Corona Virus – Coping with Bored Husbands

Across the globe, families are self quarantining. Isolation is recommended for those who traveled abroad, for those who know someone who traveled abroad, and for those who stayed at home and might possibly pass by a person who traveled abroad if they go outside. 

What seemed like a simple fourteen days of school closings has stretched into thirty. Theme parks are closed until the May. Restaurants and bars are take out only, and stores are all online. 

Yes, we can function perfectly fine, thanks to visionary computer programmers beginning back in the 1960s. However, the items deemed valuable have changed now that socializing is viewed as unethical. That isn’t much need for a sequin purse if the gala has been cancelled. Based on my personal investigation, grocery stores are out of the staples: toilet paper, milk, cookie dough. The gyms are closed. And some of your best friends are too scared to get closer than ten feet from you.

While kids and teens can cope just fine with electronic devices, music downloads and movie rentals, dads are experiencing a crisis. Banished from entering the office, sentenced to working from home, they are officially bored out of their minds. 

The crisis is in how we handle non-stop family time. After all, an idle mind is the devil’s playground. This translates into potentially controversial interactions. 

We might find family members standing their ground over trivial issues just to make something interesting come about. When we are stuck indoors with no end in sight, a logical remedy is to get the mind in motion. 

Use this mandatory freedom as time to go back to the basics. 

  1. Sprinkler Fun – remember the old days when a hot afternoon meant it would be a fun day. Mom would set up the sprinkler in the yard, and freeze fruit juice on sticks. Today’s irrigation systems put a damper on this concept, but you can still rig a garden hose by hanging it on a tree and spaying water across the deck.
  2. Walk the Dog – Dog walking is calming to the soul and it forms a bond with the fluffy fellow. Having a purpose when you set outside gives you the satisfaction of having a purpose.
  3. Paint the Front Door – it seems we could always use a touch up here or there at our 100 year old home. Men thrive on having a sense of accomplishment, and perking up the focal point of the house does wonders. 
  4. Nap – yep, it is not a sign of weakness to take a nap. Somewhere along the way over the yeas, naps have become viewed as a habit for dullards. But, back in the old days, naps were considered therapeutic. A subsection of napping is meditating. Add focused efforts to clear your mind to your nap time.  
  5. Make it from Scratch – time is now your friend. Get out those mixers and choppers and sifters you inherited from grandma and whip up your favorite childhood goodies. 
  6. Tree Swing – tie a rope to a tree branch and let the joy begin. 
  7. Clean Out – empty your closets, and put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Next, tackle those drawers. Next step, climb a tree. You get to enjoy the view, work those muscles, and get close with nature. 
  8. Make Christmas Decorations – old-fashioned ornaments were made of fabric scraps, pearls, sequins, and ribbons. Consider using items you rediscovered while cleaning out your closets. Finishing touches can be added with a marker and glitter glue.
  9. Oil Equipment – now is a perfect time to take apart a lawnmower, an oscillating fan, and any other gadget that doesn’t work perfectly. 
  10. Kick the Can – add a variation by giving a prize to the last man standing. Include ribbons to pull off each other’s belts to increase the interactions. Set up treats at stations to space out levels of completing the chase. 
  11. Polish – Glossy doorknobs and knockers make a home shine. Shiny silver is the centerpiece of a room. Modern kitchen appliances crave an extra glow. Your favorite jewelry loves to sparkle. 
  12. Plan a Vacay – the quarantine won’t last forever. Putting together a vacation package can take months when you are also juggling life. 

When we need a break, we tend to keep going at the same pace. A primitive fear gives us the belief we will fall off the path and never return. Life has a way of forcing us to take a break. It seems to know our thresholds. 

What I’ve noticed with the change is that people have slowed down. A gentler side is resurfacing. The world seems more civilized. Driver’s are polite and patient, instead of rolling their eyes and honking. Men are holding doors open, once again, as opposed to speeding through before you. Clerks are voluntarily packaging foods and giving an extra service you used to have to ask for. 

