Is it True or Can We Lie?

1896 razorbacks

The 1896 Razorbacks. No? This photo was presented to me that way. A good look reveals very young boys and what looks like it might be a girl. Or could it be true? It would take some complicated research to find out. Want to give it a try?

Have you ever wondered where a writer obtains historical information or interviews? I began writing regional history long before the advent of the Internet as a feature writer for a weekly newspaper. Searching for the same facts today is much easier if we’re computer literate. Yet nothing beats contact with the people who have stories to share. Have you ever read a book where the author just makes everything up including facts? Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, make sure what needs to be true really is. In fiction as well as nonfiction, history, language, clothing, living conditions and so much more must be true. So I urge all writers to do their research.

Someone told me she only wanted to write contemporary stories so she wouldn’t have to do research. WRONG. Where does her hero/heroine work? In what city? Who do they deal with? What’s going on in the world around them? Good grief, check it out. Make your story ring true, make it real. Our story can be fiction, but unless you’re writing fantasy or making up urban worlds, what happens around our characters must be true or at least possible.

Fiction and nonfiction run parallel with each other in so many ways. During the twenty years I wrote for newspapers, I must have interviewed hundreds of people. My main interest soon became the history of the area where I lived and worked. The editor gave me a page where I began an historical column which I’ve written in one form or another for all those years. So I must modestly say that I’ve gotten pretty good at getting information out of people.

The first thing I learned was to write stories about the people who lived our history. It’s pretty easy to look up a bunch of facts, dates and place names and the like and put them down. Not so easy to tell the stories that will keep your readers coming back for more. So once a writer hears or reads about a specific happening, the next step is to find someone whose family history includes stories of that event. Take the lady who, when we talked about the Battle of Prairie Grove during the Civil War here in Arkansas, immediately remembered that her great-grandmother had told a story of how, from where they lived, gun fire sounded just like popcorn popping. She also told of a man who lived in a cave to keep from having to serve in the war, so he could care for his family who lived in a cabin nearby. Such stories lend color to any tale about that battle.

For years I saved tons of interviews in the hopes the stories could one day be put into a book. And when that day finally came I learned that having those stories simply wasn’t enough. I had to revisit all the places where my stories took place. Ten to twenty years can bring about a lot of change. So one entire summer my husband and I drove through four surrounding counties taking photographs that could be compared with old pictures we had and talking to folks in all the small settlements. I wanted some new stories that had never been published in any form. I wanted reality to ring true. I want the same thing in my historical and contemporary novels as well. They may have stories I dream up, but they are set in a time frame that must be spot on to keep the reader intrigued.

The worst thing you as a writer can do is publish something that isn’t ready to be published. Please, please, let a good editor read your book and take his or her advice. Or better yet, sit down and write another book, then another, until by practice you become the best writer you can be. Or quit writing now if you’re not willing to hone your craft.

Writing is a profession, and as such cannot be learned overnight. No one can teach you to be creative, but those of us who have a lot of experience in the trenches can help you learn the mechanics of turning that creativity into a well written book.

If you think good writers became good overnight, then you aren’t thinking straight. Or, go ahead and publish your book because you can do it in today’s market, but it could be the last one you publish if you don’t take the advice of well-published authors who know what they’re talking about. Study hard and long and write, write, write.

One piece of advice I give novice writers who truly want to be the best they can be is, go buy a copy of Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain and study it like you would study for a Master’s Degree. Do the exercises and pay attention to what this fabulous writing teacher has to say. If you are going to become a good writer, then Swain can get you there if anyone can. If you aren’t willing to work toward a successful career as a writer, then get a good day job you’ll enjoy.

Were you able to check out the photo I posted? Let me know what you learn. And here’s a hint. Don’t trust Wikipedia. There’s so much wrong information there.




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Old Patriotism vs New

This article appeared in a small weekly newspaper where I worked from 1990 through 1999. It’s interesting how we can compare some of the subject matter to what’s going on today. Let me know what you think.

Vietnam Vets React To New Patriotism, by Velda Brotherton  published in July, 1991

The long fourth of July weekend has been chosen as the ideal time to honor those who fought in the Persian Gulf War.

