Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Contest Winner

Hi everyone,

The winner is
Carole Neal from Florida

      Thanks to those who entered my contest.  I enjoyed seeing who entered--longtime fans of Bertie, new fans, and friends I don't see often enough.  I'll be posting another contest after Christmas.
       Salt Run Publishing has re-released the second book in the Sweet Meadow Series.  Barking Goats and the Redneck Mafia is available in e-book form and will be available in print some time soon.  The third book, Jail Bertie and the Peanut Ladies will also be re-released shortly.  The three-book series will be out in time for Christmas.
        Bertie Byrd-Fortney is in the process of setting up a blog so we will get first-hand reports of what is going on in her wacky town of Sweet Meadow in the beautiful state of Georgia.  Be on the lookout for notification that Bertie's blog is up and running.

Until later,
Check out my web site     

Take a look at Book #2 of the Sweet Meadow Series with Bertie Byrd-Fortney

Monday, September 15, 2014

Big Hair and Flying Cows

Hi Everyone,

      Well, two weeks ago, Bertie arrived back on the scene and was happily greeted by old and new reader friends.  Salt Run Publishing has re-released Big Hair and Flying Cows with terrific fanfare and a brand new cover.  This Book #1 of the Sweet Meadow/Berties series has nearly 25 pages of bonus content, which introduces a new character.  I hope you have had a chance to get your e-book copy, but if not, slip over to Amazon.com and get your copy for $2.99.  http://amzn.to/1qqQtjF,  Print copies coming soon.
     BIG HAIR AND FLYING COWS was nominated as one of the top 100 humorous books for Publisher's Weekly 2005 Quill Awards.  Jon Stewart won that year, but you know what they say, "It was a pleasure to be nominated."  LOL
     Also, be looking for the next two books in the series Barking Goats and the Redneck Mafia and Jail Bertie and the Peanut Ladies, which will be available soon.
     Now for the fun stuff—How would you like a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card and a beautiful set of rabbit bookends?  Go to my web page www.doloresjwilson.com.  Click on contest and fill in the entry form.  Be sure to give me your information in case you win, I’ll know where to send your prize. 
     While you are on my web site, notice it has been revamped.  The background reminds me of my home state of West Virginia.  Beautiful mountains and river.  Take time to look at the pages.  Some of my backlist books are available through my web site.  Contact me, and let me know which books you would like and to whom you would like them autographed.
     As always, I love hearing from readers.  I answer all emails. 
Until later, happy reading.

Dolores J. Wilson

Come join me at the Best Little Conference in Northeast Florida

Now much time left to register for our 2014 Wine & Roses conference. Do it now! http://bit.ly/1ra1kAD
The conference is shaping up to be almost as much fun as Disney World.  Okay, I did say almost.  :-)

Monday, September 8, 2014

September 8, 2014

Hi everyone,

     Don’t pay the ransom—I’ve escaped.  I spent 3 ½ days with 3 grandsons.  It was non-stop activities to keep them out of trouble.  Excuse me . . . I mean, to entertain them.  We had water balloon fights.  We spread shaving cream on a table and they finger painted until they got bored, and then they painted each other.
     2 were due at a birthday from 1-3.  The 3rd one went with me to the Dollar General (his request).  There we bought a bunch of things to put into a treasure chest.  He and I stopped by the Dairy Queen on the way back to the house.  We did all the treasure hunt clues, hid them.  Set up the 3 bags of junk, candy, and more junk and placed them in the treasure chest at the end of the hunt.
     Yesterday, we were going to take them to Huguenot Park and let them walk on the beach and find sea shells (which I bought at the Dollar General).  Before we got out of bed, rain settled in and stayed the biggest part of the day.  When I asked the boys if they’d want to go anyway, Drew (8) said he was still tired from the day before.  Ty (10) said he didn’t want to get wet and maybe get hit by lightning and then he began to explain how that could happen in what I am sure was a perfect scientific explanation that would have made Dr. Sheldon Cooper proud.  I, on the other hand, did my best Penny impersonation as I tilted my head, scrunched up my face and asked, “Huh?”  The third grandson, Brody (6) said he was ready to go and headed for the door.  Unfortunately, I had the painful duty of explaining to him that he had been out voted 4-1.
     Actually, to be 3 kids cooped up in the house on a rainy day, we all came out of it with no battle scars.  Of course, the 10 year old announced a couple of times that he had all he could stand of his brother and cousin making so much noise.  Ty went on the covered back porch, watched it rain and talked to the cat.  I watched him from the sliding glass door for a few minutes. I think he had a pretty good idea.  When he came in, Grandma Wilson went out and talked to the cat.

