A Slice of Orange


Oh Horrors! by Dianna Sinovic

June 13, 2022 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , ,

I love attending writers’ conferences—big or small—I always come away with something. It might be a bit of craft, a new tool or resource, or new-found friends. Often, it’s all of the above. Time and budget allow me just a few conferences each year, and for the last two years, it’s been virtual-only.

Last month, I was in Denver to attend StokerCon, the national conference for the Horror Writers Association. It was not only a chance to mingle in person with attendees (including a fav author), but also to hang out with three friends who joined me there.

What I did I come away with? So much! The panel discussions were thought-provoking (What makes cosmic horror cosmic?) and/or just plain fun (a friend featured at an author reading). People-watching was fabulous, especially at the mass author signing, which put authors elbow to elbow at long, long tables. And there was ice cream . . .

Ellen Dartlow, Stephen Graham Jones, and Dianna Sinovic

I bought books—plenty of them—and kicked myself for not bringing an extra bag to stash them in. I bought raffle tickets for signed copies of several books. (Good thing I didn’t win, because where would I have put them?) And I signed up for a T-shirt drawing (and won!).

The conference ambience was enhanced by the setting, the Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver. Each floor is decorated with a different theme; the 13th floor—yes, there is a 13th—is dedicated to horror. Of course.

My regrets? There was so much excellent programming that I couldn’t fit in everything I wanted to see. And I got there a day too late to attend a pre-party at the Stanley Hotel, the location in Estes Park for The Shining.

StokerCon 2023, here I come!

picture of dianna sinovic

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna Sinovic has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

Books from Bethlehem Writers Group

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Preserving Journals for the Future

June 12, 2022 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby

As a writer, I love to write in any form including journals, blogs, and books. Something about putting words on a page is so satisfying. But I’ve asked myself recently if I’m writing the right things in my journals. Do I capture words that will be preserved for the future? Should I start a journal for the future that’s more about the day to day then about special days or my feelings?

Notebook and stack of books with title Journaling for the future by Denise M. Colby with a teal wood slated background

Hear me out. There’s a reason why I’m thinking about this in a different way. It’s not really about my own personal life and wanting to document it. It’s more about making sure how we live today is being captured for those who need this data in the future.

Journals are a Great Research Tool

As a historical writer, journals are invaluable to capturing the essence of the era we are writing. Long ago journals include terminology, names, and phrases of the time. There are recipes from our ancestors because they wrote them down. Which now are preserved and shared from person to person.

Also, a contemporary writer might have a character that is a teacher or plumber or Starbucks barista. They may need to learn about these positions. These journals could include lingo, interactions, schedules, a specific point of view, and more. They might gather these from blogs, more than journals, but the idea of finding content that helps explain the day to day in these lives is what I’m talking about.

I’ve even created a journal for my character so I could find her voice and figure out her feelings and perspective. I talk about this in my blog post on my website titled Incorporating a Character Journal In My Story. I now include a journal entry to the beginning of each chapter in my book.

1869 Diary entry by Olivia Carmichael in A Man Was Not The Plan by Denise M. Colby
A fictitious journal entry by my character.
Olivia Carmichael had no idea how much she would eat her words.

How Will The Future Read Journals?

Think of terms and phrases used in the past versus now. Terms such as binge mean something different now than 50 years ago. What would be other words or terms that might be obsolete in the future? What are terms that we no longer use today but represent a bygone era?

I sometimes feel silly writing down some of these more basic topics. But then I think about someone possibly reading it 100 years from now and realize that how we go about our day may be completely different in another century.

In today’s definition, journals could be blogs, notes in our phone, or actual books we handwrite in. And it will be interesting to see how people who keep and access these in the future. Personally I love handwriting. But it gets harder and harder to read someone’s writing either from faded ink or pencil or just reading handwriting itself as an art form is going away. I wrote a blog post about that a while ago titled Give A Gift That Lasts a Lifetime: A Handwritten Note. In some cases writing is more personal because of a person’s handwriting. I love coming across something my mom or dad wrote. It evokes an emotion in me that’s difficult to describe.

