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Friday, September 28, 2018

Fact or Fiction?...Both! ~ by Joanne Jaytanie

I’m currently doing final edits on Salvaging Truth, book one of my new trilogy, Hunters & Seekers. For the most part, the main idea of my books stem from my life experiences. And while I have no personal experience regarding salvage diving or the military, many of my family members do. My immediate family has served in the Navy, Coast Guard, and Army, and include; my husband, step-daughter, step-son, brother-in-law, both my father and father-in-law.

Before even starting Salvaging Truth, I extensively questioned both my daughter, Julie and my husband, Ralph. 

Julie has served in the Coast Guard for 27 years. The first 10 years as active duty, and then she went into the reserves, where she still serves today. Julie served as a radioman and ended her active duty as an operations specialist senior chief. While onboard a Coast Guard cutter in 1994, her ship located and saved a boat full of Haitians. During their stay on the cutter, the crew even provided the Haitians, clothing and other personal items from their own lockers.

As an operations specialist, one of Julie’s duty stations was the San Francisco, Bay Area, including the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ll bet that was interesting. After her active duty, Julie went into reserve officer candidate school. She was an instructor at the Chiefs Academy and is now stationed in Memphis as a logistics officer.

My husband, Ralph is a retired career naval officer who has spent most of his life on or around boats and ships or under the sea. As a naval officer, he served as a deep-sea diver, a qualified deck officer, and chief engineer onboard one of the largest US Navy ocean-going salvage tugs. Ralph was a Navy salvage engineer for the Pacific Northwest, where he planned, supervised, and participated in diving and salvage operations. When at sea he served as officer-in-charge of many ocean tows, salvage, rescue, and deep diving operations around the Pacific Ocean, which included deep ocean recoveries, trans-oceanic towing of tandem barge tows, and a USN ex-aircraft carrier. 

I did gain experience from Ralph during the years we worked together in our forensic engineering firm. I was the business administrator of the firm. I also accompanied and assisted Ralph on accident sites. He was involved in more than 400 investigations covering mechanical failures, truck--semi, vehicle, bicycle, pedestrian, boating, SCUBA and slip and falls.

While my romantic suspense, Salvaging Truth is purely fiction, many of the details are based on facts. I’ve included an excerpt from my upcoming book, which will be released this fall. I hope you enjoy it.

Excerpt of Salvaging Truth:

