A to Z Challenge: V is for Vanquish

a-to-z HEADER [2015] - aprilWell, spring seems to be winning the battle with winter, but if things continue as they are, it’ll be a Pyrrhic victory at best. Welcome  to the last Saturday Post in the A to Z Challenge.It’s almost the end of April and the temperature is still below zero, the furnace is still on, and I’ve got the winter blahs.

Badage linkedThe winter has been hard on me and my plants. My maple trees have white spots on them that may be a fungus, but then again may just be the result of the harsh winter. In December, thanks to gale force winds, I lost a holly tree in front of the house,and now, I’m not sure what to do to fill the space.

Spring will come, and I’ll have to make that decision, but when it does, how many other plants will I have lost because of heavy frost after the shoots pushed their way to the surface? Last year, many of my perennials didn’t make it, forcing me to fill the gap with annuals, which died quickly during the short, and unseasonably cold, rainy summer. In fact the only plants that grew well last year, were the weeds. By the time we got back form our vacation, they’d crowded out not only the flowers in the flower beds, they’d taken over the lawn. If you have season allergies, you know how miserable I was with all that nasty pollen floating around. I need to figure out how to get rid of the weeds, before they get rid of me.

VThere are people who believe we should just letter Mother Nature do her thing–that we should naturalize our yards. Obviously those people don’t have allergies.  I plant flowers that don’t bother me. Here is a charming excerpt on allergies from http://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/seasonal-allergies#1

Symptoms of Seasonal Allergies

Symptoms of allergic rhinitis range from mild to severe. In addition, many people with hay fever suffer from asthma as well. The most common symptoms of allergic rhinitis include:

  • sneezing
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • watery eyes
  • itchy sinuses, throat, eyes, or ear canals
  • ear congestion
  • postnasal drainage

Less common symptoms may include: headache, shortness of breath, coughing, or wheezing.


Trees are responsible for most springtime seasonal allergies. Birch is the main offender in the northern latitudes, with between 15 and 20 percent owishf hay fever sufferers affected by its pollen. Other allergy producing trees in North America include cedar, alder, horse chestnut, willow, and poplar. Don’t forget dandelions, my personal nemesis. My grandchildren love to blow those seedpods around.


Hay fever gets its name not from an allergy to hay, but from the fact that many people are afflicted at about the same time as the historical hay-cutting season during the summer months. The real culprits of summertime seasonal allergies are grasses such as ryegrass and Timothy-grass, along with certain weeds. Some 90 percent of hay fever sufferers react to grass pollens, making them the most notorious allergens on the planet.

Autumn is ragweed season. Also known as Ambrosia, there are more than 40 species of ragweed worldwide, most occurring in temperate regions in North and South America. The invasive weeds themselves are difficult to control and symptoms of ragweed allergy can be especially severe. Other plants that drop their pollen in the fall include nettles, mugworts, sorrels, fat hens, and plantains.


By winter, most outdoor allergens lie dormant. While the cold weather may bring much-needed relief to many millions of people with hay fever, it also means more folks are spending time indoors. For those prone to seasonal allergies, outdoor allergens are simply replaced by indoor ones such as mold, pet dander, and dust mites. And let’s not forget snow mold, is a fungal disease that appears in the early spring as the snow melts, and is responsible for killing so much of the grass we had left.

How do you vanquish weeds and other unwanted plants? Well you used to be able to use weed killer, but in their wisdom, the government has banned those that actually work. Now they offer an iron-based weed control, that doesn’t work and costs a fortune. I’m beginning to think the solution is simple. I think I’ll pave the lawn.  Ah wait.  That won’t work. Winter will make it heave like the drive way, and those pesky weeds will come through the cracks.

I give up! It looks like the weeds will vanquish me after all.

Click on the sunflower to visit other V bloggers.

A to Z Challenge: U is for UGH!

a-to-z HEADER [2015] - aprilWell, as some of my friends have posted this morning, “I’d have enjoyed spring more if I’d realized it was only going to last three days.” Yup, you’ve got it. Old Man Winter is doing an encore. We’re expecting snow today. UGH!

Badage linkedToday is Day 21 of the A to Z Challenge. As we near the end of the alphabet, it gets harder and harder to find something interesting to write about, because, let’s face it, the last few letters of the alphabet just aren’t that popular!

If you don’t believe me, have a look in the dictionary. There are a lot fewer pages once you get past T.

Today, is U-day. I struggled with that letter until I looked at today’s weather and saw the dismal forecast. UGH! Don’t get me wrong. Believe it or not, my region has been spared the worst of the weather the last few years. It’s almost as if we

‘re under some kind of force field that channels all the worst of it away from us. I’m not complaining, exactly, just that it’s about time we had some nice weather instead of the blah weather we’ve had–but I’ll take blah over torrential rain, hurricanes, cyclones, or what have you any day.

