The Photography Bug


When I was younger and working for a photographer, I learned how to use a completely manual SLR camera. We didn’t have autofocus and had to set our own f-stops, etc.

I loved using my Canon and took quite a few photos. The price of film and processing deterred me to a degree and when digital cameras came out, I started using a point and shoot.

Over the years, I’ve forgotten much of what I learned about photography. I now have a Canon Digital SLR, but I mostly use the automatic settings.

Big Bend


My stepmother is also an avid amateur photographer and recently found a course on photography. It includes lighting, settings, etc. We both ordered this course, and I hope to see a drastic improvement in my pictures as I learn more.



I’ve found some websites that help. One is Best Photography Classes It’s a free site. They also have a Facebook group.

I’m also a member of Flickr. Many of my photos on there are quite sub par, but I occasionally snap one that’s pretty good for a novice. What are some of your favorite online sharing sites for photos?

Please feel free to share any photography tips that you have! I love to learn and welcome any comments or tips.

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The Secret Trick to Creativity Is…

The Secret Trick to Creativity Is…

Jump in with both feet and enjoy whatever project you attempt. I’ve messed up many of my creative attempts, but I always have a lot of fun.


We went on a Disney Cruise and one of our stateroom neighbors had made adorable Tie Dye Mickey Mouse shirts. I thought they were so cute, but was afraid to try it…for a couple of months anyway.

I decided to do some web searching for instructions and found a great blog that outlined how to do it. Rachel Miller, author of The Kid’s Activity Blog, does a phenomenal job explaining how to make the shirts.

The ones she posted on her blog turned out better than mine, but I had a blast making them, and I think they turned out cute.


Tie Dye Mickey


I bought the Tulip dyes from the craft store. Then using a pencil, traced the Mickey head with a design I had printed out, on the shirt. Next, I stitched around the tracing using plain (not flavored) dental floss and pulled the design tight and tied it off. I puckered out the mickey head a little then put rubber bands around it so I would have the circle of white.

After I had the Mickey shape secured with rubber bands, I twisted the shirts up into a cinnamon bun shape and secured them with rubber bands.

Next, I dumped them in a soda ash bath. I did one cup of soda ash per gallon of water and I allowed the shirts to soak overnight.

The next day, I squeezed out as much soda ash solution as possible and began dyeing the shirts.

Instead of the loose-fitting plastic gloves that came with the kit, I used tighter medical gloves.

First, I colored the Mickey head then secured plastic wrap around it. Then I did the rest of the shirt. Once I had the shirt completely dyed, I secured the entire thing in plastic wrap and allowed it to sit overnight before rinsing it. Once I had rinsed it, I tossed it in the washer.

Rachel suggested using more dye than you would ever think necessary. She’s right. I used a ton of dye and wish I’d used more.

Her post has detailed instructions for making the shirts. Click here to check it out.

If you decide to try this technique, leave me a comment telling me how it turned out!

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Interview With Justin Leo Breck from Nerve

Interview and giveaway with Justin Leo Breck, the hero from NERVE by Bethany McManus! Join us for a chance to win an e-copy of NERVE and learn more about the hero in this great book!


Thank you for joining me today for my Interview With Jeremy Leo Breck from NERVE and a chance to win a copy of this great book!

Justin, thank you for joining us! Can you tell us a little about yourself? Do you have any nicknames?

Hello. My name is Justin Leo Breck. I don’t have any nicknames. Whew! Nicknames can be rough, especially for cops.

I can imagine how a nickname would be hinderance to a cop. Where did you grow up?

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Coral Springs, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My mom, Cindel Breck, still lives in the same house. I visit often because I like the shower there better than the one at the gym.

Coral Springs is a beautiful area. Where do you live now?

I have an interesting home. It’s white and barely more than six square feet…it’s a Chevy Express van. But I don’t see myself living there forever. I’m a flexible guy.

Wow. I didn’t expect that answer. You’re full of surprises. So are you a social butterfly or an introvert?

“Social butterfly” sounds like one of those bubbly girls who scream when they see each other. I like to talk, I guess. I’m definitely not an introverted homebody, as evidenced by my living arrangements.

Bubbly girls! That gave me a laugh. I guess “social butterfly” doesn’t quite fit you. What is your favorite memory from childhood?

When my dad, Jeremy, took me to the police station where he worked, and showed me the evidence room.

