A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

NOTE: the blog is currently dormant but please enjoy the posts we're keeping online.

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Monday, April 29, 2013

My Pinterest Addiction Saves the Day! Again.

There's this little website a few people have heard of....Kidding! It's PINTEREST! My crazy enthusiasm is in direct correlation to my obsession with this site. A friend of mine sent me an invitation to join Pinterest a while back when the site was just getting off the ground. I registered, then left it alone, unsure what to do with such a strange animal.

Then, while on twitter (where I live and breath and haunt) I saw an agent posting links to recipes. I don't cook, but they were pretty pictures - from Pinterest. Then, one of my favorite authors shared pins of funny things that inspired or encouraged her. It got my attention. I wandered back to my account and looked at my very pitiful and mostly empty boards, then left again, but within a few months everywhere I turned was another post, update or tweet about the site and I took the hint. There was something about Pinterest that attracted everyone. I was missing it. So, I gave it another try. (I HATE missing out on things).

I logged in, took a deep breath and started a new board. I gave it a lame title and I searched for things that went with the manuscript I was working on at the time. Four hours later....<-- see what happened there? I had a nice arrangement of things that inspired me and my story. As the days went by, if I struggled with the plot, I looked at the board. I used all the visual clues I saved up to deepen my internal picture of the island where my story takes place. I read the little funnies I thought my characters might say, and I found a renewed vigor in my voice. Now, I'm not completely crediting Pinterest with my success, I mean, I had a little something to do with it...I hope, but that fateful board led me to the completion of my very first cozy mystery novel. That same cozy mystery landed me a gig with Carina Press! Not too bad for a site I didn't know what to do with for months.

As it turns out, I'm a visual person too. Who knew? For years, I've thought of myself as limited to words and imagination. Using a new site to match visuals with my ideas opened doors for me and taught me things about how I think and what I believe and how badly I need new clothes! I now have dozens of pin boards (You can see my Pinterest here) and I've created one for each of the books I started working on. I'd love to share the board for my upcoming cozy, Murder by the Seaside. If your curious about the board that kept me going, that was the one. That's where it all began AND as an added bonus, when the publisher contacted me looking for the tone and feeling of my book - they were putting together a cover. (A COVER!!) I used words as well as possible to answer their questions, and then I pointed them to Pinterest! Hey, my board says things with pictures that I can't always capture in words - at least not without rambling, which I do, as you see :)

If you're on Pinterest, look me up! I love finding new pinning pals to follow :)

Friday, April 26, 2013


As a Romantic Suspense author I'm in the enviable position (sometimes) of attracting readers from across both the Romance and Thrillers/Mystery genres. But though I might attract more readers by crossing genre lines, I also get a little more criticism. What gets me in trouble the most is never how graphically I kill someone, but how often and how explicitly my hero and heroine have sex. For some people--a small minority who probably don't realize the books are Romantic Suspense or just have no idea what the Romantic Suspense genre entails--murder and maiming is fine, but god help me if someone has an orgasm :) I am totally okay with people having their own set of values when it comes to reading about 'bedroom acts' (or 'kitchen' or 'wherever'...) but it never fails to amaze me that people can be fine with killing--gleeful even--and yet recoil at the idea of a little physical intimacy between people who are falling in love. 

I remember watching a Desmond Morris TV series in the nineties that took married couples who were very much in love and making them abstain from sex for several months. It didn't take long for cracks to form in the relations. What had been mutually supportive relationships became fractured and tense. The researchers postulated that men and women are different (ha!) in that men need sex to feel love and women need love to have sex.

It's an interesting idea.

Sex is important in a relationship. Even when people aren't having any, sex is very important in a relationship.

Love and romance are all tied up with sex in my mind. Maybe its the biologist in me, trying to make sense of something which is essentially nebulous. I mean, why is one person attracted to another? I really don't know on a general level, but I do know when it comes to the characters I create.

I personally like to read Romances that are both sexy and subtle. I like hot and I like sweet. But for some reason my stories generally veer toward hot. I have no idea why. I hope I don't upset readers with my sex scenes. I'd hate to do that. But I also don't write sex scenes wondering how people might react (else I might have anticipated my sister-in-laws comment about the height of kitchen counters while we were eating Christmas dinner). I'd never write another word if I allowed readers to intrude on my thoughts when I'm supposed to be in someone else's head. (Is this complicated enough for everyone? Multiple personality head hopping during the writing of sex scenes?).

However, my latest book, The Killing Game, only has one sex scene in the whole thing (that's what the story needed). Ironically I'm now worried I'll be criticized for not having enough sex in an action-adventure romance. For the main part, I am blessed by having readers who happen to like the same blend of Romance and Suspense that I do.

So, the climatic question of the day: How much is too much??
Wildlife biologist Axelle Dehn isn’t about to let anyone harm her endangered snow leopards—not the poacher intent on killing them, nor the soldier who wants to use them as bait. But Axelle is unknowingly entangled in a conflict that stretches back three decades, a conflict that could spark a war between two of the world’s great nations.
British SAS soldier, Ty Dempsey, is on a mission to hunt down an infamous Russian terrorist in a remote region of Afghanistan. Dempsey hasn’t failed a mission yet, but when Axelle is kidnapped by the Russian, he is forced to choose between duty and his heart. He risks everything to save the determined, prickly woman he’s fallen for, but in doing so sparks a deadly series of events that threaten to expose the most successful spy in history. A spy who will destroy anyone who gets in his way.

The Killing Game is available from,,, Kobo, nook, Smashwords, and Apple. And in print from Createspace.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Friend Who Helped Me Face My Fears

When I learned the date I was scheduled to write a post for this blog a chill ran down my spine. April 24th was the day a very close friend died suddenly while running in Rock Creek Park in Washington, DC.  Jim was a divorce attorney—a mediator, really, because he was a big believer in there being two sides to every broken relationship. I never watched him mediate between two angry, hurting people, but I spent enough time around him to know he was perfect for the job. Jim was one of the clearest thinkers and best listeners I've ever known.

Like most of my friends in Washington, Jim was way into politics and international affairs, and loved to debate and argue the issues from all sides. But what really fascinated him was listening to people's personal stories, the more complex the better, and analyze how their childhood scars and adolescent traumas shaped them. So when I started writing romantic suspense featuring deeply flawed, damaged characters, Jim eagerly offered himself as a sounding board. I didn't have much confidence as a writer back then, and he was a very busy man, so at first I declined his help. But he was the kind of guy who inspired trust in people, and he ultimately persuaded me to go out on a limb and let him read my very first manuscript. I still cringe at the memory of how afraid I was that he'd think less of me for having written such schlock.  

Looking back at that first book, which I called Headmistress, it's clear that Jim was not only generous with his time (the thing was a 500-page monster), his critique was incisive (and kind!) and challenged me to stretch myself as a writer. He insisted I send it out to editors, which I did, without success. Years later I borrowed from that early manuscript, and Jim's critique, to launch a dark, sensuous book about a school mistress called Son of the Enemy, which will be released in June. I like to think he would be proud of me if he read it.

Was there someone in your life who inspired you to break through your fears and go for it?  Please share your stories!

—Ana Barrons

Monday, April 22, 2013


Have you ever considered how much your writing reveals?  I don’t mean what you write, I mean your handwriting.  How you use what your grammar school teacher called the Palmer Method.  It gives you away.  Every time.
            Take those long, loopy “y’s” and “g’s” at the end of a word when the final loop swings back up—that means you’re sensual and making the most of it.  Those “a’s” that don’t quite close?  You’re talkative, great company, but maybe, just maybe, you spill secrets.  Like what happened last night at . . .
            Is there a little hook at the beginning of capital letters such as “H,” say or “M?”  If so, you want to keep a grasp on everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve.  A husband?  Those royalty checks?  Then there are people who top off their lower case “i’s” with little round circles . . . . do you do that?  Hmm.
For graphologists, hundreds of subtle nuances in strokes like these expose our well hidden selves, the ones we think we’re keeping private.  The truth is that every time we take pen to paper, the story we’re really telling, whether we know it or not, is about ourselves.
But not to worry.  The Age of Texting has arrived.  We’ve been saved by the iPad.  Or the Smart Phone.  For who writes in cursive anymore?  Writing with a pen is becoming a dying art.  In fact some schools no longer teach cursive in the beginning grades. And u can 4get about spelling while you’re at it.
For those of us who make a career out of the written word, what we say has always been the primary way we reveal ourselves to others.  So the loss of cursive writing may not affect us deeply.
Come to think of it, not having to take pen to paper may come as a big relief to a lot of people.  Take the college sophomore who recently wrote a note to his Aunt Jane.  She read it, realized he was depressed—she could tell from the way his final words drooped on the page—and told his mother to get to him immediately before something dire happened.  All he thought he’d done was write a thank you for the Christmas fruitcake.
P.S. For an excerpt  from Killer Kitchens, Jean’s  latest cozy mystery, take a peek at  She didn’t take any chances at being psyched out through her penmanship though, so the whole excerpt is typed in Times New Roman. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Why, Why, Why!!! Tell my Why-eye eye

I was recently editing an MS making sure I’d answered all the whys in the story and I realized I had my own real life unanswered why questions. Like:
WHY doesn’t someone make a riding vacuum cleaner?
Why do people going to the gym look for a close parking space?
Why do we press harder on a remote control when we know the batteries are about dead?
Why do banks charge a fee on 'insufficient funds' when they know there is insufficient money?
Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but they fricking have to check when you say the paint is wet?
Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?
Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard?
Why does Superman stop bullets with his chest, but ducks when a revolver is thrown at him?
Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200.00 and a substantial tax cut saves you $30.00?
Why did people in the 60s take acid to make the world weird and now that the world is weird take Prozac to make it normal?
Why do hot dogs come 6 to a pack and the buns come 8 to a pack
If people evolved from apes, why are there still apes?
Why is it no matter what color bubble bath you use, the bubbles are always white?
Why is there never a day that mattresses are not on sale?
Why do people touch a pregnant woman’s belly and say congrats but never touch a guys penis and say good job?
Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
Why do some people keep reading a bad book to the bitter end to see if it’s going to get better?
Why when you finally get time to watch TV there is nothing on the 10 million channels you want to watch?
Why did I get such pleasure naming my wifi connection FBIsurvan?
Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that's falling off the table, you always manage to knock something else over?

Did you ever think that-
Someday health nuts are going to feel stupid dying of nothing.
All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.
Good health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.
Give a person a sandwich and you feed them for a day, teach a person to use the internet and they won't bother you for weeks.
Men have two emotions:
Hungry and Horny. ;-)  BTW if you see one without an erection, make him a sandwich.
 Some people are like a Slinky ... Not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs.
 Life is like eating a jar of Jalapeno peppers.
What you do today, might burn your ass tomorrow.  
We know exactly where one cow with Mad-cow-disease or one chicken with bird flu is located among millions but we haven't got a clue as to where criminals and terrorists are located. Maybe we should put the Department of Agriculture in charge of finding them.  
The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four persons is suffering from some sort of mental illness. Think of three friends -- if they're okay, could it be you.
Can you answer my questions?  Do you have any unanswered why questions?
Rita writes sexy stories about Extraordinary Women and the Men they Love.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Can I quote you on that?

I love quotes. Little nibblets of inspiration. Lessons. Advice. I write them on post-its and stick them to my monitor. I flag and dogear keeper books where a line surprised my heart. I rip chunks out of newspapers and magazines and pin them to my bulletin board.

At times my office resembles a Rose Parade float, it’s so covered in little flaps of paper.

There are so many I love…

Sometimes they remind of who I want to be when I grow up:

Carolyn See: “All writing, all art, maybe all of life—is exactly like dating. Write one charming note to a novelist, an editor, a journalist, a poet, a sculptor, even an agent whose professional work you admire, five days a weeks for the rest of your life.”

Sometimes they remind me of how good days feel:

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “The writing became so fluid that I sometimes felt as if I were writing for the sheer pleasure of telling a story, which may be the human condition that most resembles levitation.”

Sometimes they remind me how to survive a hard day:

Samuel Beckett: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail better.”

This one echoed for days after a recent trip to the theater:

Shakespeare: Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.

I took a trip recently and visited the Alhambra in Spain. 

