Travelogue Tuesday: Sail away with me…

I’m baaack from my travels! Had fun, but brrrr….I only wore shorts once…for two hours…on the last day. Seriously. The weather was not our friend, but thankfully we had blue skies most of the time.

Here are a few pics. (Thanks to my new web guru for fixing the problem so these images finally showed up!)

When I wasn’t hanging out with the guys, I was perched in a sunny spot reading my final three RITA books. That is MY kind of working vacation!!!

The paparazzi was constantly hounding me. Here I am eating ice cream, proving it was almost warm once.

Next blog will be an update on my current website remodeling…and maybe a word or two about my next book. 😉

Read on…



BEST WORST VALENTINE’S DAY ADVICE from Judy Uncensored by Debra Salonen


Be our Valentine

Judy Banger’s Best “Worst Valentine’s Day Advice”

A couple of years ago, I decided to ask one of my characters–Judy Banger from my dark, naughty comedy Judy Uncensored–to share her advice on how to survive a less-than-romantic Valentine’s Day.

Did you miss it? Click here: BUY

1. Don’t believe everything you read on a Hallmark card.

1960s valentine

JUDY: “Two months before I filed for divorce, my hubby bought me a dozen red roses, a heart-shaped box of chocolate and a beautiful card that said some smarmy sentiment like: “Honey, I’m so lucky to have you in my life. I love you. Yadda, yadda.” Pretty words that lost their meaning when I got the credit card bill the next month and discovered the charge was double what it should have been. Yep. You guessed it. He sent the exact same thing to his girlfriend, too.”


2. Snails, duck liver and fish eggs are even less sexy than they sound when they come back up after swallowing them.


Judy: “My first Valentine’s Day date after my divorce was with a really terrific guy who considered himself a gourmet cook and possessed strong convictions about what constituted a romantic meal. I’m the kind of girl who will try anything once. His pate de foie gras was rather tasty. In hindsight, I may have let my need to impress him with my worldliness get the better of me. I’m pretty sure I ate too much of the rich delicacy because my tummy was already tad…unsettled…when I tried the next course: a tiny shriveled object (day-old chewed gum, perhaps?) swimming in butter and garlic. Or maybe it was the disconcerting visual of fishing said object out of a shell that looked very much like the ones I stomped on in my garden. Either way, I stopped at two and drank an extra flute of champagne hoping the carbonation would work like Alka-Seltzer. It didn’t. A bead of sweat broke out on my upper lip when he delivered the piece de resistance: Smoked Salmon and Caviar pizza.

Did I mention he had white carpet?

Such a shame. I really liked him, too.”


3. Good hair does not a good guy (or Valentine) make.



Judy: “Remember Barbra’s leather gloved hand lovingly touching Robert Redford’s gorgeous locks in The Way We Were? Of course, you do. You’re a woman. Unrequited love gets us every time…because we all have that one-who-wasn’t-meant-to-be.

Mine was Richie Mason. Sixth-grade heartthrob. The guy I wasted my hard-earned babysitting money on buying my first-ever special friend Valentine. I had such a crush on Richie. His sandy brown hair was forever falling in his eyes. I probably lost a thousand hours daydreaming about brushing that dog-tongue of bangs off his charmingly freckled forehead…until that fateful V-day when he opened his cache of cards and discovered one that was not your standard-issue type. His brows arched under his shaggy curtain of locks as he ripped open the well-glued V (maybe I included a dozen or so stickers for affect).

As I waited for his reaction, my cheeks burned, palms dripped and heart thumped so loud I was certain it could be heard outside our classroom walls. His gaze bounced over the sentiment too quickly to have read the words and went straight for the signature. Mine. His chin angled a tiny bit to the left so he could sorta see me at my desk two rows over. Our gaze met–for a millisecond. Then he shoved the card to the bottom of his decorated shoebox and opened the next card. Not a smile. No acknowledgement of any kind. Not so much as a bleeping hesitation. I was crushed.