Just keep in mind that family time includes being together while doing your own thing. True relationships don’t require activities or conversations in order to form a connection. Embrace this old fashioned sense of freedom our global society truly needs. Meanwhile, follow my mom’s failproof coping skill by making several flavors of homemade fudge. 

Flowers are Encouraging

A touch of spring, despite the cold.

Flowers can be encouraging when winter lingers.

The 15 Day Love Challenge

You caught yourself smiling through another Valentine’s Day and feel pretty good about yourself for the day, but can you keep up the warm feeling for another 15 days?

This doesn’t entail buying gifts each day. We aren’t talking about party favors handouts. No need to shake hands with anyone who offends your sensibilities. 

Today, your job is to: feel the love! 

Know it. Sense it. Savor the sensation.

Valentine’s is a celebration of the beauty we can experience. The purpose is to bring out the best in each of us. On this day, anyone who gets self-conscious about showing interest in another can step forward and get it out there in the universe.

The point isn’t to receive reciprocated feelings of affection. This isn’t about one person’s need for attention. 

It is for, one by one, each and everybody, to make a difference. Imagine the world if simultaneously, each individual expressed love. 

There would be a cumulative jolt of energy disbursed into the atmosphere. The energy would generate into shockwaves. The wavelengths would criss-cross and overlap, intensifying into an electrical current. The current would spark dead zones, jumpstarting them into refreshed life. The bursts of electricity would elevate the mood of everyone. 

No pressure. All you have to do, is feel the love. 

You aren’t expected to join any commercialized trickeries. Forget marketing ploys based on guilt. Just take a moment to sit back, and feel.

In what ways do you feel the love? 

Spring into Winter!

It’s that special time of year, where spring is fighting to be noticed and winter keeps delivering surprises.

Kathy’s Cathedral Windows

It’s Autumn, which means cozy blankets, fuzzy comfort-wear, and holiday celebrations. Mother loved two things: homemade candy and cathedral windows.

She created stained-glass windows to hang in the kitchen, and she prepared homemade candy every single day. Her gesture for showing love to her family and friends was by filling our home with crystal and porcelain dishes of freshly baked goods.

In time for the holiday season, please enjoy her secret recipe for the cathedral windows that delighted her and amazed friends.

Enjoy with Many Blessings!!

Angela Knight Gets Action Scenes

New York Times bestselling romance-fantasy authoress, Angela Knight, writes to sizzle and keep her reader’s captivated. With over fifty books to her name, and still counting, her success results from her action scenes. She aims for high-octane and likable characters. Intrigued by her talent, I wanted to share her thoughts on writing well.

J WilderBill: Your fight scenes not only show how brave and clever your hero is, but they also invoke emotions from the characters. Do you have a method for weaving characterization into fight scenes? 

Angela Knight: The secret is to make the repercussions of failure really high. The viewpoint character needs to be terrified he’s going to lose because someone he loves will pay the price. 

Strong emotions are always key to sucking readers in to the story.

J WilderBill: The love stories for your protagonists and the heroes are spiced with passion. Likewise, the scenes between the protagonist and villain are intense. In what ways are the relationships the protagonist has with the hero and the villain similar and in what ways are they different? 

Angela Knight: The heroic couple needs to hate the villain every bit as much as they love each other. And they have to have really good reasons to feel that way. He’s got to have hurt them and the people they care about. And he needs to be seriously scary. We need to have seen him do awful things to people, so we have good reason to fear he’ll do the same to the heroic couple. 

J WilderBill: You have a gift of bringing the reader into the story, establishing the plot, the personalities and the stakes immediately. What are the key ingredients hooking the reader within the first five pages? 

Angela Knight: I like to show that he cares about other people — that he’s willing to go out of his way to help someone else. The late Blake Snyder called this the “save the cat” moment — when the hero does something kind or self-sacrificing, or otherwise demonstrates that he is indeed a hero.

J WilderBill: Your fight scenes are choreographed like a beautiful dance. What are the main ingredients for writing thrilling action scenes? 

Angela Knight: Think of fight scenes like a chess game. When a character makes an attack, there are only two options: either it lands, or he misses. He can miss because his opponent blocked it — possibly by parrying it, blocking it, or by ducking behind cover — or by dodging. Then the opponent needs to make his own attack, which either lands or misses. 

