Saturday, April 18, 2015

How many is too many?? By Nancy M Bell


How many is too many, now that is a question. I work with an animal rescue in Calgary, Alberta. Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society is a no kill organization who take amazing care of the animals that come through their doors. Not only do they take in dogs and cats, but rabbits, ferrets, lizards and turtles. I am proud to be a Cat Caregiver, a foster mom, and volunteer on the Medical Team as well. My husband is very forgiving, I think he is just happy that the latest creature I've brought home isn't a horse. Or there was a sheep once. Sheep stayed with us for a year until his people found a place they could have him with them.

Sheep didn't come through AARCS, neither did the horses that have found homes after staying with us for a bit. So really, what's a few dogs and cats, I ask you? When I started volunteering at AARCS I promised I would NOT foster, oh no. I would be good and just be a caregiver at the shelter. That lasted about two shifts as a Dog Caregiver. A very young, very pregnant dog came in and all the whelping foster homes were full. So I packed her up in the car at the end of the shift and settled her in to our converted chicken house where she could get used to being a people dog rather than a feral one and have her babies in privacy. Missy was so sweet, very happy to be clean and have food and water. When she came to us her hind end was so full of burrs her tail was stuck to her hind legs. She was given a shave to take care of that, but it took forever for her tail to get hair again. A week after I brought her home she delivered eleven puppies. None of which resembled her in the least. So now, instead of one extra dog, my poor husband had twelve of them. The weather turned cold at the end of October, so the puppies came into the house until they could go to their own foster homes to learn house training and manners. It was sad to see them go, but much less work. After eight weeks of catering to the little devils, it was time. Missy stayed with us until she found her forever home in January 2015.

This is Missy in her forever home (she's the one in the back) with her brother Patrick.

So, just after Missy went to her forever home, AARCS, working with the Alberta SPCA took in 104 dogs from a hoarding situation. On Christmas Eve, the first batch of the 201 dogs came to us. Since I had Missy at the time, I didn't push my luck and bring home another. But when the last batch came through I was doing a Cat Caregiver shift and ended up bringing home three Irish Wolf Hound puppies who were 5 weeks old. I kept them for their 10 day puppy quarantine, and then two of them went to regular foster. I kept the little one, known as MR94. They were seized from outside the town of Milk River and he was the 94th dog in that batch. I called him Luke and watched over him. Something wasn't right but no one could pin point what was wrong. Finally, an abscess showed up on his right hip. It was lanced and drained and he was put on antibiotics for 10 days. All seemed fine. Then it came back, showed up on the day he was to be neutered. So instead, he got it lanced and a drain put in. More antibiotics. All seemed well. He got neutered. Then another pocket developed. This time though it was a seratoma, no bacteria causing it, just a fluid buildup because the skin moves so much over the hip that the pocket didn't adhere as it should. So, another lancing and a drain. Now all seems to be okay, and he will have a meet and greet with potential adopters tomorrow. April 12, 2015. We'll miss the little guy when he goes, but if I kept them all , I couldn't help any others.

This is Luke. He is much bigger now, but still cute

This is Luke today. The dog beside him is Duffy. He also came from the same place as Luke. Duffy is 3 years old. This is how big little Luke will be. Holy small horse!

Sad and horrific as some of the stories of the rescue animals are, these are the lucky ones. They have it made. Food, shelter, whatever medical care they need, and love. When each foster leaves and takes a bit of my heart with them, I have to remind myself of the ones still out there fending for themselves. Some of them sick and injured. Some of them just hungry. I don't think it can ever be too many. Just not all at the same time. If there is an animal rescue near you please consider donating to them. No rescue can survive without the help of the community. It doesn't have to be time, or fostering. Any little donation goes a long way for a non-profit no kill shelter. We take animals that are on death row in local pounds and give them a second chance. For feral cats, AARCS has a Barn Buddy program. For farmers, or people who need an outside cat to take care of mice, this is the option. It gives the feral cats a stress free safe place to live with a heated area and food and water and provides the adopter with a very low maintenance cat who has no intention of living in a house with people.

My romance Storm's Rescue, is dedicated to all the people who rescue animals and all those who need rescuing. It is a subject near and dear to my heart. The dog in the story is called Storm and she does need rescuing. She is a mix of the many dogs I've had go through my house, and in particular, she is dedicated to the black momma dog with no name who didn't make it off in time.

This is the momma dog who Storm is named for. I also rescued another black dog, a lab cross who still lives with me and named her Storm as well. Sorry, I can't get the photo to turn the right way.

So now, you all know I'm a crazy lady who opens her home to all sorts of weirdness. If you'd like to read Storm's Refuge just click on the cover at the top of this blog.  Thanks for visiting with me. Until next month... Stay safe and enjoy the spring weather.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Casting Your Characters - Aries ala Janet Lane Walters

 Can love be reunited especially when she's having a baby that's not his.

