Monday, March 19, 2018

Lana Turner and the Death of a Thug

I've been watching episodes of E's Mysteries and Scandals and the other day I saw the one involving actress Lana Turner. I'd heard about this scandal from my mom when I was a kid, but it happened a few years before I was born. True crime junkie that I am, I read Detour, written by Cheryl Crane, the assailant of the thug, and she was only fourteen at the time of the crime.
Lana Turner

Here's the gist of the story: Lana Turner, one of Hollywood's most glamorous stars of the Golden Age, began dating and then living with Johnny Stompanato, a small time gangster with mob connections. Turns out Lana was rather fickle when it came to men, and when she decided to break things off, Stompanato became violent. Apparently the mob had wanted Stompanato to eventually become Mr. Lana Turner so that the mob would have access to her money.
Lana with daughter Cheryl Crane

Stompanato became physically abusive to Lana on several occasions and refused to leave the home he shared with her. Ms. Turner began to fear for her life, as Stompanato had held a gun to her head more than once. Desperate, she told her 14 year-old daughter Cheryl that she was afraid and needed her help. Most likely she meant, call the police if things get out of hand with that monster.

On one particular evening while Stopananto was beating Ms. Turner, he threatened her by saying,"If you were a man I'd cut off your hands, but since you make a living with your face, I'll cut that up instead!" Cheryl woke up upon hearing the beating and her mother's screams. She went to the kitchen and got a butcher knife, then went upstairs terrified, holding the knife and stood outside her mother's bedroom.
Lana with Johnny Stompanato

When Stompanato had had enough of beating and threatening Ms. Turner, he left the bedroom, only to walk straight into Cheryl's knife, which plunged straight through his abdomen. Needless to say, he died. A heinous thug brought down unintentionally by a frightened 14 year-old girl.

Cheryl Crane says she doesn't even remember going to the kitchen for the knife. Then she stood frightened outside her mother's bedroom unsure of what to do, but she knew her mother needed her.

If you enjoy true crime check out Detour, and for more on the case of Johnny Stompanato's death, click here. Were you familiar with this story?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Save the Cat: A Great Resource for Any Writer!

Save the Cat is a great book for any writer! Even though the subtitle is The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need, it's a helpful tool for any writer!  Check out what writer editor Tim Stout says: 

The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet is the best plot structure template I’ve come across.
It breaks down the three-act structure into bite-size, manageable sections, each with a specific goal for your overall story. It’s a great resource! 

Below is an explanation of each beat:


Opening Image – A visual that represents the struggle & tone of the story. A snapshot of the main character’s problem, before the adventure begins.
Set-up – Expand on the “before” snapshot. Present the main character’s world as it is, and what is missing in their life.
Theme Stated (happens during the Set-up) – What your story is about; the message, the truth. Usually, it is spoken to the main character or in their presence, but they don’t understand the truth…not until they have some personal experience and context to support it.
Catalyst – The moment where life as it is changes. It is the telegram, the act of catching your loved-one cheating, allowing a monster onboard the ship, meeting the true love of your life, etc. The “before” world is no more, change is underway.
Debate – But change is scary and for a moment, or a brief number of moments, the main character doubts the journey they must take. Can I face this challenge? Do I have what it takes? Should I go at all? It is the last chance for the hero to chicken out.
Break Into Two (Choosing Act Two) – The main character makes a choice and the journey begins. We leave the “Thesis” world and enter the upside-down, opposite world of Act Two.
B Story – This is when there’s a discussion about the Theme – the nugget of truth. Usually, this discussion is between the main character and the love interest. So, the B Story is usually called the “love story”.
The Promise of the Premise – This is when Craig Thompson’s relationship with Raina blooms, when Indiana Jones tries to beat the Nazis to the Lost Ark, when the detective finds the most clues and dodges the most bullets. This is when the main character explores the new world and the audience is entertained by the premise they have been promised.
Midpoint – Dependent upon the story, this moment is when everything is “great” or everything is “awful”. The main character either gets everything they think they want (“great”) or doesn’t get what they think they want at all (“awful”). But not everything we think we want is what we actually need in the end.
Bad Guys Close In – Doubt, jealousy, fear, foes both physical and emotional regroup to defeat the main character’s goal, and the main character’s “great”/“awful” situation disintegrates.
All is Lost – The opposite moment from the Midpoint: “awful”/“great”. The moment that the main character realizes they’ve lost everything they gained, or everything they now have has no meaning. The initial goal now looks even more impossible than before. And here, something or someone dies. It can be physical or emotional, but the death of something old makes way for something new to be born.
Dark Night of the Soul – The main character hits bottom, and wallows in hopelessness. The Why hast thou forsaken me, Lord? moment. Mourning the loss of what has “died” – the dream, the goal, the mentor character, the love of your life, etc. But, you must fall completely before you can pick yourself back up and try again.
Break Into Three (Choosing Act Three) – Thanks to a fresh idea, new inspiration, or last-minute Thematic advice from the B Story (usually the love interest), the main character chooses to try again.
Finale – This time around, the main character incorporates the Theme – the nugget of truth that now makes sense to them – into their fight for the goal because they have experience from the A Story and context from the B Story. Act Three is about Synthesis!
Final Image – opposite of Opening Image, proving, visually, that a change has occurred within the character.