Deep blue ocean stretched out before Dagger. Out in the distance, he could make out the white hulls of two Coast Guard cutters. The sea shimmered in the early morning light.
Dagger pulled the handset from its cradle.
“US Coast Guard Cutter Chinook, this is motor vessel Salvage Hunter approximately one hundred and fifty yards out. We’ve been contracted by SDPD to assist in the investigation. Over.” Dagger was home on the water. A sizzle of anticipation shot through him.
“Roger, Salvage Hunter. This is Chinook. Hold tight while we confirm your status. Divers in the water. Over.” The man’s voice commanded.
“Roger, Salvage Hunter standing by. Out.”
Dagger cut his engines. Figuring it would take them some time, he stripped down and pulled on his dry suit and checked his gear. The ocean didn’t allow second chances. One faulty gauge or leaky hose could mean your death.
“Salvage Hunter, identity and authorization confirmed. Be advised we still have divers in the water. Over.”
“Roger, Chinook. Requesting status of investigation. Over.”
“No survivors found. We have retrieved sixteen bodies. Crew manifest states a total of nineteen, including crew and research team. Over.”
“Were life boats put into the water? Over.”
“We found one life boat among the floating wreckage. My men believe it broke loose when the ship sank. Last night the weather was driving rain. My guess is the life boat wasn’t tied down properly. The other three boats are still stowed on the ship’s deck. Over.”
“Roger. Has the vessel been searched for survivors? Over.”
“Confirmed, none found. Over.”
“Request approach to begin investigation. Over.”
“Approach granted; stop at sixty yards out on starboard side. Out.”
Dagger hung up the handheld and started the engines. He moved into position and cut his engines as instructed, leaving the requested distance from the Coast Guard’s ship, and dropped anchor. He went up to the deck to raise the diving flag, then stopped and grabbed his phone to text his partners:
Coast Guard Cutter Chinook and a second ship on site. Starting diving operation. Will contact when heading back.
He hit send and locked the phone in the safe; not knowing exactly who might board his vessel.
Dagger headed topside, with an Alpha dive flag under one arm and a red buoy in his other hand. The red buoy was the universal sign of a claimed salvage site. He ran the Alpha dive flag up the flagstaff perched on the roof of the forward cabin. Moving to the stern of the runabout, he dropped the diving platform, sat down, and pulled on his dive hoodie and neck seal. He slid his MK3 knife into the neoprene holster and attached a spear gun to the back of his hips, right below his tanks. Before getting wet, he triple checked his breathing equipment.
He slipped into the water, grabbed the buoy and the five-pound weight equipped with a retractable line and swam toward the wreck. When he was over the site, he attached the clip on the line to the bottom of the buoy and released the buoy. He headed down to the wreck where he’d drop the weight on the ocean floor. 
The water was calm and a clear lapis color. A few feet under, Dagger swam by two Coast Guard divers and gave them a thumbs-up. The blue of the ocean darkened with every foot he descended. He switched on his light as the blue bled into a colorless gray. The dark outline of the eighty-five-foot research ship came into view. Pulling out his video camera he switched on the attached high-powered, compact light and started filming. He approached slowly, making sure to include everything.
The ship had come to rest on its port side at approximately a thirty-degree angle. While upright vessels were the easiest to work on, he couldn’t ask for a much better scenario. He thought of the contract they closed last week. The ship had settled on its deck, with the stern embedded into the ocean floor. He silently laughed as he recalled Stone’s colorful tirade over trying to move around inside without wanting to spew his lunch.
Dagger swam to the stern and then around to the port side, recording the scene. He glided through the water using his fins as little as possible to avoid disturbing the bottom.
Everything appeared intact until he reached the front third of the ship. A large ragged horizontal gouge ran a good nine feet along the side of the metal-hulled ship. It looked as though an object sliced the hull. What could have done this?
Dagger squinted and zoomed in closer. The gash showed no signs of paint transfer, and the edges of the ripped hull were bent inward and scorched. He slowed his breathing and filmed even more slowly.
Until next month...

Thursday, September 27, 2018

#Free on #KindelUnlimited Exodus Arcon Mini-Series by Janice Seagraves

I updated my book trailer and added the cover for the mini-series, but I had to use new music since the old one wasn't available anymore.

Please take a look and comment. Let me know if you like it or not.

Exodus Arcon: Prelude to Book 1 Alien Heart: Chronicles of Arcon
 Free on kindleunlimited

The Arcons build three colony ship to take them off their dying world. Only the chosen can come, the rest take their chances with the lottery. But one family cheats.


“And you, my podling?” Blade met Keefe’s eyes. “Do you really want to share your mate with me?”

Keefe’s cheeks flushed lavender, but, through gritted teeth, he said, “Bite her, but don’t swallow.”

“With her undressed and smelling of pheromones, all I want to do is bury her underneath my body while I bite that lovely white skin.” Blade leered at her, showing his sharp canines. “Is that what you want, my lovely?”

Hauling harder on his wrist, she met his crimson eyes. “You’re not fooling me, Blade. I’m not afraid of you.”

“You should be,” he growled. “I’m a bad-tempered military male, whom you do not want as a mate.”

“You will bite me, but only that, understand?” She raised her chin. “We are going to pretendpretend to mate. Nothing more.”

“Yes, mistress. You order, and I shall obey.” Blade wrenched free from Paz and Aziza then loomed in front of her.

She blinked at his muscular chest.

Exodus Arcon: Prelude to Book 1 Alien Heart: Chronicles of Arcon (Kindle Locations 286-288). Keith Publications, LLC. Kindle Edition.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Humorous Punctuation Errors

Today, September 24, is National Punctuation Day. The nuns in my Catholic schools beat us over the heads (sometimes literally) with punctuation rules, grammar, and spelling. Much of it stuck. Because we text and email now doesn’t mean we can throw good punctuation out the window with the typewriter.