U is for UGH!

UUgh isn’t a word exactly, although my computer dictionary recognizes it as one. It’s an example of onomatopoeia,a poetic devise where a word imitates a sound. Ugh is the sound I made when I’m dismally disappointed and dismayed about something. There are many things that can make me go ugh, and the weather is just one of them. Looking at the closet and trying to decide what to wear is another ugh point in my life. There must be some nasty little imp that hides in my closet and does something to make my clothes fit incorrectly–either too big or too tight. They weren’t that way when i bought them, so what gives. The other part of closet ughs is deciding what to wear. When I find a garment that fits half-decently, I pull it out and put it on. By now, since cold weather has gone on forever the last few winters, my warmer clothing has seen better days, and frankly, I’m sick of wearing the same thing.  UGH! Another day in a turtleneck with jeans and warm socks.

Another thing that can make me say UGH! is the news. I’m kind of sick of hearing only depressing stuff. Would it be too much to have all the channels report only good news, even if only for one day. UGH!

Well, that’s it for today. Now that I’ve totally ruined your good mood, why not click on the sunflower and see what others think of the letter U.

A to Z Challenge: T is for Terror

a-to-z HEADER [2015] - aprilGood morning! Typical blustery spring day. I love it. We’re in countdown mode. Seven days until the end of the month and the end of the challenge. So, what shall we talk about today?

Badage linkedThe inspiration for today’s post came from last night’s episode of Criminal Minds. That program serves as my muse on more than one occasion, and last night was no exception.

Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t their story line that temps me. It’s the fertile ravings of my deranged mind that takes one of their ideas and runs with it. For example, in last night’s episode, the characters became killers because they were drugged into recalling a recovered memory. From my research, I know these memories are often false, usually brought on by questionable psychological therapy methods including hypnosis and guided memory recall.

So today’s post is T for Terror.

TWhat scares you? We often use the word terrified as an equivalent synonym for frightened or scared, but true terror is the stuff nightmares, and a surprising number of my books, are made of. Terror goes beyond  alarm, dismay, or consternation. Some people are afraid of thunderstorms, others hate spiders, bats, rats, and such, but they aren’t terrified of them. Terror, implies a level of fear far beyond the norm, and it isn’t limited to everyday things.

It’s possible to be terrified of ordinary things. Arachnophobia  is a severe panic-inducing fear of spiders. Aerophobia, also known as pteromerhanophobia is the fear of flying. Achulophobia is the formal term for a crippling fear of the dark, something my heroine in The White Lily suffers from, but I won’t tell you why. Bogyphobia refers to the fear of bogeymen, not the normal, “There’s a bogeyman under my bed” complaint of most children, but one far beyond that. Didaskaleinophobia is the fear of going to school, something I’m sure lots of teenagers acquire on test days,  but believe me, having seen how debilitating it can be for those who truly suffer from it, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Xenophobia, the fear of other races, and triskaidekaphobia,the fear of the number thirteen, are both real conditions that can cause panic on the part of its sufferers. Phobias are real, but often irrational, and while some maintain they can be cured, such a thing is easier said than done.

Terror is often seen in the presence of uncontrollable danger or evil. Terror is prolonged and the object of it can be real or imagined. Young children sometimes suffer from night terrors, nightmares so scary they leave them frozen with fear, unable to respond to events around them, and while there’s nothing there to scare them, their reactions are very real.  How many parents deal with the nightly ritual of monsters under the bed, in my closet, in the basement? What about the need to keep a nightlight on? My grandson used to use the term “big dark.”  He couldn’t be put in a room without a light on. To do so was guaranteed to bring on a tearful crying jag that couldn’t be alleviated until the “big dark” was gone.

What terrifies me? The daily news. You can chuckle, but hearing about the terrible things we, as human beings, do to one another, is what frightens me most. Look at what history has taught us. Men, like Adolph Hitler, can convince millions to do things we see now as unbelievable because they played on fears and terror. We have groups out there dedicated to eradicating the life I prize dearly because I don’t follow the same religion as they do. Others want to destroy me simply because of my gender. What terrifies me most is how easily they seem to be able to convince others, born and reared under the laws I value, to join them in the fight. What terrifies you?

Now, click on the sunflower to visit other T posts.

A to Z Challenge: S is for Seducing His Senator

a-to-z HEADER [2015] - aprilGood morning. The A to Z Challenge is winding down, but before it finishes on the 30th, I want to thank everyone involved in this great idea. Coming up with something new each day hasn’t been easy, but that alone has been an exciting part of the challenge.