When it comes to parades and welcome home celebrations, our nation has never seen the like of what’s been going on since our men began returning from Saudi Arabia. Parades and welcome home parties have been constantly in the news since the end of that conflict. Why are we experiencing such an outpouring of patriotism?

It isn’t that this country hasn’t lacked wars since World War II ended to the biggest ticker tape parades ever staged.

There was that little conflict in Korea, now referred to as the forgotten war, and then there was Vietnam, the war we all wished we could forget. We tried to forget Vietnam in various ways — some of which forever scarred those young men who fought as valiantly for our country as those who went before. Those young men are now nearly twenty years older and some of them also went to Saudi. How do Vietnam vets feel about the extended fanfare?

Army reservist Max Hall of Springdale spent six years on active duty including two tours in Vietnam. He flew a Medivac helicopter. Then one morning nearly twenty years later, with that war behind him, he answered the telephone and in a few weeks found himself in the Persian Gulf. Hall entered this war as a member of the 374th reserve medical detachment. He was one of the oldest trainer pilots to serve in the desert.

Max told us that comparing the two wars, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia is not possible. Those who try, he said, are guilty of trying to compare apples and oranges.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t ask why there’s been such a change in the attitude of the people of this country toward its wars and its warriors. Rationales are plentiful. This war was shorter. Not so many died. Saddam’s a bully and he was pushing people around. Americans have a duty to help the helpless of the world.

Hall thinks the overall acceptance is because the people better understood the Persian conflict, while they never understood the one in Vietnam. Others don’t feel it’s quite that simple.

During those months our fighting men spent on that faraway desert, it wasn’t uncommon to hear, “How many lives is a barrel of oil worth?” The dissent was there but now in the minority, not so loud, not accepted. We all prayed there wouldn’t be another Vietnam.

And the overall and abiding feeling seemed to be, “We’ll never again do such a terrible thing to our fighting men. We can somehow make it up to them now.”

Hall agrees that the country was suffering from a lot of guilt. But he goes farther. “This country needed a victory somewhere and the Gulf was it.”

Hall says that he’s proud of what we did over there. “There will be another Saddam sometime in the future, and we have to remain strong because of our morale obligations and the agreements we’ve made which must be honored.”

General Norman Schwartzkopf recently said about the aftermath of Vietnam, “The wounds are healed but the scars will never go away.”

Lonnie Hussey is a disabled veteran of the Vietnam conflict. He is also the Chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 323, in Fayetteville. Lonnie will take part in the parade in Little Rock July 6. He will ride proudly with other vets on a float depicting the various armed services who were involved in Vietnam.

“It’s taken me twenty years, but I’m finally getting my parade,” he told (me).

He says this and other parades like it will give a lot of veterans a chance to feel good. “The Desert Storm guys were just lucky. Vietnam was the biggest mess I’ve ever been in,” he goes on to say.

Like Hall, Hussey feels that nothing smells so sweet as victory.

Both certainly agree on one thing. Come Sunday morning, July 7, it’s time to get on with it. Put all the parades and talk of the war behind us.

Hussey calls it a lot of hoopla, but still an important event in American history that will have a lasting effect on (Vietnam) veterans.

Another Vietnam vet who asked to remain anonymous, said he couldn’t really explain fully how it makes him feel to see the guys coming back to open arms. “I don’t resent them, in fact they deserve every bit of it. I thought my wounds were healed, but seeing all the accolades, it feels like having a scab knocked off of a sore. It stings.”

War isn’t romantic and patriotism doesn’t cure the ills of our country. And if good, indeed, does come out of war, which is what Max Hall told us, let it be that we as a nation learned a lesson we’ll never forget.

If we ever again ask our men, young or old, to go to war, then we should honor them, win or lose.

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From the Sands of Saudi Arabia 1990

desert moon

A Vet Writes from the desert of Saudi Arabia 1990

In response to my newspaper’s “to any service member letters from home program” we received this from a serviceman in the desert. This is an excerpt from the letter in which he speaks of his home in the Arkansas Ozarks and how much he misses his loved ones. He had this to say in regard to the war:

Letters from our War Veterans have an amazing effect on all of us stationed here in the desert. They’re often filled with good sound advice, humorous stories and word of encouragement. There is an amazing bond between soldiers of different generations. It’s good to know that others have been through what we’re going through and have survived: the not-knowing, the loneliness, the worrying about wives and children, parents and sweethearts left behind. It’s reassuring to know that even the guys who participated in World War II, Korea and Vietnam were plagued by the same self-doubts that we are plagued by. They had what it took when their time came and I’m sure that we will too.

