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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Organize Household Paperwork

From the writing desk of Christine Mazurk

Organize your household paperwork! Wells Fargo Home Mortgage sent out this one page tool which I used last week to spring clean my office in this dreadfully cold winter. With snow on the ground, I cleansed my space! And it felt great!

I thought I'd share this information since tax time is upon us and many people may want to spring clean their household paperwork.

The following are guidelines from Suze Orman's website (www.suzeorman.com) about what to keep and what to shred. I found this to be very helpful as I sorted through many old files.

KEEP UNTIL WARRANTY EXPIRES: Sales receipts on warranty items.


WHAT TO KEEP FOR ONE (1) YEAR: Paycheck stubs. Utility bills. Cancelled checks. Credit card statements. Bank statements. Quarterly investment statements.

WHAT TO KEEP FOR THREE (3) YEARS: Income tax returns. Medical bills and cancelled insurance policies. Records of selling a house. Records of selling stock. Receipts, cancelled checks and other documentation that support income or a deduction on your tax return. Annual investment statements.

WHAT TO KEEP FOR SEVEN (7) YEARS: Records of satisfied loans.

WHAT TO HOLD WHILE ACTIVE: Contracts. Insurance documents. Property records. Stock records. Records of pensions and retirement plans. Home improvement records.

KEEP FOREVER: Marriage licenses. Birth certificates. Wills. Adoption papers. Death certificates. Records of paid mortgages. NOTE: All of these documents should be kept in a safety deposit box or fire proof safe.

I shredded and shredded and after twenty-plus bags of trash hauled to the dumpster, my office feels uncluttered. The creative juices are flowing more freely in this newly organized space!! My muse is happy doing the Snoopy dance.

I hope this information is useful and you are able to clean out your file cabinets or storage bins. It's work, but it really does feel awesome when it's done.

Until next week. I'll leave you with a quote my husband shared with me from David Wolfe; "Working hard for something we don't care about is called STRESS. Working hard for something we love is called PASSION!"

Now back to my PASSION, writing the ending chapter in Passion's Spirit! Have a great hump day.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2015

She's a lawyer in the old west. He's a rancher wrongly accused of cattle rustling. Fate brings them together . . . can love be in their future?

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 1.01.12 AMTUESDAY'S REVOLVING BOOK is the western historical romance ONE SHINGLE TO HANG by DeANN SMALLWOOD. 
(2.99 at Amazon) http://www.amazon.com/One-Shingle-Hang-DeAnn-Smallwood-ebook/dp/B00LU6NGV8/ref=sr_1_8?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1405543680&sr=1-8&keywords=deann+smallwood
A woman with too much knowledge was at risk for insanity. Their fragile mind couldn’t handle it. That’s what Lil had been told when she went against convention and became an attorney. The 1800’s had fewer women lawyers than women doctors. Her pride knew no bounds when she hung her shingle—L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law.
Drew was a struggling cattle rancher, building a fledging Hereford empire. He was working toward that goal when he was accused of rustling and faced possible hanging. He needed a lawyer—a good one—a man. Chesterfield had one lawyer—a new one—L.M. Wentfield. He wasn’t prepared for a beautiful blonde with a sharp tongue and fiercely won independence.
Lil had no homemaking abilities. Her love was the law. And if the thoughts of the gray-eyed cowboy, who had the audacity to refuse her legal help stayed in her mind, she’d push them aside. She had nothing to offer a rancher . Even her wealth wouldn’t be considered an asset to a prideful man. And Drew Jackson was proud. So proud, he knew he couldn’t ask a woman of Lil’s stature to share his life—but he wanted to—from the moment he’d stolen that first kiss.
I live in Colorado with my husband and my two Yorkie kid dogs: Stormy, four pounds, and Eli, six pounds. I’m a native of Colorado, but I’ve lived several years in Wyoming and Montana. I draw from these beautiful states for most of my books. My Western Historical Romances are: Montana Star, Sapphire Blue, Unconquerable Callie, One Shingle To Hang, and Wyoming Heather and One Shingle To Hang. Tears In The Wind is a contemporary romance. Then I changed genres from my beloved romances and wrote, under the pen name of D. M. Woods, my first suspense/thriller: Death Crosses The Finish Line. The second book in this ‘death’ series, Death Is A Habit, came out January 8, 2014. I am currently working on the third book in the ‘death’ series, Death Walks C Dock. I am also working on another Western Historical Romance, Montana Man. It features the characters readers came to know and love in Montana Star. Truly, I mean it when I say my greatest pleasure next to writing is having my books read and enjoyed. There are many more stories just waiting to be written
Everyone knew Lil Wentfield would never marry. What man would want her? She was too old, too set in her ways, and too damned opinionated. Granted, she was a real beauty, if you could get past all the other flaws. Long blonde hair, equally long legs, sparkling blue eyes, flawless skin, with just a hint of a European ancestor in the coloring. And lips, well to call them kissable would be doing them an injustice.