Returning to Fern Lake after ten years for the funeral of his cousin and teenage enemy, Simon Parker learns his high school sweetheart is nine months pregnant and seven months divorced from his cousin. Their meeting is complicated by her...

The Sun sign is a character's inner nature, the Moon the emotional nature and the Ascendant the face shown to the world. Seldom does one character be a pure sign most of the times they have two of three signs in their nature. Bear this in mind when you're creating your characters and layering them. But let's begin

For a character with an Aries Sun think action. I always have a picture of someone sword in hand leading the charge. Aries can be aggressive and direct in expressing themselves. Creative energy abounds but they can invest everything they have into a new project until they lose interest. They need to prove themselves through action and are often impulsive, acting first and then thinking. They may ignore the advice of others. Often they don't finish what they start but they are competitive. Recognition is their need. Their strength is in their refusal to accept defeat.

Now the Aries Moon which expresses emotions. Here the emotions can be volatile, impulsive. They may not consider the consequences of their actions. While their temper might flare, the anger is temporary and easily forgotten.

The Aries Ascendant is the face shown to the world. This character will project intense energy and decisiveness. They will act on their ideas immediately and hate wasting time. They are competitive and have a desire to excel and to prove themselves through action.

New Boxed Sets Containing 3 and 4 Books in one Set

This past month we've been busy putting together some of our reader favorite novels into boxed sets, and the bargains are amazing.  Three and four book sets at prices under $5.00 per set give everyone a chance to read some of the best of Books We Love's older and newer novels, all together in one package, linked by style and subject matter.

We have some wonderful romantic and wholesome adult and young adult novels from Ann Herrick and Sydell Voeller.  In Seasons of Love young adult readers will be delighted with the seasonal themes in  My Fake Summer Boyfriend, Snowed in Together and How to Survive a Summer Romance (or Two).









Thursday, April 16, 2015

My Favorite Things by Roseanne Dowell

One of my favorite things to do when I'm not writing is embroidery. Another is quilting. I’ve found a way to combine the two. 

First, I made baby quilts for two of my nieces. White on white, I machine embroidered them with the darning stitch so I had control. They turned out really nice, but I really love to hand embroider. That’s when I discovered red-work. During a quilting shop-hop, one of the stores highlighted red-work. For those of you who don’t know what red-work is – it’s embroidery done in all red floss. Just the outline of the picture, not filled in like other embroidery patterns.

Anyway, I fell in love with it. Every year I make something for Christmas (often a Santa) for my six children and give it to them on Thanksgiving. I found a Santa pattern and did it all in red-work, framed it and gave it to them.

That's when I decided to make a queen-size quilt for our bed, using various flowers. I found a book with different flower transfers and proceeded to iron them onto fabric and embroider them. It took the better part of a year to finish the quilt and many times I wondered why I started it and was tempted to quit. I’m glad I persevered. The quilt turned out beautiful and I use it every spring/summer.

Once I finished that, I decided to make a baby quilt for each of my
grandchildren – for their first born. I started out looking in coloring books for designs. I traced the images onto 12x12 squares of muslin. After I finished embroidering the squares I cut sashing and sewed them together. For the backing I used various fabrics, not nursery print. None of the quilts have nursery fabric in them at all. I've used patterns from animals to Winnie the Pooh to Sunbonnet Sue. 

Eventually, I found transfer books and started using them for designs. I looked everywhere for baby designs. I finally finished my
14th and last quilt. That’s a lot of baby quilts. Most of them are done in red work, but I varied some with other colors, too. 

It took a couple of years to do all the squares. Four years ago, I made quilts for my niece’s twins using kitten and bunny patterns. They’re done in many colors. Since then she had another child, another boy, so I made one for him using baby animals.

Four years ago, I also gave my first grandchild’s quilt to my oldest granddaughter, whose baby boy was born in June – my first great grandchild. That same year, my fourteenth grandchild was born, another boy and I did puppies for him.

April 12th, I gave my second quilt at another granddaughter’s shower. She’s having a baby girl in May. It’s exciting to see the look on their faces when they open the quilt. I hope they cherish them and love them as much as I loved making them.

I've marked each quilt with the name of which grandchild they're supposed to go to in case I’m not around to give it to them. My daughters have been instructed to pass them out. I hope I'm around to give them all away.

This last quilt I made for another niece's baby. I'd say it's one of my favorites, but honestly I say that about all of them. It's impossible to choose one. They were all fun to work on. Now I have to find something else to keep me busy. I think I've found it, chip carving but that's a topic for another blog.

Check out my books at Amazon   Here's one of my favorites.

