Saturday, April 25, 2015
To celebrate the Spring Season, BWL is giving away a Kindle Fire HD 7, 7" HD Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB
All you have to do to win is visit the Books We Love home page browse our "Coming Soon" and new releases books and tell us which book you would like to read.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your selection(s) and your email address and home state/province. One entry per subscriber. Multiple entries do not increase your chances of winning. Sorry, this contest is only available in the US and Canada - not valid in Quebec or where prohibited by law. Winner's name will be posted on the website on June 15, 2015.
Swing into Spring Contest from Books We Love
Friday, April 24, 2015
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In these modern times with the internet (and women freely allowed to enter bars) females have choices in their search for a mate. But in eighteenth century England, my era of research, girls were superstitious, and quite limited, especially in the small country villages.
To this end, many relied on ancient customs and folklore. Most of these search-for-true-love customs revolved around the seasons.
Other customs included, in Somersetshire on May Day Eve or St. John’s Eve, a lass putting a snail on a pewter plate. As the snail slithered across the plate it would mark out the future husband’s initials.
On another ritual to this end, writer Daniel Defoe remarked by saying: "I hope that the next twenty-ninth of June, which is St. John the Baptist’s Day, I shall not see the pastures adjacent to the metropolis thronged as they were the last year with well-dressed young ladies crawling up and down upon their knees as if they were a parcel of weeders,
Throwing an apple peel over the left shoulder was also employed in the hopes the paring would fall into the shape of the future husband’s initials. When done on St. Simon and St. Jude’s Day, the girls would recite the following rhyme as they tossed the peel: St. Simon and St. Jude, on you I intrude, By this paring I hold to discover, without any delay please tell me this day, the first letter of him, my true lover.
On St. John’s Eve, his flower, the St. John’s Wort, would be hung over doors and windows to keep off evil spirits, and the girls who weren’t off searching for coal or snails in the pastures, would be preparing the dumb cake. Two girls made the cake, two baked it, and two broke it. A third person would put the cake pieces under the pillows of the other six. This entire ritual must be performed in dead silence-or it would fail. The girls would then go to bed to dream of their future husbands.
On Halloween, a girl going out alone might meet her true lover. One tale has it that a young servant-maid who went out for this purpose encountered her master coming home from market instead of a single boy. She ran home to tell her mistress, who was already ill. The mistress implored the maid to be kind to her children, then this wife died. Later on, the master did marry his serving-maid.
Myths and customs were long a part of village life when it came to match-making. Now they sound much more fun than the click of a mouse on a computer. But then as now, you never know what you'll end up with.
In my novel, Ring of Stone,which takes place in eighteenth-century Cornwall, my heroine Rose will experience magic on All Hallows Eve and glimpse her future husband over her sHoulder. Click the cover at the top of this Blog to buy a copy of Ring of Stone. Thanks for reading my blog post, and I hope you will purchase and enjoy my novel(s) as well.
For more on Diane Scott Lewis’s novels, visit her website: http://www.dianescottlewis.org
Source: English Country Life in the Eighteenth Century, by Rosamond Bayne-Powell, 1935.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
A long time ago I wrote a book for my teenage daughter, two years’ worth of long hand as I didn’t even have a typewriter back then. My family viewed my ambition as ‘Vicki’s little hobby’. I guess my parents thought it kept me out of trouble and accepted that in spite of all their best efforts to the contrary writing, like horses, would always be a part of my life. Don’t get me wrong, my parents were great but I came from one of those very traditional British families where reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic were all that mattered and artists of any ilk were an altogether different breed and therefore viewed with suspicion.
I didn’t really start writing seriously until I reached my mid-fifties and suffered the same anxiety as do many newbie authors of any age. Was I good enough? Would people want to read my books? How could I compare with Maeve Binchy – hello-o, how silly a thought was that! Maeve is incomparable.
I worked endlessly not on just a first chapter or even a first paragraph but on that first line, the all important hook before I really understood what that actually meant. I took writing classes and at my very first workshop received two pieces of priceless advice. One, ‘write the damn book’, and two, ‘learn to love re-writing’. My tutor explained that while writing is often fun, it is also a craft to be learned and very few, if any, authors come to it fully fledged as it were.
I joined one writers group that got me started on my writing path then another that got me focused. CaRWA is the Calgary chapter of Romance Writers of America and it was after our AGM in 2011 that our then president talked about collaborative writing and stated she could write a book with any of us. That was a real ‘Aha’ moment, and by the end of the day, with maybe a glass or two of wine to sustain us, Bandit Creek Books was born and thirty-three authors set to work.
Our one criterion was that as a professional writing organization, we needed our books to reflect that. This was at a time when e-books were increasingly popular and not all were as well written as they might have been. We all agreed that we would work with critique partners to avoid the mistakes we were so frequently seeing and hearing about and hopefully avoid the flak surrounding self-published books.