ABOUT BEYOND THE MOON, my latest novel recently released: This is not an excerpt, for none of the book is in Glen’s POV, but this is what happened before Lt. Glen Tanner was first reported MIA, then later KIA over the killing fields of Vietnam. 1985



Glen took off for the Medevac mission early in the morning, the sky the color of swirls of cotton candy, his wife Ellie’s letter of betrayal wadded into his pocket. She was leaving him and his disappointment, hurt, and anger fueled every action. Blinded to enemy fire, angry at her betrayal, his emotions may have driven him into the danger that brought down the chopper. As a medevac chopper pilot he’d survived dozens of missions in his three tours of duty, hauling back the wounded, the dying and the dead. And always their screams and the smell of blood echoing in his head. He’d begun to think himself invincible.

That morning he was proved wrong. His plane went down. He survived long enough to stay hidden from the enemy for nearly twenty-four hours before they found him, trussed him up and herded him back to a tiny village where people threw rocks at him, spat on him and beat him with heavy sticks. Surely he wouldn’t be left behind to suffer and die. He vowed he would live for however long they kept him. For nine grueling years they sliced his skin, trapped him underwater, and left him hanging in a bamboo cage in a tree with dead and dying comrades. He fed on his hatred for the wife who had abandoned and betrayed him. He would live so he could return home and kill her.

But everything changed when Katie walked into the VA hospital where he was confined, sat next to him and took his hand. And here begins the story of the healing power of love.

Read the first chapter of this love story on Amazon. Beyond the Moon is available in print and Ebook.

Cover by Casey Cowan

Cover by Casey Cowan

“Oh my God. You wrote my story…” writes a Vietnam vet’s wife about Beyond the Moon.

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Has Afghanistan Taught Us Nothing?

Men in war

Men in war

This article which I wrote appeared on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 1990, during the time of Desert Shield, the precursor to Desert Storm. I interviewed several veterans of different wars including Desert Shield and Vietnam.

Veterans Comment on Operation Desert Shield

Once called Armistice Day, November 11th has long been set aside to honor all of our veterans. This Veteran’s Day we remember not only our veterans but those who are currently serving in the Middle East.

This reporter questioned several veterans about American’s controversial involvement in Operation Desert Shield.

Colonel Keith Taylor, who retired in 1988 after 42 years and 18 days wearing the uniform of his country, served in World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam. He stresses that he came up through the ranks in the Navy. “…in case anyone wonders why I was only a Colonel after all those years,” he says with a twinkle. “At one time I helped train Iraqi officers and even then wondered how long it would be before something like this happened,” he told us, then added,  “I don’t feel we have much of a choice. Basic principles demand that you can’t let bullies run over little people.”

That seems to be the opinion of more than one veteran. Another told us, “In Vietnam the enemy executed and buried so many victims in communal graves that when the SeaBees went in to clean it up, it looked like Buchenwald.” Those things, he says, never were published, because of the mindset of the general public at the time.

He fears some of the opinions being voiced, namely that we’re in the Middle East to preserve the price of a barrel of oil.

“Nonsense,” this Vietnam veteran with three purple hearts says. In essence, he feels we’re there because we can’t let such horrible things happen to people who can’t defend themselves.

Gene Kinsinger of Yellville was aboard the USS California when it was torpedoed at Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. He served in the Navy for twenty years.

USS Enterprise standing offshore Dec. 7, 1944

USS Enterprise standing offshore Dec. 7, 1944

Gene says of the matter of oil, “We’ve got plenty in this country if we’d just get it out.” But he does go on to say, “Sooner or later they’re going to have to remove Saddam. Any war is bad but we love our freedom and if we hadn’t of put our troops over there he’d (Saddam Hussein) have had Saudi Arabia by now.”

How does Gene think the Middle East conflict compares to the Vietnam War?

“Vietnam was a politicians war, not a soldiers war, and if Truman had let MacArthur cross the 38th parallel (in Korea) we would never have had Vietnam. It takes a show of force to stop aggression.” This too is an opinion shared by others we spoke to.

