I just want to wish all of you a very Happy Easter! And to remind you that you can get book 11 in the Rona Shively Stories series on Kindle Vella! There are about six episodes available right now, so stop in and start reading. Remember to like and follow the story for regular updates and notifications when a new episode is added. Thanks so much!
The other day, I sold my car. It was a good car and it served me well for the eight years that I owned it. It made many things possible including a trip to Nashville, Tennessee, several trips to Kentucky, and numerous outings across the state of Ohio. I spend a lot of time in my car, so it was important to have a reliable mode of transportation. It wasn’t always possible for me to trust the car I was driving, but this one was a blessing and I’m happy to have been able to drive it for as long as I did. Now, someone else will have the opportunity to drive her around.
Why did I get rid of it? Well, I had put as much money into the car as I wanted to put into it. I had wanted a newer car for a while and it just so happened that a newer vehicle presented itself for pretty much the same price as what I could get out of the old car. It worked out so well that I’m sure it was meant to be. I now have a car that I can put a few more miles on without feeling like I’m pushing it too far. And I’m not really out anything. I’ve still got lots of great memories from a car that served me well. Hard to believe I had the thing for over eight years. I’ve never had any car for that long and it was the first one that I’d been able to completely pay off. But it was time. As with all things, there comes a time when we outgrow the old and we must allow ourselves to step into the new. Even though it may look very similar to what we were already doing, the very act of taking a slightly different step helps to prepare us for the next level of challenges we must face.
I can’t wait see where we go from here!
Left. Old car. Right. New car.
Get these adorable stories by Rebecca Benston to teach your kids that they can overcome any challenge. They make wonderful bedtime stories or just fun reading for any time. Pick up your copy in the HGBM Shop!
All the Scary Things – Anxiety, Abuse, Bullying
See How Strong You Are – Anxiety, Overcoming Fear
That Bird Needs Glasses – Asking for help
Ideal for students in lower grades! Book your event today! Pre-order your copies of the books listed and Rebecca will sign and deliver personally to your school or children’s group. Visits generally last between 2-3 hours (can include up to three class periods). Contact HGBM for rates and availability. Will travel in the Continental U.S. Questions? Please get in touch. We’d love to visit with you soon!
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Special pricing on books for the event. Bundle of 4 for $29.99 with event! Additional information sent once booking is completed.
Happy Birthday, Rona Shively!
Today is a special day! Not only is it the birthday of my favorite character in the world, it is the day I decided to bite the proverbial bullet and publish the first chapter of the eleventh book in the series on Kindle Vella, The Harder They Fall! I struggled with the idea for a while, but then realized that there was no better way to get myself in gear than to just jump right in and start sharing. I realize that for those who’ve never read Rona, there will be some big spoilers in book 11, but I’m hoping it won’t deter them from going back to read the earlier books. Consider them a prequel to a new era for Rona. She’s 55 today, so why not throw caution to the wind?
It will be good to have her back! I’ll have the link for you soon. It’s being processed as we speak, so in the meantime, if you haven’t caught up on books one through ten, now would be a great time. All are available in the HGBM Shop, on Amazon, and on Audible! http://www.highergroundbooksandmedia.com/shop
P.S. – Wishing a very happy birthday to my aunts Betty & Bonnie today! Hope they have a wonderful day! Ladies like these inspire me to keep writing empowering stories like the Rona Shively Stories. Love you ladies!
Do you remember your first time?
Reading your favorite mystery novel, that is. What did you think I was talking about? Get your mind out of the gutter and join me as I talk about the first time I read a book by one of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton.
Back in the early nineties, I was working at a home for unruly children. There’s probably a better term for this, but at the time that’s what I called it. I worked the third shift and part of my duties included sitting in the back hall at night and making sure that the girls on the unit stayed in their rooms. I occasionally had to walk around and check each room to make sure that they were, in fact, sleeping and not hurting each other. For the most part, they behaved, so it was a fairly easy assignment. We were allowed to read while we sat in the back hall, since there was really nothing else to do. So, one night I grabbed a random book from the shelf in the office before venturing back to my post. The title was, simply enough, “B is for Burglar.” I thought it sounded fairly mild and that it wouldn’t require much thought on my part, so it seemed like a good choice. Little did I know that waiting for me beyond that cover were pages of a story that would inspire me to start writing my own mystery series.
