Saturday, March 7, 2015

All in a Day's Work Or How to Make Good Use of a Distraction by Tia Dani

Since there are two of us, wouldn't you think we could finish a book in record time? Sure, we both have busy lives. We have husbands, kids, grandkids, housework, other careers and hobbies (well, Tia has hobbies, Dani just plays) but that's another blog for a later time. Like we said, we are both fully committed to our writing.  So what happens that we can't seem, to finish a project?

Life happens. Not always in a mundane way.

Take the other day for example. Our plan was to meet up at Tia's house and not leave until we had completed the next phase of editing our work in progress. Which, by the way, it is going to be an awesome blend of the present and past, with elements of paranormal, regression, and plenty of romance. But when Dani pulled into Tia's driveway she was met with a frantic Tia waving her arms. She needed help with an unexpected emergency.

The emergency was a baby bird that had fallen from its palm tree nest near the front of Tia's house. Tia was certain it was an owl and we needed to find a rescue place quick. Someone needed to come get the bird before it died. She had already called two places who both told her they don't take in raptor species. Raptors?!? Aren't they supposed to be those honking, huge birds during the dinosaur age?
We made several more calls to animal shelters and finally were directed to a place that would take in raptors. Only problem, they didn't pick up. We had to deliver.

Twenty minutes later we had packed the back seat of Dani's car with the make shift cage, which was really a crate with a lid over the top to hold the tiny ball of white feathers. Off we went with the directions programed into the GPS system. It took us almost 45 minutes on the freeway to the exit we needed to take us north to Cave Creek and the bird hospital.

At this point, we should let you know Dani is not really fond of birds. Not that she doesn't like them, it's just she's sorta afraid of them.

When she called her husband to let him know where she was headed he said, "You are what?"
"Rescuing a bird."
"That's what I thought you said. You have a bird in your car?"
"Yes. We are saving his life."
"Ooookay. Good luck"

Meanwhile Tia is yelping and leaning over the seat, trying to keep the tiny owl from squeezing through the holes in the grate and jumping out of the box. Miniature fuzzy feathers are flying everywhere. With all the commotion we missed the turn off and had to do a U-turn and go back to where the GPS was insisting we should go in the first place. It was a winding dirt road with large pot holes. We bounced along making the odd turns, when told by the voice that seemed quite sure of where we were going. Us not so much.

In the distance we saw a sign and perched on top was a metal hawk with the large wings spread wide. WILD AT HEART. Yep, we had reached our destination. 

Relieved we pulled in and parked. Not only had we arrived safe and sound, our little owl was still alive. Tia retrieved her precious cargo from the back seat. Dani stayed a safe distance away.

Off we went to find a doctor.

We were greeted immediately and our little guy was taken to be examined.

After a thorough examination we were assured he would be fine. He was wrapped in a warm blanket and placed into an incubator where he would be watched for several days. Then they broke the news to Tia that her baby was not an owl but actually a falcon.

"What!" Tia exclaimed. "It must be an owl. He's so small and his feathers are white. And just look at his cute little face. He must be an owl?"

The examining veterinarian assured Tia her bird was definitely a falcon.

While we were in the critical-care room, a landscaper from the near-by golf course brought in a severely injured hawk.
We were allowed to stay and watch as they examined him, feed him an antibiotic stuffed into a dead baby mouse. (Here's where Tia nearly lost it…Abandoned baby bird fine. Poor dead baby mouse…ugh.)

Who knew?

Once our sweet raptor was snuggled in and sleeping, we were invited to look around at all the wild raptor birds they had in their outside sanctuary. We could stay as long as we wanted. Tia immediately took advantage of their generous offer and pulled along the reluctant Dani outside to see the many different kind of birds.

It was a wonderful day of adventure. Needless to say we didn't get any writing done that day, but we did help save a life.

Which is okay because there's always tomorrow.

And who knows, our little adventure might just end up in a book someday.

Wild At Heart is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to the conservation and preservation of Arizona's native birds of prey.

To find out more about the writing team Tia Dani and our books visit us at:

Time's Enduring Love, our historical time-travel is a Books We Love Best Seller.
To purchase click this link.

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Happy Place - Gail Roughton

           “I need to visit my happy place.” How often we hear that! But what, exactly, is a happy place? And where is it? “Oh, it’s all in our heads!” you say. Well, that’s right. And then again—it’s not. We all carry our permanent happy place with us. See, it’s not limited in location or the space-time continuum. It can be with you any place, any time. All we have to do is remember. Remember the place where magic lived, where memories were made, the memories of things past that shaped us, changed us, molded us, into the person we are. Where was my place? A little beat-up, sun-seared wooden fishing dock on the banks of Stone Creek.

