Wednesday, May 4, 2016


May has started off to be a busy month. New covers, new books, and of course THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP for today. Before we talk about our insecurities, or our positives, I have a fabulous cover to share with you.

Doesn't this lovely cover make you curious about the boy and what this has to do with a dragon? I've read the book, so I know.
Summary: When a wall of their cave hideout crumbles, three boys discover a skeleton, clutching a treasure map. They set off to trace the story of an old murder, but stumble into a modern crime, and confront ancient Chinese dragons.
This story is by our very own, favorite author, C. Lee McKenzie.
Bio: C. Lee McKenzie is a 4 & 5 star reviewed author. Her greatest passion is writing for young readers. Sign of the Green Dragon is her third Middle Grade novel. Alligators Overhead and the sequel, The Great Time Lock Disaster were her first two. She has traditionally published four young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative and Sudden Secrets.
I've read all of C. Lee's books and highly recommend them. My Review:
by C. Lee McKenzie
Most children simply want a home, a mother and father, someone to love them. They like to hang out with their friends, play sports, or other activities they enjoy. Life doesn’t always turn out the way a child, or an adult for that matter, wants it to.

In SIGN OF THE GREEN DRAGON, by Author C. Lee McKenzie, Sam is one of the children whose life is out of control. For six months Sam has been an orphan and lived with his Uncle Jasper. According to Uncle Jasper, the arrangement hasn’t worked out, and he’s sending Sam to a private boarding school. Not only will Sam lose his home, such as it is, he’ll also miss out on playing in the district championship baseball game. Their coach says they have a very good chance to win.

With his world falling apart, Sam runs away to the mountains, where he can sleep in a cave, and his friends, Roger and Joey, will bring him what he needs. Then he’ll still be there for the game. Sam and his friends don’t count on weird things happening , however: a secret room, a chest with a carving of a dragon, and inside the chest a … I don’t want to give anything away, but the boys are in for an adventure they could never have imagined.

Author C. Lee McKenzie is a master at creating characters that seem so real the reader finds her/himself hoping they’ll succeed in achieving their goals. She even adds a bit of interesting history to the story. The plot keeps the boys, as well as the reader, guessing what will happen next. Just when you think you know all the answers, the author throws in a twist or a surprise, and you think OOPS, I didn’t see that coming. Middle grade and tween readers, boys especially, should enjoy following Sam and his friends on their quest to solve an age old mystery.

This book is perfect for middle school libraries and classrooms, public libraries, and your own library of course, so you can read the story again. Highly recommended.

The author provided me with a copy of this book for my honest review.


Want to Read Link: Goodreads

Congratulations to C. Lee on a story that's sure to catch young reader's (and old) attention.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time.
Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

 Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG
Awesome Ninja Alex J. Cavanaugh is the founder of ISWG
His awesome co-hosts for the May 4 posting of the IWSG will be Stephen Tremp, Fundy Blue, MJ Fifield, Loni Townsend, Bish Denham, Susan Gourley, and Stephanie Faris!
 I know, I know. People are always telling you "Never Give Up." Easy to say, but not so easy to do.
It's also true. You never know. Yes, you write or whatever it is you enjoy doing. And then you wait, for a publisher to say "I love your book. Here's the contract. Or "Yes, your illustrations are just what we're looking for."
It's been my experience that there's no point getting in a hurry for answers right away. You may get them; you may not. So stay busy while you wait. Work on other things. Write, paint the house, clean closets (that's on my agenda). Don't worry about what the answer will be. Live for the day. Tomorrow will arrive.
Why am I writing this? Glad you asked. Like you, I spend a lot of time waiting. It used to bother me. Not so much anymore. When it happens, it happens. Last week was a fabulous week. I've been editing a story that wasn't quite right. Then, out of the blue, on Saturday I received word that another book was going to print next week and I needed to check for minor changes, like quick.
Wow! See. You never know. And now, I just have to show you the gorgeous cover.
Aidana WillowRaven is the talented illustrator.

More to come. This was such a nice surprise I haven't planned anything.
Remember! Never give up! (I may have said this a few times before.)
Happy Reading and Writing!

Monday, May 2, 2016


Quote for the week: Forgiveness is a funny thing. It warms the heart and cools the sting. William Arthur Ward.

A new month. The A to Z is over. Back to normal, whatever that is. Today, I'm excited to share two lovely covers for forthcoming books with you.

From lovely Medeia Sharif we have A LOVE THAT DISTURBS.


Evernight Teen, June 17, 2016

Maysa Mazari is alarmed by her mother’s talk about arranged marriage. Meanwhile, as a hijab-wearing Pakistani-American, she wants to find love on her own. Her judgmental Muslim clique has protected her from racist taunts, although the leader, Aamal, is turning on her as Maysa strays from the group because of her attraction to Haydee.

