A Sure Sign Spring is Here Through Pictures


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 Spring is a time of renewal and I love taking pictures during this season. It’s a time when new shoots pop up through the soil. It’s a time of new births, the perfumed scent of flowers and the sound of birds calling to each other as they feed their babies. There’s nothing like the feel of the coolness of grass on the bare foot.  What’s your favorite thing about this time of year? .SAM_0056537318_10200498351535334_1389818182_n1185175_10152264693394573_1968515877_n421296_10200795106474022_1059540296_nspring iris 040009007DSC_23431912035_10152199634564573_1458457882_n759450175-001 cropped-cfiles17376.jpgspring iris 0011235087_556628624374117_749064209_nJUSTIN AND KEVIN 019iStock_000005506299XSmall-201x300keller 048keller 043spring 2014 008spring 2014 006



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The Sweetheart Rules (Sweetheart Sisters, #2)The Sweetheart Rules by Shirley Jump


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One toddler meltdown in the middle of Walmart and Lieutenant Mike Stark, who had battled raging winter storms in the violent, mercurial Bering Sea to pluck stranded boaters from the ocean’s grip, had to admit he was in over his head.

Diana Tuttle is the Veterinarian of Rescue Bay’s Animal Shelter. She is a divorced mother raising a troubled 15 year old son by herself. Her musician ex-husband, who has floated in an out of her son’s life, comes back and wants custody.
In the meantime Mike Stark, a sexy Coast Guard worker with whom Diana had a short relationship and one-night stand, comes back to town with his two young daughters. He barely knows them since he has spent little time with them. His ex-wife hands them to him as she heads off on a vacation with a boyfriend. He has a month to take care of them so he goes back to Rescue Bay and stays at his best friend’s house since his ex-wife’s house is little more than a broken down trailor. He is a man who lives by rules and has a hard time adapting to two young girls, one of whom has temper tantrums.
When Diana and Mike see each other again things are a bit awkward especially since he left a short note after their one-night stand and skipped town. They are still attracted to each other but neither wants to start anything again since he doesn’t live in Rescue Bay.
The character development of the hero, heroine and secondary characters is excellent and I don’t think anyone does it better than Shirley Jump. If there is a con in the story for me it is the elderly women known as the “Ladies Quilting Club” who considered themselves the match making trio. I found them distracting and they pulled me out of the story. Soon I was skipping their chapters to get back to the story of Diana and Mike which was a good story.

Searching for Perfect (Searching For, #2)

Searching for Perfect by Jennifer Probst

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First line:  Nathan Ellison Raymond Dunkle couldn’t catch a break.

Ned Dunkle is an aerospace engineer who is a real geek. He has no success with women and he really wants to get married and have a family.
Kennedy Ashe is an insecure, uptight matchmaker who was once a smart fat girl. Kennedy transforms Ned into a hottie with a makeover, and lessons in social skills. Then they find they are attracted to each other but Kennedy resists getting involved with a client.

First let me say there is nothing wrong with this author’s writing and I have really enjoyed Jennifer Probst’s previous works. However, I found that there were things that really bothered me about the content of this story.

Part of the makeover consisted of changing the client’s clothes. After changing his clothing style,the matchmaker felt his name didn’t match his new style so she changed Ned’s name to Nate. Then to teach Ned/Nate how to interact with women, he was fitted with a dog collar that the matchmaker zapped when he gave the wrong answer. Somehow those two things seemed really cruel to me.

Ned/Nate/Kennedy’s reactions to situations seemed immature and they didn’t come across to me as an interesting couple. Unlike other readers, I just didn’t feel the spark between them.
On the plus side, even though there wasn’t a happily ever after ending it wasn’t one of the books that ends with a dreaded cliff hanger.

View all my reviews



BY Victoria Barbour

My rating 3 of 5 stars

First line: “The one thing no one ever tells you about royalty either of the Hollywood or aristocratic variety is that they all leave a hell of a mess behind them.”

So begins the story of Elsie Walsh who runs a remote high-end B&B in Newfoundland. She caters to celebrities who want to get away from paparazzi. Elsie’s one mistake is she has had an affair with one of her clients and decides she won’t repeat the mistake in the future. In walks Scotsman Campbell Scot, a professor of art who has been asked to study and paint birds in the area. Elsie and Campbell embark on an affair with lots of family and friend encouragement.
On the plus side, I learned a lot about Newfoundland and the author really does a great job in describing the setting.
On the negative side, I felt the plot lacked depth and the characters needed a little more fleshing out.
If you like light romance, then this book would be a good beach read or a book for a quiet afternoon.
***ARC from NetGalley for an honest review***


51K+hIV1XJL._AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-34,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Just One Night: Sex, Love & Stiletto Series (Sex, Love, and Stiletto) [Kindle Edition]
Lauren Layne (Author)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First line:  “There comes a time in every single woman’s life where the man who was once eh, not bad gets promoted to good enough.

Riley the heroine of the story is a sexually inexperienced young writer who writes an advice column on sex for Stiletto, a magazine for women. She dates a lot of men who have misconceptions about her and she’s interested in none of them. Her new assignment requires that she really have experience and she asks her brother’s friend whom she has always loved to help her research by having a one night stand with her. Sam is the typical flawed hero who has spent a lot of time at his best friend’s family’s house. He doesn’t want to risk his friendship with her brother by violating a years old “hands off my sister” request, but he just can’t resist helping the woman he’s always loved.
While this is a very sexy novel, it’s also the growth of a nice romance and the growth of the hero through the support of the heroine. Worth the read.

Buy at: amazon.com

THE POLARIS PROTOCOLPolaris-Protocol-thumb

by Brad Taylor

My rating 4 of 5 stars

“Sergeant Ronald Blackmar never heard the round before it hit, but registered the whine of a ricochet right next to his head and felt the sliver of rock slice into his cheek.”

