Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Dear Diary by Connie Vines

UPDATED blog post:  Additional information about the "Gratitude Journal" and photos!

It wasn’t I until experienced a seven-hour power-outage during a rainstorm on Sunday that I really pondered the world before electricity.

With the rain and cloud-cover, it was very, very dark and icy cold.  I could actually see the alignment of the five planets quite clearly.  For those familiar with the southern California skyline, you know that we cannot see the constellations or planets unless we drive to Palm Springs, the mountains, or the high desert.  So, combined with the exceptionally cold temperatures and wind chill factor, and an inability to prepare a meal inside my kitchen, I felt as if I plopped into the center of one of my historical novels.

This is what had me ponder the act of writing in a diary.

I hadn’t read a diary (except for research purposes in years).

 As a teen or pre-teen, you probably received a diary as a birthday gift or a Christmas present.  I know I did.  The diary with a lock (which anyone, on a whim, could pick) and a key.  At first, my entries were made daily, then weekly, then, seldom at all.  Later, the diary evolved into journaling for a writing class, or jot down events, or milestone in my toddler’s life.  Now I have a journal app on my iPad that I often use for notes and thoughts about my novels points.

None of scribbles in my journals were as emotionally purging or filled with day-to-day angst of a teenager’s life.

Why?  I believe because my of my journaling was via the keyboard.

Scientific studies prove the act of pen to paper stirs creative thoughts.

While I have no real interest in keeping a detailed diary for myself

What about fictional characters?  Do you ever have your fictional characters write a diary?

That is when I recalled my salad days are a writer.

When I starting writing fiction and non-fiction for the magazine market.  I published in “Jr. Medical Detective” and “Humpty Dumpty”.  In my article, “A Candle in the Dark” (still available as part of the Thomas Gale Education Series), my heroine, Sarah kept a diary.  The story dealt with the Salem Witchcraft Trials.  I found the diary to be a very effect plot device.  It was also a good way to give the reader information without using a backstory to interrupt the flow of my story.

What are you feelings about diaries in a novel?

Are there diaries you’ve read you found of interest or diaries that change how you viewed the world?
Why is it a good idea to have a diary in your storyline?

Fictional characters are forced by their authors to carry the story (the process of the narrative).  At the most basic level the diary gives you a first-person narrative without the protagonist knowing what is going to happen.

The use of diaries in novels of the past.

Pamela (1740) by Samuel Richardson is usually described as an epistolary novel.  However, our heroine also writes a journal, and then sews it into her underwear for secrecy.

Wuthering Heights (1847) by Emily Brontë has a skeletal framework of a diary: “I have just returned from a visit to my landlord. . .Yesterday afternoon set in misty and cold.”  Mr. Lockwood will learn about true emotion day by day as he finds out and writes down the story of Heathcliff and the Earnshaws.

Bridget Jones’s Diary (1996) by Helen Fielding is well known to be based on the plot of Pride and Prejudice.

The more I ponder the use of a diary in my next novel, the more I warm to the idea.

I have my favorite pen and I also have turquoise Martha Stewart premium journal I received as a gift for Christmas.  While there isn’t a lock and key, there is an elastic band to keep the journal closed.  There is also a fabric bookmark so that I may keep my place.

I can picture myself writing today's date, time, and my first entry. . .Dear Diary.


For a self-growth I've also began keeping a Gratitude Journal.

I do not write in the Gratitude Journal on a daily basis.  I write in the journal weekly, or when there is a moment I would like to remember or ponder as too why this event/ conversation was so meaningful to me.

I had jotted down the words, "Music is what feelings sound like."

Yes.  This spoke to my soul; called to my very being.

This is why I play music that complements the story I am working on, or is the choice of my hero/heroine.

What music speaks to me.  Immediately, I knew. The musical I had attended at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles. "The Phantom of the Opera."

Do not the lyrics make you grateful that you can experience the depth of emotion of the tormented hero of the story (I am no fan of Raoul).  However, it is the music that haunts and calls to you; leaving an imprint on your soul.
Phantom for the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Music of the Night
Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses
Helpless to resist the notes I write
For I compose the music of the night
[Verse 2: Phantom]
Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night
[Verse 3: Phantom]
Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes, let your spirit start to soar
And you live as you've never lived before
[Verse 4: Phantom]
Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it, secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
In this darkness that you know you cannot fight
The darkness of the music of the night
[Verse 5: Phantom]
Let your mind start a journey to a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be
Only then can you belong to me
[Verse 6: Phantom]
Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me, savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side give in
To the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night
[Ending: Phantom]
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night
[Ending: Phantom]
You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night

What music has touched your soul?  
If you are a novelist, what music speaks to you?

