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You Have the Ruby Slippers by Laurie Stevens

May 17, 2020 by in category Guest Posts tagged as ,

You Have the Ruby Slippers

The timeless story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum has been known to symbolize many things, among them the economical and social struggles of the 1890s. It can, as well, represent the journey to attain our goals as authors. In Dorothy’s case, she wants to get home. Her adventure through the land of Oz presents her with both risks and opportunities. They are the same ones most people face.

Obviously, the poppy fields can symbolize the perils of drug/opioid use, but
if we keep to Dorothy’s perspective, even her newfound friends can represent the challenges we face when pursuing a goal.

Take the Cowardly Lion. He procrastinates, uses excuses to run away, and is crippled by fear. If Dorothy were to follow his path (before he gets his Badge of Courage) she would never attain her goal of getting home.

What about the Scarecrow? He is the brains of the operation (he just doesn’t know it). Assuming he represents intelligence, you may ask why that would be a bad thing? Well, how often do you over-rationalize? Over-think your story? Besides fear playing a part in hampering our journey, we might use our intellect to our disadvantage. We may learn that “9 out of 10 people fail in this field.” Is a fact like that going to serve you? It’s going to discourage you. True, intelligence is a good thing. It’s important to study for a test. Without doing so, you’ll fail. Training for a job gives you the tools you need to perform successfully. Still, you want to make sure you see the forest through the trees. If you get caught up in the day-to-day minutia, you’ll lose sight of your goal. It’s good to absorb information. Get training. Watch the pros. Read books on the subject, but at some point, absorb the info and stamp your brand on it. Too much intellect will rationalize away your dream.

Ah, the Tin Man. He represents the heart. How could that be termed as a challenge for Dorothy? To follow your heart is a noble thing. To be sensitive to others, caring, and loving is positive. However, if you form unhealthy attachments, to your past, say, or to someone who is not good for you, your heart, then, hampers your journey.

The most obvious risk for Dorothy, however, is to cross paths with the Wicked Witch of the West. The witch wants to steal the power of the ruby slippers (or silver shoes, if you’re following the book). Why does the witch want them so badly? They hold immense power.

What is that power? It’s the realization that Dorothy had the power to reach her goal all along. How powerful is that? It lay right at her feet, on her feet to be exact.

Dorothy had to first cycle through a lot of experiences to be able to accept the news the Good Witch of the North (call her Glinda, as in the movie version) delivers. Perhaps, if Glinda had said from the beginning, “You have always had the power to go home,” Dorothy wouldn’t have believed her. Glinda has the ability to give the super-charged slippers to the wearer, but she can’t make the wearer use them.

And so, it is with us. Someone can wave a news bulletin of confidence in front of your face, and if you’re not ready to accept it, you simply won’t see it. The good news is, life offers us these experiences in which to learn. At some point, you will cage your fear, educate yourself while still believing in dreams, and let go of unhealthy attachments that weigh you down. To make use of the magic, Dorothy needed to click her heels. For writers, we have to write, and remind ourselves every so often that we wear the ruby slippers.

picture of Laurie stevens

Laurie Stevens is the author of the Gabriel McRay thriller series. The books have won twelve awards, among them Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 and a Random House Editors’ Book of the Month. International Thriller Writers claims she’s “cracked the code” in regards to writing psychological suspense. Laurie co-edited the 2019 Sisters in Crime anthology Fatally Haunted, and her short stories have appeared in many anthologies and magazines. Laurie lives near the setting of her books, the Santa Monica Mountains, with her husband, two snakes, and a cat.

You can find out more about Laurie on her website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Why I Love Writing Romance by Kat Martin

April 29, 2020 by in category Guest Posts, Writing
Kat Martin | A Slice of Orange
Photo by Juan Carlo, Ventura Country Star

Today we’re pleased to have a guest post by bestselling author Kat Martin. Kat a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin.  More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries.  Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film.  Kat’s next hardcover, THE ULTIMATE  BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released on July 28th.


From birth to death, romance is part of everyone’s lives, a mother’s love for her newborn baby, a son or daughter’s love for a parent, or love for the person who shares your life.

Falling in love is the part that intrigues me. I love giving my characters obstacles that reveal their strengths and weaknesses, everything from murder and mayhem to running for their lives. The obstacles they face form the plots of my stories. The way the characters overcome them shows their strengths and weaknesses and eventually is what draws the two of them together.

In my latest Romantic Thriller, THE DECEPTION, book two of my Maximum Security series, Kate Gallagher is devastated when she learns her sister has been murdered. Determined to find Chrissy’s killer, Kate hires lethal bounty hunter, Hawk Maddox. Working together, they follow a trail of clues that lead them deep into the city’s underbelly. Though Hawk warns her of the danger, nothing he says can convince Kate to walk away.

The best part of writing a romantic thriller is that the reader can be sure the perils the couple faces will be worth it. By the last page of the book, the hero and heroine are going to find the forever kind of love and get the happy ending they deserve.