It was around 1993 or ’94 and the book had been published in 1985. The author, was Sue Grafton. One of the reigning queens of mystery (in my opinion). And after reading this book, which was the second book in the series, I immediately went in search of the first book. And from there, I later read every single one up to the very last book Grafton published before she passed away in 2017. I read them in paperback and listened to the audiobooks throughout the years, sometimes several times over. They were comforting, in the way that old television reruns are a comfort. And when I needed inspiration or just motivation to keep going, listening to Kinsey Millhone work her way through a case without the help of the internet, cell phones, or other modern-day accoutrements was refreshing. It reminds me that anything is possible no matter what it may look like on the surface.
In 2006, I actually received some advice in a letter from Ms. Grafton. Unfortunately, it was not what you’d call uplifting. It was early in my writing career and I had stupidly sent her a copy of my first book, In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories. She had read a few chapters and then decided to let me know that my work was substandard, in her opinion. I had been so hurt by her feedback that for a time, I couldn’t even look at her books for several years after that. In the letter, she made the snap judgement that my first attempt at a hard-boiled private eye novel was something I’d not taken seriously and implied that my motivation was simply to be published quickly and get famous. She decided this without knowing anything about me and I was so absolutely deflated by her comments that I nearly trashed the whole writing thing. But I knew that my motivation had never been anything so lame or pretentious as just wanting to be published or popular, so I decided to press on. She had no idea how many hours I’d spent in the library researching all of the pieces of the plot I’d put together in my head. She had no idea that I’d been discouraged from being a writer when I was still a teenager and that I’d only just picked it back up after nearly fifteen years of not writing. She had no idea that the birth of my first and only child had inspired me to try writing again. Or that reading her books was why I had decided to write a book in the first place. She just assumed that I was another of hundreds of amateur writers who would never put in the kind of time and energy she’d put into her novels. But she was wrong. She was an excellent author, but God rest her soul, she knew nothing about me, my personal struggles, or what kind of writing I was capable of and her criticism became the number one reason why I went on to write books two through ten of The Rona Shively Stories series.
Eventually, I did read the rest of her books, as I indicated above. I read the whole series and was always impressed by how she could weave a story together so vividly and with so much detail. She was an excellent writer and I’m truly sad that she did not get to finish the Kinsey Millhone series. It’s probably one of the greatest injustices a writer can suffer; leaving a great series unfinished. But no one will ever be able to write Kinsey like she wrote Kinsey. And no other author should want to do that. As authors, we should want to write our own characters in the way that we want to write them. And we should write unapologetically, using our experiences and the skills that God has given us to create stories of our own; stories that will speak to readers as no other author’s stories can. Her words may have ripped my heart out at the time (even if that wasn’t her intention), but in that pain I found what I needed to justify writing Rona the way I wanted to write her. She was my character and my characters don’t always know everything they need to know when they need to know it. My characters are on a journey, trying to figure out what it all means and why we bother.
Ultimately, Grafton’s words did motivate me to become a better author and to help others get their stories out there (hopefully without ever making them feel as low as I felt back then). I’ve always felt that there is more than enough room on the stage for all of us. Writers who have just started and writers who have been around a while. And I never saw the logic in making someone feel terrible about their writing if they had the courage to at least try it. Everyone has a story to tell; some may not be as exciting or endearing as others, but they don’t have to be. We can all learn from one another’s experiences and if someone wants to try and share those experiences in a book, what harm does it do to encourage them to do just that? As a publisher now, I always try to look at the stories I receive through the lens of someone who is looking for advice in whatever the subject mater area presented in a manuscript may be. Some are a fit for my company, some aren’t. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious about writing. Or that they shouldn’t bother. We can’t all be Sue Graftons or Lisa Scottolines or James Pattersons or Janet Evanoviches (pardon the pluralization on these). It would be ever so boring if we all were. I’d much rather be Rebecca Benston writing Rona Shively and reading all of these other great authors who have given me such inspiration and joy over the years. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Rebecca Benston is the owner of Higher Ground Books & Media and the author of over twenty titles currently available through Amazon and other outlets. Her books include a mystery series (The Rona Shively Stories), empowerment resources such as Wise Up to Rise Up, Don’t Be Stupid (And I Mean That in the Nicest Way), and From Judgment to Jubilee, children’s books including Grumble D. Grumble Learns to Smile, All the Scary Things, and See How Strong You Are. Benston lives in Springfield, Ohio with her awesome daughter, Mya and enjoys traveling, reading, writing, and telling it like it is. She enjoys being able to help other authors get their stories out there through Higher Ground and has recently expanded her freelance services to offer more extensive guidance as a writing coach and social media manager. For more information, you can contact Benston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some end-of-year fun…
Well, another year has passed and circumstances have prevented me from finishing the next book in the Rona Shively Stories series. Fear not, it’s on the way. I just had a few minor personal catastrophes to deal with first. In the meantimes, I wanted to share something fun here. I know many people say that you shouldn’t do these things because hackers will get your personal information, but I assure you that there is no classified information contained in my answers. So, take a look at this comparison between my 47 year-old self and my 50 year-old self. Feel free to do your own A-Z assessment. 🙂
THE ABC’S OF ME!