You build a fight scene move by move that way. I like to go to YouTube and look for fighting techniques. Then I use the ones that are most exciting. I also use the five senses to describe how it feels to fight: the pain, exhaustion, fear. The smell of sweat and blood and gunfire. These sensory details make the reader feel she’s experiencing the fight with the characters. Try to imagine every punch and stinging impact.

J WilderBill: After a physical moment where your protagonist is confronted by the villain or faces her greatest fears in having a relationship with the hero, the plot arcs with the protagonist changing into a better person. How do you make an action scene that resolves the protagonist’s internal conflict while also resolving her romantic conflicts with the hero?

Angela Knight: That’s always a big challenge. It’s important to know what internal weakness causes the romantic conflict with the hero. That weakness is also at the base of why she believes she (or he) can’t defeat the villain. For example, maybe she suffered abuse as a child that made her fear and distrust men. This fear makes her panic when she confronts the villain. But the hero, as they fall in love, helps her see that she is strong, that she isn’t weak and can defend herself. So when she confronts the villain, she finds courage in the hero’s belief in her. This belief lets her overcome her fear and find the courage to bring the villain down with the hero’s help. (It’s important for BOTH characters in the couple to defeat the villain. Otherwise the one who isn’t involved comes off as weak and not deserving of the happy ever after ending.)

J WilderBill: Thank you, Angela Knight, for spreading the word on how to make every scene deliver what the reader craves. For a complete list of her available books, and to get to know more about her, visit Angela Knight.

Lucinda Riley & Her Lively Characters

Photo by J Wilder Bill

International bestselling authoress, Lucinda Riley, is well known for her historical romances, however, for me, her depth in characterization makes her writing style resonate. She challenges herself by writing a broad range of genres. Her resilience in facing personal obstacles carries over into her themes, and guides the reader along the intrigue of dysfunctional relationships we all seem to find irresistible in real life.

She has risen to celebrity status while retaining charm and a quick wit. Yet, her stories have meaning, and a bit of educational history. How does she do it?

J Wilder Bill: I empathize for each character in your novels. Not only can I relate, I find myself contemplating whether I should be more like them or less. I understand the personality of your characters are inspired by family, friends, and even yourself, but how do you bring them to breathing, heart-wrenching life with words? 

Lucinda Riley: ‘The Olive Tree’ is the closest I’ve come to drawing on my own experiences. When I wrote the first draft about fifteen years ago, we had just come back from a family holiday in Cyprus, and our five children were of similar age to the children in the book. Although much of the plot and the characters are of course fictional, I drew on my observations of the things that my children were going through at the time. 

Usually, my inspiration comes from the pages of history books – I am fascinated by the people whose lives are relegated to footnotes. One such person is Kiki Preston, who lived during the notorious ‘Happy Valley’ era of colonial Kenya. She is one of the main characters in ‘The Sun Sister’, the sixth book of the Seven Sisters series (due out in the UK on October 31st), and during my research, I tried to look beyond the bare descriptions I could find of her in books. While writing her character I pieced together a full, living, breathing person, who had suffered tragedy upon tragedy, but who kept up appearances as the most famous ‘party-girl’ of Happy Valley. By choosing real people who have been relegated to the sidelines of history, so to speak, it gives me more scope to exercise artistic license when bringing them to life again in my books.

J Wilder Bill: Do you develop characters who act and behave true to the person behind the inspiration, or do you have them break out of how they actually behave, speaking their minds, acting out for the sake of adding tension to a scene?

Lucinda Riley: During my writing process, I let the characters tell the story through me – they are the ones who lead the way, and I am often surprised myself at what they choose to do! So I never force them to act out of character in order to make a plot line work or to fabricate tension. It is enough to let them live their lives on the page. I’ve often completely discarded thousands of words I’ve written, because my characters have chosen to take a different path.

J Wilder Bill: You wrote chapters where your dialogue and descriptions are simplicity at its best, yet you establish an intense setting and vivid emotions. Is there an art to selecting the perfect words that will carry the motivation behind the scene?