It's a breathtaking old castle on the top of a mountain, built by Muslims over thousands of years. The Muslim faith restricts depicting certain artistic images and as a result they create amazing graphic displays of color and shape. 

And calligraphy...oh mama! they have some pretty handwriting.

It seemed to me as if the buildings of the Alhambra worshiped words. Thick tiles made of white marble are carved with swirling inscriptions and mounted along halls, or all the way around a room. 

At first, I didn't recognize I was looking at words, the shapes were so pretty. Now I can't get them out of my head. So much nicer than post-it notes!

If only I knew how to carve stone.... you save quotes?

I’d love to hear some of yours!

Friday, April 12, 2013


We've all heard them, seen them in used in television, movies and advertising, or read them in books. The dreaded cliché. People use them all the time while talking. It's as natural for some as talking with your hands (which I'm totally guilty of—never stand too close when I get going—you could lose an eye. LOL) They also tend to be a regional thing. I'm from the South . . . we spout cliches here like well—like water off a duck's back.

There's a natural rhythm and familiarity to the cliché. They can be a comforting turn of phrase which takes us to a special place and time. Or reminds us of a particular friend who always used those particular word(s). In writing using cliches can be great as long as we don't overuse them. Too many and the reader will start rolling their eyes to the back of their heads.

Still they can add a nuance or flavor to the story that might not otherwise be there. Like adding an accent to the dialect, the cliché can change the ordinary to the extraordinary. Here are a few examples of some cliches I'm sure you've heard before.

Avoid it like the plague

Deader than a doornail

Grab a tiger by the tail

If these walls could talk

The pot calling the kettle black

Think outside the box

Thick as thieves

Banging your head against a brick wall

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Plenty of fish in the sea

Every dog has its day

He/she was like a kid in a candy store

Back to the salt mines

The best thing since sliced bread

Crying all the way to the bank

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

These are a handful of cliches I know I've heard or read over the years. Sometimes they make a character unique and stand out in a crowd of same old, tired caricatures. But, and this caveat I'll give you for free—don't overuse them. Sprinkling a few of them throughout your story or conversation can be fun and light but too many and your creativity can be called into question, thinking you're using them as a crutch. (I've been guilty of having a few too many cliches running throughout my books and my critique partners call me on them every time.)

So, how do you feel about cliches in your stories? Do you love 'em or would you rather do without them altogether?

Why not add your own special cliches to the above list. Post them in the comment section for everybody to see and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


People often ask me whether I write my novels using a detailed outline or whether I’m a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of gal. They are curious if I storyboard and follow sketched-out scenes for each book or do I write footloose and fancy-free, without knowing in advance what is going to happen next to my characters? Not surprisingly, many authors get asked this question. However, one question we don’t get asked that often is: “In what order do we write our stories?”

Huh? Order? What kind of question is that? It may surprise some of you to know that many screenwriters write their stories out of order and not in consecutive chapters or scenes, much in the same way that directors film a movie. Do authors do the same? I once read that Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series (as well as numerous other books), likes to write out of order. Meaning, she likes to write whatever scene is in her head at the moment, regardless of whether or not it comes next in the natural story progression. She says she then goes back later to stitch together all the disjointed scenes and fill in the missing transitions until the story is finished. I find this fascinating.

To answer the earlier question, I like to follow a detailed outline. I need to know where I’m going and what I’m trying to accomplish in each scene, as well as in the overall story. I applaud and even envy those writers who sit down everyday and write without having a clue what's going to happen. It just wouldn't work for me. But writing out of order...well, now that concept intrigues me.

Since I’ve always wanted to give it a try, I finally broke down and started to do it with my current novel-in-progress. Yep, I’m writing out of order.  I still know where I’m going and what I want to accomplish, but I am finding the deviation quite liberating and invigorating. Who knew? It’s working for me.

I wonder how many of you writers out there write out of order? Am I in a tiny minority or am I finally getting with the program? If you do write out of order, do you do it regularly? Occasionally? Once in a blue moon? Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Why I Didn't Write The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

We recently watched Les Miserables, and at the conclusion I received the pivotal question, "You're an author, why didn't you write this book?"

"Mmmm, yes. Always an observation to make one feel confident in their skills."

