miss Mary told the class I would one day be an author. She he almost changed her mind after I handed in the essay on Columbus’s Adventures. When the natives tied him up and stuffed him in a cannon, then shot him back to Spain…well, that didn’t set well with her. Miss Mary told me gently to “rewrite your essay, and THIS time, make it more realistic.” LOL. Her reprimand squashed my imagination for a while. But it returned in full force a few years later. I truly appreciate Miss Mary. Without her encouragement, I would’ve never had the courage to take up writing.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Question. [More info]

Photo by Stafford Green

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
Q: Why do I write?
A: I do so because I enjoy it–not to make a fortune or gain great fame (both would be nice, but unnecessary). Surprising?–imagine my shock to discover this after all these years of writing. I write firstly and most importantly, because I love it; secondly–and this is where you the reader comes in–I write because I like to hear how much others enjoyed what I have written–not how wonderful or how talented you think I am as a writer. I would write no matter what people thought of my ability.
This is why my novels seem so varied. I write about things I care about or that interest me, not to attract readers. I hope that attraction comes about because people like what I write. I know that sounds strange in an industry centered around getting published as the end result of all your hard work. After so many years trying to do just that, I finally came to realize that writing is the part I enjoy–not the publishing. Publishing is just a means of sharing what I love.

~ Hope Toler Dougherty ~
Q: Do you write sequels?
A: I don’t write sequels (or I haven’t yet) because I write happily ever afters, and I don’t want to put characters I love in more pain and conflict. I do, however, bring back favorite characters in new stories.

~ Arthur Daigle ~
Q: Where do you get your ideas from?
A: Everywhere. That’s not a joke or glib answer. I draw inspiration from countless sources. These include history books, science books, TV, video games, weird things I see people wear, conversations I’ve had with total strangers, and more. Sometimes I have no idea where the ideas come from. I’m minding my own business and they appear fully formed.

~ JoAnn Durgin ~
Q: How do you know when you’ve reached the end of a series?
A: I could say, “I just know.” Although it’s true, I realize that’s not a satisfying answer. I’ve written a number of series now, some completed and others ongoing. I write contemporary Christian romance, and my shorter series (three to four books, although I have two “series” with only two books–so far) are either set in small towns or within a close group of friends. My longest-running series, The Lewis Legacy Series, is now 10 books plus a prequel and has become what I call my “signature” series. I’m working on Book 11, and I hope to finish out this original series with the final Book 12 by the end of this year. I know I’ve reached the end of this particular series because all of the original adult characters have now married (or will be married by the end of Book 12). But another huge advantage of a series? The children of these couples are now growing up and my readers are already anticipating The Lewis Heirs Series. 🙂 However, I have another “bridge” series in-between where the original characters pop in from time to time to keep it fun for my readers (and the author!).

~ Laurean Brooks ~
Q: How do you incorporate humor into your stories when the characters are dealing with a serious conflict?
A: Writing humor comes easily for me. It probably springs from my wacky sense of humor. I thought writing funny scenes came naturally for every writer. I didn’t realize some authors struggled to incorporate humor into their stories until one asked me how I did it.
I assign at least one character in each book to be quick-witted. In my current WIP (Half-Price Bride), I have two sassy female characters. They keep the story interesting because whatever comes to their minds flies out of their mouths. I don’t mean vulgar talk—Just clean wit.
Also, when a character enters the room, I might ask: What can I do to make this scene comical? Maybe his shirt is buttoned wrong, his rooster-tail isn’t combed down, or he has a smudge on his face. Another scenario: he may trip over something. Or, his love interest could him talking to his horse. Embarrassing moments are naturally funny.
In my book, Beneath A Macon Moon, Eric wants Jaela to think he sacrificed to take her to an expensive restaurant, when in fact, a customer gave him a gift card to the restaurant. When the waiter loudly announces in front of Jaela, there is enough left on the card for another meal, Eric is humiliated.
My stories deal with characters who struggle to forgive and are afraid to deal with certain issues. Before I let my readers become bogged down, I give them a good dose of humor.

~ M. L. Farb ~
Q: What inspired you to become an author, and how old were you at the time?
A: Some of my earliest memories are laying on the carpet listening to my dad read out loud. We explored the worlds of Narnia and Middle Earth. We cried with Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place. We voyaged with The Kon-Tiki and to Grass Beyond the Mountains.
As a teen I made up stories to help my little sisters go to sleep. It backfired. We stayed up for hours continuing the tale. The King’s Trial was born in those late, whispered nights.
I’ve journaled almost every day since I turned seventeen. I capture conversations, descriptions, happenings, and quotes. I explore ideas. Through the years I’ve written well over a million words. It prepared me to become an author.
I started writing seriously when my youngest started sleeping through the night.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Declare. [More info]

Photo by Jeff Smith


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Danger. [More info]

Photo by MikesPhotos from Pixabay


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Calm. [More info]

Photo by James DeMers

Relaxed Friday 19

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays. It also seems a lot of authors are busy doing other things today (maybe they’re writing), so we’re going to share several recent Special Edition posts you might have missed.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Share. [More info]

Photo by JacLou DL from Pixabay


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is LOVE and we’re relaxing the rules a little for this one to show some love to some lovely love stories. We’re shooting for something similar to a CleanWIP Magazine Relaxed Friday, but right smack in the middle of the workweek and all about LOVE.

