Jan 13

Ravioli In Paris, Or The Beauty In Front Of You

I was doing some research this weekend, as authors constantly do. I needed to be in Paris, so I Google Mapped myself there.

As I was virtually walking down various streets, I came across the Rue de Rivoli. It caught my eye because I was in Paris in April 2016 and walked down that street. I giggled at the time. It reminded me of ravioli, and I thought how funny it was to have a Ravioli Street in Paris.

Then I remembered my actual walk down that street. I traveled it multiple times, as it borders some of the typical areas a tourist would visit. My first stroll down the rue was when I went to the Louvre, discovered it was closed on Tuesdays (why Tuesday?) so I couldn’t visit.

Me, upon discovery that the Louvre was closed.


It was the best thing that could have happened. Instead, I wandered through the Jardin des Tuileries, then over the Seine by way of the Passerelle Léopold Sédar Senghor footbridge, with its lovers’ locks clasped onto the railings.

Gentleman napping in the gardens.

Lover’s locks




During my second walk down the Rue de Rivoli, I was headed toward a fashion exhibit at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. The museum is in the same building as the Louvre, though you can reach it from a separate entrance. The exhibit celebrated clothing from 1700 to the present day, and of course, I couldn’t resist.



But then I remembered something more from that day.

I was headed more or less west along the side of the building that houses the museums. Basically, from the back to the front, where you can enter the courtyard and see the huge glass pyramid.

Along that long, decorative wall of the old palace were tall windows, the rooms beyond hidden by curtains. In between, at odd intervals, were huge, ornate double doors.

And when I say huge, I mean huge. If you walk down the road using the map above, you will see the doors on your left, and the little tiny people in front of them.

For some reason, I loved the doors. I did not know where they lead to, but I could see soldiers spilling out in defense when the building was first a fortress, or later, those doors being thrown wide open for a ball during the days of the kings. Even guards during the French Revolution, when it first became a museum to display national treasures.


I remember I stopped walking and stared at those beautiful doors. Imagining. Dreaming.

A Frenchwoman—gorgeous, confident, and with heeled boots I would have killed for—continued to clip past me as I stood there. Dangling from her hand was a shopping bag, the square paper type you would find at a clothing store. She had an amazing leather jacket, neat and trim, over skin tight jeans, and long brown hair that reached nearly to her waist. In other words, I felt very much the silly American tourist in my sneakers and striped coat from Old Navy beside that lovely woman.

Still, as she passed, I pulled out my digital Nikon and snapped a picture of the doors. I was fascinated by their size, by the ornate face carved above and the designs embedded in them. Each dip and curve and exquisite carving was something out of the past that simply does not exist today. This is workmanship of the most delicate, intricate, talented kind. Created by artisans long forgotten, and probably not even fully appreciated at the time.

So many changes since then, I mused. The world is not the same. Art is not the same. This timeless, gorgeous piece of work sits here on the edge of a busy road, and no one sees it. Residents and tourists walk by, day after day, with their shopping bags or their briefcases or their cameras, and so many never notice the utter beauty, the history, right there beside them.

It made me sad to realize it. To know that the people who pass these doors everyday, or even tourists ready for a new experience, don’t actually see it.

I turned away, tucked my camera back in my bag, and continued toward the museum. A little heavier of heart.

Then I stopped again. Because the gorgeous woman with the high-heeled boots and the shopping bag was standing in front of the next set of doors. I remember specifically the way her head tipped back, because of the lovely fall of thick, straight, brown hair. Me and my thin, chin length bob were totes jelly.

She was looking at the doors. Not snapping a picture with her phone, not talking to anyone. She was just looking.

Was she seeing them for the first time, having passed by a hundred times before? Did she notice me, the silly tourist snapping a picture of the first door, and did it make her wonder about the next one? Does she understand the rich, wonderful history of her culture and country can be defined by that very door?

I do believe that if I had not stopped to study and imagine and dream at the first set of doors, she would not have stopped to look at the second set. And if she paused to look, she likely had never noticed the doors before.

Perhaps, with my small moment of wondering and dreaming, I was able to help someone see beauty that lives only a few steps away from their daily life.

And perhaps, by watching her, I learned to see the beauty that lives only a few steps away from my own life.

