Thursday, December 29, 2016


It's become more difficult to be an indie author. On the afternoon of December 28, 2016, Lori James, owner of All Romance eBooks, sent out emails that she is closing her storefront. She cited the reason as being the company would post its first financial loss for 2016. 

I have questions. Many, many questions. I'll let that go for now.

As always, it's the authors who end up with the real loss. We've lost a valued (and we thought trustworthy) source to market our books. We are now pushed even farther into Amazon's loving embrace. 

Amazon is not the author's friend no matter how benign it appears on the surface. 

There's been discussion for many years that sooner or later Amazon will be the only game in town. With the closing of ARE, it's one step closer to being a reality. 

Be careful what you give away for free. Free is not without cost, and that cost is the authors themselves. I know a handful who are dropping out, too exhausted to continue. Those voices have been silenced, and that's too high a cost to bear.  


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving in new ways

The "holidays" bring a set of expectations to the door. We all get the yearly visit. While the particulars vary, the overall similarities are part of the American culture. We celebrate and give thanks with family, friends, and food.

The gatherings of my youth are but fond memories. The older generations, those people who passed the family name down, are gone. What remains of my parent's generation is fractured by death and ill health. My generation is equally scattered on holidays, busy with the younger generations of children and grandchildren. I have no biological children. My father has been gone for many years. My mother has Alzheimer's. The sister of my heart moved away. I am, for all intents and purposes, alone on this day, without blood relatives who share my memories. 

That's not to say I don't have people around me. My online posse is far-flung but wishes for a happy day arrived. My partner is the oldest of his siblings and we have an unconditional welcome at his youngest sister's house all days. 

Life goes on in different directions. We had a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the care facility with my mother. Afterward, we had traditional Thanksgiving dessert at his sister's house. 

So while the day didn't unfold as in year's past, it was nonetheless a good day. I could be morose that the beautiful memories of yesteryear will not be re-lived, but I'm not. This is what I have now, today, and I count my many blessings. 

Now that my partner and I are finally home again and into our comfortable old clothes, it's time to call a few of my cousins. It's time to embrace a new normal and make it my own as I go forward in life. I'm sure it will provide a new set of Thanksgiving memories, and Thanksgiving opportunities to enjoy and to be thankful for. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

They stole my story!!!

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

There you are. It’s a rainy evening and you’ve written over one thousand words in the current work-in-progress. You’re winding it down for the day. A little surfing at your favorite online bookseller is in order. You can download a new book and tottle off to bed to do a little reading.

Not so fast. There is YOUR cover on someone else’s book! 

Okay, okay. You know everyone and their sister is buying cover stock from a very limited available pool of quality stock. You just have to grin and bear it and remember you bought that cover stock because the guy is pretty sexy. 

So you scroll a few more pages and then it happens. Holy crap! SOMEONE STOLE YOUR TITLE!!!  

Well, it’s not exactly your title. Your title’s The Alpha’s Broken Finger and this - this - this THIEF used The Alpha’s Broken Toe. And you can't copyright titles and names. But dammit! That’s awfully close. And both stories are about how his mate, be that mate male or female, saves him.  

What the heck is going on?? Is this something serious or did we simply inspire another writer? Haven't we all gotten inspiration from someone else somewhere along the line? Who hasn't read a story and been blown away by a particular turn of a phrase and then had it creep into our usage? 

Plagiarism is a risk we all take when we publish a book. While I wrote the above tongue-in-cheek, the theft of intellectual property is no laughing matter. The honest among us have all seen covers and stories so similar to our own that the hair on our arms raises in alarm, disgust and anger. It’s not a good feeling. So what do we do about it?

The serious among us view our work as both creation and business. There are steps we can take if we’ve been pirated (DMCA letters) or suspect plagiarism (an attorney versed in the applicable laws).  One of the sad truths about this business is it’s stacked against the author. We do the work of creation and everyone makes a profit on our backs.

I could let the ugliness of theft stop me from writing, but I won’t. I could put my money into lawyer fees (and if seriously pissed off I will). I submit DMCA letters albeit in a lazy fashion. For better or for worse I’ve accepted the risk because I believe Karma exists.

If we accuse another writer of plagiarism and it turns out to be a weird coincidence, we’ve gained an enemy, one unlikely to ever forget. And do we want to apply the stigma of plagiarism to someone else who may have simply had a similar idea? How would we feel if we were unjustly accused of such a thing?

I know that sooner or later savvy readers will catch on and avoid suspect “authors.” The problem of deliberate, premeditated theft is so pervasive that even with a hundred thousand keyboards raised against it, it’s not going to go away. And that’s not right and that’s not fair.

The best thing I can do is put my energy into writing the next story and not dwell on the inequities of this business. I could allow it to discourage me, but I won’t. I do what I do for the honest readers and there are enough of them left to keep me going. And that will just have to be good enough until karma kicks butt.


(This is a modified version of a post that was written for another venue in 2015.)

Across Time is now available at All Romance eBooks.

Science fiction romance
Time travel romance

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Drop back and punt

Being a list maker, I had a plan for today. But life is hectic. On top of the day job and my partner's health, my mother is now in a care facility. 

