Friday, February 19, 2016

Indecipherable Corporate Speak by Stuart R. West

I spent two high school years and four college semesters attempting to learn Spanish. To this day, I'm only able to recognize various words and form pointless sentences (i.e., "La rana es verde." Translation: The frog is green.). Still, I can understand Spanish a heckuva lot easier than the nebulous world of "Corporate Speak," an elusive language that not even cryptologists can decipher.

With over 25 years spent in the corporate sector, I'd certainly been around the puzzling language enough. One company in particular proved extremely fluent in Corporate Speak: the second largest label manufacturing company in North Kansas City, Missouri. I know...big deal, right? But the way the team of managers (count 'em, 42!) acted, you'd think we were performing miracles to benefit mankind.

I was the art department "manager" for many years. And every Friday, without fail (um, until the company began to fail), there was a mandantory manager meeting. We'd sit around a colossal meeting room and, one by one, we'd painstakingly explain what we'd been up to that week. Sheer dread filled me each time. Because the meetings always went on for hours and hours and....nothing was ever accomplished.

And I never understood a word of it!

The head of sales honestly thought he was a Hollywood mogul. Snappy dresser, sex addict (a tale better left untold), fast walker, and nonsense talker.
"C'mon, Stu, baby!" (To him, everyone was "baby." He didn't discriminate.) "You're killing me here! I want you to make those new graphics pop! Make 'em zing, make 'em sting!"

"Um..." I'd say.

"Let me break it down for you...we're looking at a completely new marketing paradigm here. To achieve dominant market visibility, we need to quit out-sourcing, fast track things to shoot to the top." This is when he'd start pacing the room, clasping lawyer hands.

"If what you mean is you want better graphics, then--"

"Now you're getting it, Stu, baby! Instead of our old business to consumer model, we need to aim high, shoot it outta the stratosphere, hit it off the table and bring it down to H2H!"

"Right. What's that mean?"

A thunderous hand-clap! "C'mon, you're killing me here! Stu, baby, it means 'human to human'! It's a way to bring functionality, play hardball in the new world series of marketing! Hey, look at Martha!" All heads turned to Martha. "She's a real goal digger! A goal digger! Aren't you Martha, baby?"

Martha nodded, a prim gold star smile pressed to her lips.

"But I still don't know what I'm supposed to be doing," I said. "Other than what I'm already--"

"Think smarketing, Stu, baby! Smarketing!" (I would've if I knew what it meant.) "Go the extra mile! Ride the loop, Stu, baby, ride the loop!"

Only thing I wanted to ride were my legs outta the meeting. But it went on...

"Think the It Factor! Be the It Factor! Plug in! Maybe some growth hacking's needed here!"

"Growth hacking..." I said.

Another clap. "I don't feel you Stu, baby! Meet me afterwards! We'll have a mydeation meeting!"

Groan. We did. Have a "mydeation" meeting. And I came out of there still clueless as to what a "mydeation" is.

See what I mean? Corporate Speak is a totally nonsensical language made of of meaningless buzz-words, sports cliches and fabricated sayings. It's enough to give Dr. Seuss nightmares.

During my long tenure in the corporate trenches, I always thought my experiences might form a nifty satire, a comedy of big business. But as when I wake up from a dream, a dream at the time I thought might make a good book, the cold harshness of reality and coffee hit me. Who'd want to read about the inner workings of a label company?

Which is why I wrote my Killers Incorporated series. I hope I found a way to incorporate big business satire into a suspenseful cat and mouse tale. The first book, Secret Society, is out. The second in the series, Strike, comes out next week. In the books, I detail the plight of Leon Garber (an empathetic {again, I hope} serial killer who only pursues abusers) as he goes up against the evil corporation of Like-Minded Individuals, Inc. Big business on a darkly comical and killer level.

Corporate Speak will ensue.


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Writer's Habits by Janet Lane Walters #amwriting

I don't know about other authors but I have habits I don't want to break. If I did the stories would never be told. I'm a planner and each story is planned before I begin. Doesn't mean the plan never changes. Telling a story is like living a life and there are always unexpected events. But that's part of telling the story, it isn't part of the habits I don't want to break.