Badage linkedThis morning, I’m doing something a bit different for the letter S. I could talk about myself, but I’ve done the name thing.  So, today, I’m passing the torch to my good friend and author, Elle Marlow. Elle is the well-known author of 100 Horses, The Shaman Song, Pour Me, Josey’s Mountains and a host of other great books.

Check out her Amazon page for details.


SToday, she’s here to be my S spokesman, as she talks about her newest release, Seducing His Senator. Take it away, Elle!

Senator Vivian LeMasters is Arizona’s favorite and most talked-about politician.
Her ethics and sexy charisma might win over the voters—but not the ‘establishment.’
They can’t wait to see her fall from her pedestal. She can’t risk her career for anything—even love.
Blackmailed into a plot to end Vivian’s career,
cowboy Brock Barone is supposed to wrap the young senator in a sex scandal—not fall in love. Now he has to choose; seduce her for love or betray her for money.
Phoenix only gets hotter when the sun goes down.
“Arizona senator feels the heat when she’s roped in by a rancher with a secret.”

unnamed (1)Thank you for hosting me today, Susanne and allowing me to talk about my new release, Seducing His Senator.

What can I say?  I love cowboys.  I especially love it when they are caught between and rock and a hard place in order to protect the women they love.  Seducing His Senator is a steamy romantic suspense about a young, sexy female senator trying to win her second election as an Arizona Senator.   But Olson Barone has other plans.  He attempts to send his hot cowboy nephew into the picture to try and seduce Vivian and get it all on film.

Brock Barone never really agrees to do his uncle’s dirty work and instead, he finds himself falling for the woman he’s supposed to destroy.

I had a lot of fun writing this novel and the reviews and feedback have been amazing.   It was a great way to blend my love of the state of Arizona and my interest in politics, and mix it all up into something spicy and sometimes funny too.

unnamedRight now Seducing His Senator will be available for download at $1.99, but after April 26th, it will go back to its normal price of $2.9961Y-7oBiOaL._UX250_
You can come visit me at www.ElleMarlow.Blogspot.com
or follow at ElleMarlowWrite@Twitter

Got my copy, Elle. Looking forward to reading it! Thanks for dropping by and helping me out with the letter S.

Don’t forget to click on the sunflower to access other S blogs today.

Mid Week Tease: More from The White Carnation

MWTease15Hello! I hope spring is struggling to arrive wherever you are–or fall if you’re in Australia or some other part of the Southern Hemisphere. For me, winter’s finally over, and while it isn’t exactly balmy out, it’s definitely warmer than it’s been in months. The trees are full of buds and my crocuses and hyacinths are in bloom, so it’s all good.

The White Carnation, Book One of the Harvester Series was released on Monday and I’m hard at work on Book Two. So, for my tease today, here’s another taste.

The Blurb:

The last person disgraced reporter Faye Lewis wants back in her life is Detective Rob Halliday, the man she blames for ruining her career and breaking her heart. But when she finds an old friend murdered, he’s the one she calls.

For the past year, Rob and his team have been hunting the Harvester, a serial killer who ritualistically murders new mothers and vanishes with their infants. What Rob doesn’t need is another case, especially one involving his ex-fiancée.

Then Faye is assaulted, and Rob realizes the cases are connected. She may hold the answers he needs to find the elusive killer. But the more they investigate, the more complex the situation becomes. Can they set the past aside and work together, or will the Harvester and his followers reap another prize?

The tease:

The White Carnation“Where are you taking me?” From her tone, he could tell she didn’t really care. She knew he’d have questions, and she was probably grateful he’d chosen to ask them elsewhere. But she’d never admit it. Her color wasn’t good, and she shivered. He turned on the heater even though the temperature outside was in the mid-sixties. Despite what the officer on the door had said, for a crime reporter, she’d never had much of a stomach, and seeing Lucy that way would have been a shock.

“Home. I should probably take you to the ER, but knowing how much you hate hospitals, there isn’t any point in making things worse for you. You can answer my questions in the comfort of your own living room, sitting on that god-awful buttercream leather sofa you love so much. By the way, you haven’t moved, have you?”

He recognized bitterness in her chuckle.

“No, my career may be in flames, my finances worse, but my real estate is sound. The couch is gone.”

He cocked an eyebrow at her words but didn’t comment. Things must be bad if she’d parted with that damn custom-made couch. “Where’d you park the Camaro?”

“It’s gone, too. My Ford’s a half block down.”

“I won’t miss the couch, but that Camaro was your baby. Why get rid of it?”

“It didn’t match my shoes,” she spat out bitterly.

“Don’t chew my head off. You called me, remember?”