I can see that being a favorite memory. Especially for a cop. What’s your worst memory from childhood? Being bullied for my red hair.

Children are cruel at times. Do you like to dress up or dress casual?

Dress up…what’s that? ha. No, I have to dress up for slain officers’ funerals. That seems enough. At church, the most dressed up I get is slacks and a button-down.

Slain officers. That’s a solemn thought and an aspect of police work we don’t like to dwell on, but in reality it’s a tragic part of life. Do you have any insecurities?

As mentioned, my red hair. But I don’t dye it, because it would be obvious

I’m glad you don’t dye it! I love red hair. Are you a neat freak or you messy?

Neat freak. I have to be…I live out of a van.

I can imagine how meticulous you’d need to be in such a small space. What is your most prized possession and why do you value it so much?

The black silk bow tie Dad gave Mom on prom night to remember him by. It hangs from my rearview mirror.

How sweet. What one word describes you the best?


Justin, thank you for joining us on Roller Coaster Suspense! I can’t wait to read NERVE!

Please check out our Rafflecopter giveaway!


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BIO Bethany lives in Houston with her husband, daughter, and son. After practicing as an RN for five years, Bethany left the nursing field to pursue a writing passion the Lord planted in her heart when she was a child. Nancy Drew mysteries were her guilty pleasure during those early years, so she naturally gravitates her pen toward the things that go bump in the night, and most of her plots have a psychological spin. She’s allergic to cheese, Sulfa drugs, and people who stop in the middle of intersections while driving. BLURB for NERVE It was created to save lives. Now someone is using it to take them. When Lauren “Wren” Masterson discovers her deceased father’s medical invention has been stolen from her childhood home in Florida, she never expects the officer assigned to the case will be Justin Breck, who asked her out two years ago. He’s changed since then, seems like he’s hiding something. What happened to his openness, his no-holds-barred, carefree attitude? She wonders how this new Justin could possibly accept her imperfections, namely the persistent nerve disorder her father’s missing invention might cure. Justin is learning the darker side of Doctor Masterson’s past life. The hard part? Proving it to Doc’s adoring daughter, while attempting to win her heart. He might have some history with her, but Doc’s lawyer, Connor Radcliffe, has more. As bodies begin to drop around them, will Justin and Lauren find the invention before the thief uses it to kill Lauren?


@bgmacmanus (Twitter)

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Blood & Lies Chapter One

Blood & Lies Chapter One

Blood & Lies Cover Art

Andy Carnes followed the teen into Grace Evangelical Fellowship in Odessa, Texas once again. A Saturday night and instead of going on a date, Robert Marcus Davis, Junior, attends church. Did this rascal live here? What ever happened to black kids roaming the streets tagging buildings and stealing beer? Poor kid.

When would be best time to nab him? Andy sighed. He perched a few rows behind the kid. Of course the goons who worked for Marcus’s dad had all of Odessa — in fact, the entire Permian Basin — locked down. Each time he thought about grabbing Marcus, one of these associates would appear.

Wonder why Junior used his middle name? Because he didn’t like being identified with his father? Interesting.

A chubby woman took her place behind the podium. “Good evening. I’m Carol Dobbs with the Ukraine Street Children’s Outreach Ministry. Thank y’all for joinin’ me tonight to learn about the plight of these forgotten kids in Ukraine.”

Oh joy. Andy checked the time. How many hours would this tiresome woman drone on extolling the hardships of those pitiful street children? He’d pretty much grown up on the streets, thanks to his no-good louse of a father and his mom who’d clerked in a convenience store at night. It didn’t hurt him none.

The heifer powered up a slide show and the first photo, a boy climbing into a sewer, drew oohs from the crowd. At least those kids had somewhere to go. Next, a picture of the tunnel popped up. Large pipes filled most of the dirty shaft.

“The children make cardboard pallets on top of these hot water pipes in order to stay warm in the winter. Death from exposure to the cold happens far too often.” Dobbs flipped to the next slide. A different angle of the hole. “Because the sewers are damp and are filthy with human excrement and other waste, the children contract diseases like tuberculosis.”

Andy shivered. Okay, maybe the Ukrainian kids had it worse than he ever did…at least he’d never lived with feces in the same room. Who gave a flip about brats half a world away? Not him, and he wasn’t about to listen to their problems. Swallowing over a lump in his throat, he tried to blot out the woman’s words by opening up his email on his cell phone. He had come for one thing and one thing only. Marcus.