And that was when I learnt to give up my baby. Oh, the agonies of having someone else actually read my book. Even though I so badly wanted to be published it was still hard to let my pages go. But what I learned from that experience is that you do need another pair of eyes. My critique partners pick me up on incorrect or missing punctuation, catch me on word usage, query character arcs and plot points. When I have revised accordingly I send out to willing beta readers who inevitably pick up on something all of us have missed.
I learnt about formatting and how important spacing is – to the extent that I now usually write with the pilcrow symbol turned on so I can get rid of those darned extra spaces that always creep in when I’m not looking. I quickly learned to not trust Spell-check which does not differentiate between those tricky little homonyms, words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings like dog (animal) and dog (to follow) or punch (to hit) and punch (a drink) because they are proper words.
Nor does Spell-check help you with homophones, words with the same pronunciation but different spelling and meaning. Think about ‘bridal’ and ‘bridle’ as examples, or ‘air’ and ‘heir’ and my all time favorite, ‘cereal’ and ‘serial’. I recently bought a new Regency romance and was really disappointed to read the phrase, ‘he threw his reigns at the groom’. That kind of mistake will pull me out of a story every time and makes me question the skill of the proof reader or wonder if there even was one.
I know I still make mistakes despite my Strunk & White’s Style Guide, or the Chicago Manual of Style and The New York Times Crossword Puzzle Dictionary. My favorite go-to grammar book for enlightenment on misplaced modifiers, mixed metaphors or correct use of apostrophes is the saucy little Comma Sutra by Laurie Rozakis.
Yes, that tutor was right. I did write the damn book, and a couple more besides, but I can’t say I learnt to love re-writing. I did, however, come to accept it as part of a writer’s life along with the polishing and honing I feel is necessary in order to offer my reader the quality product they deserve.
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015
The Dumpster Diving Sliced Bread Theory of Writing
Often a writer is asked what word or words of advice to give a new writer? I think I'd give "Scramble" or my personal fave "Dogtrot" both good useful words. Of course there's the cult classic, "Swank". Those are the words I'd give a new writer.
Please don't send me any thanks, well, just a like on facebook would be okay.
Nor any chocolate, my wife breaks out in hives, then we get bees everywhere and the cats get stuck to the patio from all the honey.
Okay serious now, the best thing for beginning writers to get into is flow and a set writing pattern. Some get up at 2AM, chuck lots of garlic about, to ward off the vampires and write until the sun comes up. Whatever works, I myself make tea and feed the cats. Number one rule in our house; don't forget to feed the cats or you'll need more than garlic to keep you safe. PS. Silver bullets don't work on hungry cats, I tried and they just whacked me upside the head with the pistol and traded the silver for lots of canned tuna.
Oh, I forgot, the serious part. Remember this, five percent of writing a story or novel is the actual writing. So you ask naively, what's the rest?
Editing, more editing and more darn editing. Then set the manuscript down for a month or two reread it and (no secret here) more editing.
The best thing to do with all of your writing is to read it out loud. Preferably in a room on your own, with no one around otherwise someone will think you're absolutely bananas. You can catch a lot of awkward sentences, poor flow and grammatically incorrect phrases this way.
The biggest gift a writer can have is humility. As much as your mom said, "Your book is the greatest thing since sliced bread," IT AIN'T. There are very few writers who word for word, paragraph by paragraph are word perfect. If you check the garbage cans of even great writers, you'll find a lot of worn to the stub erasers.
Also join a writers group, or two. Could join a knitting class. I'm told knitters are a humble lot.
A group where you edit (see earlier paragraph), and read each other's works. Out loud, of course. If several people point out a paragraph or page that doesn't work, analyze it, break it down and rewrite it or, this is the major humbling part, chuck it out. Guess what, even Gandhi made mistakes.
If several writers (they have a more critical eye than Joe public or your mom) say a sentence or paragraph is brilliant, that's the Muses calling your number, so get up, do a dance and pat yourself on the back. Unless you have some kind of degenerative disc back disease, then just mentally shake your hand and say "Thank you, thank you very much," and back at it. Okay, even the humblest are allowed to crow sometimes.
Know this, there's a lot of schlock out there that should reside in a large sealed dumpster. War and Peace went through one hundred and one publishers before being accepted. What if Tolstoy threw it into a dumpster after one hundred?
Stephen King did. He dumped his novel "Carrie" into the trash and said, "I give up. I'm going to stick to being a teacher."
Thank God his wife had the guts to say, "You tell me you're a writer. Dust off that blown, crumpled and withered ego and put it out there. AGAIN."
The next publisher accepted the book and the rest is well, "Salem's Lot."