Until later

Monday, September 1, 2014

Big Hair and Flying Cows Now Available


Product Details

     Today is the day I’ve been waiting for.  My favorite Sweet Meadow citizen, Bertie Byrd-Fortney and her wacky friends are back.  Salt Run Publishing is in the process of re-releasing all three books in the fun reads.
BIG HAIR AND FLYING COWS (Book #1 of the Bertie/Sweet Meadow series) is available now in e-book format, and you’ll be able to get printed copies in the near future.
     In case you aren’t familiar with this series, it revolves around a female tow-truck driver in a little town in Georgia.  She is basically normal, but she is surrounded by nuts (and I don’t mean boiled peanuts or pecans).  She just happens to be unintentionally responsible for the actions of many of the people in her home town.
     Bertie’s antics have become synonymous with any mishaps my friends, fans, and family, come up against.  They call it “A Bertie Moment.”
     Big Hair and Flying Cows was nominated as one of the top 100 humorous books for Publisher’s Weekly 2005 Quill Awards.  Jon Stewart won that year, but you know what they say, “It was a pleasure to be nominated.”  LOL
     In this newly released edition of Big Hair, I’ve added about 25 new pages and a new character. Here’s is a little excerpt:
     Sure enough, a silver Jaguar XK was, in fact, taking a squat just like Pop had said. The right rear tire, rim and all, had broken away from the suspension. The backend sat on the graveled road.  I killed time getting out of the tow truck by doing as much of the paperwork as I could just by looking at the car. I copied the license plate number onto the yellow tow sheet, filled in the vehicle’s make, model and color. When I got to the owner’s info, I stopped short.
     “Wonder what she’s calling herself today?” I whispered to Melinda, like I thought she might answer me. I needed a vacation. By that time, Daisy had approached my driver’s door. Reluctantly, I opened it and slid out of the truck.
     She wrapped her arms around me with the strength of a security guard apprehending a grab-and-go thief. “Bertie, it is soooo good to see you again. It’s been way tooo long.”
     “Good heavens, you’ve enhanced your southern accent so much, it sounds like a foreign language.” Daisy’s perfume took my breath away.  It took some doing, but I finally escaped her death grip.
     “My, my Bert, I see you haven’t lost your sense of humor.” Daisy rubbed my back.
     I stepped out of her reach and walked around the car to survey the situation and, determine my battle plan to get it hooked to the wrecker with the least amount of damage to the car or to me. “Why would I have lost my sense of humor?”
     “Well, I know you took Lee breaking up with you mighty hard.  Something like that could cause a woman to turn bitter.”
     “Really?  You think so?”  Had he broken up with me, I may have taken it better, but he chose to just run off.  Certain something bad had happened to him, I prayed for his safe return.  I didn’t want anything bad to have happened to him. 
     After I learned he’d taken off with Annie, I reversed my prayers, and I prayed for hail stones to rain down on his lopsided head and for fire ants to dwell in his thong underwear, which he thought made him look sexy.  I thought they made him look lopsided in other places, but evidently Annie saw something there I had missed.
     “The last I heard, you have no signs of another man in your life. Surely, you realize by now that Lee won’t be coming back.”  Daisy said.
     “Oh, I’m fully aware of that.” Let it go, Bertie. Let it go, Bertie. I returned to my original task.
     “What name do you want on this tow ticket?”
     “Why Baroness Benteen, of course.”
     I chuckled aloud. “Do you mean to tell me that none of those Texas ladies have explained to you that just because you married cattle baron that doesn’t make you a real baroness?”
     “Absolutely not. The ones who say that are just jealous.” The top part of Daisy’s bleached-blonde hair was pulled to a topknot and held in place by a red polka-dotted bow attached by a clip.   She gave the long, flowing part of her locks a flip over her left shoulder, tilted her chin upward and stared off at the horizon.
     “Oh, yeah.  They’re jealous.  I’m sure that’s it.”  I didn’t have the energy to turn that into a debate.  I had work to do. 
      I hope you check out BIG HAIR AND FLYING COWS, and enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing about dear, ol’ Bertie.  If you do read it, please review it on Amazon.com or any other site where reviews are posted.  Reviews are helpful and needed.  They provide feedback about what the reader liked about the story.  As an author, that is important to me. 

Until later-Happy reading.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Letter From My Publisher--Salt Run Publishing

Everyone’s Favorite Lady Tow Truck Driver is Back. 

She’s back, I tell you. (Quick, call everyone you know, and spread the word.) 

Bertie Byrd-Fortney is once again behind the steering wheel of her beloved wrecker, Bessie, as her first hilarious book Big Hair and Flying Cows will be available in digital and print soon. 

***** Read all the way to the bottom for a very cool special offer ****

I'm so honored that Dolores Wilson chose Salt Run Publishing as Bertie's new home. I've loved Bertie's stories since they first released. In fact, I remember my mother reading them to me as a child. Just kidding, but if they'd been available then, she surely would have. I never dreamed I'd one day be offered the opportunity to re-release them to Bertie's loyal fans, and to an entire new crop of fans yet to be. 

All three books will have new, hilarious covers, and Big Hair and Flying Cows will have a huge chunk of bonus, all-new content! 

Big Hair and Flying Cows, the first of the series, will release in digital in early September. The print version will release shortly thereafter, and we hope to have Barking Goats and the Redneck Mafia, and Jail Bertie and the Peanut Ladies available by the end of October.  

Bertie's "official" re-debut will take place at the Ancient City Romance Authors' Conference on the Beach in St. Augustine, FL , September 26-27. On Friday evening, September 26, Salt Run Publishing will host a "launch" reception for Bertie and Dolores. (We really hope both show up) We hope our friends will join us there. You can find out more about the conference at the link above, or here. 

And now for a special offer just for Bertie fans. . .  