At the end of her presentation, Dobbs gave a big smile. “I’ve told you a little of the plight of the street children in Ukraine in part to raise money to build shelters for these kiddos, but also to invite you to join me on a mission trip in July. We’ll fly into Kiev and from there, we’ll go to Kherson.” She itemized cost and concluded her presentation. “Anyone under the age of eighteen must have a release signed by a parent or guardian. A member of your congregation donated scholarships for three teens who otherwise wouldn’t get to join us. Any questions?”

Marcus stuck his hand up first. “How do we apply for a scholarship?”

Andy sat up straighter. If Marcus went to Ukraine, he could grab the kid over there, leaving Davis helpless. Andy would snatch Junior and get the diamonds back from Davis — before the chief decided to put him in the ground.

Andy grinned as Marcus traipsed to the front to sign up for the trip. Four months — plenty of time to set up a contingency trip to Ukraine. Marcus’s mission to save the world might cost him his life.

The kid sure didn’t follow in his old man’s footsteps. Good. Since Junior wasn’t street-wise, it would be easier to nab him.

Andy flipped through a copy of the itinerary, eyeing Marcus to make sure he completed the paperwork. Once the teen left, Andy approached the organizer. “Mrs. Dobbs?”

She responded with a warm smile. “Yes, may I help you?”

“Did Marcus Davis apply for a scholarship?”

The woman nodded.

“I’m an old family friend, and I’d like to make sure he gets to go.” He paused and held her gaze for a few seconds. “May I pay for his trip? Anonymously? I don’t want either him or his family to know.”

“Certainly.” She smiled. “You can make the check to Ukraine Children’s Outreach Ministry.”

Andy counted out the money. “I’d prefer to give you cash. I’ve included extra so Marcus will have enough for meals and a little spending money.” He exhaled. Glad he’d listened to the boss and stuck some money in his wallet before he followed Junior.

“Thank you.” She picked up a notepad. “May I get your information so we can send you a receipt?”

“Naw. I don’t need one. I’m just happy the kid is involved in something worthwhile.” He flashed her a big smile. “You know, nowadays many teens go down the wrong path.”

“Thank you so much,” Dobbs said. “I’ll be sure to meet with his mom so we can get the consent all filled out.”

Andy slipped out the side door. Yep, if he couldn’t get close to Marcus here, he’d catch him in Ukraine. No way could Davis Senior rescue his son there.

He chuckled. Time for Davis to pay.


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Interview With Author Norma Gail

Interview With Author Norma Gail

Norma Gail, Author

Please welcome Norma Gail to Roller Coaster Suspense! Norma, can you tell us your latest news.

I am working on the sequel to my debut contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams. Within Golden Bands begins right where the first book stops and all of the characters are back. I will be pitching to my publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, the end of February at a conference.

That sounds very exciting! I hope your publisher gets very excited about your sequel. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have always written, from the time I was a child. I just didn’t always show it to anyone. In 2009 I was asked to write a weekly devotional for our church website. That was scary! The women in the Bible studies I led liked what I wrote and used for the opening of class, but this was really putting it out there for people to see. A few months later, I began my first devotional blog. A novel followed, and I signed my contract with LPC in September of 2012. Now I am an author. The pay is not much better, but it is a lot of fun!

It’s funny that the pay isn’t much different, but I do understand the comment. We write because we must, don’t we? Who is your favorite writer, and why?

I love the old classics, so my very favorite author of all time is Charles Dickens. I love his descriptions of characters and scenery. No one writes it like he did. You truly saw, felt, and smelled it all! As far as contemporary authors go, I would have a difficult time deciding between Michael Phillips and Liz Curtiss Higgs. They both write a lot about Scotland. They both have deep spiritual truths that are illustrated by their stories, though in very different ways. They make you feel like you know the characters and see the settings. I read their books over and over.

I love Dickens, too. Liz Curtiss Higgs is a great inspiration also. What inspired you to begin writing?

