Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Randall Sawka, Still On The Road.......

Randall's newest release, a traditional Western for true Western fans. Click the Amazon link to purchase your copy. 

The fall weather in England is late arriving. I don't have a problem with that. it gave me more time to write outdoors. However, the trees are changing colour, the air is cooler, and my iPad is cool (and cool).

The "Goodrich Coffee & Tea" I found online was just outside Buffalo, NY. We decided it was a bit far to walk. So, we strolled back home. Oops.

We have reach the halfway point in our three months stay near the town of Ross-On-Wye. It has been amazing.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tis the Haunting Season - all of these are new from Books We Love

Don't go out there and get caught in the maim and miasma, stay in and read!!!


I'm Graduating from Feminist to Nasty Woman by Sandy Semerad

“Are you a nasty woman, Mama?” daughter Andrea asked me recently.

Her question took me off guard. Then I remembered the third Presidential debate and knew exactly what she meant.

Following that debate, the “nasty” comment became a “feminist battle cry,” on social media. T-Shirts with “Nasty woman” printed on them are now in demand, as are hats emblazoned with, “Make America Nasty Again.”

Streams of Janet Jackson’s song “Nasty” skyrocketed after the debate, according to Spotify. In the song, Janet calls men, who display bad behavior toward women, “nasty boys.”

No question the “nasty” comment has struck a powerful cord. I’ve never seen so many women open up and describe in detail how they’ve been discriminated against and treated differently than their male counterparts. Women are sharing their stories as never before. They’re talking about how they’d been grabbed and abused. How they were told to be nice, not bossy and to smile, not frown. They’ve shared their stories about being sexually harassed, and how they were shamed, demoted or fired when they reported the harassment.

All of these conversations have sparked my own painful memories, and I’m thinking it’s time to share two of those memories with you.
        At 19, I was sexually assaulted in New York City, where I was living at the time.  My attacker was a successful businessman and owner of the business where I’d worked. Ashamed and traumatized, I left NYC without reporting the assault.

Fast forward many years, I’m walking to the Marta train in Atlanta. It’s the end of the day, and I’m heading home from Georgia State. It’s raining. I’m in a great mood, happy I remembered to bring an umbrella.

A strange man steps under my umbrella and says, “Are you from out of this world?”

I’m caught off guard, but I sense he’s a psycho, his eyes wild, glassy. “Get lost,” I tell him.

He grabs my boobs, squeezes them brutally. I yell out in pain and horror and swing my open umbrella to defend myself.

He runs inside the nearest building and disappears.

I’m shaken, but I continue on to the Marta Station, hop on the train and go home. Once I feel safe, I call the campus police to report this psycho and try to stop him from hurting anyone else.

I describe to the officer what happened, but before I can give him a description of the man, the officer asks, “What were you wearing?”

Stunned, I don’t how to respond at first. “Dressed casually, like any college student.”

I should have demanded to speak to his supervisor or to a female officer who would empathize. But I didn’t, I played nice, when I should have been assertive and nasty.

It’s interesting how that word “nasty” has changed through urban interpretations, but it appears more complimentary when referring to men. Men can be nasty cool, skillful, as in “He plays a nasty guitar.”

While with women, the urban definition usually refers to sex: “freak-nasty, blatant, unhindered sexuality, and has an undertone of kinkiness.” Unlike the traditional definitions, which are: “smelly, bad, filthy, repulsive, malignant, ugly, spiteful, disgusting, incredibly mean and stinky, very loud, obnoxious.”

But getting back to the question Andrea asked. In answering her, I said, “Yes,” although I prefer the “cool, skillful” definition of the word, and hereafter I’ve decided to graduate from feminist to nasty woman.

For Halloween, I’m leaning toward dressing up as the good witch in The Wizard of Oz, with a hat that reads, “Good Witch, aka Nasty Woman.” What do you think?