Dolores is giving her fans an exclusive opportunity to grab a free copy of Big Hair and Flying Cows before it releases! If you want a copy of your own, hop over to Salt Run Publishing right now and enter your name and email address so we can let you know when you can get yours. (We're sending Bertie to the spa for a full relaxing beauty workover before we put her back to work! But we'll alert you the minute she's ready to greet her fans.) 

But there's more . . . 

We're not going to ask you for your name and email address without giving you something in return right now. So Dolores has partnered with her friend, bestselling author Elizabeth Sinclair, to give you a free copy of Elizabeth's very first novel, Jenny's Castle! 2014 is the twentieth anniversary of Jenny's Castle, and we're releasing it with a beautiful new cover and bonus content!

So hop over to Salt Run Publishing this minute for: 

- Your free copy of Jenny's Castle (with beautiful new cover and bonus content!) right now;

- Notification of a free download of Big Hair and Flying Cows (with gorgeous, hilarious new cover and bonus content!) as soon as it's available. 

We hope you enjoy riding alongside Bertie on her adventures as much as we have!

Kellie Sharpe, Owner
Salt Run Publishing LLC

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bertie Byrd-Fortney Blog #5

Allow me to explain the layout of our little home on wheels.  In the back is a full-size bed for Arch and me.  There’s a two sided booth.  The table drops down even with the seats and the cushions fill in to make a small bed, just right for LoJ.  For Petey, there is a small sofa that folds into a twin size bed.   Over the drivers area is a bank of doors for storage space.  It can be folded down and turned into a full size bed which you have to take a running jump to get up into.  We had intended to use it strictly for storage and never, ever have to fold it down.
After unexpectedly being joined by Mavis Fortney and Millie Keats, all the planned sleeping arrangements went to hell in a hand basket.  Last night, I made the beds for LoJ and Petey and settled them in with big hugs and kisses.
Arch and I locked gazes, and instantly I knew I would be doing the high jump to get into my bed.   There really wasn’t any other solution unless we put Mavis and Millie back out on the road where we had found them, but I knew my husband wouldn’t let that happen.  I shrugged and while Arch unloaded the tons of stuff we had stacked over the driver’s seat, I helped M&M get their night clothes from their suitcases.  As patiently as I could, I waited for them to take turns stepping into the potty room where they could change clothes.
Mavis marched out of the small space dressed in stretch jersey pajamas.  The gray outfit sported numerous red lips and teeth with the word “Bite Me” scattered among the large mouths.  Petey giggled.  I gave her an evil eye.  She quickly disappeared under her blanket.
Finally, Millie made her way into the spotlight. 
Petey peeked out from her cocoon.  “Wow,” she scrambled to an upright position.  “I love the Jonas Brothers.”
“Me, too.”  Millie did a model-type spin to show off her PJ’s with the picture of the three young singers splashed across her chest.  She staggered slightly, but I caught her before she fell.
“Come on, Millie.  Climb in.”  Raising the cover, I shooed her into bed next to Mavis.  “Good night, ladies.”
 By the time I had gotten back to the front of the coach, Arch had climbed into our bunk and waited with open arms to pull me to my roost.  I flipped the final light out and made a less-than-graceful belly flop onto the thin sheet of foam topping a rock-hard plank of wood.  It took a few seconds for me to jostle my legs up.  Thankfully I had turned out the lights before my mount, because my short nightie would have left nothing for the imagination for the other occupants in our cozy, air-tight confines.
Sometime in the middle of a dark, mind-numbing dream I heard “Psst, Bert.”  Whatever the annoying sound was, I willed it away and continued to hold onto the deep sleep I’d been enjoying.
“Bertie.”  That time the sound came with hands that  roughly shook my shoulder.
“What?!?”  I yelled into what turned out to be Millie’s nose.  Standing on the floor, her face was eye level with mine.  She’d also turned on a dim light over the two-burner range top, making it easy to see that I had startled her as much as she’d scared me.
I rose onto my elbow.  My head barely touched the roof.  “What’s wrong?”
“Your snoring is keeping me and Mavis awake.  Can you tone it down a little?”
If glares could kill, I’d be serving twenty to life right now.
“What’s wrong?”  Arch asked.
“Millie wants me to quit snoring?”
“Oh, well, here’s what you do,” my soon-to-be ex-husband pinched my nose.  I lay perfectly still for the demonstration, but when he moved his hand away and Millie actually tried to pinch my nose, I quickly objected. 
“Don’t you dare do that, understand?”
Arch rolled over with his back to me, but I could feel his body quaking with laughter.  
“Good night, Millie,” I said.
Miss Bite Me turned off the light on her way back to bed, but she mumbled something about it not being her fault she thought she heard a cow giving birth.  Arch reached behind him and lightly padded my thigh.
“I know you want to laugh,” he whispered.  “Go ahead.  Let it out because if you don’t it will go down and make your butt bigger.”
I certainly didn’t want that to happen.  So, my belly laugh was joined by Arch, Millie, and Mavis.  Suddenly, I heard a tiny voice arise from the laughter.
Dang. Dang. Dang.
* * * * * * * *
Well, that was our first night on the road.  LoJ took her time about going back to sleep which was fine.  It gave me time to cuddle with my sweet baby and to reflect on what I wanted to experience on our adventure.
More than anything I wanted to relax and enjoy the time away from some of the insanity and various nuts that wove through the tapestry I call my life.  Sure, I had two of the biggest macadamias with me right there in our motorhome.  But, as much as I hate to admit it, if I survive their hijinks, I eventually always find them amusing.
I awoke twisted in a fetal position with LoJ pulled close to me.  Slowly I untangled my stiff limbs and eased to a sitting position.  As quietly as possible, I slipped into my jeans and T-shirt, then went out the door.  The sun barely peeked over the horizon, and I desperately needed the coffee I could smell being brewed in the next campsite.
A middle-aged man wearing khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt looked up from a paperback he held in one hand.  With his other, he gave me a slight salute with a large mug, which I assumed held the tantalizing coffee wafting my way.
“Beautiful morning.”  I took the five steps toward his campfire.
“I was just thinking the same thing,” he answered with a deep, western twang.  And, I don’t mean west Georgia.  No, it was exactly what I thought the Marlboro Man would sound like.
He stood and asked if I’d like a cup of coffee. 
Would I?  I almost yelled.  “That would be nice.”  Much better.
The man pulled another mug from his backpack, blew in it to clear away any dust.  He poured the black liquid that I was sure I could have whistled for and it would have come to me on its own. 
“What do you take in it?”
“Black is just fine.”  He handed the mug to me, and I took a slow sip. Hot, dark and strong coffee might just be the thing I needed to face the day that lay ahead.
The man introduced himself as Duke.  I could have guessed that by the way he spoke.  I told him a little about our big adventure. 
He gave me a thumbnail version of his whole life.  Born in Waco, Texas.  Married his high school sweetheart.  Immediately became the father of two girls.  They are both in college.  His wife left him for one of their daughter’s professors.  So Duke was on a healing/finding himself mission.
I remembered from Arch and my honeymoon that people we met in the campgrounds were great and diversified.  And I enjoyed learning as much as I could about them.  Most were very different from the people who lived in my hometown.  Maybe it was because I knew where they had hidden all the bodies, and they knew enough about me to get me hung.
The new people I met would only know what I wanted them to know and hopefully, I would appear halfway normal to most and there would be no pointing and saying, “Remember when Bertie had this or that happen to her?”  For a short time, I was normal.
And I could talk to people who were also normal.  I decided to start a journal and describe each person and try to remember every detail I could about them.  The man I had just met would definitely go into my journal. 
He was nice looking, clean cut, and read paperbacks. 
”Do you read mostly mysteries?”
“I read anything and everything.  It’s becoming a problem because I’m running out of room.”  Duke hooked his thumb toward a fairly old van.  The side door was slid open revealing a makeshift bed and several large, plastic bins.  Lashed with bungee cords to the top of his van was an inverted canoe.
“Have you found many places to canoe in this area?”
He looked a little taken aback, but then after glancing at his canoe-topped van he said, “No, I don’t canoe at all.  I have a hole in the roof of my van.”
And there you have it.  That quickly, reality yanked me back into my usual surroundings of wacky people.  The last drop of coffee or mud (I couldn’t decide which) slid down my throat.
“Well, I have to get back and wake up my family.”  I sat the mug down on the picnic table.  When I turned back to Duke, he had pulled a large box turtle out of his backpack and held it out for me to see.
“This is my traveling companion, Eltrut.”  Duke used his index finger to raise and lower Eltrut’s front leg.  The turtle was waving at me.  Did I wave back?  Did I turn and run?  Or, did I try to erase the image of what Eltrut had done in the coffee mug I’d drunk from.  After all they had both been stored in the same pocket of the backpack.”
Until later,