I was born in the Deep South in the 50’s and grew up in the early and mid-60’s. It was a pivotal time in history when the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the space program began to drag even the sleepiest little Southern town kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century. Rowan & Martin regularly socked it to the country as Laugh-In looked at the news, and Simon & Garfunkel sang of their brother who had died so his brothers could be free. None of that made much never-mind to me, though. I was busy following my Daddy around like a shadow whenever he was home from work. He was a construction foreman and a master carpenter. On weekends, he’d take me to his building sites, where I walked on the long light poles of Macon’s Henderson Stadium when they still lay on the ground and wrote on the chalkboards of schools-to-be long before students entered their doors. Daddy’s gone, but most of the structures he helped build still stand, strong and functional, still in use. That’s rather a form of immortality, don’t you think?
We lived a few miles outside the mid-sized Middle Georgia city of Macon in a small country neighborhood of only four or five houses, perched on the banks of Stone Creek Swamp. Readers might recognize the name from The Color of Seven. Stone Creek itself ran about half a mile behind the house. I guess I was nine or so when our neighbor “up the hill”, Mr. Emory Scoven, built the dock over the spot where Stone Creek expanded into a small pond.

Mr. Emory was a retired railroad man who lived with his brother, sister, and sister-in-law in the house on the hill next door to us. I ran in and out of that house without knocking, with total impunity. Nobody in our neighborhood knocked back then. I loved the other residents of that house, Mr. Will, Miss Lucille, and Miss Ethel, but Mr. Emory? Mr. Emory was a modern day Pied Piper. Children loved him like lint loves wool. Once upon a time the neighborhood had brimmed with kids who’d dogged his every step, but in my time, the child population was down to one. Me. And on summer days when school was out and Daddy was still at work, I trailed the man unmercifully while he tended the yards and fruit trees he so loved. If he ever grew impatient or tired of my company, he never showed it. His railroad tales were better than the fairy tales of Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm.

Late spring and summer evenings were the best times of all. Daddy came home from work, showered and ate. That’s when we headed out the back door to join Mr. Emory at the dock and cast our lines into the leaf-brown waters of the creek. The three of us sat for hours in perfect contentment, talking or not talking, it really didn’t matter either way, while the corks from our fishing lines bobbed on the water. It didn’t matter if we caught anything, either, and in fact, we preferred not to, especially since we always released any fish caught that evening back into the creek when incipient darkness forced us back up the trail toward the house. We caught some of those fish pretty much every day. I learned to recognize them over the course of a summer because all fish don’t look alike, not even fish of the same species. They have individual shadowings of color and irregularities in their gills and fins.

That’s childhood. That’s my happy place. The creek, the dock, Daddy and Mr. Emory. Sitting cross-legged on bare planking, slapping at mosquitoes as they discovered my bare arms and legs. Cane poles only, of course, because rods and reels were useless in the close confines of the creek and its small pool and would only catch uselessly in the brush and undergrowth of the banks.

I remember the sound of the frogs as dusk fell, and birds flying low across the pond’s clearing. Sometimes you could see the head of a water moccasin swimming across the creek further downstream, crossing a safe distance from the intrusion of the dock upon their territory.

Nothing else on God’s green earth feels like late evening in the spring in the Deep South. The air feels like velvet, light trembles off the water, birds fly overhead. The sounds of the frogs and insects make their own symphony. I have no pictures of that creek and dock to post. Digital cameras were far into the future. Children don’t think of such things as recording special moments on film. No matter. There’s no way any camera could have properly recorded those moments, those men, that place, that time. The photographs are in my heart. They always will be. I take them out and look at them frequently, especially when I’m writing. 

I know somewhere out there, they’re still fishing together on the banks of Stone Creek. I love you, Daddy. I love you, Mr. Emory.

Find all Gail Roughton titles at
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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Words of Wisdom to Andrew Lincoln, George Clooney, and Russell Crowe from Jamie Hill

There's been much hullabaloo this week over my favorite 'The Walking Dead' character Rick Grimes, actor Andrew Lincoln, shaving his beard in a recent episode of the hit cable series. The beard furor got me thinking, have I ever written a character with a beard? I write contemporary romance, and while I'm sure many heroes in historical romance had beards, I can't think of many in contemporary settings.

Most all of my heroes have what I like to call a 'three-day beard growth'.  This works great in fiction, but in real life it's impossible to maintain for longer than a couple of days (depending on the rate of beard growth of course.) Some mens' beards grow quickly and they end up looking like Gandalf or Santa Claus.



