Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions... by Diane Bator


They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So are the pages of a good novel.

In real life, we all have all had good intentions that go wrong. That is one of those things that makes us all human and makes our characters more believable. Sometimes a character is only "evil" because he or she makes choices that seem like a good idea at the time. Many times he has the ability to undertake something that will correct a bad situation but fails to do so due to spite, procrastination, laziness or vice. These situations are what create such great tension and conflict in many novels and movies.

One of the best examples I can think of is Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. He is a character we all love to hate, yet we find out in the end that all he has wanted from the beginning is to protect Harry rather than see him killed. His actions were intended to help Harry all along and yet, Snape's own good intentions cost him his life.

In my third Wild Blue Mystery novel The Bakery Lady, Christina Davidson has good intentions when she returns to Packham to help out in her family bakery when her mother dies, but gets stuck with running the shop when her father takes off to Florida to grieve. While part of her wants to remain in town until her father returns, she soon discovers her husband stands accused of murder. 

Private Detective and Good Samaritan Leo Blue has the best of intentions when he promises to help set things straight and plans to bring husband and wife together for Christmas. Even if it costs him his sanity and possibly the love of his life. It seems the harder he tries to solve the case, the more his good intentions will cost him.

One good quote about good intentions comes from Stephen Garrard Post writing about altruism: "If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is partly because that is the road they generally started out on." In other words, mankind normally acts from less worthy, selfish motives. While that may not be normally true in real life, it does make for some great reads.

May 2016 bring many more fantastically flawed characters to read & write about.

Diane Bator




MAKE LOVE NOT WAR - MARGARET TANNER


VIETNAM WAR

 At the risk of revealing my age, I have to say the 1960’s was my time. Mini-skirts, stilettos (I’ve got the bunions to prove it), beehive hair-dos, I couldn’t quite manage that, although I did tease the life out of my hair and regularly put in coloured rinses, French Plum or Rich Burgundy, were the colours I favoured. I can remember when the Beatles made their first visit out to Australia. A couple of girls I worked with were lucky enough to get tickets to their concerts, (we hated them, of course), they came to work the next days minus their voices, and stayed that way for about a week, because they had screamed so much.

We used manual typewriters in those days. One original and four copies of everything we typed. I don’t know how many blouses I ruined because I got ink on the sleeves from changing the typewriter ribbon or the black stuff off the carbon paper.

During this time the Vietnam War loomed in the background. The Australian government introduced conscription. It was in the form of a ballot, or the death lottery as many called it. All twenty year old males had to register, their birth dates were put into a barrel. A certain number were drawn out, and those young men had to report to the army and subsequently many of them were sent to Vietnam. This of course caused severe bitterness and division in the community, and even though the government denied it, was subject to abuse and unfairness. Rich men kept their sons at university so they didn’t have to go.  Conscientious objectors were thrown into prison. Only sons were called up, yet families with two or three eligible males didn’t have any of their boys called up.

I only had one brother, and I can clearly remember my father (a World War 2 veteran) vowing, that if his son got called up, he would protest on the steps of the parliament with a placard on his back.

There were protests marches, anti-war demonstrations, and things often turned violent. Not that I went to any of the protest marches, but a cousin of mine did and got trampled by a police horse. A very turbulent time in our history and I was right in the middle of it.

BLURB:  MAKE LOVE NOT WAR
Make love, not war was the catch cry of the 1960’s. Against a background of anti-war demonstrations, hippies and free love, Caroline’s life is in turmoil. Her soldier brother is on his way to the jungles of Vietnam. She discovers she is pregnant with her wealthy boss’ baby, and her draft dodger friend is on the run and needs her help. 


 


BIO:  Margaret Tanner is a multi-published award winning Australian author. She loves delving into the pages of history as she carries out research for her historical romance novels, and prides herself on being historically accurate. No book is too old or tattered for her to trawl through, no museum too dusty, or cemetery too overgrown. Many of her novels have been inspired by true events, with one being written around the hardships and triumphs of her pioneering ancestors in frontier Australia.