Despite the nuns’ training, I don’t always get punctuation right, but I try. I’m sorry to say some authors don’t try too hard. I’ve read many books lately, both indie and from major publishers, with glaring punctuation errors, mostly comma errors. One thing that really bothers me is when there isn’t a comma before a person’s proper name: as in, “Hi Mary.” Correct punctuation is “Hi, Mary.” I’ve been seeing this a lot.

Punctuation can change the meaning of a sentence. I scoured the internet for examples of how punctuation can change meanings. Here are some humorous ones.

This first one is correct:

Dear John:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours?

This is what happens to the same statement when it’s not punctuated correctly:

Dear John,
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?

More examples:

Woman without her man is nothing.
Woman, without her, man is nothing.

Let’s eat Grandpa.
Let’s eat, Grandpa.
All those out there who like to cook and eat my wife made a new blog.
All those out there who like to cook and eat, my wife made a new blog.

Can you figure out where the commas go in this one?
Attention: Toilet only for disabled elderly pregnant children.

This magazine cover with Rachel Ray says it all.

Or this one:

See how a comma can change these two?
Most of the time, travelers worry about their luggage.
Most of the time travelers worry about their luggage.

Are there any punctuation errors that bother you? I’d love to hear them.

I’m happy to announce a new release!!!

Josh’s Salvation (Redemption Book 4) is now available for pre-order exclusively on Amazon.

Suspense. Sizzling. Sultry.

When two federal agents with a heart-shattering history are thrown together on a deadly undercover mission, they must fight to live and to have a future together.

Lia Valdez’s heart was broken when her father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. She’d followed his footsteps into law enforcement, only to have her heart shattered again by a fellow Drug Enforcement Agent. Josh Tanner broke through the walls she’d built around her heart, then walked away without explanation. Now she’s rebuilt those walls, stronger than ever.

Josh Tanner joined a clandestine division of the Drug Enforcement Agency hoping to atone for the sins of his rebellious youth. But one horrific night in Mexico crushed his hopes, costing him both the life of his partner and the love of his life.

Forced to work together on a deadly mission to bring down a West Coast drug kingpin, Lia isn’t sure she can trust Josh again. But with her life—and her heart—on the line, she may have no choice. Maybe they can have a future together. But first, they have to survive.

This is a 25,000 word sensual novella.

Friday, September 21, 2018

The Name Game

One of the challenges we face as authors is coming up with the perfect name for our characters. After all, not onl do they have to suit the individuals who populate our stories, but we also have to be concerned that we don't reuse our favorite names.

A lot of us us have spreadsheets where we keep track of not only the hero and heroine of our stories but also all the secondary folks that populate the towns and villages and cities we create. You'll find us looking up baby name sites, asking friends, even looking at old phone books...but recently I've  found an amazing resource! I can I resist names like Saram and Sybilla. But the remarkable thing is that I've found family going back literally to the 1400s. I know the names of people who lives 600 years ago with whom I share DNA. Blows me away. I don't know if any of them were famous or rich or if they lived in hovels and ate gruel twice a day to keep body and soul together, but there's something outrageous and unique about knowing the name of my great great great great great great grandma.

Next I want to start doing more research and see if I can find other references to these folks. Anything at all would be fascinating. Maybe they owned a little plot of land or fought in a battle I studied in school. Or invented somethingwonderful, or terrible. Maybe they had fifteen children and they all lived to adulthood. Maybe they were convicted of a crime or stood up for a cause and saved lives.

Or perhaps I won't find anything at all, but this is how we authors get lost in research, where one thing leads to another. I thought I'd use a name or two in honor of family long gone and am now trying to find out all about these people. My aunt Nancy's birth first name was Queen Anne. She wasn't a queen, just the only daughter in a houseful of boys and the youngest...and somehow that made my great grandparents so happy they named her Queen Anne. I only wish I'd known that when she was alive to ask if she knew why, but I think I know why she changed it to Nancy when she married her first husband. She must have taken a lot of teasing as a little girl!

Naming characters is part of the job, but it can sure set us off on a journey. If I find out anything fascinating, I'll let you know, and I think for now I won't use any of these names. Not until I get to know the bearers better. It just seems more respectful that way.