This was the fate of Andrew Lincoln's beard in The Walking Dead, I'm afraid. A touch too long there at the end. A clean-shaven Rick was a shock, though that shower scene was pretty hot for regular TV.


Which do you prefer of the many stages of Rick?

I have to admit, I still prefer the three-day growth look. But I like beards! I think George Clooney and Russell Crowe can also rock the beard and to me, they look better as they age.

I might consider giving my hero a beard in an upcoming novel. It'll have to be a fairly closely cropped, neat looking thing. No Duck Dynasty crumb catchers, just enough hair there to tickle.

What's your opinion? Barely there or totally bare? Do you dig beards? I have to admit I do. And if I could offer some words of advice to the actors above I'd say totally keep the beards. These guys know how to rock them.

Jamie Hill ~ Romantic Thrills ~ Suspenseful Chills

Find my beard-free titles at Books We Love:

or on my clean-shaven website:
Follow my 'possibility of a beard in a book' writing progress on Facebook: 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Henry Hudson, an Englishman, by Katherine Pym

In the first decade of 17th century, Henry Hudson worked for several merchantmen companies, both in England and in Holland. His goal was to find the northern route to the Spice Islands in the South Pacific. 

He worked for the Moscuvy Company, England's East India Company, and the Dutch East India Company. These individual companies pooled their resources, made their captains sign extensive contracts, gave them long lists of rules and regulations, then sent them on their way to find the easiest, fastest passage to East Indie ports of call.

The route south through the Cape of Good Hope was fraught with danger, i.e., weeks of calm, scurvy, the bloody flux, pirates. Once into the Cape, there were added dangers of rogue waves that came from nowhere, swamping and sinking a ship to the depths of the sea. 

If it weren't for the ice that filled the northern regions, that route would be far easier to navigate. When men sailed north toward Greenland or west to Newfoundland, these intrepid explorers found a vast ocean so crowded with fish, they leaped into their boats rather than be netted. They brought home stories of ling cod, and whale meat/lard. Fishermen sent their ships to these waters, and the English dinner table began to find new foods that delighted the palate. 

When Hudson worked for the Moscuvy Company, he did not find a Northwest Passage, but alerted his employers of a place where one could catch many whales. Hudson made a splash amongst these merchant companies. After the Dutch East India Company (VOC) had so many failures, when they heard of Hudson, they enlisted his services. 

Hudson promised better things. He was certain the passage could be found. All VOC's previous captains could not find the passage, and the directors wanted to know how he would go about it. 

Henry replied that he followed Petrus Plancius' theory. Plancius was one of the founders and cartographer of the VOC, so the directors nodded their approval. When Hudson offered this theory, Plancius was still alive. He could be consulted for authenticity. 

The theory was of a temperate, open sea in the North Pole not covered with ice. What Hudson professed was a mild climate above '74 degrees latitude - the point at which the Dutch ships had always found their path blocked by ice'. Hudson not only affirmed to have seen this, he raised the stakes higher by adding the depth of the sea was so great at this point, the swells could never freeze. In this temperate area, Hudson declared to have seen a new land with many animals, sweet grasses wherein the animals grazed. It was a veritable paradise. 
Hudson's Route & Final Destination

Hudson further added if he could go above '83 degrees latitude', he would sail west to the Pacific then south into the warmer seas of the East Indies. VOC demanded more proof, so Hudson sent for Petrus Plancius. The gentleman, an astronomer and clergyman, nodded his concurrence on Hudson's every point. He added the sun's long days and white nights during the summer kept the waters warm enough so that ice would not form. As a result, Henry was given the opportunity to seek a northern route to the South Seas.

Once aboard ship, Hudson disregarded all instructions by the VOC. He used his own maps and went northwest through bad weather. Finding the way too difficult, Hudson tootled south. He expected to find a waterway along the American coast he could travel to the Pacific. He did not find it, but did find a land rich in fisheries and game, trees so big they would make excellent ships. 

Hudson Arriving at Manhattan Island
Hudson had found Manhattan Island. The VOC was not impressed but other merchants were, which started the colonization of that area. 

In 1610, this time financed by the English merchants, Hudson tried again. He found his way into what is now the Hudson Bay. The seas were filled with ice. His crew turned surly, and one night mutinied. They grabbed hold of Henry Hudson and a few faithful crewmen, put them in a small boat without food, water, or warm clothing, and sent them adrift. 

Henry Hudson disappeared into the night, never to be seen again.

Hudson, Set Adrift

Many thanks to the following bibliography:
Nathaniel's Nutmeg by Giles Milton, and Wikipedia (Hudson, Petrus Plancius)
Map of Hudson Bay is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Barbers, a story of science & medicine in the 17th century.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Writer, heal thyself!