As part of her research she has visited the World War 1 battlefields in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.

Margaret is married with three grown up sons, and two gorgeous little granddaughters.

Outside of her family and friends, writing is her passion.


 

 

THE BLIND DATE - MARGARET TANNER


TRUE CONFESSIONS – MARGARET TANNER

 
In my late teens in the 1960’s, I worked for a large government department in a typing pool with about twenty girls in it. Yes, I am that old.  I started off with a manual typewriter and we had to type up an original and four carbon copies of every report or letter we did. I used to arrive home every night with black carbon marks on my sleeve. And don’t get me started on the woes of changing a typewriter ribbon.  But I digress.

 In those times in the typing pool, a blind date was a thing of ridicule. You were looked upon as desperate because you couldn’t find a man of your own, and had to rely on some other girl’s generosity to introduce you to her brother, her boyfriend’s mate etc.

 Anyway, every year there was an annual ball, and if you didn’t attend, you were socially ruined. It was then public knowledge that you couldn’t get yourself a man.

 My girlfriend and I cringed when everyone else was discussing their ball gown etc. and we hadn’t even been asked. Well, our fear of missing out on the ball and the subsequent humiliation led us to contemplate a desperate plan - the blind date. She lined me up with the guy living across the road from her, and I lined her up with my cousin who had just broken up with his girlfriend.

 We had a great time at the ball, and no-one ever knew our dark and deadly secret. We had attended the ball in the company of our blind dates.

 My cousin ended up going back to his girlfriend, and I ended up marrying my blind date.

 
I have written two novels set during the 1960’s, Make Love Not War which is published by BWL and a soon to be published BWL novel, Daddy Dilemma. These are called Vintage novels by some people. I knew I was getting fairly long in the tooth but I didn’t think my heyday would be considered Vintage. I would rather be called antique, I mean, that does put you in mind of something desirable and expensive, so I could live with that.

 
BLURB:  MAKE LOVE NOT WAR

Make love, not war was the catch cry of the 1960’s. Against a background of anti-war demonstrations, hippies and free love, Caroline’s life is in turmoil. Her soldier brother is on his way to the jungles of Vietnam. She discovers she is pregnant with her wealthy boss’ baby, and her draft dodger friend is on the run and needs her help. 

Friday, January 1, 2016

AMERICA SINGS by Shirley Martin


PURCHASE FROM AMAZON


Even before this country became a nation, music and singing had been part of our heritage.  We’ve all heard this song:

Yankee Doodle went to town
Riding on a pony
He stuck a feather in his hat
And called it macaroni

According to legend, British soldiers sang this song to mock the disheveled American soldiers they fought with during the French and Indian War.

The War for Independence spawned a plethora of patriotic songs.  Here is a glimpse of one by Thomas Paine, author of “The Age of Reason” and “Common Sense.”

In a chariot of light from the regions of day, the Goddess of Liberty came;
Ten-thousand celestials directed the way, and hither conducted the dame.

If the War of 1812 is remembered for nothing else, it should be recognized as producing our national anthem, ‘The Star Spangled Banner.”  Many people have trouble reaching the high notes and many others would prefer “America, The Beautiful.”  But our national anthem is here to stay.

Known as “the father of American music” Stephen Foster (1826-1864) didn’t receive the recognition he so richly deserved during his lifetime.  Yet his songs have remained classics, not only in the United States but throughout the world.  Songs such as “Oh, Susanna,” “Camptown Races” and “I Dream of Jeanie,” (written in honor of his wife) have remained part of the American tradition.  Since he was a native of  Pittsburgh, there stands a monument to this talented man on the grounds of my alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh.  Roy Orbison sings one of Foster’s loveliest songs, “Beautiful Dreamer.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_VnbtRFx5Y