Lucinda Riley: My writing process is a little unusual: I dictate the entire first draft into a Dictaphone. I like to act out the dialogue and walk outside in nature – so for months on end, I’m simply talking to myself! I find that dictating lends the text a natural rhythm, and my characters speak from their hearts, because that is what I do. Of course, the editing process is very intense, and I spend months playing Rubik’s cube with every single word to get it perfect, but each line is originally born from my own emotions. 

J Wilder Bill: You have stated that writing can be therapeutic, however, what if readers identify with an unexpected character and take it personally when he suffers? Do you strive not to portray anyone in a negative light? 

Lucinda Riley: I live with my characters day and night when I am writing a novel, and I can promise you that I suffer with them whenever tragedy strikes in my books. I often cry when I am writing particularly emotional scenes, so I completely understand it when readers tell me how much they cried, or even when they’re angry with me over a character’s death. However, as a writer, I want to breathe real life and emotion into my stories, and sadly, tragedy and suffering are an occasional part of life. It would be dishonest of me not to portray characters as they truly are – fully formed, with positive and negative aspects, and as humans who experience the highs and lows of life.

I have only ever made one exception, and that is in my book ‘The Love Letter’ (published in the US as ‘The Royal Secret’) – I won’t give away which character I saved, though, as I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone!

J Wilder Bill: I understand you write your first draft away from family distractions, and then, when you edit, you change writing venues. What do you need in a writing space and how much of an impact does it play in your story’s setting? 

Lucinda Riley: My favourite place to write is in my house in Ireland, settled into my huge, comfortable beanbag chair, with a roaring fire to keep me warm and a nice cup of tea. Having peace and quiet is absolutely crucial to me when working on my first draft – it enables me to immerse myself in the story, and to focus on my experiences from my research – for ‘The Sun Sister’ I spent some time in Kenya and in New York, so when I was writing, I could simply close my eyes and transport myself back to these places to capture the atmosphere. 

However, I can’t stay a hermit forever – I emerge for the editing process, and my children often find me surrounded by heaps of paper and research notes. My ‘office’ is wherever I am, all I need is a pen and paper!

J Wilder Bill: I value the time you gave in sharing your thoughts and secrets of the trade. You are inspiration to us all, not only because of your carefully crafted talent, but due to your sunny, funny presence on this earth.

For the latest and greatest books by Lucinda Riley, in addition to interviews and personal news, visit

Petra’s Lasting Impressions

Photo: Petra by J Wilder Bill

Petra was at the top of my list of mystical destinations that were sure to change my life. I envisioned the ruins as retaining the spirit and personality of the lost civilization. The secreted oasis rests within Aqaba, Jordan, which is not easy to visit.

Passport and Visa

Your passport must be valid for six months after the date you plan to enter the country. You can hire a guide or escort to assist with your purchasing the required visa.

The standard visa is for a single entry through most border crossings and arriving at the Amman’s Queen Alia International Airport. If you need multiple entries, you must get the visas from the Embassy or Consulate of Jordan prior to the day you will enter. Tourist packages called the Jordan Pass are available. More than one type of visa exists. One is for tourist who will be in Jordan for less than forty-eight hours, and another is for those who plan to stay up to thirty days. 

Government Warnings

Tension remains high between locals and tourists. The Jordan government provides warnings of terrorism and organized criminal activity. A wise recommendation is for tourists to keep a low profile. 

Logistics of Crossing the Border

I flew to Eilat and hired a guide who accepted only cash to manage my crossing the Aqaba, Wadi Arava Border. After being screened and passing through security, I walked across the thick border. The crossing was an intimidating series of high gates lined with cameras, weaponry mounted on the walls, and armed guards. Once inside, there was no leaving until I was re-screened, passed security, and given permission. The mood was somber. 

En Route Through Jordan

Tours begin before sunrise. Have your hotel pack a breakfast to take into Jordan. Ask your hotel to hold your luggage until you return. When you are at Petra, there is no guarantee your items will be secure. 

The two-hour drive to Petra is takes you up foggy mountains and, unless it is summertime, a cold climate. Definitely, take a hat and a coat. Even in late spring, it is freezing. 