I used the Beat Sheet method in writing my last novel and it was a big help! Are you familiar with Save the Cat? Thanks for visiting and have a great week! 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Easy Crock Pot Beef Burgundy

I was planning meals for the week and found this incredibly easy recipe for Beef Burgundy over at  I've never made this dish because the name sounds too intimidating for me to even try. However, when I found this three-step crock pot version, I decided that I could make it after all! Enjoy!

Easy Crock Pot Beef Burgundy


1.5 lbs boneless beef round steak, cubed
1 (1 oz) package dry onion soup mix
2 cups mushrooms sliced
1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2-3 cloves of ga
rlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
1 (10 .75 0z) can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 package of egg noodles, prepared


1. In a 5-6 qt crock pot, add in your cubed steak.
2. Sprinkle with dry onions soup mix. And the mushrooms, onion and garlic.
3. Pour wine, broth and Worcestershire sauce into crock pot. Top every thing with cream of mushroom soup. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. Serve over egg noodles.

Have you ever made Beef Burgundy? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 26, 2018

Insight From Frederick Douglass

As we close out Black History Month, I wanted to share this article about Frederick Douglass form

"Between the Christianity of this land and the Christianity of Christ, I recognize the widest possible difference," wrote Frederick Douglass, a leading American abolitionist and former slave. Douglass rejected all biblical justifications of slavery after living under the cruel institution himself. Born in Maryland in 1818, his master's wife taught Douglass to read at a young age, and Douglass shared this knowledge with other slaves, encouraging them to read the New Testament and interpret Jesus Christ's message of equality. But Douglass rejected all Biblical justifications of slavery.

After escaping slavery, Douglass settled in New Bedford, Mass., and joined an integrated Methodist church where he attended anti-slavery meetings and befriended fellow abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison encouraged the young Douglass to become an anti-slavery lecturer, and in 1845, Douglass published his first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. The book quickly became a best seller, reprinted nine times and translated into French and Dutch.

Douglass started a weekly journal, The North Star, where he challenged his readers to question the contradiction between America's Christianity and the institution of slavery. Speaking before packed houses in Great Britain and America, Douglass attacked Christianity for not only permitting the continuation of slavery but also encouraging its expansion: "The church and the slave prison stand next to each other. ... [T]he church-going bell and the auctioneer's bell chime in with each other; the pulpit and the auctioneer's block stand in the same neighborhood."

Though Douglass was initially disappointed that Abraham Lincoln did not advocate for an end to slavery at the beginning of the Civil War, he was overjoyed when the president issued the Emancipation Proclamation. After Lincoln's Second Inaugural the president welcomed Douglass into the White House and was pleased to learn that Douglass approved of his speech.

After Lincoln's assassination, Douglass said of the late president: "Can any colored man, or any white man friendly to the freedom of all men, ever forget the night which followed the first day of January 1863, when the world was to see if Abraham Lincoln would prove to be as good as his word?"

Both of my kids have read the Narrative of the Life of  Frederick Douglass for their English classes, but I'm ashamed to admit I haven't, but it is on my to read list! Have you read it?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 19, 2018

The History of Presidents' Day

Happy Presidents' Day! Hope you're enjoying a day off. My high school student is, but not my college student.