But spinster she was, with her hair coiled into a tight knot at the nape of her neck, as tight as the expression habitually worn on her lovely face. Wire rimmed glasses perched on her small nose, obscured flashes of emotion in those beautiful eyes. Except when it came to outrage. Then her eyes snapped, her spine stiffened, her chin raised, and she peered disdainfully at the offender.

Lil was like a badger when it came to proving her point and winning an argument. Her mother liked to say Lil was born arguing. What her father liked to say was more colorful and filled with disappointment. His only child compounded being born female, by having a mind of her own. Once Lil made a decision, she planted her feet firmly on the chosen path, and didn’t step off until her goal was accomplished.

Men found her unnerving. Lil Wentfield wouldn’t be any man’s ‘little woman’, her place in the home, serving her husband, and mothering children. She was unsettling; not material necessary for being the calming homemaker and acquiescent wife needed to soothe and support a man as he went about his business.
A loud knock broke into her thoughts. “Come in,” she called out.
Nothing happened, then another knock. “Please, come in,” she called again.
Getting no response, Lil came around her desk and, with some irritation at the interruption, jerked open the door, nearly toppling the tall man who held the doorknob on the other side. He muttered something under his breath, and tried to regain his balance only to bump into Lil, throwing her off stride. She stumbled backwards and would have fallen if not for the man’s quick reaction. He grabbed Lil and, wrapping both arms around, pulled her to him. Then, in a parody of the two-step, he danced her to safety.
Lil felt herself falling, then rescued by two strong arms. Not only was she pulled up short, but she was wrapped tightly against a rock hard chest, her nose buried in the man’s damp shirt. A very pleasant smell greeted her nose. The scent of summer rain and witch hazel. She found the masculine odor intoxicating.
Neither moved. Then Lil raised her head and looked into a pair of dancing gray eyes. His arms never relaxed their grip; in fact, they seemed to tighten around her as his mouth twitched, then broke into a smile.
“Didn’t expect to end up with a beautiful woman in my arms. For a moment there, I expected to land on the rug, Ma’am. With you alongside me,” he added with a chuckle.
He loosened his grip and gently pushed her away from the warmth and safety of his chest. Lil stepped back, feeling as though she’d just had something precious taken from her. She realized her hands still gripped his arms. Like a hot potato, she dropped them and turned away from the man’s disturbing presence. Like a fox heading for her den, Lil scurried behind her desk and gratefully lowered her trembling body onto the waiting chair.
With the desk between them, she was once again in charge. “May I help you?” she asked coolly, hoping the tremble in her voice went unnoticed. “I called come in not once but twice.”
“Sorry, Ma’am. Guess I didn’t hear you. I was just fixing to open the door when you did just that. Are you okay?”
“Yes.” Lil answered with no desire to elaborate. “I—I appreciate you catching me. Now,” she hurried away from that topic, “to repeat myself, how may I help you?”
He smiled, as if knowing her thoughts. Walking over to the desk, he removed his hat and stood with it in his hands. “I apologize for dripping on your floor, but it’s raining like hel—, uh, like heck out there.”
Lil tried not to look at how the ends of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. She focused instead on his hair, black and shiny with rain drops glistening on the wavy strands not covered by his hat. She didn’t realize she was staring at him until he shifted from foot to foot.
“Yes,” Lil answered, pulling herself back to reality.
“What I’m here for is to see L.M. Wentfield, Attorney At Law.” He pointed at the window, in the direction of the sign.
Lil nodded. “Yes,” she said again. At this rate, he’d think she only had a one word vocabulary.
The man tilted his head to one side. “Could you direct me to L. M. Wentfield, Ma’am?”
“Of course I can. How may I help you?”
Two small furrows appeared between the man’s eyes. He peered closer at her. Perhaps he needed to try another approach.
“Ma’am, could I speak with your husband?”
“There is no husband,” Lil said with a hint of asperity.