There are shops selling blankets, light fixtures, jewelry, and hookahs along the way. Light snacks, coffee and tea is available in the stores. Eventually, you arrive in a cozy city. The rosy architecture gives an allure of genies and Arabic tales. It appears to be safe, at a glance.

Proper Dress

As for wearing the proper wardrobe for the culture, locals were dressed in jeans and flannel shirts, layered with robes (thawbs), and parkas. Insulated coats, ski jackets, boots, and head gear, even winter gloves, were abundant. Some tourists made the mistake of wearing lighter outfits, cotton skirts and shorts, based on the temperatures in the areas where they began their day trip. The arid climate, high elevation, and narrow passageways created by cliffs creates whipping winds.

Regardless of the temperature, it is a conservative culture, in a way. Even a long sundress with a jacket earns lures and unsettling stares. Covering is essential for safety. Plus, you might be riding horses and camels. You will likely be more comfortable in long pants and protective shoes.

You will be walking long distances across dusty rocks, and might at times sprint across loose stones. You have the option to climb mountainous trails. Sandals are a “no-no.” I wore riding boots, which did well. Athletic shoes are a good option, however, I always prefer having a solid sole to prevent injuries to the bottoms of my feet. This is a walking trip where one could easily twist an ankle, and then there is the cold factor and need to stay warm.

Be Mindful of Customary Scams

The tourist industry is vital to the country, and agents managing the tours are attentive. They recommend who to trust and what to expect; however, they aren’t completely accurate about the local customs.

When you arrive at the site, initially, you enter a staging area of souvenir shops and restaurants. Travel with plenty of toilet paper, enough to share will fellow travelers, and disinfectant soap. The water pressure is weak. There is a hygiene issue. 

As you leave the shopping area, you will walk down a corridor of pink cliffs where genies live. The tour guide will give you the option to ride horses or donkeys. They explain that you are to negotiate the fee. You can ride a longer distance in a horse drawn carriage or on a galloping camel. They don’t mention that the ride is for a small portion of the distance or that the term negotiate is inaccurate. 

The men operating the livestock will agree on a price if you insist; however, at the end of the ride, they do not stand by that price. They take advantage of trusting tourists in whatever amount they can, but every one I was traveling with was given the same story. After you hand over your money, they have to find someone to get change, only to learn they don’t have change. They put on a dramatic show, wave their fists and tout you, until you scold them and walk away. Don’t expect negotiated prices to be honored.

Within the expansive setting are restaurants and shops. Again, there is a bit of bait and switch, in that you can opt for a finer dining accommodation, but you will likely be turned away at the door and directed to a less nice place without receiving a price reduction.

Lasting Impression – A Soulful Look

The artistic craftsmanship of the ancient civilization is nothing less than incredible. In a photo I took of the walls leading to the well-known facade, I captured a green light shining from an impression left by a human bone. 

Each of us, no matter how much time passes from our physical death, is an energetic being. Our bodies can carry up to twenty watts of electricity. The atoms and photons making up the different aspects of who we are vibrate. They dance from our space to objects nearby, syncing their tempos with one another. 

Energy is continuous, never ceasing to exist. Our energy includes our thoughts and reasoning, the root of our existence. The energy making up who we are, and who the man who wore the bones in Petra was, never ends. 

The Infinity of Existence

Therefore, your thoughts and ideas carry on long after your physical presence. The thermodynamics of your presence continues forever and ever. You have the choice to shift your thoughts into a different impression. 

Be mindful that you have a lasting impression. The mark you make in life remains in the thoughts of those you cross paths with, and lingers alongside the objects you came in contact with. Your energy never dies. 

Your vibration existed in the original source of energy, and it will continue into infinity. Scientists have proven that our bodies emit light from our electrical currents moving through our bodies. Your light never fades, just as this man who left his mark in Petra continues to spread his light. 

Suzanne Jefferies: Adorably Authentic

Suzanne Jefferies is a romance novelist who has a writing voice with an energetic flare. Among her numerous awards, she’s been honored by the 2016 ROSA Imbali for excellence in romance writing, the 2012 Mills & Boon Voice of Africa, and the Silver Leaf for public relations. She’s had a vast array of experiences to incorporate into her stories, including writing a speech given by Bill Gates. 