If you've ever wondered about the history of Presidents' Day, here's some information from

Presidents’ Day is an American holiday celebrated on the third Monday in February. Originally established in 1885 in recognition of President George Washington, it is still officially called “Washington’s Birthday” by the federal government. Traditionally celebrated on February 22—Washington’s actual day of birth—the holiday became popularly known as Presidents’ Day after it was moved as part of 1971’s Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers. While several states still have individual holidays honoring the birthdays of Washington, Abraham Lincoln and other figures, Presidents’ Day is now popularly viewed as a day to celebrate all U.S. presidents past and present.

For more on the history of Presidents' Day, click here.

Are you off for Presidents' Day? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 12, 2018

John and Abigail Adams: A Great Love Story

It's almost Valentine's Day, so today I thought I' share a great love story from history that I found at Click the link for more great love stories!

Abigail Smith married [John Adams] at age 20, gave birth to five children (including America's fifth president, John Quincy Adams), was [his] confidante, political advisor, and First Lady. And the more than 1,000 letters they wrote to each other offer a window into John and Abigail's mutual devotion and abiding friendship. 

It was more than revolutionary political ideals that kept them so united; they shared a trust and abiding tenderness. Abigail wrote: "There is a tye more binding than Humanity, and stronger than Friendship ... and by this chord I am not ashamed to say that I am bound, nor do I [believe] that you are wholly free from it." As for John, he wrote: "I want to hear you think, or see your Thoughts. The Conclusion of your Letter makes my Heart throb, more than a Cannonade would. You bid me burn your Letters. But I must forget you first."

So romantic! For a recreation of their great love story, check out William Daniels and Virginia Vestoff portraying them in the movie 1776 singing "Yours, Yours, Yours." The lyrics in the song were inspired by their letters.

"Yours, Yours, Yours"
Btw, will you be writing a love letter to your Valentine? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Tignon Laws of Louisiana

Hubby found some interesting information yesterday and suggested that I use it for a blog post. I thought this was a fascinating topic, and only recently learned about myself (like literally last week in the book I'm reading White Like Her). So, thanks to Hubby, here's an article from Royal Tours of New Orleans that explains just what the tignon laws of Louisiana were:

The tignon was the mandatory headwear for Black Creole women in Louisiana during the Spanish colonial period, and the style was adopted throughout the Caribbean island communities as well. This headdress was required by Louisiana laws in 1785. Called the Tignon Laws, they prescribed appropriate public dress for females of color in colonial society, where women of color and some white women tried to outdo each other in beauty, dress, ostentation and manners.
A Black Creole woman with a tignon
Beginning in the 1800s, tignon was a local New Orleans word for the headwrap, a variation on the French word, chignon which refers to a smooth knot or twist or arrangement of hair that is worn at the nape of the neck.

According to the Code Noir, a mother’s slave condition passed to her newborn infant.  But, due to the lack of White women in early New Orleans, it was common for White men to take a woman of color as a mistress.  Many but not all of the children born from these relationships were free.  The children would be classified as mulatto, quadroon, or octoroon according to the fraction of Black blood in the child.  With so many quadroons and octoroons in the community, it was occasionally difficult to distinguish a free or slave Black woman from a White woman.
Marie Constance, born a mulatto slave, wearing a tignon
When Spain acquired Louisiana in 1763, the concept of coartación was introduced which acknowledged the right of slaves to purchase their freedom. The policy of self-purchase originated in the Spanish perception of slavery as an unnatural human condition.  This method became a popular means for enslaved Blacks to gain their freedom.
Mulatto women wearing tignons
By the time of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, New Orleans free blacks constituted nearly 20% of the urban population while enslaved Africans and African Americans represented nearly 38% of the city’s residents. But, even years before, the increasing assertiveness of black New Orleanians and the growing numbers of free blacks alarmed Spanish officials. The then Spanish Governor attempted to restrict black mobility by suppressing free black assemblies and banning concubinage.
In an effort to maintain class distinctions in his Spanish colony at the beginning of his term, Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró (1785 – 1791) decreed that female gens de couleur, slave or free, should cover their heads with a knotted headdress and refrain from “excessive attention to dress.”  Miró criticized black women for their “idleness,” “incontinence,” and “libertinism” and demanded that they renounce their “mode of living.”
In 1786, while Louisiana was a Spanish colony, the governor forbade “females of color … to wear plumes or jewelry”; this law specifically required “their hair bound in a kerchief.”  But the women, who were targets of this decree, were inventive & imaginative with years of practice. They decorated their mandated tignons, made of the finest textiles, with jewels, ribbons, & feathers to once again outshine their white counterparts and defy the law without actually breaking it.
Consequently, Miró’s decree had a somewhat different effect as what was intended as a means of controlling and identifying women gens de couleur became instead a fashion statement that remains to this day.
Had you ever heard of tignon laws? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Willie O'Ree: the Jackie Robinson of Ice Hockey

