Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Angel of Lusignan - Myths and history - by Vijaya Schartz

It's always a little sad to write the last book in a long series. I've been working on the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series for twenty years, off and on, and Book 8, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN, will be the last one, bringing Melusine's curse to its conclusion.
In the historical chronology, this book takes place before Beloved Crusader and Damsel of the Hawk (portraying the other two sisters and set during the Crusades), but it is the most well known legend of Melusine, the myth scholars have been studying for centuries... particularly in Europe.

melusine 2 This book is set in Lusignan, the town Melusine created according to legend. Lusignan is also the name of the family she started in Aquitaine. Melusine is first featured in Book 2, PAGAN QUEEN, as a child. She reappears in Book 3 SEDUCING SIGEFROI, Book 4 LADY OF LUXEMBOURG, and Book 5 CHATELAINE OF FOREZ.

Previously, from her Luxembourg family, after marrying Sigefroi, she gave birth to a line of kings and emperors who lived in Germany, Flanders and Austria. In Forez, her initial success was later crushed by religious cleansing.

guydelusignanIn Lusignan, she gives birth to a powerful family. Her descendants Guy of Lusignan and his brother became kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus during the Crusades. Another descendant of hers is the famous and infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen, and mother. King Richard mentions more than once the stain upon his family, his evil ancestress through the centuries, the cursed one. That was Melusine.

melusine-basreliefBut beyond the myth and the legend, I wanted to find the heart of these characters. Remembering that history is always written by the victors, and Paganism was crushed by Christendom. So it made sense that the Pagans of the time would be reviled and presented in a negative light, even accused of horrible deeds.

In my research, I strive to peel the layers of superstition to find the truth of these fascinating characters, and bring them to life in a favorable light, with their hopes and struggles. I hope you will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
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Monday, September 26, 2016

Music evokes sweet memories—Tricia McGill

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While transferring stored music files from my computer to my new tablet I came upon songs I haven’t played in a long time and as I listened to each one an almost forgotten memory returned of the exact moment when I heard that particular tune for the first time and why I fell in love with it then. It’s likely that younger people will not have heard of some of these songs or my favorite singers, but like old photos or mementos, each holds a special place in my heart.

Most Saturday mornings my sister and I would visit the local market where a variety of stallholders plied their wares. This sister had a passion for earrings and would spend hours deciding which to purchase, whereas my preference was the music stall where the latest records (remember them, those vinyl things that were in vogue in the 50/60s and beyond).

This was after we possessed a record player of our own, but before that, one of my already married sisters owned one of these wonderful gadgets. She had a copy of Al Martino singing “Here In My Heart”. I’m sure I wore that out, as every time I visited her I played it over and over. I think that was one of my very early crushes—not on Al who was far too old for me then—but with his voice. If you have never heard it give it a Google and I defy you to say it doesn’t do something for you.

My list of heart stoppers is a mile long, so I will choose a few of my favorites:

David Whitfield singing “Beyond the Stars”. I was a pimply teenager when I purchased this and his “Answer Me” at the market, along with Dickie Valentine singing “A Blossom Fell” (this brought back memories of a boy I went out with just once who thought it was cool to serenade me with his rendering—believe me, it wasn’t).

“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. (Another one to Google if you have never heard their version). My best friend, who happened to be my cousin, and I would sing this out loud as we walked home from a dance. 

We would go to a local dance hall a couple of times a week and at this time I loved anything by Guy Mitchell. One boy there was Guy’s double and he broke my heart, for although he seemed to like me he took another girl home. Remember “My Truly Truly Fair”?  Ah, sweet memories! Likewise, Johnny Ray and his “Cry” evokes so many memories of that dance hall along with Elvis’s “Heartbreak Hotel”. I can still see us as if it was yesterday. Oh boy, two silly girls at a table in the bar section of the hall, when the announcer on the radio said it was this young man’s first big hit, and I still get that same old tingle in my tummy when I recall the moment he started to sing.

Any song by Vera Lynn, but especially “We’ll Meet Again” or “Yours”, take me back to the old home in North London when I was very young and my mother or sisters would sing along with Vera while I played on the floor, usually behind an armchair in the corner. For some reason I have many memories of me behind a chair. It must have been my private and safe place where I would invent games alone for hours while my older, noisy, siblings went about their life around me.