Haydee Gomez is a former gang member and juvenile detention student. Now living with a clean-cut aunt, she wants to turn her life around, even though one person will never let her forget her roots—Rafe, her abusive pimp. Haydee attempts to pull away from a life of prostitution when she develops feelings for Maysa, although Rafe isn’t willing to give her up too easily.

Finding themselves in danger from Maysa’s friends and Haydee’s pimp, it’s apparent their love disturbs everyone around them as they fight to stay together.

Find Medeia – YA and MG Author


Wait! That's not all. From the lovely Christine Amsden, her latest novel, KAITLIN'S TALE

Kaitlin Mayer is on the run from the father of her baby – a vampire who wants her to join him in deadly eternity. Terrified for her young son, she seeks sanctuary with the Hunters Guild. Yet they have their own plans for her son, and her hopes of safety are soon shattered.
When she runs into Matthew Blair, an old nemesis with an agenda of his own, she dares to hope for a new escape. But Matthew is a telepath, and Kaitlin's past is full of dark secrets she never intended to reveal.
*Companion to the Cassie Scot Series
Buy Links · Coming Soon Ebook Release: May 16, 2016
Print Release: July 15, 2016
Audiobook Release: TBA
The Cassie Scot Series
Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Cassie Scot #1)
· Amazon
· Barnes and Noble

Now aren't those gorgeous covers. They sure make me want to learn what these stories are all about. Isn't this a great way to start the month of May. Looks like some good reading ahead.

Happy Reading.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016


Finally, the letter Z. I've been to the San Diego Zoo a few times. A wonderful place for animal lovers. I've been to the Fort Worth Zoo, too. Now, I'm tired, been struggling with edits for my publisher that turned into a major rewrite. One chapter to go. Yay! I've been promoting my latest book and need to do a lot more of that. So I'm going to let pictures of the San Diego Zoo in the 1950s speak for themselves.  Enjoy the critters.


Actually, I think it's cruel to keep animals in cages. 

Friday, April 29, 2016


The letter "Y". We're almost there. I have a song for you today. "The Yellow Rose of Texas" is a traditional  American folk song. Members of the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. Several versions of the song have been recorded, including by  Elvis Presley and Mitch Miller. 
The earliest known version is found in Christy's Plantation Melodies. No. 2, a songbook published in Philadelphia in 1853. Christy was the founder of the blackface minstrel show known as the Christy's Minstrels. Like most minstrel songs, the lyrics are written in a cross between the dialect historically spoken by African-Americans and standard American English. The song is written from the perspective of an African-American singer who refers to himself as a "darkey" longing to return to "a yellow girl," a term used to describe a bi-racial woman born of African-American and white progenitors.

The soundtrack to the TV miniseries,  James A. Michener's Texas, dates a version of the song to June 2, 1933 and co-credits both the authorship and performance to Gene Autry and Jimmy Long. Mitch Miller mad a reworked version of the song into a popular recording in 1955 that knocked Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" from the top of the Best Sellers chart in the U.S. Miller's version was featured in the motion picture Giant and reached #1 on the U.S. pop chart the same week Giant star James Dean died. Billboard ranked Miller's version as the No. 3 song of 1955.

This song became popular among Confederate soldiers in the Texas Brigade during the American Civil War; upon taking command of the Army of Tennessee in July 1864, General John Bell Hood introduced it as a marching song. The final verse and chorus were slightly altered by the remains of Hood's force after their crushing defeat at the Battle of Nashville that December.

(This is changed some from the original)
From the 1955 Mitch Miller rendition, the song now reads:
    There's a yellow rose in Texas, That I am going to see,
    Nobody else could miss her, Not half as much as me.
    She cried so when I left her It like to broke my heart,
    And if I ever find her, We nevermore will part.
    She's the sweetest little rosebud That Texas ever knew,
    Her eyes are bright as diamonds, They sparkle like the dew;
    You may talk about your Clementine, And sing of Rosalee,
    But the YELLOW ROSE OF TEXAS Is the only girl for me.
    When the Rio Grande is flowing, The starry skies are bright,
    She walks along the river In the quiet summer night:
    I know that she remembers, When we parted long ago,
    I promise to return again, And not to leave her so. [Chorus]
    Oh now I'm going to find her, For my heart is full of woe,
    And we'll sing the songs together, That we sung so long ago
    We'll play the banjo gaily, And we'll sing the songs of yore,
    And the Yellow Rose of Texas Shall be mine forevermore. [Chorus]