Sooooo....... I'm going to refer you to the Between the Keys blog today. 

Stop by and see KC Kendricks for this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group. The topic is email etiquette. 

Maybe not standard operating procedure, but some days you just do the best you can and move on.


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sustainability (IWSG)

Sustainability is something authors must strive for if they want to achieve the creation of a body of work. It's something I struggle with as Rayne Forrest. When I began, it was easy. Now it's not. 

I still have the desire to write, but I'm no longer willing to spend hours sequestered with the computer as my only company. There are simply too many other things that require my presence. 

At this writing, I have seven books that need to be published as second editions. I didn't set out to be an indie author, but there's really very little choice these days as I no longer trust publishers. Based on sales numbers, I even wonder about the last one I was with. That's number of units sold, not dollar amounts, by the way. 

In less than five years I plan to "retire" from the workforce. That doesn't mean I'll sit on my ass all day. I'm looking forward to some traveling, expanding the work on my genealogy, and applying for DAR membership. And yes, being able to write. Until then, I fear I will continue to grapple with sustainability. 

I can't change much of what is happening in my life. I can only ride it out and make time when I can. But what I can do, and will do, is not whip myself over those things I can't control. 

Perhaps that's the real key to sustainability. Accepting the ebb and flow of life and time, and making the best of every opportunity. 

Rayne's bookshelf

Across Time - sci fi romance available at Amazon

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Voice

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The writer’s voice. We read about it, talk about it, angst over it, and yet we struggle to define exactly what it is. I once read where voice is a literary term that describes a writer’s style (style being defined by the use of character development, dialogue, syntax and diction).

I’m a simple girl. For me, voice is where the ‘telling’ of the story and the ‘showing’ of the action blend. The more seamless the blend, the better the finished story. Voice is each author’s unique and individual style of bringing the reader inside the story to the same place as the author.

A writer’s voice will show some of their inner character and personality. The characters created often reflect some of the writer’s attitudes. How can they not? Laying yourself bare for the reader isn’t easy. It’s a gradual process, one you can move through at your own pace.

When a writer is just starting out, everyone encourages her/him to develop their voice. The only way to do that is to write so the voice can emerge and develop. The time it takes to do that is another reason aspiring writers get so frustrated with the industry. It takes as long as it takes, so be patient. Remember - there are no worthwhile shortcuts to success.

Over the years, my voice has matured. I see it as a matter of gaining confidence - I’m no longer afraid to sound like myself. Having the reader come and sit in the same spot from where I wrote the story is no longer scary.

Whether it’s conscious or not, everything we do as authors strengthens our voice. Making each story better than the last is ingrained in our psyche. We constantly strive toward that goal, collectively and individually. We nurture our voice, and our ultimate reward has nothing to do with money.

It’s reading a book and, at the end, saying, “Wow. I wrote that.” 


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG: We Must Respect Our Own Worth
The Insecure Writer's Support Group

When I first got into this crazy business of publishing, as opposed to writing, I was stunned by some of the ideas put forth as “truths.” But being a newbie, I ducked my head and kept writing. It didn’t change the real truth, one that too many writers either forget or never figured out. One very serious problem I’ve witnessed over and over throughout my years of being a published author is that too few of us realize our own value. This must change - and it is changing.

There is no one more important to the publishing world than the author.

The entire publishing industry rises and falls with those authors willing to publish their intellectual property. 

Without the author, there are no stories.

Without the author, there are no books.

Without the author, there are no readers.

Without the author, there is no publishing.

Each and every one of us is absolutely vital to our industry. There are no exceptions.

Each and every one of us has something so unique to offer that only the individual can provide it.

Each and every one of us is deserving of the respect of our peers and our publishers. We are created equal and that equality has nothing to do with sales numbers.  

Each and every one of us is entitled to the protection of copyright.

It’s 2016. Publishers need authors far more than authors need publishers.

Let us always remember: Authors are the publishing industry.

We must respect our own worth. 


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG - An unusual problem

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

I'm a wee bit tardy with Rayne's IWSG post. I'm on vacation and to say I'm not paying attention to many, many, many things would be an understatement. It's really not like me to forget things.

So for this month's IWSG, I'll simply beg your forgiveness. Even writers have to eat crow occasionally. 

What will be added to the all important To Do list? Pre-schedule IWSG posts for the remainder of the year. Is using the pre-schedule cheating? No. A writer should utilize every tool at their disposal. 

Well! I did have a tip for this month, after all! 

visit my web pages here
(tiny url makes the link slow)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Across Time

Across Time is a great story, if I do say so myself. Actually, good reviews and a Recommended Read say it, so maybe I'm just seconding the motion. 

It's taken me going indie to finally get it the cover it deserves. How'd I manage that? 

The old adage applied. If you want something done, do it yourself. So I did. 

Across Time will be available again soon with a cover that finally speaks to the story.  


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Social media maven or Luddite?

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group

On who fears technology (or new technology, as they seem pleased with how things currently are (why can't everything just be the same?)