And what about Bill Haley and the Comets and “Rock around The Clock”? My cousin and I practiced our rock and rolling to him and his “See You Later Alligator”! And there were my brothers laughing at us and our antics while we cavorted in the living room. We went to see Bill and his band perform live in London. An experience never to be forgotten.

Last but definitely not least there was Frankie Laine, my absolute all-time favorite. We also saw him perform live. I can still feel the shivers up my spine that made me hot and bothered when he cracked that whip while singing “Mule Train”. Then there was “Rawhide” and “Cool Water” <sigh> and when he sang “Danny Boy”, well, that was simply the best. I owned just about every one of his recordings and don’t ask me why, but left most of them behind when we came to Australia. And would you believe, my dear father in law sold them all. <Another big sigh> Never mind, I now have his recordings right here on my computer (and on my new tablet & phone) to play at any time to take me right back to my heydays of youth and glory.

Perhaps it is just me, but not many of the modern singers match up to those oldies. For one thing, you understood every word they sang—no mumbling or rapping in those days—just good old fashioned talent and music to dream by. And we didn't swoon over them just because they were young and handsome, but because their songs and style gave us shivers and memories to cherish.

Find all my Books We Love titles here.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hiking Trails and a Short Stroll to Wales by Randall Sawka

The heat and humidity of Taiwan restricted outside writing to a minimum. As I prefer to write in the AM, the heat was already building. This drove me literally (literaturally??) in to air conditioned coffee shops. Those four and a half months were interesting but typical highs in the mid 30's C that felt like 42 were a bit much.

What a difference roughly 9704.66 Km makes!

Here we are in a tranquil setting north of the Cotswalds in England. The scene is quite similar to Vancouver Island.

Here we have returned to drinking the coffee hot.

Lush green hills and valleys and dozens of walking and hiking trails-and a short stroll to Wales. (I couldn't resist the rhyme.)  Of course, we will be moved indoors once the cooler weather hits in about 4 weeks. In the meantime, off we go to pick some plums and apples for a pie. I know, I know, not healthy, but so tasty.

Find Randall Sawka's latest release at Books We Love:


and find all his titles here:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why is the word "Feminism" demonized? By Sandy Semerad

          As a writer I know the power of words, and I’m constantly searching for the right words to make my stories live.

But recently I discovered the word “feminism” has been misunderstood. I had no idea until daughter Andrea received a rude response after she admitted she was a feminist. Made me wonder, why has this word been demonized?

Dictionary.com defines feminism as “advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.” Merriam-Webster has a similar definition.

          The term feminism originated in 19 century France, I learned. A second-wave began in the United States during the early 1960s with Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique.

Friedan wrote this book after talking with friends, who had given up their careers to become housewives. These women felt unfulfilled in their domestic roles, Friedan claimed. She blamed women’s magazines, run by men, for encouraging women to become mothers and housewives, rather than career women. A different scenario existed in the 1930s, when women’s magazines featured confident and independent women with careers, according to Friedan.

More recently Harvard MBA and radio host Samantha Ettus wrote The Pie Life to inspire working mothers and help them let go of the guilt. All women should keep their feet in the workplace, according to Ettus.
          Regardless of what Ettus and others have written to encourage women, I found a plethora of negative on-line comments, misconstruing the meaning of the word feminism. Many were under the impression that feminists were men haters, and these same folks left vile comments.

I had to stop reading these negative remarks or they would have poisoned me. Words can poison as Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto has proven in his experiments. Our bodies contain mostly water, and with that premise, Emoto filled several bottles with distilled water. Then he taped words to the bottles. When he read the words aloud, the molecules in the bottles reacted.

Emoto photographed these molecules and discovered that positive words like “love” created beautiful formations. Negative words like “I hate you” produced ugly, violent images. Emoto has written about his experiments in his book The Hidden Messages in Water.

Other researchers have confirmed Emoto’s research. Words have the power to change our lives, they say. 

For example, in a Psychology Today article, authors Newburn and Waldman used several examples to prove this theory. They mentioned an experiment by psychologists at Missouri State University who designed an exercise for patients in pain. They asked the patients to identify their deepest values and meditate on them. When the patients did as instructed, they were able to reduce their pain and distress. 

