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The NovelFriends are four writers who met through Wisconsin Romance Writers and initially became bonded by our love of books. That connection has expanded, grown, and deepened into true friendship over the years. We look forward to sharing our experiences with you, so follow the blog and join in the fun - we're always happy to have more NovelFriends!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Elvis Week

Each of us take a Tuesday of the month to post here, but since we've got 5 Tuesdays this month and there are only 4 of us, we needed to come up with something to do for today.  So, for your (and our) entertainment, we came up with a writing prompt and each of us ran off to play with it.   Our prompt?  An Elvis Song    And here are our results:


Are You Lonesome Tonight?

Kate Monroe sat at a small table in the noisy bar. What had possessed her to move to a small town where the height of Saturday night entertainment was an Elvis themed bar? Ale House Rock, seriously? 

Not that the town she moved from had been much bigger, but it was closer to a city that offered at least a few options for having fun. Her coworker, Aubrey, had gone to the restroom a while ago, but had been stopped several times on her way back to their table. Kate tried to keep her focus on her drink instead of on the curious glances she felt directed her way.

The lights dimmed and a bright spotlight lit up the small stage next to her table. The sequined red curtains parted and a hottie dressed like Elvis in his younger years stepped forward.

“Welcome to Ale House Rock! Who’s ready for some singin’ and some dancin’?” As the rest of the bar broke into cheers, his deep, rough drawl slid through the speakers and wrapped around and let loose goose bumps on her arms.

Before she had a chance to catch her breath, he gyrated his hips, fake-strummed his guitar and belted out the opening lyrics of “Blue Suede Shoes”.

Ho-ly heaven!


There is no such things as ghosts. You’re hallucinating.

That’s what the rational side of my brain told me as I stood there, right outside the revered gates, and he walked toward me. But I hadn’t had anything to drink stronger than a mocha latte. I certainly hadn’t smoked anything.

I raised my hand to my forehead. No fever.

Did people just have random hallucinations?

I was reminded of that song as I lowered my arm. You know, the one Marc Cohn sings. The one Little Big Town remade with Sugarland—Walking In Memphis.

His head turned toward me as he moved past. Our eyes met. He smiled with the signature curl to his lip, and then he winked.

Wow, what a hallucination! My heart skipped before beating triple time, leaving me breathless. I suddenly understood the swooning effect.

I watched him pass through the gates and disappear into the house as my friend bounded up to me with our tickets.

“I still can’t believe we’re here. I’m telling you, Graceland is definitely going to be the highlight of my trip!”

Still speechless from a moment ago, all I could do was nod in agreement.


Blue Hawaii.

Tamara’s chest tightened as she pulled the old VHS tape from the video cabinet in her parents’ living room. A lifelong Elvis Presley fan, her mom had been collecting Elvis paraphernalia since she was a teenager. She owned a vast collection of records, paintings, figurines, belts, key chains, coffee mugs, magnets, purses, a lunch box, several ornaments, a couple of clocks, dozens of T-shirts…and that was just what Tamara could recall off the top of her head.

Her mother also owned all thirty three of his movies—which included two documentaries—on either VHS or DVD. Some both. And though they’d seen every one of them many times over, Blue Hawaii had always been her mom’s favorite.

Her parents spent their honeymoon on the Big Island many years ago, so Hawaii had always held a special place in both of their hearts. "Two glorious weeks in paradise," her father would tease with a wink at her mother, who never failed to turn three shades of pink.

After her father passed, her mom often talked about heading back to beautiful Anaeho’omalu Bay to spread his ashes over the crystal blue waters of the Pacific Ocean.

Now that day would never come.

Slipping the movie from its cardboard sleeve, Tamara found herself holding her breath. She’d watched Blue Hawaii with her mother so many times she could recite the movie word for word. Because, frankly, it had been a favorite of hers as well, though she’d have cut out her tongue before ever admitting it. Part of the fun had been rolling her eyes and groaning whenever her mother declared it Elvis night. She’d make fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches—which, surprisingly, weren’t too bad—and they’d wash them down with ice-cold Pepsi. The King’s favorite beverage.