Hubby and I went to an ice hockey game over the weekend, and I was surprised to see some African- American players. I'm black, and I hate the cold, so I suppose I'm stereotyping by believing that all black people hate cold and cold weather sports just because I do.

Recently, however, I learned about an athlete named Williw O'Ree who was known as the Jackie Robinson of Ice Hockey.  Here's an article from that tells his story:

Back in 1958 the world was a different place. Racism was more openly rampant and no black person had ever taken the ice in the NHL. But Willie O’Ree came along and changed all that. He broke the color barrier and became known as the “Jackie Robinson of hockey.”

It wasn’t easy for O’Ree, who had to endure the racially tinged chants from fans, as Mike Walsh recalls O’Ree saying in Walsh’s “Soul on Ice” story on

"Fans would yell, 'Go back to the South' and 'How come you're not picking cotton?' Things like that. It didn't bother me. I just wanted to be a hockey player, and if they couldn't accept that fact, that was their problem, not mine."

While a lesser man might have caved in under the weight of those difficult times, O’Ree didn’t let it bother him. He used his love of hockey and his strong will and character to persevere beyond what many others could have accomplished.

But it wasn’t just his color that he had to overcome. During the 1955-56 hockey season, O’Ree played for the Kitchener-Waterloo Canucks, a junior league team. He was struck in the right eye by a puck, and the injury was so bad that he was legally blind in that eye. Though doctors advised him to quit playing, O’Ree persevered.

In eight weeks he was back on the ice.

But he was a left-winger, so his eye problems forced him to switch to the right side, a move that he made with the same grace and success he did with everything else.

O’Ree’s history day came on January 18, 1958, in Montreal. He took the ice with the Boston Bruins, becoming the first black player to make it to the NHL. He expected a stronger reaction, hopeful that the publicity could help other young black athletes, but the story was handled with little fanfare.

Life was hard for a black hockey player, but O’Ree never backed down or let it stop him.
Guys would take cheap shots at me, just to see if I would retaliate. They thought I didn't belong there. When I got the chance, I'd run right back at them. I was prepared for it because I knew it would happen. I wasn't a great slugger, but I did my share of fighting. I was determined that I wasn't going to be run out of the rink.
One night, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Eric Nesterenko butt-ended O’Ree in the face with his stick. He knocked out two of Willie’s teeth and broke his nose. O’Ree didn’t back down, however, hitting the Hawks player over the head with his stick.

After being traded by the Bruins following the 1961 season, he never again played in the NHL despite his talent. To this day he is regarded as a footnote in the sport, which isn’t right. What O’Ree endured was more than what any single hockey player has ever had to endure. There will never be another such first in the game. Fittingly, it was Willie O’Ree, a fighter to the end.

Had you ever heard of Willie O'Ree? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Shredded Turkey Sandwiches

My Friend Lorie gave me this recipe recently and she says it's absolutely wonderful and incredibly easy! It's for the crock pot, so how can you go wrong with that? I hope to try it this week! Enjoy.

Shredded Turkey Sandwiches 

1 frozen Butterball boneless breast (thaw in fridge for at least 24 hours and up to 48 hours)
1/2 bottle or can of beer
1/4 cup of water
1/4 cup of butter
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary

Remove plastic wrap from turkey, remove gravy packet, cut off netting over turkey and trim excess fat (pull up on fat and it trims off very easily with kitchen scissors)

Wash the turkey breast and place in crock pot with beer, water and butter.  Add the rosemary to the top pot for flavor.

Cook on low for 5 - 6 hours.  (Cook on high if the breast is still partially frozen.)

Discard rosemary.  Shred the turkey using two forks.  Turn crock pot to low and cook on low until ready to eat.  Serve on favorite buns either alone or with you favorite BBQ sauce.

