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May 16, 2019

blog w @VickiBatman - There’s No Escape! EMFRWauthor #readromance #escaperoom

Recently, #2son had a big birthday and when I asked what he would like to do, he said an escape room. I had read about different ones. My DIL and #1son had done some. So I was game to try.

Eight of us arrived and picked Alien Blood Bank Robbery. The hostess demonstrated how different locks worked. Gave us gear to wear—lab coats and head bopper headbands (the kind with hearts, stars, etc. which bob on a spring). We were told we could ask for three clues and had one hour to complete the task.

Here’s the background:

For decades, the aliens have been modifying human DNA. Eddie the Alien cleans the lab every night and has developed a secret love for humans. He wants to help and has left clues for us to use to break in and steal the blood samples.

Inside the first room, we found a school locker, table, various locked boxed. Magnetic board. We wandered around to get accustomed to the room, and secretly thinking something would magically pop out and we would be on our way. Yea, that didn’t happen. We asked for a clue. 

The clue enabled us to work one lock, which enabled us to work another lock, etc. Finally, a door opened to an adjacent room set up with more locks, boards, etc.  We solved those and eventually, were able to unlock a safe and procure the DNA. 

We finished with minutes to spare. LOL

Would I do an escape room again? Yes! Using our brains is a good thing. And our group worked well together. I’d like to try the Wild West Bank Robbery. All that bandana and hat stuff sounds like fun. 

Have you done an escape room?

Want to submerse yourself in a great read and escape? Why not try Just Desserts…and other stories:
Vicki's newly released collection of 11 sweet short-fiction reads is where ordinary life
takes cute and unexpected turns.

Find your copy at:
Barnes & Noble:

April 18, 2019

Plotting Princesses - Vicki Batman: I Failed at Painting #paintbynumbers #MFRWauthor #shortstories

I like to think I’m something of a creative person. After all, I write books and short stories. I stitch needlepoint and embroider. I can do lots of things. But I can’t paint.

Every morning, I work out, come home and have a bit of breakfast while perusing the paper. Last week in the metro section at the top of the page, I saw an obit for Dan Robbins followed by the heading “Artist created first paint-by-numbers pictures.”

I had to read the whole obituary to learn more about Mr. Robbins and paint-by-numbers. He developed his idea based on an inspiration from Leonardo da Vinci. He remembered “Leonardo used numbered background patterns for his students and apprentices.” He decided to try that too.

His boss hated it but saw potential. Mr. Robbins created landscapes, horses, puppies, and kitties.

Sales reached at peak at 20 million in 1955.

I remember going to the five and dime stores and seeing the kits. I tried once. Lousy. I didn’t have a good steady hand for painting.

Nowadays, I’ve seen finished paintings at flea markets and antique malls. Some are pretty good. I searched the internet and found many places where one can purchase a kit. I even found a museum:

Not long ago, I went to an event where an instructor taught a class in how to paint a specific painting. She really broke down the elements and I enjoyed what I’d done immensely. The most interesting thing happened after we broke for lunch. At the back of the room, I turned and looked at the tables topped with paintings. All were different. Just like the artists.

Were you bitten by the “paint-by-numbers” bug?

Here's my creative bit--Just Desserts...and other stories:

March 21, 2019

Handbags, Books...Whatever - Tick-Tock Clock #findingatreasure #familyheirloom #shortstories

Over the past couple of years, my sisters and I have been sorting my parents’ things. Each of us claimed jewelry, pictures, other odds and ends. From one of Dad’s boxes, I picked up an Elgin watch. I had to laugh because the band was the classic expand-o-matic kind that I remembered being advertised constantly on TV. 

Just for grins, I gave it a wind, and sure enough, it ticked. I wound some more and set the correct time. Sliding it on my arm, every now and again, I would look to see if the time was holding up and it had! I wore the watch over the next few weeks just to confirm how it ran. All was good. So I took it to the jeweler for a check.

The jeweler said the watch came from the fifties, that the band was probably the original – surprise! I asked to have it cleaned and  his initials engraved on the back. 

Not long ago, my mother-in-law passed, and as my sisters-in-laws and niece went threw her precious belongings, I picked up a small gold watch. Just for grins, I gave it a wind and set the time. This watch, too, stayed on time. The band didn’t snap properly. I thought “what the heck” and took it to the jeweler’s for his thoughts.

We didn’t guesstimate the era the watch came from. She was born in the mid-thirties; so I’m thinking she received the watch in the forties. He did listen and watch and was impressed that something so old kept good time. He said the watch repair man could fix the catch and would clean it as well. I opted to have the back engraved with all of her initials. 