Unable to resist, Tamara popped the black tape into the old VCR. A strange feeling washed over her when the title song started to play, and Elvis’s deep, hypnotic voice filled every corner of the room. 

She closed her eyes and sang softly along…

“…Night and you and Blue Ha-waaaaiiii. The night is heav-enly, and you are heav-en to me…”
Tears blurred her vision before spilling down her cheeks. She gave her head a frustrated shake and swiped them away. She hadn’t seen the movie in several years, yet when she closed her eyes—

A sudden, comforting presence settled in beside her. Tamara’s eyes shot open as her heart warmed with inner peace. Whether in life or beyond, it seemed, her mother simply couldn’t resist Blue Hawaii.


Are You Lonesome Tonight?”

“You Hound Dog!  I told you to never call me again!”

“I can’t help it, I’m Stuck on You.”

“That’s not my fault, I just want you to leave me alone.”

“Come on, Baby, Don’t Be Cruel.    I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You,   you’re my Good Luck Charm and I Just Can’t Help Believing that you Love Me Tender as much as I do you.”

“I filed a restraining order against you, if you come anywhere near me, you’ll be doing The Jailhouse Rock.

“A restraining order??  Is that why all my Love Letters came back marked Return to Sender?  You’re a Hard Headed Woman.”

“No, I just don’t want to spend another night in Heartbreak Hotel.    You got me All Shook Up and then left me.  What was I supposed to do?”

“I’m sorry, I guess we both had Suspicious Minds and ruined what we had.  Do you think you could ever let bygones be bygones and give us a second chance? “

“Well, I suppose It’s Now or Never.  Come on over, and Let Me Be Your Teddy Bear…and make sure you’re wearing your Blue Suede Shoes.”

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Welcome To Redemption Character Interview: NY Times Best-selling Author Katelynn Meadows

*Spoiler: If you haven’t read Home Is Where the Heart Is, Book 5, you may want to save this for afterward.


Erin Barnes:  “Hi – This is Erin Barnes from Channel 5 news in Green Bay, reporting from Coffee To Chai For in the neighboring town of Redemption.  You all know from my book club that I’m a huge fan of romance novels, and today I’m thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author, Katelynn Meadows.  Fans of Katelynn’s will be surprised to learn Meadows is the pen name for Melinda Spalding, daughter of Spalding Industries CEO Jacob Spalding Sr.  So let me start with, do you prefer Katelynn or Melinda?”

Melinda Spalding:  “Lindy, actually.” [small smile curves her lips] “It’s been my nickname for as long as I can remember.”

Erin:  “Lindy it is.  And you’ve been in Wisconsin for how long now?”

Lindy:  “Just a few months.”

Erin:  “How do you like it here in

Lindy:  “Mayberry?”

Erin:  [laughs] “I was going to say Redemption, but maybe that answers my question…?”

Lindy:  “Mayberry is my affectionate name for Redemption.”

Erin:  “Ah—okay.  Now, I know you grew up in L.A., so what brought you here to the Midwest?”

Lindy:  “Spalding Industries opened a new plant here, and I was in charge of the start-up.”  [smiles proudly] “S.I. provided the area with over five hundred new jobs.”

Erin:  “I remember reading about that.  How wonderful.”  [tilts head thoughtfully] “So your move had nothing to do with your brother?”

Lindy sits silently, clearly uncomfortable with the question.

Erin:  [undaunted] “It’s no secret he moved out here to escape the scandal of actress Amanda Ames’ death.”

Lindy:  “My brother was cleared of all charges, and I’d prefer to not discuss my family, please.”

Erin:  [pauses, gives a quick nod] “I can respect that.  Back to Redemption—did you find it difficult to transition to small-town life after having grown up in the big city?”

Lindy:  [shrugs one shoulder] “There was a time when I couldn’t imagine living here.  Winter snow storms and below zero temperatures?”  [playful shudder] “No thank you.  But somehow I fell in love with this beautiful town…and everyone in it.”

Erin:  “Does the ring on your left hand have anything to do with your change of heart?”

Lindy:  [coyly bats her eyelashes] “Let’s just say home is definitely where the heart is.”

Erin:  “I certainly can’t argue with that.”  [leans forward, intrigued] “So is he here today?  Will we get to meet him?”