Jul 14

**Giveaway** with Diane Burton

Please join me in welcoming Diane Burton! Diane is the author of sci-fi romance and mysteries, her latest being NUMBERS NEVER LIE, a romantic suspense, which released Monday, July 9th. Be sure to enter the celebratory Rafflecopter giveaway below!

I’ve known Diane for about 10 years, as she’s a long time member of the Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America. She’s also one my favorite people in the whole wide world, so, without further delay…


What is your favorite aspect of writing?

First, let me say thank you for having me here today, Alyssa. Your intro was so sweet. I’ve loved our chats during lunch, especially when we compare notes on your son and my grandson, who are close in age. I don’t usually read historical romances, but I love your books. Once started, I can’t put them down.

My favorite aspect of writing is the inspiration. An idea will pop in my head—usually, right before going to sleep—and I can’t wait to get to the computer to write.


I know Mamas are not supposed to have favorites, but what is your favorite Book Baby, and why?

I always say it’s the book I’m writing at the moment. Truthfully—and don’t tell the other books—my favorite is my first published book, Switched, a science fiction romance. I wrote it for fun because I’d given up on writing for publication. That feeling disappeared when the publisher of a small niche press, ImaJinn, offered me a contract.


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’m living there already. When Hubs job took us from Kalamazoo to Chicago, I made him promise we’d retire along the west coast of Michigan. Then our daughter and her family (our only grandchildren at the time) moved to West Michigan, close to Lake Michigan, I was thrilled. We built a house there, then last summer our son and his family moved here from Arizona. For the first time in twenty years, my family was altogether. What more could I ask?


Tell our readers one thing about yourself they probably don’t know.

I went to Hawaii all by myself. I was single, and a friend was supposed to go with me. When she bailed, I toured by myself. I even drove the Hana Road on Maui—that is scarier now than at the time. Still, that narrow road along the coast was pretty scary. I saw the sun rise at Haleakala. On my bucket list is a trip back there with Hubs along.


Tell us a little about the book:

I started Numbers Never Lie (final and best title, though I went through many) about fifteen years ago. Life intruded (as it can), and I put it aside. Issues with our mothers drained me of all creativity. This winter, I picked it up again and remembered how much I loved the story of Maggie, her brother Jack, and their friend Drew. What started as a fun camping trip—for Maggie, her group of 14-year-old girls, and Drew—ended with a devastating phone call.


And since I have you trapped, let’s do a little lightning round of fun questions. Ready? Set? Go!

Blue jeans or party clothes? Blue jeans
Sushi or steak? Steak, although my grandkids took me out for sushi. Not bad.
Cats or dogs? (Or hamsters?) Definitely dogs. We’ve had three.
Beer, wine or water? Water. An occasional sip of wine.
Coke or Pepsi? (If you answer Pepsi I hereby disown you. Ask my father.) Diet Coke! No disowning.
Favorite color? Blue
Favorite word? Nana
Least favorite word? Can’t
Coffee or tea? Coffee

And last but not least…Favorite character trait in your significant other? (Mr. Alexander says my most endearing quality is my ability to talk. He also says it’s my most irritating quality).

Patience. We’ve been married for 46 years (at Thanksgiving). To stay with me that long took/takes a lot of patience. He’s also the biggest supporter of my writing.

Many thanks, Alyssa, for helping me share my newest release.


A Romantic Suspense
By Diane Burton
Romantic Suspense
Length: approx. 80,000 words
Available at Amazon  http://a.co/gUmO9wZ
Free with Kindle Unlimited

A shocking secret brings danger to Jack Sinclair and his sister Maggie.

As kids, they were the fearless threesome. As adults, Jack’s an accountant; Drew, a lawyer; Maggie, a teacher and camping troop leader. Upon returning from a weekend camping trip, Maggie receives horrifying news. She refuses to believe her brother Jack’s fatal car crash was an accident. If the police won’t investigate, she’ll do it herself. Convincing Drew Campbell to help is her only recourse.

Drew Campbell was too busy to return his best friend’s phone call. Too busy to attend a camping meeting important to his teen daughter. Too busy to stay in touch with Jack. Logic and reason indicate Jack’s accident was just that–an accident caused by fatigue and fog. Prodded by guilt, he’ll help Maggie even if he thinks she’s wrong.

A break-in at Jack’s condo convinces Maggie she’s right. Then her home is searched. What did Jack do that puts Maggie in danger?


Now for a little excerpt…

Maggie clapped her hands. “Girls, break time is over.”

The Drill Sergeant was back. Hup, two, three, four.

Groans from the girls met her announcement. Drew knew exactly how they felt.

His legs ached, a blister—no, make that two blisters—had already formed on both sides of his heels. Ellen had warned him not to wear brand-new hiking boots. But he always wore the appropriate footwear. He had golf shoes, tennis shoes, ski boots, and now hiking boots. A pair of bloody hiking boots.

Damn, he needed to take a leak. He never should have stopped at 7-11 for a Big Gulp of coffee no matter how much caffeine he required to start his engine this morning. Ellen warned him it wasn’t a good idea. He should have listened.

Jack would be laughing his head off if he knew Drew was actually hiking and camping. Both Jack and Maggie had inherited their parents’ enthusiasm for camping. Drew shuddered. Not him. After that disastrous Cub Scout campout, Drew vowed never again to venture into the wild.

Still, when Ellen begged him, he thought a little hike in the woods would be the perfect opportunity for some father-daughter bonding. This trip was not turning out the way he anticipated.

Ellen surrounded herself with her friends, staying as far away from Drew as possible. With the exception of their brief conversation a few minutes ago—and only after he’d pulled her aside to ask about the facilities—she barely talked to him. So much for father-daughter bonding. All he had to show for his efforts was a stitch in his side, a charley horse in his left leg, those bloody blisters, and chafing from his new jeans. His deceased wife thought jeans were low-class. Since they weren’t allowed on the country club golf course, they hadn’t been part of his extensive wardrobe until his quick trip to Meijer’s at six this morning. The mega-store had everything he needed.

When Drew returned from his visit behind a large tree, he saw a couple of girls coming out of the woods on the other side of the path. They joined the waiting group, while Drew waited in the background. After Maggie glanced at him, he knew he was in for it, retaliation for him missing the meeting. She’d bided her time. Here it came. Another lecture.

“Mr. Campbell, you may lead for a while,” Maggie directed. “I’ll bring up the rear and make sure—” She dropped her sunglasses down her nose and looked over the steel rims at the girls. “—we don’t lose anyone.”

The girls giggled and lined up. Drew straightened his shoulders despite the backpack cutting into them. He was certain Ellen had loaded the pack with rocks. Leading wasn’t that bad.

All right. He could do this. He was a man, not a wus. He could tough it out. He would not embarrass his daughter. He’d make her proud of him. Just put one foot in front of the other . . . and try not to wince.

“Mr. Campbell, it’s okay to go faster,” one of the girls said. “We can keep up.”


Be sure to enter the release week giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Numbers Never Lie is available at Amazon.

About the Author:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides writing science fiction romance, she writes romantic suspense, and cozy mysteries. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.


For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Blog:  http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/dmburton72
Facebook:  http://facebook.com/dianeburtonauthor
Goodreads: Diane Burton Author
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/dmburton72/
Sign up for Diane’s new release alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf

May 30

And That’s The Way The Hair Falls Out…Er, The Cookie Crumbles.

For those of you who might remember the woes of the Franken-Foot, I’ve got another update.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, you can find the beginning of the story here. The gist is a rare, aggressive tumor grew in my foot. 4 inches long, 1.5 inches wide, 1.5 inches thick, and entangled in every tendon, vessel, and muscle in my foot. I’ve had 3 surgeries, spent many months on crutches, undergone MRIs and Xrays galore, and generally haven’t been able to walk properly since 2015.


Here’s the bad news, which is (thankfully) a little old, as it was from late 2017:

No surgery can be performed besides amputation.

That was a tough one to take. No denying I cried over it. I spent time thinking about how to modify my shower, my house. My life. Then I remembered, veterans live it. Others are born needing artificial limbs. If they can live it, I can live it. So I accepted that, moved on, watched my foot worsen.

By late last year, I could no longer grocery shop, make dinner and do dishes (one or the other, but not usually both). Carrying a laundry basket was sometimes more than I could handle. The pain in the my foot was so awful I spent a lot of time on pain pills and nerve blockers. I limped around Key West on my Christmas vacation, and was thankful for those pills and Mr. Alexander, who kindly drove me door to door. Also, thank you to Shipt, who delivered my groceries, and Lynne, a local Shipt shopper, who watched for my orders on Tuesdays, because she knew I couldn’t grocery shop.


The good news, from earlier this year:


A year after being on an ineffective oral chemo and trying to get other kinds approved by insurance (note, there are no drugs for this type of tumor, so I have to look for compatible cancer drugs), we finally requested infusion chemo. The regimen would have been once per week for 52 weeks.

Which, I reminded my wonderful nurse, was a year. She thought maybe 52 weeks would sound better, but we laughingly agreed, it really didn’t.

I mean, ugh. Not just ugh, but double ugh. 365 days ugh.

However, that insurance request kicked my case upstairs, and the oral chemo my doctor had wanted me to take last year was finally approved. Thank you, a thousand times, to my doctors, nurse, and insurance company!


The current good news:

I’m already seeing some results. I can grocery shop, after months and months of not being able to walk for more than 10 or 15 minutes at a time. No more nerve blockers, hardly any pain pills, and what I do take is low dose. Orthotics and physical therapy have worked wonders.

Of course, that is not conclusive. I need tests, labs, etc. etc. But I know what I know. I can walk. I even played catch with my son, because I could easily move to catch without running or jumping. Playing with my boy cannot be discounted, and neither can the joy it brought me!


Now for the…um…not so fun part.

My hair is falling out. Well, thinning, mostly. It doesn’t come out in chunks, but certainly in large portions. I can’t blow dry, brush it, pull it back—all of them result in more hair falling out. I have to wear it au natural, which is a lank, lazy, almost-curl. My eyebrows are sparse, and my eyelashes are sparser. Luckily, I can apply eyeliner and six coats of mascara, plus some mascara-type stuff for my eyebrows. I can hide those issues relatively easily.

But I can’t hide my scalp, or the bald spot in the back that is getting balder.

Why is it that hair seems so important? It’s just hair.

Long, short, curly, thin, thick, straight. Red, brown, gold-blond, red-blond, deep black. So many of us have thinning hair, or we lose it due to health issues, medication, hormone changes. Maybe it’s hereditary. Maybe it’s alopecia. Maybe it’s pattern baldness. Those of us with thick hair want it to be thinner, those of us with curly would give anything for straight hair.

It shouldn’t define us. We are more than our hair. More than our looks, for that matter.

Worse for my guilt, somehow, is that my thinning hair is not as difficult to live with as full hair loss. So many others loose it all. More, they face not only more difficult chemo, but the potential for death. I only have to think about amputation–others confront the worst of all fears.

Yet, here I am, spending entirely too much time each day checking to see if my hair is arranged over that spot in the back, where the cowlick reveals just how thin my hair now is. There’s a spot near my right temple, another on the left about halfway back, where you can see my scalp no matter how I arrange it.

I try to tell myself “It’s only hair. You are loved, you are special. You are strong and amazing. Your hair doesn’t change your soul.”

I don’t always listen.

Still, on Saturday, I’m cutting it off. Pixie cut.

It won’t solve the problem, and I may lose more yet, but the hope is a pixie will hide the spots where you can see my scalp.

I’m a little nervous, a little excited. The decision was the hard part, but now that I have the appointment, I just want it done. I will be able to stop agonizing about it. Move forward.

When it is over, I will come home to the most amazing husband who loves me. A child who will think I’m an awesome mom, even though I can’t play soccer anymore and my hair is shorter than his.

We are more than what we appear, my dears. Often, we are stronger, braver, and smarter than we think.

Sometimes it is hard to remember.

Take some time today, and remind yourself just how special you are.

May 02

Finding My Tribe

Tribe (n): a social division in a traditional society consisting of families or communities linked by social, economic, religious, or blood ties, with a common culture and dialect, typically having a recognized leader.


I remember the first time I went to a writers meeting. It was in the fall, circa 2007, at a sweet little restaurant about an hour from my house.