I like wearing multiple things together on my left wrist-bracelets, watches. I have no problem in putting on two watches and something else. The more the merrier. I’m excited about having something that once belonged to family and now belongs to me.

Is it dessert time? I’m a chocolate a day kind of gal and rarely pass up cake. In that vein, how about delving into these dessert stories:

Love blossoms in the small town of Sommerville in these heartwarming, “cute meet” tales,

filled with fun and forever possibilities.

 ebook     print     B&N     other e vendors

February 21, 2019

Vicki Batman - It’s really Simplicity, isn’t it? @Simplicitypatterns #craftingwithmom #readromance #MFRWauthor

My sisters and I grew up with Mom making our clothes and hers as well. It made money sense to do so and back then, my parents were all about stretching every penny. There were huge fabric stores like Cloth World and Hancock’s. Sometimes, we would go with Mom to those stores and go through the pattern books, like Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick, but never Vogue because those were more complicated and she had little time for that. 
Patterns allowed people to create their own clothing. The books we thumbed through were our version of stylish fashion magazines and offered a glimpse of glamor. We could imagine ourselves garbed in gorgeous outfits. Mom often made us matching dresses for Easter, like these: 

Aren't we cute? 
We would help my mom lay the printed tissue on the fabric and learned how to pin it into place. If we could cut straight (not me, Mom said), we cut along the lines. Mom pinned the pieces together and then sewed them. One time, I did try to make a dress with her help. She was a tough teacher, and mostly, I learned how to rip and sew again. And again. Since ripping was not fun, my creativity did not go into sewing.
After I graduated from college, I worked for a local department store. I desperately needed new work clothes. Who did I turn to? Mom! She made me several Chanel-styled suits in various fabrics, sometimes, dresses, and special evening wear. I loved them!
In 2018 while shopping in my favorite Joann’s, I ran across several Simplicity collectibles. Memories crowded my head and of course, I purchased a few items, like these: 
Are you into sewing clothes?

And here’s more creative fun—Just Desserts…and other stories, eleven romantic comedy short stories sure to make you feel good.
 Amazon ebook   Amazon PB     B&N      Smashwords

February 5, 2019

Michelle Miles: Adventure is Coming

Back in the early 2000s, I started writing a twice-weekly serial for the now-defunct Keep it Coming. I'd wanted to write something fun and different. A time travel. With lots of action and adventure and maybe a splash of romance.

Then Keep it Coming closed but Inara Press was born. They specialized in serialized fiction. I was able to land a contract with them…and then they folded shortly thereafter. But the person who was my editor there was also an editor at Samhain Publishing and she invited me to compile the serials into a novel format and send it to her. It was accepted.

A Bend in Time, the first book in the Adventures of Ransom & Fortune, was released in 2007 by Samhain. The second book, A Break in Time, followed shortly thereafter. They were both in print at one time. And then Samhain folded and I got my rights back, not necessarily in that order but you get the idea.

I’ve had the rights back to these books for a long time while I decided what to do with them. I wanted to make sure I did the series right and gave Skye and Dane another crack at being published. I loved writing this series. They were so much fun. But I’d made Dane a hit man and redeeming him was…hard. He was not a nice guy in the original series. In fact, he was kind of an ass. Not really a good quality for the hero.

One day I printed off the first book and did a read-through. My writing has certainly changed in the last ten years, so I knew it would need to be updated. Plus, having Dane as the hit man just really bothered me. I broke the novel into two novellas. Part one would now become volume one; Part two would be volume two.

Part of the story was that there was a hit man, so I split that part off from Dane’s character and made a totally new villain that was 100% villainy, thereby making Dane 100% heroic. It meant I didn’t have to work as hard to redeem him, because he didn’t need redeeming at that point. As for the villain, well, he’s just a super bad guy working for the ultimate bad guys. But I didn’t know who those bad guys truly were.

Then one day I was binge-ing Person of Interest on Netflix for about the tenth time. I loved this show when it was on TV and miss it a lot. I got to thinking about the root of the show. There was The Machine and then there was Samaritan, one being controlled by our heroes and one being controlled by the baddies. Then Timeless premiered on TV, the short-lived time travel series on NBC. It was a pretty decent show and I was sad when it was canceled. And so while I was working on editing Highland Fling, I started putting some things together and well…I sort of borrowed some ideas from both those shows for my adventure series.