I love to do research. Sometimes it becomes an addiction on par with Candy Crush or Bejewelled and, as with any good novel, it always begins with a "what if?" Lately, I've had to do research I thought at first was unrelated to my Wild Blue Mysteries, but recently the information I've needed in my books has also dogged me in real life. I'm learning what it takes to be a strong, female lead then give some of that energy over to someone else to make life better.

Every good romance novel has a strong woman, who either needs or lets a man take care of her. While I don't write actual romance novels, my mysteries follow the same flow. All three of my Books We Love novels to date feature women who start off from a place of being either abused or dejected in some way. All three women: Katie Mullins (The Bookstore Lady), Lucy Stephen (The Mystery Lady), and Christina Davidson (The Bakery Lady), have to relearn how to trust and allow love to return to their lives while helping to solve the mysteries surrounding each of them.

Like Katie, Lucy, and Christina, I've become broken by trying to do it all for everyone else all the time - like any good mom would. Along the way, I've lost myself. It's been through my writing that I've found kinship and strength. Writing group members, Facebook allies, and others I have learned to reach out to for support have become a huge part of my circle. They not only give me encouragement, but also have allowed me to become the woman I am evolving into, both in my life and in my writing as I recover from health issues.

My research has led me to discover some interesting things that will appear in two upcoming novels. The Painted Lady will bring forth some art history and lessons while Christina rediscovers the passions she thought she'd long buried. The Crazy Lady will feature some technological gadgets used as spywear that will finally help Danny and Katie put an end to some serious trouble in Packham in a big way.

With every story I research, I learn.
With every book I write, I grow and develop - both as a writer and as a human being.
With every novel, I heal myself and, hopefully others.

Thank you for stopping by. You can find my books on Amazon at Diane Bator, Author.

Monday, March 2, 2015



 For several hundred years the white feather was handed out as a symbol of cowardice. 

Who could forget the powerful movie, The Four Feathers, taken from a novel by A.E.W. Mason? It starred Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson? Set in 1884, against the background of the Sudan War. A British Officer, who resigned his post just before going into battle, is handed four white feathers. One is from his fiancée and the other three from his army friends.

In England, in August 1914, The Order of the White Feather was founded by Admiral Charles Fitzgerald, to shame men who would not enlist for the 1st World War. Women mainly handed out these feathers to young men who were not in uniform. Sometimes they would stick the white feather in the lapel of the man’s coat.  Of course, these women didn’t know or obviously care, that many men who may have volunteered for the army had been rejected because of health reasons, or perhaps they had a vital job to perform in munitions etc.

Many men were persecuted or shamed into joining the army, sometimes with deadly results, or if the army would not take them, they were driven to suicide. The stigma of having been handed a white feather stayed with some men for a lifetime.
I am ashamed to admit this, but I had a great aunt who used to stand at the railway station hand out white feathers to young men during the 2nd world war. Her justification was that her son was in the army, so she felt that all other young men should be in the military also.

This short extract from my novel, Daring Masquerade, shows how unfair and cruel the act of handing out a white feather could be.

"Harry stared into the shop windows as they sauntered along the street. Poor Gil had pushed his stump into his pocket so no one could see his missing hand. Her heart bled for him.

 A small rotunda set amidst lawns and colorful flowerbeds, stood at the end of the main street.

“We need to support our soldiers after their valiant battles. They’re crying out for reinforcements,” a portly gentleman said. “What type of man would skulk around here while his fellow Australians are dying in the trenches?” 

“Here, here,” a well-dressed young woman cried out. “Conscript all the cowards who won’t enlist.”

“What are you doing here, young man? Aren’t you ashamed to be so cowardly as to let other men fight for you?” A middle-aged matron shoved a white feather into Gil’s hand.

“You old bitch,” Harry yelled, knocking her hand away, while Gil stood pale and shaking. “How dare you accuse my brother of cowardice?”

“Why doesn’t the coward enlist?” someone else called out.

“You despicable creatures!” Harry screamed back. “You should be arrested.”

Back and forth, Harry and several of the women hurled insults as more people milled around listening to the argument. Harry became so inflamed she didn’t care what came out of her mouth. “You parasites, living comfortably here while forcing someone else to die.”

“Your brother is a coward, ” the portly gentleman said. “He should enlist and do his bit for the Empire.”

“Here, here, Mayor,” someone endorsed his views.

“He’s done his bit,” she shouted. “You pompous, overstuffed pig. Show them, Gil, show them your arm.”