Forced to stay in a nursing home while undergoing therapy, seventy-two year old, Mike Powell refuses to get out of bed, won't cooperate with the nurses, and won’t take his medicine. At least not until he meets Elsa. The tiny, spunky little Elsa sparks new life into him. 

Seventy year old, Elsa -left in the home while her son takes a family vacation - joins forces with Mike, setting the home on its heels, and later discovers deception and fraud. Can they find happiness together? 

Who says life begins at 40? Life is wonderful at any age, as long you're willing to live it. Elsa Logan and Mike Powell prove it. And I want to be just like them when I grow up! One of Roseanne Dowell's best, and my personal favorite! 
Elsa Logan bears a striking resemblance to a romance writer I know who shall be nameless but whose initials are R. D. ~ Romantic Suspense Author, Gail Roughton

Wednesday, April 15, 2015




Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Who said never work with children or animals? ... by Sheila Claydon

 Buy 'Mending Jodie's Heart' on Amazon

The legend is that it was the comedian W.C. Fields but this is frequently disputed. It is generally accepted, however, that working with either children or animals on stage always carries risk. A child may steal the whole show or, instead, behave in an entirely unpredictable way, either of which is a challenge for the other actors. This is only too well illustrated by this TV clip from 1969. Admittedly the presenters were probably asking for it as they don't seem very prepared for what might go wrong on a live recording, but what did go wrong remains a favorite memory for everyone who saw it. Over forty years later it's still shown on British TV from time to time, and it still makes everyone laugh.

Using animals and children in books though it's an entirely different matter. They can be the focus of the story or act as a link between the main protagonists. They can inject humor, fear or pathos into the narrative or just provide a colourful background. They can also be used to give individual characters status. After all if a writer wants her hero to be a father, then he must have a child. The trick for the author is to decide how much of the story should be given over to the children.

I've just finished reading those great imaginary essays on history, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel and she uses children brilliantly. There are many of them woven into the  epic story of the court of Henry VIII and yet none of them have a star part. What they do instead is, by their behaviour, show the reader who the adults are. Thomas Cromwell, for instance, reported by history to be many things from great statesman to cold-blooded opportunist, is, in Mantel's books, a loving father and uncle. His house is full of children and when his own daughters die of the sweating sickness that was so prevalent in London at the time, he doesn't forget his responsibilities to his dead sister's children, but makes a home for them even though they can never replace his own. Yet despite this, none of the children are more than shadowy background figures. What they do, however, is remind the reader that whatever else he was, Cromwell was a man full of human warmth who was kind to those he loved. He also loved dogs and in the books is never without one and from time to time he has the sort of conversation with his dog that all pet owners will understand.

In the same books, Mary Tudor, only daughter of Henry and his first wife, Katherine of Aragon, is portrayed through the eyes of the many adults who surround her. She rarely appears herself even though she is integral to the story. Instead, the reader learns much about her and about how cruelly she  is manipulated while she is still a child through the words and sniggers of the courtiers. As a consequence of this clever narrative much is learned about Mary's royal parents, Anne Boleyn her stepmother, and also about Cromwell himself. Whether any of it is true is a matter for conjecture, but as a story telling technique it is masterful, as is the reference to Anne Boleyn's small dog whose untimely death supposedly caused her more grief than the loss of her own infant baby.

Ruminating on this after I read the last page, I thought about my own books. Slight they may be compared with the epic histories of Mantel, but I realised that in some of them I have used the same technique. In Mending Jodie's Heart I've gone even further. Without the children, the dog, the birds and the horses, there would be no story. The children's likes and dislikes, their hopes and ambitions are the things that fuel it. Without the children and the animals the reader would never have learned about the hero and the heroine's flaws and their strength. The children and the animals were also the reason I had to turn what was meant to be one book into a trilogy. I had to know what happened to them. Whether I managed to use them skilfully enough to show the true characters of the adults in their lives is for the reader to decide.

My books are available at and also at Amazon. I'm also at:

Monday, April 13, 2015

Dragon Boating by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


Dragon boating is a very popular water sport and there are festivals held all over the world. Many of those have special breast cancer survivor races, plus there are international breast cancer survivor only festivals.

I belong to a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team. I have been to an international festival in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, one in Caloundra, Queensland, Australia, and one in Sarasota, Florida, USA. About one hundred teams gather from around the world at each of these events and it is amazing to see the thousands of women dressed in pink.

Each team has twenty paddlers in the boat, plus one drummer and one steersperson. The drummer, who sits at the front with a drum and baton, pounds the drum to keep us paddling in rhythm while the steersperson in the back keeps us on course. Both of them watch our paddling technique. The boat is narrow at both ends and bulges in the middle, making it a tight fit for the paddlers at the front and back. There are two paddlers per seat and the person beside you is your partner.