I will tell you this. It’s a time travel; it’s adventure; it’s action…and while each volume has story threads that are wrapped up, the overall story arc is ongoing throughout the series. There will be more than two volumes. How many volumes is still up in the air.

I’m really excited to re-release these stories once again with all new, gorgeous covers and totally edited and updated stories. I think you are going to love hanging out with Skye and Dane. I know I do! It’s up for pre-order right now at Apple, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Amazon pre-order coming soon.

In the coming months, I’ll be sending my newsletter subscribers exclusive excerpts that will not be posted anywhere else. Be sure to subscribe today if you're not already to be the first to read the all-new revised opening of volume one! In the meantime, click one of the buttons below to pre-order your copy today, both for $0.99 until after release.

Get Highland Fling here. Releases February 19, 2019.
Get Dead of Winter here. Releases March 5, 2019.

January 17, 2019

Book and Bag - Vicki Batman Yikes! #badbook #readromance #MFRWauthor

I just finished the January book club selection and did not like it. Not. At. All. I didn’t like it from the get-go. Our group thought the book would be a mystery, like the cover blurb said. Only it wasn’t. 
The author is quite notable in his field and has written books about his subject. The book club book was a combination of his expertise with the mystery. Only the book was predominantly the history and very little of the mystery.
I was sorely disappointed. This book was greatly reviewed and won prizes. 
We began reading for our December meeting. When that day rolled around, we were all whining and agreed to extend to January with the idea we needed the extra month because of the holidays. I used the time off to read my favorites—romance and mysteries. When January 1 came, I put on my big girl panties and finished. I gladly admit I skipped over the historical stuff to get to the mystery. 
Finished! Uh, no. There were notes, a biography, and pages more. I truly didn’t care to read that either.

However, guilt set it. Not enough to make me go back and read the skipped pages, though. I began to think what if my books were boring?
Coincidentally, I did some website maintenance and noticed I didn’t have a buy link for one site. I scooted over there and found…a two starred review. Yikes! It was hard for me to read. She didn’t like the book at all; however, she did say some nice things, too. 
I went back to my website, made the changes, and noticed all the four and five starred reviews. Overall, my books get high marks. I felt a whole lot better.
So back to the book club selection… I went to Amazon to read the reviews. There were tons (the book is that famous). I scrolled to the one stars and voila! Everything the readers had said was exactly how I felt. It wasn’t me. 
The interesting about book club books we don’t like is we have the best discussions. So next week, I’m looking forward to what my friends have to say.
So what stops you from reading?

Got the winter doldrums? Try this winter anthology, Whispers of Winter

January 1, 2019

Michelle Miles: Hello, 2019!

Another year has closed and the start of a new one is officially off the ground.

I, for one, am glad to see the old year go. The last six months were rife with breaking things--cars, oven, house heater, windshields. And also new things--fix cars and heater, new windshields, oven, new cookware. I treated myself on Cyber Monday with a set of Calphalon cookware and I can honestly say it's the best cookware I've ever had.

Aside from all that, the last year was a hard one for me, creatively. I let all the awful things happening in the industry stifle my writing (Cocky Gate, book stuffing). I think I just got caught up in the drama, which is something I try never to do but I had a hard time looking away from that Cocky Gate thing. I stopped writing for a good six months when I got depressed over sales and everything happening in the industry and had a very "why bother?" attitude.

Towards the end of the summer, though, I got off Twitter and started thinking, seriously, about my future writing.

For 2019, I’ve decided I want to focus on the writing and publishing my backlist as well as some new material. After 60+ rejections, it makes you re-evaluate your writing life and make decisions about the career. Even though I have a day job, I do consider this a second career, so it was time to move forward instead of standing still. I’m throwing myself into indie publishing and looking forward to getting those stories told and in the hands of readers. My focus is all on the writing and the books and not so much on the marketing, though I do understand that plays a role as well.

I don’t want to get hung up on the money aspect of it like I have in the past. It’s a soul-crushing feeling sometimes to look at sales and see nothing for weeks or sometimes months. And I know that’s mostly my fault. I haven’t been producing like I should or want to. I haven’t been talking to my 3000+ newsletter subscribers. I hope to change that for 2019.

I haven’t given up on the dream that someday my books will be on the bookshelves or they’ll be turned into movies. I have very specific ideas about who should play my lead characters. Heck, I’d even settle for an HBO series. *grin*

There are other non-writing things I want to accomplish, too. Declutting is always high on my list. Getting the kid graduated and into college is another. Overall, though, I’m proclaiming 2019 Year of the Books.

How about you? What are you plans for the new year?