Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Reboot

Composed for Mother's Day last year, I thought I'd share this again. This year, adoptive and foster moms joined my small world.


The problem with generic holidays like "Mother's Day" is their tendency to obliterate the vast diversity of real life. Cards and advertisers want this day to be about chocolate, jewelry, and brunch. And there are lots of moms who adore that stuff.
But if we dig beneath the glossy surface, we find a reality far more beautiful than any advertisement could portray. In my own small world right now, I find these kinds of moms:
Moms who choose to nurture dogs, cats, and other critters with the same deep love as for all family. Moms whose kids are well-launched away from home, and navigate their new role as distant adviser with grace. Moms whose adult kids cannot seem to launch. Step-moms who invest their hearts in kids who don't always know how to be grateful. Step-moms who are discovering there is nothing more delicious than playing with the kids in their new families. Moms of young children who haven't slept in years. Moms of grown children who haven't slept in years. Problematic moms who seem to push their kids away with one hand while pulling them close with the other. Moms who struggle with their own addictions, mental illness, physical illness, pain. Grieving moms whose kids are no longer on this planet. Battling moms whose kids are going through cancer. Moms who leave their families for military service. Moms who love their kids and their work with equal passion. Moms who are doing all this on their own, without partners. Moms who are doing this all with amazing partners. Generous, loving moms whose kids don't always know how to be grateful. Generous, loving moms whose kids know precisely how lucky they are, and make sure to show it.
These are just a few of the moms I know. Add in the aunts, grandmothers, older sisters, and women friends who take on mothering roles and multiply all of the above by a power of ten. Or maybe one hundred.
No one size fits all. And, there's nothing wrong with a holiday that invites us to pause and consider all the joyful, troublesome, tragic, confusing, heartfelt, loving dimensions of motherhood. Let's do that.
Over brunch. With chocolate.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This is a Public Service Announcement…

One of the most difficult things for an author—especially an “indie” or “small press” author—to do is actually connect with people who might want to purchase and read his/her book.

Of course there are all manner of people and groups out there who offer to promote your work. Generally for a fee. And that’s fine. Whether they actually work or not, I couldn’t say—that’s for someone else to weigh in on (comments on this are welcomed below…) But my focus today is on a couple of things you, as an author, can do that won’t cost you anything but a bit of time.

The first is one is Indie Author Day, an annual event inaugurated in 2016 which is focused on a day of celebration and inspiration dedicated to indie authors. In 2016 over 250 libraries across 45 states participated in this event (held, oddly enough, on Columbus Day weekend). Even with the holiday weekend (and the advent of Hurricane Matthew in the southern states, Indie Author Day reports that 3000+ authors, readers, fans & community members attended events.

Planning for Indie Author Day 2017 is already well underway, with the official event scheduled for October 14th (the weekend after the Columbus Day holiday). There are already a significant number of libraries signed up to participate (you can find the list here). I just convinced my local library to sign up, and I’ll be working with the adult services librarian and our local author community to set up programs for the event. I would urge you to contact your library and encourage them to host an event. It’s a great way to connect writers with readers right in their own community.

The second is Hometown Reads, a community dedicated to serving local authors across the country, by helping them connect with readers in their hometown through what they call the Read Local movement. Their site is the first of its kind to organize authors by local community, a design that is intended to facilitate both networking for authors and exposure/connection to more readers. Hometown Reads is eager to add new locations and authors to their listings as they showcase books and help readers discover books written by local authors.

Both Indie Author Day and Hometown Reads are relatively painless ways to increase your exposure and ultimately your fan base (and people who will not only buy your next book, but encourage their friends, relatives, and co-workers to buy it as well). That personal connection is worth its weight in wombats.