Happy Reading,


Monday, July 25, 2016

Vacationing Vicariously

One week away from starting our vacation and I have moved from counting days to counting hours. Well, maybe not that anxious to get going, but darn close. Hubster, myself, and two of our closest friends will be heading out to Montana and Glacier National Park and then we will spend several days in Wyoming after Glacier. (Hopefully, we'll still all be friends after this trip, too.)

Because there are going to be three people in this group who have to take a blue-billion photos everywhere we go, I’ve set up a Facebook page to share these photos. Right now, there isn’t much on the page, other than a profile picture and one photo of me and friend’s hubby scrubbing the camper down. (Yeah, dragging a dirty camper all over the country isn’t something I want to do.)

Check there often because I know we’ll have lots to share. That’s the joys of having a semi-retired hubby and fully retired friends. We don’t have to have a schedule, so we can take all the time we want and all the pictures imaginable. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sheep Crossing????

During our vacation in South Dakota, I saw a sign I'd never seen before  

In Tennessee, I've seen plenty of deer crossing signs, and in Arizona, I watched for Elk, but this was a first for me.

It's not uncommon to see these surefooted animals on the rocks near Deadwood, South Dakota  Their agility is amazing, but not so great as that of the Mountain Goat. How do you tell the difference?

Mountain Goats are  a stark white color with smaller horns while the Bighorn sheep, especially the rams, are named because of their large, curling gray horns.  The ewes also have horns, but much smaller ones.

Although these animals are part of the 'cloven hoof' group, the Bighorns and Mountain goats have fatter or wider hooves with softer pads on the bottom that help grip the rocks.  Other cloven-hoofed animals would ultimately slip because of the rigidity of their hooves.

Even though the goats and sheep are superb climbers, falls have been documented, and other have been killed by vehicles.

The herd was released into a "burn area in February 2015, and except for a few strays, have remained in the area.  Twenty-Six animals were released, and at least thirteen lambs have joined the family.  The newest crop is likely to be born in mid-May.

Note:  All the photos were borrowed from Google Images.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A Woman's Signature Fragrance--a Lasting Impression by Connie Vines

In my current anthology, Gumbo Ya Ya for women who like romance Cajun, one of my main characters is a perfumer.  Since I have past experience as a fragrance in an exclusive perfumery, I thought I’d share some helpful times when selecting a signature fragrance.

Perfume Terminology (or ABCs)


Pure, natural extracts and oils from flowers and other vegetable materials. Very expensive for a small amount. Example: pure rose oil.
tuberose from Morocco


An odoriferous element in the perfume or cologne. When we smell a composed fragrance, we smell different notes within it. When the first scent — or top note — dissipates, we smell the middle note, also known as the bouquet. As that fades, we are left with the basic note, which is the third element of a composed fragrance. It’s like a symphony.

*test by spraying a small amount of fragrance on your forearm.  It takes 20 minutes before the alcohol evaporates and you smell the ‘true’ scent.

Secret Number One: Don’t commit to a scent until you smell the final note.

my fragrance testing kit

What exactly is Eau de Cologne?

Eau de Cologne is three to five percent oil in a mixture of alcohol and water. It tends to be lighter and refreshing, typically with a citrus oil component.

Eau de Toilette
Containing about the same amount of perfume oil or a little more — somewhere between four and eight percent — than Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette is mixed with alcohol instead of water.

Eau de Parfum
A higher percentage of perfume oil — roughly 15 to 18 — mixed with alcohol makes up Eau de Parfum. It is more expensive than Eau de Cologne and Eau de Toilette.

Perfume is 15 to 30 percent perfume oil mixed with alcohol. Because it contains such a high percentage of perfume oil, it is far more expensive than Eau de Cologne, Eau de Toilette, or Eau de Parfum.

I Wear Eau de Parfum and Perfume.

Fragrance Families for Women
fragrance family chart

Fragrances are classified according to predominant scent characteristics. Four basic families make up most feminine fragrances. Floral/Sweet, Citrus/Fruity/Fresh, Oriental/Spicy, and Woody/Chypre. Within those families, there are sub-groups. Aromatic Fougère, a masculine scent family, used to be its own category, but was recategorized as a sub-category in the 2010 change. It has notes of lavender, fresh herbs, and moss.