Friday, February 27, 2015

She's on the hunt for a con man and ends up on the trail of a killer . . .

She'll do whatever it takes to get justice . . .
FRIDAY'S FANTASTIC FIND is the historical western romance UNDER A TEXAS STAR by ALISON BRUCE.
AMAZON KINDLE US: http://www.amazon.com/Under-a-Texas-Star-ebook/dp/B00501H6YM
Disguised as a boy, Marly joins a handsome Texas Ranger in the hunt for a con man and they must bring the fugitive to justice before giving up the masquerade and giving in to their passion.
When Marly Landers is fooled by con man Charlie Meese, she's determined to bring him to justice--even if it means dressing up as a boy and setting off across the plains to find him.
Texas Ranger Jase Strachan is also after Meese, for crimes committed in Texas. He joins forces with the young boy in a journey that takes them to Fortuna, where a murder interrupts their mission. Jase is duty bound to find the killer, no matter the cost.
Marly carries out her own investigation and comes to the aid of Amabelle Egan, the sister of one of the suspects. But appearances are deceiving, and Marly is mistaken for Amabelle’s suitor, making her a target for the killer. Not to mention, Charlie Meese is still out there.
Under the Texas stars, Marly and Jase are drawn together by circumstances beyond their control, yet fate plots to tear them apart. Will Marly finally get her man?
A rollicking adventure of romance and True Grit... This is an historical Western romance in a style that reminds me of Hemingway. Although the descriptions are colorful and accurate, there are no wasted words here as the characters are developed through dialogue and action. The old West comes to life! Highly recommended. Goodreads
Good old-fashioned historic western romance with a kick!
Alison Bruce does an excellent job on setting the scenes and customs of the old west. History, characterizations, and the long ride of the heroes of the story are convincing for the time. There is lots of action and gun-play as they work together on a case in Fortuna. ... If you're looking for a dish of the old west with a dash of romance and humor minus the raunch dressing, this book is for you. Goodreads
"Alison Bruce captures the Old West in a delightful, if improbable, mix of romance, cultures and characters with UNDER A TEXAS STAR" Goodreads - Areletta Dawdy (4 stars)
"I cannot describe to yall how much I loved this book." Heather (5 stars)
"An endearing story of betrayal and love . . . " Amazon UK T. Tibbenham
Copywriter and editor since 1992, Alison Bruce has also been a comic book store manager, small press publisher and web designer. She currently manages publications for Crime Writers Canada and is the author of UNDER A TEXAS STAR and DEADLY LEGACY.
Alison writes genre fiction. Her protagonists are marked by their strength of character, the ability to adapt (sooner or later) to new situations and to learn from adversity.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Silver Linings

In the silver linings department, the winter wallop we've had on Canada's east coast this year has led to a health recovery breakthrough for me.

The snow you can see on our roof was from several storms back. A few weeks ago, we had a snow, rain and flash freeze event coupled with high winds. That left us with about a foot of snow on the roof which included about four inches of ice, and no turbine vent, as it had blown off entirely, leaving an uncovered opening in the roof with more snow on the way.

We had roofing people spend several hours breaking up the ice and shoveling the snow off of the house, with some of it landing on our back deck. We were thrilled with the job they did, and did not ask them to clear the deck as they'd worked incredibly hard all day, while keeping our front entrance completely clear.