Aside from the fact that I'm not French, I did not write Les Miserables because it was not a genre of choice for me. It wasn't Romantic Suspense. At the time he penned Les Mis, Victor Hugo had already become quite political. I'm not one for bringing politics into my writing. Perhaps politics will exist as part of the plot, but never as a personal stand.

But, lets jump back thirty years earlier, when a young, more romantic Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Is this something I would have written? Well, it was pretty violent. When I was a child I accidentally saw a movie on TV with a hanging taking place.  To this day, I can't watch anything like that. I have to close my eyes.  I can take blood, gore, etc. ... but not that.  So no, I wouldn't have written Hunchback because it had a hanging in it. I also would not have written the book because I always root against Notre Dame in football. And lastly, as Quasimodo once said, "always stick to your hunches." So I listened to him and wrote ENDLESS NIGHT instead, which is equally a literary masterpiece. :)

So I ask the gifted group of authors here, "Why didn't YOU write the Hunchback of Notre Dame?"


Friday, April 5, 2013


     We write mysteries—mysteries filled with romance, terror, intrigue and fantasy. But April is National Poetry Month and I wonder how many of us will take a break and write lyric poetry, narrative poetry, blank verse—Will Shakespeare did it. Perhaps free verse, an elegy on a sad occasion or an epigram? Is there someone amongst us who has written a ballad—a repeated refrain that tells a tale? How about an ode, a sonnet to someone you love? Perhaps you’ve tinkered with a limerick that would make friends laugh or a simple rime?
     I wrote my first rime while doing a “bread and butter,” job at a conference where speakers were trying to get investors for health insurance plans. On the last day of the conference, one speaker had no attendees and the staff—including me—were handed pads and pens and told to sit in the room and pay rapt attention.
     The speaker was nervous and could have used a few lessons in how to prepare his presentation and in spite of an overly air-conditioned room, I could feel my eyes closing.  Something had to be done. I picked up the pen and began to write. No on would be the wiser—if anyone noticed, they would think I was taking notes. This tribute to mysteries is what emerged.
My sheets are damp, in disarray
A devil incarnate joined the fray
Should he poison, slash or shoot?
That single print must match his boot
The P.I. who will solve this case;
How many puzzles does the lady face?
Has she a partner? A dog? A cat?
Is the cat the one to smell a rat?
The cop is loaded with testosterone
Of course—it accounts for his deep baritone
Will their dialogue move the plot?
Does Chapter Two stall? Or not?
Need a couple of clues for the reader to glean
Perhaps a red herring in-between?
I’ve wrestled my pillow to the floor
While adding a touch of blood and gore
At last! It’s here! The morning light
It’s time to rise, time to write.

Poetry anyone?


Wednesday, April 3, 2013


As an author I like to write about ‘ordinary’ people who rush into hell to find justice.  When confronted by the unimaginable, they fight to survive and prevail.

My focus on the people with non-super powers might be strange considering the fact that as a kid I watched a steady diet of all the super hero cartoons from Mighty Mouse to Superman to the Justice League.  Characters whipped out their super powers to save the world.

Yet my first and always heroes were my parents.  Every day Dad went to work at a tough, difficult job he didn’t like to provide for his family.  Mom sacrificed so her daughters could have more than she did as a Depression-era child.  They weren’t the flashy heroes of the ‘extraordinary’ powers or moment;  to me they were heroic for meeting life’s obligations with resilience every day of their lives.

 From a police officer racing to burning car to rescue a trapped driver to the divorced mother tired from working a thankless job but stays up late to help her daughter complete a school project, I take heart in both those heroic efforts that make the news and those I have the privilege of observing.  See that utility tech working tirelessly on downed lines in an area devastated by disasters? Hero.  Those teams of Red Cross or American Humane Society heading into the eye of the storm to help victims?  Major heroes.    

While many may argue super model/business woman Heidi Klum is far from being ordinary, this past weekend she was just a mother on a holiday with her family.  When a riptide threatened her son, she rushed into the water without hesitation to pull him to safety.  Then she went into danger again to rescue the nanny.   The look of fear and determination on her face would resonate with any parent with a child in danger.  I know her courage and actions will work their way eventually into a character.  For now, she’s added to my ‘hero’ list. 