Social Media Maven:
An individual who identifies interesting or trending content and shares it with a large online network. The term social media maven is sometimes applied to people who are adept at using social media for commercial purposes, such as spreading a particular message about a product or service. As with mavens in other areas, social media mavens are seen as being more advanced in their understanding of social media than the average population.


I'm not the least bit sure where I fall in between the Luddite and the Social Media Maven but I know I'm between the two. Some new tech I love and some I hate. Some social media, especially blogging, I like. Others, like facebook, not so much. 

For many years I've belonged to the Romance Writers of America. Its monthly magazine is full of social media "must do" items. I read them. They don't always impress me much, but some things have sort of "stuck" with me - right along with the guilt. 

Yep. Guilt. Guilt that I'm not doing enough on social media. Guilt that if I were serious about writing (don't push me on it or my alter ego will get loose) I'd do more. I'd stay up-to-date and never have time to do any writing. 

Guilt over social media is counterproductive. Social media is a tool to be used, not a lifestyle. Okay, so I'm a lazy blogger and tweeter. I do know why, and it's where the Luddite comes into play.

When I started out, the Yahoo and MSN groups were the thing. I learned them and they're basically deadwood now. Same thing for MySpace. I learned it, too.  I spent a lot of time learning how to maneuver those systems, and for what? The next best thing came along and I had to decide if I drove myself crazy learning it, or not. More importantly, do I have TIME to learn every blasted thing? 

Once upon a year I picked up a copy of "Marketing for Dummies" at the used book store. It didn't take me long to figure out why it was at the UBS. Paper two-inches thick and only one basic point: pick something and just do it. You can't control the outcome. 

It's often been said the best advertising you can have for your book is the next book. I do believe that. (Another reason to get my butt in gear.) It's also true that if no one hears about your book, they can't read it. 

I think it's okay to carefully pick and choose where you spend your time, energy and money on social media. I also think the choice should be guilt-free. Be a Luddite with some things. Pick one social media, such as twitter, and become a maven with it. Whatever you choose for yourself, because it's your choice, will be the right thing to do.  

Rayne Forrest

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zest

It’s the last day of 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge! It’s been great fun to bring Rayne Forrest to the challenge, and I come to this last day quite pleased I’ve completed it as both Rayne and KC, every day on time. But I will admit I'm also looking forward to a bit of a blogging break. 

While I had this entry up at a different blog a few years ago, it's still appropriate for today and for a new audience. 

I appreciate meeting so many new people through both blogs. Each person brings something to my life even if it’s just a fleeting comment on the blog. It’s still a connection to someone else’s world and that’s the point of all. 

Now on to ZEST.

Zest: a noun
1. lively excitement : a feeling of enjoyment and enthusiasm
2. a lively quality that increases enjoyment, excitement, or energy
3. small pieces of the skin of a lemon, orange, or lime that are used to flavor food

A new acquaintance once asked me if my apparent zest for life was for real. A deeper friendship with this person never developed, which is a shame. When we encounter each other we always speak, but her world has too many gray corners for us to be bosom buddies. I fear she’d suck the zest out of me if I let her in too far.

I do have a certain amount of zest for life. The small things around me are a source of enjoyment, and often wonder. Every year I eagerly await the first green tips of the bulbs breaking ground. It’s a ‘wow’ moment when I realize the mountain has taken on a reddish blush as the maples prepare to bring forth their leaves. I feel the energy of the changing seasons on a molecular level. It’s who I am.

My late grandfather lived every day until a month prior to his death with a zest for life. He was born on the cusp of WWI and lived through WWII and the Great Depression. He buried his wife, his parents and all his younger siblings. And yet, until his eyesight failed, this man lived every day and looked forward to tomorrow. This was my shining example of having a zest for life. I hope I learned well the lessons he so lovingly taught. 

I wish for all of you reading this that you also may have a zest for life. I wish that you experience joy, no matter how small, no matter from what source, in every day of your life.

Thanks for being a part of my world in the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for You, the Critical Ingredient

I have a very brief post for this next to the last day of the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge.  It’s for every writer out there, published or not. 

YOU are the critical ingredient.

Without you, the writer, there is no publishing industry. There are no books, be they print or digital. Without the writer we begin to lose knowledge. If we lose knowledge, the whole human experiment begins to unravel. 

Never forget that you, the writer, has the power to change the world.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for X Marks the Spot

What do you want to accomplish as a writer? What mark, if any, do you want to leave on the publishing world? There are as many responses to the questions as writers. It doesn’t matter if no one else is privy to your reply. This question is just for you. For a lot of people, myself included, one easy answer won’t suffice, and I can only speak for me.

I think it’s important for people to understand what motivates them to do something. I constantly examine the ‘whys’ of my actions but I rarely share them. I don’t have to. My reasons are specific to my own path.

The first novel I wrote has never been published. No, it’s not that bad. I wanted to prove to myself I could write a story and so I wrote it just for me. But that experience led to questions, namely could I do it again? So I wrote a second novel, just for me, which lead to another question - is there a possibility I could get published?