I hope you will watch for THE DECEPTION, and that if you haven’t read THE CONSPIRACY, you’ll look for it, too.

Till then very best wishes and happy reading, Kat

THE DECEPTION, by Kat Martin


After her meltdown at the bar, which still embarrassed her, Kate spent the following week hounding the Dallas Police Department.

Chrissy’s case had been assigned to a homicide detective named Roger Benson, an older guy with thinning brown hair and a bad attitude. She’d done a little digging, found out he had previously worked in the sex crimes division, an unabashed misogynist who acted as if he believed all women were whores and was completely the wrong person to be handling cases in that department–which was probably why he now worked in homicide.

She tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, figuring the crimes he had worked had changed him into the man he had become. Or maybe he had always been like that. Either way, Kate didn’t like him.

“Your sister was using the name Tina Galen,” he told her when she appeared in his office demanding answers for the fourth day in a row. “She was a heroin addict and a known prostitute.”

Her heart squeezed, though the police had already told her those things. “She was murdered, Detective. Her killer needs to face justice.”

“I’m sorry for your loss, Ms. Gallagher. We’re doing everything we can to locate the person who killed her, but in circumstances like these, the odds of finding him aren’t good.”

“The killer must have left evidence. Fingerprints or DNA. Something.”

“We’re working on it. We believe Tina hooked up with a john who liked rough sex. That night, he got carried away, beat her worse than he meant to, and killed her. If that’s the case, he may have assaulted women before.”

“So you’ll be able to find him.”

“Like I said, we’re working on it. You need to let us do our job, Ms. Gallagher. Coming down here every day and badgering us isn’t going to help. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got things I need to do. Your sister’s case isn’t the only one on my desk.”

She glanced over at the stack of files on the detective’s desk and bit back a sharp retort. “Yes, I can see that.” And clearly, arguing with Benson wasn’t going to get her anywhere.

As she left the police station, it occurred to her there was a good chance nothing she said or did was going to get the answers she was determined to get in regard to Chrissy’s death.

She needed someone to help her. A detective who worked directly for her and strictly on her sister’s murder case.

At twenty-nine, she was the owner of Gallagher and Company Consulting, an up-and-coming management consulting firm. And though there were only two other analysts in the office so far, plus a receptionist who acted as her personal assistant, she had built a solid reputation during the time she’d been working in Dallas, and the company was making money.

She could afford to hire a private investigator.

Arriving in the lobby of the five-story building on North Akard near McKinney where the office was located, she waved at one of the security guards, a big guy named Clay, as she passed.

Kate’s stomach tightened. Clay didn’t have the thick dark hair and gorgeous blue eyes of the man she had nearly had sex with in the parking lot of the Sagebrush Saloon, but he was almost as tall, with the same rock-solid body. Every time she saw Clay, who was older and not nearly as good-looking, she thought of Jason “Hawk” Maddox and felt a combination of embarrassment and a ridiculous rush of heat.

Dear God, she had never been more turned on in her life. When he’d hauled her out on the dance floor and pulled her into his big, powerful arms, it occurred to her for the first time, she might really go through with the hookup she had only imagined.

Maddox really knew how to dance. And he could he kiss. She could have kissed him for hours.

Thank God, she had come to her senses before it was too late. She didn’t do hookups, especially with hot, muscle-jocks in jeans and scuffed boots. She didn’t have sex with strangers.

But after she’d left the morgue, she had gone a little crazy. Crying hadn’t done a lick of good and eventually she had managed to pull herself together, but the terrible feelings of guilt and failure would not go away.

It didn’t matter that she and Chrissy, an accidental baby eleven years younger, had never been close, that by the time Chrissy was in high school, Kate had moved from the small Texas town of Rockdale to Dallas.

She was working full time for Bain Consulting as a junior member of one of their teams when Chrissy began having problems with drugs and alcohol, and behaving promiscuously with boys. Kate had gone back to Rockdale to talk to her but it hadn’t done any good. A few months later, her sister had run away from home, and though the police had done everything in their power to find her, Kate had never seen her again.

Not until the police had called with the terrible news of her murder and Kate had gone to the morgue.

How she’d wound up half drunk at the Sagebrush Saloon still wasn’t completely clear. She’d just been desperate to get the image of Chrissy’s battered and bludgeoned body out of her head, and for a while in the backseat with Jason, it had actually worked.

It was impossible to think of anything but those big hands on her breasts and the thick ridge beneath the fly of his jeans. God, she had never known that kind of want before.

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My Favorite Places by Kat Martin

April 4, 2020 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , ,

Today, we are pleased to Spotlight KAT MARTIN.

Bestselling author Kat Martin, a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, currently resides in Missoula, Montana with Western-author husband, L. J. Martin. More than seventeen million copies of Kat’s books are in print, and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Fifteen of her recent novels have taken top-ten spots on the New York Times Bestseller List, and her novel, BEYOND REASON, was recently optioned for a feature film. Kat’s next hardcover, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, a Romantic Thriller, will be released on July 28th.