Everyone can do this exercise, the article said, and we can involve our family and friends by asking: “What is your deepest personal value?”

Before we can adequately answer this question, however, we must relax completely, close our eyes for 60 seconds and listen for the word or words that express our sincerest values, according to the Psychology Today article.

Words like “peace” and “love” reduce physical and emotional stress, they discovered.

          I tried this exercise several times. Each time I came up with different words: Love, creativity, family, peace, health/fitness, faith, determination, bliss/happiness, achievement, patience, respect, compassion, growth, optimism, education, sincerity, abundance, inspiration, excellence, strength, trust, justice/equality.

          But getting back to the word feminism, Andrea wanted to know if I considered myself a feminist. I told her I didn’t like labels, but given the meaning, I had to say, “Yes.” I believe in equal rights for everyone, and regret this word has been demonized.

When I asked daughter Rene, “Are you a feminist?” she didn’t hesitate. “Yes, women should have the same social, economic and political rights as men,” she said.

It pleases me to know my daughters understand the true meaning of this word and identify with it, but others don’t apparently and need a clarification, which is why I like what actress Martha Plimpton has said:

“I take a lot of pride in calling myself a feminist, always have,” Plimpton wrote in an e-mail. “We’re going to have to insist on correcting bigotry as it happens in real time. And fear of women’s equality, or the diminishment of it, is a kind of bigotry. I think it’s important to remove the stigma associated with women’s equality, and as such, yes, normalizing the word ‘feminist’ and making sure people know what it means is incredibly important…”

My latest book, A Message in the Roses, is loosely based on a murder trial I covered in Atlanta. You may get a copy here:

                           A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Werewolves on Hockey In Canada

Click here to purchase from Amazon

Click here to purchase from Amazon

Werewolves on Hockey In Canada

The word, Lunacy, comes from the term lunaticus, “Of the Moon”. Myth and tradition have it that the world goes nuts on full moon nights. Just ask any emergency room attendant, police officer or hop framer. Oh, that’s a farmer, a hop framer is a new age arborist trying to make a mint on the next craze, making pictures from organic materials, other than the scare compound called wood. But then don’t tell them that every year the world grows another fifty two trillion board feet of lumber. You really wonder why the world wasn’t covered in several feet of plywood decades ago.
            Does the world go crazy on full moon nights? We do know that the earth is 75% water and that the moon has an effect on the earth by creating tidal effects. Science has yet to prove that while human bodies are also 75% moisture, that the moon has any known effect on us. I’ve never heard of anyone going to the doctor stating, “Doc, I’ve got one hell of a high tide coming on”.
            Several recent studies have been done on the correlation between full moon nights and: traffic accident rates, birthrates, homicide rates, crisis calls, natural disasters, suicide or any physical abuse calls, psychiatric admissions, epileptic seizures, unusual nursing home resident behavior, gunshots, stabbings, and sleepwalking. All have come to the same conclusion. The only lunatics are the myth makers.
            And for us writers or those of the more bizarre calibre of thinking, likewise studies on: bingo, lotteries and casino payouts, have shown the same thing. Zilch. Oh and sorry for those Canadians in the crowd, aggression by professional hockey players (Yes, some mad college students spent six years, thirty-five hundred pizzas, kegs and kegs of beer on this very learned subject, much to the chagrin of their professor). Darn, why didn’t I think of that one when I was in university?         
            And unfortunately for the Mary Shelley and Anne Rice fans in the crowd, no known increases in lycanthropy or vampirism. Although it is reported that there is a sharp rise in the amount of razors sold and barbershop shavings during a full moon. But no evidence has been recorded of patients needing more shaves on full moon nights. Although I don’t know about you, but I swear I feel hairier.
Oddly enough studies have shown that the percentage of cat and dog bites are nearly thirty percent higher to emergency room visits. PS. Don’t walk your dog on these nights and don’t every go walking your cat either. In fact don’t ever take your cat on a walk with a leash. I tried once and ended up with twenty stitches.
            It is known that lions tend to hunt more often on days after a full moon. So plan your next safari accordingly. It has also been reported that binge drinking and arrests for drunken driving at higher alcohol rates do rise on full moon nights. This is where the hop farmers are wringing their hands on potential beer sales. As for the framers, well maybe next decade or try switching to cabbage growing. I hear it has been discovered to have amazing insulation values.
            As for us unfortunate human beings, the only thing proven is that we do average about five minutes less sleep on these nights. Well, there goes my next novel idea, ‘Werewolves on Hockey In Canada’ out the window. I should retitle it to, ‘Bloodshot Eyes and Attack Cat Fever,’ instead.