The Civil War (1861-1865) produced an outpouring of songs, both ballads and those military in nature.  We are all familiar with this southern number, “Dixie.”  From the North, we find this tragic  song, “Tenting Tonight,” written by a young man who’d wanted to join the Union army but was rejected because of a childhood bout with rheumatic fever.  The love song, “Lorena,” was popular in both the North and the South, its lyrics so sad that many commanders forbade its singing at their posts.  Tom Roush gives us a lovely version of this song and sings many other oldies, such as “On the Banks of the Ohio.”  Here is his “Lorena.”   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyskZquf0ac

Years later, after the agonies of the Civil War and the trials of Reconstruction, a sense of optimism burst upon the American scene.  We extended our western boundary (at the expense of the Native American) and entered the Industrial Age.  Names such as Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Gould became household words.  Our songs took on a whimsical note, like “The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze.”  Or this one:

Frankie and Johnny were lovers
Oh, lordy how they could love
They swore to be true to each other
Just as true as the stars above
He was her man, but he was doing her wrong.

And speaking of sad songs, (which we were a while ago), surely  “In the Gloaming” is one of the most sorrowful songs ever written with lyrics such as this:

...For my heart was crushed with longing
What had been could never be....

In my historical romance, “Forbidden Love,” there’s a scene where Lisa, the wealthy society heroine, goes to visit the hero, a steelworker from the wrong side of the tracks.  He’s not home, so she lets herself in his house. (No one locked their doors then.) She tidies up his house while singing “In the Gloaming” because it exemplifies their seemingly hopeless love.
Evelyn Tubb gives us a lovely rendition of “In the Gloaming.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNqM9wt33VY

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was elected to a second term as president with the slogan, “He kept us out of the war.”  Except that he didn’t.  By 1917, thousands of doughboys were headed for the European slaughterhouse, better known as the First World War.  Thousands did not come back.  (One of my uncles died of gas poisoning.)  Yet we entered the war with an idealistic purpose and this song:

Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word over there
  That the Yanks are coming, the Yanks are coming
And we won’t come back ‘til it’s over, over there

Once the war ended, and our boys came home again, we tried to forget all the pain and sorrow with this song:

How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?
How ya gonna keep ‘em away from Broadway
Jazzin’ around, paintin’ the town....
How ya gonna keep them down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?

The Roaring 20s brought us a medley of popular songs like “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and country songs, such as “Prisoner Song.”  Al Jolson gained fame in an entertainment venue known as vaudeville with songs such as “Swanee.”

Despite, or possibly because of, the Great Depression of the ‘30s,we still enjoyed singing songs like “Over The Rainbow.”  This was the era of the Big Bands, and instrumentals found their way into the national psyche.  Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood” remained popular for decades.  The same is true of Kate Smith’s “God Bless America.”

In my opinion, the ‘40s through the mid ‘50s was the golden age of popular music.  “When the Lights Go on Again” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” reflected the trauma of the Second World War.
Vaughn Monroe’s “Riders in the Sky” became a classic, revived decades later.  Country and western music gained new popularity.  Some people called this type of music “hillbilly” music and spoke of it in a derogatory manner, apparently not realizing that many country songs found their way into popular music.  “Cold,. Cold Heart” and “Half As Much” were first recorded by Hank Williams, Sr., one of the greatest entertainers this country has known.  Crossing over into popular music, these songs achieved even greater renown.  One of my favorite songs from the ‘40s is “To Each His Own” by the Ink Spots.  We can listen to this group sing this plaintive song.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G5wqiLiPHg

This era produced outstanding male singers, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Perry Como, to name a few.  Jo Stafford, Patti Paige, and Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt) were popular songstresses who knew how to carry a tune and didn’t have to screech to reach the high notes.

The ‘40s and ‘50s also gave us Broadway musicals.  We found ourselves singing so many songs from “Oklahoma!” and “South Pacific.”   “Showboat” was revived from the ‘20s, a different kind of musical that dealt with race, miscegenation, and abandonment.  In this musical, Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson sing “We Could Make Believe.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VvpDE87b7E

Until the mid ‘50s, music was parent-friendly.  Elvis Presley and rock ‘n roll changed all that.  Elvis Presley’s gyrations drove the teenagers crazy, but we soon learned that he could sing.  He revived this golden oldie, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”  Another revival was Tommy Edwards’ “It’s All in the Game,” the music written by Charles Dawes, Vice  President under Calvin Coolidge.