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bertie Byrd-Fortney Blog #4

From day one of our relationship, Arch said that at some point in time he wanted to do research on the flora and fauna in the southern states of the Appalachian Mountains.  I encouraged him with all my heart and soul.  I was his wife and his dreams were mine.  I figured when he was ready to do his research he would set up his computer at our kitchen table and surf the net to his heart’s content.  After our girls were snug in bed, I would spend my evening doing laundry, watching television or reading a book.
I never dreamed he meant to travel to various state parks and hiking trails in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia and actually pick the flora and look deeply into the eyes of the fauna.  He even mentioned collecting and identifying samples of what they left behind as the fauna grazed on the flora.  Yikees!
At first I wasn’t sure about all that, but once we were loaded into the motorhome and traveling north out of our beloved Georgia, I thought it might be an opportunity to make memories Petey and LoJ would always remember.  Leaning back in the passenger’s seat and closing my eyes, I sank into the warm glow of serenity and expectation of what laid ahead.
In a particularly quiet dream state, I opened my eyes slightly, but when I saw two familiar old women hitchhiking on the side of the road I squeezed my eyes closed again.  Any thought that I might be dreaming disappeared when Arch slammed on the breaks nearly sending me against the dashboard.
By the time I’d righted myself, he had pulled over and parked the RV.
“No, please, no,” I begged with the same passion I had when my brother, Bobby ran to tell Pop that I’d found and finished off his bottle of vodka hidden in the storage yard.  My brother hadn’t heeded my pleading and neither did Arch.
The sudden stop had startled LoJ, and she wailed at the top of her lungs.  I gave her a cursory hug and kiss, then turned to Petey.  “Stay here.  Please look after your sister.  We’ll be right back.”
I bailed out the door, but I was too late.  Arch was already lugging two huge suitcases back to the motorhome.  As he almost ran past me, he offered a weak, apologetic smile.  Millie and Mavis waved and giggled like kids headed for Disney World.
“What are you two doing out here?  You are two hours away from Sweet Meadow.  How did you get here?”  I knew I was screeching, but I didn’t care.
“Millie and I got to thinking about it, and we think this may be our last chance to have an extended vacation.  So, we had our lovers bring us out here.”
As I always did when they referred to old Coach Henderson and the elderly homeless man who had become the love interests in Millie’s and Mavis’ lives, I experienced a major chill that shutter long and hard through my entire body.
Millie stepped slightly in front of Mavis.  “In case you haven’t noticed, Mavis is getting a little long in the tooth.  She could drop tomorrow.  You don’t want to deprive her of her final wish, do you?”
Mavis shoved her slender body between Millie and me.  “If she keeps talking like that she’s going to die before this ship sails.”  Mavis pointed at the motorhome.  “Anchors away.”  She trotted to the RV. 
Millie hooked her arm through mine.  “Come on, Bertie, this is going to be fun.”
Since I am in shock and pretty much speechless, stay tuned.  I’ll be sure to tell you where I hide the bodies.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bertie Byrd-Fortney Blog #3

            Arch rolled his little family out of bed at O Dark Thirty this morning.  The thought that I was totally packed and ready to leave was nothing more than a pipe dream.
“I want Turtle,” LoJ cried as I plucked my baby girl out of a sound sleep.
“Okay, I got him.”  I tucked the stuffed animal under my free arm and pulled her blankie around her small shoulders.
“Mom,” Petey raced passed her sister and me.  “Did you pack my Glee backpack?   It has my diary in it, and I can’t find it.”
“I think I packed it already.  Ask your dad.”
“I’ll die if I can’t find it.”  My little Drama Queen ran out the front door hollering loud enough to wake the dead or definitely loud enough to wake my neighbor and good friend, Barbie.
 I am really going to miss Barbie.  Some times after a particularly tough day, she and I meet in the big oak tree between our houses.  There are two tractor seats nailed to a huge limb hidden neatly out of sight from the rest of the neighbors.  Over the last few years, Barbie and I have spent a lot of quality time “leafing” through “branches” of our lives.  Sorry, I’m a little stressed.
Anyway, I really thought I’d packed everything possible, but each member of my family listed things they couldn’t leave without, and I was supposed to twitch my nose and make it all appear. 
“You were supposed to make a list and help me make sure everything was ready by the deadline of eight o’clock last night.”  My admonishment went totally over all of their heads.
The motorhome’s engine chugged quietly.  I handed LoJ through the open door to her father’s waiting arms.  He took her and then said to me, “Go check the door just to be sure it is locked, okay?”
“Sure.”  I walked slowly, taking a final look at what part of my little home I could see through the minimal light the breaking dawn allowed.  I turned the front door knob and it easily opened.  Good thing Arch suggested I go back and check.   Good for another reason—there on the floor next to Arch’s recliner was his favorite tennis shoes, LoJ’s favorite pink dress, and Petey’s backpack. 
I gathered them and then locked the door.  As I neared the back of the motorhome, it started to move down the driveway.
I ran alongside throwing things in the still opened door.  “Hey!”
The vehicle screeched to a halt.
Instantly Arch appeared at the door. 
“What are you screaming about?”
“I thought you were leaving me.”
“That’s crazy.”  He came down the steps to stand next to me.  “I was just straightening the wheels.”  He took my elbow to help me inside where my girls waited for their lunatic mother.
Before I could take the first step, Arch leaned close and whispered, “Did you remember your birth control pills?”
I gently rubbed my now-twitching eye, then looked around at the small space.  LoJ sat quietly in her car seat belted to the sofa in what could be classified as the living area.  Petey lay across the foot of the bed in what could be called the master suite.  All of which was about 10 feet apart.  I made my way to the passenger seat and shook my head.  “Trust me, I won’t need them.”
Stay tuned,

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Bertie Byrd-Fortney Blog #2

What I Did On Arch's Summer Vacation

Boy, do I feel like a slug!  At the first of March, I decided to try my hand at blogging.  I typed one blog and then my world exploded as only my world can.   I had no time to blog until tonight.   So, I’ve cracked my knuckles, wiggled my fingers, and headed for the keyboard.

Blog.  Am I the only person who finds that word irritating?  Blog.  Blog.  When I say it, I do the same thing with my tongue that I do when I have peanut butter stuck to the roof of my mouth.  Blog.  Blog.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.

My husband, Arch Fortney, is the principal at Sweet Meadow High School.  Two weeks ago, on the last day of school before summer vacation, my wonderful, dependable, and ever-steady husband made the announcement that as soon as he wrapped up a few reports for the school board, we were going to rent a motorhome and head out on a month-long vacation.


Had Arch been hit in the head with a stray cafeteria tray?  What could he possibly be thinking?

We had two girls—one a toddler and one who would surely be bored to death stuffed into a motorhome for a month.  I had a business to run.  Oh, yeah, and lest we forget Millie Keats and Mavis Fortney the two royal pains in my butt.  I mean . . . two sweet elderly ladies whom I somehow have become responsible for their over-the-top shenanigans.  They have become responsible for the premature gray hair sprouting willy nilly among my auburn locks.

Well, let me tell you, I decided that Arch’s little trip was out of the question, and we would have to break our summer vacation up into several long weekends perhaps camping, renting a houseboat on the lake, or maybe a trip to Wild Adventures, in Valdosta.  But I would have to put my foot down when it came to being gone from the garage, from our cozy home, from Mom and Dad, and from M&M, the dynamic duo of Sweet Meadow for longer than a few days at a time.

Sooooo, two weeks to the day after Arch’s big announcement, the rented motorhome is packed with clothes for him, me, our girls, LoJ and Petey.  There’s enough food to start a soup kitchen for the homeless, if the need arises.  My brother Bobby has taken two weeks’ vacation to help Pop out at the garage and towing yard.  Of course, my very qualified mechanics and tow truck drivers, Linc and Carrie Sue, will be there at the garage every day.  Millie and Mavis took the news that they would be fending for themselves a lot better than I thought.

I didn’t realize I could so easily be replaced, but Arch had it all taken care of before I could think of any viable reason to say no.  In the morning we will be on our lovely way. 

Stay tuned,



Monday, August 4, 2014

Bertie Byrd-Fortney Blog #1

     In just a few short weeks, Salt Run Publishing will re-release my series featuring a female tow truck driver in a little town in Georgia.  All three books will eventually be released, but the first one will be available in September.
Bertie of Sweet Meadow Series:
Book #1 Big Hair and Flying Cows
Book #2 Barking Goats and the Redneck Mafia
Book #3 Jail Bertie and the Peanut Ladies
     A couple of years ago, Bertie started a blog.  Over the next couple of days, I'll be posting her blog about a vacation she and her family took in a motorhome.  Hopefully, you will enjoy her ramblings and be ready to read her story from the beginning in Book #1 Big Hair and Flying Cows.  I'm very excited to be back in Bertie's world.  I hope you will be, too.


     My name is Bertie Byrd-Fortney.  I live in Sweet Meadow, Georgia.  A small town famous for creating the phrase a "Bertie Moment."  I don't really think of myself as a klutz, bad-luck magnet, or all-around jinx, but strange, off-the-wall things happen to me and those who dare come near me.
     I've been married for three years to a wonderful man, Arch Fortney.  His ten-year-old daughter, Petey, is now my very own precious daughter--legally and heart-strings wise.  Arch and I are also the proud parents of an active two-year-old baby girl, Lois Jamie, Lo.J. for short.
            I own and operate Bertie's Garage and Towing.  A well-established business passed on to me by my father.  All my life, the garage had been called Byrd and Sons.  My brothers chose other careers leaving their baby sister, Pop's only daughter, to work with our dad in the family business. 
From my mid teens until three years ago, I've worked side by side with Pop, with a steady stream of tune-ups, clogged carburetors, and the occasional sugar in the gas tank.  And, yes, that happens more often than you would think.  That seems to be the only retribution Donna Carson can think of when she finds her husband, Udell's, truck parked at one of the local motels.
Well, this is the short version of my life.  The rest, and sometimes embarrassing, details of what goes on in my world have been captured and retold by Dolores J. Wilson, in her Sweet Meadow Series.  I hate to admit it, but even I get a kick out of some of her interpretations of everyday life in small-town America.  Of course, I'd enjoy more of them if they didn't involve me.
Anyway, today is the first day of my Blog.  I never dreamed I be doing a blog on the internet, but I have a couple of terrific employees who do all the tow truck work like pulling wrecked cars out of ditches, or getting boats off of train over passes.  (Don't ask.)  Linc and Carrie Sue, my wonderful employees also do the mechanical work between wrecker calls.  When I mentioned to Carrie Sue that I was a little bored because she and Linc did all the physical work, she suggested I get a laptop, learn to use it, (very important), and then network to bring business to us.  I believe she said I should move into the Twenty-first century, like it or not.  I quickly learned that I liked the Internet and all the benefits like Pogo.com. 
So, now, I'll be blogging every time something interesting happens.  I hope you will check back often and let me hear from you about what is going on in your world.

May your day be tow truck free
And filled with heartfelt laughter.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 1-3, 2014

     Over 50 years ago, Richard started his stint in the Marine Corps.  Every once in a while he talks about some of the things he and a few of his buddies did.  Last December, when Richard turned 70, I really wanted to do a surprise party for him and tried to find a few of those guys he'd always talked about.  I couldn't work it out as a surprise, but I was able to locate some of them on the internet.
      We arrived in Houston Friday afternoon.  Richard had already touched base with Melvin Lauder, one of the guys he knew a long time ago.  On Saturday, we went to lunch with Melvin and Linda.  I was a little unsure what to expect, but once we met, I felt like I'd known Linda forever.  They were both easy going and fun to be with.  Tonight (Sunday) I fixed dinner in the bus for them.  We had my babyback ribs, fried potatoes and onions, Georgia cracker salad, green beans, and lemon cake.
     After we had eaten, we visited for a while.  Richard and Mel talked about the good old days, who they remembered, who they had forgotten about.  It was really a great visit.  I hope they come to visit us in Florida some time.  All they have to do is get on Interstate 10 east bound and go until the road ends.  :-)
Linda and Mel.
 Notice Linda is holding one of my books
(Flight to Freedom).