At the perfumery I tested each client’s pH level and selected fragrances from each family for the pH level.  Without knowing your pH level you will need try several scents from each family to see what scent appeals to you.

Secret Number Two: Floral and Sweet for daytime, and perhaps an Oriental/Spicy scent for date night. In cooler weather, stronger scents can be worn without overwhelming everyone around you. Conversely, lighter scents are better in warmer weather. Think of how summer smells like fresh cut grass and scoops of vanilla ice cream. December smells like evergreens and gingerbread. You can evoke those same wonderful emotions and memories with your own aroma.

Orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits. Apricot, apple, peach, etc. Clean, light, and invigorating.

Warm vanilla, spices and incense resins. Reminiscent of the Far East. Also ambery and musky. Kind of mysterious!

Scents like bergamot, oakmoss, labdanum, and patchouli. Mossy and very earthy smelling.

Choosing The Perfect Perfume
Perfumes and colognes are made up of many different accords to produce a harmonious scent. Because our body chemistry is unique to us, the same perfume will smell slightly different (or completely different) depending on who is wearing it.

Further, it will smell different in the bottle or sprayed on a card than it will on your skin.

Secret Number Three: Spray it on a card first. After five or ten minutes, smell it again. See if it still speaks to you. Then and only then, spray it on your skin. Remember with will take 20 minutes before the fragrance will be true to you pH level.

Secret Number Four: Never spray more than 4 fragrances at a time for testing.

Have you ever noticed how perfumeries have tiny jars of coffee beans scattered here and there? Take a sniff. It serves the same purpose as sorbet between dinner courses and cleanses your palate — or olfactory perception — in between scents.

How To Wear Your Perfume

Never spray on your wrists and then rub your wrists together, never tip the perfume bottle onto your skin because your body oil spoils the properties of the fragrance oils.

Apply the fragrance to the base of you skull because the warmth of your body and the movement of your hair creates release of the scent.  Or one spray of scent to your abdomen.  Do not spray on the front of you neck as even high priced Paris perfumes have properties that, over time, can create a slight discoloration on your skin. Remember, your fragrance will last all day.  There is no reason to spray the perfume into the air and walk beneath it.  If my room needs to be scented, I light a candle!

Enjoy your perfumes.  Purchase a small collector bottle or s sample before committing to a fragrance.

Signature fragrances chance as a woman matures.  I wear Chanel no 5.

What fragrance do you adore?

My signature fragrance

Coming Soon!

See you next week,

Monday, July 18, 2016


I forgot to put up a blog post last week. I don’t know where my head was, but apparently it was not firmly attached to my neck and shoulders.

This week, I’m in Tennessee at our little homestead. I’m amazed at the amount of writing I get done here because there aren’t the distractions which seem to be joined at the hip with my “real” life. Unfortunately, real life interferes here, too.
my writing space at the TN homestead

Yesterday, I visited with a friend who is undergoing chemo for two types of cancer. My friend is a strong woman, she’s not going to give in, and I have seen too often that prayers and faith smaller than a mustard seed can and do move mountains. I would ask for your prayers for this friend.

However, all of this got me to thinking about how often I hear of friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. Are we just getting better at catching it before it becomes a death sentence, or is there something in our modern lifestyle that is contributing to all these shattering announcements of cancer? I don’t know. I just know I have more people on my prayer list undergoing chemo than I have ever had before.

Hug your friends. Tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. Cherish those people in your life you call friends and family. Tomorrow is never guaranteed. 

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wild Bill Hickok as told in "Destination Deadwood"

I was so lucky to get literature during my vacation about some of 
the most legendary folks in South Dakota so today I'm going to talk about Wild Bill Hickok.  He was noted as one of the most popular inhabitants of Deadwood, perhaps because it was the place he died.

He came to Deadwood from Abilene when he was hired to uphold the law.  His undoing came when he accidentally shot and killed his deputy.  Remorse drove him to poker, and he was eventually asked by concerned citizens to move on.

Wild Bill joined Buffalo Bill Cody's wild west show because of his excellent horsemanship and being a superb marksman, but failed miserably as an actor because of stage fright.

Discovery of Gold in the Black Hills brought him to Deadwood after Cody let him go.  He traveled with his good friend, Colorado Charlie Utter with the aim of striking it rich.  Hickok's goal was not to be, and he's buried in Mt. Moriah cemetery overlooking the city.