As an afterthought, Andrea sent me this recipe for The Nasty Woman drink, a Quartz cocktail, created by Jenni Avins:
        Three parts silver tequila (made by the “bad hombres” of Mexico)

Two parts cherry juice (Avins likes the one from Trader Joe’s)
         One part lime juice
         Pour over ice and top it with sparkling wine or sparkling limeade.
        This drink should get a wedge of lime, but Avins says she too nasty to fuss over a twist.
        Whatever you prefer to drink, be sure to enjoy it like a nasty woman should.
          To read more, please visit my website:
         Also would love for you to purchase my latest novel, A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES. This story is loosely based on a murder trial I covered as a newspaper reporter in Atlanta, and it’s also a love story.
                              Buy Link: A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Reflections on Moose and Writing by Victoria Chatham


I've lived in Canada now for 26 years. In all of those years I had never seen a moose. Black bears and grizzlies, skunk and porcupine, whitetail and mule deer, elk and big horn sheep, foxes, coyotes and wolves. I've even seen free ranging buffalo near Waterton National Park. Yes, I've been quite fortunate to see all of those over the years. I live close to the Rocky Mountains and enjoy camping and hiking so there have been plenty of opportunities to observe wildlife, except for that darn moose.

On a long distance drive one September travelling through much of Alberta and northern British Columbia, I watched avidly for moose, especially when we saw the road signs warning to beware of them for the next however many kilometres, but no, nary a one. On a research trip on another occasion, I happened to mention to the rancher I was interviewing that I had never seen a moose.

"Oh," he said. "I saw a big old bull down in the muskeg this morning. Let's go find him."

We set off in a vehicle that was so cobbled together I wasn't sure if it was a pick-up, jeep or ATV. What I was sure of was that it could never go off the ranch without risking any one of several motoring and vehicle infractions. It was also a testament to the strength of baler twine, as that was all that was holding the passenger seat in place. These anomalies not withstanding, said rancher toured me around the muskeg, brushed through undergrowth and never once did we see any sign of that old bull.

I can't tell you why moose fascinate me so. It may be because they are so big and ugly that only a mother could love them, or it may be that I have always felt slightly cheated and in turn envious of those who have said "Oh, I had a moose in my yard this morning", or "I saw a moose on my way to work". What did they have that I didn't? The closest I had come to a moose was the Fawlty Towers episode where Manuel was practicing his English. The mounted moose head that Basil Fawlty had so much trouble with remains a long standing family joke.

Now however, I have achieved that ambition in the past few weeks - not once, but twice and in the least
likely places. The first, a bull close to a town, the second a bull and two cows on the railway tracks running through a town. Their sheer size is impressive. The lore concerning moose as riding and draft animals is well documented. They have the reputation of being the most dangerous animal in Canada, largely because of the number of road accidents in which they are involved. As their heads tend to be higher than the average car headlights, it is difficult to see any reflection from their eyes, which are widely spaced on the sides of their head making it difficult to see both eyes at once. But now my patience has finally been rewarded!

So you are now probably confused and wondering how on earth my quest for a moose and writing can possibly be connected? Such are the workings of my mind that I equate my patience in finally seeing a moose  to the patience required in writing a book. My very first editor said that writing a good book is an exercise in patience and not giving up. Those days when you think you really can't write, or that what you have written is worse than anything you've ever written before have to be worked through. If you are a writer, there's almost a hundred percent guarantee that you know exactly what I mean.

There is no point in sitting around waiting for inspiration. That may take forever. In the meantime you have a book to write, so having the patience to sit every day and allow yourself to simply write until the words gel and begin to flow is an exercise in patience, although you may at times feel quite the opposite. I can't tell you how many times I nearly threw in the towel when my words would not come together and form the pictures on the page that I had in my mind. There are still times when I look at a phrase or a paragraph and think 'that won't do'. My method then is to copy and paste the offending lines to a blank sheet and play with them until they feel right and I'm comfortable with them. Then they get copy and pasted back into my text. It may sound like hard work but it works for me. Oh, did I mention that I'm a Virgo and was once referred to as nit-picking Virgo?