Rick Keyes, Elementary Principal at West Fork School, spent ten months in Vietnam and four years in the Marine Corps. He is currently in the Arkansas National Guard.

Rick says, “You always have to expect things like this if you’re in the military. If I get called back in, I’ll go and not worry if it’s over oil. Most wars are fought for economic reasons. That’s just the way it is.”

Elaborating, Keyes said “If we allow them to control our national economy we’ll have a severe depression. And people wouldn’t stand for that. Just as in the Great Depression the people would demand the government do something.” He maintains that’s why we went to war then, too.

How does this conflict compare to Vietnam? Will the American people begin to protest as they did in the 60s?

Keyes seems to think it’s a matter of timing. “If it lasts a long time, protests can build and we’ll have another Vietnam. If we do what we should—get in there and get it over with—we won’t.”

“And if we do that,” he goes on, “It won’t last two weeks. Once we’re geared up with our massive firepower, it’s all over. But lives will be lost. I’d like to think it’s for humanitarian reasons, and maybe part of it is. As long as Hussein has the Americans I think we’ll back it as a country.”

All the veterans we talked to agreed on one thing. Defeating this kind of enemy is going to be difficult.

As Keyes puts it, “The American soldier tries to stay alive, while to those people it’s an honor to die…”

Colonel Taylor agrees, and maintains that it will take a Middle-East Army to defeat Hussein.

Whatever it takes, the United States forces are committed for the time, and there are a multitude of opinions regarding the consequences.

Comparing things stated in this article with what we’re hearing today, it’s easy to see we’re still embroiled in the same old idiocy.

Next coming up:  Max Hall, a lifer talks about World War II, Korea and Vietnam and speaks about what’s in store for America.

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Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Today I’m asking followers to click on a link to read my post on a friend’s site. Apropos to

Men in war

Men in war

Veteran’s Day I wrote  a special post on PTSD, which affects so many of our veterans and posted it. There’s a link there for anyone with questions about the disorder.

Also, you’ll see a beautiful teaser for my book, Beyond the Moon, a love story about a wounded warrior with PTSD and his angel.


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Lance Isn’t a Western Name

western women

In a western mode today. My latest western historical romance, Rowena’s Hellion: The Victorians – Book Two was released last week. Check it out on Amazon or The Wild Rose Press site where the Ebook version is discounted to half price. In order to find names of people in the book, for they came over from England and Scotland, I had to research the names of that time and place. There was a list on one of the sites I went to that named all the people who came in the first emigration to Victoria, Kansas. I stole first and last names, but mixed them all up so they wouldn’t be the real people. The one real name I used was the founder of Victoria, George Grant.

The Victorians - TwoThe following story, which I ran across during other research for a nonfiction article, might well have influenced Larry McMurtry when he wrote the fabulous Lonesome Dove.

Mason Holcomb was scheduled to hang on the gallows at Fort Smith on April 17, 1885. A native of Kentucky, he had migrated to Missouri after being mustered out of the Union Army. He married a woman known only as Miss Bridgeman, and took her to Arkansas where they lived for a while near Jasper in Newton County. From there he moved to Franklin County near Ozark, then migrated into Indian Territory. For seven months prior to the killing that would hand him a hanging sentence, he lived on the Canadian River near McAlester.

Later, folks claimed it was the devil in whiskey that brought about the killing, and it would seem so. For Mason and his friend Siegel Fisher were working in the hay fields and on July 23, the two became intoxicated. Late one evening they started home and on the way Mason killed Fisher. Who knows why? He claimed it was a fight Fisher started that escalated into the killing.There was no witness to the deed, and leaving the body out in the open, Mason fled to his native state of Kentucky. In 1884 he was arrested by a brother of the man he had murdered and taken to Fort Smith for trial.

He pled not guilty, saying that Fisher had a pistol and he pulled it, so the killing was in self-defense. The trial lasted over a week. Because Fisher was shot in the back and there was no evidence of a struggle in the grassy area where the body was found, the jury returned with a guilty verdict.

gallows Ft. Smith

The gallows at Ft. Smith, Arkansas where many a man hung from a rope during the reign of Judge Isaac Parker

I found a list in the same article which told of several outlaws who received “guilty” verdicts, over a period of those few days prior to April 17, 1885 when Holcomb was sentenced to be hanged, and they were commuted to life. Among them was a white man who lived under the name of Blue Duck.