All right, I’m done. You may go now…

Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler with a fondness for flannel shirts. He thus is resigned to never appearing on a book cover. He lives in the upper Hudson Valley region of NY, where he's certain the sounds attributed to Captain Hudson's crew bowling are really just the dragons grumbling. Keith is fortunate to have a wonderful and loving wife who not only puts up with his writing but generally encourages it. When it doesn't get the way of their cut-throat Scrabble games, that is.

Keith is the author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight (Champagne Books). His newest work,Desperate Knight, which contains 50% more dragon, and no shirtless heroes, will be released in Summer 2017.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Musings on Marketing...

A writer writes obviously, but when did it happen that the writer had to be such a big promotor of their own work? Does word of mouth work anymore? Or are there just too many books out there for any specific writer to be found? Should one spend an equal amount of time on marketing as writing? I just don’t know the answers to these questions, much as I wish I did! I love to write, but when am I supposed to find the time to market??? If you have any ideas about this subject, please comment! I'm begging you!!!

So, please excuse my rant today and let me share my book with you! It’s the beginning of a series that I am so proud to be a part of. The series is titled: The Brass Ringer Sorority, and it follows the capers of a group of 8 post-university women helping each other reach for the Brass Ring.

The first in the series, Winning Casey, is being published by Totally Bound this summer. To say I am honored and thrilled is an understatement!

I would like to thank, Rebecca Baker Fairfax, a brilliant editor, for all her help on this project. Couldn't have done it without you!

Wishing everyone a wonderful day!

Hugs, January Bain

Friday, April 28, 2017

Review of ~ SILVER CORD by J. C. Mead

Sharing our alter egos:






The two review the paranormal SILVER CORD by J. C. Mead.

“Kat Cambridge heads for the deep south when her not-so-wonderful Catholic/Atheist husband has a heart attack and gives up the ghost.  Which is quite ironic considering a different ghost attacks Kat’s heart but in that goose-bump, hubba-bubba way.” Wrye leans forward and does the infamous eye-brow lift and wiggle.  “Once there, she absorbs natures and reconnects with her old wiccan practices.”

“The oooh yum-yum Scottish soldier specter might be just what single mom Kat needs, in a strange sort of way, to help her forget the nasty past as she makes a new start. Jess Greenleaf, also, a single mom joins Kat and the two intend to restore an old home.” Tattle tilts her head and scrunches up her face as she re-reads a few chapters. “Then again that ghostly owner might have another agenda.  His soul is drifting and he needs Kat’s and Jess’ witchy spell skills before he simply is no more.”

“Warning!  Warning!  Warning!” declares Wrye, waving his arms around like a derelict robot.  “Misdirection plans to take you on a little spin around, especially when Colin MacKay shoots an arrow of interest into Kat’s heart.”

“Ah yes, while Kat digs into the house’s history, this new hunka-hunka, all muscle and flesh and real-to-the-touch man reveals ghost-soldier’s identity.” Tattle eyes widened, mouth forms an ‘O’ and she smacks the sides of her cheeks, going into full ut-oh mode.  “What a choice… Alive or dead? Who does she choose?  Surprisingly, the ghost seduces her right into his…  Oh, not going to read-n-tell.”

“Especially don’t reveal any of the lurking secrets or the humorous barbs,” Wrye adds.  “All in all J. C. Mead did an excellent job of making Wicca spells seem real, ghost more than a possibility, and has created characters that you want to hang with on a daily basis. Kat’s and Jess’ friendship is very believable, and the relationships with their children have naturalistic appeal.  They truly act like typical moms.”

“I like the well-paced writing style and how the story keeps you guessing.  There is plenty of romance but it doesn’t overwhelm the mystery, magic and momentum of the storyline. It totally held my attention. I found myself propping up my e-reader and following along even as I was cooking. Errr, yes, I burnt the chicken. Shame on you, J. C. distracting me that way.  Tsk… Tsk!”

“Oh, just go have some Mead and stop complaining, that is always Kat’s and Jess’ go-to,” Wrye says with a big grin.