 She dragged Gil’s arm from his pocket and raised it high. “He’s given one hand to the war, isn’t that enough?”

Silence reigned, followed by embarrassed muttering."



Sunday, March 1, 2015

"Doctor, I'm Sick," or Medical Practice in Eighteenth Century America By Shirley Martin
     Believe me, you wouldn't want to be sick in eighteenth century America.
    In my time travel romance, "Dream Weaver," the hero--Christian--is a doctor in 1762. In preparation for writing this romance, I read as much as possible about medicine in the eighteenth century.
    Let's start with a few basics. The average life span was thirty-five years, the death rate appalling. Very few people lived to the advanced age where cancer or heart disease manifested themselves. Only a very high birth rate allowed America to grow. The average married woman had seven children.
    Infection was the most common cause of death. Most doctors at this time recognized the value of cleanliness. Although those little, squiggly "animals" under a microscope were fascinating to watch, no one connected the bacteria with infection. The germ theory lay far in the future.
    In the eighteenth century, a pregnant woman was considered sick and indisposed for nine months. She was to avoid dancing and exercise, not to mention sex, for the duration.(One wonders how often this last proscription was observed.) Post childbirth infection was a feared complication of giving birth. Here again, cleanliness, or lack of it,was an important factor. Very few people in rural areas could afford doctors' fees, and someone other than a doctor performed delivery, often not bothering to wash their hands first.
    Since so many people couldn't afford doctors' fees, quacks abounded "like the locusts of Egypt." In colonial America, anyone who wanted to practice medicine could do so. Most doctors were trained as apprentices. However, American medical students considered the medical school in Edinburgh, Scotland, to be the premier source of a medical education. The courses there included anatomy, surgery, chemistry, pharmacy, and theory. American students in Edinburgh were conscientious scholars and spent long hours every day in the study and discussion of medicine. In 1765, the College of Philadelphia became the first medical school in America. Students had to give their thesis for a medical degree in Latin. Thereafter, America required a more stringent background for the practice of medicine.
    Amputations had a high mortality rate, and fractures of the vertebrae were considered fatal. We've all heard the term "bite the bullet."  It means to endure what you have to endure. More crudely, it means put up and shut up. If you've ever visited a historical fort and seen the bullets with the teeth marks, you might be able to imagine the agony of a patient having his leg sawed off without benefit of an anesthetic.
    Apothecaries in Europe and America sought Indian herbal medicine for many diseases. Sassafras tea was prescribed for infection and rheumatism, besides moths and bedbugs.
    Back then, many people who lived near poorly-drained areas suffered from the ague, what we now know as malaria. They believed that a miasma from the swamps caused this disease. It would be a long time before people realized that mosquitoes caused this malady. Yet strangely, the remedy then is the same as what is used today--Peruvian bark, today's source of quinine.
    Warfare has always advanced surgery. Gunpowder forever changed the strategy and tactics of warfare and also the problem of wound treatment. With gunpowder, casualties greatly increased. Most likely, because of the high casualty rate, doctors were forced to ignore advice on cleanliness. Sickness, not battlefield wounds, caused over 90% of the deaths in America during the Revolution. The conditions in the medical hospitals and field hospitals were appalling--dirty straw to lie on, lice, filth, wounds left untended for days. No wonder so many men died.
    The one great contribution of eighteenth century medicine was the development and practice of smallpox inoculation. In the early stages of this practice, many doctors and clergymen strongly opposed this practice, considering it against the will of God. Over time, the practice became accepted, and by the end of the Revolution, the entire American army had been inoculated. Thanks must go to George Washington for this for he recognized the value of smallpox inoculation.
    Inoculation was the first step in a process that virtually eliminated smallpox worldwide. Later, Edward Jenner developed smallpox vaccine, using the crusts from cowpox to prevent smallpox.
    In the latter part of the eighteenth century, a Virginia gentleman spent hours riding over his plantation, inspecting his property, marking trees and making notes. It was a cold, rainy and blustery December day. Later, he ate his evening meal without changing out of his wet clothes. Within a day, he developed a fever and a sore throat. A firm believer in bloodletting (a common remedy at the time), he asked his overseer to draw some blood. His condition worsened, and eventually three doctors attended him. They drew even more blood, until half of his blood was drawn. Besides that, the doctors purged him and gave him an emetic to induce vomiting. Finally, he asked them to just leave him alone. And shortly after, George Washington died quietly and at peace. 
Find Shirley Martin here: 

and find Dream Weaver at Amazon, B&N, and most ebook and print retailers

Titillating preview by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, The Twisted Climb I've been prepping for Autumn book signings and excited to meet new and...