However, with my husband recovering from having his appendix removed last month, and my mom dealing with hip issues, there was only me to clear the ice chunks and snow from the back deck before more rain would have put the integrity of the deck at risk.

You may recall that I'm in recovery myself from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and a straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back exposure from 2013. I've spent all of last year learning how to listen to my body when it sends out signals that it needs to rest, after spending a lifetime ignoring them in order to get things done.

For example, these days it often takes me three tries to empty and then refill the dishwasher, as lifting the dishes and putting them in the cupboard triggers intense fatigue and causes my body pain to spike. By spreading the event into manageable pieces, I can get the job done without making myself pay for it later.

When it came to the ice and snow on the back deck, however, there was a time frame problem. The deck had to be cleared in two days. I set aside my new 'listen-to-my-body-signals' approach and used my old 'blinders-on' thing. I pushed way past my pain and fatigue levels and got the deck cleared of the heavy ice.

Of course, this worked up quite a sweat. For someone like me, whose body harbors trapped chemical toxins in a misguided attempt to protect me from exposure to them, this has resulted in a spontaneous detoxing event.

Strangely enough, I've been scheduled to receive sauna detox treatments next month at the specialized clinic dealing with my chemical sensitivities. I wasn't strong enough to start them before.

The fact that my body began to detox on its own is a fabulous, wonderous sign.

We are by no means finished with winter Down East, and most people will look back on February of 2015 as a long, long, hard month.

As for me, it has unlocked a new path of healing. For that, I will look back at this year with profound gratitude.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Who Would My Dream Cast Be?

From the writing desk of Christine Mazurk 

Who would my dream cast be if one of my books was made into a movie?

That's an interesting, yet unfair question, because I think my readers should SEE each character based on the descriptions I use to paint a picture. Let's face it, we all imagine what characters look like when we read. I wouldn't want to rob my readers of their unique vision for each character.

Now, I hope that if I describe the hero as having thick, chestnut hair and dark green eyes, they don't envision Christina Aguilera. Hmm... Male. Thick dark hair. Forest green eyes. Yeah, not Christina! LOL. Just having a little fun with you.

I'll let you in on a secret though. I always have an inspiring picture of the lead male on my desk while I write. For example, when I wrote Passion's Race, I had a picture of Pierce Brosnan as 007 gazing at me from the left side of my computer. We all know Pierce has 'piercing' blue eyes, but I changed them to green, a color that better suited Nick Madison and his personality.

I watched every movie Mr. Brosnan ever starred in--The Thomas Crown Affair, more than a dozen times--to glean some of his mannerisms, facial expressions, as well as the inflections of his voice. I used some of these to describe Nick, although Nick managed to express some of his own very unique quirks.

For Mystical Connections, it was a gorgeous picture of Kevin Bacon, wearing an electric blue tee shirt on the cover of Breathe magazine. It was breathtaking, because the entire background was white. The only color; his eyes exactly matching the shirt and the title of the magazine! If you read about Aidan Scott, he's a far cry from Mr. Bacon, but he might possess a few of his idiosyncrasies. (I wish I could find the picture to share, sigh!)

Do I do the same for the lead woman? No. For some reason, they show up in my head, a made-up version of many females I know and see. At times, I utilize a hair style, or a facial expression, but most of my female characters know who they are and present themselves with confidence. I don't question them, trust me.  

Some of my favorite side characters leap off the page. Uri, the blocky German, in Passion's Race. He has such a fun personality, but he's a sweetheart and a gentleman  too. Lars, the blond-haired Elvis. Mike Dawson, Nick's best friend. (His story is next.) And Anya from Mystical Connections, who is currently standing in the corner of my office impatiently tapping her foot for me to start her story!

I have a world of awesome characters delving into the depth of relationships, health and

inspiration, and sometimes questioning Universal happenings. I love what I do!

I'd love to hear who YOU think should be the dream cast for any of my books? Feel free to leave a comment with who you envision as one or more of my characters...

Until next week. Hugs - Christine