I’ve passed the half-century mark and I know that writing fame isn’t what I want. I had the good fortune to have a world famous author move to my little hometown back in the early 1970s. The poor woman can’t make a move without someone spotting her. I really don’t want to live like that.

“Journey” is an overused buzzword. So is “path.” I get tired of hearing them - and using them. Ditto for “life experience.” The problem is I can’t come up with anything better.

All that happened a lot of years ago and it’s been a fun ride to get to today. But somewhere along the line I realized that whatever mark I make on the publishing world (or not) isn’t anywhere near as important as the mark I make on myself.

That’s the one that counts. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Work

 Work is a four-letter word. I’ve been working for someone else since I was sixteen. It’s not always fun, but I’ve decided it’s not all that difficult to get out of bed and go to work when I get paid to show up. 

My idea of fun is writing full time. That day is coming but, until then, I work. According to my retirement countdown counter, I still have one thousand days to go until I can tap my heels together and proclaim, "there's no place like home!"

Working outside the home is a good thing on many levels. It gets me out of the house. Time out in the world is something I’ll have to plan for once I become a full time writer. Working in general keeps the mind engaged and sharp whereas as being idle allows everything to atrophy.

I’m enjoying the idea of working for myself. Whether or not it will actually be as sweet as I imagine is yet to be proven. But for now I can envision myself working in the garden in the morning when it’s cooler and working on a story inside on hot afternoon.

What I can’t imagine is not working at all.

Strange, isn’t it?


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Variety

 Someone once said, and has now been quoted endlessly, that “variety is the spice of life.” That may be true, but sometimes one can have a bit too much spice in the dish and muddle the flavors. Variety, to the writer, can be a double-edged sword.

Most writers excel at a particular type of story but that doesn’t mean they don’t yearn to expand into other genres. As Rayne Forrest, I write contemporary romance, romance set in the near future, and sci-fi romance. Yes, I touched the fringes of the paranormal with A Hidden Heaven, but I don’t go there often. At least not yet. I think I’d like to visit the genre. My alter ego did quite well with the Sundown saga.

So here’s a question I ponder. How much variety is just enough? How much variety is too much? One of the accepted rules of writing is if you want to write in a variety of genres, you need more than one pen name.

I certainly agree with this IF you want to write traditional heterosexual romance AND gay romance AND something like inspirational stories. Some things don’t mix well. That could be just a wee bit too much variety. And since I write both het and m/m, it's under different names using something we writers call "branding." 

It's enough variety to keep the creative needs of this writer happy.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Unique

 When I first started to write, newbies were told to celebrate their unique voice. I wasn’t sure what that meant. After being in the publishing industry for thirteen years, I still don’t know what it means.

Back in the day, and it's still heard today, that publisher want “unique new voices.” Only thing is, no, they don't. They want what and who will sell and sell BIG.

If the rise in indie publishing proves one thing, it’s that the unique voice is determined to survive. I remember in 2005 pitching an idea for a sci-fi story where on some distant planet the males had multiple wives. That got an immediate NO from a publisher.

Enter the era of the ménage in 2006. (I called that one right and I should have persisted.)

Don’t be afraid to be a unique voice. Write your story. I wrote mine and the time is upon me to tighten it up. I can apply all my years of experience to the story and set it free to be as unique as it wants to be.

It’s a wonderful time to be a [unique] writer.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for To Bed A Spy

2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge

T is for To Bed a Spy

Writing Rules

April 23

Today is a Saturday, so it’s time to do some double duty here at Twenty-six Keys. Being Saturday, it’s time for the My Sexy Saturday blog hop as well as “T” in the A to Z Challenge. Luckily, I have a “T” book - To Bed a Spy. So today you get pure book promo. Enjoy!


Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Sticking With It

Nothing I have ever done in my entire life has called for more determination and dedication than writing.

I have never worked so hard and put in so many hours for a purely personal satisfaction.

Every day I wonder why I’m doing this to myself because writing romance can make the soul bleed.

Each new release opens the author up to unimaginable levels of criticism from jealous friends all the way to jealous reviewers.

And yet I keep writing, and I’ll keep on writing, under one name or another, until I can no longer sit at a keyboard or speak into a headset.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Renewal

 When my alter ego shanghaied me into the A-Z Blogging Challenge this year, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. Then again, I’ve been busy getting some of my stories back out into the world so this is a good way to get the Rayne Forrest brand more visible. So here I am, and it’s turning out to be a very good thing. 

Writing under two names means, unfortunately, that one brand gets shortchanged. That’s generally the Rayne Forrest brand. I confess I wish I’d not used one of the family names. It has lead to “discussions” over the years. The last time I was involved in one of those “discussions” I told no one in my family and disappeared into the alter ego. I tend to remove myself from situations and people rather than argue.

I’ve been thinking, and wishing, I could find the right time to be Rayne again. Like love, the moment I stopped looking for it, it found me.

Getting my completed title out is the beginning of a renewal. Finishing a few projects for release is the next step. I have no set timeframe for this renewal. My sense of it is this renewal is something that cannot be forced, or rush. For it to happen, I must be content and let it proceed knowing it will come to fruition in its own time.