After I've an idea about the kind of story that will appear when the book is done, I find my main characters in a general way such as - a nurse, a doctor, a murderer, a magician. Then I find their Sun, Moon and Rising Sign. This ia all part of the planning phase,

Now comes the habits. I cannot begin to write a story until my characters have names. I have friends who can do a rough draft without naming their characters or changing the names as the story moves along. Sometimes they laugh when I say I've written nothing because I can't find the right names. Sometimes the names pop into my head and I know they're the right ones. Other times I have to sort through the half dozen baby name books before I find the right one. Finding that name has somehow turned the general chracter into a person. This habit won't be broken. Finding the right name becomes harder when I have to think about all the other books I've written and what those characters are named. I have duplicated names in books but it's never the main characters, always subsidary ones.

The second hang up habit for me is the title of the book. Before I put word one of the story I need to have the title. This can be a struggle. There are a lot of writers who can write a book nearly to the end before they have the title for the book. I must have it there and I'll sit and make lists of possible titles until one jumps out. Usually the title I choose stands after the book is published. Occasionally the title is changed. One of these changes made by the publisher has always bothered me. My choice for this hero and heroine over fifty years of age was Carpe Noctum. Seize the Night. This was a play on the hero's last name Knight and also a play on their ages. The title became The Best Medicine. Never really excited me.

Do you have habits you don't want to break that color the way you write. If so, join the club.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

How Do I Love Thee? by Roseanne Dowell

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Oh wait, this blog is about writing, not love.

Although in a way it is about love. I love writing. I’m sure most authors will say the same thing. At least serious authors will.
We can’t stop writing any more than we can stop breathing. So every chance we get, we write. Sometimes it’s profitable. Other times it’s not. Many people think writers are rich, or at least get paid a lot.
While most writers don’t write for the money, deep down, we all want to write that blow out novel. The best seller. We’d be lying if we said otherwise. Yet, most of us know those authors are few and far between. That’s not why we write.
We write because these voices in our heads insist on it. Because our minds are constantly making up stories. We see things differently than other people. While most people stop at a traffic light and just wait for the light to change, writers look around to see who’s in the
car next to them. And they can’t help it, their imagination takes over and next thing you know they’re making up a story. Same thing happens in shopping malls, restaurants,
banks, or grocery stores. Our minds are never still.
Sometimes an article on the news sparks a story idea. Many things come into play when writing a story. I’ve had heroes/heroines pop off the pages of magazines. An overheard comment inspired a story idea. Once an idea pops into my mind, that’s all it takes. My mind goes into overtime and next thing I know I’m jotting down ideas.
The only thing I know about the story is the beginning and the end. How I get there is as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader. Many authors outline their stories. I tried that once and the story was stalled for two years. For me the story flows better if I let it go on its own. Everyone has their own way of doing things, their own voice, their own way to write and that’s fine. There are very few rules in writing.

The one thing that remains the same is writers love to write.  So I guess you could say this blog was about love after all. 

You can find all my books at You can find all my work at: Books We Love or Amazon.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author Janet Lane Walters

Janet Lane Walters has been in the writing game since 1968S she took a few years off to return to work as a nurse to help put her four children through school. When she returned she found a whole new game to learn and she has. Her works include romance – both contemporary, historical, fantasy and paranormal, mysteries and suspense. She has also been a ghost writer of books for doctors. Under J. L. Walters she has some YA fantasies. The world of medicine is part of many of her stories.

Dragons of Fyre (Island of Fyre Book 2)

Young Adult books By J L Walters

Rob Grantlan has given up medicine to become an author. As a Gemini, having two careers seems just right. His quiet days are overturned by the death of his wayward sister and his taking guardianship of his two month old niece. When he learns the father of the infant is his old flame Andi Sherman’s brother a plan unfolds. Years ago, he hurt her. He still loves her and he wants to regenerate that love. 

Andi Sherman is now a nurse practitioner in Pediatrics. She has vowed never to return to Fern Lake. The offer of a partnership in a friend’s practice is tempting. She refuses until she learns Rob has given up the practice of medicine. She believes he will leave town. On the day after her July birthday, she returns and comes upon the accident, finds the dying woman and the baby. When she learns the little girl is her niece and Rob hasn’t left town she is conflicted. She still loves him but she can’t trust him. News from her brother brings a threat.

Jenessa is Aries, a nurse, union advocate and likes a good fight. 

Eric is Libra, Director of Nursing, and believes in compromise.