Friday, September 14, 2018

What if You Have a Blog and No One Comes and Comments? by Marianne Stephens

Blogs. They're everywhere and it seems like everyone is writing one while trying to find a "new angle" to gain your attention.

But what if you have a blog and no one comes...or comments? Does that mean you should give up? Try a new approach? Do more promo to gain interest?

At RB4U, we tried doing a contest a month, asking people to comment. We found that we had the same number of views whether or not we offered a prize. And, the comments numbers were still low.  

We offer to do interviews. We offer guest blog spots. What are we not doing?
 Have blogs become too numerous, making it difficult to decide which ones to read? We try to stick to romance/writing material, and sometimes some personal thoughts. What makes you decide to read this blog as opposed to thousands of other ones? How can we entice you to keep coming back and reading new blogs here?
I notice that in the past, when I've posted photos of "hunks" with blogs, I've gotten greater views numbers. Is that the answer? Always have a great-looking guy or guys with a blog? 

So...what else can be done to gain readers? Suggestions?

Do you see a PURPLE HEART in this blog? Leave a comment (not just hello) for a chance to win a prize. See our contest page at for more details!

Photos: Flickr: alamodestuff, Kristina B., Sean MacEntee's photostreams. 

Marianne Stephens

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Back to Normal

I love back-to-school season. I'm one of those grownups, who drool over the shiny pencil boxes and folders lining the seasonal aisles of each store. I'm a big fan of fall weather, too, although my leaf mold allergy thinks otherwise. But there's something about the fall that, for me, is the start of a new year. Maybe I spent too many years in academia. I also loved school as a kid. Home was boring. School was exciting. I've never lost that love of learning.

It makes sense, then, that when I decide it's time to move my life in a new direction (or more accurately, back into an old one) it should be September and not January, or even some religious new year celebration.

It's been a while since my writing mojo went away. A lot of family stuff was involved, a few health issues, and most recently, the loss of my dad, the first of my real-life heroes. Oddly enough, that last was my impetus. In closing a chapter of being totally focused on self and family, I gave myself permission to go back to work. Now all I have to do is choose a project. I have three primary ideas, and seeds of others. I think my style might be different, a little darker, (But still, HEA, of course!) and a little more introspective. But I feel the ink in my veins again, and it is marvelous.

This week, having wrapped up almost all of my father's affairs, my husband and I are off on a work-free retreat, so forgive me if I don't reply to comments right away. My second forever hero deserves some quality time as well.

I am curious to know what my readers would like to see from me. More steampunk, more paranormal, some sci-fi or historical? Or is it time for something completely different?

Happy autumn!

Monday, September 10, 2018

THE BUTTERFLY LOVERS: The Greatest Love Stories Ever Told Series

Posted by Author #R. Ann Siracusa

Every culture has great loves stories: myth, legend, literary, and real. The Butterfly Lovers is a legend that, for the Chinese culture, is similar to the Romeo and Juliet love story. A legend of an ill-fated romance so beloved that the story has been replicated and interpreted in movies, music, operas, plays, reenactments, stories, and dance for over a thousand years.

Although the hero, Liang Shanbo, and the heroine, Zhu Yingtai, are often equated to Romeo and Juliet, but the story is less similar than it may seem on the surface. “The duels and poisons of Shakespeare’s impulsive romantics have given way to disguises, leading metaphors, and family arrangements which are unbreakable.”

Since Liang and Zhu are actually last or surnames, I’ll refer to them as Shanbo and Yingtai, their first of given names.


The heroine of the legend, Zhu Yingtai, is the only daughter of the nine Zhu family children. She is very bright and has been well educated by her wealthy father. She reads, writes, has studied the classics and history, and admires the great women in China’s past, but craves more education.

Unfortunately, Chinese schools do not accept female students. Finally she convinces her father to let her travel to an academy in Hangzhou disguised as a boy, to continue her studies. In her camouflage on her way to the academy, she meets Liang Shanbo, a scholar from Kuaiji, headed to the same school. They feel an immediate kinship and, after chatting the whole way there, they take an oath of fraternity in the pavilion of a thatched bridge.
Declaration of Brotherhood at Bridge

For three years, as sworn brothers, they live, study, debate scholarly topics, write poetry, and play together. Shanbo is so consumed by his studies that never suspects Yingtai is a girl.