I can see McMurtry, paging through those old records and running across that fascinating name, filing it away somewhere in his writer’s mind and pulling it out when he began to create his characters for Lonesome Dove. Or perhaps he found the name somewhere else, or maybe he simply made it up. Yet I prefer to think he read the same article I did and remembered the name.

In one of my earlier western historical romances, Angels’ Gold, available on Kindle, I used an old telephone directory from the small town of Circleville, Kansas, where the book takes place. Mixing first and last names I came up with some good names that fit the time and the place. Western historical writers have to be careful not to use names like Lance and Dylan, Madison and Shelby. Way too modern and misplaced for the early American West.      Gold and an outlaw rescue Angel



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Getting it Right

Pre-release book blast for sensual contemporary Western romance

             Getting It Right -72dpi-1500x2000 (1)Last of a long line of agrarian witches, Selene Pertunda thinks she will never meet the right man…until with the help of a little magic, she finds Beck McNeal.

Named for the Goddess of Desire, can she dream of lasting happiness with only one man?

Selene Pertunda has no trouble attracting a man. She just can’t seem to find the right one. From abusive husband Robert to tattooed bad boy lover Kevin, Selene draws men to her like bears to her honeypot. The problem is that none of them proves to be a good fit.

Sure she will never find a shared happiness, Selene has no way to suspect she’s drawn the attention of a powerful goddess. So she scoffs at the idea that the handsome man who begins to  play a large part in her life could be her destiny. After all, what could worldly, educated Beck McNeal want with a small-town girl like Selene?

Selene and Beck try to their best to resist the inexplicable mutual magnetism flaring between them. But can two ordinary people avoid the decree of the Goddess of Desire?

Getting It Right is the first novel-length work in the Wyoming Series of contemporary romances by Christi Williams.

Click this Amazon pre-order link for Getting It Right!

Other books by Christi Williams:

“To the One I Never Forgot” is a short story that launched the Wyoming Series. Gianna and Zack were too young for love when they were separated. Now, all grown up, can Gianna be reunited with the one she never forgot?

Christi Williams is also the author of two novels and a novella in the Hawk Point Romances series. Take a Chance on Love is the story of the chance encounter of widow Chancie de Leur and hot Wyoming Highway Patrol trooper Micah Taylor. Perilous Promises is Perris and Noah Dalton’s story of recovery from breast cancer and the effort to revive their formerly wonderful marriage. The novella Clay’s Quest is the tale of a hot Wyoming cop who comes up with a wacky plan to save his marriage when he just won’t accept that his beautiful wife wants to find someone else to father her baby.

Christi writes sensual, entertaining love stories of unforgettable modern Western men and women. Readers say…Sensual: “Taken a touchy subject and made it heartfelt and humorous, but she’s made it H.O.T.!!” Humorous: “Cracked me up!” Love: “To be loved like that!” Stories: “Character driven fiction.”

Blog Website Facebook  Google+ Pinterest Goodreads LibraryThing Twitter: @WriterChristi

Links to Take a Chance on Love:    Torrid Press Kindle Nook ARe

Links to Perilous Promises:   Torrid Press Kindle Nook

Links to Clay’s Quest:   Torrid Press Kindle Nook ARe

Link to “To the One I Never Forgot”Kindle

To celebrate the upcoming release of

Getting It Right

Win!  $50 Amazon gift certificate!    a Rafflecopter giveaway

gift card

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Writers at work

Writers at work


 Twice a year I lead a writer’s workshop. The locale is so beautiful this time of the year that sightseeing is on the agenda of those who attend, so some of them plan on spending either Friday or Saturday night or both in the area. We gather at Ozark Folkways which is on top of the Boston Mountains of our Arkansas Ozarks. We always hope October will bring the peak of the change of colors, but a lot depends on the weather. It’s been so rainy all summer that our trees are still a deep green, never having gone to that faded shade brought on by a hot, dry summer.