Patience is a virtue so the medieval poet William Langdon (or Chaucer depending on which you read) says, but if you stick to your guns, if you keep your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard have patience and do not give up, at the end of the that you will have a book. And I can tell you there is no finer feeling than when you have delivered that baby and finally hold it in your hands.

Victoria Chatham’s passion for the romance genre goes back to when she read her first Regency romance as a teenager. Now retired, she writes historical and contemporary romance. Her other passions include a love of animals, especially horses and dogs. She lives near Calgary but spends as much time as she can with her family in England.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Simple Whack Upside The Head

Click Here To Purchase From Amazon

A Simple Whack Upside The Head

“Okay, one thing he is, is a son-of-a-bitch,” Julia-Rae swore as she popped the lens cap off one of her two 35mm digital cameras and stared at the obscene crack running crookedly across the lens. The camera was useless to her now. Her cheeks burned with rage as she flung it over her shoulder and stormed down the trail. “Lack of oxygen or not at this altitude, I’ll be damned. No man is going to bowl me over, disturb my shots, wreck my camera, and take off without at least a decent apology. Mr. Name, or no name magnificent tight cheeks, has a few things coming his way.” Julia-Rae yanked her sleeves up. “Oh, I’m so and so and I’m so sorry I’ve bowled you over. Here let me offer you a hand up; it’s the least I can do for you. MEN!” She fumed.
That insidious temper that had got her into so much trouble in the past sank its long, evil claws into her again. As her dad, Dennis McNaughton, would often tell her, “God didn’t plant that wavy pile of red hair on your head to act as traffic lights.”
“You maybe the sexiest man I’ve seen in a long time, but you aren’t getting away with this.” The fire that gripped her heart now had also served her well in the past. It had gotten Julie-Rae through many trials and helped her to stay in command of her life. Of course, it had gotten her in a whole heap of trouble.
Turning a corner of the trail Julia-Rae spied the culprit crouched over staring at something on the stonewall foundations of the ancient city of Machu Picchu. She untied her handkerchief, twirled it taunt and held it like a slingshot. “Here Mr. Magnificent Great Ass, let’s see how you like this!”
That is the opening scene to my novel Shuddered Seduction. I learned a long time ago not to open a novel with ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ and expect to pull your reader in. Smack them upside the head with action and place them head spinning and all into the middle of it.
What if Charles Schulz opened with this instead: Lightning sizzled, hammering away the darkness and in lost in the deafening clap of thunder the clank of metal typewriter keys midst a hot wooden roof.
I think Snoopy would have gone on to be entered into literary contests and not stick to having intimate chats with feathered friends. Not to mention the fact that he’s lucky he’s never been struck by lightning.
Of course one could simply whack someone upside the head and drag them kicking and screaming into the bookstore to buy your novel. Sounds like what Mr. King does. No wonder he’s made a buck or two.

Okay next month I’ll talk about having the sense to immerse your reader so that they feel like they are there in the book with your characters.  Yes, it’s like literally drowning them with words. Which is easier to swim out of. Did I ever mention I can’t swim?

Click  Here To Purchase From Amazon
Also coming soon from Books We Love

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’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.

Writer by soul. Words born within. 
Karma the seed. Paper the medium.  
Pen the muse. Novels the fire.

Twitter: @FrankTalaber

Friday, October 21, 2016

Bird Crazy Card by Cheryl Wright

I recently purchased the Tim Holtz Bird Crazy stamp set and dies. 

They quite literally live up to their names - they are crazy characters! 

Here's a recent card I made with the set: 

Here's how I made it: I sponged the background with distress inks, then added some texture around the sides via some stamps - they are all from Inspired by Stamping.