A week later, during a group art project–the last time our class ever did collages, I believe–my scissors slipped. Somehow a hunk of Richie’s hair wound up in my collage. I got an F on the project, but I learned something interesting: Richie wasn’t all that cute bald.

4. A heart-shaped pizza is flour, oil, tomato sauce and toppings–it’s not a sign he’ll love you forever.

heart shape pizza

Judy: “Some relationships are meant to last. Others…not so much. Figuring out the difference between the two is tricky. Don’t let pizza get in the way of those tough decisions. I’m pretty sure my ex extracted two additional years of marital servitude from me simply by showing up on February 14th with a heart-shaped pizza, a six-pack of beer and the aforementioned sappy greeting card. Listen to your head, Peeps, not your heartburn.”


Deb here: Hopefully, none of you have V-Day memories as bleak as Judy Banger’s. Luckily, Judy finally met Mr. Right. In fact, I asked her for an update, and here’s what she said:

Age is a matter of opinion, and in my opinion, age doesn’t matter. If you find someone who makes you laugh when the world expects you to cry, then grab hold with both hands and have fun.” 

A sentiment I totally agree with since I’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day with my Mr. Right for 4+ decades:

Deb's favorite Valentine from her sweetheart of 40+ years.
Deb’s favorite Valentine from her sweetheart of 40+ years.


And don’t forget, we have a wonderful new Valentine’s Day book in the Love at the Chocolate Shop series now available. Sit back with a little chocolate and enjoy THE VALENTINE QUEST!

VDay Quest Melissa McClone

For the special price of just $2.99 this month only: AMAZON      IBOOKs    BN    KOBO

Happy reading,





PSA: check your dryer vents

Dryer fires happen


This weekend we experienced a dryer fire. Fortunately, we were home. We were able to contain the damage to the dryer and everyone is safe. BUT, this could have been disastrous. And what makes it even scarier is: the dryer wasn’t running.

Quick recap: my son, who is a massage therapist and yogi, had clean massage sheets in the dryer early Saturday morning. He tossed in a shirt to “de-wrinkle”. We’ve all done this. Then he turned OFF the dryer, closed the dryer door and left for his yoga classes. His two daughters, 12 and 10, were home watching a show before walking up to my house next door to bake cookies. Luckily, they smelled the noxious odor and knew to run to our house.

My husband immediately unplugged the dyer, which was coughing out trickles of smoke and toxic fumes so awful you couldn’t be in the laundry room for more than a few seconds. As I opened windows and set up fans, my husband raced to his shop for a dolly and a respirator.

We removed the dryer from the laundry room and got it into the driveway before opening the door. The contents immediately burst into flames.

You’re probably wondering how the fire started without a heat source? My theory: the sheets–warmed from a quick tumble–retained their heat. Years of accumulated lint had built up in the vent, blocking the heat from escaping. Heat+residual oil on massage sheets=internal combustion.

You may tell yourself this couldn’t happen to you–and you’d probably be right about the self-immolating sheets–but, please, do yourself a favor, anyway: check the ventilation on your dryer, and never leave the dryer running when you leave the house. I would go so far as to suggest you crack the dryer door if you have dry clothes that you don’t have time to deal with.

We consider ourselves very lucky.

PSA over. Please return to your previously scheduled reading. 😉 FIRST KISS will return next week with something sexy and heartfelt. I promise.


PS: I inhaled the noxious fumes and wound up sicker than a dog this week. Now, I know how people who are in fires die–from smoke inhalation.

Pardon Our Dust


It’s a new year. Time for a bit of housekeeping.

As much as I’ve enjoyed bringing you First Kiss Tuesday snippets, I’ve found being locked into a weekly format not as much fun as it used to be. I’m currently considering other themes for my blog–or dropping it all together. I’d really like some reader feedback.


