Author Archives: lauralstapleton

I took an Ancestry DNA test and the results changed my point of view. #Mondayblogs

Family legend has it that a great grandmother, Nancy, was Choctaw. I grew up knowing that for sure. I have strong cheekbones and a square face. A dentist said these small indentions in my teeth indicate a Native American Ancestry. So, for the past 52 years, I assumed I had at least 10% Native American, mostly Choctaw or Blackfoot. I reveled and claimed this part of my heritage with great pride. I admire the First Nations of America.

But nope.

I don’t even have a fraction of a percent. My sisters might. DNA from parent to child is odd that way. People get half of their DNA from a parent, and that half may not be what their siblings receive. Since I’m dark haired and eyed, olive complected, and rather short, I figure my tall, blonde, and fair complected sister is more Scandinavian than my own 20%.

And that was surprise number one. I’m Scandinavian AND 20%? Really? I honestly look the exact opposite of whatever you think of as a person in that group. So to be as much as that is a huge wow. Almost as much as the 0% Native American.

The 29% Irish and 25% English was not surprising. With a maiden name of Kelley and family names of Magee, Baker, Casey, Stewart, Monroe, Simms, to be 54% from the UK was a given. I’ve been to England, and the country does feel like home. Now I seriously want to visit the rest of the UK.

Fractional surprises? There are small fractions of various ethnicities. Genetics supported another family legend of a Jewish man marrying a Gentile and back then, they held a funeral for him because he was dead to the family. Turns out, it’s true. Something else fun and a wow moment is being 5% West Asian. Yep.I had no idea. Maybe the Scandinavian might have been a given when considering the Vikings and a number of red haired people in my family. Seeing that being reported was not too much of a surprise. But West Asian? Now I really MUST know more about that part of my ancestry.

A Facebook friend recommended I run the DNA data through a medical website and doing so was an oh my God! moment. It was there in the report and in my genetics. All the reasons for being told I need to pay attention, need to remember things better, need to stop being so obsessive were hardwired into my DNA. If I’d discovered this in my teens or twenties, I’d have known these were real aspects of me I could modify but were no more shameful than having brown instead of blue eyes. You can dye hair, wear colored contacts, and have cosmetic surgery for your nose. Knowing you have a bit of ADD? There are hints and helps I had to uncover the hard way by trial and error. If I’d had a “You have this, here’s what you do,” report back in my twenties, I think life would have been a lot easier. At least, there would have been a lot less of feeling defective in some way. Like the entire world could focus and I was the only one who couldn’t. Memory, too. Everyone could remember the shopping list, why couldn’t I?

So, my recommendation is for people to get their DNA checked. Not just for the where did I come from, which is cool, but for the medical. It’s scary, especially when you read about having a tendency toward various cancers and heart disease. I knew about those particular health risks for me, but to see them in print was daunting. Prometheus’s test also lists the medicines I’m either great or not so great with. Chemo meds are more effective for me than most, while blood thinners, ibuprofen (I took massive amounts for my migraines in the past! It’s a wonder my intestines are still intact, and I have a liver.), and transplant meds aren’t. Good to know now, right?

Something else that’s fun and I’ve learned the northern Europeans need to expect is the potential for Neanderthal DNA to be mixed in. I had no idea and think having Neanderthals as contributors to my genetics is a riot.

I will say that a lot of the potential medical bad stuff in my genes can be mitigated by lifestyle. Just because I’m able to tolerate cocaine without being addicted doesn’t mean I will ever try the drug just to make sure. I’m also 60% resistant to AIDS, something else I’m not going to test. Forewarned actually is forearmed.

So how about you? Leave a comment on if you had an ancestry test and it went haywire or not. Let us know what happened with you.

When is anything good enough? A #MondayBlogs conversation.

Let’s all take a step back from the news and world events debate and talk about a different kind of controversy.

Perfectionism. I has it. Do you? If so, you know that good enough is not an option. It kills me to have mistakes in my work, even when I’m told some are to be expected and are normal. Ug. No.

So right now, I’m wading through The Very Worst Man, living the perfectionist dream of giving the book a complete makeover. At the same time, I’m writing Surplus, book four in the Nova Scotia Murder Mystery series. Yes, it’s aggressive but necessary to meet deadlines.

I know this blog post is short and sweet but see above deadlines. In the meantime, tell me what in your life is something you pick to death to get just right. I can’t be the only one who wants to detail her truck with a Q-tip or thousand.

New and Improved Very Best Man

My entire Very Manly series has been undergoing a huge makeover in the past six months. The whole process turned out to be a lot more work than I’d planned but is also a lot more rewarding. There’s so much to write about the amazing editor who worked with me, my wonderful publicist, and my “Oh no, not again,” digital content manager/husband. Let’s just say I’ve learned setting deadlines for others can be a necessary thing.

How new and improved can this book be? So much so that I’ve added 10,000 words to the original story. Not by appending or inserting new chapters but by adding more drama and more importantly, more feeling. The love scenes are a lot spicier, too.

Now, on to the good stuff. The VERY Best Man releases tomorrow and is available for preorder now.

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Jane Lawson is getting married, so of course her sister Susan will be her maid-of-honor. But when sis skips out on planning the wedding, Jane finds a surprising stand-in… the best man!