Lindy:  “No, I’m afraid he had to work.  He owns and operates DP Tire & Auto, just down the road.”

Erin glances out the window and reels back in surprise at the crowd gathered outside.

Erin:  “It seems you have quite the fan base here in Redemption.  Suddenly, it feels like The Today Show.”

Lindy:  [looks over her shoulder; eyes widen in comical dismay] “Oh, my God…”

Erin:  “Sure is an interesting looking crowd.” [leans forward again] “Wait…Is that a pig?

Lindy:  “Who?”

Erin:  [surprised laughter] “The animal in that lady’s arms, wearing the plaid sweater.”

Lindy:  “Oh, that’s just June and Sweet Pea. She’s a little touched, but sweet.”  [with a long suffering sigh, Lindy gets up and pushes opens the coffee shop door, gesturing everyone inside] “Well, let’s go.  You all might as well come in.”

Everyone excitedly files in, filling every seat in the small shop.

Charlie Russell:  [looks around the coffee shop] “Where the hell is Drew?”

Lindy:  [eyes grow suspiciously bright; blinks rapidly] “He had to work.”

Lindy returns to her seat; Charlie scowls and slips out the door.

Erin:  “So…I take it these are all friends of yours?”

Lindy:  [Lindy nods, affectionately scanning the crowd] “Friends, family, and everything in between.”

The crowd erupts into applause and shout-outs.  Lindy grins, but shushes the room.

Erin:  “Lindy, readers just love your Magville series, and Moonlit Encounter has been receiving rave reviews.  When I posted on my blog about this interview, the number one overwhelming question people asked is: When is your next book coming out?”

Lindy:  [smiles into the camera] “My fans are amazingly supportive, I’m so lucky.  And grateful.  And I’m happy to announce that Moonlit Seduction is scheduled for an October 1st release.”

Erin:  “Excellent news!  I’m going to pre-order my copy tonight.  Okay, the second most asked question: Where do you get the inspiration for your heroes?” [looks around the room] “Maybe that answer is obvious.”

Camera pans the crowd.

Hannah Porter:  “Ask her about Sir Andrew Portland!”

Snickers erupt from the peanut gallery.

Carrie Lowell:  [cocks a teasing brow at Lindy] “Seriously?  Sir Andrew Portland?”

Allie Daniels:  “I don’t get it—what’s so funny?”

Erin:  “Lindy, would you care to explain?”

Lindy:  “No comment.”

The bell above the door rings; Charlie enters dragging a reluctant Drew Porter by the collar of his oil-stained overalls.

Wes Carter:  “All hail Sir Andrew Portland!”

Male guffaws and feminine giggles fill the room.

Drew Porter: [jerks free of Charlie’s grip] “Dammit, Charlie, let go!”

Erin:  “And who is this?”

Lindy:  “That would be my fiancĂ©, Drew Porter.”

Allie:  “Oh!  Now I get it.” [chuckles self-consciously]

Erin:  [looks Drew up and down] “You and me both, sister.”

Rick Wilde:  “Good Lord, his ego barely fits through the door as it is.  Could you women quit feeding it?”

Allie:  “Don’t worry, hon, I only have eyes for you.” [twines her arms through his and smiles up at him]

Carrie:  [as she pulls an empty tray from the display case] “Oh, please, spare us.”

Dana McClain:  “Yeah. Go eat your lunch at home.”

Raucous laughter ensues; Charlie snuggles up behind Dana.

Max Frazier:  “Why?  They can eat lunch here.”

Caleb Hunter:  [gives the kid’s shoulder a playful nudge] “Not what’s on Allie’s menu.”

Lauren Frazier:  “I can’t believe you just said that…he’s only eleven!”

June:  [tries to cover Sweet Pea’s eyes and ears] “Oh, my poor baby.”

Mrs. Langhart (of the local book club): “For heavens sake, June, she’s had babies of her own!”

Erin:  “I hate to interrupt the fun, but can we please get back on track?”

Lindy:  “Yes.  Please.” [gives everyone in the room the stink eye]

Erin:  [consults her notes] “Several of your readers would like to know where you get your ideas from?”

Lindy:  [thinks about it for a moment] “That’s sort of a difficult question.  Just about anything can spark an idea.  For example, last summer I discovered a beautiful old church on Green Bay’s east side, and it completely captivated me.  I took a few pictures, and within a week I’d written a thirty page synopsis for a new series I hope to get started on next year.”

Erin:  [perks up] “A new series?  Do tell.”

Lindy:  “Well, as a little girl I used to watch Little House on the Prairie with my mom, and I always wondered what it would’ve been like to have lived during those times.  That old church sparked an idea, and I finally decided to find out for myself by plotting a frontier series set in Northeast Wisconsin in the late 1800s.”

Erin:  “I grew up watching Little House myself, so I am definitely looking forward to that.  Since you write historicals, the answer to this next question might seem obvious: Do you find all the research tedious, or do you enjoy it?”

Wes:  “Hey, shouldn’t that be a question for Sir Andrew Portland?”

Charlie:  “Yeah.  Because if she finds it tedious, he’s doing something wrong.”

Masculine chuckles overflow the room.

Tara Russell: “Come on you guys, ease up.”

Wes:  “Ah, honey, you have to admit it’s pretty funny.”

Drew: [shakes his head] “Morons.  Trust me, the lady is perfectly satisfied.  Aren’t you, Hot Stuff?”

Lindy:  “At the moment, I’m mostly annoyed.” [suddenly looks a little green around the gills and turns to the waitress hovering on the fringe of the crowd.] “Jenny, could you please bring me a Sprite?”

Jenny Adams:  “Of course.”

Drew frowns, straightens and moves in closer, careful to stay out of the way of the cameras.

Lindy:  “To answer your question, Erin, I do enjoy research.  Especially when I can travel to the location I’ve set my books in and get a real feel for the area.”

Erin:  “And will your fiancĂ© travel with you now?”

Lindy:  “Yes.”

Drew: “No.”

Drew and Lindy eyeball each other.

Lindy:  “Obviously, we haven’t talked about it yet.”

Erin clears her throat as she scans her notes.  Jenny sets the soft drink on the table with a nervous glance at the camera before quickly moving out of the way.

Erin:  “Here’s something I’ve always wondered.  Do you set a schedule for writing, or do you—”

Lindy:  “I’m sorry…I’m going to need a minute.” [stands, sways on her feet]

Drew: [rushes forward and catches Lindy in his arms] “Are you all right?  Is it the baby?”

Lindy stares up at him in stunned, wide-eyed silence.

Erin:  “Did you say baby?”

Hannah:  “Oh my God, I’m going to be an auntie!”

Chaos ensues as everyone starts chattering at once.

Lindy:  “What part of ‘ I’m not ready to tell anyone yet.’ don’t you understand?”

Drew: “I’m sorry, damn it.  But you looked like you were about to pass out, and I panicked.”

Lindy:  [lays her head against his chest with a long-suffering sigh] “It’s a good thing for you I feel like utter crap or I’d kick your sorry ass right now.”

Carrie and Matt turn to each other in stunned silence; Allie wraps her arms around Rick as they share a bittersweet smile; Wes kisses Tara on the forehead as he holds her tight; June Dolinski’s squeal drowns out Sweet Pea’s; Motor-mouth Marv high-fives Hutch, who then pulls Hannah into a bear hug; Caleb hoists Emma up on his shoulder as Lauren ruffles Max’s hair…

Carrie:  [rushes out from behind the counter] “Drinks are on the house!”

Everyone cheers; a couple of smartasses yell, “Norm!”  Jenny digs into her apron pocket for pen and pad as orders are called out.

Jacob “Matt” Spalding Jr.: [hollers from behind the counter] “Dammit, woman, I swear you do that just to annoy me.”

Carrie:  “She’s your sister, Ebenezer Scrooge, get over it.  And let me just remind you, this is my coffee shop.  If I want to treat the whole freakin’ town to a coffee or an iced mocha or

Carrie’s rant is drowned out by the rest of the crowd.

Erin:  [looking a little shell-shocked into the camera] “Needless to say, I have clearly lost all control of this interview.  Good night from Redemption, and thank you for watching.  Don’t forget to tune in next week when I sit down with the Phipples, who claim to own the world’s largest collection of Smiley Meal toys.”  [she leans over and taps Jenny on the arm] “l’ll take a large Chai, please.”

