April is National Poetry Month


I’m sure I missed it last year, but poetry’s publicist was busier this year. I see April is National Poetry Month in the US and Canada and is being announced everywhere I read. Except on my cereal box. You still read cereal boxes too, don’t you?

Because Cheerios® has been my go-to cereal since forever, this poem is dedicated to Honey Nut Cheerios®.

When The Chicken Don’t Lay

When the chickens don’t lay

And we have no eggs,

When the north wind blows

And the storm rushes in,

When the chickens have declared

No eggs this week.

When the sun rises

And our plates are bare,

Where is our relief from hunger and defeat?



~ An Original Poem by Judith A. Barrett

Thanks and a lift of the bowl to Grammarly. My favorite of all time editing software.


I Always Wanted To Be A Spy

I Always Wanted to be a Spy 29 6x9 new girl with gun THRILLER 2

MAGGIE SLOAN’s lifelong dream to be a spy began when she was four years old and already a focused, self-trained spy. After college, Maggie’s job searches are futile despite her willingness to consider diverse employment opportunities, until the county library system hires her as a librarian.

When Maggie’s brilliant observational talents and her potential to expose complex criminal activity draw the attention of an international ring, she becomes their target. However, a senseless murder changes her life forever, and MAGGIE transforms from prey to predator.

Will the librarian with the soul of a spy and the unusual security team stop the desperate kingpins or will she become the latest victim? It all comes down to kill or be killed.





If you love Maggie’s story, leave a review, especially if you are interested in reading another MAGGIE SLOAN adventure!





An Interesting Non-Social Experiment



How long could you go without your cell phone?

An hour? A day? Four days?

I’m about to undergo a most interesting experiment. My cell phone, still under warranty, has lost its ability to charge. The battery has dwindled to 25% from 48% an hour ago. Its battery life is draining away. (That’s the dramatic writer in me speaking.)

My replacement phone is expected to be delivered in three or four days. Meanwhile, I’ll be going dark. Unleashed.  No cell phone ordering me to look at an email, read a text, or divulge my location.  No instant response to social media.

Cell phone master

I predict I’ll finish my final edit of I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SPY.  And my house will be spotless.

Follow Up November 7

It’s been a week. My new phone went sight-seeing in Jacksonville FL for a few days before meandering to its destination. Yesterday the apps updated, and today we’re back in business.

How was it without a phone? I cheated and used someone else’s phone to check my email.  So maybe it wasn’t a fair experiment. I did finish my final edit but did NOT hyperclean. I don’t plan to turn my phone off and put it into a drawer, but I’m less obsessed. We’ll see how long that lasts.


The Beta Hero


(Pic grabbed from the article in Indies Unlimited)

Yvonne Hertzberger wrote an outstanding article about the Beta Hero in Indies Unlimited. After reading her article, I realized I tend to write Beta Heroes too.  Beta guys have more depth, as far as I’m concerned.

I know a Beta Hero who learned to toss pizza when he was eight years old because he loved to cook. You’ll meet him in I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SPY when it’s published in January 2019.

THE GIRL WHO SAW CLOUDS has a Beta Hero. Remember how upset Pops got over Vanessa staying in town after the grid went down?

Even SWEET DEAL COZY MYSTERIES has more than one Beta Hero you’ll meet in Book 2 in Late Spring 2019. Not to give anything away, but you’ll recognize Roger and Jack.

Click the link below to read Yvonne’s full article. What do you think about a Beta Hero? Or do you prefer the Alpha Male when you read?

The Beta Hero: A Non-Stereotypical Male Character – Indies Unlimited


UPDATE Author Highlights ~ Susie H. Baxter

Susie Baxter - 2_2 for back covrAWARD-WINNING AUTHOR!


Susie H. Baxter‘s novel, Pumping Sunshine: A Memoir of My Rural Childhood, received the prestigious RPLA FIRST RUNNER UP Award for a Published Novel in addition to FIRST PLACE for a Published Autobiography or Memoir at the Florida’s Writers’ Conference on October 22, 2018.

Congratulations, Susie!