Dr. David Wells is more than willing to taste wedding cakes, sample reception menus, and even help the bride in and out of wedding dresses, if it means spending time with her. Soon enough, she’ll be his best friend Alan’s wife… and thus off limits forever.

But when the groom says ‘I don’t’, and runs off with the maid-of-honor, his best man is left to pick up the pieces of the bride’s heart. David is more than willing, and as Jane turns to him for support, their friendship blossoms into something much more.

Until Jane’s old fears get in the way, and David realizes that to keep her, he must fight not only her hostile family, but ghosts from her past.

Field Trip!

I have big plans for this weekend. Not as big as the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, of course, but big on the research for a new series.

For the RT lowdown, head over to here to read and then come back.

Fun, right? But what’s this weekend? And that new series? Drumroll, please…

Introducing the American West series. Four stories set during the American expansion era. I have four books planned for sure about the Santa Fe Trail, the Orphan Train, the Pony Express, and a Northwest Shipping adventure. Characters from my Oregon Trail series will make guest appearances, too, and I’m so looking forward to seeing them again.

I’ll post on Monday what we did and saw on our intense research weekend.

#MondayBlogs and Spring Fever!

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Our weather in the Midwest US has been so lovely this week! I’ve struggled to stay inside and work but gave up on everything last Saturday. My husband and I spent the day running around town. I even took off a lot of Sunday. I’ve not taken off that much time in a row for weeks.

I needed the break. After going over The Very Best Man for its rerelease, Surplus, the fourth book in the Nova Scotia Murder Mysteries needed me. I’m almost done with chapter three and while that doesn’t sound like enough, there are only twelve chapters plotted. My only hang up is the murder is a stabbing, exactly what happened in Pleasures. Does it bother anyone else when a murder mystery series has too many of the same kind of deaths? Appearances is going to have a unique murder, Rage is a bit predictable but not a stabbing, and Honeymoon? I don’t know how I’m killing that random character.

Creepy, isn’t it? Such fun, though! Being a writer is the best job I’ve ever had. The boss, me, is a bit of a hard ass, however. Never letting me goof off outside or anywhere else, really.

Pleasures, the third Nova Scotia murder mystery

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N4TMA5FWhy is it the smallest books take the longest time to write? I had a lot of fun with the characters and situations in this story. Or as much as a person can when there’s a serial killer on the loose. Want a little taste of the beginning? Sure you do!

Chapter 1

 

“Mandy? I need your help.”

The pain and fear in her brother Marty’s voice scared her. Mandy Hays gripped her cell phone tighter and went over to shut her office door. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s Rachel. She’s gone.”

“Oh no, Marts. I’m so sorry.” She eased down to her chair behind the desk. Resisting the urge to tell him what an idiot his girlfriend was for leaving him, she rested an elbow on her desk. The poor guy needed comfort from her instead of an “I told you so.” She enjoyed teasing her younger sibling, not tormenting him. “You know, meeting the parents is a big step for anyone. It sounds like she just wasn’t ready.”

His voice came through the tiny speaker thick with tears. “No, it’s not that. She’s dead.”

The news stunned her for a moment. People their age, mid to late twenties, didn’t die. Not suddenly unless there was a car wreck involved. She opened and closed her mouth a couple of times, wanting to know what happened without making things worse for him. Mandy heard him sniff before blowing his nose. As soon as he finished, she asked, “What happened, or can you not talk about it yet?”

“I can, but it’s bad. Really bad.” He cleared his throat. “Someone found her on the beach.”

Living in Nova Scotia meant miles of shoreline. She waited for a moment so he’d continue. The silence stretched between them, and she almost ground her teeth in frustration. Their family had barbecues out near the shore. She didn’t want to skip asking him now and risk suggesting a beach where Rachel had died. “Which one?”

“Martinique. We’d gone for a walk last night after she left work. It was cold, but not as much as usual.”

She could imagine the ocean, sunset, Marty and Rachel holding hands and just being together. The romance of their last evening broke her heart. Mandy couldn’t find words to comfort him. “It sounds like it was a really nice evening. Did you arrive separately?”

“No, I drove us there and back.” Marty coughed. “Her car was there the next morning, parked a little way from where mine had been. Before I can tell you more, I need to know if you’ll go to the police headquarters with me.”

Mandy reached for her mouse and clicked open her schedule. “Of course. When?”

“Can you meet me there now?”

 

Want more? Pick from your favorite vendor.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N4TMA5F
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/pleasures/id1135220371…
Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/…/1124115809;jsessionid=1D9A8…
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/pleasures-2

We have a winner!

Ruth won my contest! She was randomly chosen by Rafflecopter, thank goodness. Otherwise, I’d want to be Oprah and give everyone a $50 gift card. Don’t tell my husband or he’ll pass out. 😉 He has this thing called a “budget” that he won’t let me ignore. I plan on doing more of these contests in 2017 so keep an eye open.

In other news, writing The Very Poor Man (sexy!), giving The Very Best Man a serious rewrite, 15281831_10154114959577338_501215846_n-pngediting Pleasures: a Nova Scotia Murder Mystery, and plotting Surplus from the same series has kept me busy. November got away from me and December is all about helping Christmas Veterans. Our unit adopted three families, so there’s a lot of shopping and coordinating!

Stay tuned for later contests and thank you so much for being a part of my 2016. I hope you’ll hang out with me in 2017.