On the other hand, Yingtai falls in love with Shanbo and attempts to show her affection, but Shanbo never gets the picture. She is like a brother, best friend, and confidant to him.

Then Yingtai receives a letter saying her father is ill and she needs to go home. She has to go but loves Shanbo and is determined to be with him for the rest of their lives. To pave the path she wants to follow with Shanbo, she discloses who she is and the situation to the headmaster's wife. Yingtai asks her to inform Shanbo and give him a jade pendant as a betrothal gift.
Roommates For 3 Years
Unknowing, Shanbo accompanies she "sworn brother" for several miles to see her off. During the journey, Yingtai again hints she is actually a woman by comparing their relationship to a pair of mandarin ducks. In China, mandarin ducks are the symbol of love between a man and woman. He is just confused and questions her unusual comparison.

Desperate, Yingtai tells Shanbo she will act as a matchmaker for him and her "sister." Before they part,  she reminds him to visit her residence later so he can propose to her "sister." The two part with great reluctance.
The Reluctant Departure
Some references say Shanbo didn't come to visit her for two years, and only then learned she was a woman. [There are a number of variation regarding timing of his return. However, her father was wall again when he showed up.]

In the mean time, Yingtai learns her parents have already arranged a marriage for her with Ma Wencai, the son of a wealthy and powerful provincial governor. In the Chinese culture marriage is not simply a union of a man and wife, but the act of joining two families as one. In this case, the Zhu and Ma families had a history of amiable relations, and both were of high social standing. To cancel the engagement at this time would have been unthinkable.

After  Shanbo returns to the academy, the head mistress gave him the message and the pendant.
Shanbo Proposes

When Shanbo finally arrives to ask for Yingtai’s hand in marriage, the answer has to be “no.” Shanbo is so devastated that he soon becomes ill and dies.

Yingtai is also heartbroken, but her marriage to Wencai is a family commitment and she can’t have Shanbo. Finally she agrees to marry Wencai on the condition that the marriage procession pass by Shanbo’s grave and she be permitted to make a sacrifice at his tomb. The Ma family agree.

On the day of her wedding, dressed in funeral white [the usual color of Chinese wedding dresses is red], as the procession approached the tomb, the weather became stormy.
Becoming Butterflies

Yingtai was standing before the gave in the rain, weeping over the loss of her true love, when a blot of lightning split open the grace. Off balance, she fells into the hole, and then the chasm closed over her. As suddenly as the storm came, it let up. Before the family could dig the bride out, two large, colorful butterflies fluttered out of the tomb. Dancing and Weaving, the ill-fated couple now were rejoined in the afterlife.                                                                                                                


The Butterfly Lovers is one of four Chinese Legends considered in that culture as The Greatest Love stories. Like most legends, there is usually a kernel of truth somewhere in the story since it is also mentioned in official written historical records.

The earliest dates back to the late Tang Dynasty, around 600 BC. author Liang Zaigan wrote in Shidao Sifan Zhi,The righteous woman Zhu Yingtai was buried together with Liang Shanbo.”
Also, a work entitled Xuanshi Zhi by author Zhang Du [Assistant-director of the Left in the Department of State Affairs, Tang Dynasty] tells 250 stories including that of Liang and Zhu.
References indicate the story became well known on a broad scale in the Eastern Jin Dynasty [317 - 420 AD], and it is often credited to that time period or said to be set in that period. Also like most legends, there are many versions of the story.

While none of my research says specifically these two were real people, apparently Liang Shanbo was the magistrate in some nearby city. Several references indicate that the Liang Shanbo Temple was built in 347 [no reference to BC or AD, but I'd guess the earlier] by locals, in his memory, because he "contributed greatly in his term of office [as magistrate] to the resolving the problems caused by flooding."
Liang Temple in Liang Cultural Park
Travel to Foreign Lands For Romance and Intrigue
With a Novel by


Sources:Title Photo: youTube Presentation of Butterfly Lovers
Violin concerto

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