Will Journals Be Around in 100 Years?

To have a journal last 100 years, first people have to create them. Then they have to save them. Not by just the writer, but by someone who obtains them after the writer has passed. How many of us toss older books out? Or toss our own books out because we don’t think anyone will care. They may not care at 25-35 years, but something older? This is the future of a journal. The old adage – one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. A family member might think there’s nothing of importance in the journal, but a writer looking for specific details? It could be pure gold inside.

But what about blogs? To stay active, the account has to stay active. Where will all this content go in the future? How will these blog posts be preserved? I know. I’m causing anxiety where it’s not necessary. But being a history lover, I tend to think about these things often. Am I the only one?

Journals Preserved by Libraries

In rare cases, a library owns journals that are used by scholars who use them as reference materials. People of the past journaled for the future. My great great grandfather was one of them. He wrote detailed journals. A mountain man who faught in a war with Lincoln, was a trapper with Jedidiah Smith, and shared a campfire with the Donner party before they chose to ignore his warnings and take the short Sierra pass that ended in doom. We know all of this because of his journals. I have two printed versions of his journals in my possession, but I’ve also seen the real journals in person. These journals are owned by the Huntington Libary in Pasadena. And it’s been said they know what they know about that era, because of the details he captured.

James Clyman Journal of a Mountain Man Book Denise M. Colby 6th Generation to James Clyman
Books that have been written from the Journals of James Clyman, my great-great grandfather.
He created journals used in his future, which is our present. What will our journals be used for?

Questions for the writer in all of us

I wanted to ask questions because I’m curious. And I think a dialogue would be advantageous for all of us. Do you read journals for your stories? Where do you go for your inspiration? Do you journal? If you do, do you write about your feelings? Describe the weather? Mention a list of daily activities? What type of content do you put in your journal? 

Do you write daily? Are your journals organized by date or by topic? Ideas of specialized journals would be one for work related documentation and one for personal. Or a journal about movies, books, or other entertainment and another book for trips.

And last but not least, how do you think the world will use these journals in the future?

Curious minds want to know.

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How I learned to stop worrying and love TikTok… my 5 tips by Jina Bacarr

June 11, 2022 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, TikTok, Writing tagged as , ,

Do you TikTok?

Love it or hate it?

What to post? Dancing to retro music in your PJs?

Reading from your book while trying to looking into your cell camera?

Show your face or not?

Just when we authors felt comfortable Tweeting and Facebooking, now we’re TikToking.

Sort of.

It’s the Wild West in TikTok-land and it’s difficult to know what works and what doesn’t. For example, I posted a vampire short story about speed dating a sexy vampire with sound effects, action, romance, humor… it only got 12 views…

Sometimes I talk into camera about my books, but I haven’t mastered ‘page flipping’ the book, holding the camera, and saying anything remotely intelligent at the same time. I’m still sweating it, but I haven’t given up.

When I post beautiful cakes that I find in my local markets, I get hits. Over 700 on this one:

I even did an April Fools’ joke — a video about my ‘next’ book ‘LuLu goes to Paris’ about a little turtle’s journey…

Here’s my latest TikTok video where I show off my ‘cake skills’ — sort of, the vanilla buttercream icing melted — and talked abut my two Paris WW2 books. So far I have. ZERO views. (it can take HOURS for the TikTok algorithm to put your video in the queue… whom to show it to… where (country)… and a million other reasons. I don’t use the music you can add… I prefer to talk about what my books. If anyone has any comments about using the music tracks, I’m all ears (no pun intended but I couldn’t help it — it’s 3 am as I write this). UPDATE: 19 hours later, I have 335 views.


tempting goodies while I wait for edits on my next Paris WW2 novel #booktok @boldwoodbooks #writingcommunity #book #historicalfiction

♬ original sound – Jina Bacarr

In the end, be yourself. If you love hamming it up in bunny slippers and Disney Princess PJs, go for it. Everybody knows we authors are ‘different’, so show the audience that part of you.