As I said, Hickok came to Deadwood in June of 1876 in order to strike it rich.  Newly married, his beloved Agnes awaited his return to Cheyenne, however on Augst 2, 1876, he walked into Saloon #10 in Deadwood, sat with his back to the door and never saw a loser named, Jack McCall, come within three feet and whip out his 45 and pull the trigger supposedly because the gambler killed his brother but was not held accountable.  McCall was hanged in 1877.  Wild Bill wa not used to sitting with his back to the door, but on this particular day, no one was willing to switch seats with him.

Ever since Wild Bill was shot while playing poker, the hand he held,  black aces and eights is known as "the deadman's hand."  I think if I drew those two pair plus the nine of diamonds as he did, I'd be a little more than nervous.

The original headstone carved by his friend Charlie Utter read,
"Pard, we will meet again in the happy hunting ground to part no more."

Interesting facts:
Wild Bill owed a $50.00 drink tab to Saloon No.10 at the time of his murder.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Writing Process by Connie Vines

The Writing Process

I was tagged in a recent Blog Hop by a fellow board member of the
GothRom Chapter of Romance Writers, and I'd though I'd share the the topic: The Writing Process with everyone visiting "Dishin' It Out' today.

1. What am I working on right now?

I work on multiple projects at once.  Is this a good thing?  Probably not—but I do it anyway.  I’ve almost completed my novella, Bell, Book & Gargoyle (the 2nd in my Sassy & Fun  Fantasy Series)  while revising anthology: Gumbo Ya Ya (for who like romance Cajun). And I’m outlining Rand, Book 3 and Cochise, Book 4 in my Rodeo Romance Series.

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I write in multiple genres and each of genres have a different “tone and focus”—in other words, a different ‘voice’.  My YA novel, Whisper upon the Water (Dream Award Winner, Nat’l Book Award nominee), is told in the 1st person.  The novel is complex; not only a coming-of-age but a transformation of society as a whole (Tay is Apache, Nde). My heroine begins as a girl on the verge of womanhood, a member of her band, speaking her native tongue. She is kidnapped, held hostage, and escapes. Taken to a Native American boarding school, she learns a new language, skills, and encounters prejudice but also kindness.  Later, she must make a very difficult choice.  Her decision will impact her life, as well as the lives of others.  The novel is written for YA level and is reading selection for the G.A.T.E. program in numerous SoCal schools, but the subject matter is not light, however, it is historical accurate.

In my Rodeo Romance Series: Lynx, Book 1, is a contemporary western romance and set in Montana and Texas. This book is lively.  Rachel is spirited and Lynx is hot and sexy—but both have had hardships in life.  My secondary characters add elements of comedy and unexpected plot twists. (Winner of the Award of Excellence, Finalist: H.O.L.T. Medallion, Orange Rose and Rocky Mt. Gold).  Brede, Book 2, is a western romantic suspense, set in New Mexico (99 cents this month on Amazon).  Since the novel is romantic suspense, I do not wish create a spoiler in this blog.  I will say everyone one loves old Caldwell, the ornery old cook, and his cohorts.  Brede is strong-willed and caring; Amberlynn is beautiful and in mortal danger.  Rand, Book 3, is told in the 1st person: ChickLit meets the Wild West and goes Hollywood. Lights, Camera, and a boot-full of Action! I am having, fun, fun with this novel! While, once again, in Cochise, Book 4, I draw upon my personal background and experiences--every wonder what goes on in planning a Pow-wow?  This novel will also address social issues.

My stories are different, because I am different.  My stories take place in places I have lived, or where I have vacationed. I know my subject matter--my father rodeoed while in high school; I have been involved in Native America culture and education programs; my husband is a Louisiana country boy; and, finally, I live in SoCal—of course I have met several Hollywood television stars (and facilitated workshops), actors are often spotted at local SoCal tourist spots, and preform in local theater.

3. Why do I write what I do?

The story calls to me, it is really that simple.  I have a feeling of time and place.  Then I begin hearing snatches of dialogue (like when you are sitting in a coffee shop and you over hear snippets of conversation).  The story invades my life (well it does, just ask my husband).  At the moment, I’m listening to Zydeco music and I have gumbo in my crockpot.  He’s complaining (only half kiddingly) that I brought bayou weather to our house (92 degrees, 50% humidity with full cloud cover and rain at 3 PM).  I am compelled to complete the story.  Native American culture says, “The story comes to the Story Teller to bring it to life.”  And this is what I, as are all writers, tellers of stories.

The French Quarter, New Orleans
4. How does my writing process work?