As paddlers we have one hand on the handle of the paddle and the other on the shaft near the blade. We raise the paddle and lean out over the side of the boat so that the paddle is vertical and both hands are over the water. We rotate our upper bodies which puts the blade of the paddle beside the hip of the person in front of us. This is our reach. We jab the blade into the water and pull it back until it is near our own thigh then lift it out. That is our stroke. All the twenty paddlers have to do this in unison, called timing, in order for the boat to go forward. The faster we stroke the faster the boat goes.

I find that Facebook is a wonderful tool for connecting with family and friends around the world. Each day there are many funny videos and thoughtful sayings shared on it. The following is a list of orders given to dragon boat paddlers by their steersperson or drummer that was shared on Facebook. I have heard them all either during practice or in a race. However, taken out of context they may be considered a little off colour. I have added a few to the list as well.

Do you mind stroking for us?

Do you have any wax for my shaft?

We'll do a wet start.

Give me two more inches.

Lower your hand on the shaft.

Pull out sooner, you're getting me wet.

It's really tight back here.

You're holding the shaft too tight, relax your grip.

Dig it deep and feel the glide.

Open up and show your partner your chest.

Don't bob your head.

We are a bit front heavy.

Give it to me.

Don't pull out too soon.

Give it all you got.

Close your eyes and feel the rhythm.

Pull it out at the same time as the person in front of you.

I have a blister on my butt.

Lift your butt cheek when you reach, it helps you thrust more.

You're pulling out too soon and it's splashing me.

Deeper, harder, stronger, faster.

Dig, dig.

Keep it long.

Long and strong.

Harder, harder.

Faster, faster.

Power finish now.

You have this, you have this.

Gold Fever

Books of The Travelling Detective Series boxed set:

Illegally Dead

The Only Shadow In The House

Whistler's Murder

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. What a great line for all those people who say, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” And as we know, most times tomorrow never comes.

     Why is it there are so many things we need to do or get done and we just don’t have the time to do it all?  Or are we just procrastinating?

   We are busy – yes! But we also delay . . . put-off . . . dawdle . . . and just plain feel lazy sometimes. It seems easier to get busy and so something else because the project we are facing just seems too mammoth to tackle.

     Let’s be honest – whatever the project –we all could use some helpful tips on how to stop making excuses – and get those tasks done today!

1.      Stop for a moment and ask - Why are you putting this project off?  You know there has to be a reason. Is it boring? Is it too big a job and just the thought of starting is enough to make you run in the other direction? Maybe the project will surface emotions you don’t wish to face?  People procrastinate for various reasons. Do you know your reasons?  Understanding why – just might create the solution and stop you from procrastinating.

2.      Some people never tackle a project because it’s truly not that big of a deal. Maybe you really don’t need to tackle a project – because it’s not import to finish. Then you might ask yourself, instead of stressing over the incomplete project – should it be done in the first place. Get rid of it and cross it off your to-do list.

3.      Did you ever think of asking for help?  You love helping others when they need help – right? Don’t you think others might like to help you, too?  If a project on your list is just too big to handle alone ask a family member or a good friend to help. It’ll be a lot of fun to share the time with someone – and you’re making good memories. A comment here and there and you’ll be laughing up a storm together - plus the project will be done before you know it.

4.      I call it baby steps. When a large project needs just your attention – starting can be daunting . . . or let’s face it downright frightening. Consider this, begin using baby steps. Don’t think you have to tackle every part of your project all at once.  Heck I’d be running in the other direction, too. Give yourself thirty minutes at the end of Monday through Friday. (Reward yourself with the weekend off.)

     Give yourself a good direction what you will want to finish in that thirty minutes. Getting started is the hardest decision of any to-do project. There will be days when you’ll feel like doing even more than the thirty minutes because it’s going so well. It’s getting started and committing the time to do it that counts.

5.      Now comes the hard part for so many of us. Focus that commitment to the end. Visualize what it will look like when you’re done. How will you feel? Think of a reward to give yourself when the project is completed – that will motivate you! Just know that when you are done – you’ll be so proud of yourself.

6.      We’re done talking about it. You have a plan. You’ve made the commitment. Remember, getting started will take will take the most effort.
a.       Ask why you are putting the project off – and decide if your project needs doing.
b.      Schedule your starting time.
c.       Make a commitment.
d.      Start with baby steps.
e.       Visualize the completed project
f.       Ask for help if you need it.
g.      Focus until the end.
h.      Reward yourself for a job well done!

There’s nothing to it. After you tackle the first item on your ‘to-do list’ . . . head straight to the list and enjoy a rewarding check-mark in the ‘completed’ box.  Now you’re ready to start all over and tackle the next item on the list.  Procrastination?  What’s that??

Ghosts and memories—Tricia McGill

Check out my Books We Love author page for information on all my books.  This little story I wrote years ago is one of my favorites, fo...