I went through 398 rejections before my first novel got accepted. I know, I've logged every one in a book. A word here to the smarmy git who brags about being accepted on the first submission. I politely smile and say to myself "Lucky Bastaddose." I shake your hand in humble subjection. Sometimes it can be as simple as the right article at the right time to the right editor. Or, and I'm going to choke a lot here, you could just be damn good.
There's a picture that's hangs over my writing desk given to me by someone so long ago I don't remember. I dust it off every time I get another rejection and go at it again. The picture is of a man sitting alone at a piano in a huge empty room. There's stacks of papers strewn about, empty coffee cups and worn pencils all around him. The caption above him reads, PERSEVERANCE. The quote below is from Samuel Johnson: "Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance."
That's one thing that makes a true writer humble. Want to know another? Ask yourself this question. How many literary American Classics worthy of a Noble Award lie in dumpsters?
This goes back to my theory. Only dumpster divers will ever know, and after six bottles of aftershave I doubt they'd sit up and spout, "Wow, best thing since sliced bread." Before they'd probably use the papers to keep themselves warm at night around a fire or worse humiliation, wipe themselves after a number two.
Remember that when you give up. That's humbling.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015
CLICK TO BUY SEX, LOVE AND MURDER
I have a woman president in my first novel, SEX, LOVE & MURDER, and I’m baffled as to why we in the United States haven’t elected a woman president yet. Other countries have elected about sixty-five female Presidents since 1940.
When I first wrote SEX, LOVE & MURDER, (previously called Mardi Gravestone, published in 2004), I felt certain we’d have a Madame President by now.
In 2007, when Hillary Rodham Clinton sought the nomination for the Democratic Party, she won the popular vote, but not the delegates.
Recently, she announced she’s running again. Almost every political commentator agrees she’ll be almost impossible to beat. But that’s what pundits said the last time she ran.
Back then, the media favored a young Barack Obama, and many studies have proven that the mass media gives more favorable coverage to male candidates, and I’m wondering why?
Did it start with Eve’s bad press? We all know the story. Eve was living with Adam in the Garden of Eden, and God told them they could enjoy all of the trees except one. Satan spoke through a serpent and convinced Eve to disobey God and bite from an apple attached to the Tree of Life (or the tree of knowledge of good and evil). Eve then persuaded Adam to take a bite. God was angry and banished them from the Garden. They were pure until they disobeyed God and sinned.
Many theologians say the story of Adam and Eve is just a parable. Also, Geneticists believe females were the first homo sapiens on our planet, and therefore, a woman wasn’t created from the rib of Adam as the Bible story suggests.
However, we, as a Christian nation, have often depended upon male religious leaders to interpret the Bible for us, and according to former President Jimmy Carter, who is a born again Christian, the Bible has often been used incorrectly to subjugate women.
“Some of the words of Paul, who’s our chief religious theologian for Christians, can be interpreted either way,” Carter said. “If you’re a male religious leader, and you want to stay in unchallenged power and not have women challenge yours, then you can pick some of those things that Paul said.”
And according to Genesis, after Eve disobeys God, God says, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Now granted this is the Old Testament. In the New Testament we learn that Jesus loved women, and his best friends appeared to be women. He even traveled with women.
However, Biblical Scholars claim that many of the writings of women were not included in the Bible, and it remains a predominantly male offering. Some scholars have theorized that the men who loved Jesus may have been envious of the women in his life. Later, many religious leaders used the Bible to reinforce the idea of male dominance and female inferiority for their own benefit.
So I think we’re long overdue to have a woman in the oval office as president, and according to conservative writer Myra Adams, we will elect a woman in 2016, and she gives the following reasons why Hillary Clinton will be elected, which I've summarized:
1. There’s a social movement to elect a Madame President, and it’s gathering hurricane strength.
2. The media is now ready to crown a queen.
3. Political pundits are saying, “It’s time.”
4. In Hillary Clinton’s camp are “some top-notch Obama campaign talent, Jeremy Bird and Mitch Stewart, have already been hired to build an organization similar to President Obama’s two nearly flawless, state-of-the-art campaigns. It would be nearly impossible for the Republican presidential candidate to quickly build and match what will then be a huge national campaign organization with a three-year head start. For even the Republican challenger, it would appear as if Hillary were the incumbent,” wrote Adams.
5. Hillary could easily raise more than a billion dollars before 2016.
6. “The Electoral College is slanted toward Hillary and the Democrats,” Adams wrote.
7. Hillary will have no real opposition in the Democratic primary and she and her team can focus on the general election.
8. She should win the Hispanic vote.
9. She should win the African-American and Asian vote.
Her popular, charitable husband will be one of her greatest assets on the campaign trail.
She could easily package herself to run for Bill Clinton’s “third term.”
“The Republicans have a weak bench with little star power,” wrote Adams.
10. The lengthy GOP primary system will benefit her.
11. She can make a strong case that she will be the only leader who can bring the country together and work with Republicans to solve problems.
