Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Signs of the Times...


Patty and I just got back from our western odyssey—25 days towing the camper behind our Subaru as we toured Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. Along with the fabulous mountain scenery and wildlife, I became fascinated by some of the signs along the way.

One of the first, and coolest, was for Lost Springs, Wyoming. When we saw this, we had to do a double take. (The pic below is from 2007; when we went through, the population had quadrupled, to 4). But we were both going “Did that just say Population 4??? Gotta be the smallest town in America.”

And yes, my research shows that Lost Springs, WY does indeed have the distinction of being the smallest incorporated town in America. Salute!



There were some road signs in Montana that also caught my interest, mainly because I think the fellow who was in charge of naming the roads must have had a great sense of humor. How can you not chuckle at “Bad Route Road”?



But there was also Whoop Up Road (no pic available for this one, unfortunately), along with Cracker Box Road (again, no pic available—hey, we were doing 70 mph here…). 

These are signs that make you want to know the story behind them.  This one, near Hebron, ND, was definitely one of those:




Why Fort Sauerkraut, in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota? Inquiring minds want to know.

And then there were signs that made us go “OK, yeah… Never heard it put like that, but yeah…”


I’ve known a few people who could live under that sign as well… 

But the point of all this, rambling though it may be, is that these things caught our interest, and made us think, or wonder, or want to know more about them.

As writers, if we’re doing our jobs properly, that’s what we do as well. We leave signposts along the way in our stories, to make people want to know more—to keep reading and find out what it’s all about.  Because if the reader doesn’t care to know more, if all they see is something like this



Then that innate sense of curiosity and desire to know the rest of the story won’t kick in. So leave some interesting signs, like this one:



You won’t regret it, and neither will your readers.



Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler and author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight. He lives in upstate NY with his loving, lovely, and extraordinarily patient wife, who is gracious enough to encourage his writing habit, and even reads (and proofreads) his words despite the fact that she doesn't really like fantasy. That's love. He does not drink coffee, and neither owns nor is owned by any critters of the feline persuasion. His second novel, Desperate Knight, will be published on August 7, 2017 by Champagne Book Group.





                      





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

An Interview with January Bain



Hi, January Bain here! I confess, I haven't got a thing prepared today!!! So, I've decided to go with a fun Q and E from a few weeks back that might give you ideas for interview questions. Or, at the very least, help you and I get to know one another better!

(1)   When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?

Easy one! I’ve been a voracious reader since I found a tattered book on the side of the road as a very young child, dragged it home, and insisted on learning what it said. Became the quintessential bookworm over night! And reading, as many know, leads to wanting to tell your own stories! My appetite for writing rivals my need to read now. I LOVE to write, immerse myself in research, learn more about people and our amazing world. There is such potential in the miracle that we live in. Wakes every morning at dawn to hear the birds singing and my muse responding.

(2)   What has been your best experience as an author so far?

Everything! I love the people you meet; the readers and authors have all been so generous to me. I am beyond blessed. 😊


(3)   What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?


Well, I had a TON to learn I soon discovered when I made the decision to write full time. So many things to consider when you write a story. Everything from the character’s story arc to how to keep people reading, turning the pages. I read at least one book on writing a week. And far more on any research necessary for the complicated stories I love to tell, and of course, fellow authors books inspire me.


(4)   How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I adore learning anything new as you might have gathered by now. LOL  I most like a series, a broad canvas for storytelling, and because of that I need to have some outlining done ahead of time, but not so much that when the characters take over you can’t respond in a heartbeat to their needs. It’s a hybrid of both for me.


(5)   Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What's been the weirdest research you've ever had to do?

Good question! I found researching the history of Nova Scotia’s Money Pit for Winning Casey fascinating, reading a dozen books on the subject to get a clear picture of what’s occurred in one of the ten most intriguing mysteries of the world, according to a lot of lists and polls. And right now, researching Bitcoin phenomenon for Racing the Tide, first book in The TETRAD Group has been downright intriguing.



(6)   What advice would you give to new writers in the field?

Write. Read. Research. Relax. Enjoy the amazing journey that awaits.


(7)   Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?

Bed! I love to wake up and get right to it. Drink endless cups of coffee and write, write, write.


(8)   Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?


Hmm. Now there’s a question for you. I love a strong, intelligent, funny, romantic man not afraid to talk about his feelings. Not asking much, eh! So all of my heroes have been the man of the moment, when I’m writing about them. 😉


(9)   What project are you currently working on?


The first book in The TETRAD Group series, Racing the Tide, following the prequel Kindle World novella, Racing Peril, both due out in December.


        (10)What's next for you?

I’m going to be juggling the two series for the foreseeable future! Chasing Lacey is next in line for the Brass Ringers, and Racing Hell, for TETRAD.