Funny songs, like “Mairzy Doats” made the popularity charts.  My favorite is “Grandma’s Lye Soap.” (“It’s in the Book” by Johnny Standley.)

As for rock ‘n roll, Bill Haley and the Comets presented a new type of music, but “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” with its male chauvinist lyrics, wouldn’t gain much traction in today’s politically correct society.

From the ‘60s on, popular music achieved an entirely new tone, and in my opinion, lost much of its charm.  This was the era of protests, and popular music reflected the national mood.

The late ‘60s and ‘70s brought us rock groups with names such as Paper Lace and Three Dog Night.  Young people enjoyed Don McLean’s “American Pie” and “Joy to the World.”  (No, not the Christmas carol.)

The ‘60s also brought us a British invasion, this one friendly.  The Beatles took the world by storm.  They could play their instruments well and achieved good harmony, but in my opinion, their lyrics were sophomoric.  As for melody, John Lennon was sued, and rightly so, for “borrowing” the tune of “He’s So Fine” for “My Sweet Lord.”  The plaintiffs won the lawsuit.

The Swedish group, ABBA, belted out many songs with catchy tunes and lyrics, such as "Dancing Queen" and "Fernando, that soon reached the popularity charts.

Two of my favorite songs from the ‘80s are “What A Feeling” from the movie “Flashdance” and “Make it Real” by the Jets.  That's as far as I'm going with my musical history, because I don't follow today's music.

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year!


I write historical, paranormal, and fantasy romances. Please check out my website at www.shirleymartinauthor.com
My books are sold at Amazon, Smashwords, AllRomance eBooks, Barnes and Noble, KOBO, the Apple iStore and at other sites where ebooks are available online and also at your local bookstore. Three of my books are in print: "Night Secrets," "Night Shadows," and "Dream Weaver.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

What’s the World Coming To? by Eleanor Stem



 
Kobo 



Our World in Crisis

It seems our world is undergoing a crisis. The human race is angry and our climate is changing. Are these connected? Do we feel the earth’s anguish and are, in like, responding? 

I spoke with a friend the other day who asked: “I think you are spiritual. How do you stay calm in all this angry mess?”


I had to think awhile on that one. My first answer was, “Yes, I am spiritual.” What I didn’t say is we travel in several dimensions but on this plane we forget about the other dimensions. This life is hard. We don’t want to think of the other dimensions that may be as hard as this one. 

Subconscious thoughts overlap and zing across our brow on a constant basis. It’s like brain synapses are flashing. Our senses can see, feel and touch these but we forget to look at them. Shadows of wisdom (which we gain through lifetimes) flit across our souls but by the time we consciously acknowledge them, they are gone. How many times do we think: “I had a thought but I can’t remember, now.” 

All the time. 

My friend then launched into a large list of physical ailments she’s been experiencing, and she knew they were all due to stress. My mom said stress can kill you, and I believe it. 

Our world is stressed. We are connected to each other and this plane we live on. We know we are a part of this world stress. We can feel the agony of abuse beneath our feet rise through our bodies and into our souls. We remember past experiences. We want to change what is happening but do not know how. This makes us frustrated, angry. 

There seems to be a lot of violence where the earth is most stressed. We feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to do. This also causes a cycle of frustration then anger. 
The Storm Passing


Until we figure out how to stop this violence and anger, all we can do is try to rise above it. To do this, we can meditate. 

People have asked, “How do you do this? How do I know I’m meditating?” 

I say, “You don’t feel your body when you are lost in a good movie or book. That is where you want your physical being to be at when meditating.” 

Once you are there, visualize our forms rising out of the dark chaos into bright light. Once in the light, our ills will lessen. The trick is to remain there. It’s so easy to drift back into the chaos which I visualize as writhing centipedes on a dark floor. I don't want to see what those roiling creatures look like, only know they are dark and I don’t want any part of them to touch me. 