 Thunderbird's Wake Cover (Soon To Be Released From Books We Love)

The back cover blurb below (if you thought this blog is mad, wait until you run into Charlie Stillwaters. He takes Lunacy to a whole new level and disproves all those scientific studies).

Agatha Christie, roll over in your grave, new sleuths on the prowl.  Haida shaman Charlie Stillwaters convinces Carol Ainsworth, a Vancouver detective, to join him as he breaks his way into a high security prison. The duo are determined to find out who killed the previous native elder before all lightning and thunder breaks loose. They encounter deranged inmates, mystical beings, ancient serpents, wood sprites and someone who should have been dead long ago.
Not your usual crime/mystery!
Not your usual criminal investigators!
You thought Jack Nicholson was mad in The Shining…
Wait until you meet Charlie Stillwaters in the Sweat lodge.

Frank Talaber
Frank Talaber’s Writing Style? He usually responds with: Mix Dan Millman (Way of The Peaceful Warrior) with Charles De Lint (Moonheart) and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues). 
PS: He’s better looking than Stephen King (Carrie, The Stand, It, The Shining) and his romantic stuff will have you gasping quicker than Robert James Waller (Bridges Of Madison County).
Or as is often said: You don’t have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Card in a Box by Cheryl Wright

A dear friend recently turned seventy, and I knew I couldn't let that noteworthy birthday pass without a special celebration. 

Since we are two states apart, it was difficult to spend time with her, so I made her an extra special card instead. 

For many years, I have measured, scored, and cut these boxes by hand, but I recently purchased a die that cuts it automatically. It's made the job so much easier. 

Putting the inserts in can be quite fiddly, but I've almost perfected the process now. 

Here are some other views as it's difficult to see what the 'card in a box' is truly like front-on. 

I hope you've enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!


My website:  www.cheryl-wright.com 
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cherylwrightauthor 
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/writercheryl
BWL website: http://bookswelove.net/authors/wright-cheryl/ 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Come and Experience ArtPrize by J.Q. Rose

Come and Experience ArtPrize by J.Q. Rose

Come along with me to visit the most amazing art show on the planet! 
ArtPrize 2016 takes place September 21- October 9 and the entire experience is free to the public! 

What is ArtPrize? "ArtPrize® is a radically open, independently organized international art competition and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization."

How I wish I could capture in photos the most amazing works of art presented at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This international art competition is the biggest in the world with artists competing for $720,000 in prizes and grants in various categories.  The competition is open to any artist 18 and older. Half of the winners are selected by the public vote and half by a juried group of professionals. 

Today I share some of the amazing entries we encountered out of the 1500 + pieces entered in ArtPrize 2014. Please take a peek at the photos for a taste of the nineteen day festival held every fall in Grand Rapids.

This installation is made up of living plants. A great reminder to just step away, enjoy the festival's unique works of art, and breathe.

The author framed by flowers

These little colored pencil drawn ladies made me chuckle.

Brilliant lighted art piece of blown glass.

A 23 foot long panel of galloping mustangs created from all kinds of wood.

The "Chihuly-inspired" hanging is actually made of plastic bottles, not blown glass, painted by elementary students and put together by the art teachers. I appreciated its beauty even more after learning about the story behind the creation of this masterpiece.

A whimsical family of turtles. Smile...

The title of this piece is "Wind."

Grand Rapids Petroglyph--Fish carved and painted in stones 
that line the banks of the Grand River.
This river runs through the downtown area of the city.