Can these two find a way to uncover the underhanded events at the hospital? They’re on opposite sides but the attraction between them is strong. She’s a widow who fought to save her husband’s life during a code. She feels guilty because the love she and her husband shared had died before his death. He assisted at the code but he feels guilty since he was the one who was responsible for the short staffing the night her husband died.

Now they face falling in love and trying to solve the problems between the nurse’s union and the president of the hospital’s Board who wants a take over of the hospital by his hospital group. Is their connection strong enough to survive?

Sold by her family to the priestesses of the Temple of Fyre, Ria soon masters using each of the four fyrestones, white, yellow, orange and scarlet. Her curiosity leads her to the archives and there, she learns things that disturb her. There are no men serving as priests but in the past there were. Men are kept in the harras where the priestesses visit. On the day of her testing she is ordered to perform a task she dislikes and refuses to destroy a town. Many of the priestesses fall into unconsciousness. Melera, the chief priestess, beats and banishes Ria for the carrion crows to consume. 

Ari was abandoned as a child and found by two elderly firestone miners. He has pursued this and is the best of the finders. He goes to the temple to sell the stones he has gleaned. On leaving, Ria attempts to steal the fyrestone he has worn since the day he was found. He thinks she is a boy and a thief and he takes her to his room at the inn. On discovering her identity, he refuses to turn her over to the priestesses and they leave town. They are searching for the fabled blue fyrestones. They also learn to use them they must be bonded physically, emotionally and spiritually. Can they learn to master the blue stones and defeat Malera so they can rule the temple with love and understanding?

In Affinities, Escape, a Books We Love Young Adult Fantasy, two sets of halfling twins, Ashlea, Brandien, Jaydren and Kylandra sent away from their home by their parents to protect them from trouble, search for mentors to teach them how to use their affinities. Each of these young teens has an affinity for one of the elements. Ash for Air, Bran for Water, Jay for Earth and Ky for Fire. During the escape, they face many problems forcing them to use their affinities by trial and error. They also meet Alizand, the son of the ruling prince of Wesren. Zand has an affinity for Fire and this will keep him from gaining the rule. Dom Senet, an advisor to his father, and once a friend of the quartet’s parents suspects Zand’s affinity. He wishes to corrupt the teen and use him to gain control of the four princedoms of the land and of the highlands. The evil dom has all four affinities. The four must reach a secret place and find teachers before the evil man discovers them.

Four Female Saints of India


The feminine aspect of the divine is very strong in Hinduism—whether in the many Deities worshipped, in the theology, or in the number of female saints throughout its history.

Representations of the sage Agasthya and Lopamudra
Classical Hinduism traces its origins to the ancient Rishis who received revelations, later compiled into the Vedas, which form the basis of Hinduism’s teachings. These Rishis, some single and some married, lived in ashrams in the forest and the tradition recognizes the wives of these Rishis as great spiritual personalities themselves, at par with their husbands.

Among them is Lopamudra Devi, the wife of the sage Agasthya. She is credited with great contributions to the theology of the Feminine, and spread the fame of the Lalita Sahasranama (the thousand names of Devi, the Divine Mother.) She was expert in the philosophy of the Divine Feminine and many of her hymns are recorded in the Vedas.

The Tamil saint Andal appeared South India in the pre-Medieval period. A charming story is told of her appearing in a sacred Tulsi garden and being adopted by her father, the saint Perialvar. Raised in a deeply spiritual environment, she became famous for her deep devotion to God. She considered herself to be the wife of Vishnu (an Avatar of Krishna) and composed many hymns in the mood of a wife in love with God, the Divine Lover. Her songs are still sung at weddings in the Tamil country. Her father, realizing that she loved only Vishnu, arranged her marriage to Lord Ranganatha, a carved-stone representation of Vishnu. To the wonderment of the assembly, Andal’s body merged with that of the Deity.