Faye nodded, gave him the license plate number, and he radioed it in, making arrangements to have her vehicle towed to the police station for collection tomorrow.

The only sound she made during their twenty-minute ride to her East Cambridge condo was the sup-sup hiccupping he expected from someone who’d wept the way she had. Rob tried to ignore the wretched sound tearing at him. He wanted to curse and swear at her for all the pain she’d caused him, ask her how she could’ve believed he’d do something so despicable. But seeing her like this, broken and bereft, the way she’d been the night they’d met, touched a small corner of his heart he didn’t know still existed. You didn’t kick someone when they were down no matter how angry you were. This was the woman he’d loved, the one he’d planned to spend his life with. That dream might’ve been shattered, but he’d still find the man who’d done this and make him pay.

Buy links:


Now, check out the rest of this week’s teasers. 


A to Z Challenge: R is for Reality

a-to-z HEADER [2015] - aprilWelcome to a rainy, cool April morning, but I’m okay with that…it isn’t snowing! Today, on the A to Z Challenge, we’re looking at the letter R. Badage linkedWhen I think of R, a lot of good words come to mind, like romance and roses, but the word I’ve decided to look at is reality. As a suspense/romance novelist, one of the things I have to do in my books is make the stories believable. So…

R is for Reality

I will start by stating unequivocally that I do not watch so-called reality shows. Reality television is type of television programming that supposedly presents unscripted ordinary people, not actors,  acting out dramatic, humorous, or real-time events.  Give me a break! They’re being filmed, so there goes the realism in one shot. They’re doing what they’ve been told to do, so there goes the unscripted aspect. Possibly the only thing that is ‘real’ are the lines they speak, but even then, I think they’ve been coached. If I want to spend an hour or two watching television, then give me a program with solid acting, a complex and entertaining plot, and a satisfactory conclusion. I don’t want to be voted off the island, out of the house, or anything else.

RWhen I write, I try to be as realistic as possible. I want the story to be believable, but it’s primary goal is to entertain. Since I don’t write sci-fi, whatever devices my characters have at their disposal need to actually exist. A subcutaneous tracking device would be cool, but we haven’t invented one yet that can be used safely. Maybe the black-ops people have one, but not the general public. That being said,  it’s possible to put a GPS microchip into a locket or some other large enough piece of jewelry, and of course cell phones have them, so a character could be tracked by GPS.  Secondly what happens in the book has to be accurate. With my first novel, I learned gasoline isn’t explosive, but the fumes are easily ignited which is what makes it look like it is.

When I write, I research, and the reality is, I’m terrified by the kind of stuff i can learn about on the Internet–modern day Molotov cocktails, pressure cooker and pipe bombs, and tons of information on drugs, and that’s not even considering the pornography and other yukky stuff out there.

Reality is important in literature, and while I strive for realism in my books, I remember that the overwhelming point is to entertain. So, when you pick up my books, rest assured the research has been done and the reality maintained.

Click on the sunflower and visit the other R blogs.

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quality

a-to-z HEADER [2015] - aprilHello again. As we start the third full week of the A to Z Challenge, I’m hoping spring really has arrived. It’s still cool out, but the buds are on the trees. last year, we didn’t have any leaves until mid-May, so if they come in April I’ll be thrilled.

Badage linkedToday is an exciting day for me. It’s the release day for my latest book, The White Carnation, the first book in The Harvester Series, and I hope it does well. I have high hopes for this book.

As I was getting ready to post this morning, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to write about. Q isn’t your normal run of the mill letter. I considered all the Q words I could think of: quaint, quiet, quite, qualify, queen, quintessential… you get the idea, but none of them really spoke to me. Then I thought of quality.

QSo, without further ado, Q is for Quality. According to Dictionary .com, quality has fifteen meanings as a noun and another three as an adjective.

 So what do I think of quality?  When I think of quality as an adjective, I think of it as the best of something. When I think of it as a noun, I think kindness, goodness, but I also think of it as ability. Yesterday we went to watch the Raisin River Canoe Races. Those canoeists who were quality paddlers, had no trouble shooting the dam and the rapids that followed, but the less experienced ones–well, after they capsized most of them couldn’t even empty their canoes without help from the firefighters nearby.
After the race, we went to The Grand Hotel–pretentious name for a small town bar and restaurant, but a friend was playing, and we wanted a beverage. We had the kids with us. One of my granddaughters has star-quality. She’s cute as a button, and loves to sing. Since the restaurant wasn’t busy, Al made that little girl’s day. He let her join the band and sing a few songs. That’s quality. On his part for being a wonderful, caring friend, on hers for having the guts to get up there and sing.
Don’t forget to check out the other Q blogs by clicking on the sunflower.

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