A horse made of junk. Lots of car parts. Art fashioned from trash.
The venues are found downtown and throughout the neighborhoods of Grand Rapids. The artists display their works in museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, theaters, hotels, public parks, lobbies, buildings, walls, bridges, laundromats, and auto body shops. The outdoor installations are breathtaking, but even the little pencil drawings, and unique media used in creating all the original art, are mind-blowing. Street performers and musical artists add to the festive atmosphere of the event.
If you get the opportunity to attend ArtPrize, grab your hat and your walking shoes, and take in these amazing sights. West Michigan's magnificent fall weather is the perfect backdrop to feature these lovely,sometimes jarring, and often thought-provoking works of art.

The ArtPrize hosts describe it as "unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike."

About J.Q. Rose
J.Q. Rose is a West Michigan resident and author of mysteries that take place in Michigan. Her latest mystery is Deadly Undertaking, a romantic
Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Available at Amazon
suspense that takes place in a funeral home. 
A handsome detective, a shadow man, and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life. Click here to connect online with J.Q. at the J.Q. Rose blog.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Writing Humor: I'll Be Here All Night, Ladies and Gents! by Stuart R. West

Laughs! Murder! G-strings! Clicky Here!

Humor’s very subjective. For the writer and the reader. Out of all the genres I’ve written, humor’s probably the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, I have a blast writing my Zach and Zora comic mystery series and I’m always proud of the outcome. The problem is I tend to write aiming at my funny bone. Not everyone shares it. Many readers found the first book in the series, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, “hilarious.” But one reviewer suffered through four pages and declared it “total trash,” the equivalent of having a tomato lobbed at me if I was on-stage doing a stand-up routine. Tough crowd, tough crowd. 

Of course everyone’s entitled to their opinion, the world would be very dull if that wasn’t the case. But clearly the reviewer didn’t understand the book was a comedy. You can’t please everyone. Especially regarding humor. Readers are very protective of their humor, I’ve found, and everyone has a different threshold and variety of likes.

For instance, I’ve never laughed at an Adam Sandler movie. Honestly, a crackly Jerry Lewis voice and vulgar humor doesn’t do it for me. And, psst! I don’t even like the Three Stooges. Blasphemy among my male peers who would probably want me to hand in my “Guy Card.” It takes a strange mixture of low-brow and high-brow to amuse me.

So, I started writing stuff I find funny. Going into the Zach and Zora books, I knew I might be the only one amused, my laughter the only barometer. Mark Twain said, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” While I don’t have such lofty ambitions as to be the Pope of humor, if I can make someone smile while reading my books, goal accomplished!

The road to the first book, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, was a sloppy one, pocked with potholes of doubt and riddled with speed-bumps of hesitation. I didn’t trust that anyone might find it amusing other than myself. Then something happened…badda-boom! Everything seemed to come together.

True origin time! The book almost didn’t happen. I was gabbing with a writer friend one day, grousing about the same-ol’, same-ol’ books we’ve read. I said, “What if I came up with the dumbest lead character in history? How about…a really vain, vapid, stupid male stripper? Yeah!” She laughed, said, “I dare you!” I can’t turn down a dare, especially since it was a double-dog dare. Badda-bing!
So I started writing Hammock. One chapter in, though, I cheated. It became obvious Zach wasn’t strong enough to completely lead a book. So I created his super-competent, super-irritable, extremely pregnant sister, Zora (an ex security specialist), to bail Zach out of trouble when he wakes up with no memory or clothes next to a naked dead man. Hilarity ensues. (I hope). Did I mention Zora’s other three kids who have to tag along for the first part of the investigation?

The second book in the series, Murder by Massage, just released September 4th. When I accepted that challenge a while back, I had no idea the bet would turn into a series. And I’m having a ball with these characters and hope it shines through on the pages. (But what do I know?) I’ll be here all weekend, folks!

Murder by Massage once again finds Zach up to his g-string in trouble when he stumbles onto another murder. Zora to the rescue! There’re ex-radical hippies, the cult of “Furries,” a g-string chase through the streets, a dance-off, smart aleck kids, bewigged pastors, a dancing and singing detective, secrets, more murder and mystery and I hope laughs. Lotsa, lotsa laughs. And despite Zach’s rather unsavory choice of profession (“male entertainment dancer,” NOT “stripper” as he protests), the comic cozy books are not explicit. Rather chaste actually. Except for a g-string here and there.

You’ve been a great audience ladies and gentlemen!
Don't be left out! More fun and better for you than Pokemon Go!