In POLARIS PROTOCOL, Taskforce operators Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are used to putting their lives on the line, but this time it’s Jennifer’s brother and countless more civilians who face incomprehensible violence and bloodshed.
Pike and Jennifer are in Turkmenistan with the Taskforce—a top-secret antiterrorist unit that operates outside US law—when Jennifer gets a call from her brother, Jack. Working on an investigative report into the Mexican drug cartels, Jack Cahill has unknowingly gotten caught between two rival groups. His desperate call to his sister is his last before he’s kidnapped.
In their efforts to rescue Jack, Pike and Jennifer uncover a plot much more sinister than illegal drug trafficking—the cartel that put a target on Jack’s back has discovered a GPS hack with the power to effectively incapacitate the United States. The hack allows a user to send false GPS signals, making it possible to control everything from traffic signals and banking wire transfers to cruise missiles, but only while the system’s loophole remains in place.
With the GPS hack about to be exploited and Jack’s life at stake, Jennifer and Pike must find a way to infiltrate the cartel’s inner circle and eliminate the impending threat. The price of failure, for both the Taskforce and the country, is higher than ever.
This is a novel with non-stop suspense and exciting action by an author who knows the world of special ops but also is willing to do extensive research to make a story leap off the page with authenticity.

Buy this book at: amazon.com





Are Readers Attracted to Beautiful Heroines and Heroes?


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While reading recent books, I’ve noticed characters with similar physical traits and character flaws.

Typical  Traits and Plots :
Antisocial sexy former soldier who can’t form an emotional attachment until he meets a female who shows him his bad home life as a child wasn’t his fault.
Former silver star decorated soldier with PTSD and alcoholism who thinks his bad decision caused the death of his buddies.
Hero, the son of single alcoholic mother, spent lots of time with his friend’s family and thought his interest in his friend’s sister would cause him the loss of the family’s friendship.
Divorced father of two with one month custody of his neglected children can’t relate to them because of abuse by his stepfather when he was a child.
Former fat girl, now makeover queen, was bullied in high school and became anorexic.
B&B owner bedded her clients in more ways than one because of feelings of lack of love by her parents.
Female veterinarian  became an alcoholic after husband left her with a baby 14 years before the story started.
Billionaire, son of single mother, shunned by his real father, is out for revenge against the other family because he felt abandoned and unloved.

There are only so many physical traits one can have.  Women are always seen as gorgeous by the male protagonists in novels. Heroines are elegant, with shiny sweet smelling hair and a beautiful complexion.  However,for too often, authors stick in the hero’s fascination with freckles on the heroine’s nose. After the other attributes freckles don’t fit.
Big breasts, shapely figures, “perfect heart-shaped buttocks,” are often seen as more attractive than a good brain. That’s not to say there aren’t novels with smart women, but they aren’t common.
Research has shown women tend to prefer attractive men to, well, bug-ugly ones and are never attracted by girly or geeky men when there are men available with six packs like Daniel Craig and the sparkling blue eyes of Gerard Butler.Gerard-Butler-kilts-356112_326_500

What I didn’t see very often in the novels I read were heroines attracted to dumb heroes or heroes with menial jobs. Neither did  I  see heroes attracted to highly intelligent women and full figures.
What I did see were heroines attracted to well-built, intelligent, successful heroes. Heroes  seemed  more attracted to women who didn’t have high paying jobs or have Mensa level intelligence. They liked rescuing heroines.72002933Caroline's book









 Good looks can help when it comes to attracting women readers.

Why do you think novel covers have shirtless men?Out of the ShadowsCatherineSpangler_TouchedByLight3_25002630055MI

What traits in the hero and heroine seem to stick out to you in the books you read?


Sliding Doors: Catching The Train of Life


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sliding doors rubypjohnson.wordpress.comLast year I passed through the Atlanta Airport and had the misfortune of traveling on the train(tram) between terminals. The sliding doors of the train opened fast and closed faster leaving many passengers waiting outside. Then those riding the train kept riding back and forth when they couldn’t get off fast enough. It reminded me of an old movie “Sliding Doors” where a woman catches a train in one version and misses it in the other. One moment makes a difference. Her life plays out in a different way depending on which sliding door she enters.
It’s a fascinating premise and I think there is much to be said for it. Life does turn on these pivotal moments, and they may not seem pivotal at the time but actually end up defining the course of our lives.
I know my life would be quite different if I hadn’t lived in a particular place and met a wonderful man. I would never have had the adventures I did or have two wonderful children and grandchildren.
It’s interesting to imagine that there might be a totally different but equally good life I could be living right now, in another city in another country. Would it be equally wonderful? Perhaps? Perhaps not. Possibly it would be awful and I would be dreaming of a happier life? Then maybe it might be better? I could have won the lottery. I will never know. But it’s not important. My choice is made.
I am sure I am not alone in feeling life could have gone a very different way. Maybe I would have married a different man. Or maybe I could have chosen a career or choice of degree/training that went one way and not the other. But I didn’t. Moments and decisions can define our lives. I think the key to being happy is to not look back too often at the train we did not catch. To accept that it has left the station and we are not on it. Maybe we were never meant to be on that train! Maybe we were. But whatever, it has left. That’s a fact. We got on a different train. To be happy we need to embrace our current reality which choice has brought us and live with that focus right now. We can’t look back and lament the choice we did not make or the life we might have had. Life can be wonderful right now on the train we’re on. If we let go of the alternative, and embrace the here and now, we will know it has all unfolded the only way it could.
I have a wonderful life here, and that’s the train I am on. I feel lucky I got on that train every single day!

What train are488px-ATL_People_Mover_2 you on? Are you still thinking of the trains you didn’t catch? Is it making you happy?