Do you have a favorite act of heroism you saw or read about?

J Carol Stephenson
Escape to Compelling, Heart-Racing Stories
Website; Facebook; Twitter; Amazon Author Page



Monday, April 1, 2013

I SPY: The Write Balance

Join the authors and friends of Not Your Usual Suspects for an occasional series of posts about their world of reading, writing and publishing.

Short and sweet, hopefully both informative and entertaining - join us at I-Spy to find out the how's and why's of what we do.

TODAY'S POST: I-Spy something beginning with ... 


The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that a balanced life is the key to happiness. This is true for writers as much as anybody else.

The needed amounts will vary among individuals, but when I analyze the balance (or lack thereof) in my life, I basically look at four realms that impact each other and often overlap.

  • Physical

    • Regular Exercise Routine – 30 minutes a day seems to be the recommendation, including a combination of strength-building and aerobic activities. 
    • Diet – While I grew up with the “food pyramid,” my kids are learning about the “healthy plate.” A combination of the two seems to explain what is considered a balanced diet. Drinking water is always a great idea.  Eating plenty of plants is also recommended, and they say half your plate should be plant-related sources.
    • Sleep – While 7-8 hours a night seems to be the immediate answer to “how much sleep do I need,” the National Sleep Foundation says there are many individual and environmental factors that can affect this. For more information, follow this link.

  • Psychological/Emotional/Cognitive

    • Express yourself – i.e., don’t bury emotions. When emotions threaten to overwhelm, writers can naturally channel them into their writing, but when that isn’t so easy, we are a creative lot. Consider other creative outlets such as scrapbooking, journaling, painting, or dancing.
    • Challenge your brain – I may be biased, but it is my belief that writers use more of their brain, and more parts of their brain, more regularly, than anyone else. We have the ability to imagine and create at the same time we are analyzing grammar and sentence structure. We are amazing creatures.
    • Coping with rejection – Nobody enjoys being told they aren’t wanted, needed, or desired. The business of writing necessitates hearing these words on occasion. Finding a way to manage the stress of being told “no thanks” is the key to perseverance.
    • Comparing yourself to others – Writing is often a solitary profession, where sometimes it feels the only way to measure progress or gauge success is to look at the sales, readership, or awards of others. But writing is also an individual journey. Each author’s path to success is different, and we would do well to remember that when the temptation to compare arises.

  • Social

    • Family – While some people find safe harbor at home, others find family members might not be so supportive. As with any career, it’s sometimes difficult to balance the needs of spouses, children, pets, and extended family, but those same people can also bring a joy and satisfaction not found elsewhere.
    • Conferences, Writing Groups, and Critique Partners – Feeding the writer’s soul via gathering with other writers can be rejuvenating. As mentioned above, in such a solitary career, it’s important to find like-minded individuals with whom to share.
    • Get out and about (a.k.a., leave the writing cave) – Inspiration is often found from the real world, which is why you need to get out and do things. Step away from the computer and experience the world.
    • Get to know other people – This is another way of filling the creative well. Whether meeting new people, getting together with friends, or just interacting briefly with the barista at the local coffee shop, seeing other people reminds us what (or who!) we’re writing about. Inspiration for character abides in the real world.

  • Spiritual

    • Feeding your soul - Whatever suits your belief system - communing with nature (gardening, walking, etc.), meditating, prayer, church attendance – DO IT. It’s so easy to put these needs aside to squeeze in time for things that are more temporal, but your spiritual health is just as important as the other realms.

Disclaimer: There is rarely a time in our lives where all of these “boxes” are equal or proportionate. More likely, there is always going to be something out of whack. The key is to be in tune with your needs – physical, psychological, social, and spiritual – and adjust as needed.

How’s your balance? What things do you do to maintain happiness, and what things do you think you can change to work toward your own happy-ever-after?


Anne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling. As a games hostess at Sea World, tutor, waitress, personal and family counselor, and high school counselor, she indulged her curiosity through sanctioned professions. Now, as a stay-at-home mom of three children, her passion for understanding the human race is satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and writer. She writes to reclaim her sanity. 

Connect with Anne Marie at her website, Facebook page, or on Twitter.


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