2016 is shaping up to be a big, busy year for me with new Tule projects AND the re-release of some of my backlist books from Harlequin. It’s easy to get so focused on the work, you forget to have fun and connect with readers/friends. My blog has always provided that avenue for me.

Please, tell me what you think. If you feel shy posting your ideas here, you can always IM on Facebook or email me (debsalonen@gmail).

Thanks, Deb

(And, BTW, I will bring you a FIRST KISS on TUESDAY, JANUARY 26 when MONTANA REBEL releases. Happy reading!)


Sexual beings being sexual

Sexual beings being sexual

Judy Banger, the heroine of my Screw Senility series, is a sexual being. She’s not a hot and gorgeous twenty-something, like this model hawking Guess sunglasses. (Exactly what I would have guessed was the focus of the ad, too.) Not.

Like a great many of us, Judy belongs to a market demographic far, far from that “sex sells” ideal.

In a blog for The Hoopla,

author Ilsa Evans calls this “the invisible women syndrome.”

She writes, “However this is exacerbated, hugely, by Western society being so youth-obsessed, weight-obsessed, image-obsessed. Female ageing has become demonised, an enemy to be battled on all fronts at any cost, automatically reframing the older woman as loser.”

Judy Banger would argue that age and weight does NOT define one’s sexuality anywhere other than in the media.

In Bang! You’re Dead!, she stridently declares, “I’ve got a vagina and I’m not afraid to use it.”

Actually, at 52, she’s more afraid she’ll lose it, if she doesn’t take a proactive approach to sex. So Judy is taking steps–and, yes, a mis-step or two–to embrace her inner bad girl and make up for lost time.

If Judy were writing an advice column for sexual beings of a certain age, here’s what it might look like:

Dear Judy,

Hank, my honey of forty-odd years (Well, some were normal, but most? Not so much…), is no longer interested in playing hanky with my panky, if you get my drift. What should I do to light his fire?

Signed: Still horny after all these years


Dear Horny,

Yank Hank out of his routine. You know that No-tell Motel on the edge of town? Don’t go there. Instead, book the best room in the nicest hotel in town. Nothing gets a man’s attention faster than overtly spending money he thinks might be his. Before your night at said hotel, invest in a “personal massager.” If Hank is reluctant to play, you can try using it like a Taser. It won’t lay him out flat, but he might laugh…and judiciously placed humor is a true aphrodisiac.

Signed: LOL Judy

So, what do you think? Does Judy have a future in the advice business? Or, perhaps more importantly, do you agree that the media has made “women of a certain age” invisible?

BTW, Books I and II in the Screw Senility series are currently available–click here: Bang! You’re Dead! and In With A Bang! And, because positive reviews drive sales, I’d love to give you one of my backlist titles (e- or print). Just email me a copy of the review from Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords or Goodreads.

Thanks for reading and as Judy might say….stay naughty,


With a nod to David Bowie, I’m humming this song while I write my first blog in nearly a year. I stopped blogging because of an inundation of spam that seemed to follow each new post. Hopefully, David Newberry, my  techno-geek (I use that term with the utmost respect), has fixed this problem while he tweaked my website.

What do you think of the new color scheme?

As much as I liked the old header, its placid, romantic feel just didn’t seem to fit with what I’m now writing and publishing.

So, out with the old and in with the new…courtesy of the incomparable Kim Van Meter (who also does my covers).

My release date for my second Screw Senility novella, IN WITH A BANG!, was Monday, March 4. Sadly, life intruded in a not-so-pleasant way and I missed my deadline. My editor and publisher and I had words (don’t ask), but what can you do when a beloved canine member of your family dies unexpectedly? You put books and deadlines aside while you comfort your daughter and bury her dog.

My sweet granddog, Tuesday. She will be missed.

So, please look for my new book to…be…released…soon. I promise. Here’s the super fun cover. Thank you, Kim!