“Seriously, this a great read, smooth plot, creative twist on what could have been an old theme, interesting and clever dialogue and appealing, ageless, realistic characters - even the ones you don’t like, you enjoy disliking them.  Great book, it is in my to-be-read-again pile!”

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Fishy Tale

My good wife saw a pond on sale at Wal Mart and decided it would be just the thing for our back yard. She presented it to me for installation. I pointed out that a pond without fish would be a nursery for mosquitos. The pond was planted and Wal Mart goldfish added.

A son-in-law replaced a toilet in the house and left it lurking in the back yard. Not one given to wasting treasures I installed the toilet in a mound of earth beside the pond and painted it a concrete gray. Flowers took root in the tank and a fountain in the bowl wafted a stream of water down into the fish pond. A virtual miracle of design and technology!

Raccoons cleaned out the fish. I installed a predator net and new goldfish.

She who must be obeyed decided we should move to a larger house. It had a jungle garden overrun and abused and no fish pond. I went out, bought a new pond, a new predator net, and went to work. Soon a miniature cottage on top of a tiny hill spouted water into a stream running down into the fish pond. Everyone was relatively happy.

The problem with our climate is you cannot leave fish outside in a pond all year long. Sometime around the end of October they will form part of a large block of ice. So each year we’d remove the three fish, drain the pond, and bring them inside to a large tank some good friend decide we needed and he didn’t.

One fall I had the pond almost empty and was cleaning the pump when lo and behold, I discovered a small fish inside. When the Mrs. checked the two inches of muddy water remaining in the pond she discovered four more tiny fish. I remembered then I’d dumped most of the water out onto the front yard to soak the trees...two hours ago. I found another eight fish still flopping around in the grass and the dead leaves.

We now drain the pond through a strainer into a pail each fall. We have a tank downstairs with the seven largest fish and a tank upstairs with roughly fourteen (They won’t stay still to be counted) from that last two years’ broods. I have gifted a grandson with enough fish for two small tanks and my son-in-law has two large tanks in his living room. The fish store says they may take some and give me credit against future purchases.

I have studied fish medicine, water changing techniques, and how to peel frozen peas. I am running out of friends who desire a valuable goldfish.

Fortunately the always-starving cat pays the fish no attention at all. Now I need lights for the upstairs tank because I’ve been advised the tank is too dark. Outside, the ice is now off the pond and the yard is a mess. It’s that time of year again.

Oh good grief. No wonder I have trouble finding time to write!


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn (Book 1, 2, of 3)

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Passion of Compassion

In honor of all the spring celebrations that occur in mid-April, from so many traditions, this is from the Dalai Lama:
“Scientists have concluded that basic human nature is compassionate. This is a sign of hope. If it was otherwise and it was human nature to be angry, things would be hopeless. What’s important is that while we’re alive we shouldn’t create trouble, but, recognising how other people are human like us, should cultivate concern for their well being. If we can do that there’ll be no basis for cheating, bullying or killing.”
pink cherry tree blossoms against a blue sky

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Book Store

The Book Store

Though I’ve done numerous book signings at conferences and talks, this was my first experience being ignored in a book store.

All right. Not completely ignored and I have pictures to prove it. But, it is still a daunting experience to sit alone at a table while strangers enter a store in a mall and pretend you aren’t sitting right there, even though you’ve just said hello to them.

Fortunately, a couple of friends showed up and bought books. And that seemed to trigger the activity because right afterward, a couple of strangers approached and chatted about the book, The Prince of Keegan Bay, and then purchased it. And so the day went. The store was happy with the sales and I was pleased as we left.
A note to all readers who enter book stores and see someone doing a signing. It is okay to say hello, to come chat, and even ask questions about the book on sale, or any other book in the store. We, the authors, are a nervous bunch and I promise you, we don’t do “hard selling.” Nobody is going to pressure you into buying a book you don’t want.