|My answers at 47||My answers at 50|
|Age – 47|
Bed size – Full
Cat’s name – No cat
Dog’s name – No dog
Essential start of your day – some sort of coffee…
Favorite color – PurpleHeight – 5′ 1”
Instruments you played – None
Job title – Publisher
Kids – One wonderful daughter
Last ate – Grilled cheese
Mom’s name – Brenda
Nickname – Beaker
Overnight hospital stays – Maybe four or five…
Pet peeves – People who don’t take time to think about what someone else may be going through.
Quote from a movie – “I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob,” Office Space or “Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking,” Airplane or anything similar to these.
Right or Left handed – Right
Siblings – Two sisters
TV – The Good Doctor, Grey’s, The Masked Singer, New Amsterdam
Underwear – Absolutely!
Vacation favorite – Grand Canyon/Las Vegas
Ways to relax – Writing
X-rays – A whole bunch of them…
Yummy food – Pizza, lasagna, eggplant parmesan
Zoo favorites – Lions, tigers, and…I don’t know…bears.
|Age – 50|
Bed size – Same bed
Cat’s name – Still no cat
Dog’s name – Still no dog
Essential start of your day – Coffee, just coffee
Favorite color – Purple
Height – 5′ 1”, but possibly shrinking.
Instruments you played – Still haven’t picked that up.
Job title – Publisher/Salary Administrator by day
Kids – One wonderful daughter
Last ate – Oatmeal
Mom’s name – Brenda
Nickname – Beaker
Overnight hospital stays – Maybe four or five…thankfully no more since then.
Pet peeves – I still don’t care for people who don’t take time to think about what someone else may be going through. However, I’m more annoyed by people who choose not to pay attention to the truth. People who bury their head in the sand and just let bad things happen rather than taking action to stop it.
Quote from a movie – “I wouldn’t say I’ve been missing it, Bob,” Office Space or “Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit smoking,” Airplane, “You know I don’t speak Spanish,” Ron Burgundy, or anything similar to these.
Right or Left handed – Right
Siblings – Two sisters
TV – Various anime series and the occasional K-drama. Fruits Basket, To Your Eternity, Death Note, All of Us Are Dead, Little Women, The Sound of Magic, etc.
Underwear – Again, absolutely!
Vacation favorite – I do love the Grand Canyon/Las Vegas, but any vacation would be great at this point.
Ways to relax – What is that? Relaxing?
X-rays – None for a while now.
Yummy food – Pizza, lasagna, eggplant parmesan – though nothing is really tasting all that great these days.
Zoo favorites – Lions, tigers, and…I don’t know…bears. Why would I change this answer? It’s my favorite.
While you wait for the next Rona Shively Story, check out this new short fiction on Kindle Vella! I release it chapter by chapter, so there’s always something new to read! Remember to like and follow each story for regular updates!
End of Eternity – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09YSXN5CQ
Redemption – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09K53DYFT
A Great Work of Fiction – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B092MH3W5G
Do you love music?
Long time, no see! Yes, I’m back. Like a bad penny. You just can’t get rid of me. I stole this meme from a Facebook group I’m in. I thought it would be fun to share with you and see if you had any insights. For me it would be When I Need You by Leo Sayer, Only Sixteen by Dr. Hook, Too Much Heaven by the Bee Gees…but there are many more. This doesn’t even begin to include the many songs I love by Prince, Merle Haggard, some bluegrass, lots of Hip-Hop, a few hair bands, several Christian artists, and lately, Japanese bands like The Oral Cigarettes, Omoinotake, and Vickeblanka. I’m kind of all over the place, but there’s no doubt that I do love music. 🙂 What song or songs made you love music? Or worse, what song or songs made you hate music?
Can we please just not?
There are some phrases that have crept into the social consciousness that seem to be the only thing that people know how to say these days…and it irritates the hell out of me. As I scroll through my Fakebook news feed, I have to sip on an Alka-Seltzer so that I don’t just vomit from the amount of ignorance and value-less drivel that I’m subjected to there. Ah, yes. I’m back…and with a vengeance! I decided that after taking a good deal of time off from blogging here, I would have to return with something that would contain a few zingers for you, starting with a few phrases that really just have to go. So, without further ado,
“This …… is everything!”