I stamped the bird on another piece of paper, then coloured it with pencils. Once finished I cut it out with the die, and added to the card.

I hand drew the ground and grass with a Copic Multiliner pen, then added the greetings.  (The top one is from a retired SU set, and the other is from IBS - Kid's Fun.)

But I felt something was missing, so I stamped out this hat from SU (another retired set), coloured it and cut it out. It was definitely the finishing touch.

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/ 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Essay for Halloween: Undertaker's Daughter

Deadly Undertaking
A handsome detective, a shadow man, 
and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.
Halloween is an exciting time with parties and treats and scary stories. Deadly Undertaking is the perfect read for this season of the year.  This romantic suspense, set in a funeral home, isn't a scary story with monsters, zombies, and werewolves, but it does have a shadow man, Henry.
Deadly Undertaking grew from the short essay I am sharing with you on this post. The novel's setting is a funeral home because I'm the daughter of an undertaker. And I have two brothers who are funeral directors. When I wrote this story for a fun blog post four years ago, I had no idea I would have a published mystery from the idea. Find out more about Deadly Undertaking after the short essay.
It's Halloween, so you'll have to decide if  the tale I'm spinning is a trick or a treat. Take a break and have fun with this. You'll get to know me better after learning about my "growing up" years.
Is this essay a trick or a treat?
Undertaker’s Daughter
J Q Rose
Right away, I must tell you I am not an eccentric, peculiar person. I’m just a regular woman who is a wife, mother, grandmother. I like eating a burger at McDonalds, shopping at Walmart, and reading mystery novels. But, perhaps some would think my childhood was different. You see, my father was an embalmer and funeral director. I was reared in a funeral home.

It was not unusual to have a dead body laid out in a casket several days in a row in our living room which converted to the funeral chapel. In fact, sometimes we’d have more than one body in our home. The embalming room was in the back of the house, and yes, I wore lots of perfume and soap to cover the pungent odor of formaldehyde on my clothes and hair.

We had knee caps for ashtrays in the private area of our home…not in the public area because that may upset some folks. But Dad was a heavy smoker, so he appreciated having the convenience of an ashtray nearby at all times.

In our kitchen, boxes of ashes of the departed sat in the pantry shelves next to the canned green beans and corn. Some families squabbled over who was going to pay the funeral expenses for their dearly departed, so they never showed up to claim the ashes for fear of being left with the debt.  In one case the family of Ida Mayberry never claimed their sweet aunt. So Aunt Ida took up residence in the cupboard next to the pork and beans.

Life as an undertaker’s daughter did not seem to be any big deal. My friends, well, most of them, were happy to come over and play hide and seek in the casket room or to swipe flowers out of the funeral arrangements to put in our hair for dress up.

My girlfriends did get upset when one of the spirits who regularly hung out in the funeral home flew by. The whoosh of air was the only indicator of their presence. Yes, I lost a couple of friends that way because they were scared to death…well, not literally. They just were creeped out especially when one of the spirits would knock over the Barbie doll house or send the collection of Barbies swirling around the room.

Needless to say, I enjoyed going to my friend’s house. It was a treat to open their pantry door to get a can of pineapple and not see the boxed ashes of poor Aunt Ida. I could never shake the sadness I felt for her because noone cared enough to bury her ashes or at least sprinkle them on their garden.

So, yes, some may believe it was an unusual childhood compared to the experiences of others. But I felt loved, secure, and safe at all times. And that’s what counts for a kid.

The growing up years certainly shape the adult one becomes. I don’t know if this is the reason I can write a horror story or not, but I can assure you I am a normal, well-rounded person, not eccentric or peculiar at all. In fact I got rid of the knee cap ash trays just last week. I do have Aunt Ida in the cupboard. Her family never claimed her and I have grown attached to her company.
# # #
BOO! So do you believe what you read? I must confess most of it is made up. And of course, Deadly Undertaking is fiction, but I did have my funeral director brothers help me with the story. So, it's loosely based on the real funeral business. Keyword here is loosely!