    Song from the University of Texas at Austin

    Happy Singing.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


This was a really tough letter for me. I've racked my brain (not a pretty sight) and finally came up with only one possibility. The word Xmas and where it came from.
It goes back a lot farther than I realized, for at least 1,000 years, long before our modern Xmas was used. X is a symbol for "Christ" which was often written "Xp" or Xt", referenced in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as far back as 1021.  The X and P were the uppercase forms of the Greek letters x (Ch) and p (R) used in ancient abbreviations for the Greek word Christ. Many Eastern Orthodox Icons still use them in showing Jesus Christ. The labarum is a symbol often used to represent Christ in Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Christian Churches. (I can't write those letters so here's a picture.)
The labarum, often called the Chi-Rho, is a
Christian symbol representing Christ.
The Oxford English Dictionary shows "X-" or "Xp-" for Christ as early as1485. There are other uses of "(Xt)" for Chris(t)-" too.
I learned something here. Perhaps you already knew. Anything you'd like to add.
Happy Reading.


Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Today we're talking about WASPS. No, not the insect kind that like to sting a person. We're talking about the brave women in the military, the WOMEN AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOTS, formed on August 5, 1943. Okay. I'm going back to the 1940s, WWII. So forgive me, but these women deserve our attention.

The WASPS was a paramilitary aviation organization. Each WASP had a pilot's license. They were trained to fly by the U.S. Army Air Forces at Avenger Field in Sweetwater. Texas. Over 25,000 women applied for the WASP, and less than 1,900 were accepted. After four months of military flight training, 1,074 earned their wings and were the first women to fly American military aircraft.

The women were not trained for combat, but their instruction was basically the same as for aviation cadets: no gunnery training and little formation flying and aerobatics.

After training they were stationed at 120 air bases across the U. S.  They flew 60 million miles of operational flights, freeing a male pilot for combat service and duties.

Thirty-eight WASP fliers lost their lives while serving during the war.

The WASP was considered civil service and did not receive military benefits.

Elizabeth L. Gardner, WASP, at the controls of a B-26 Marauder

On June 21, 1944, the House bill to give the WASP military status was narrowly defeated. The House Committee n the Civil Service (Ramspeck Committee) reported on June 5, 1944, that it considered the WASP unnecessary, unjustifiably expensive, and recommended that the recruiting and training of inexperienced women pilots be halted.

Photo by Lois Hailey, Class of 43–3 in January 1943—start of training
In 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation  granting WASP corps full military status for their service. In 1984, each WASP was awarded the World War II Victory Medal.
On July 1, 2009, President Barack Obama and the U. S. Congress awarded the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal. Three of the roughly surviving WASPs were on hand to witness the event.
On May 10, 2010, the 300 surviving WASPs came to the Capitol to accept the Congressional Gold Medal from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional leaders.
A couple weeks ago, our local newspaper ran a great article about A WASP pilot in the city who had just died. I think she was 94, not positive. These women deserve to be remembered.
Thanks for letting me go back another generation.
Happy Reading.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Today, for the Letter "V" I'm talking about the polio vaccination. When I was young, polio was a dreaded disease. People didn't know what caused it, but those that contracted the disease were often left crippled, and many died. I remember friends of mine with the disease. My parents worried about my sister and me. Sometimes they wouldn't let us go swimming. What if we caught polio at the pool? They didn't know. Thankfully today, it's mostly a disease of the past.

Here's a bit of history:

On March 26, 1953, American medical researcher Dr. Jonas Salk announced on a radio show that he had successfully tested a vaccine against poliomyelitis, the virus that caused the crippling disease of polio. In 1952, an epidemic year for polio, 58,000 new cases were reported in the United States. More than 3,000 died.

Polio has affected humans throughout recorded history. It attacks the nervous system and can cause degrees of paralysis. The virus is easily transmitted, so epidemics were common in the first decades of the 20th century. Early treatments were quarantines and the "iron lung," a metal coffin-like contraption that helped the patient breathe. Children are especially susceptible to polio, but adults can have it too. Franklin D. Roosevelt was stricken with polio in 1921, age 39, and was partially paralyzed.

In 1954, clinical trails using the Salk vaccine and a placebo began on two million American school children. April 1955, it was announced as safe. A nationwide inoculation campaign began, and new polio cases dropped to under 6,000 in 1957. Albert Sabin, a Polish-American researcher developed an oral vaccine in 1962.

This 1963 poster featured CDC's national symbol of public health, the "Wellbee" encouraging people to get the oral polio vaccine.
I remember my husband, boys, and me standing in line at the neighborhood school, waiting for our little sugar cube of vaccine. Today there are just a handful of polio cases in the U. S. Most of these are from Americans from visiting some nations where polio is still a problem.
And now you know.