For short stories, novellas and anthologies, I utilize the basic W-plot with extra twists and pivotal points.  When I am writing a novel, or a novel series, I plot in acts and work with three chapters at a time (1-3, 4-6, etc.).  With the exception of short stories, I compile detailed backgrounds, motivation, and personality traits. I also conduct interviews, research, and immerse myself in the ‘culture/environment I am creating.  It is then I begin the first draft of my novel.  This will change as my characters begin to take over the book.  Any writer will agree with me, under no circumstances can you force you characters to act against his/her will.  You can, however, place huge obstacles in the way and see what happens.

Hollywood, CA

Is my first draft perfect? No.  Is my third draft publishable? It’s probably close.  At this point in the writing process, I have writer friend (usually Geeta Kakade) read my novel. She will give her opinion and suggestions—which I may, or may not follow.  Writing, after all, is subjective—as is a reader’s preference for one novel over another.

Coming Soon

To read the first chapter teasers or to purchase one (or all ) of my novels please follow this link:

Remember to watch my book trailers!

Thank you for stopping by.

Connie Vines

Thursday, July 7, 2016


I'll be back mid-august, but since I have sporadic Internet, I'll be scarce.  In the meantime, don't abandon me.  I'll be sharing my cross country adventures when I return.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Hootsuite and Social Media for Authors by Connie Vines

And the debate rages on in the Social Media world!
Hootsuite vs. Buffer—What is the Best Social Media Management App for 2016?
As we (or at least I) have discovered that managing a (my) “mini-social media empire” can be a bit of a mess.

So what makes up Connie’s mini-social media empire? you ask.
Website (
A Weblog (
Twitter (
Author Facebook Page (
Good Reads Page (
Cold Coffee Press (
Google + (
Instagram (
Pinterest (

Is there more?  Of course.  I guest blog at additional sites for book promo and name recognition (for myself and BWL).  I also have my book trailers, podcasts (under construction), promos via CTR, RST, Manic Readers, etc.

Obviously, I was happy to discover that specialized tools have been developed to aid in management.  Of course, Twitter, is still one of the most powerful media tools. Hootsuite and Buffer are two applications that are designed to present a neat interface with social media.

While Hootsuite and Buffer both have similar primary functions; they allow you to manage posts to social media websites by cross-posting at a specific time, thus allowing you to hit the key ‘read time’ of followers/trenders.  Both offer tools to interpret data such as views, click-through links (other customizable tasks are available at additional cost).

My Hootsuite Feed - There is also a scheduling window that will pop-up.

Buffer’s main focus is on Twitter.  While Twitter is a great social media there is a 160-character limit.  Buffer’s claim is for smaller business with less of a focus on profits.

I use the FREE Hootsuite account which allows me to manage up to 3 Social networks.  Since I am able to advance schedule both my social media announcements via Hootsuite and blog posts via Blogger, it’s frees up my 8:00 PM – 11:30 PM time for my writing.

Positive reviews for Hootsuite 2016 can be found at:

Hootsuite Alternatives:
SendSocial Media

I have zero personal knowledge of these programs.  However, Tweetdeck looks promising and is FREE.  However, since I already use Twitter, I don’t really see the point of this program.
Writers, are there other social media programs that work for you?

The Standard Twitter Feed

Readers, what is your personal favorite way of connecting with authors?  Is there a social network you really, really like?  Snapchat?  Vine?  Wanelo? Slack? Blab?

Please post comments. I’ll try out the new social media app that readers like and use on a daily (or nearly daily) basis.

Happy Reading and Writing,
Connie Vines

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Horse from Hell

I love horses. Big ones, little ones, solid colors, bright, loud, flashy ones, even the polka-dotted ones that I tease a few of my friends when I say I never met one I liked. I love most art work featuring equines. However, I HATE this horse.

I’ve seen him up close and personal a few times when I’ve flown into Denver, and there is nothing about this sculpture that I like. He seriously gives me the creeps. He’s called “Blucifer” or DIAblo (using the FAA three letter call sign for Denver International Airport) by the locals, though his official name is “Blue Mustang.” He’s supposed to symbolize the wild, untamed spirit of the west. Yeah…he looks more like something that escaped from Hell. Spirit of the Old West? More like death and destruction, like one of the horses that the Horsemen of the Apocalypse would ride. He did kill his sculptor, Luis Jiménez, when a large section of the sculpture fell on Jiménez and severed an artery in the man’s leg. The demonic thing even has his own Twitter account (, though it doesn’t seem to be very active. My bet is the thing is too busy planning more death and destruction to keep up with his Twitter feed.

Yeah, did I mention I really don’t like this horse?

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