Stacey & I hope you enjoyed the interview! The first two books in our Welcome To Redemption series are available FREE, so if you interested in reading more about our small town and its quirky inhabitants, we hope you'll give them a try.

Thanks for reading!
Donna & Stacey

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Bird's Eye View ~ Stacey

The view out my window - check out the guy
in mid-air on the bottom left.

My bird feeders hang right outside my writing window and for the first time we have a cardinal hanging around. Of course, I had to grab the new camera I got in December and snap some pictures.

Picture Perfect

Oops...I think he's on to me.

"Who you lookin' at?" 

Chickadee's are one of my favorites...they're just so cute!

Coming in for landing.

And then we have...
The Poser
While most birds fly in, grab their seeds, and fly back out, this little guy sat on his perch for almost two minutes, turning this way and that as I snapped away. 


Now, I can't take credit for these last pictures but they're cool so I thought I'd share. There are a pair of Pheasants that hang out behind the garage and my hubby Wayne was happy to have caught them before they took off. (Um...because I came home and beeped the horn before I realized he was stalking his subjects.)

"You hear that George?"
"Hear what, Fred?"
"That clicking noise. I swear, someone's watching us."

"I told you someone was watching us!
I'm outta here!"

So that's it for bird watching from the Netzel's. Hope you enjoyed the pictures and have a wonderful week!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Year of Creativity - Jamie

Have you seen the new trend of selecting a word for the year instead of making traditional resolutions? I am totally on board with this idea and my word came to me right away.

This year I pledge to live my life creatively.

I love doing creative things and for many years have shoved that urge to the back burner because of housework, cooking, errands, etc. Instead of ignoring my need to create, I have worked out a plan to budget time to work on creative projects along with all of the other things I need to do. I am excited to start working on projects I've been stockpiling for years. I'm even more excited that this is also going to help me make progress on some of the old resolutions I used to make.

I know it's early in the year, but so far I'm doing pretty well. I've set a very reasonable writing goal for myself and have made my goal each day. I've also made a list of the many craft projects I've been wanting to make and am going to work on one project each week. I've already found several classes I'm taking to learn some new things I've been wanting to try forever.

It's also keeping me off the couch and moving around. It keeps my hands to busy for mindless snacking. Most important, it has me feeling refreshed and excited to be making things again.

Here's my first project this year - a no-sew fleece blanket for my son. I couldn't resist when I saw the  fabric. 

What are your plans for 2013? I wish you success with all of your goals.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Betrayed by the Mayans - Delia DeLeest

Don't you hate it when you put your faith in someone and they let you down?  This happened to me a week and a half ago and I don't know if I'll ever recover.  December 21st was supposed to be the end of the world.  Heck, people had been talking about it for years, it was practically a given, so, I lived accordingly.  The Bible says "eat, drink and be merry" and if you can't take advice from the Bible, who can you take it from?  For the last year (okay, it possibly has been more than a year), I ate deep fried cookie dough at the fair, avoided exercise like the plague, didn't change the oil in my mini-van and scraped lead paint off my woodwork without wearing a mask.  After all, what was the point of being all safety dance with my life when everything was going to be over before the end of 2012?  I was going to meet the apocalypse with a smile on my face and cholesterol clogging my arteries.

Then, it happened...or didn't happen, however you want to look at it.  The world didn't end, the mini-van is making strange noises, my thighs look like cottage cheese and I've got untold number of years to suffer the consequences of my year(s) of apocalypse abandon.  Thanks a lot Mayans.

That brings us to today, New Years Day 2013, a day I was counting on never happening.  Since the world doesn't appear to be ending any time soon, I'm going to have to do damage control in the form of a dreaded New Year's Resolution.  This really sucks.  I'm not going to announce my resolution, that would be on par with a government official e-mailing someone a reminder that their monthly bribery payment is due - there are times you don't want to leave a paper trail, people.  Let's just say I resolve not to spend 2013 partying like it's 1999.

How about you?  Do you have a resolution you don't mind sharing?

Have a Happy New Year - from The Novelfriends!