     Making and entertaining new friends is the perfect way to end our Texas trip.  Tomorrow we head east with only a couple of stops before we arrive back in Jacksonville.  I've had a very good time, but I will be so glad to hold my grandchildren in my arms.  I plan to spend my time on the road finishing a partial for a new story. Thanks for taking the trip with us.  Knowing so many of you are following Richard and I, makes me feel like I'm not so far from home.
Until later,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July 31, 2014

     Don't pay the ransom, I've escaped.  :-)  I know I haven't written for several days and it wasn't because I didn't have anything to write.  I was busy from morning to night.
     For three days, Jeannie and I did the same thing everyday.  That is not said with an inference to boring.  Not at all!!  For three days, however, we did resemble the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day.

July 28--San Marco area, Texas  Got into a campground run by people who really, really, really like for people to follow the rules especially when it comes to saving the environment.  The four of us are all for taking care of Earth for our grandchildren. 
     So, here are some of the rules:
·         No glass or styrofoam is permitted in the campground or on the river, so leave both at home!
·         No pets are permitted in the campground
·         No fireworks or firearms are permitted in the campgrounds.
·         Check-in is 3pm / Check- out is 12 noon.  11am for cabins/shelters/RV Rentals
·         Call for pricing for extra people & extra cars on sites & for info on how many are permitted per site.
·         Cabin & shelter parking is limited – 3 cars are allowed per cabin/shelter.
·         Prices & number of nights stay required are subject to change on holiday weekends.
·         Ground fires are prohibited in the RV sites.
·         Ground fires are allowed at campsites as long as there is no ban on fires in effect in the county.
It is a fineable offense to make a fire ring out of rocks within the New Braunfels city limits. This applies to the Double Rockin ‘R’ Campground ONLY. Please make note of this as the city will check periodically and fine those who are breaking the law.
     We had to wear arm bands the whole time we were in the campground, and we were told in no uncertain terms that if we lost it we would have to pay $10.00 for a new one.  They were adamant that we could only leave the park by the exit. However, we were sorta on a curved road and with the way things were laid out, there was no way for Richard to bend our 45 foot bus in half.
      As you come down the very narrow road to the campground, the first driveway is an exit.  We went to the next one which we made our way in just fine.  During the course of our stay, we walked by the exit and there, across the road, were those spikes that will puncture your tires if you come in the wrong way.  No gate.  No warning.  I kept thinking about the poor people who come in late at night, and took the first driveway.  Trust me, whether it is a motorhome or a bus, they do not give those tires away. 

Campsite along the Guadalupe River
       The park's saving grace was the beautiful Guadalupe River that flowed not too far from our site.  Jack and Jeannie went for walk and found a bunch of garbage along the bank of the river.  It sort of went against the park's Save the Planet campaign.
     What made our day like groundhog day:  Get up.  Dress.  Jeannie and I go shopping.  Find a quaint place for lunch like the tea room for soup and finger sandwiches.  Shop some more.  Go back to motorhomes. Decide what's for dinner.  Eat.  Talk.  Jack and Jeannie go to their home on wheels and Richard goes to bed. I sit before my laptop.  Fingers poised ready to write sharp, witty prose about our day.  The next thing I would know, I'd wake up with my keys from my keyboard embedded into my chubby cheeks and drool sliding over the keys.  It's a wonder I didn't short it out and catch my hair on fire.
     This is so sad, but I can hear some of you (who don't know me really well) saying that's funny.  Those who really know me are aghast, because they know that is a real possibility in my world.
     The next day, see What made our day like groundhog day (above).
     The next day, we moved to to a great campground on Lake Belton Dam. Very pretty place.
     One of Richard's classmates from Yulee, Florida lives in Belton.  They came to the campground and we fix hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill.  That was a lot of fun.  The next night we went a Mexican restaurant.  I have a great picture of them, but I can't get it uploaded.
     Thursday morning, Jack and Jeannie left for their home in Joplin, Missouri with a quick stop in Dallas to see their son and daughter and their families.  I hated to see them go, but the trip is about over for us too.  We had dinner with Bill and Kathie Herring.  She gave me several new recipes I can't wait to try out when I get home.  Richard and Bill reminisced about the good old days.  Kathie and I listened in once in the while, but mostly we carried on our own conversations about family and friends.  Thanks to Bill and Kathie for a great couple of days.
Kathie and Bill Herring
We had a great time with them.

     I've just discovered I cannot upload photos to this blog.  I'm going to go ahead and publish it and try to figure out what is wrong.
     Anyway, we are now in Houston.  I'll write again tonight and let you know what we did today and how it worked out for us.  As they say:  News at 11.

Until later,

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 26-27, 2014

     Yesterday was the last day of the Romance Writers of America's National Conference.  During the morning, I attended a workshop which highlighted one of my publishers.  Bell Books/Belle Bridge Books/Imajinn (write for Belle Bridge Books) was represented by their Marketing Director, Danielle Childers and Imajinn Editor Brenda Chin.  They are both so energetic and show real caring for what they do and for their authors.