J Wilder Bill: Suzanne Jefferies, what does it take to develop a writer’s voice with a personality that bounces off the page? 

Suzanne Jefferies: Being true to yourself. Everyone has their own way of speaking-their voice- and this is what translates in the writing. This includes things like word choice, sentence structure, and stock phrases. I know I say, Ohno all…the…time, and it’s crept into my writing. 

J Wilder Bill: What are your top three-pointers for writing romantic scenes that spark the mood without feeling robotic?

Suzanne Jefferies:

  1. Be authentic, and use your own emotional experiences to draw from.
  2. Make it about what the characters are feeling emotionally, rather than just focusing on the physical
  3. Let your characters be vulnerable

J Wilder Bill: Your stories have an exhilarating effect. As an author, do you set out with an objective to alter the reader’s outlook?

Suzanne Jefferies: To be honest, most of my stories are about me trying to deal with my own demons. If it works for me, it might – hopefully- work for someone else too. 

J Wilder Bill: How can a writer guide the reader to finish the story with the feeling she too had an experience with a lasting impression?

Suzanne Jefferies: Make sure the emotional impact and payoff is high. The higher the stakes and the harder the challenges or obstacles, the more rewarding when the HEA happens. We like true love to be hard won (in our fiction, not so much in real life).

J Wilder Bill: Your PR background is evident by your engaging social media marketing, the awards you’ve won, and the publishers you’ve attracted. Do you have a key ingredient for developing a positive online image that sparks the interest of agents, publishers, and readers? Is it the same for each?

Suzanne Jefferies: Funnily enough, I’ve never linked my PR with my marketing, but I guess that it would have an impact! I’ve been clear about what my work’s about, and have tried to align my writing with that. I write about what I love – family, writing, running and the great outdoors- which makes it way easier to stay aligned with positive content.

J Wilder Bill: Thank you for sharing your darling secrets, and best wishes for your most recent book, The Ex Factor

Love to know her better? You can learn more about Suzanne Jefferies here.

Adding Funny to Your Romance: a writer’s course

Cheerio! Savvy Author’s has graced me with a forum for teaching my course, Adding Funny to Your Romance, beginning December 9, 2019.

I love to laugh. My neighborhood nickname during my childhood was “Giggle Box” because a redheaded girl who lived at the entrance to our subdivision always said my giggle box would tip over and I couldn’t get it back upright. Once I got to laughing, I couldn’t stop.

My closest relationships are with those who make me laugh. When I recall my first memories of meeting people, it is the moment they put a smile on my face, or else I had to rest my head on my desk to hide my overturned giggle box from my teacher. Even those one-liners my friends used to tell me are my most notable recollections during the many years we stay in touch.

Love is bound by laughter. How can you really hold a grudge against someone who brings joy to your life?

I write romantic suspense novels with a goal to put a smile on the reader’s day. I’d aspire to elevate the reader’s outlook.

Best I can tell, I am a funny gal, otherwise, my husband wouldn’t constantly steal my material to win over people’s adoration. But why is this significant, because adding funny to your romance connects the reader with your characters?

We identify with others who have similar experiences. This is why family traditions and travel build ties. It’s the sense of surviving we get from shrugging off the challenges we face.

We feel a bond with the people who join us in a good laugh. Great minds think alike, right? And what better way to have a mutual mindset than by getting each other, knowing how the other person views life and processes events takes our relationships to a deeper level. We find ourselves being drawn to people who “get us” or understand where we are coming from.

Take a moment each day to spread the funny in your relationships. The little time it takes to put a grin on other’s face pays off ten-fold.

For all you writers interested in adding funny to your stories, please join me in my course, Adding Funny to Your Romance. I’ve taught numerous courses for Savvy Authors over the years, and have also taught for YA Romance Writer’s of America, and hope to see you there!

Hope Heals

Wild Flowers by J. Wilder Bill

Where flowers bloom, so does hope.

~ Lady Bird

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