I was terrified. Sick-to-my-stomach, close-to-hyperventilating, certain-I-was-going-to-make-an-ass-of-myself, TERRIFIED. These women were writers. Real, honest-to-goodness writers. I was just a wannabe, with one not-so-good book under my belt. I wasn’t published, had yet to have even query an agent, and knew nothing about the industry. Or even how to properly format a manuscript. Certainly, I had no business being there.

But I screwed up my courage and went to a monthly MMRWA meeting, because I desperately wanted to be a writer.

They welcomed me with open arms. And when I say open, I mean it. Pretty sure I got a hug that day.

Discovering other people heard voices in their heads—which meant I wasn’t alone in my particular brand of crazy—was a gift and a miracle.

I found my tribe.

Now, over a decade later, that tribe meets once a year for a special Retreat From Harsh Reality. I’ve attended every year but one (when I was in Paris for a romance festival—they forgave me, lol). From 2008 when I was six months pregnant, to 2009 when my baby wasn’t even a year old and I had to cart around a breast pump all weekend, to 2014 when my first book came out and I received a plaque from the group in celebration, to 2015 when I received an Angel Award for service to the chapter, to this very weekend. April 2018.

The Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America chapter is my home away from home. My tribe. A small “social division” of romance writers in Michigan, who are part of a larger “traditional society consisting of [a] communit[y]” of worldwide romance writers.

We come from all walks of life and are at all stages of our careers. Some of us are pre-pubbed, some are querying. Some have self-pubbed their tenth book, some have sold their first. We write contemporary, historical, suspense, cozy mystery, sci-fi romance, and everything else you can think of.

Everyone is welcome. Everyone is appreciated.

And there are a ton of laughs.

At the Toot Your Own Horn ceremony, where everyone gets a chance to celebrate an accomplishment from the past year.

This year, our speaker was the incomparable Jennifer Probst. She’s funny, brilliantly intelligent, a wonderful writer, and slipped right into our tribe as if she belonged there. I picked up her craft book, WRITE NAKED, and then a romance novel, SEARCHING FOR DISASTER, because I simply couldn’t resist.


Jennifer, speaking on craft.



My roommate was a long time friend and critique partner, my fav-fav-fav Tracy Brogan, who I have known since those way back pre-pub years. We brainstormed current books, laughed over (fixed) plot holes in HIGHLAND SURRENDER and (fixed) character problems in A DANCE WITH SEDUCTION, snickered into wine glasses, and ate Doritos. (She politely shared the nacho cheese flavor. I hoarded and ate an entire bag of cool ranch flavor…Is that even a real flavor?!)

Our weekend snack table, courtesy of Tracy, because I was busy eating.


Meika Usher, my almost-weekly coffee shop compadre, received a first book plaque for SOMETHING SO SWEET, and we celebrated the May 2 release of her second book. I knew a few weeks in advance she would be receiving it, and it was the hardest thing to keep secret.

Courtesy Meika, cuz I forgot.

The Angel Award nominee was Diana Stout, who is professor, friend, don’t-forget-to-write heckler, cookbook author, chapter website guru, and all around deserved of the award.

Words abounded in the write-ins. Craft was discussed in depth during Jennifer’s presentation on WRITE NAKED. Raffles were won and lost and won again. Ideas were exchanged during the industry talk.

And many, many laughs happened around bowls of chocolate, glasses of wine, mugs of coffee, and pads of paper.

Sometimes life gifts you with a place you can belong without working at it. A place that sees you, in all your crazy glory. A place that pulls you up when you’re falling down, lifts you higher when you’re already on cloud nine, and most importantly, speaks your language.

MMRWA is my tribe.



Mar 31

Apologies, Dearest

My Dearest Blog:

I must apologize. I have neglected you.

I could offer reasons, such as I spent a few days in the hospital in January, and another ten days quite ill. I spent Christmas in the Keys. There is also the book I am writing, and the family I’ve been loving, and the workshop I taught, and the taxes I’ve been working on, and the new chemo I started. (PS Dear Readers, this goes back to the Franken-Foot issue, which I wrote about here.)

However, all of those are really just excuses for my poor attention to your lovely blogness. I promise, I shall do better in the coming days.

Please forgive this writer!

Your Favorite Blogger,


Older posts «