Focus on Dolley Madison: Bravery, Innuendos and Gossip—Part II


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Dolley Madison’s decision to remain in the White House until she had secured the safety of George Washington’s portrait, even as British troops bore down upon Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812, remains a staple of American legend.images4X48730O



By the time Dolley Payne Todd Madison had attended her husband’s inaugural in 1809, she had already served intermittently as presidential hostess during the Jefferson administration. Dolley Madison was thus aware of the perks, responsibilities, and the criticism inherent in the job and was the first presidential spouse to fully embrace the role. She enjoyed the first inaugural ball and appeared at many events both with and without her husband. She paid and received calls, held “dove parties” where congressional wives discussed current events, hosted political dinners, and gave wildly popular public receptions.

“And now, dear sister, I must leave this house or the retreating army will make me a prisoner in it by filling up the road I am directed to take. When I shall again write you, or where I shall be tomorrow, I cannot tell!” ” Mrs. Madison wrote her sister Lucy, as retreating American troops passed by a few hours before the British burned the White House in 1814. – See more at: http://firstladies.c-span.org/FirstLady/5/Dolley-Madison.aspx#sthash.63koKObD.dpuf


The two-party system was brand new in those days. The Federalists, including George Washington, John Adams and other democratic “aristocrats” wanted a strong, centralized federal government. The Republicans, including Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, saw the federal government necessary for the military and foreign diplomacy, believing that states should take care of the rest themselves.

In response to this almost everyone in Washington City received invitations to the house on F Street. People from one side of the political spectrum to the other were there. Folks who did not have US government affiliations were welcomed as well. Foreign dignitaries were also a staple at Dolley’s functions.

According to Allgon, each group had a stake in Washington City. The local gentry and official families were permanent residents and worked toward building up the capital. Foreign visitors and observers had the ears of their prospective governments that watched the young country. They could become powerful friends or dangerous enemies. Mrs. Madison had her work cut out for her.

Allgon says of Dolley’s mission,

“In her quest to create an ideal capital society, Dolley had to find ways not only to teach each group individually, but to blend and connect all three.”

The White House site continues:

“Dolley’s social graces made her famous. Her political acumen, prized by her husband, is less renowned, though her gracious tact smoothed many a quarrel. Hostile statesmen, difficult envoys from Spain or Tunisia, warrior chiefs from the West, flustered youngsters — she always welcomed everyone”

In this she strove to serve not only her husband but also the good of the country. She was a trailblazer and a passionate patriot who knew that the warring political factions of the time had to get along in order for the United States to flourish. Yet she made her way through Washington society and the politics of the young Republic. She did this by balancing her natural charm and beauty with unmatched political finesse.



Dolley and James Madison were the golden couple of their era, but they were not without detractors. imagesTEAW482M

They had no children of their own, although Dolley had given birth during her first marriage. Enemies used this information to question James’ virility, indicating that he was impotent and was too feeble to lead the country.
 Medical thought at the time also believed that excessive sexual desire belonged to the realm of men and Dolley exuded a sexuality that set some tongues wagging. The very thought of a woman having desires like that was almost beyond belief.

Catherine Allgor explains in her book, “A Perfect Union”:

“Too much female lust and sex would lose its procreative capacity.”

One rumor even had Thomas Jefferson pimping Dolley and her sister Anna to foreign visitors. There was also an “advertisement” in the Georgetown Federal Republican for a publication about moral and political law.

One chapter called “Love and Smoke Cannot Be Hidden” dealt with the sex lives of a thinly disguised Washington couple — the oversexed and unfaithful wife of an impotent man.
The Madison’s dismissed the ugliness of the gossip and for the most part ignored it. They believed, as did Thomas Jefferson, that to discuss the accusations would only encourage more of the same and make it worse.

After the Madison presidency, James and Dolley retired to Montpelier in 1817. Dolley continued to entertain and helped her husband to organize and prepare the papers he used in drafting the Constitution.

President Madison died in 1836 at age 85. In a letter to her best friend Eliza Collins Lee Dolley confessed,

“Indeed I have been as one in a troubled dream since my irreparable loss of him, for whom my affection was perfect, as was his character and conduct thro’ life.”

Dolley stayed on at Montpelier until she had to sell it and other holdings to pay off debts incurred by her son, Payne, leaving her near poverty.John Payne Todd

Dolley Madison died in poverty after selling just about everything.
The sale to Congress of some of her husband’s papers and the sale of Montpelier in 1844 helped, but she still relied on the charity of friends.

Dolley made the permanent move to Washington City that year to a townhouse across the street from the presidential mansion. It was there she died on July 12, 1849 at age 81.
She was given a state funeral where incumbent President Zachary Taylor declared about Dolley, “….the first lady of the land for a century.”

Future First Ladies since that time have had awfully big shoes to fill. Dolley Madison not only created the role of President’s wife and laid the foundation for society in Washington City, but in doing so, she also left a wonderful legacy that continues to serve the People to this day.

In 1838 Dolley hosted a New Year’s party. It was at this soiree that Kentucky Senator Henry Clay made his famous statement, “Everybody loves Mrs. Madison.”

To this, Dolley replied, “Mr. Clay, I love everybody.”

http://www.commdiginews.com/ . She writes the column: Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul. 

 Please leave a comment  or answer the question.



Focus On Women’s History Month : Dolley Madison


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March is Women’s History Month. Claire Hickey, a Chicago native who moved to Texas  at age 15, shares  her two-part article on Dolley Madison. Claire is Editor/Writer at Communities Digital News,  http://www.commdiginews.com/ . She writes the column: Feed the Mind, Nourish the Soul.  Please leave a comment  or answer the question: Which woman do you think has had the most influence in history?


When people think of Dolley Madison, one of two thoughts come to mind. Either that of a determined woman bent on saving national treasures from a British onslaught or a pastry company that made snacks for children’s school lunches. And these are both true. But this enchanting lady is so much more than that to American history.

Dolley Madison forged and defined the role for the wife of the President of the United States. Martha Washington, Abigail Adams and Martha Jefferson Randolph all served well as the President’s Hostess. But Dolley Madison blazed the trail and set in stone the function of the First Lady. In fact, it was Dolley Madison for whom the title, “First Lady” was coined.

The National First Ladies’ Library says this:

With more conscious effort than either of her two predecessors, and with an enthusiasm for public life that neither of them had, Dolley Madison forged the highly public role as a President’s wife, believing that the citizenry was her constituency as well as that of her husband’s.”

It was the role she created that is the standard and what we expect to this day.


Dolley Payne was born in North Carolina to Quakers John and Mary Payne in 1768. She grew up in Virginia and later moved to Philadelphia where she married Quaker lawyer John Todd, Jr.

They had two children, John Payne Todd and William Isaac Todd. The younger child died on the same day as her husband during an epidemic of yellow fever.

The White House website relates that after a period of mourning:

“By this time Philadelphia had become the capital city. With her charm and her laughing blue eyes, fair skin, and black curls, the young widow attracted distinguished attention.”

Introduced by US Senator Aaron Burr, Dolley Payne Todd and James Madison hit it off from the get-go. She was twenty- six, seventeen years younger than Madison but it didn’t matter. They married in September of 1794.

James and Dolley lived in Orange County, Virginia when Congress wasn’t in session. At Montpelier, Dolley honed her skills as hostess and helping James’ career.


James Madison 

When Thomas Jefferson named Madison as his Secretary of State they moved back to Washington City. However, the nation’s Capitol was quite different 212 years ago than it is now.

The Power Couple Arrives in Washington

Upon their arrival in 1801, the “wilderness capital” had changed quite a bit since the Madisons had last seen it. The President’s house and the Capitol building now stood out.

Author Catherine Allgor states in her book, “A Perfect Union”:

“…the city’s main road, ‘Pennsylvania Avenue’ was a grand appellation for the slash of mud that proved almost impossible for any vehicle to navigate….To paraphrase a famous jibe, Washington was a town of houses with no streets and streets with no houses.”

In addition, there was no entrenched social structure like in older established areas. Most cities grow over time. Washington City did not. The city, designed by Peter Charles L’Enfant and Andrew Ellicott, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson was whole from the start.

Allgor adds,

“The long established cities of Philadelphia or New York possessed entrenched social structures and hierarchies, to which the federal government had to adapt during each city’s tenure as capital. Washington City lacked such existing configurations or customs and so invited innovation…..However, the very novelty and nature of the capital city presented its residents with several formidable obstacles to realizing their dream of a ‘new Rome’ on the Potomac.”

The couple first lived with President Jefferson at the “President’s House.” Later, the Madisons moved to their own home on F Street. It was here Dolley began building Washington society. Since President Jefferson was a widower, she often served the role of presidential hostess for many official functions as well.

F Street House

Early photo of the F Street House


Please leave a comment  or answer the question: Which woman do you think has had the most influence in history?

You can find Claire At the following places:

http://www.commdiginews.com/column/feed-the-mind-nourish-the soul/.

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Claire0803

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/feednourishsoul?ref=hl 

Joe B. Parr Talks About Writing And His Debut Novel The Victim


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Two years ago, a taIMG_7204rubypjohnson.wordpress.comll quiet man walked into the GFW Writers group and said he had written a police detective mystery. I was one of the members of the group who participated in reading his finished novel. Joe began writing in 2008 and has written three novels. As a native of the Fort Worth, TX area and a longtime resident of Southlake, his novels are crime dramas based in and around Fort Worth. Joe says his novels provide familiar sights and sounds for residents in the area and a sense of the area’s feel and diversity for non-residents. I caught up with Joe Parr for an interview this week about writing and his début novel, The Victim. Joe is giving away one copy of The Victim to someone willing to provide a review on Barnesandnoble.com. Don’t forget to leave your email address with a comment at the end of this post.~~~

RJ: When did you start to write? What was your first story about?
JP: Although I’ve written for a long time as part of my career in consulting, the thought of writing a novel really didn’t start forming until late 2007. I make a distinction between my first manuscript and the first novel I’ve published. The first manuscript was more of an exercise in writing than truly crafting a novel. For that exercise, I really had no idea how to start and I had no concept for a storyline. Since I was looking at it more as a challenge than an artistic endeavor, I decided to fictionalize my life. I looked around at all the people I knew, mixed and matched looks, personalities, careers, attitudes, etc. until I had a group of semi-interesting characters. Then I gave them a reason to interact with each other and presented each one of them with their own set of challenges (alcoholism, bad marriage, failing political career, etc.). From there, the story unfolded into a tale of midlife crisis and redemption and how four, forty something guys deal with it and escape into the music of their garage band. It really wasn’t very good, but I proved I could write a ‘real’ book and learned about writing than I’d ever have in a classroom.

On my first attempt at crafting a novel, I fell back on what I liked to read. I’m a mystery suspense reader and have found that the books I like the most are books that not only entertain but also make you think about the world around you. Way back in the early eighties, Bernhard Goetz made news when he shot four young black men when they allegedly tried to mug him. I remembered the media coverage and how everyone jumped to conclusions based on their own stereotypes and based on their own perspectives. I took that kernel and built a story of a vigilante serial killer. But more than just trying to find the killer, I wanted to showcase the attitudes of the community, the media and the different detectives involved in the case. I wanted to write a story that would be fun to read but would also make the reader think about their own views and maybe realize that the bad guys aren’t always who you think they are and the definition of a victim depends on your perspective.

RJ: Have you had jobs along the way that helped in developing your story?
JP:My second and third novels (the two being published) are Police Detective Mystery Suspense and other than being an avid reader of that genre and a big fan of the same genre in TV and movies, I really have no direct job experience.

RJ: Which authors / books are you most influenced by?
JP: My favorites include Harlan Coben, Michael Connolly, Dennis Lehane and John Sandford. Of those, my personal style is closest to John Sandford. I’ve always liked how he is able to write a very compelling detective story without having outrageously unbelievable twists. His books, for the most part, seem like they could have really happened.

RJ: One tip you can offer to other first time authors.
JP: I’m a fairly organized writer so I’m a firm believer in outlining and planning out where the story is headed. But I don’t get too rigid. I will only outline about 5 – 7 chapters out. That way, I’ve got a structure and a direction but I leave myself the freedom to react to where the characters want to go.

RJ: What’s up next for you?
JP: I’ve just released my first Mystery novel (The Victim). It’s available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. I’m in the process of the final rewrites for my second Mystery novel (Stolen Innocence) and expect to release it in April. So while I’m focused on learning the marketing side of the craft, I’m also trying get refocused and get back to writing. After all, there are more murders to be solved.

ABOUT THE VICTIM:THE VICTIM front cover 20140127

The Victim is the first of the Detective Jake Hunter series of mystery suspense novels.

When two local gangbangers are found dead, who really cares? This ‘who cares’ case quickly turns into a high-profile hunt for a serial vigilante killer. The body count and pressure rise in Ft Worth, Texas as local community leaders and media pundits stir up political discourse and racial tensions mount.

Police Detective Jake ‘Cowboy’ Hunter has been out of the field for six months struggling to overcome the on-duty shooting death of his longtime partner. His boss has an easy case for him to ‘get back in the saddle’ while breaking in a new detective. After all, it’s just another case of bad guys ending up dead.

While he readjusts to being back on the streets, Hunter and his temporary partner, Billy Sanders, find themselves sloshing through the gang infested underbelly of Fort Worth as they chase a vigilante who has set himself up as a modern-day serial Bernard Goetz. In the process, he has set off a firestorm of racially tinged political pressure by choosing minority gangbangers as his targets.

Between the piling body count and the media frenzy building to what’s sure to be an all-out war on the streets, Hunter and his team’s investigation leads them to suspect even the ‘good guys.’ Tensions escalate until Hunter discovers the media hype can help him outsmart the killer. A short excerpt is available on Amazon.com and Barnes andNoble.com.

 CAN’T WAIT?   WHERE TO BUY JOE’S BOOKS:  His current release (The Victim) is available in both paperback and ebook on Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com and Smashwords.com. His second release (Stolen Innocence) is due out soon. These are the first two novels of the Detective Jake Hunter series.

WANT TO CONTACT JOE? VISIT HIM AT:  WEBSITE: http://www.joebparr.com/
Social media sites: FaceBook – Joe B Parr, Twitter @joebparr





Kathy Bennett: Be A Witness Not A Victim


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The first time I met Kathy Bennett, she answered a question on a yahoo group called Crime Scene Writers. Not long after that she published her debut novel A Dozen Deadly Roses. Kathy served twenty-one years as a police officer with the LAPD where her assignments included patrol, Firearms Instructor, ‘War Room’ crime analyst, Field Training Officer, and undercover assignments. She was named Officer of the Year in 1997. Kathy’s debut novel, A Dozen Deadly Roses became a bestselling E-book. Her second novel, A Deadly Blessing was chosen by Barnes and Noble as a Best Book of 2012. A Deadly Justice, was released in late 20252222_4542419572580_398411682_n rubypjohnson.wordpress.com13, and was a Top 25 Police Procedural at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.~~~

Thank you, Ruby for having me on your blog today.

When Ruby first asked me to be a guest, she suggested I might want to relate some funny stories from my time being an officer, or talk about how to get the facts right when writing a police story. But I must be a frustrated teacher, because I always strive to educate the public on the way police work is done, and how the community and the police can work together toward the goal of keeping the community safe. To that end, I chose to talk about what to do if you’re witnessing a crime in progress.

I’d like to preface this by stating that I’m writing this post as Kathy Bennett private citizen and I am not representing, nor am I attempting to represent, the Los Angeles Police Department. I’m telling you of my experiences and offering my personal opinion.

Police departments all over the country are reaching out to their communities to be proactive against crime. Many law enforcement agencies are now engaged in social networking sites, blogs, and Citizen’s Police Academy so the public can get a taste of what being a police officer is all about. There is also the old standby, the Neighborhood Watch Program.

Prior to my retirement, one of my responsibilities as a Senior Lead Officer was to hold Neighborhood Watch meetings. I held one meeting a month. Usually, the meeting consisted of a guest speaker who would talk on some topic related to safety or crime reduction. I’d share crime statistics and highlight crime problems and locations for my Basic Car Area. Then I’d open the meeting for questions.

Often, citizens would relate situations they’d been involved in and want to know if they’d handled the situation right. I always dreaded these questions because, if you weren’t there, it’s hard to know exactly what had gone on…I would only be hearing one side of the story.

However, the comments that really made the hair on the back of my neck stand up were the ones where a citizen would relate how they’d confronted a bunch of kids smoking dope in a car, or a kid painting graffiti on a wall, etc.

Officers hate to hear of citizens confronting suspects or wrongdoers because police officers know that you can’t be sure who you’re dealing with. Things can go from bad to worse in a heartbeat. Police officers are trained to deal with all kinds of situations and all kinds of people. The general public doesn’t have that training or experience.

What I tried relay at the Neighborhood Watch meetings was this: Be the best witness you can be. You don’t need to yell out or confront someone acting suspiciously. In fact, it was better for a witness to stay on the line with the dispatcher and tell them exactly what the suspect was doing. The dispatcher would ask for a description of the suspect/s and their vehicle (if there was one). Those descriptions often led to some very good arrests.

It was very frustrating to get to a call to find out that a witness yelled out to the suspects, “Hey! Get away from my car! I’m going to call the police!” Guess what happened? The suspects fled long before the police could get there, and the victim wasn’t able to provide a very good description.

So, if you see a crime in progress, be a good witness. You don’t have to have to confront anyone to be a partner with the police. Confrontation is one of the things police officers get paid to do. Give them a chance to earn their money.

Have you ever been a victim or witness to a crime?



A brutal murder. A rash of sophisticated burglaries. A serial rapist. LAPD Detective Maddie Divine doesn’t realize investigating these crimes may expose one of her darkest secrets, forcing her to confront a truth she’s tried desperately to bury




Holy shit! A man wearing a black ski mask was running across six lanes of heavy traffic on Ventura Boulevard in broad daylight. Playing chicken with Los Angeles drivers, he veered between a Chevy Malibu and Dodge pickup only to leap on and across the hood of a Porsche Carrera. It was like a scene from a movie – a scene most cops live for. But this was no action flick. My instincts told me this was a felon fleeing from the scene of a crime.

Although I wasn’t on duty, I jerked my sports car to the curb at a bus stop, grabbed my purse and gave chase on foot.

“Call 9-1-1,” I yelled while running past startled pedestrians. “Tell them an off-duty officer is in foot pursuit of a possible robbery suspect.” Although I wasn’t exactly sure what crime he’d committed, the guy in the ski mask was definitely up to no good and fleeing from something.

Pulling down the zipper on the concealed holster built into my purse, I pulled out my Smith and Wesson nine-millimeter semi-auto. The holster’s retention strap fell to the ground as I ran, but I wasn’t going to stop for a twenty-dollar piece of leather.

If no one’s called the cops already, they will once they realize I’m running through the Sherman Oaks Galleria mall carrying a gun.

“I’m a cop! Which way did he go,” I demanded, looking at some young girls who’d exited the mall.

The girls looked at my gun, then pointed inside, then ran the other way. As I ran past bewildered shoppers, a few screamed when they saw my gun. I yelled, ‘Police! Coming through,’ hoping the citizens would get out of the way. However, people didn’t know how to react. Thankfully, most shoppers stopped in their tracks and I was able to weave around them.

My heart was trying to pound its way out of my chest and I was getting winded when suddenly two LAPD bike cops standing behind cement pillars had their guns pointed at me.

“Police! Drop the gun!”

I screeched to a halt and put my hands up. “I’m LAPD Detective Maddie Divine,” I called out, then slowly kneeled and lowered my firearm to the ground. Once the gun was out of my hand, I rose carefully with my hands raised above my shoulders. “I saw a big buff guy wearing a black ski mask running across Ventura Boulevard through all lanes of traffic. He was running like he’d just pulled a two-eleven or something. I left my car and gave chase. He ran into the Galleria. Did you see him? Have any robbery calls recently come out?”

The two officers looked at me as if I were nuts. A small crowd was beginning form around us.

“No. We didn’t get any calls about a robbery. The only call we got was about a four-fifteen woman running around the Galleria with a gun.”

“Well, I admit I was probably disturbing the peace chasing a guy while carrying a gun, but there was a guy wearing a ski mask. In fact, a few people pointed which way he’d gone.”

The other cop, a taller, thinner, officer, appealed to the group of people milling around. “Anyone see a guy in a black ski mask running through the mall?”

The bystanders looked at each other nervously and a few snickered, but no one came forward to say they’d seen the suspect.

“Uh, look, Ma’am, we’re going to take you down to our sub-station here at the mall where we can verify who you are and take a statement about what you saw and what you were doing.”

“You can verify who I am by looking in my wallet for my I.D. card.”

“Well, we’re gonna do that at our substation.”

“Fine,” I said knowing full well these officers thought they had a wackadoodle on their hands. But one thing I knew for sure, I wasn’t going to tell them to hurry up or I’d be late for my appointment with the department shrink.~~~

Purchase Kathy’s Books at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble and Kobo. Also available on I-tunes.

Contact Kathy:

Website: www.KathyBennett.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/KathywritesLAPD

Twitter: @KathywritesLAPD




Why you are Alone on Valentine’s Day!


This is a man’s take on why we women are alone on valentine’s day. Pretty funny if it weren’t so true.

Originally posted on HarsH ReaLiTy:

You think all men are pigs . Well show me a pig that can pick out a Hallmark card, pay for it, sign it, and buy chocolate without eating it and I will agree with you! Otherwise… you are just picky and alone.

You measure men against characters from movies. Look we get it, those men in TV shows and popular movies are suave and slick as hell. They also had twenty men AND women write their lines for them. If I had a committee that filtered every word before it came out of my mouth I might just be perfect as well.

You keep trying to meet guys at the club. I will never understand why women choose to get involved with men that are obviously “players” and then get shocked and upset when they get cheated on. You know who won’t cheat on you? The chess club president…

View original 268 more words

Catherine Spangler On Her Philosophy and An Excerpt of Touched By Light


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Cathy's_Picture,_Head_Shot - Catherine Spangler (2) rubypjohnson.wordpress.comIt’s my pleasure to welcome Catherine Spangler  to my blog. On Saturday, February 8th, she will be guest speaker at the Yellow Rose RWA meeting where she is presenting a workshop on “The Subconscious Writer.”
Catherine  says there are  different types of writers, and mental and emotional challenges affect writers in different ways. But there are ways to maximize your creativity and to use one of your greatest tools—your subconscious. She believes in maintaining focus, building confidence, creating what you want in your life, and feeling good about your writing (the process and the product). And she will share how she does it.
Catherine Spangler is a national bestselling and award-winning author of the Sentinel series (urban fantasy romance) and the Shielder series (science fiction romance). She has been a Golden Heart and RITA finalist twice and has received many other awards and honorable mentions.
She is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local chapter, Dallas Area Romance Authors. Catherine lives in north Texas with her husband and a menagerie of critters.
On the sale of her first book, Shielder, she celebrated by drinking champagne from a plastic cowboy boot mug. Her critique partners brought four of them to her house, along with the champagne.  This became a ritual every time one of the group sold a book and continues today.


Sentinel Series, Book 3CatherineSpangler_TouchedByLight3_2500

After a brutal attack, Dr. Julia Reynolds is determined to live a solitary existence. But one man who believes she’s his soul mate and his destiny has other ideas . . .

For twelve years Julia has been haunted by memories of a horrific assault, and forced to deal with precognitive abilities triggered by the attack. She’s buried herself in her career. However, the arrogant and infuriating Adam Masters threatens her protective bubble, claiming she is a precisely matched conductor—for him. Adam is the powerful head of the Sentinels, a superhuman race protecting Earth. He believes his intense physical and mental connection with Julia will help find a missing Sentinel. But Julia resists, unwilling to be drawn into a dark supernatural world, or to give into the sexual attraction between her and Adam. At the same time, her life is threatened when her psychopathic former attacker is freed from prison and seeks revenge. Julia finds herself torn between running from her demons—and embracing her power and reaching for the light . . .

Excerpt from Touched by Light…

Sentinel Series, Book 3

The phone call came at 3:37 that afternoon. It truly didn’t qualify as one of those life-altering calls, Julia told herself. Not really, not compared to . . . say . . . the unexpected death of a loved one. Or a major catastrophe—like an earthquake, or a tsunami, or 9/11.

Yet the call had tilted her mundane world off its axis. Worse were the nightmare memories it had resurrected . . . “Don’t resist me, Julia, or I’ll kill you,” William Bennett said as he rammed himself into her. Not that she could have fought at that point—he’d beaten her too badly. . . .

            Julia jerked herself back to the present. And here she’d been thinking she was finally putting it all behind her. She slugged back the rest of her bourbon. Managed to set the glass back on its paper coaster, despite the Herculean urge to hurl it against the wall.

“Can I get you another one, Dr. Reynolds?” Miriam, who happened to be both the bartender and one of the top students in both Julia’s number theory and thermal physics courses at the University of Houston, took the empty glass.

Miriam’s hair was styled into stiff spikes, the color du jour alternating sections of green, red, and blond. Heavy eye makeup accentuated her green eyes: one pierced eyebrow and multiple silver rings in each ear added to her distinct style. Julia just wasn’t hip enough to know if it was Goth or punk, or whatever the latest look was.

Not that Julia was up with any of the current trends. She’d buried herself in teaching, with a strong minor in the art of becoming a hermit, in twelve short years. She certainly wasn’t a spokesperson for the stylish and fashionable.

“Yes, I want another one,” she told Miriam. “Make it straight up.” No melting ice diluting this drink. Maybe then the bourbon would deaden the pain.

“Sure.” Miriam turned to get the drink, hesitated. “Are you okay, Dr. Reynolds? You seem . . . upset.”

Upset? Julia battled back the hysterical urge to laugh. Try terrified . . . panicked . . . barely holding on to her sanity. What would Miriam think if her staid, unemotional math professor suddenly lost it in the middle of the Red Lion Pub? Could make for an interesting story.

Get a grip, Julia told herself. She drew a deep breath, managed to shake her head. “I’m fine, Miriam. Just enjoying a few drinks.”

Miriam’s disbelief was clearly etched on her face, but she turned and walked off behind the polished mahogany bar. Julia raised a shaking hand to her throbbing temple.

“You’re such a liar, Julia,” came a voice from behind her.

Her head snapped up, and adrenaline shot through her like neutrons in a particle analyzer. God, she knew—and hated—that odd, rasping voice. Her body went rigid, while her heart decided she must be running a three-minute mile and went into frenetic overdrive. Her cool logic and acute analyzing ability evaporated in the muddle of shock and incredulity.

No! Not now. She fixed her gaze on the gleaming brass beer tap behind the bar. Willed that voice to be the result of her overstressed state—although she knew her current luck was on the crappy side of negative one. “Go away,” she said.

He didn’t reply, but she felt the air shift as he settled onto the bar stool beside her. Felt that disconcerting energy buzz that always arced between them, felt the spike in her normally dead-as-dirt libido. Felt the beckoning warmth emanating from his body, in direct opposition to the power and danger he radiated.

She refused to look at him. If she couldn’t see him, he wasn’t really there, right? But that didn’t convince her clamoring senses, which had gone on full alert. His scent drifted to her—expensive, woodsy, totally male. That damned electricity continued bombarding her. Her nipples hardened and she grew damp between her legs. Damn him.

            “I said go away,” she snapped. “Does it work better if I say it three times? Go away, go away, go away. Go. Away!”

“That’s six times, actually. And no, you can’t will me away. Besides, I came from Corpus just to see you.”

Her shoulders slumped. “Great. Exactly what I needed today.”

“I take it you’ve had a tough day.”

“It just got worse,” she muttered.

Miriam returned then, before Julia could bring herself to look at Adam. The young woman set the drink down, her gaze going to him, her expression surprised. He was quite striking, and since the bar wasn’t crowded, there was no reason for him to be sitting beside Julia. She was dowdy and ordinary, not in high demand as a flirtation partner.

“Can I get you something?” Miriam asked.

“I’ll take a Glenmorangie scotch, if you have it, straight up.”

Miriam nodded and left. Julia clutched her drink, considered slamming it down in one gulp.

“It would be nice if you would look at me.” His rough voice washed through her like a nuclear shock wave.

She turned her head, glared into cool, midnight eyes. “What are you doing here, Adam?”

He stared back, as always, calm, intelligent, and—as she well knew—utterly ruthless. His ebony hair was short, meticulously combed back from his high forehead. His features were harsh, aristocratic, with the exception of a surprisingly sensual mouth. The expensive black Italian suit was a perfect foil for his ultra conservative and autocratic persona, while the single diamond glittering in his left ear seemed incongruous.

“I need your help, Julia.”

This man had the ability to make her crazy, to evoke emotional responses that ran the gauntlet from sexually aroused to enraged. He threatened her on levels she didn’t even want to acknowledge, especially after today’s developments

“And I need a new identity and a new life in another country,” she retorted. “Sorry, but you’ll have to find assistance for your woo-woo endeavors elsewhere. I’m currently occupied with other matters.”

She took a gulp of her drink, almost choked as the burn spread down her throat. “And how did you know I was here anyway?” She returned her glare to him. “Playing stalker? Isn’t that beneath you?”