We get lonely when we sit there with no one to talk to. So next time you are in a book store and see a lonely author, go up and say hello. Pick up a bookmark, even if you don’t want to buy a book. It will make the author feel like someone cares.

We love you readers and really, really want your attention.

Oh, and if I can be a little pushy, if you love the book, a comment on Amazon or Goodreads is always appreciated.

Thank you and goodnight.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Can’t These Guys Afford Clothes? Or, Cover Art in Historical Fiction

This all started a long long time ago, but still in this galaxy. It was actually in 2009, about a year after I’d started writing the story which would eventually become Traitor Knight. I was telling a friend, a woman who worked with my wife, about it. And her reaction was, “Make sure your hero is pictured on the cover with no shirt on.”

It rather seems like a reversal of the traditional “bodice-ripper”. Instead of beautiful girl on the cover, whose clothes are being strategically removed by the hero, we now find a guy in a definite state of dishabille, with a lusty maiden gazing longingly at him. Ah, the times, they are a ‘changing. I’m not sure what this change is indicative of, except possibly a universal truth—that gals like a bit of skin as much as us guys.

We laughed about it, but then I got to thinking. And researching. And sure enough, I discovered a large percentage of the covers of historical fiction novels (romance, fantasy, pirates, etc.) feature a buffed hero, sans shirt, usually clutching some comely maiden to his manly chest.

I was running the public library’s used book sales at the time, and as the books would come in, I started noticing. Because a lot of what was donated fell into the historical fiction category. And the majority of it featured these shirtless heroes. It became a running joke: “Oh, here’s another poor chap who can’t even afford to buy himself a shirt.”

Although admittedly none of the guys on those covers really looked as if they felt lacking. Not a one was shivering, which might be attributed to the panting damsels or debutantes  draped artistically over their shoulders, who generally  appear to be doing a pretty good job of keeping them warm.
It must be also be pointed out that, contrary to what history actually tells us, there’s not a man to be found on any of those covers with an ounce of fat on his body. They all must spend hours at the gym, a few more at a tanning salon, and the rest of their day at the hair stylist. While most of the girls look as if they’ve either just been ravished (or are about to do a bit of judicious ravishing of their own), their brawny tawny heroes are chiseled and combed to within an inch of their lives.  

Much to my friend’s chagrin, my hero appeared on the cover of Traitor Knight with his shirt on. Granted, he did get a haircut for the occasion, and he is pretty chiseled, but he sports neither a bare chest nor a lusty lass. He’s written me several strongly worded letters about this oversight, and I’m getting worried he’s going to send his next missive via dragon…

Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler with a fondness for flannel shirts. He thus is resigned to never appearing on a book cover. He lives in the upper Hudson Valley region of NY, where he's certain the sounds attributed to Captain Hudson's crew bowling are really just the dragons grumbling. Keith is fortunate to have a wonderful and loving wife who not only puts up with his writing but generally encourages it. When it doesn't get the way of their cut-throat Scrabble games, that is.

Keith is the author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight (Champagne Books). His newest work, Desperate Knight, which contains 50% more dragon, and no shirtless heroes, will be released in Summer 2017.  

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Value of a good Romance Novel!

Good Morning!

I’m swamped with edits right now (Winning Casey/a romance novel of course, for Totally Bound Publishing!) so I hope you’ll excuse my running “the best of” past blogs. I promise to be back next month with hopefully some fresh insights! Wishing you all a good day! Hugs, January

Why Read and Write Romance Novels?