This will sound really corny, but I had a dream. I was already writing poetry and devotionals. When we were preparing for an anniversary trip to Scotland in 2006, I spent so much time planning and preparing that I dreamed of a man, standing on the side of a hill with his kilt, bagpipes, and surrounded by sheep. It never went away. I kept dreaming. I was in love with Scotland before we went. From the moment we stepped off the plane, I felt I belonged there. At the end of two weeks, I didn’t want to leave. We met an American woman who married a Scot and had lived there for twenty years. My husband and his family immigrated from The Netherlands, so I was familiar with many of the aspects of that. I kept thinking about that woman and my dream, and a story begin to form, so in 2008, when I broke my foot, it was time to write it down. The result is Land of My Dreams, the story of a two brokenhearted people, an American woman and a Scottish man who meet, fall in love, and discover there is no peace until they leave the past behind and take a step of faith.

The story sounds compelling. I’ve never been to Scotland, but imagine that it is beautiful. Dreams are funny how they haunt us and inspire us to write our stories. What is the most important thing a new writer can do to help further his/her writing

Keep honing your craft. Attend conferences, make friends with other writers, even if it has to be long-distance. You need that encouragement and feedback. It is impossible to write about life and do it well without other people and participating in life. Most of all, write what God calls you to write. It is a ministry and whether it is devotionals, poetry, fiction, or non-fiction, God has a purpose for it. Let God have your writing. It is a gift He gave you to be used for His glory and the benefit of others. If you see it as a ministry you will be blessed and the numbers won’t mean as much, only that it accomplishes His purposes.

Great advice! Thank you so much for stopping by for an interview. I know your stories will intrigue my readers!

Land of My Dreams

Author Bio:

Norma Gail’s contemporary Christian romance, Land of My Dreams, released in 2014. She is a Bible study leader, and writes devotionals for, StitchesthruTime blog, and “The Secret Place.” She belongs to American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, and the New Mexico Christian Novelists. She is married and has two adult children.


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Beast of Stratton

Beast of Stratton

by Renee Blare

Release Date:  March 11,2015 from Prism Book Group

Beast of Stratton

Join the January 17 Cover Reveal Facebook Party HERE.

Enjoy the fun with other Christian authors, and readers, including games, and giveaways! Stay tuned for more exciting events around the release in March!


He appears the beast, but she sees his heart.

Architect Aimee Hart, determined to locate her father, infiltrates Miles Stratton’s engineering firm as a secretary. Her presence wrenches the shaggy, wounded man from his penthouse, and the quest begins.

Betrayed by his best friend, Miles would rather hide than help, especially the man’s daughter. But something’s not right. Someone’s trying to destroy Stratton Industrial. A decorated war veteran, he’s defended his own before and the Beast of Stratton can do it again.

Even with the enemy at his side.

Semi-finalist in the 2014 ACFW Genesis Contest.

About the Author:

Renee Blare

Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to Laramie, and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media.


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Ruth O’Neil Interview

Belonging cover art

Ruth O’Neil Interview

Please welcome Ruth O’Neil to Roller Coaster Suspense.

Ruth, would tell us a little about yourself?

I have been a freelance writer for more than 20 years, publishing hundreds of articles in dozens of publications as well as a few books. I enjoy helping others of all ages make their publishing dreams come true. I was born and raised in upstate New York and attended Houghton College. When I’m not writing or homeschooling, I spend my spare time quilting, reading, scrapbooking, camping and hiking with the family.

We share some of the same hobbies, but I never seem to have time for all of them! Do you have a job other than being an author?

I homeschool, babysit, teach a novel-writing class as a homeschool co-op. Then there’s the wife, mother, and housekeeper thing. I don’t really have time for another job.

Wow. You are a busy lady! Who do you credit with supporting you the most on your writing journey?

My mom definitely. I wanted to be a writer ever since I was 9 years old. She was with me every step of the way until the day she passed away. She encouraged me. She critiqued my work. She took me to writer’s conferences. She did everything she could to help me see my dreams fulfilled.

You mother sounds like an incredible woman. I know you miss her greatly. Do you have any words of advice for novice writers?

Just keep at it. Over the years I have found that writing is very subjective. What one editor hates, another one will chase you down for. Try different genres of writing. You might surprise yourself.

Very good advice. When you start to write, are you a plotter or a pantser or somewhere in between?

Plotter. I have found, especially for my novels, that if I don’t have the basic story plotted out from beginning to end, I don’t go anywhere. I don’t know where I’m going and I don’t finish. I have several un-plotted, un-finished books sitting in drawers right now. Maybe someday I’ll get back to them.