Photo by Jill Wellington

Let’s crank up “The Love Edition” with Love Abideth Still by Scott R. Rezer

March, 1863. The War Between the States has raged for nearly two years.
Five months after his death, the body of Sarah’s estranged husband, a Union soldier, finally comes home for burial in Philadelphia. Taylor’s burial, though, rather than putting her unresolved grief to rest, begins a journey that will not just test her faith, but will plumb the depths of her devotion to her dead husband.
When anger and sorrow push her to the edge of despair, Sarah turns to the few letters sent to her by Taylor from the frontlines in a desperate need to understand the guilt she feels over his death. But, as the war continues to tear the nation asunder and rumors of a Confederate invasion threaten the North, Sarah’s own sense of patriotic duty begins to awaken. And with that newfound obligation, she discovers in the letters she once dismissed as weak attempts to convince her of his duty to the nation, that Taylor’s voice has the power to soften a heart grown bitter and cold from beyond the grave. Taylor’s letters, though, do not tell the full story of his life as a soldier, a story Sarah will never know…
From the bloody battlefields of Winchester and Bull Run to the quiet streets of Philadelphia, Love Abideth Still is a fictional story based upon the lives of the author’s Civil War ancestors whose sacrifice—like so many others who loved and lost during the War Between the States—has not been forgotten. It is a moving story of war and forgiveness, one in which a young woman discovers that it is possible to fall in love again with her husband even when separated from him by the finality of death.

From Miss Mae, we present Kiss Me, Mr. Hitchcock.
What’s a girl got to do to get a guy to kiss her?
A guy who’s new in town. Who flashes a practiced lady-killer smile. Who drives a dashing Porsche.
Maybe she shouldn’t confront him with a baseball bat. Or get herself locked with him in a library basement. Or get him involved in a feud with an old boyfriend.
But then again, maybe she should.

Also from Miss Mae: Dove Island

How much does a man love a woman?

Does he love her more than family?

More than life itself?

When crisis happens, only his heart can determine the truth.

Hope Toler Dougherty shares two from the heart.

My first novel is all about second chance love, and it’s set in Ireland. If you’ve never been and want to go or if you’ve been and want to go back, Irish Encounter is a good substitute in the meantime. Read all about Ellen and Payne’s love story in beautiful Galway City!

Rescued Hearts has a kidnapping, an undercover deputy, and a couple of scenes with guns if suspense is what you like. Mary Wade and Brett set off a lot of sparks every time they’re together, too. Read about their love story in Rescued Hearts!

Professor Hannah Wagganer spends her days teaching history, and her nights dating Glen Arbor’s new mail carrier, Jasper Morgan. Not only does he spark Hannah’s heart, but he has become best friends with her cat, Jingles. And, now that we have your attention, you can learn more about Secret Valentine by Cherry Christensen directly on Amazon.

Much love, everyone.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Like. [More info]

Featured image is a moderate adaptation of a photo by Wokandapix


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Amaze. [More info]

Photo by Free-Photos from Pixabay


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Attract. [More info]

Photo by Meredin from Pixabay

Relaxed Friday 18

It’s Friday! Here’s the scoop on #CleanWIP Relaxed Fridays.

~ Scott R. Rezer ~
From my upcoming release The Haberdasher’s Wife, Chapter 3:
Josefa mouthed the words of the prayer, her voice a mere whisper escaping her lips. The words echoed in her head, swirling amid a swarm of thoughts that had nothing to do with her mother or the sickness that weakened her with each passing day. Distraction was Josefa’s greatest enemy. And everything seemed to distract her when she needed most to concentrate on her prayers—the brightly painted frescoes, the statuary, the pungent smell of incense, the glow of candlelight on the gold all around the church. Father Anselm would certainly tell her that her mother’s life depended on it. But Josefa was never good at prayer. She found no comfort in it.
Another bead slid through her cold fingers. 𝐻𝑎𝑖𝑙 𝑀𝑎𝑟𝑦, 𝑓𝑢𝑙𝑙 𝑜𝑓 𝐺𝑟𝑎𝑐𝑒, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝐿𝑜𝑟𝑑 𝑖𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑒…
Empty, hollow words.