By January Bain

Why write and devour romance novels? Simple, it always ends happily. Apparently I’m not alone according to a recent survey of more than a thousand readers. The poll was an eye-opener for me. I discovered that 81% of the readers polled choose romance as their favorite genre. Wow! That blew me away. A further 80% bought from Amazon. And nearly 58% had not been in a bricks and mortar store in the last year. Contemporary Romance came in first place of the genres, followed closely by Historical Romance. Facebook and an author’s website were their main way to discover new authors which I found interesting and helpful. If you want to know more about this here’s the link:

I read Romances because I’m a sucker for a happy ending as it makes everything right with my world. And it turns out I’m certainly not alone. All the trial and tribulations along the way for the heroine just add to the suspense of how will the author make it all work out? I’m fascinated by how many twists and turns one novel can contain. I don’t ever want it to be predictable, though I like a sense of the characters being familiar. And even though I know it’s going to work out in the end, still, I want to be caught up in the story so much that I’m uncertain on how it possibly could work out because the magic of storytelling is a definite obsession for writer.

Why do you read or write romances?  I’d love to know!

January Bain 


Coming soon: Winning Casey, Book One, Brass Ringer Sorority Series

Part madcap caper, part serious treasure hunting, the Brass Ringers never fail to entertain or get their way!

Friday, March 31, 2017

Review of ~ TRAITOR KNIGHT by Keith W. Willis

Sharing our alter egos:






Tattle and Wrye warp into TRAITOR KNIGHT, a fantasy by Keith W. Willis

“The instant you meet Morgan McRobbie, Knight Commander of the King’s Legion aka. The Dark Knight… Da da da daaaaaaaaaaaaaa…,” Wrye expresses loudly. “You know he is going to be an interesting character.  Though heroic, he is certainly not your typical cookie cutter hero. He is the champion of the wars against the Rhuddlani invaders, and is more comfortable around a sword, or a dragon than a beautiful woman, which of course happens.”

“It is this dark-skinned half breed that comes to a beautiful damsel’s rescue. He is also the man everyone whispers had turned traitor against Kilbourne.  A cad?  A villain?  Not possible, is it? After all, he is so darn appealing.” Tattle fans herself and feigns a young girl’s swoon-sigh.  “Roguishly handsome, he also has a humorous bent, adopts an atypical attitude, with just the right amount of foibles.  You, also, can’t help but adore his very likable if somewhat show-off horse, Arnicus.”
“Upon reading, I started chuckling immediately.” Wrye offers his best deep-throated chuckle. “ It was inevitable considering the heroine stared at the about-to-be-toasted knight with disdain, while a terrifying dragon, who after a display of grandiose flames and fury, burps up a bit of steam and a few hiccups. Morgan didn’t defeat the dragon as much as the dragon appeared to be tired of the gambit.”

“Ah, but it is not all fun and games,”  Eyes narrowing suspiciously, Tattle studies the heroine.  “Though many suspected Morgan to be a traitorous knight to his King, finding this damsel-in-tenacity  alone in the woods, snack fare for the first dragon to be seen in three hundred years, one cannot help wondering if she, indeed is the real traitor. Of course, Morgan does wonder. Though she professes to be gathering flowers for her mistress Queen Gwyndoln, Marissa duBerry, lady-in-waiting is no shrinking daffodil.”

“And that is just the opening draw of this magnetic story. There is just the right blend of fun, sinister play and manners-all-soooo-proper-when-at-court dalliances. If anyone can remember swashbuckler Technicolor Errol Flynn pirate flicks, it has the some wonderful tendencies of dark drama, flippancy and fun.  The dialogue is clean. The writing style, in this book, is smooth and direct. The author is one of my favorites.”

“I can’t say enough about the talent oozing from the storyline. There is never any down time with the plot, it keeps rolling and picking up steam. Keith is a story-teller puppeteer, just pulling our strings as we dance to his magnificent prose. Through it all, you see Keith’s unique writing technique. It is not an imitation of the ole Masters yet it is still fantasy at its finest with that wonderful wash of enchantment that brings out the possibility that magic can happen. I have read all of Keith W. Willis’ work, and I do believe TRAITOR KNIGHT is now my favorite.  Hmmm, that is until he writes a new book, that new one might end up taking top spot. Each book gets better!”

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -