Reality Informs Fiction: Trails in the Sand


I published Trails in the Sand in 2013, three years after the disastrous oil spill after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion. From the first moment I heard about the explosion nine years ago and through my job as a public relations director with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, I was glued to the news on the struggle to contain the tar balls and greasy water approaching the Panhandle beaches of Florida.

When not working at my day job, I was also starting a novel about a dysfunctional family struggling to change generations of heartbreak.  April 20, 2019 marks the nine year anniversary of this event. Each year on the anniversary, I offer a special on Trails in the Sand, normally priced at $5.99 on Kindle. April 21-28, 2019, the book may be downloaded for $0.99. Click here to grab your copy.

Four years ago, I wrote about the disaster and how the book Trails in the Sand was born. Here is that post to commemorate both the oil spill and Earth Day and to remind us all the importance and fragility of our natural world.

Published originally on April 20, 2015 – Five years ago today, the oil rig Deepwater Horizon caught on fire.  Even though the newscasters downplayed its significance at first, I felt a black cloud deepen. I’d just moved to southwestern Pennsylvania where news of the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster a few hours away in West Virginia still dominated local news. Twenty-nine men died in that explosion on April 5, 2010, just ten days earlier.

We soon learned that BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico had blown its cap, which allowed gushing oil and killed eleven workers on the rig. As I’ve done for the past two decades, when something bothers me, I start to write. The result from my sorrow and unease with both disasters resulted in the novel, Trails in the Sand.  The novel serves as a reminder of two preventable disasters that occurred within two weeks of one another in 2010. Forty men died and countless wildlife and their habitats were injured or destroyed. Both events touched my life in some way and both made their way into the writing of Trails in the Sand.

When the Upper Big Branch coal mine in West Virginia exploded, twenty-nine miners, doing their job in the bowels of the earth, lost their lives. Subsequent reports showed the company ignored safety regulations, which played an important role in the explosion. At the time, I was in the process of moving from Florida to western Pennsylvania. The mine is located several hours from my new home, so the local media covered the disaster continually for the next few weeks. The national news also kept its eye turned toward a small town in West Virginia where families mourned their husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, and cousins. After April 20, the lens of the cameras shifted to the southwest.

The news began as a whimper before erupting into cries of outrage. An oil rig somewhere off the coast of Louisiana caught on fire on April 20, 2010. Soon the whole rig collapsed, and eleven men never made it out alive. Oil gushed from a well several miles below the Gulf’s surface.

As I made the transition to Pennsylvania, I still held my job in Florida, although I was in the process of leaving. I was a public relations director for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I made the trip back and forth sixteen times in 2010. I conducted meetings from a cell phone in airports, highway rest areas, and at a dining room table from our small temporary apartment in Pittsburgh.

Every time I started to give my two-week notice to my supervisors, something happened, and my wildlife biologist bosses pleaded with me to stay. During a crisis, the spokesperson for a company or agency suddenly becomes a very important part of the team. Scientists become speechless when looking in the face of a microphone.

Nothing much happened in those early days of the oil spill for the wildlife community, although as a communications specialist I prepared for worst-case scenarios, while hoping for the best. Partnerships between national and state agencies formed to manage information flowing to the media. By May, some of the sea turtle experts began worrying about the nesting turtles on Florida’s Panhandle beaches, right where the still gushing oil might land. In particular, the scientists worried that approximately 50,000 hatchlings might be walking into oil-infested waters if allowed to enter the Gulf of Mexico after hatching from the nests on the Gulf beaches.

seaturtle4An extraordinary and unprecedented plan became reality, and as the scientists wrote the protocols, the plan was “in direct response to an unprecedented human-caused disaster.”

When the nests neared the end the incubation period, plans were made to dig up the nests and transport the eggs across the state to Cape Canaveral, where they would be stored until the hatchlings emerged from the eggs. Then they would receive a royal walk to the sea away from the oil-drenched waters of the Gulf.

aptopix-gulf-oil-spill-1fee0422a0df6673The whole project reeked with the scent of drama, ripe for the media to descend on Florida for reports to a public hooked on the images of oiled wildlife. Since I was in transition in my job, they appointed me to handle all media requests that came to the national and state agencies regarding the plan. From my new office in Raccoon Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania, I began coordinating media events and setting up interviews with the biologists.

As the project began in June 2010, I began writing Trails in the Sand. At first, I created the characters and their situations. Then slowly I began writing about the oil crisis and made the main character, Caroline, an environmental reporter who covered the sea turtle relocation project. Then suddenly I was writing about her husband, Simon, who mourned the loss of his cousin in the coal mine disaster in West Virginia. I didn’t make a conscious effort to tie together the environmental theme with the family saga unfolding, but before too long, I realized they all dealt with restoration and redemption of things destroyed. As a result, the oil spill and the sea turtles became a metaphor for the destruction caused by Caroline and her family.

I’m a firm believer in the subject choosing the author. When that happens, it’s best to let the muse lead me to the keyboard and allow the words to find their way to the story. Trails in the Sand stands as my testament to the process.

3-D1Trails in the Sand synopsis

When environmental writer Caroline Carlisle sets off to report on endangered sea turtles during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the last thing she expects is to uncover secrets – secrets that threaten to destroy her family, unless she can heal the hurts from a lifetime of lies. To make matters worse, Caroline’s love for her late sister’s husband, Simon, creates an uproar in a southern family already set on a collision course with its past.

Using real-life events as the backdrop, Trails in the Sand explores the fight to restore balance and peace, in nature and in a family, as both spiral toward disaster. Through it all, the ancient sea turtle serves a reminder that life moves forward despite the best efforts to destroy it.

April 21-28 – Only $0.99





Jae'sScribble of meSince I started writing and editing fulltime in 2012, I’ve always had looming deadlines, either set by my clients, other authors or even by myself. While preparing to do a series of presentations on my great grandfather’s Civil War journal that I published several years ago, the most pressing deadline of the summer fell away when a group of us decided to disband a box set of paranormal romances. About the same time, I completed a large project for a client when his book was published successfully. The opening months of 2017 found me diligently working on the revisioning of the first three books in the Behind the Love series and writing the fourth book, Behind the Door. I finished all the revisions, editing, and promoting by the end of May.FacebookCoverNew

I finished the presentations by mid-June. I came home with all work pressures lifted. And now I scan my desktop, book shelves, and notebooks filled with notes for partially started novels. While working with the Civil War book, I decided to re-do it and add additional material that I discovered while preparing and then meeting Civil War buffs in Michigan. I probably will do a whole new book after I finish the research.IMG_0634

But which of these projects shout out to me? Which one is the over-eager student in the classroom, bouncing up and down and raising her hand to be noticed?

The truth? None of them. I have glimmers of interest in one or the other, but the glimmer fades before I have time to turn on the lamp above my computer. I wrote some in my novel notebooks while traveling as ideas came to me, but nothing leaped off the page and grabbed me by the fingers and pressed my hands to the keyboard.

I’m not panicked, and it’s not writer’s block. I’ve been writing steadily since I returned home. This post marks my fourth blog piece in three days.

I’m not even marketing this summer. People don’t buy books during good weather and vacations with family and friends. I’ve wasted more marketing dollars in June, July, and August than I’m willing to admit. This year, I decided to gear up for the fall with the publication of the second book in Rivals in Love series. I released the first book, Love on Trial, in May but didn’t do any marketing for the book since I wanted to release it when the second book was nearly done in September. Two chapters and lots of notes are all I have for Love on Board.

My first paranormal romance awaits creation. I have copious notes and had begun reading paranormal romances exclusively. I’m reading a book on writing the paranormal novel. Several chapters are written. This was going to be my summer project so I could meet an early September deadline for a multi-author box set. When we canceled that project, my enthusiasm for the project deflated. I can’t say why because the research and elements of the plot were coming together for me. And I love the setting in North Florida. The working title is Suwannee River Dreams. Spring Run in WinterMaybe if I go back to my notes and the opening chapters, I’ll be inspired once again.

Another novel rests in the back of my mind and in a journal notebook set aside specifically for this contemporary work of fiction. It’s a saga and will explore the lives of five people from college in the 1970s to the present day as they face empty nests, retirement, illness, and deaths. The working title is Four Women and a Man. All their lives are intertwined, but until one of them dies, they have no idea how much. Only two of them know everything, and one ends up dead, and the other is the man in the title. I’ve been taking notes on this one for a few years. I’ve developed character backgrounds and worked on how I might handle POV. It’s time to work on this one, but I find myself unable to sit down and devote the time necessary to develop what I believe will be a lengthy work covering four or five decades.

Perhaps I should start by writing a short story. I have made a commitment to other authors to write a time travel short for inclusion in a time travel anthology. This topic intrigues me. I’ve decided my heroine will travel back to the 1920s Chicago to the place where her grandmother found her first true love, but she had to leave him without explanation. A locket she inherits with her grandmother’s picture inside from that time sends her back to that place to help the man left behind find resolution.

I’m ready to explore other genres in my writing, and I believe I’ve come to the crossroads of where I want to venture next. It’s not a bad place to be, but it certainly is a departure from my usual modus operandi.

cropped-typewriter.jpgIf you made it this far in my ramblings around the corners of this junction, thank you. I’m writing this post in hopes it might make things clearer for me and give me focus. Perhaps it has done just that because what I’ve accomplished in the first half of this year might indicate I need a vacation. A real vacation where I don’t feel the pressure to constantly push and push to write and sell books. If you’re an Indie Author, you know the challenges to continue to sell. When I’m away from my desk, my sales trickle down to almost nothing. It’s the nature of this path I’ve chosen, but I’m burned out with it all.

It’s time to give myself permission to stop, look around me, and feel the spark of creativity once again. If I don’t sell books, I don’t sell books. And I will survive, and those notebooks and partially written chapters will be waiting for me when it’s time.

Perhaps it’s that invisible muse telling me it’s all right to rest and recharge. If that is the case, I’ve been given a great gift. Time to sit on the porch and gaze at the mountains and hold hands with my husband who sometimes feels neglected when I push myself so hard.


What are your thoughts? Does any of this sound familiar to you? And how do you handle it? I would love to know.


Sometimes the muse leads us where we need to go. In early 2002, I was working on a novel set on the Suwanee River. I was also a reporter for a 5,000 circulation weekly newspaper in north Florida. I covered one of the more contentious city commissions as WalMart began doing what WalMart does best – disrupt small town America.

One Tuesday morning in February, I made my rounds of the local city police departments to pick up the police reports for the past week before heading to the newspaper’s office. When I turned the corner, police tape encircled the building, and I saw my coworkers wandering around outside.

“Don’t worry – no one was hurt,” the publisher said as he rushed toward me when I got out of my car. “They were able to detonate the bomb before anything happened.”

                   The bomb after detonation

He thought I already knew someone dropped a bomb off in the paper’s drop box. When it was discovered, the local police called the county bomb squad. The bomb, filled with little bits of glass and nails, shot seventy yards outside the building when set off by the experts.

                  Bomb experts investigate

We were barely six months past 9/11, and the world reeled around us. The national media started calling, but the FBI said it would be months before a full-scale investigation could begin. Around the same time, mailboxes were being blown up in the Midwest, and our little bomb scare, with no deaths, amounted to nothing after the first twenty-four hours. It amounted to nothing for everyone, except those of us closest to the action such as me. I went away to the Keys a few days later for a planned vacation. After the bomb, I really needed to get away.

Several days later, as the breezes blew through the curtains of the beach house on Big Pine Key, I woke with a sentence in my head.

“The bomb sat on Kelly Sands desk for an hour before she noticed it.” I went

I immediately rose and went to my laptop and typed the line into my computer. Then I spent the next year writing a new book while I covered the same small town politics. Every time I left a contentious meeting and started my car, I thought it might be the last time I did anything. If a bomb had been left at the paper, why couldn’t one be attached to my car just as easily?

It was a crazy time, but the writing of the novel helped to heal me. I wrote a wild story about politics in rural Florida. The story nearly wrote itself. I was simply the conduit through which the characters and plot unfolded.

When I eventually published Tortoise Stew the line that woke me that morning in the Keys opened the novel. And Kelly Sands became the heroine of a novel that used a bit of fact to create a fictional world not so far apart from reality.

And the best part? The writing of Tortoise Stew helped heal the fear that had taken up residence in my head. Of course, it helped when I stopped covering small town politics in Florida where crazy and wacky are the standard bearers for the norm.

Tortoise Stew is available for free downloads on Kindle April 12, 13, and 14. Just click here and download to find out what Kelly Sands did about the bomb left on her desk.



nativelands1bigTo celebrate my love for Florida’s landscapes and people, I’m offering free Kindle downloads February 13-17. After you’ve read a little bit about the book and a review from my valued and talented colleague, Christoph Fischer, download your copy today. And happy Valentines Day to you.

Click here for your FREE copy.

Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted parallel between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.Christoph Fischer, Author

Native Lands is a novel rich in intrigue and history as a tribe of Native Americans, thought to be extinct, fight to save their beloved heritage. They join with others willing to sacrifice everything to save further destruction of the Everglades and St. Augustine.

Forbidden loves, deceptions, and murder threaten to destroy nature and families in a saga stretching from the 1760s to the present day.

Join Locka and Mali as they lead their tribe of Timucuans away from the Spanish near St. Augustine in 1760 and settle into a new life in the Everglades alongside the Calusa Indians. Their progeny grow up in the Everglades, attempting to keep their bloodlines pure.

By 2010, Mangrove Mike, Joey Cosmos, and Rob Zodiac live among the white people and learn that the human connection transcends the fear of extinction of their people. Barbara Evans in the Everglades and Emily Booth in St. Augustine are the glue as the different cultures combine forces to fight a conglomerate of international interests.

It’s a dangerous journey as this oddly matched group attempts to halt the destruction of the natural world they treasure. Cultural boundaries established centuries ago are erased as love and nature seek the balance lost during the battle for power and control of the last of the Florida frontier.

Review of Native Lands by Christoph Fischer 

Native Lands is a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth, wonderful characters and well-planted parallels between the two engaging narratives. There is a beautiful and warm feel of Native Lands and an excellent and uplifting moral that won’t lecture or patronize. A truly great read.

Native Lands by P.C. Zick is a wonderful novel and a gripping thriller at the same time. Handling several plotlines and many characters with ease Zick has a story rich in plot and full of fabulous characters.

One narrative focuses on members of a native tribe in Florida from 1760 onwards. The instantly likable characters strive to preserve their heritage against the forces of the English and Spanish intruders. The peaceful and nature loving characters form a wonderful thread through the rest of the book that deals with more contemporary issues.

Journalists, politicians and business men crowd the stage in a cleverly plotted and excellently told thriller. Exploitation of nature, affairs, family secrets and murder are just some of the many spicy ingredients that make this novel so entertaining. I was warned that there would be a lot of characters in this book and that is true, but the narratives focus thoroughly on each party in turn and are easily discerned, the characters evolved and memorable enough to make it very easy to keep track.

There are some surprising connections and twist within the political plot which focuses on a controversial housing project and the outrageous plan which lies behind it, poachers, environmentalists and an election. As people are being bumped off the plot thickens and keeps the pace fast and captivating.

I loved the way in which the past and present story lines turn out to be connected and I loved the well-planted parallels between the two narratives and the warm feel of the book. This was an excellent and uplifting moral tale to me that did not lecture or patronise, a gripping and entertaining thriller with depth and wonderful characters.

Click here to download to your Kindle on February 13-14 for FREE! 




image007I’m very pleased to announce a new release from Christoph Fischer, The Body in the Snow. This new book takes a sharp turn for this prolific writer who is known for his historical fiction that often visits the dark corners of eastern Europe prior, during, and after World War II. He’s also written some outstanding works of contemporary fiction that deal with mental illness and Alzheimers.

So when he asked if I wanted to beta read this novel, I couldn’t wait to delve into something lighter–a cozy murder mystery! And I wasn’t disappointed. The Body in the Snow is a delightful romp through snow drifts, candle light, nosy neighbors, and fading singers as Bebe Bollinger drinks her way to solving a mystery and discovers her way back to her daughter and her career. I loved how he used the event of a massive snowstorm to hold neighbors captive and to keep other things from moving forward throughout the story.

While there is laughter, there’s also pathos in the characters and certain universal threads through them all. From the couple in a dysfunctional marriage filled with jealousy and rage to the lonely divorcee only wanting a friend, there’s a glimpse into the humanity of us all. The detective off her game is revived by the sometimes ridiculous yet irrepressible Bebe who may not always do the right thing, yet somehow finds a way to right her wrongs.

It’s a fun read. I almost didn’t want the mystery part solved because that would mean the characters would leave me! Here’s hoping there’s more to come from these unforgettable and all too human folks created by the talented Christoph Fischer.

Christoph and I followed parallel roads recently as we both were seeking out new places to live. I moved to the Smoky Mountains in the States, and he moved to Wales in the UK. Since our moves, both of us have set our novels in our new homes. As Christoph relates below, he did it for the same reasons that I did. Here’s Christoph on how “place” created his setting.

img_8322-xlThe Setting for The Body in the Snow

By Christoph Fischer

The Body in the Snow is set in West Wales, which has been my home for the past two years. Originally, I placed the story in England, but when I started my first re-write after moving to Wales, I was so in love with my surroundings that I brought the characters across the border with me.

West Wales is wonderfully beautiful with lush green hills, beautiful mountain tops, spectacular beaches and world-renowned coastal hiking trails. Why not more people live here is beyond me.

The setting of The Body in the Snow is a declaration of love to this beautiful and unique country and seemed a great fit, with plenty of inspiration to add to the next draft of my novel.

I came to the UK many moons ago because of a Welsh lawyer from Swansea and have been with a Welsh man for the past ten years. Although I only lived here for a short period of time, my connection to Wales has been long standing. Prior to moving there, once a week, we crossed the Severn Bridge into Wales to visit my partner’s fragile parents and each time I liked the sensation of going to Wales.

The book is particularly dedicated to the welcoming people of my adopted new hometown and the people who helped us to settle in there so quickly. After fifteen months, I now rarely go somewhere without bumping into someone I know and having a chat on the way.

In 2012, our house in England was snowed in on a hill top and the electricity was cut several times for almost entire days. My partner joked that this was the perfect setting for a murder mystery since nobody could arrive or leave. I liked the idea. We were cut off from everything, as is so often the starting point of good crime fiction such as  Agatha Christie’s Then There Were None or Murder on the Orient Express. Living in a rural location, we learned firsthand the far and unforeseen limitations of life in such a big snowfall. Where we live in Wales could easily be affected in the same way.




Purchase links for The Body in the Snow

Kindle (Preorder – release September 24, 2016)

Paperback (Available now)


sun_eBOOK_NEW (1)Flo and Brittany. Brittany and Flo–a relationship born in shock and fascination, breaking down age barriers immediately. No spoilers in here, but the opening of When the Sun was Mine is filled with mystery and love stories, which leads the young Brittany into an exploration of herself and her views on the elderly. Flo guides her through both.

I enjoyed When the Sun was Mine because of the growth and development of the relationship between the young Brittany and the much older Flo.

Set mostly in the nursing home, Happy Hearts–the greatest misnomer of all–this novel addresses something rarely touched in writing. The author takes us inside the mind of Flo, suffering from the early stage symptoms of Alzheimer’s–or is she? Because of the mystery slowly unraveling at the center of the plot, the reader is never sure if Flo is faking the symptoms to aid her investigation, or if she really doesn’t remember some things. It’s a brilliant literary touch because it creates a confusion in the reader that provides a brief glimpse into how it must be for Flo, who moves back and forth between and through the shadows of her memories and her present existence.

Those beginning stages of this disease can be the most challenging for loved ones and the most terrifying for the patient.

I know from experience with an aunt and a brother. When both of my relatives knew they were declining and knew they were defenseless against what was happening, they broke my hearts in their helpless knowledge. My brother, a respected and innovative mathematician, felt frustrated in those early days.

“There’s plenty of material out there for the caretakers of the Alzheimer’s patient,” he told me. “But I can’t find a thing about how it is for me, the patient.”

He still had those moments of lucidity, and in those moments, he was anxious to find out all he could before he had a setback where he wouldn’t even be able to remember the word for what he had.

Ms. Jones takes the reader on that journey into the mind of the Alzheimer’s victim in her characterization of Flo. Yet she manages to prevent the novel from devolving into a dark abyss by using humor through Flo’s own antics and the inexperienced fumblings of her young accomplices, Brittany and two of her friends.

Mystery mixed with contemporary realities provide for an enjoyable read because once the reader sees Flo in all her naked honesty in that first chapter, the ride surprises us with its twists and turns.

It takes a talented author to bring us contemporary issues that not only entertain but cause us to pause and wonder at the possibilities for our dreams, no matter our age or condition. And Darlene Jones has achieved that in her latest novel, When the Sun was Mine.

Links to find out more about Darlene Jones:

Author Wednesday posts:

January 13, 2016

April 3, 2013

Book Review Friday – Embattled

Purchase Links for When the Sun was Mine – $0.99 for a limited time

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK








It’s time for Author Wednesday and to bring back another of my favorite authors to celebrate the release of her new book. Darlene Jones recently published When the Sun Was Mine, which is a departure from her Em and Yves Series. The new book is contemporary fiction and explores generational friendships, Alzheimer’s, and family in a mystery format. Look for my review on Book Review Friday this week. Today, she’s going to tell us how she created this novel. Welcome, Darlene!sun_eBOOK_NEW (1)

The Seeds of a Novel

By Darlene Jones

In her feature on Author Wednesday in October, author Christina Carson wrote, “Somewhere in the back of our minds saturated with intellectual and emotional experiences, a seed exists around which a story begins to form.”

I agree with Christina (although I could never express it quite so elegantly), for When the Sun was Mine sprouted from one of those seeds. If you were to ask me the moment the idea came to me, or how the idea came to me, I wouldn’t be able to answer. I have no conscious recollection of the beginnings of the story as they formed and grew in my mind.

I had published the Em and Yves series—the “seed” for those books stemmed from my experiences living in Mali—and I’d completed the compilation and publishing of the Mali to Mexico and Points In Between stories. I was floundering with nothing to write but had no “brainwaves” for the next novel. In fact, I feared there wouldn’t be a next novel. I needn’t have worried for suddenly I was writing. The story of Flo and Brit, the main characters of When the Sun was Mine, seemed to grow naturally, with little effort. Once I had the bare bones on paper, I reworked it, building on Flo and her background for she was the essence of what I wished to convey.

The friendship between Flo and Brit is, perhaps, an unusual one, but I had a similar experience (although not as a teen) when I shared a hospital room for many weeks with a much older lady who became very dear to me. We remained close friends until her death at age eighty-nine. Perhaps that friendship was one of the seeds Christina refers to.

Looking back on my writing I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that teens play a significant role in each of my novels, and I suspect they will in anything I write in the future. I was an educator for many years. More seeds? A natural development in my work? I believe so.

Last night I had a dream that I had found the perfect seed for my next book. Of course, when I woke, the details evaporated. Frustrating? Yes, but a clear sign that now it’s time to relax for a bit and wait for another seed to germinate in my mind and another novel to be written. I know that, whatever the new story is, it will be a pleasure to write, for I can’t imagine a life without writing—and reading.

P.C., I hope that you and your followers enjoy When the Sun was Mine. Thank you for featuring me and my work.

You are very welcome, Darlene. I love to hear how others find those seeds that turn into novels. I’ve had the first line of books pop into my dreams, diverting me to writing a novel I never knew I could write. We never know when the ‘muse’ will come to us, but being open and receptive to those seeds flung to us on the wind is the first step. Thank you for sharing your experience with us!

100-0059_IMGAbout Darlene Jones:  Many years ago a young girl left the safety of Canada for adventure in Africa. This was in a generation when young girls didn’t go anywhere on their own and certainly not to the “the dark continent.”

I had to adapt to the climate, the culture, the language, and above all time travel, for most Malians lived the way they always had. Modern conveniences consisted of basic items such as kerosene lanterns and little else.

It was the plight of Malians that inspired me to begin writing my novel series. Since I couldn’t wave a magic wand to make life better in Mali, I chose to do it fictitiously.

Now that the Em and Yves series is complete, I’ve found that I’m hooked on writing and have moved on to other genres. I’m excited to see what the future holds.

Author Wednesday 2013  – Darlene Jones

Embattled jpg for KindleBook Review Friday – Embattled

Darlene Jones Website

Purchase When the Sun was Mine by clicking below:







Holiday News and Warm Wishes


Here we are once again, right in the middle of the holiday season. It’s been a transitional year for me as my husband and I head into an entirely new life. He’s retiring, and I’m not. We’ve been in the process of moving for six months, but I’ve still managed to write several books. It’s my release from a chaotic life.

Since it’s the holiday season, here’s my holiday offering to you – my sweet Christmas novella, Minty’s Kiss. This is my first work set in the Smoky Mountains, where I’ve recently relocated.


Following up on the Smoky Mountain Romance theme, I’ve written a full-length romance, which follows the same characters from Minty’s Kiss. Misty Mountain is now available for pre-ordering, with a release date of January 19, 2016.MISTY_MOUNTAIN_med






I’m also very excited about another project. Trails in the Sand, one of my Florida fiction books, is being made into an audible book and will be available soon. Trails in the Sand follows the saga of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as the main characters deal with disasters in their own lives. For the next three days, Trails in the Sand may be downloaded on Kindle for free.

Click here to get your copy.





???????????????????????????????Today on Author Wednesday, best-selling author Florence Osmund stops by to talk about her life as a writer since leaving the corporate world several years ago. She’s been a phenomenal success in her new career, and her advice is well worth following. She writes literary and women’s fiction. Red Clover, one of her best-selling titles, is a coming-of-age piece with a strong male lead character. Regarding Annaanother of her hits with readers, follows a young woman as she explores her mysterious past. Please join us as I probe her mind for some thoughts on her success.Red Clover cover Google

Good morning, Florence. I’m so pleased to have you on my blog today. I always love to ask writers when they were first able to describe themselves as a “writer” or “author.” When did it happen for you? 

I spent a long career working for large corporations, and during that period I wrote numerous articles, white papers, proposals, and other business-related documents. It wasn’t until I retired in 2009 that I began writing fiction. I started referring to myself as an author in 2012 when I published my first novel—at the tender age of sixty-two. I don’t regret having waited that long to do what I love to do—I have so much more material now!

It doesn’t matter how long it took, and sixty-two is very young! Now that this is your full-time gig, how much time do you spend a day writing?

I would like to be able to say that I spend as much of the day writing as I so desire. I’d like to be able to say that, but I can’t. I discovered early on that books don’t sell themselves—most of us authors have to spend a considerable amount of time promoting our work. Otherwise, no one would know of its existence.

I’m an early riser and usually spend mornings doing things that help to build my author platform—maintaining two websites, participating in on-line discussion groups, writing articles, answering e-mails, keeping up with social media, crafting promotions, and maintaining my e-mail subscriber list. That leaves the afternoon open for writing, usually in three two-hour blocks, since I can’t seem to sit in one place for more than two hours without a break. With this routine, I’ve been able to publish one book a year, and that works for me.

It’s an incredible juggling act to be both marketer and writer, but it sounds as if you’ve found a formula that works for you. Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) said she never chose a subject because as a writer, the subject chose her. Describe a time when a subject chose you.

For years while I was working in corporate America, I thought about writing books after I retired. And for years, every time an idea for a story line would come to mind, I wrote it down on a scrap of paper. It didn’t matter when or where. I could be walking down the street when I observed something that I thought would make an interesting scene in a novel. Or I could be at work and someone would say something that sparked an idea. Over the years, I amassed hundreds of these ideas in a shoe box. When I was ready to start writing, I pulled them out, scrutinized them, and put them into piles. When I was done, I had three stacks of notes that showed promise for three distinct stories.