About Susie H. Baxter

Susie H. Baxter serves as Creative Nonfiction Editor for Bacopa Literary Review, the annual print journal of the Writers Alliance of Gainesville, and teaches memoir writing at Santa Fe College.

During her career as an acquisitions editor and publisher for a health-science publishing house in St. Louis, Baxter commissioned dozens of successful clinical reference books, authored by world renowned physicians. Recognition for her success included Times Mirror’s coveted Editor-of-the-Year Award.

She is the author of three books: C. G. and Ethel, a Family History; Write Your Memoir, One Story at a Time; and Pumping Sunshine, A Memoir of My Rural Childhood, and a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Award competition, sponsored by the Florida Writers Association.

Susie H. Baxter Author Page on Amazon         susiehbaxter.com

Interview with Susie H. Baxter

Q. How would your 10-year-old self react to what you do?
A. She would not be surprised that I am currently renovating an old house—scraping peeling paint and cutting glass to replace broken window panes. But she would be surprised that I had a career in health-science publishing where I recruited physicians to write medical references, and that I have written a book about her childhood.
Q. What is your definition of success? 
A. Success is achieving a goal set by one’s self, no matter how large or small.
Q. What is a dream you have that you’ve yet to achieve? 
A. To consistently be relaxed and organized.
Q. If you see a puddle on the ground, do you walk around it or over it? 
A. At the age of five I stepped into it and ruined new shoes my parents bought on credit. Today I would walk around it. For sure. The punishment for my naivety is still vivid.
Q. What tips do you have for a new writer? 
A. Join a writing group so you can get encouragement and feedback. Trust your gut, but if two or more readers tell you a change is needed, believe it.
Thank you, Susie!



7 Easy Steps to Becoming a Writer

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.” ~ Mark Twain

1. Sit. Write.

Get what’s in your head onto paper. Transform your thoughts into readable words. Don’t worry about whether the words are the beginning, middle, or end of your story. Your head needs room for the other words you haven’t thought of yet.

2. Embrace Imperfection.

You aren’t perfect. It’s okay. Your writing isn’t perfect. That’s okay, too. Your first draft is your worst. Embrace the suck.

3. Seek Out One or Two Loyal Story Readers.

Loyal story readers are people who love to read stories and love you. You need people who will read your partial story and tell you how wonderful your story is and how awesome you are. Repeatedly. And just as important, tell you where your story gets off track or doesn’t make sense. You don’t need adverb hunters or dialog tag bigots. Yet.

4. Don’t Defend. Fix.

If your loyal story reader says your story doesn’t make sense, don’t explain it to him or her. It’s a gift. To explain would be like unwrapping a present and saying the color is wrong for your skin tone. And the gift was a set of dishes. Say “Thank you.” Re-read your story. Think about how to fix it. And do it. Make I Can Fix It your middle name and your favorite song.

5. Appreciate Writer’s Block.

Writer’s Block is your story’s way of saying you are trying too hard. Back off. Write something else. Write a Short Story. Ask your story readers to read the short story. See #4.

6. Toughen Up, Buttercup.

Suit up with armor. Develop a thick skin. Find a critique group of writers to read and critique your short story. You will learn what you do well. Celebrate! You will also learn how it feels to be Number One of the Dreaded Awful. Awful at dialog? Awful at telling, not showing? Awful at head-hopping? Awful at descriptions? Awful at obscure grammar rules? More gifts!

My favorite critique group is online. www.critiquecircle.com No meetings to attend, and I can critique or be critiqued any time of day (or night) and any day of the week. And there are free, low cost, and show-off memberships.

7. Author-ize Yourself.

Join a writer’s group. Read blogs on writing. Comment on the blogs. Design your own website. Buy a t-shirt, coffee mug, ballcap with a pithy writer saying like “Writer.” Return to #1 and write, write, write.

 “My books are water; those of the great geniuses is wine. Everybody drinks water.” ~ Mark Twain


Quick JAB

I started blogging online about 15 years ago. I started with a now-defunct MySpace competitor.  I soon changed to WordPress. The earliest blog I can find is 2005. Its title is Gotta Run.

People frequently tell me that they have an interesting story to tell, and they plan to write down someday. Maybe something you see here will encourage you – today might be someday!