5 tips:

post often

post short clips

be real and be quirky if that fits you

talk about your books… short and I mean short excerpts, lines, etc. Provocative, intrigue the viewer to want to know more…

use ‘author’ in your name so viewers know you write books. Mine is: https://www.tiktok.com/@jinabacarrauthor

I discovered these 5 tips by joining https://www.facebook.com/groups/tiktokforauthors — a fabulous group of TikTokAuthors on Facebook.

I’ve also just applied to join author Fiona Lucas’s new FB TikTok group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/tiktok4authors

That’s it for the moment… If you have any tips or TikTok stories you want to share, please do in the comments.

Most of all, have fun!!


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Sorting it out…

June 10, 2022 by in category Charmed Writer by Tari Lynn Jewett tagged as , ,

All I want to do is write, but at the moment, it feels like real life is moving much faster than the plot of a good book. In between editing my holiday romcom, we’ve been moving, getting our primary residence ready to go up for sale (it went live yesterday), spending as much time as possible with our new grandson, doing physical therapy for both of my knees, and planning a celebration of life for my stepfather, who we lost in April. Hmmm, I’m going to have to switch that around. I think I’m editing in between all of my other responsibilities. I find myself creating piles of items to keep, donate, or discard all day. And not just with belongings, with aspects of my life.

What moves with me? What will I keep? Books, old writing, sewing, favorite cooking items, old photos, and special keepsakes. Ideas that are swirling in my head for the next story, the next article, the next adventure on the page. My new healthy lifestyle. And then of course there are family and friends I’ll miss, but keep close through social media, phone, and hopefully in person.

The donate pile- a few books that I think I can live without (this pile was much smaller than it probably should have been). Sewing items that I know I’ll never use (again this pile should be bigger) and lots of items from the kitchen and throughout the house that I never use, are outdated or don’t fit with our new home or life. And tons, AND TONS of clothes that no longer fit me. Seriously, tons of clothes, woo hoo!!

Trash is a kind of interesting thing. Some things are easy to throw away, broken storage containers, old bills, devices that no longer work, and the ratty old shoes that have slowly shuffled to the back of the closet…well, except that one comfy pair that should go in the trash but I just can’t get rid of…and there you go, some things are much harder to throw away. The book I’ve read so many times the cover is falling out and pages are loose. I could get a new copy, but this is the original copy of Christy, by Catherine Marshal that I read back in 6th grade, and 7th, and when I had nothing to read in my first apartment, and years later when I missed the story, and I’m probably due to read it again now. And anything that my children created. I know can’t keep all of it…I can’t, right? Can I? Maybe I can. And sometimes even ideas for stories that never happened. Time to give them up. I think.

What about you? Is life moving quickly? Do you feel the pressure to do things you have to do over things you want to do? And what stays in your keep pile? What are you willing to pass along? What finally makes it to the discard pile? I’m hoping to slow down and take a breath soon, but for now…back to work!



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Read an Excerpt of THE LAST MILE by Kat Martin

June 9, 2022 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Spotlight tagged as , , ,


Kat Martin


Twenty minutes later, after weaving their way through traffic, they pulled up in front of Abby’s borrowed apartment.

“I won’t be long,” she said and cracked open her door.

Gage caught her arm. “Now that the papers are signed, I’m in charge, remember?”

“Yes, but—”

“The problem that existed last night hasn’t changed. Just because you put the gold back in the bank doesn’t mean you’re safe. There’s been at least one attempt on your life, and if the guy at the museum was the same man, he might be willing to take you by force, coerce you into giving him the map.”

A thread of unease slid through her. “So what would you suggest? I have work to do, same as you.”

“If you want this venture to succeed, at this point, you have two options—I can put a guard on your door 24/7 or you can stay at my place.”

“You can’t be serious.”  Superman, ha! The man was dictatorial and overbearing. How was she going to put up with him for what could end up being weeks?