Author Bio:


January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle, and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create a series that features strong women who don’t take life too seriously, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope the stories of her beloved Brass Ringers will capture your imagination as you follow their exploits as much as they did when she wrote them.


If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with two furry babies trying to prove who does a better job of guarding the doorway. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.



If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook, twitter and writes a weekly blog about her journey on Blogger. Oh, and she loves to talk books…



Book Interview



Tell us a little about your new release:

Winning Casey is a book dear to my heart. The novel I was writing when my Dad passed. He loved this story, said I was on the right track and that meant the world to me! Writing about Casey and Truman’s journey—it’s been beyond awesome in every way. The pair won me over with their bickering, stance beliefs and tribulations. If you like a hot adventure with lots of twists and turns, written in a caper-like style, give them a try. And it’s just the beginning, with 7 more books planned in the series.


Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

I love to read as you already know. I read Pierre Burton’s book on the Klondike and stashed away images of the time and period. He mentions Soapy, a bigger-than-life character in the book, and then I invented his Stolen Gold Horde knowing what he did to the miners as a famous conman and it all came together to craft the beginning. Add in my detailed knowledge of Canada’s Money Pit, and we had a backdrop and adventure for our heroine and hero to pit themselves against.


Did you outline the story, or dive right in?

A hybrid of both really. I need to get down some of the ideas ahead of time, then let the characters take over and lend a hand!


How did your characters come to life?

Characters are as real to me as people that populate my life, at least during the time I write their story. I see an image of them, discover their unique characteristics, both physical and mental, and bring them to life.


Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?

Oh, a ton!!! I LOVE research. I read at least a dozen books to craft this one tale. Everything from the different ideas of who dug the Money Pit to learning Knights Templar history. One of the best parts of writing, is the learning.


What was your favorite part of working on this story? What was the most challenging?

There were a lot of challenges. As always. I need to be challenged to bring out the best in me. My awesome editor, Rebecca Baker, is very good at that. Showing me how to stretch as a writer. I highly value her input.


What's next for this story - is it part of a series? When does it come out?

Winning Casey is scheduled for general release on August 1st. Right now it is available from Totally Bound.


Excerpt:

 “Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting

So much as just finding the gold.”
Robert Service



Casey glared at the stuffed moose head and it stared right back at her, its one broken antler leering.

“What are you looking at? You think this is easy? Who piles this many friggin’ rocks over their treasure, anyway? Yeah, yeah, I know—someone trying to hide it.”

She took a deep breath, adjusted her white and blue striped canvas work gloves and inserted the heavy red-tipped crowbar under the final stone slab. Air hissed out of her mouth and nose as she exerted her back and thigh muscles to the task, straining to pry it loose.

“Ach-choo!”

She sniffed loudly, her nose dripping. The damn soot-covered rocks had been in use as a fire pit. Give it to Hefty, though—clever ruse.

Ignoring the black soot, she leaned against the huge pile of stones and wiped her nose on her hoodie sleeve before shining her flashlight onto Hefty McGee’s journal. She thumbed through the tattered pages, still confident that the university wouldn’t miss the dusty old thing for one weekend.

“Hmm, says here Hefty won a moose head from a saloon keeper in a card game right here in Dawson City. Furthermore, that you lost that antler in the ensuring fistfight when it turned out that the gambler was a poor loser. Know anything about that?”

She tucked the journal back into her hoodie then reinserted the crowbar.

“Okay, here goes!” She attacked the slab with all her might. A loud squeal of protest as rock ground against rock. Ah, it moved. Just another few inches. Grunting, she pushed harder until the heavy cover slid off enough that she could shine her flashlight inside the hole pickaxed into the cave floor.

The sight of a large rotted pile of leather securely wrapped and tied with a cord quickened her breath. On top, weighing the package down, was a small smooth rock, and underneath it a torn piece of brown butcher paper. She pulled it out and shone the light on it.

She read the faded handwritten words aloud, figuring the moose had a right to know, as well. “‘Abandon hope all ye who steals Soapy’s Gold. It be cursed. Gave me the pox. Hefty McGee.’” Casey chuckled, despite the discomfort of the past few hours of digging in the tight, damp quarters, and gave the moose head a glance. “Just proves, old man, I’m in the right place!”

She thrust her arm inside the large hole in the cave floor and tugged on the heavy parcel. Damn, not enough room to lift it out. The blasted stone needed to be moved farther over. She glanced back at the doorway of the cave. Only a short while and the spring waters of the rising Yukon River would flood the low-lying cave.

“Be nice if you could lend a hand, buster.” She directed her comments at the moose head. It was beginning to creep her out, staring down at her with glassy, lifeless eyes. Okay, so perhaps coming alone had not been so smart, but she needed to know if all her research was going to pay off. And, just maybe, it was about to. Big-time.