“Ah, Julia, you’re as blunt and entertaining as ever. I’m not stalking you, merely keeping track of you.”

Tracking, stalking—basically the same thing. She’d already been there, done that, twelve years ago. “Listen psycho-Sentinel, what I do with my life and my time is none of your damned business. Go away and leave me alone.”

His expression remained neutral. That was another thing she despised about him—his utter lack of emotional reaction. But then, he wasn’t really human. “Actually, I’m a Sanctioned, as I have previously explained. And you are my business, Julia. I’m responsible for every Sentinel and conductor in Texas.”

“News flash—I am not a conductor. Not in thought or deed. Been there, done that. I helped you track down a crazed bomber and watched my sister get sliced up by that bastard. I’m done. And if I correctly understand the Sentinel code of honor, you can’t force me to help you. So go back to your cave.”

“I’m not leaving, Julia. Like I said, I need your help.”

To hell with that. He could sit there all afternoon and watch her get soused, for all she cared. Miriam returned with Adam’s drink and Julia took the opportunity to finish hers. “I’ll take another.”

“Not unless I’m driving you home,” Adam said.

His arrogance upped her inner rage level. “The odds of that happening are about the same as solving Fermat’s Last Theorem.”

His ebony brows arched. “Hasn’t that been done?” He sipped his scotch, his fingers long and elegant around the glass.

Damn, the man had to be brilliant as well as annoying. “It’s still being debated, and it’s taken well over three hundred years to get this close. You are not driving me anywhere.”

“Then we’ll settle the tab,” he told Miriam.

She hesitated, glanced to Julia for confirmation. Not a problem. There were hundreds of bars in the Houston area, and any that were sans Adam Masters would do for Julia’s purposes. Better that she was closer to home, anyway. Then she could call a cab if she needed to.

She nodded at Miriam. “It’s all right. Be sure you pad the total a few times over. He can afford it.”

She fumbled for her cane, glad Adam had sat on her left side and hadn’t thought to confiscate it. It was a good thing for him that using the cane to get as far away from him as possible was a higher priority than smacking his hard head with it. She slid off the bar stool, balancing her weight on her good leg, as Adam gave Miriam a fifty-dollar bill and told her to keep the change.

He moved to block Julia as she started toward the door. “We’re not done here.”

“We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.” She started around him.

He didn’t touch her—they both knew that often had undesirable repercussions. But his next words stopped her cold. “I know William Bennett will be released from Huntsville Prison in two days.”

So did she; that cold, impersonal call earlier this afternoon had dropped the bombshell. And wasn’t the Texas Department of Criminal Justice considerate to inform victims when their tormentors were let loose, not to mention its annoying habit of releasing violent prisoners simply because of overcrowding.

She swayed on her feet, pounded by an emotional barrage. “I’ve been waiting for you, Julia.” The man stepped from the kitchen of her home in Kingwood. He moved toward her, an ordinary-looking man with a monster’s soul. “You’ve been going out again, Julia,” he said in a soft voice. “Even though I told you not to. I was watching. I saw you flirting with those men. Why did you disobey me, Julia?”

            She was not going there. It took a major effort to push back the memories, to pull together her scattered psyche and deal with Adam. She managed an attempt at levity. “You really know how to make a girl feel safe and secure, you know that?”

His eyes were cold pools of black menace. “I will keep you safe. You can count on it.”

From psycho-Sentinel to macho-Sentinel—make that macho-Sanctioned. She couldn’t deal with any of those options right now. “It’s not your problem.” She turned and made her way out, cursing the fact that her bad leg made her about as fast as a giant Galapagos tortoise on a slow day.

“The hell it isn’t,” he muttered.

Although he moved silently, she was acutely aware of him following her. Her entire body tingled, and she could feel the hairs on the back of her neck rising. He’d told her the reaction was caused by an electromagnetic current that formed between matched Sentinels and conductors and an ensuing sexual surge through the chakras. She’d told him that was a bunch of crap, with no scientific basis whatsoever. Even though she now knew better.

There was no denying the heart-pounding, visceral reaction she always had when he touched her. And when he’d kissed her at the Dallas/Fort Worth airport . . . Surely her reactions had to be exacerbated by the fact that she’d been celibate for twelve years. Deprivation could do strange things to people.

So could desperation. As she reached her car and fumbled inside her purse for her keys, Adam was far too close for comfort. She didn’t need his unsettling presence. Especially not after that cataclysmic phone call.

She didn’t find her keys, but she did find the grip of her trusty Beretta Tomcat. Taking that as a stamp of approval from fate—the bitch—she discreetly slid it out.

“Julia, we must talk,” Adam said. “I have a situation that is extremely serious.” Then he touched her, damn him, gripping her shoulder. She felt the sparks down to her toes, and everywhere in between.

“I have a better idea.” She turned, shrugging free of his hand and sidling a few steps away, keeping the gun behind her. He started after her, but froze when she swung out the Beretta and aimed it at his chest.

“Back off, Adam.” She clicked off the safety.

“Isn’t that a little childish?” he asked, not appearing the least concerned.

Actually, it was probably incredibly stupid; she knew that with his thoughts alone, he could control her body like it was a marionette. But she was beyond caring. She dropped the gun due south toward a crucial target. “Maybe I’ll shoot lower.”

Adam shrugged. “That’s not much of a threat to a man who hasn’t had sex in a few hundred years.”

“What?” Startled, Julia found herself momentarily distracted. All the Sentinel men she’d met had been ultra masculine, overflowing with testosterone and machismo. Adam was so intense and so forceful, he certainly fit the mold.

Besides, if she wasn’t mistaken, that was a sizable erection her gun was aimed at.

“Sure could have fooled me,” she said.

“Yeah,” he said dryly. “Me, too.”  ~~~~

Buy her book on Amazon.com and  Barnes and Noble.

Contact her at catherinespangler.com

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