~ Laurean Brooks ~
From Not What He Ordered: Josh Kramer mistakes a pretty young lady for his aunt’s domestic help and hauls her to his ranch. What he doesn’t know is, his aunt did not order domestic help, but a BRIDE for Josh. CARRIE FRANKLIN was tempted to leave, but she’d made a promise and meant to keep it.
“Excuse me,” a smooth baritone voice sounded above her head.
Carrie gazed up into hooded, black eyes that pierced through to her soul. The tall cowboy wore a black Stetson over coal-black hair with curls that caressed his ears. His strong jaw suggested determination and stubborness. A little lower, a red bandana circled his neck. Molly failed to mention he was handsome. But only an egotist would boast about his looks.
“Are you the woman I’m looking for?” he asked.
Carrie’s heart raced. If only she were. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth. “I…I–” was all she could manage.
The cowboy shuffled his booted feet. “Well, what are you waiting for? A ranch doesn’t run itself. It’s a ten-mile drive. Let’s get going.”
“Mr. Kramer, I’m not–.”
He pointed to the valise at Carrie’s feet,“Where are your other bags? Is that all your luggage?”
She could only nod. The cowboy’s intimidating demeanor had paralyzed her tongue. He snatched up her bag, tramping out of the depot before she could explain she was not the woman he’d ordered.
Carrie hurried after him, catching up as he set her valise in his buckboard. “But, Mister Kramer…I’m not–.”
“Are you ready to go, Miss Davis?”
Miss Davis? He really thought she was— “Mr. Kramer, I need to tell you something.”

Journey To Writing

By Laurean Brooks (Photo by Martin Winkler)

I had wanted to become a published writer since my teacher announced to our 5th grade class, “One day, Laurie will become an author.”

I married too young, and paying bills got in the way. When I graduated high school, I got a job in the textile industry. I hated the daily push and grind of trying to make production. I developed many lasting friendships with co-workers. It was the work I hated. I felt as if my brain was becoming petrified by doing the same thing over and over. I added it up once, and estimated that I’d attached over 3 million back pockets to 1.5 million pairs of Chic jeans, during the years I worked at that plant.

By the time NAFTA closed our plant, I had a job as a quality control technician (inspecting garments.) NAFTA gave us the option to go to college. I took it, drove 100 miles per day-round trip-to WKTC in Paducah, Kentucky. The entrance test showed I would do well in the creative arena. But, as the lady in the office said, “I’m sorry, but we offer no creative classes here.”

I decided to take Legal Assistant classes, because it seemed more interesting than anything else offered. I had an instructor who piled on homework. I was up until 2. a.m some nights completing it. Before I entered college, I did not know one end of a computer from the other. The first 6 weeks were grueling as I attempted to believe what one instructor said.”Your computer is your best friend.” It was hard to swallow since I crashed mine at least once in every class. I struggled to keep up with 19 and 20 year olds, who made everything look so simple. It took me longer to do my work, but I strove to make the finished product error-free.

By taking a heavy load of summer classes, I graduated in 16 months, and on the honor roll. Can you believe it? But, there were few job openings for Legal Assistants. I worked for four attorneys in the first two years. Each law office downsized, and I was the first to go.

After those attempts, I decided to try for my childhood dream of writing. What did I have to lose? Most of my classes had required Microsoft Word. I submitted an essay to our local Hometown magazine. It was accepted. And they paid me $25. I was on cloud nine. I immediately wrote more essays, some they published. But my dream was to write a book. Not any book, but my mother’s story–her life during the Great Depression. She’d repeated it so often that it had become part of me.

That book, Journey To Forgiveness, was published in January 2009, and I’ve never looked back. If you come out with anything from this post, the important thing I want to convey is, “Never give up on your dream.” There will be obstacles. Kick them out of the way and forge ahead. Writing is an emotionally satisfying career well worth fighting for.

Sometimes, I feel like I failed myself and others because I earned the diploma, but didn’t pursue the career of a legal office assistant. But honestly, my heart was never in it. And maybe—just maybe—it was in God’s plan that I take college courses to learn computer programs and skills I would need to become a writer.

Connect with the author: Laurean Brooks



Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Sign. [More info]

Almost Made the Blurb

Featured photo by Scott R. Rezer (Saguaro National Monument, February 2019)

In the book blurb, those words an author uses to tell you why you should read this book, authors often struggle with exactly what to reveal and how much of it. The perfect blurb is sometimes the last or near the last hurdle between a work-in-progress and a published work. Authors might be slow to admit it, but we’re pretty sure the inclusion of an idea, a sentence, or an entire paragraph is sometimes decided by a coin toss. Sometimes though, the decision is a little more complicated. Scott R. Rezer conveys a great example of one such time.

With the publication of my first Civil War novel, Love Abideth Still, I originally left out of the blurb the part that the book was based on the lives of my 3rd great parents. I had planned to make it obvious at first what the book was about, but as I got into the actual writing, I decided that I wanted to surprise the reader toward the end of the story when one of the characters is finally referred to by her last name which is the same as mine. At the last moment, I changed the blurb as well. (I do explain it later in my author’s note.) Once reviews started mentioning that the book was based on my family it sort of let the cat out of the bag and so now the blurb mentions it! Writing plans sometimes take surprising twists and turns!

Connect with the author: Scott R. Rezer



Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Tell. [More info]

Photo by Pixabay user FunkyFocus


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Radio. [More info]

Photo by Lubos Houska


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaboration is Communicate. [More info]

Featured image is an adaptation of a graphic by Muhammad Ribkhan.


Today’s #CleanWIP theme and collaborative article is Connect. [More info]

Photo by congerdesign on Pixabay