The pry bar slipped as the rock jerked under the extreme pressure. It swung in an upward arc toward the moose head, pitching her forward as it did so. It also hit the beast a solid blow on its huge bulbous nose, knocking it loose from its perch on the rock wall and right down onto her head.

The last thought as pain drilled into her brain was that the old miner who had gone to the trouble to hide his stolen gold in the wilds of Northern Canada might have gotten it right. The curse was effective—if one was a klutz.

Casey woke with a start, shivering uncontrollably. Her head pounded from a possible concussion and her clothes were soaking wet. She blinked hard, gingerly touching the top of her skull, and felt a lump as large as a goose egg under her platinum braid of hair. Damn. If she had a mirror she could tell her if her eyes were dilated. But at least there was no blood. She rummaged in her pocket for her cell phone and checked the time. Double damn. She’d been out for more than an hour!

As her vision cleared, she focused on the cave’s entrance. Waves slapping around the opening made her heart race. Swallowing hard against the shock and the pain, she struggled to pull herself to a sitting position. Her brain swam with the effort and she punched the downed moose right in its over-sized moth-eaten nose.

“It’s all your fault! If you weren’t already dead…” Casey threatened. She managed to get to her feet by holding on to the clammy moss-covered stone wall. Trickles of moisture created darkened trails down the ancient walls, dampening her palms.

A flash of something sliding by the doorway drew her attention. Her boat! Left tied to a tree on shore, with the rising waters it’d somehow managed to work itself free. Headache forgotten, she splashed through the frigid water, lunging to snatch hold of it before it drifted away in the current. Swaying dizzily, she managed to tug it inside the cave’s broad mouth. Thank goodness the cave floor sloped down toward the river, otherwise her transport might have floated away while she was knocked out.

She held hard to the canoe’s frayed rope, maneuvering the sixteen-foot boat closer to the treasure. Once she tied it securely to an outcropping of rock, she hauled the offending moose head off to the side, grateful the one good antler hadn’t pierced her skull. She relaunched her efforts to retrieve the booty. Thank God her flashlight was still intact and working.

“No fucking way I’m leaving here without my gold!” she muttered. “God damn it—move, won’t you!” she exclaimed in frustration, pushing as hard as she could manage. It was now or never. At least the weight training was paying off. She put everything behind the effort, every muscle in her body struggling and screaming at her to give it up already.

With an ominous creak like a banshee screaming in the wind, she inched the stone lid off bit by bit, the pit reluctant to give up its treasure. Finally, against the clock, Casey jolted the stone lid far enough off to allow her full access to what lay beneath. With a tug at the rotted string that bound the package, she thrust it out of the way and pushed her hand inside to pull apart the decayed leather.

She froze and took a deep breath, heart hammering. Was this the moment? Would all her intensive research now pay off? Or was it an elaborate hoax set up by an ornery old conman with a wicked sense of humor?

She touched it reverently, a laying-on-of-hands. Took a deep breath.

This was it. The moment of truth.

And yet, she hesitated, her hands trembling. So much rode on this. Finding the treasure would fund another adventure, her life’s blood. Give her the freedom she needed. Craved.

Open it already!

Okay. Stop shouting at me.

The war within quieted as she slowly peeled back the edges of the musty old covering. Was that a choir of angels singing? No, just her imagination working overtime. Whispers from the past upping the roaring clamor in her head as the color revealed itself.

Shiny yellow nuggets. Gold! Soapy’s stolen hoard!

The nuggets gleamed brightly under the flashlight’s beam. Nestled between the lumps of gold, someone had packed old leather pouches filled with gold dust. She’d found it! She swallowed hard. Glanced back at the cave’s entrance.

Crap. The water was rising. Faster.

Hurriedly, she scooped up the heavy nuggets and packets, flinging them into her backpack and glancing back at the cave’s entrance every few seconds to make sure she could still free herself. Running out of room in the pack, she pulled another black carryall from the canoe’s bottom and loaded it. At the last possible second, she threw in the moose head, knowing she was being loopy. The damn thing must weigh twenty-five pounds, broken antler or not, but he’d helped point the way.

Sales Link
WINNING CASEY: Book One/The Brass Sorority Series
 Hugs, January 


Friday, July 21, 2017

REVIEW: SWEET AURALIE by Ute Carbone

Channeling our alter egos:

From the desk of ~

DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.

AND

ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH


Tattle and Wrye leap into SWEET AURALIE by Ute Carbone. This Historical Romance is a full length novel of the Sweet Lenora series.

Anton Boudreaux, a young courageous sea captain, and his spirited wife, Lenora, set sail from San Francisco to Shanghai, hoping to find a lost child. Though Anton is reluctant to take Lenora on such a long, perilous journey, Lenora will not be denied. Just as he begins to accept the situation, she confides something that puts her in even more jeopardy. It doesn’t help that Lily Harmon, the villainous harlot who had nearly sent Lenora to the gallows in the previous book, appears as a stowaway.

Lily does her best to upset Anton and Lenora’s marriage, as well as cause endless turmoil. Meanwhile, Lenora must contend with her conniving relatives who try to thwart them at every twist and turn. The entire trip is saturated with intrigue, treachery and peril. It is followed by Lenora tending a wounded Anton, caring for her children while taking on unexpected male-oriented responsibilities. 

Throughout this historical saga, Anton and Lenora must survive murder plots and thievery. Will their love survive?  Will Anton achieve his dreams of proving himself? Will a new ship, built for speed and breaking records, be their salvation or their curse?

“In the tradition of epic historical sagas, SWEET AURALIE stands out as one to be remembered,” Tattle gives it a thumbs up and attempts a high five with Wyre. They both miss. Settling herself into the Captain’s chair, she continues, “It has a steady tempo that keeps the pages turning and a succulent plot that often provides an unpredicted twist as well as an abundance of historical details that appear naturally without weighing down the storyline. Each character is well-drawn, and although Lenora has the grit and boldness of contemporary women, she adheres to the values and graciousness of the book’s era. You find yourself fascinated by the secondary characters as well.  Mrs. Jiao, the ship’s cook, warms the background and adds authentic flavor while Lily is a conniver you adore hating. Though this can well be a standalone book, since enough background is provided even if you never read the series’ novellas, give yourself a treat and read them all. They are well-worth it.”

Wrye, still puffing from his high-five exertion, says, “Ute Carbone is indeed a gifted storyteller. I loved the rich historical fabric of the story, the Asian accents as well as the detailed nautical elements. Mostly, even though this book starts out with the main characters already married, I was fascinated by the pull and tug of the love story as they struggle against treachery and life’s unexpected hazards.  The realism is fresh and rare among romances in that it engages the romance after the characters have fallen in love. The relationship evolves as they play off each other, compromise, sacrifice, and bond. This isn’t just a story with an intriguing and splendid storyline but an emotional portrayal of a couple’s journey. This book satisfies on every level and is destined to be read again and again!” Wrye thinks, there goes my macho image….

***


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com










Thursday, July 20, 2017

Point of View and Painted Corners


Back in 2012 I wrote an essay on POV. I thought I’d revisit the topic and see if my thoughts on the topic have changed.

When sitting down to write your brilliant novel or novella, give some serious consideration to the point of view (POV) you are going to use. As writers we are familiar with the options such as the first person, where one character narrates the action, or the third person, where the author sits back and tells all from an omnipotent point of view. There are also more unusual styles such as in the form of letters, journals, or a diary. Each method has its pluses and minuses, especially as to how deep you wish to get inside the heads of your characters, or how wide-ranging you want to describe an event in the story, especially one where your protagonist may not always be in attendance.

You also want to remember that old chestnut, show, don’t tell. Does the format you’ve chosen best lend itself to that for your particular story?

Many books on writing will tell you to limit the number of character=s heads you get inside of to tell your story. More than one or two and you risk confusing both the reader and the writer. In one of my very earliest efforts I think got into the head of at least a dozen characters. I was told in no uncertain terms by my editor to cut that out and not to do it again.

The advantage the personal POV is being able to both look at what the characters say, and what they are thinking at the same time, and gives the author the ability to have some fun and create often unreliable characters, while warning the reader of that fact.

I have written a series of fantasy novellas, the Housetrap Chronicles. They are all narrated through the eyes and POV of the main protagonist, a private detective. For this type of tale, where the action swirls around the hero, we want the reader to come across the discoveries at the same time as he does. The format works well in this case.

When I found myself working on my first trilogy, the sequel(s) for The Dark Lady, my first published novel, I discovered the problem often found in using a single POV. The original book was written from the POV of the protagonist. I found ways to keep her the center of the action in the original novel. As I got further into turning out the sequels, I found I had distant events I wanted to drag the reader into, but couldn’t, because that would break the format I followed to that point. Certainly, there were ways around the dilemma, such as having written reports to read, or characters who come dashing in and spin the heroine a tale. But when using those writer=s tricks you must beware of the deadly information dump that can overwhelm the reader. I prefer to trickle out the information gradually over time, rather than flood the reader all at once.

In a trilogy, about the North Americans discovering Europe first, I decided I would tell this complicated tale through the eyes of three different characters. That way I could legitimately have three different points of view. To keep POVs simple for the reader, I decided to alternate the viewpoints in turn, dividing each chapter into three storylines. One benefit is that I could look at the same event through different eyes if two or more of my narrators were present. It also allowed me to expand the scope of what the characters could bring as personal experiences. You could use the same format and grant each of your characters a separate chapter.