12. If Republican candidates imply Hillary is too old, they will be insulting a loyal base of supporters who fall in her age category.
13. “GOP and the conservative media are using weak arguments against Hillary,” wrote Adams.
As for me, I have waited a long time for a Madame President, and I suppose that’s why I included one in my first novel SEX, LOVE & MURDER (below). I have written three novels. Along with SEX, LOVE & MURDER are HURRICANE HOUSE, and A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES.
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Monday, April 20, 2015
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I was stirred to this topic by sharing a video with my husband about a dangerous plant that is overtaking Michigan. Even touching it can cause blindness or irritating and scarring skin lesions. How scary is that? We have another problem in the South so we don't need a dangerous hogweed attacking us as well. Seems like every state has its "pests."
Kudzu (Pueraria lobata) is a serious invasive plant in the United States. It has been spreading in the southern U.S. at the rate of 150,000 acres (61,000 ha) annually, "easily outpacing the use of herbicide spraying and mowing, as well increasing the costs of these controls by $6 million annually."Its introduction has produced devastating environmental consequences. This has earned it the nickname, "The vine that ate the South."
The kudzu plant was introduced to the United States in 1876 at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Kudzu was introduced to the Southeast in 1883 at the New Orleans Exposition. The vine was widely marketed in the Southeast as an ornamental plant to be used to shade porches and in the first half of the 20th century, kudzu was distributed as a high-protein content cattle fodder and as a cover plant to prevent soil erosion. The Soil Erosion Service recommended the use of kudzu to help control erosion of slopes which led to the government-aided distribution of 85 million seedlings and government-funded plantings of kudzu which paid $19.75 per hectare. By 1946, it was estimated that 1,200,000 hectares (3,000,000 acres) of kudzu had been planted. When boll weevil infestations and the failure of cotton crops drove farmers to move from rural to urban districts, kudzu plantings were left unattended.
The climate and environment of the Southeastern United States allowed the kudzu to grow virtually unchecked. In 1953 the United States Department of Agriculture removed kudzu from a list of suggested cover plants and listed it as a weed in 1970. By 1997, the vine was placed on the “Federal Noxious Weed List”. Today, kudzu is estimated to cover 3,000,000 hectares (7,400,000 acres) of land in the southeastern United States, mostly in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi. It has been recorded in Nova Scotia, Canada, in Columbus, Ohio, and in all five boroughs of New York City. NOTE From Ginger...let me tell you, it's everywhere in TN, too.
Kudzu is a perennial vine native to Southeast Asia, primarily subtropical and temperate regions of China, Japan, and Korea, with trifoliate leaves composed of three leaflets. Five species in the genus Pueraria (P. montana, P. lobata, P. edulis, P. phaseoloides and P. thomsoni) are closely related and kudzu populations in the United States seem to have ancestry from more than one of the species.] Each leaflet is large and ovate with two to three lobes each and hair on the underside. The leaves have the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, which can supply up to 95% of leaf nitrogen to the plant in poor soils] Along the vines are nodes, points at which stems or tendrils can propagate to increase support and attach to structures. As a twining vine, kudzu uses stems or tendrils that can extend from any node on the vine to attach to and climb most surfaces. In addition, the nodes of the kudzu vine have the ability to root when exposed to soil, further anchoring the vine to the ground. The roots are tuberous and are high in starch and water content, and the twining of the plant allows for less carbon concentration in the construction of woody stems and greater concentration in roots, which aids root growth. The roots can account for up to 40% of total plant biomass.
Kudzu’s primary method of reproduction is asexual vegetative spread (cloning) which is aided by the ability to root wherever a stem is exposed to soil] For sexual reproduction, kudzu is entirely dependent on pollinators.
Although kudzu prefers forest regrowth and edge habitats with high sun exposure, the plant can survive in full sun or partial shade. These attributes of kudzu made it attractive as an ornamental plant for shading porches in the southeastern US, but they facilitated the growth of kudzu as it became a “structural parasite” of the South, enveloping entire structures when untreated and often referred to as “the vine that ate the south”.
Not from Wikipedia: As we've driven around looking at houses to buy, I noticed, during the winter besides all the leaves turning brown, the trees are also covered with dormant kudzu. In places they look like giant spiderwebs. I also discovered how many billions of dollars were spent to try to rid the southern states of this rapidly growing plant before it was put on a list of ornamentals to avoid. It was earlier recommend in Georgia as a great growing vine, such as Ivy. Who knew it would completely eat structures? At twelve inches a day, it's no wonder. While you're writing a book, this could happen to your house. :)
Hey...while you're taking time to peruse the blog, why not check out my page at Books We Love?
|Jonathon Van Buren|
Hey...while you're taking time to peruse the blog, why not check out my page at Books We Love?
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