One Butterball breast feeds about 7 people.

Don't you think this sounds healthier than pork BBQ?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Free Books!

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I'm offering two free books today, the Civil Rights novel of romantic suspense, The Governor's Sons, and my newest romantic historical, Deseré: A Love Story of the American South!

The Governor's Sons

During the summer of 1936, Ash Kroth, a young law student from a southern family of wealth and political prestige, falls in love with the help, beautiful "Negro" college girl Catherine Wilkes. Nearly thirty years later, as a segregationist governor in the midst of civil rights turmoil, Ash is forced to confront the inevitable consequences of his love for her. 

In 1965, Harland Hall, a black Civil Rights leader, moves to the capital city in an effort to quell the racial violence occurring not far from his mother's home. But what mysterious link does this young man have to the Governor's past?

Deseré: A Love Story of the American South

Deseré, a skilled seamstress and slave, lives on a South Carolina cotton plantation. Fair-skinned and astonishingly beautiful, she is owned by a kindly master and given his permission to marry the man she loves, a carpenter enslaved on a neighboring plantation. Yet when her master dies before her wedding and his nephew inherits the plantation and its slaves, Deseré's marriage is indefinitely postponed, pending consent from her new owner.

Lawyer Anthony Sinclair arrives from Ohio on the mend from a broken heart, leaving behind a career derailed by scandal. Owning a plantation presents a vibrant opportunity. Yet torn by inklings of abolitionist beliefs, Anthony struggles with the damning prospect of owning human beings. 

Upon first seeing the alluring Deseré, Anthony is immediately dazzled by her golden skin, shimmering blond hair and ocean blue eyes. Yet Deseré perceives the tall, dark-haired and handsome “Masta” Anthony as rather stupid. He knows nothing about running a plantation, nor being a planter. But as long as he allows Deseré to marry the man she loves, she will be happy. 

Anthony, however, desires Deseré for himself. To what lengths will he go to win the forbidden love of a slave? Will owning Deseré be the only way Anthony can ever possess her while her heart belongs to another man?

Hope you'll enjoy them! Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Meghan Markle and Other American Princesses

Are you keeping up with news of the impending marriage of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry? As an actress marrying a prince, her story reminded me of Grace Kelly. However, Meghan Markle will be one of several other American princesses! Here's an excerpt from a fun article in Forbes by Lisa Kacay.

Central Press/Getty Images

Wallis Simpson
The twice-married American socialite caused quite the controversy back in 1936. King Edward VIII of England was in love with her, but the governments of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries frowned upon their romance for moral reasons. After only 326 daysas king, Edward VIII abdicated his title in 1936,saying "I have found it impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility ... without the help and support of the woman I love.” The two wed in 1937, making them the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Rita Hayworth
The Hollywood star, previously married to actor-director Orson Welles, married Prince Aly Khan in 1949. Khan and Hayworth's marriage lasted less than four years, but they had a daughter together—philanthropist Yasmin Aga Khan.
AFP/Getty Images

Grace Kelly
The film star left behind her Hollywood career to marry Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1956. The duo originally met when Kelly was in France for the Cannes Film Festival, and they did a staged photo shoot at his palace. The pair married one week after she finished filming what would be her last film, High Society. Kelly and Rainier were married for 26 years until Kelly was tragically killed in a fatal car crash.
Dennis Oulds/Getty Images

Lee Radziwill
Lee Radziwill, born Caroline Lee Bouvier, was Jackie Kennedy's younger sister. She married Polish Prince Stanislaw Albrecht Radziwill in 1959. Stanislaw’s family was left poor after the German invasion, but he married a Swiss heiress and eventually became wealthy in real estate. Lee was his third wife and the two lived together in 4Buckingham Palace—a house near the royal palace. They divorced in 1974, though.
Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Hope Cooke
The New York socialite met Prince Palden Thondup Namgyal of Sikkim while she was an Asian studies student at Sarah Lawrence College. The two quickly engaged and were married in 1963. However, it wasn’t a fairytale ending for them—in 1975, Sikkim was annexed to India and the pair were officially divorced by 1980.
For the complete article and more American princesses, click here.
How many of these princesses have you heard of? Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year!

I'm off for New Year's Day but will be back blogging next week! Hope 2018 is off to a great start for you!