Don=t paint yourself into a corner when you are laying down the outline of your next great novel. Give some thought as to what format would be best to tell this story, and if you are diving into POVs, decide who is the best character to tell it. I personally like digging around inside the heads of some of my characters. Too much excavating however, can delay getting on with the action, but then, so can too many mixed-up metaphors.

R.J.Hore
www.ronaldhore.com
www.facebook.com/RonaldJHore

The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn Trilogy (Volume 1, 2, 3)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Independence

Early July marks celebrations of the founding of two North American nations, Canada and the United States. In the U.S. we call July 4th "Independence Day." This year, I experimented with independence from the news cycle for twenty-four hours.

Read the explanation here.

In reflection a few days later, I can safely say that day without news was refreshing. I came back to the big picture with a sense of perspective.

And, I spent some of those hours writing. I recommend an unplugged day now and then to all creative workers.




Elizabeth Fountain is the author of An Alien's Guide to World Domination and You, Jane; she blogs here, where you can follow her blog serial (aka soap opera) focused on a cast of characters finding mid-life love and purpose in a small town near you.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

About NOT Writing


     Writing Blogs are supposed to be about writing. This month mine is about NOT writing. For the past month Spouse Person and I traveled up the east coast and throughout New England, staying at hotels, and more importantly, with friends and family.
     The intention was to continue to write on works in progress, but it turned out my word processor doesn’t like our traveling laptop, so I took it as a sign that I ought to take a complete break from my seven days a week writing schedule and really have a vacation.
Some people take photo after photo after photo on their journeys. I always think I’m going to, but I get lost in the moments and forget. SP took several and I’ll see if I can add a few here to demonstrate why I am in awe of this country.
     First family stop was in Warwick, New York. To get there, we asked our GPS lady we call Mabel, to avoid highways. We drove through Pennsylvania and New Jersey on scenic backroads, past farms, through small colorful villages, and on winding country roads right up to their front door without ever seeing an eighteen-wheeler or paying a toll. We did see fields of corn, cows, barns, hundred year old farmhouses, some in disrepair, some standing proudly with fresh coats of paint. American flags abounded in these small towns.
     Then we spent four idyllic days on a farm outside of Cooperstown, New York, where the weather cooperated with clear sunny skies and mild temperatures. We had to pull ourselves away
Schenectady, New York. Stayed with friends of forty years and met with other writers at an old fashioned diner. Kind of reminds me of “Same Time Next Year.” We’ve been doing this for several years, catching up on our writing activities. Recently, Keith Willis, a new member of the Champagne Books Group, joined us and participated for the second year. At this good old fashioned diner, we spoke of books, travel, mutual acquaintances. As we passed tables, couples discussed domestic issues, kids, broken lawnmowers, and new cars. No one carried on about the political scene. How refreshing.
     The flowers bloomed in our hosts’ garden, hummingbirds hummed, and chipmunks sat at the door waiting to be let in.
     The city of Schenectady itself has changed over the years. No longer the mainstay of General Electric, it has had to redefine itself. With Proctor’s theater, it brings in major entertainment, so now, instead of empty storefronts, upscale bistros and shops line State Street. A massive casino and new hotels are replacing old iron works that had remained idle for years. While I find it tragic that an industry that caters to addiction is the cause for the revival of a city, I also applaud the concept of changing directions when necessary.
     Continuing north and east, we stopped to stay with more family in Niantic, Connecticut. Because it rained, we did not get out much, but we did attend our grandson’s high school graduation. The beaming faces of over 200 students, so many of them receiving scholarships and heading off to college, restored my faith in the youth of today. Happy, wholesome families joined together to celebrate decries the tragedy of the nightly news about the state of our youth.
     Once again we packed our bags and told Mable to guide us to Palermo, Maine, avoiding highways. A trip of four hours on the interstates took us over eight on the backroads, and we enjoyed every minute of it, from seeing a two hundred year old abandoned inn, to the Old Shaker Village, crossing a river in Manchester to see waterfront properties that were once mills, now housing upscale apartments.
     We asked Mabel to show us eateries and wound up at a hole-in-the-wall diner that seated, one a good day, maybe twenty. An air conditioner over the front door dripped water onto the sidewalk. The interior appeared to have not changed since it opened, most likely more than fifty years ago. It also looked like nothing more than the table tops had been cleaned. We were hungry, so we stayed. I asked for the rest room and our tattooed waitress led me to the back of the building through an old kitchen, to a door.
     “The light switch is a push button,” she said and then left. I stood in the dark groping for a push button, not knowing exactly what to expect. It turned out to be exactly that, an old fashioned push button light switch. Two buttons. One for on and one for off. When I returned, a man sitting at one of the tables working out figures on a small notepad said, “If you found that interesting, your husband might like to see the old gas pipes and fed the gaslights in the building.” I sat down and told SP, who also wanted to head for the restroom. The man sat and waiting until he returned to take him back and explain the age of the building and point out the original tin walls. Meanwhile, he proudly explained to me that the diner remained the same as when Aunt May opened it. “Aunt May was _____ the mechanic-next-door’s aunt and wanted something to do.”
    Two women sat near the front of the diner reading a newspaper and periodically calling out the size and rent of a variety of houses to the couple who ran the diner. A large black man, dressed formally in black, with a vest and tie, wearing a black beret, sat alone eating a late breakfast and reading the newspaper.
     Our grilled ham and cheese sandwiches arrived with potato chips on the side. We ate it all and left that old part of America behind.
     Mabel led us to the Glass Horse Farm in Maine on a hillside, with friendly chickens and turkeys welcoming us, along with two dogs and of course, our family, Don and Pam. We ate lobster at a lobster pound where one perceptive lobster bonded with SP as he tried to take a photo of it. Every time SP moved, the lobster followed him across the tank. Was he saying, “Get me out of here!”? Or was he simply following the shiny lens? We spent nearly two hours watching a contraption with slings move a 130 ton yacht – two feet!
     One more stop back in Connecticut and then we were headed home. To our amazement, the interstate highways were not the nightmares we were used to. By traveling on Saturday and Sunday, we managed to avoid the horrendous truck traffic down US 81 and I-95. We’ve been saddened to see our “secret” little connector road between 81 and 95 has become a major thoroughfare. When we first began our journeys, it was a lush country road with only a few cars.
     




So, we’re home again and back to writing. I haven’t written about the trip, about the characters we saw, or the places we visited, but they are like a photo album in my mind. One day I’ll “develop” them.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inspiration Is Where You Find It...


For some strange reason, I often seem to find my best story lines or scenes while cutting the lawn. I guess it's the mindless repetitive action that frees the brain to work on higher things.

The last time I mowed, I was introduced to a pirate.

I knew that in my third book in the Knights of Kilbourne series, tentatively titled Enchanted Knight, I wanted one of the adversaries for Morgan and Marissa to be a band of pirates. Just because pirates. It's rather like the old Jim Henson theory on the Muppets--when you're not sure what else to do, toss penguins in the air. In my case, I ring in pirates.

But I really didn't know anything about these pirates, or how they were going to work into the story.

And suddenly, that evening as I mowed, I met Tobias Albert Fanshawe, gentleman pirate. Late of His Majesty's Navy, Toby was cashiered (he hasn't revealed why yet, but I'm sure he'll tell me eventually). And once I had his name, I found I knew a lot about him. Such as the fact that his ship, The Mad Maudie, is shipshape in that it's shaped like a ship, but that's about it. And the fact that while he's down with looting and pillaging, any of his crew caught mistreating female captives is subject to some pretty dire consequences (keelhauling and walking the plank over shark-infested waters are the mild versions...)

I also learned that, though his crew consider him "mad as a pack of weasels at the bottom of the rum barrel," they'll follow his lead, because he's also extremely lucky. Or, as his first mate, Mr. Sharkey, puts it, "I've seen you dice with the Devil himself, and come home in the morning with his trousers."

And finally, I learned that Toby wants... well, I know what he wants, but I can't let that cat out of the bag quite yet. Gotta save something for the book, eh?

So if you're stuck for inspiration, I suggest you get out there and cut the lawn. Or, better yet, you can come cut mine. Cause I really want to get busy writing this scene with the pirates...




Tuesday, June 27, 2017

RHYMING INTENTIONAL

Good Morning All!

 January Bain here checking in for my monthly day to have my say! <grin> Rhyming intentional.

I am so pleased and proud to share with all of you a new novel that is on the cusp of being available to read. I spent months writing in a new genre that gave me such satisfaction to write that I intend to write seven more in the series in the near future. :-)
I'm going to include an excerpt today to share with you a bit of Casey and Truman's journey. Hope you enjoy it!


“Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
So much as just finding the gold.”
Robert Service

Casey glared at the stuffed moose head and it stared right back at her, its one broken antler leering.
“What are you looking at? You think this is easy? Who piles this many friggin’ rocks over their treasure, anyway? Yeah, yeah, I know—someone trying to hide it.”

She took a deep breath, adjusted her white and blue striped canvas work gloves and inserted the heavy red-tipped crowbar under the final stone slab. Air hissed out of her mouth and nose as she exerted her back and thigh muscles to the task, straining to pry it loose.

“Ach-choo!”

She sniffed loudly, her nose dripping. The damn soot-covered rocks had been in use as a fire pit. Give it to Hefty, though—clever ruse.

Ignoring the black soot, she leaned against the huge pile of stones and wiped her nose on her hoodie sleeve before shining her flashlight onto Hefty McGee’s journal. She thumbed through the tattered pages, still confident that the university wouldn’t miss the dusty old thing for one weekend.

“Hmm, says here Hefty won a moose head from a saloon keeper in a card game right here in Dawson City. Furthermore, that you lost that antler in the ensuring fistfight when it turned out that the gambler was a poor loser. Know anything about that?”

She tucked the journal back into her hoodie then reinserted the crowbar.

“Okay, here goes!” She attacked the slab with all her might. A loud squeal of protest as rock ground against rock. Ah, it moved. Just another few inches. Grunting, she pushed harder until the heavy cover slid off enough that she could shine her flashlight inside the hole pickaxed into the cave floor.

The sight of a large rotted pile of leather securely wrapped and tied with a cord quickened her breath. On top, weighing the package down, was a small smooth rock, and underneath it a torn piece of brown butcher paper. She pulled it out and shone the light on it.

She read the faded handwritten words aloud, figuring the moose had a right to know, as well. “‘Abandon hope all ye who steals Soapy’s Gold. It be cursed. Gave me the pox. Hefty McGee.’” Casey chuckled, despite the discomfort of the past few hours of digging in the tight, damp quarters, and gave the moose head a glance.

“Just proves, old man, I’m in the right place!”

She thrust her arm inside the large hole in the cave floor and tugged on the heavy parcel. Damn, not enough room to lift it out. The blasted stone needed to be moved farther over. She glanced back at the doorway of the cave. Only a short while and the spring waters of the rising Yukon River would flood the low-lying cave.

“Be nice if you could lend a hand, buster.” She directed her comments at the moose head. It was beginning to creep her out, staring down at her with glassy, lifeless eyes. Okay, so perhaps coming alone had not been so smart, but she needed to know if all her research was going to pay off. And, just maybe, it was about to. Big-time.

The pry bar slipped as the rock jerked under the extreme pressure. It swung in an upward arc toward the moose head, pitching her forward as it did so. It also hit the beast a solid blow on its huge bulbous nose, knocking it loose from its perch on the rock wall and right down onto her head.

The last thought as pain drilled into her brain was that the old miner who had gone to the trouble to hide his stolen gold in the wilds of Northern Canada might have gotten it right. The curse was effective—if one was a klutz.

Casey woke with a start, shivering uncontrollably. Her head pounded from a possible concussion and her clothes were soaking wet. She blinked hard, gingerly touching the top of her skull, and felt a lump as large as a goose egg under her platinum braid of hair. Damn. If she had a mirror she could tell her if her eyes were dilated. But at least there was no blood. She rummaged in her pocket for her cell phone and checked the time. Double damn. She’d been out for more than an hour!

As her vision cleared, she focused on the cave’s entrance. Waves slapping around the opening made her heart race. Swallowing hard against the shock and the pain, she struggled to pull herself to a sitting position. Her brain swam with the effort and she punched the downed moose right in its over-sized moth-eaten nose.

“It’s all your fault! If you weren’t already dead…” Casey threatened. She managed to get to her feet by holding on to the clammy moss-covered stone wall. Trickles of moisture created darkened trails down the ancient walls, dampening her palms.

A flash of something sliding by the doorway drew her attention. Her boat! Left tied to a tree on shore, with the rising waters it’d somehow managed to work itself free. Headache forgotten, she splashed through the frigid water, lunging to snatch hold of it before it drifted away in the current. Swaying dizzily, she managed to tug it inside the cave’s broad mouth. Thank goodness the cave floor sloped down toward the river, otherwise her transport might have floated away while she was knocked out.

She held hard to the canoe’s frayed rope, maneuvering the sixteen-foot boat closer to the treasure. Once she tied it securely to an outcropping of rock, she hauled the offending moose head off to the side, grateful the one good antler hadn’t pierced her skull. She relaunched her efforts to retrieve the booty. Thank God her flashlight was still intact and working
.
“No fucking way I’m leaving here without my gold!” she muttered. “God damn it—move, won’t you!” she exclaimed in frustration, pushing as hard as she could manage. It was now or never. At least the weight training was paying off. She put everything behind the effort, every muscle in her body struggling and screaming at her to give it up already.

With an ominous creak like a banshee screaming in the wind, she inched the stone lid off bit by bit, the pit reluctant to give up its treasure. Finally, against the clock, Casey jolted the stone lid far enough off to allow her full access to what lay beneath. With a tug at the rotted string that bound the package, she thrust it out of the way and pushed her hand inside to pull apart the decayed leather.
She froze and took a deep breath, heart hammering. Was this the moment? Would all her intensive research now pay off? Or was it an elaborate hoax set up by an ornery old conman with a wicked sense of humor?

She touched it reverently, a laying-on-of-hands. Took a deep breath.

This was it. The moment of truth.

And yet, she hesitated, her hands trembling. So much rode on this. Finding the treasure would fund another adventure, her life’s blood. Give her the freedom she needed. Craved.

Open it already!

Okay. Stop shouting at me.

The war within quieted as she slowly peeled back the edges of the musty old covering. Was that a choir of angels singing? No, just her imagination working overtime. Whispers from the past upping the roaring clamor in her head as the color revealed itself.

Shiny yellow nuggets. Gold! Soapy’s stolen hoard!

The nuggets gleamed brightly under the flashlight’s beam. Nestled between the lumps of gold, someone had packed old leather pouches filled with gold dust. She’d found it! She swallowed hard. Glanced back at the cave’s entrance.

Crap. The water was rising. Faster.

Hurriedly, she scooped up the heavy nuggets and packets, flinging them into her backpack and glancing back at the cave’s entrance every few seconds to make sure she could still free herself. Running out of room in the pack, she pulled another black carryall from the canoe’s bottom and loaded it. At the last possible second, she threw in the moose head, knowing she was being loopy. The damn thing must weigh twenty-five pounds, broken antler or not, but he’d helped point the way.

Available for Pre-order now! From Totally Bound Publishing!

Friday, June 23, 2017

REVIEW: DIVINITY by Paula Kennedy


Channeling our alter egos:


From the desk of ~
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND

ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH


And the two soon find themselves ogling DIVINITY by Paula Kennedy, book #2 in the Angels of the Night series, a Paranormal, YA.



Allison Webber was accepted in the secret society of Free Masons because her special powers fed male vampires, who have an alliance with the Masons. Female vampires, though, unlike their male counterparts, have a blood lust they can’t control. They are vicious killers, who show no mercy or heart.



Darcy Wallace, Allison’s hot, sexy vampire boyfriend, is in the clutches of a female vampire, who can control herself, but she is just as brutal as the other female vampires in her coven.  Along with Robert, Darcy’s triplet and a guardian, Thomas MacGregor, she sets out for NYC to find Darcy, irrespective of the cost or bending Mason rules.



Only, Darcy, doesn’t remember Allison, and she doesn’t recognize the boy she had fallen in love with. More so, his dislike of Allison turns dark when he discovers she had killed his brother, another triplet, Thane. Darcy can’t forgive her despite her valid reasons. He doesn’t realize the extent of his peril, but Ally knows she must risk all to save him.



Meanwhile, Robert seems to truly care for Allison, but there is something shadowy and hidden about him. It doesn’t help that he is ruled by Jonas, another twisted character that lurks in a sinister realm but is essential in helping the cause to keep the vampires hidden from the world.



At the same time, the female vamps are on the move and Allison, along with her father and others, must stop their killing spree. A plan, fraught with uncertainty and possibly lethal, is set in motion and she is forced to accept the help of someone she fully distrusts. Will she be betrayed again? Will Darcy ever remember their love? Will the oldest female vampire destroy them all? So many dangers, so little time.



“Wow!” declares Wrye, “I enjoyed the first book in this series, but DIVINITY takes the plot to a new level. Allison has matured and doesn’t hesitate to make the tough decisions. The story starts out like a derailed locomotive about to go over a cliff. You find yourself holding your breathe with each passing paragraph. The danger feels real, you are there, you are in the midst of it, you experience the fear and danger. This story has the intricacies and pace that would hold the readership of any age group. You won’t want to put it down, and you will continually cheer on the heroine. Though, I normally wouldn’t seek out a vampire novel, I am hooked on this series, and on Paula Kennedy’s writing style. It is crisp, clean and racy. Just like the lines of a racer, and that’s just what you find yourself doing, racing through the pages because you can’t get enough.”



Tattle adds, “Paula Kennedy has created characters that have the pulse of our young generation yet appeal to those of us way past our prime and everyone in between. I enjoyed following Allison on her adventure, and applauding the young heroine’s courage and decisiveness. Allison has grown up since book one, and though I adored her then, I respect her even more now. And there it is, she is real to me. Usually, you put a book down and remember the characters as characters, but Ally is someone you see as real. Even the vampires, male and female, have you believing they might just be lurking in the corners of your room! I’m ready to go hang some garlic! That shows the expanse of Kennedy’s talent. She manages to do the same with the world she created for this series. It is believable, not the same ole same ole but fresh and sharp.  Her style has texture without being cluttered. I am truly a fan, and can’t wait to see more!”

***


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com