I’m good with that. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Question

Happy Birthday to my Mom!

Most days I have more questions than answers. It used to bug the heck out of me that I didn’t have all the answers. As I’ve gotten, ehem, more mature, I find I don’t like the answers so I’ve stopped asking some of the questions.

Some, but not all.

I believe it’s my constitutional duty to question those in authority over me. I believe I should question what doctors tell me. I believe I have the right to question any and all companies that manufacture food, drugs, drinks, and anything that touches my person and the world I live in if its products are safe.

That doesn’t mean the questions should be asked with disrespect. Questions are how we learn. They help us assimilate information. Questions tend to keep people from thinking they can harm us, or use us.

Don’t be afraid to ask a legitimate question. The answer might be just what you need to know.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Pride - have some

This past autumn, there was an article in the Romance Writer’s Digest about “taking back our writing.” I’m not going to lie and say I read the RWR from cover to cover, because I don’t, but I did pause to read this article.

In this article, the author admits to being caught in the vicious cycle of meeting deadlines. Publishing is a dog-eat-dog world and a lot of small press pubs rely on volume. Too many live and die by the short story. The art of writing a full-length novel is dying, choked out by the need to produce, produce, produce. The writer of the article acknowledged this. And then she impressed me. She said it’s time to step off the treadmill.

I agree with her. I want to write a story I’m proud of. I decided quite a while back I could no longer churn out story after story to meet the needs of a publisher. My alter ego did that for a bit and it’s too exhausting to sustain. My library has a few books that suffered because I met the deadline. Those stories got short-changed, both by the writer and more so the editor. I think there are more writers besides myself putting out indie-published books for that very reason. If an editor doesn't have time to do justice to your book, you need to take another path. 

Take the time to write a story you can be proud of. Check for typos, passive voice, missed words and continuity errors. Will you find all of them? Probably not. And trust me - neither does an editor. You may be a novice but your work doesn’t have to look like a newbie wrote it. When it comes to finishing your story, speed is not your friend.

It’s YOUR name on the cover of your book. This is one instance where being prideful is a good thing.


Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for OOPS!

“Oh, oops….”

That’s a favorite saying of mine. It’s a lot more ladylike than some expressions that fall out of my mouth. Really.

I’ve made of a lot of “oops” in my life. I look at my earliest manuscripts and I see “oops” all over the pages. Instead of being embarrassed, well, overly embarrassed, I generally use the moment to remind myself of how far I’ve come.

There is no escaping the “oops.” You can live in denial if you want to, but if you live you’ve got a few “oops” in your closet. (Like the proverbial skeleton in the closet.) Instead of beating yourself up over them, use them as opportunities to learn. Remain positive about the learning experience. Fix it, if it can be fixed, and move forward. If it can’t be fixed, tender what apologies are necessary and move forward.

Trust me. It’s highly unlikely you’re the only person to ever do that particular “oops.”  Don’t let it define your writing career. 



Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for NO

Saying no. Toddlers are good at this, but somewhere along the line we lose the ability to say “no” and stick to our guns. I’m not sure why this happens except no one wants to be labeled as a difficult-to-get-along-with-bitch.

The thing is, saying no is a useful tool which can promote sanity. By saying “no” we lay down our boundaries. When a person respects this, we can gauge his or her level of regard for us and give it back to them.

Too many people equate saying “no” in a purely negative light and that’s not always the case. If someone tells you “no,” you may want to politely ask for clarification. The answer to gently asking if it’s “no right now or no not ever,” is a helpful thing to know. It can avoid confusion in the future. And if it’s “no, not right now,” give the person time. They may broach to topic to you at a better time for them. 

 So don’t be afraid or offended by “no.” Take the time to figure it out what it really means. Take the time to use it wisely.


Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Must

The MUST day. The day when we MUST have our tax returns filed for the previous year.

It's not my favorite day of the year for many reasons, mostly because I'm a little rebel at heart and when someone says I MUST do [fill in the blank], I don't react well. 

April 15. Why not say we must remember the sinking of the Titanic? That was on this day in 1912. It's a little before my time, but I've seen pictures. 

Here's a better must remember for today. In 1964, the first Ford Mustang rolled off the assembly line. I must remember that the next time I see an old Mustang on the road. 

I must remember to mix brevity with seriousness in my blog. 

I must. M is for Must. 


Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for Little by Little

Little by little, the time goes
Little by little, the days pass by
Little by little, the air clears
Little by little, I can breathe again
I can breathe again --

Little by Little - Robert Plant

Most days I feel I’m living that verse. Little by little the minutes and days go by. I start the work day looking down a long, dark tunnel and the closer I get to quitting time, the cleaner the air becomes. I get in my car and take a deep breath. I drive home to begin my real life, which is very different from the forty hours I spend at my job. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

The closer I get to being able to retire, and the clock stands at a little over three and a half years, the worse the days become. But I have no choice except to ride it out.

But little by little, time moves forward in deliberate increments to that magic day in 2019.
Little by little, be they good or bad, the days full of obligation pass.
Little by little, the days spent breathing city air are fewer in number.