If you don’t already know what’s wrong with this phrase, please exit my blog immediately before you hurt yourself trying to figure it out. Obviously, to say that anything that is happening these days is “everything” is extremely trite and ridiculous. Of course, nothing is everything. And everything is nothing. And so on and so on. If you use this phrase, please just don’t. Stop being such a drama queen and tell us why something is good. What would we like about it? Why do we absolutely have to check it out? You have to give me more than just a generic exclamation that a thing is “everything.” Because it’s not. It just isn’t.
“This is just fire!”
No…again…no. It isn’t. I swear, whenever I hear someone say this phrase, I want to run up on them like Will Smith charging the stage at the Oscars. Hope it wasn’t too soon for that one, but really, that’s how it makes me feel. Whatever it is, unless it is actual fire, it is not adequately described as “fire.” So, can we go with something else? It just sounds ridiculous, especially from grown folks.
Us…It’s delish-us…or as normal people like to say, “It’s delicious.” Enough said.
“A whole nother.”
There really is no such thing. It is actually either a whole other or another. There is no nother. Nother isn’t a word. So, you can’t have a whole or even a half nother. Stop trying to.
I’m surprised that I even have to say this, but you would think that in these days where so many are terrified of a virus that the last thing anyone would willingly seek out is for anything to go viral. I think it’s just in poor taste and well, stupid.
As if the phrases weren’t enough, I have to include a bit of beef I have with the actual content that I have to weed through as I’m looking for something that resembles news each day. Here are some of the things I could do without on that front:
Anything that has to do with us absolutely needing to see or hear or know what the Kardashians are doing.
I simply don’t care. I don’t need to see headlines about this family every day. I don’t care who they are dating. I don’t care who they are not dating. I don’t care what they are wearing or what events they may be attending. I don’t care about their sex tapes or their lack of sex tapes. I don’t care about seeing them with or without their makeup or clothing. I just want to know what is really going on in the world and these people are in the way of my being able to get to that.
By the same token, please stop with the Megan Fox/Machine Gun Kelly pics and stories.
For as much as I don’t care about the Kardashians, I care even less about these two boobs. They always look constipated or otherwise hindered in any real emotional expression. Do these two actually do anything other than look morose and undernourished? Who knows? All I know is that I can’t get through a day’s news without seeing them roll through my field of vision. For the love of God, can we talk about something else?
Any celebrity’s take on sex, sexual positions, preferences, partners, etc.
For now, I think this is enough. I would have said, “I’m just going to leave this right here,” but that is also on my list of phrases I can’t stand. It’s there with “let that sink in” and a few others that I have neither the time nor patience to crack open here. I’ll save it for my next rant…which is imminent.
Thanks for playing. Stop by again soon.
Hey, who turned out the lights?
It has been such a crazy year that I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I last posted here. I’ve been hard at work on a special treat! Rona 11 will be ready by the end of September and I can’t wait to share this one with you! Rona is once again tangled up in a pretty nasty case…much to her chagrin. She can’t even get away from the crazy when she’s semi-retired! Out of nowhere, a desperate employee contacts her for help in exposing her crooked employer and before she knows it, she’s neck-deep in fraud and mischief! A few new characters and some interesting twists make this Rona Shively Story one of the best yet! I can’t wait to share it with you, but in the meantime, be sure you’ve checked out the other ten stories so that you’re all caught up. All ten are now available on Audible and iTunes as well as in paperback and for Kindle!
You can pick them up here:
I’ve added a few things for you! It had been a little while since I last updated my blog here, so I took some time this week to add some new information about the books I’ve been writing. For a long time, I wrote only fiction. Over the last few years, however, I’ve been working on several different things. I’ve written a few children’s books, a few devotionals, and some empowerment resources. And there’s more on the way! I hope you will check out all of these cool books as well as those that are now available on audio.
Thanks for stopping by! Happy Reading!
Rona is now on Audio!
For those who need to hear it, Rona Shively is now on audio-book! That’s right, books 1-7 are available now on Audible and iTunes! I’ll be sharing what I can here, so stay tuned! Also, we have a private group on FB for those who are signed up for our mailing list here, so once you sign up we’ll send you an invitation to join that group so that you can be in on the special information we share there about the series! Thanks for being here!
We’re sharing a brief portion of In the Wash: The Rona Shively Stories here! You can purchase your copy at Audible.com.