Over the years, I’ve written a number of blogs about my favorite places. I just discovered a new one so I thought I would tell you about it.

I’ve never been a big fan of the desert. I do love the Saguaro cactus, the red rock mountains, and some of the incredible vistas.

But the small town of Prescott called to me as no place in the Sun State ever has. Perhaps it’s the combination of beautiful mountains, which being a Montanan I love, and the rugged Old West history of the town.

The Palace Saloon on Whiskey Row is one of the oldest in the country. It’s got a mile-long bar and an old-fashioned back bar, and even has batwing doors! The folks inside come to work in Wild West costumes, giving the place an even more authentic feel.

In July, cowboys take over the town for the oldest rodeo in the nation. And you know what they say… “If you haven’t loved a cowboy, you will.”

Living in Montana, I pretty much hate hot weather. But summers in Prescott are relatively mild, at least by Arizona standards. And the endless sunshine and crystal blue skies make the hot days worth it.

My new book, PIVOT, is set in the state of Washington, pretty much the opposite of everything in Arizona. The idea began with a Romantic Suspense novella I wrote titled AGAINST THE HEART.

As Meriwether Jones and her young daughter run from trouble, her prayers are answered when ex-cop Ian Brodie hires her to help his aging father. But Meri is keeping dangerous secrets that could wind up getting them killed.

In PIVOT, the adventure continues with novellas by bestselling Romantic Suspense authors, Alexandra Ivy and Rebecca Zanetti.

Melanie Cassidy finds trouble when she tries to save a young boy from being kidnapped. Working the case, former love-of-her-life, Detective Gray Hawkins, arrives in time to rescue them. But Melanie’s good-Samaritan efforts pull her and Gray into a world of drug dealers and dirty cops that neither of them may survive.

 Michelle Peach is one of Meri’s closet friends. Trouble arrives when two rough men in search of Meri break into her home and threaten her life. The last person Michelle wants to see is Evan Boldon, former Marine turned sheriff. But Evan is determined to stop the trouble stalking Michelle-—no matter the cost.

I hope you’ll watch for PIVOT and that you enjoy it. Till next time, warmest wishes and happy reading, Kat


He hammered in another nail, looked up to see Meriwether Jones running toward him. With the sun highlighting the gold in her dark hair, damn she was pretty. “What is it?”

“I can’t find Lily. She isn’t in your room.”

Ian dropped the hammer and started back toward the house, Meri hurrying along beside him.

“She never does this. She always stays where you tell her.”

They shoved through the back door together, walked through the mudroom. It took a moment for him to register that the dishes were all washed and put away, the countertops wiped clean. He caught the scent of Lysol as he made his way toward the stairs.

“Lily!” he called out. “Lily, where are you?” They went upstairs and searched his bedroom, then the other two upstairs rooms and both baths.

No sign of Lily.

His worry kicked up as they headed back downstairs and he strode into the den. “Dad, Lily is missing.”


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OCC Proudly Presents Two Contests for 2020

March 27, 2020 by in category Contests, Writing Contest tagged as , ,

Book Buyers Best Contest

Open to works of romantic fiction published in 2019.

Contest opens January 15, 2020

Deadline for receiving manuscripts is April 15, 2020

Hello published writers!

We wanted to let you know that OCC/RWA is running our annual Book Buyers Best Contest for any author who has published a work of fiction any time during 2019 (traditional or self-published). The contest is open now and closes on April 15th. We welcome you to submit to our contest.

Here is the link describing the contest rules.

Please email us if you have any further questions.

Cathleen Armstrong and Nancy Brashear
BBB Coordinators

The 37th Orange Rose Contest for Emerging Authors

Open to unpublished fiction in all genres.

Contest opens January 15, 2020

Deadline April 15, 2020

For more information or to enter the contest follow this LINK

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The 2020 Short Story Award

March 13, 2020 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , , ,

It’s time!

The 2020 Short Story Award is now open!

Bethlehem Writers Roundtable seek animal stories (broadly interpreted) of 2000 words or fewer.

First Place winner will be considered for publication in their newest “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” anthology:

Fur, Feathers, & Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales

The latest of their “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” Anthologies

See Submission Guidelines

The 2020 Guest Judge

Peter Abrahams is the Edgar Award winning author of thirty-eight novels including The Right SideThe FanA Perfect Crimeand the Echo Falls series for younger readers.

Under his pen name, Spencer Quinn, he writes the New York Times best-selling Chet and Bernie series, as well as the Queenie and Arthur series for younger readers.

Abrahams was born in Boston, graduated from Williams College, and lives on Cape Cod.

You read an interview of Mr. Abrahams here.

Previous BWR Short Story Award Judges

2012–Jonathan Maberr
2013–Hank Phillippi Ryan
2014–Rebecca Forster
2015–Curtis Smith
2016–Marisa A. Corvisiero
2017–Carrie Vaughn
2018–Kimberly Brower
2019–John Grogan

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