 By this Saturday, Oct. 25, when the workshop is scheduled, there will be splashes of red and gold amid all the green. Standing on the ridge, one can gaze across the peaks and valleys that reach as far as the eye can see to the horizon. Inside, however, seated in the long, well-lit room across the back of the old stone building, work will begin at 10 a.m. when students, seated with a cup of coffee and perhaps a slice of cranberry cake from my mother’s recipe collection, get down to work.

 You’ll be asked to bring a work in progress (WIP) or just a head filled with ideas and we will go to work by learning such things as our character’s defining moment, who our story belongs to, what POV is and how to use it, etc., then we will write a paragraph based on the defining moment of our character. Reading and discussion will follow.

 One thing I’ve learned after giving these workshops for more than ten years is to listen to the ideas voiced by everyone in the class. It’s amazing what can come of these discussions. Someone will say, “well, what if …?” Or, “how would it work if …? and so on. Or a member of the group will have tried something that worked so well they want to share it.

 After lunch together at Grandmas, a mile down the road, where homemade food is delightful and the pies that come out of the oven there are so scrumptious everyone wants to take an extra slice home for later, we’ll return to discuss the subjects brought up on the handout, answer questions, talk about writers today, the market today, publishing books, short stories, the opportunities that abound for new and experienced writers. How and where to find answers to questions no one can answer.

 I always welcome novice, published and unpublished, brand new and very experienced writers to my workshops and we share all our knowledge with each other. There’s still time if you’d like to attend, we have a few slots open. Call Ozark Folkways and register, then you can pay at the door when you arrive. You can find their phone number online at and further information on my workshop is available at my website or here on my blog. Join us if you’d like.


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Driving Mr. Jack


Just one of the many unusual things that come up for wounded warrior wives and their warriors.

Originally posted on Wounded Warrior Wife:

jack's chevy.
Jack’s first car was a ’47 Chevy. At sixteen, he’d work all week at the creosote plant, cash his paycheck on Friday, load the car with friends who were still attending Americus High School, and they’d head for Panama City. Get back at dawn-thirty Monday morning, just in time for his buddies to get back to classes and him to get to work.
After Vietnam, when he was driving 100 miles each day, back and forth between work and home and Sacramento State, he had a conversion van. As I understand it, a lot of adventures took place in the back of that van. He had a Porsche when we started dating twenty-five years ago. He drove another conversion van on a stumbling-four-breakdown trip the length of Mexico pulling a thirty-five foot trailer with me in the captain chair beside him and a wrinkled Sharpei dog on his lap…

View original 602 more words

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Stuff you never knew about ….

stack of booksReading and Writing are what I do best, but here are random facts about my life from a posting in July, 2007. What is in bold was added today.

1. From the deck of our house we see a creek named Sinclair and pronounced Sinkler, and the Boston Mountains.

2. I have no formal education beyond 12th grade, yet I have at one time or another been city editor, features writer and editor of three newspapers.

3. When we were building our home in the Ozarks we lived in a converted chicken house and bathed in the cold waters of Sinkler Creek, women first, then men.

4. I wrote three novels on a Sears electric typewriter before acquiring a computer which was actually nothing more than a word processor with a six by six inch screen.

5. None of those novels were ever published, but I’m reworking the first one, Beyond The Moon, which I finished in 1986. This book was published this month by Oghma Creative Media and is now available.

6. I met my husband when I was 14. We were high school sweethearts, and I only dated two other boys before marrying him 3 years later.

7. The Ozark National Forest is our next door neighbor and occasionally a black bear visits us.

8. I cannot think of another thing I would like to do if I could no longer write.

  1. When it comes to writing, I’m not sure what I enjoy the most: Western historical: watch for Rowena’s Hellion Oct. 24; mysteries: look for A Telltale Stone, the second in the Twist of Poe series, in April, 2015; or mainstream love stories: see Once there were Sad Songs and Beyond the Moon. Coming up is a horror, A Savage Grace, that will be released for Halloween in 2015.
  2. My favorite flower is the fragrant lilac, I enjoy movies in my spare time.

I was 71 when I wrote the above eight facts. Today I added nine and ten. Now that you’ve read a blog entirely about me, don’t you wish I’d write something about you? Well, I will. If you would like to have a post featured here, please let me know and we’ll get together on your ten favorite things. Write me at vebrotherton at gmail dot com.

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