The sooner I get the manuscript uploaded, the sooner the book will be out, so…’til later, my friends.


blogging redux

I was asked to post a “Getting to Know…Deb Salonen” post on my RWA chapter’s blog. And since time is precious and this week has been filled with small but necessary distractions–like my granddaughter’s school play today and that pesky story that is demanding my attention…I decided to copy that post here.

You all know me–and are probably bored to pieces with my personal trivia, but here it goes anyway. A few more Little Known Facts about Deb Salonen.

Ahhh, the writer's Hawaii.

I’m supposed to write about me…really? Tell me you’re not bored to pieces with me. I know I am. I’m one of those people who hate to rewrite the same thing over and over. And I’ve been writing my life story for so long, I’m starting to believe my own lies…I mean, press. So, I’ve decided to search long and hard (not too long, I was reminded on Saturday of this impending pub date) for Little Known Facts about Debra Salonen.

LKF#1 – My mother wanted to name me Jill, but my older sisters had just seen the movie “Tammy” starring Debbie Reynolds so they insisted I be named Debbie. They went with the simple spelling of Debra because I don’t think the girls wanted to be bothered with the whole “orah” thing. I love my sisters, but I’ve always wondered how different my life would have been if I’d been Jill. You might ask what difference a name makes, but if you’ve ever sold a book and been asked to change the heroine’s name, you know “…a rose by any other name” was written for a reason. (The heroine of Her Husband, Her Babies was named Paige until my editor insisted I change it. I later learned Paige was her best friend’s name. Funny.)

LKF#2 – I am part sponge, part fly paper and part mynah bird. If you have an interesting accent and we spend a few minutes talking, by the time we part, I will be talking with an accent. If you share some interesting fact that has absolutely no relevance to anything I’m writing, some variation of that interesting fact will show up in my work. I can always make room for interesting. My T-shirt with the slogan “Warning: anything you say or do may appear in my next novel” is worn out from frequent washings.

LKF#3 – I taught myself to like chocolate. I didn’t start out liking that flavor and still don’t care for milk chocolate–ick. I blame my decision to like chocolate on peer pressure.  Wine, sex, chocolate…you hear these Big Three grouped together all the time. I tried to be a wine snob, but quickly learned I’m too cheap to be picky. Sex…well, since this is free and healthy, what’s not love? But chocolate? I gave it my best shot, got hooked and honestly thought I couldn’t live without it. But my New Year’s resolution was to cut down on my sugar intake, and low and behold I quickly discovered that I could live without chocolate. I don’t crave it. In fact, I’m not completely sure I ever liked it.  Go figure.

LKF#4 – I had two agents before I ever had a manuscript worthy of being represented. I really feel bad about that, now. Of course, at the time, I thought my book was hot stuff. I couldn’t believe some publisher didn’t snatch it right up and give me oodles of money–and neither could the two agents who got in a bit of tiff over me. Years later–after my very patient editor taught me a thing or three about story structure, I pulled that story out of the circular file, re-wrote it completely and sold it to Superromance. My take away from this experience: good characters prevail, but you don’t know what you don’t know until you know it…or something like that.

LKF#5 – Writing is not something I do because I couldn’t be doing something else. Something that paid better, had regular hours, benefits and a retirement plan. Writing is so much a part of me I can’t watch the birth of my granddaughter without taking mental notes for my next book or hold my dying mother’s tiny frail body in my arms and listen to her struggle for breath without acknowledging that this experience would give depth and veracity to the next death scene I have to write. Imagination is a fabulous thing, but all writers season imagination with bits of reality that are sometimes hard earned and painful.

So, there are a few facts about the real Deb Salonen–or the character she imagines herself to be.

LOL. Such the drama queen. Ah, well, it’s back to my new story…now, there’s a real drama queen for you. But she’s keeping my laughing. That’s a good thing.


From the ashes…

Sorry I’ve been MIA…just so much going on.

Sierra Foothill Charter School is making headway. We just hired a principal!!! This is so exciting. Here’s a link to the newsletter (which is my ongoing contribution to the cause).

But the big news around here involves FIRE…and community. Mariposa, CA, the little town we call home, suffered a huge loss on Friday night. An entire block–three buildings that were home to six businesses–burned to the ground. Gone. Completely, unbelievably gone.

Mariposa fire - 2 days later
Mariposa fire - 4 days later -- the spirit never dies!

Gone is the Pizza Factory, the Mariposa Arts Council, Grace Notes Wind Chimes, Pony Expresso, Windows On the World Book Store and the Yarn/Coin Shop.

When our children were young, nearly every kid’s birthday party/post game celebration/Mom’s-too-tired-to-cook-Friday-night involved pizza from Pizza Factory. Since I started working out at the local gym, the Pony Expresso has been a godsend on the mornings when Kelly has personal training clients. One of my favorite booksignings EVER took place at the Mariposa Arts Council gallery. It was magical being surrounded by beauty and creativity. The chimes I bought from Grace Notes are musically singing to me as I type.

I know the buildings will be re-built. I know the business owners will make it through the insurance/recovery nightmare. I know the people who worked for them and the people who frequented their stores will be okay. But there’s mourning to be done first. A 150-year old piece of history is gone and I’m sad.

But this morning my daughter and I were driving past the empty corner, our spirits low when suddenly we spotted balloons and people and a Pony Expresso sign that said, “Coming to a street corner near you.” Coffee on foot. How amazing and totally inventive is that!? The only thing missing were the scones, but I’m thinking those might appear one day soon. Don’t you love it?

I truly do admire the phoenix-like positive spirit that is Mariposa! It’s downright inspiring, which is why I’m signing off to get back to my writing.


PS: if you’re interested in helping the displaced employees and their families, here’s a link.

May Day!

Happy May Day, everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying spring! I’m never far from my mower. LOL. I blink and the grass has grown a foot.

I’m caught up in a new story and I predict things will be hit and miss here in Debland in the coming weeks. Just ask my family. They’re feeling the neglect, too. But I’m thrilled to feel connected to the creative process again and will try to share my progress as I have something to report. Still too early to talk about at the moment. Jinx. 🙂

But I can share a link to my friend Brenda Novak’s month-long AUCTION to raise money for Juvenile Diabetes Research.

OMG! What wonderful, amazing prizes she’s got up to bid on. If you’re an aspiring romance author, check out what my Superromance pals are offering. You can’t go wrong with a critique from any of these talented and generous ladies. There’s even a Skype session for your book club. Such a cool idea!

What’s better than shopping for a great cause!?!

Now, back to my new project…write on!



Thought I’d give you a New Year’s Resolution update: I have a waist again. 🙂

Thanks to my daughter, Kelly, and her sometimes cruel and breathtaking (as in, I can’t breathe, daughter mine) workouts and my concerted effort to avoid “killer white” AKA sugar, I’ve lost 12 pounds and enough inches that I can actually see my waist. Well, I always could, but now it curves in, not muffin-tops out.

Fellow author Mary Sullivan shared the following video workout that I really like. It’s called the Joel Harper No-Crunch Abs Workout. ABS.

Last weekend, we visited the town of Murphy’s in Calaveras County, California. It’s a sweet little Gold Rush-era town with quaint shops and wine tasting to your heart’s content. Our timing was a little off because it was rainy and cold (this weekend is going to be 90-degrees). But we still had a great time and we got to see an amazing tulip show at Ironstone Winery.

And my personal fave–one I call “A Daisy in the Tulip Patch”:

My photographer friend, Jackie Maxwell, also visited a tulip festival in Portland, Oregon, last weekend and has some gorgeous shots up on her website: JaxImages. Enjoy!!!

So, any progress reports you’d care to share, my friends? How are those Resolutions holding up? Keep trying. I really like feeling a bit more fit. Crunch on…