I understand the unfinished, unplotted books. I have a few of those in my computer also. Do you have set writing schedule?

I try, but you know the saying…even the best laid plans of mice and men…

That is so true. What are some of the challenges you face in keeping to your schedule?e?

Things come up such as, I really need to balance the check book so I can pay bills, the kitchen hasn’t had any attention in five days, etc. Then there’s all sorts of other distractions that interrupt my day. I write when I have a few moments here and there many days

Funny how life does interrupt our plans at tiems. Do you belong to any writer’s groups? Either online or in person?

No. I wish I had time for attending a personal group. Personal interaction is so important for a writer when they are working on something new. Maybe someday I’ll start my own. I do have a book club that has read my last two novels as beta readers. They are THE BEST!

You are a busy lady! I can see it would be difficult to find the time. Beta readers are the best! I’m so glad you have a great group. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was 9 years old. I knew my mom piddled at writing and I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. She even let me use her typewriter when I was little. Then for my high school graduation she gave me an electric typewriter. It was the best gift EVER! I still have it today as a reminder of her love for me and her encouragement to me as a writer.

Ruth, thank you for joining us and share a little of your writing journey. I wish you great success and hope my readers will check out Belonging. It


Book Blurb:

Belonging is the second stand-alone book in the series What a Difference a Year Makes. After the death of her father, painfully shy and introverted Shelly finds her world turned upside down. She is forced to speak with people and she may even have to move from her comfortable apartment. Sorting through her father’s possessions at his house brings back many memories, including how they would research her mom’s genealogy so that in a way, she could get to know her mother’s family, who are all deceased. Shelly wonders why her dad never researched his own family and she never remembers any family events. Why? She begins a journey that takes her to places she never dreamed. Throughout the entire story, God nudges Shelly to get out of her comfort zone. That’s easy for some, but for Shelly it may almost be impossible.


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HeadTalker Campaign

Join me in my HeadTalker Campaign!

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Since tomorrow we celebrate Thanksgiving in the United States, I thought today I would share a little about how the national holiday came into being.

In the midst of the Civil War, on On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation declaring the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day, thus making it a national holiday.

The proclamation:

“It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with His guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their camps and our sailors on the rivers and seas with unusual health. He has largely augmented our free population by emancipation and by immigration, while He has opened to us new sources of wealth and has crowned the labor of our workingmen in every department of industry with abundant rewards. Moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions:
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and from thence offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the Great Disposer of Events for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased Him to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 20th day of October, A.D. 1864, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.”

During one of the bleakest period in our history, President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving Day a national holiday. Perhaps tomorrow as we are reflecting on all we have to be thankful for, we will remember men such President Lincoln, who stood for what was right.



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Blood & Lies

Blood & Lies Cover Art



Blood & Lies

While JD Miller is chaperoning a group of teens on a mission trip to Kherson, Ukraine, one of the boys vanishes from the group without a trace.
Leandra Davis hasn’t seen her father in over twenty years when he shows up and asks her to fly to Ukraine to join the search for a brother she’s never met. Anger at her absentee father compels her to walk out and ignore his pleas, but anguish at the thought of her brother all alone in a foreign country, at the mercy of kidnappers, convinces her to abandon her life in Odessa, Texas and join the search.

When she and her best friend fly to Ukraine to search for the kidnapped teen, she meets the passionate paramedic, JD Miller. Together, they search for the missing young man and begin to uncover deadly secrets Leandra’s father wants to keep hidden.


A large, calloused hand clamped over her mouth and something sharp dug into to her side. “Meddlesome big sister,” a gruff, male voice rasped in her ear. The stench of cigarettes on his breath made her want to wretch, and her heart rate soared. What did this guy want? She jerked her head to the side, but the man’s huge hand only clamped down tight enough to leave bruises, so she clawed at it. With her mouth covered, she couldn’t get enough air. He was going to smother her–if he didn’t stab her to death first.

“You’ll stop struggling if you know what’s good for you. Time to learn a lesson.” A searing pain sliced through her side and middle, and she clutched at her abdomen–wet and sticky. “Tell Daddy if my boss doesn’t get his property back, we’ll send both of his children to him piece by piece.”

The man removed his hand, and she turned, but he was already gone. She groaned in pain and held her belly. He’d sliced her skin from the left side all the way across to the outer right flank and blood soaked her clothes.


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