Little by little, I dare to believe I’ll be able to fulfill my dream of writing full time.

Little by little it’s going to be a reality. All I need is a patience, little by little.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for K-cup Koffee

We’ve made it to the halfway point of the A to Z Blogging Challenge! And we’ll need more K-cups to make it to the end.

It’s only in the last decade or so I’ve become a coffee devotee. Sure, I’d have a cup now and then. I’d occasionally stop at the local convenience store in the mornings, but I rarely brewed a pot at home even though I only had a 4-cup brewer. All that changed when I was introduced to the K-cup.

A perfect individual cup of coffee or tea on demand? What’s not to like? It’s not the motor oil my parent’s generation drank, that’s for sure. Having each and every cup brewed fresh is a modern day miracle.

Now I know those individual cups can get expensive so I reuse them. I hear you saying not possible, but oh yes you can. Just peel the top off, fill it, and put the whole thing inside the auxiliary pod. I can get four or five brews from one k-cup before the filter gives out.

So K is for K-cups. Everyone needs at least one vice. The K-cup is mine.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Jerks

 When I was shanghaied by my alter ego into decided to participate in the 2016 A to Z Challenge, I filled out a calendar page with topics. That was a while ago and now I’m staring at J is for Jerk and wondering what the heck my original thought was.

Maybe I was thinking about those published authors who believe they are God’s gift to the written word. Could be. I’ve come across a few. They don’t think they have to abide by any form of etiquette. They beg promo spots and then refuse to follow the rules. 

They’re published. They don’t have play nice. They’re full of themselves and full of an annoying attitude. I could refer to some of them as bitches but jerk is a bit milder so we’ll go with that.

To the aspiring writers out there - THIS is not a moniker anyone wants to earn. Be fair in your dealings with others, even online. If someone offers you a promo spot, on a blog, for example, follow their rules. Thank them. Return the favor, if you can. Pass it on.

Cyberspace has a long memory. The memory of other authors is even longer. Don't be a jerk.



Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Invest in Yourself

Any writer who’s gone out on the Internet searching for advice has likely found this: invest in yourself.

Without the writer, we have no stories. We lose shared experiences and insights. We lose access to the dreams of others. Publishers and critics will come and go, but writers and readers will remain constant.

These days, a writer needs a good computer. Invest in one. Who cares if it’s a desktop or a laptop? It has to please you. If you like techie toys, get them. I love having a wireless keyboard that I can use with both a desktop and a laptop.

If you want to go indie and want to make your own covers, invest in good photo editing software. If you feel you need to improve your basic language skills, take a class. The better your skillset, the faster the words hit the page.

It sounds simple and I know sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s baby steps all the way, but take them. The goal is a better you, and a better you means a better story.

Invest in yourself.


Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Hello/Goodbye (2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Today marks the completion of one-third of the 2016 A to Z Challenge. I wasn’t sure how “Rayne” would do in the challenge, but so far so good. Plan the work and work the plan, or some such saying.

One of the things I find most odd about authors online is the “hello/goodbye” relationships that are formed. With no hard feelings, I must firmly stress. Whenever our paths cross, stranger or not, there’s the shared experience of being a writer. We blunder into each other, chat like good friends, and then move on without animosity. It’s fascinating and I love it.

Hello, goodbye. Thanks for stepping into my world today.


Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Good Grief! ( 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

It’s a little strange that the familiar saying “good grief” is a censored form of “good God.” I suppose it dates back to when 1) saying “good God” could get you staked for blasphemy and 2) the times when folks believed God punished us with grief. 

And then there’s poor Charlie Brown. I like Charlie. He’s one of the good guys. On the surface nothing seems to go his way, yet in the end, he makes it through. When Charlie gets annoyed over the stupidity of his friends, he declares, “good grief” and he keeps chugging onward.

That became one of my writing rules. When annoyed by my own stupidity, or that of others, I simply say “good grief” and keep moving on. 

And on. And on…..


Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for Freeze Frame (2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Back in 1981, there was a song out by the J.Geiles Band called Freeze Frame. The focus of the song was a split second in time when a man sees a woman’s red lips and is so turned on by it the image freezes in his psyche. He thinks he’ll lose his mind if he can’t have her. The song is funky, upbeat, funny and reflects the human condition.

I get freeze frame moments all the time. The old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words is very true. A single image can inspire a sixty-thousand-word book.

I’m always on the lookout for the freeze frame. I never know where they’ll lead me, but as long as they lead, I’ll follow. 
Getting there is just too much fun to quit.


I suppose now would be a good time to say F is also for friends who let you piggyback on their website.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Evermore

Thanks for stopping by Twenty-six Keys. Today’s blog is doing double duty with both the 2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge and the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

Poe’s Raven was a miserable creature and the greatest nay-sayer of all time. The wretched bird knew but one word - “nevermore!”

What a serious downer.

Writers tend to be an introverted and insecure sect. We need positive reinforcement on a daily basis. The word "never" should not be a part of our vocabulary. 