That’s amazing! That’s a great bit of advice for any writer at any stage. I do the same thing, but I need to get a shoe box to save all those ideas that grab me. Life is the best food for feeding fiction. Do you find that similar themes or messages emerge in your fiction? 

The protagonists in my stories are average people who find themselves faced with difficult decisions. Like most of us, both supporters and defeaters surround them. It’s particularly rewarding when readers of my books think about their own set of values and what they would do in a similar situation. Many have shared their own stories with me. In one case, a book club had chosen one of my books for their monthly read and invited me to join in by phone. At the very end of the discussion, one of the members said that I had told her story, almost down to the smallest detail, and she thanked me for shedding light on part of it that she hadn’t realized before. Rewards like that are priceless.

I agree. I’m amazed when readers/strangers tell me that. I’m pleased to hear that you’ve had that experience. You are right–absolutely priceless. What are you working on these days? 

In August of this year, when novel number five went into the very capable hands of my editor, I started writing novel number six. It’s about a cozy mystery writer who thinks her husband may be imitating some of the behaviors of the characters in her books. He claims she’s being paranoid since he admits to never having read any of her books. She feels betrayed by his lack of interest in her work but is still suspicious of his actions and is particularly concerned about her current project where the protagonist goes missing. Maybe she should change the ending?

I love that premise. It sounds intriguing and scary. You’ve been very successful in a short period of time, so can you give other writers some tips or advice?

Regarding Anna front cover - Amazon-Google (3)Up until recently, I never paid very much for advertising and promotions for my books, and I did okay. Then I connected with eNovel Authors at Work , a group of authors who know a lot more about the subject than I do, and the results of their paid promotions convinced me to try it. I promoted Regarding Anna on BookBub, a paid promotion site, and the results were phenomenal—during the month following the promotion, more than 4,600 copies of this book were either purchased or borrowed through Kindle’s lending library. Being an author is like any other business in that the return on investment can often make decisions easy.

I have heard great things about BookBub, so I’m happy to hear about some real tangible results. Now let’s talk about reviews, which are an inevitable part of publishing. What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

“Florence Osmund paints such a rounded picture of each character that the reader feels he is in the book with them.” —Excerpt from a review of Red Clover by Charlie Bray, Founder of

If we put our books in the public domain, bad reviews are also inevitable for even the best authors and their work. What advice can you give to other writers about receiving a bad review?

It’s important for authors to understand that book reviews are extremely subjective, and no one has ever written a book that appealed to all readers. What one reader loves, another one will hate. No one likes to receive a bad review, but when I do get one, I don’t fret over it. When I do start to take notice is when I see repeat criticisms. For example, I know now that I wrote my first book with what I’ll call a “cheesy” ending, and readers commented on it. I couldn’t change the ending without changing the beginning of the sequel, but I could include the first chapter of the sequel at the end of the book, and I could bundle the two books for a discounted price. The bundled version of these two books is currently averaging 4.7 stars on Amazon, but individually they each average only 4.0 stars. Sometimes it pays to listen to your readers.

That’s good advice. You’re smart to ignore or to listen when there seems to be a pattern. I love picturing my favorite authors as they create, so tell me, where do you write?

I live in downtown Chicago on the beautiful shore of Lake Michigan. When I’m at my desk writing, I look out over Navy Pier and the north end of Monroe Harbor. I find the water calming and inspiring, and the activity going on just enough of a distraction to clear my head when I get stuck on something. I can’t think of a better place to write.

That’s very special and I can envision it perfectly. I love Chicago and that view is spectacular. Thank you so much for stopping by today, Florence. I hope you’ll come back when you publish your next book.

Osmund_PhotoAbout Florence from Florence: I currently live in the great city of Chicago where, after a long career in corporate America, I write literary fiction novels. I like to craft stories that challenge readers to survey their own values. Topics I have tackled include ethnicity, questionable heritage, desperation, dependency, precarious familial ties, and complicated matters of the heart. I have a website called Novel Elements that I dedicate to helping new authors—offering them advice I wish I had received before I started writing my first book.

Click on the links below to connect with Florence Osmund:

Florence Osmund Books website

Novel Elements, author advice website 

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