Brenda Chin

Danielle Childers
     I'm very pleased with this publishing house.  After listening to the new adventures going on with Belle, I'm excited to have new ideas and new projects.  News at 11.  LOL
      The night ended with the Rita Awards presentation.  There were too many people and we were too far back to get good picturs of the presentations of the golden statue.  For the past 4 days, I'd dressed in mostly business attire.  Today, I was back in jeans and tennis shoes, and I may never get out of them again.

Jeannie right after the Rita's.  We were
waiting for Jack and Richard.
     This morning we went to the Alamo.  The last time we were here, there was about as many people visiting the shrine as the count had been the day the Texans tried to defend it.  Today, it was like Santa Anna had returned with his whole army.  The lines to get into the Mission and other out buildings wove up and down like the ones you get in at Disney World.
     Originally, the mission served as a home to missionaries and their Indian converts for nearly seventy years.  In the 1800's, the Spanish military stationed a cavalry unit at the former mission.  The land had cottonwood trees surrounding.  The soldiers referred to the old mission as the Alamo, derived from the Spanish word for "cottonwood".
Here is a picture of a nice prickly pair and the cactus behind them
is nice, too.  LOL

I would love to see this plant in bloom.  It is covered with buds.
The coloring is so beautiful.
          San Antonio and the Alamo played a critical role in the Texas Revolution.  Ben Milam, soldier, colonizer, and entrepreneur from Kentucy, was killed when the Texas Revolution was just getting underway.  His leadership prior to his death inspired his fellow Texans and Tejano (Texans with Mexican heritage) to retake San Antonio in 1835 at the Siege of Baxer, and ultimately to win Texas independence.  The winning volunteers then occupied the Alamo.
The Alamo
     On February 23, 1836, General Sant Anna's army arrived to take over the Alamo.  Texans and Tejano prepared to defend the Alamo together.  Commander of the Alamo, William B. Travis sent couriers carrying pleas for help to communities in Texas.  Only 32 volunteers arrived bringing the number of defenders to nearly 200.  Among the Alamo's garrison were Jim Bowie, renowned knife fighter, and Davy Crockett, frontiersman and former congressman from Tennesee.
     The siege of the Alamo lasted thirteen days beginning February 23, 1936, ending at daybreak on the morning of March 6, 1836 when  columns of Mexican soilders headed over the walls and into the compound.  By sunrise the battle had ended, and Santa Anna entered the Alamo compound to survey the scene of his victory.
     Just a couple of things about the Sacred grounds and the Shrine of Texas Liberty:
Men are asked to remove their hats before entering.
No pictures or videos are allowed to be taken.
It is my understanding that no building is allowed to be built near the Alamo that would cast a shadow on the Mission.
There is a marker right in front of the building.  Although it is now made of metal, it represents the spot where William Travis, as the commander of the Alamo, drew a line on the ground and asked that any man willing to stay and fight to step over--all did except for one.
Until later,

Friday, July 25, 2014

July 25, 2014 Day #3

     I had lunch with Marge, then attended a couple of workshops.  One about taming the social media beast.  I actually got some good ideas from it.  I attended one hour of a 2-hour workshop on homicide 101.  Did you know that not all homicides are murders?  Homicide means the killing of one person by another person.  It could be a self-defense killing.  Or, accidental killing like when someone steps off a curb and in front of an oncoming vehicle.  But they are all homicides.   It all made sense when the detective explained, but I had never thought about it.
     As a mystery writer, I decided there might be a lot of little facts I need to know.  A friend gave me a whole set of books about police procedures and crime scene investigations.  Thanks, Cheri Clark, aka Cheryl Norman.  So I decided I would do some major research with these books when I get home.  With that decision made, I ditched the second hour of the homicide workshop and spent the next 2 hours hanging out in the lobby between the bar and Starbucks.  I knew that would be the perfect place to find most of my friends.  :-)
     Tomorrow I will attend a couple of workshops in the early part of the day.  My publisher will be doing a "chat with Bell Books/Bell Bridge Books" and I'll attend to show support for Danielle Childers (Marketing) and Brenda Chin (editor). 
     I plan to get back to the bus around 2:00 and fix dinner for us and Jack and Jeannie.  Then Jeannie and I will be getting all dressed up to the Rita Awards Ceremony back at the hotel.  The Rita's are to the romance industry as the Oscars are to the movies.  It is always a gala affair and very exciting to watch the presentation of the trophy for the top book in one of the many genres of romance.
     Tomorrow night, I'll post pictures.  My fingers are crossed that my friend Beth Ciotta takes home her Rita statue. 

Rita Statues
It's on my bucket list to win one. :-)

Until later,

July 24, 2014 RWA Day #2

This will be a quick post.  I had a great day.  I spent time with old friends.  We have been friends for a long time, not that they are old.  :-)  Looking forward to another great day.
Beth Ciotta and me.  We had a few minutes to catch up.
On our first trip to New York City, Beth was our personal guide.
Richard was highly impressed with her knowledge of the town.  That was
a fun time.

Kathy Kinney and me.
This was a really big thrill for me.  I loved the Drew Carey Show and for me, Mimi was a major part of what made me laugh. 
Deborah Smith and Brenda Chin
A couple of Bell Books/Belle Bridge Books and Imajinn's finest.
Thanks for the great reception

Until later, Dolores