If everyone does this, perhaps, our world won’t be so stressed. Perhaps, there won’t be so much violence and anger. 

A Bright World


Many thanks to Wiki-Commons (public domain).  


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

An approach to writing: Lord Esterleigh's Daughter



by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Available on Amazon
One of the most common questions readers ask writers is, “Where do you get your story ideas?” 

For me, most of the time, they come from dreams. In the case of Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, the first book in “The Serpent’s Tooth” trilogy, published by Books We Love, this couldn’t be truer.


Many years ago, a dream left an image on my waking mind that haunted me for months, of a coach-and-four racing through an English coastal town in the misty dark of a moonlit night, while a three-masted ship sat, moored in the harbor. For the longest time, I had no idea what it meant, or even what to do with it.

I was in my late 20s, recently earned MFA in Acting in my pocket, when husband and I relocated from Connecticut for a teaching gig at a small, private women's college in Indiana. I hadn't written fiction since I was in my teens; my mind was focused on teaching acting and theater history, performing on the stage for the local community theater, and adjusting to the change in culture and environment. Yet, above all else, this dream haunted me. I needed to know who the young woman in the coach was, and why the secretive nature of her nocturnal journey. Was she running away? To be with her lover? Or was she escaping something more sinister? Had she been abducted? Who were the others in the coach with her—people fearing for her wellfare, or those wishing her ill? And what significance did the ship play? What was its destination?

By starting at the beginning of the story, long before the racing coach scene, I became acquainted with Anne Fairfield, who was to become the protagonist of a three book series. Her life and eventual fate became clear. She led me down a path she wanted me to investigate and thereby reveal her story and… What about that coach?

It’s always amazed me—and I know I’m not the first author to make this assertion—that writing a novel is an exercise in exploration. As one who professes to be a “pantser,” I rarely know where my stories are headed until the characters speak and I follow their lead. Some things never change, even as time and experience have helped me grow as a writer.

Ultimately this exploration lasted off and on for over 25 years, as I practically channeled the voices that spoke to me at the oddest times: in the shower, walking the dogs, changing the babies’ diapers, teaching classes, or waiting for my cue in the green room.

As the time period and setting emerged, I found myself immersed in enormous amounts of research into the Georgian Era England and then the American colonies at the onset of the American Revolution. And then there were the rewrites, innumerable rewrites.

With limited resources available (no internet, at the time), I scoured bibliographies and sought out-of-print titles from the local library and through inter-library loans. I wrote letters to authors of the research books that had been most informative, and contacted experts in this particular area of history. I visited historical societies and living history sites, searched old maps and documents, scribbling notes and making photocopies of my prized findings.

For example, even though as a child Anne had been led to believe that her birth was illegitimate, I discovered that her parents had been married, in secret. Up until the early to mid-1750s, a “Fleet Street Marriage” was the choice of those who, for any number of reasons, wished to bypass the posting of banns and acquiring a license. Administered in the Fleet Street Prison or in inns and taverns in its environs, such a union was naturally steeped in speculation and scandal. In March 1754, the Marriage of Act of 1753 went into law in England, effectively putting an end to these clandestine marriages. 

Years later, after a number of moves before finally settling down back in Connecticut—and two small kids who had miraculously grown into adultswhen I picked up the trilogy again prior to its publication with Books We Love, I availed myself of the resources that had become available on the internet. This in turn compelled me to rewrite large portions of the books to incorporate nuggets from the gold mine I’d found online, which helped add detail and immediacy to the books.

In the end, the image of that coach—still amazingly vivid in my mind after all this time—played no part in the tale. Instead, it provided a key to the second and third books in the series, Courting the Devil and The Partisan’s Wife.

But that’s a whole other story:-)

~*~ 

Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, and The Return of Tachlanad, her newly released epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her The Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of her books are available in a variety of e-book formats from Books We Love, and from Amazon and other online retailers retailers.

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