Back of the Book: Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Deadly Undertaking
Cover art by Michelle Lee
FREE at Amazon on October 31.

Lauren Staab knew there would be dead bodies around when she returned home. After all, her family is in the funeral business, Staab and Blood Funeral Home. Still, finding an extra body on the floor of the garage between the hearse and the flower car shocked her. Lauren’s plan to return to her hometown to help care for her mother and keep the books for the funeral home suddenly turns upside down in a struggle to prove she and her family are not guilty of murdering the man. But will the real killer return for her, her dad, her brother? Her mother’s secrets, a killer, a handsome policeman, and a shadow man muddle up her intention to have a simple life. 

Welcome home, Lauren!

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween!
from J.Q. Rose

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The True Meaning of Halloween, Charlie Brown by Stuart R. West

So many things frighten me. The odd thing is I love being scared. Just not by heights, serial killers, dirty bombs, nuclear fear, bio-chemical warfare, Trump, and shoe-shopping with my wife.

Maybe that’s why I adore dumb horror films. I know they’re not real, a vicarious and silly joy-ride. One I can easily recover from.

My wife doesn’t feel the same way. Recently, I somewhat hoodwinked her into watching The Babadook, a terrific Australian horror flick. I proclaimed it an art film to entice her into viewing with me. Not entirely a lie. Still, she hasn’t forgiven me.  (Hey, part of the fun of horror films is watching them with someone else, a communal experience. I love to hear people shriek in theaters...for all the right reasons, of course.).

Halloween is near. Spookiest time of the year. My daughter always says it’s her favorite holiday (a girl after my own heart). But, why? Where did Halloween spring from with its ghoulish visual aids and strange customs? 
As always, my faithful research assistant, Ms. Google, held the answers. 

(Read the following with Vincent Price's voice in your head; of course, for those spooky-challenged among you, you can always opt out for Morgan Freeman): Halloween was initially created to honor the dead. Somewhat like Memorial Day, only more morbid. Blame the Gaels for their ancient festival, Samhain, the origin of Halloween. The Irish would set out food and drink, offerings to the Gods for good health and livestock. Cheapskates would go door-to-door in costume looking for food. Back then, singing or poetry was recited for the food. No tricks. Not a bad gig.

Soon, pranking spread, instigated by the cheeky British. Call it door-to-door blackmail. “Gimme candy or I’ll do something rather naughty.” 

Christianity tried to adopt the holiday, turn it into a day of prayer for the deceased. I think they’re still trying to work the kinks out. 

To me, Halloween represents the time to embrace the spooky. Love it. The crisp falling orange leaves of Autumn fill me full of melancholy, a remembrance of my childhood and the horror films I used to seek out (which was quite hard to do when you only had three—sometimes four—fuzzy channels). Have you seen the Val Lewton produced films from the ‘40’s? Scary, yet subtle and artistic. A nice starter kit. Move on to the classic “The Haunting” from the ‘60’s (and, PLEASE, don’t even get me going on the modern remake). From there, the sky’s the limit. I broke my daughter in on “Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein” and Twilight Zone DVD’s. She hasn’t looked back yet.

So. Put out the kids. Tuck the cat in bed. Turn out the light. Fire up the chimney. Cuddle next to a loved one and get scared. Have fun with it.

In my book, Ghosts of Gannaway, I try to cover all spooky bases without being gross (the anti-scary). Kinda based on a true story, the book details the history of a small mining town in the ‘30’s. There are ghosts, murders, an evil mining magnate, claustrophobia, bad juju, nightmares, romance (gotta have romance), shadows, bigotry, pollution, photographs that move, a funny native-American, secrets, mystery, cancer, things that go bump in the night and the fear of being buried alive. Everything that scares me wrapped up in one book.
Click here for spooky Halloween thrills!
Happy Halloween! Boo!