But what if he was right? Was it possible the man who’d attacked her knew where she was staying? Had he followed her to the museum last night? Would he come after her again, try to force her to give him the map?

“My apartment building’s extremely secure,” Gage was saying. “It’s big enough that you’ll have all the privacy you need, and it won’t be for long. As soon as everything’s ready, we’ll be leaving for Arizona.”

The chunk of gold was back in the bank, the map in the safe in Gage’s office, but she and Gage were the only ones who knew that. Abby looked into Gage’s stern features and knew he wasn’t going to back down.

“So what’s it going to be?” he said.

“If you hire a guard, I’ll be paying for half of it. I’ll stay at your place. And you’d better remember–I still have my gun.”

Gage grinned, then threw back his head and laughed.


Gage wasn’t laughing when Abby opened the door to the apartment and the interior looked as if a bomb had gone off.

“Oh, my God!” 

Easing her behind him, he walked into the living room. The sofa was overturned, the cushions sliced open, pictures had been jerked down from the walls, the backs ripped off. Kitchen drawers had been pulled out and dumped, cabinets opened, the contents spilled on the floor.

“Stay right here.”  For once, Abby didn’t argue. She was clearly in shock at the nightmare she had stumbled into.

Gage checked the rooms, making sure the intruder or intruders were gone, then returned to the living room. “Take a look around, see if anything’s missing.”

Big golden eyes flashed to his face. “You think it was him?  The guy who broke in before?”

“What do you think?” 

She huffed out a breath at the sarcasm in his voice. “Well, hell’s bells. Tammy’s going to kill me.”

Amusement eased some of his tension. “Don’t worry, we’ll clean everything up before she comes back.”

Gage followed Abby on a tour of the apartment, including the bedroom and bathroom, both of which had been very thoroughly searched.

Abby sighed as they returned to the living room. “It’s hard to tell for sure, but I don’t think anything’s missing.”

“He was looking for the map, same as before. Does he also know about the gold?”

“I don’t know. They were both in the old wooden box, which was sealed when I got it. But the map was mentioned in the will. King’s attorney called everyone together for the reading, anyone who received a gift. That included several museums, who had representatives there. So there are a number of people who know about it.”

“You need to make a list—anyone who was at the reading, or might know about your grandfather’s bequest.”

She glanced around and nodded dully. “Okay.”

“In the meantime, I’m bringing in reinforcements. We need to get this place cleaned up.”  Taking out his cell, Gage phoned Maggie. Half an hour later, a cleaning crew arrived and Abby put them to work alongside her.

Gage pitched in and they made fairly quick progress. There were items that needed replacing. After an explanatory phone call to her friend and a lengthy apology, Abby left a check for repairs on the counter.

Though the afternoon was shot to hell, Gage couldn’t help feeling relieved that he had insisted on coming with her. Or that Abby would be staying at his place tonight.

Whoever was after the map wasn’t giving up. Gage needed to look at Abby’s suspect list. He wanted to find this guy before they set off on what was already certain to be a dangerous journey.

By late afternoon, the work was finally completed, the cleaning crew gone, the apartment restored as much as possible. Abby had packed several suitcases, casual clothes as well as gear suitable for the trip into the desert. Anything else could be purchased once they got to Arizona.

“You ready?” Gage asked. The suitcases were loaded. The digital cards had been stolen from her cameras but fortunately she had extras and the cameras hadn’t been destroyed.

“I’m ready.”  She looked tired for the first time since he’d met her, her expression glum. She put her hand on his arm, as if to steady herself.

Gage caught her shoulders. “Everything’s going to be all right. We still have what we need to find the Devil’s Gold, okay?”

Abby slowly nodded. “You’re right. I just…I didn’t expect anything like this to happen.”

“It’s been a long day. Let’s go home.”

Abby looked up at him. “I don’t really have a home anymore so I guess your place will do.”

She looked so forlorn, Gage leaned down and kissed her forehead. It was a very un-Gage-like thing to do.

The Last Mile

Kat Martin


May 31, 2022


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