So to all the insecure writers out there, with apologies to the Poe devotees, I think it’s time for the raven to quote another word - EVERMORE.

Evermore is faithful and being a writer means being faithful to your craft. There’s no halfway measure to being a happy writer. As the writer’s knowledge and abilities increase, they’re evermore willing to put in the time. And little by little writing will overtake the writer’s life. This is really not a bad thing. It's helpful to be immersed in the creation of the story. 

So, yes, I have a new watchword. Quotes this old writer, “evermore.”


Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Doubt (2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

There are different ways to look at doubt. The word itself means both “hesitation” and “misgivings.”

Hesitation can stall you, and misgivings can save you. Neither is necessarily a bad thing.

Trusting the voice of doubt is not only a writing rule, for me, it’s a life rule. Many times my instincts have made me doubt, and hesitate, and never once did it turn out badly that I did. The good things always remained a viable option while the not-so-good for me things faded away, untouched.

If you’re an aspiring writing, not every option available to you is good for you. Remember, in the writing world, good for you is good for your career, and bad for you is bad for your career. You may try and fool yourself the two are separate, but they are not.

So listen to your instincts when you have doubts. In this business, it can save you a lot of heartache.


Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Cat (2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge

C is for Cat. Is that a groan I hear? Is that zero stars for originality you’ve given me as part of your review? Cut me some slack. It’s freakin’ Monday, okay?

What does “cat” have to do with writing? Every author needs a familiar. How better to be aware of the world around us than to mimic the cat? Cats know everything around them, even when sleeping. They observe more keenly than we writers. We should watch them and learn.

We could trade stories about our felines every day and you’d be right there with me. And being a cat lover I’ve discovered the Internet is full to overflowing with cute cat/kitten pictures and videos. So for my entry today, I thought I’d share a few of the pictures that made me laugh on this otherwise dull Monday. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Because you can (2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge
* * *

Listen to the MUSTN'TS, child,
      Listen to the DON'TS
      Listen to the SHOULDN'TS
      Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me-
      Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Shel Silverstein

What wonderful words to have whispered in your ear! Yes, you should listen to everyone and hear what they say, then listen to the truer words of “anything can be.”

“Because you can” is implicit in those words. Because you can do it, anything is possible. Even a woman from a backwater town, a scant two generations from the Apple Jack operation, can become anyone she wants to be, even a published writer.

I’m sure I’m not alone in that I used to hate hearing my elders say “because I say so” without explanation. Those words sink long talons into memory. Unawares, they hold you back. They lurk in the dark recesses and cause doubt. You don’t even know it’s happening because it’s so ingrained.

Cast off the bonds of  “because I say so” and try this:

“Yes, I will. Because I can.”


Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Always be true to yourself (2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge)

Day 1
2016 A to Z Blogging Challenge

The A to Z Blogging Challenge. Twenty-six posts in thirty days. It's doable! 

So here we go with A is for Always be true to yourself.

*  *  *  *  *  *

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!

Hamlet Act 1, scene 3

“To thine own self be true” is an often-repeated bit of advice. Polonius, who has an overblown sense of his own importance, nonetheless gives his son this very good advice. If you’re true to yourself, that is loyal to your own interests, it’s far easier to be happy and play well with others.

It took me a long time to understand the implications of those words. I struggled to be woman, daughter, wife, friend because I was afraid to be me. I lived to the expectations of others and it simply didn’t work out well.

I was thirty when I slipped the collar of my upbringing and set out, truly on my own for the first time in my life. Yes, I floundered some, but once “to thine own self be true” became my mantra, life got better. I learned to set boundaries that were true to who I am and I learned to enforce them.

Being true to yourself is a path to happiness. If your true self is caring for animals - go for it. If your true self is a gardener and sharing your produce - go for it. If your true self is being a teacher - go for it.

It’s been over a decade since I admitted to myself how important words are to me. Some people think words are merely communication tools, but to me, words are like lovers. I’m a writer, and I’ll always be true to that part of me.

Always be true to yourself. 


Friday, March 11, 2016

Evolution sounds better than change

There are few things as constant as change. Each and every one of us experiencing change on a daily basis. Some changes we may not like but we learn to accept them. Others are immediately and fully embraced. But most of the time we're somewhere in the middle. We find ways to get along with change.

The publishing business is vastly different from when I began my journey in 2003. Digital publishing was just taking off and it was a force to be reckoned with. Small publishing houses sprang up overnight, and many vanished just as quickly. The future looked promising.

Then came change. I don't think anyone saw the magnitude of what was happening - at first. In retrospect, it's pretty clear that the people fighting digital publishing might have been on to something, although the collapse didn't happen for the reasons they feared. Or did it? Success on an individual basis has always been feared. 

Electronic publishing is here to stay - at least for a while longer. The indie author isn't going anywhere, either. But we still have to face change. We need to continually evolve. 

Today marks the end of an era for Rayne Forrest. The flooded market and piracy have taken their toll. My .com has been removed. It was my choice to give up the expense and move on to other venues. Yes, that would be free venues. Google has made it easy to find anything. Type in Rayne Forrest and you'll still find me. Rayne Forrest is also now piggy-backed on another author's website. It's a change. It's not good. It's not bad. It's an evolution. 

But does it feel a bit like defeat to give up the .com? Yes, and I'll get over it. 

Things have changed. 


Money Back Guarantee

Slade Martin is under attack. An electronic thief absconded with all 
his liquid personal wealth and someone on his board of directors is plotting a hostile takeover. The obvious culprit isn’t the guilty party, and Slade gets help to find the real perpetrator from a surprise source – the lovely and capable Iris D’Vance.   

Iris D’Vance is determined not to repeat her mistakes with 
men – until she meets Slade Martin, and decides all bets are off. Accepting the invitation to sit on the board of Slade’s charitable foundation lands her in the middle corporate intrigue. Slade needs her help and makes her an offer she can’t turn down.

Slade and Iris join forces to unravel the plot to ruin Slade and 
discover their interest in each other runs deeper than sharing 
altruistic works. When the person behind Slade’s woes is found, it’s Iris who’s in danger. Slade has to act fast to bring her home safe and make good on his money back guarantee.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Money Back Guarantee

Available now at online book sellers: Money Back Guarantee

Slade Martin is under attack. An electronic thief absconded with all his liquid personal wealth and someone on his board of directors is plotting a hostile takeover. The obvious culprit isn’t the guilty party, and Slade gets help to find the real perpetrator from a surprise source – the lovely and capable Iris D’Vance.  

Iris D’Vance is determined to not repeat her mistakes with men – until she meets Slade Martin, and decides all bets are off. Accepting the invitation to sit on the board of Slade’s charitable foundation lands her in the middle corporate intrigue. Slade needs her help and makes her an offer she can’t turn down.

Slade and Iris join forces to unravel the plot to ruin Slade and discover their interest in each other runs deeper than sharing altruistic works. When the person behind Slade’s woes is found, it’s Iris who’s in danger. Slade has to act fast to bring her home safe and make good on his money back guarantee. 


Slade stalked off the elevator, his prey dead center in the crosshairs. Primed and loaded, one word from Ms. Iris D’Vance, and he’d let the hammer fall. Damn her. He sucked in a deep breath to replace the air that whooshed out of his lungs as her appearance burned onto his corneas.
Damn her for standing in front of the windows with the sunlight coming in behind her. Every luscious curve was visible through the backlit fabric of her dress. He’d not seen anything that amazing in…well, he’d never seen anything that amazing. His temper bled away, replaced by a surge of lust. Maybe he needed to rethink his approach, and fast, before she got away with old man Farnsmore.
Iris turned slightly and spotted him. Her eyes widened, she stiffened, then her composure slid back into place. It didn’t matter. Slade had seen the sudden interest in her eyes. He held out his hand to her for a friendly handshake.
“Ms. D’Vance, I apologize for getting off on the wrong foot upstairs. I get a little nervous before board meetings.”
Iris accepted his hand. Her lips parted. He closed his fingers around hers, noting how cold hers were as he lifted them to his lips.
“I’m sorry. That was forward of me. I hope you’ll forgive me.”
Her chin lifted, and her lovely hazel eyes took on a new, hard glint.
“I’m sure that well-rehearsed and very tired line still works on some women, but I assure you, I’m not one of them, Mr. Martin.”
Slade very grudgingly gave her high marks for honesty. He’d asked for that, and she’d given it to him.
“No, it doesn’t work, obviously. I’ll have to practice it.”
“Not on me, Mr. Martin. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s my ride.”
Dismissed, for God’s sake. Torpedoed.
Slade grabbed her wrist. She shot him a cold look that would have sent a weaker man to his knees.
Well, she could glare at him all she wanted to. What he had to say was important.
“Whatever it is you and Farnsmore have schemed up, I warn you now, he’ll turn on you the minute you’ve outlived your usefulness.”
Her look turned wary. “What are you talking about, Mr. Martin?”
“Don’t play stupid. I know old Reggie worked his glib tongue with the other members to get you a seat on my board. Now you’d best remember it is my board. Drop Farnsmore before you get in over your head.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Have it your way, but don’t say I didn’t warn you about Reggie and his cronies.” Slade left her standing there, turning abruptly and calling for his car.
Curse the day Reginald Farnsmore managed to wrangle a seat on the CRM board! The man was nothing but trouble. Slade slid into the driver’s seat of his vintage Cadillac. Crap. He needed to pay the permit for the gasoline engine because in his current financial straits, he couldn’t afford the steep fine for a lapse.
How did Iris fit into Reggie’s grandiose scheme to take over the board? Maybe Farnsmore thought she’d be a proper distraction. If that were the case, Slade had to admit the man had picked a woman who could get his mind on other things. Too bad she didn’t have the balls, well, ovaries, to own up to it.
The look in her eyes swam in his memory, the look of shocked confusion that she’d not been able to hide as he’d delivered his warning.
Fucking hell. His chest tightened, constricting painfully around his heart. She’d not been faking. No one could act that well. Maybe she really didn’t know.
Great, now he’d have to save both D’Vance and CRM from Farnsmore.

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