Another female saint who experienced ecstatic love for God was Meerabai,
born in 1498 in Rajasthan, West India. As a child, she witnessed a wedding procession and asked her mother who her husband would be. Her mother gave her a statue of Krishna and from then on, she considered herself to only be the wife of the Divine.  Meerabai was born into a royal family, but showing no interest in the court or family, spent her days in a state of ecstasy with her beloved Krishna. Finally, in despair, she was ejected by her family and spent the rest of her life travelling through India, composing songs of her Beloved, which remain well known, even to this day.
A modern female saint is Armritananda Mayi, also known as Amma. Born into a poverty-stricken family from Kerala, in South India, she spent, as a small child, many hours in deep meditation, experiencing periods of great rapture. She 
also had the habit of giving away the meagre possessions of her family to those in even greater need, to the consternation of her family. As news of her spiritual attainment spread, she attracted followers, and despite being born into a lower-caste family, some of her first disciples came from Brahmin families, causing quite a stir. She is known as Amma (Mother) because of her habit of spontaneously embracing people to comfort them.
Mohan Ashtakala is the author of "The Yoga Zapper - A Novel," published by Books We Love.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Chilblains and icicles by Sheila Claydon

Fortunately it hasn't actually come to chilblains and icicles but only because the weather in the UK has been warmer than usual for this time of year. What has happened though is that our central heating and hot water have packed up and the three weeks we have been without them has taken me right back to my childhood.

How spoilt I am now. The house is always warm. Hot water is available at the turn of the tap. I can have a shower whenever I want. I can even walk around the house without a sweater in the middle of winter if I want to (I don't!). My kitchen is full of gadgets from a toaster to a steam iron, an ice-cream maker to a microwave. My kitchen hob is ceramic so it's clean at the swipe of a dishcloth, and my cooker and fridge are self-cleaning, and of course there's the washing machine and tumbler dryer. How could I manage without those?

Now let me take you back to when I was tiny and my mother, father and I lived with my grandparents. It was at the end of WW2 and we lived in Southampton, a maritime city that had been severely blitzed, so there were no houses to buy or rent. In those days laundry was either done by hand, using a big block of green soap and a washboard, or it was piled into a copper boiler and the dirt was stirred into submission. Then it was rolled through a mangle and how important I felt when I was allowed to turn the handle. Then, after hours flapping on the line in the garden, it was ironed with a flat iron that had to be heated on the stove. Even so, everything was ironed. Nothing was easy care in those days.

Then there was the cooking. The milk, which was delivered daily by a man driving a horse and cart, was kept in a bucket of cold water on hot days, or, on cold days, outside.  The food, too, had its place. A big old meat safe with a fly cover was kept in a shady part of the garden and everything in it was used within a day or two. No supermarket shopping, no packaging either. Everything was weighed out and wrapped, even the biscuits. My favorite job was to go to the shop next door and fill a bag with broken biscuits because that way we got a selection instead of just the one kind.

As for central heating and hot water, forget it. An open fire and the warmth from an old-fashioned black-leaded range were the only forms of heat we had in that cold, dark 3-bedroom house, so going to bed was a sprint up the stairs to an icy cold bed made marginally more comfortable by a big stone hot water bottle wrapped and pinned into a cotton cloth. I remember the cotton coming off mine one night. I still have the small burn scar on my leg to this day.

Washing for me was from a bowl beside the range or, once a week,  a tin bath that had to be filled with pans and kettles of water that had been heated on the stove. For my grandparents and parents it was ewers and bowls in their cold bedrooms and a weekly visit to the public baths.

I can still remember how happy my parents were the day we eventually moved into a property that had a bathroom, a fridge, and a water heater, whereas nowadays nobody expects anything else.

Of course all this was a very long time ago, and because we lived with my grandparents who were still using gaslight instead of electricity, we were probably at bit behind the times anyway. Other people lived in more comfort I'm sure but I didn't have a problem because, like all small children, I thought what I was used to was normal. I didn't like the chilblains (caused by sitting too close to the fire in an attempt to warm my frozen feet), or the chapped knees and lips. I didn't especially like having to wear layers and layers of clothes either. Scratchy woollen vests, a liberty bodice with tiny, fiddly buttons, a pleated skirt that hung from a warm over bodice, then a thick woollen jumper. My knees were always bare though, above very unattractive woollen socks held up with an elastic garter, and this meant chapped knees and thighs. Little boys suffered a similar fate because in those days children were deemed too young to wear long trousers and I didn't know anyone who wore woollen tights...maybe they hadn't started making them.

So although I'm not enjoying being without heating and hot water, it's not all bad. Without the sudden upheaval it's caused in my life I wouldn't have remembered how lucky I am, and how much harder domestic chores were for my mother and grandmother.  I haven't got any chilblains either and I am very grateful for that.

None of my heroines have ever had to suffer such deprivations although Kerry, in Double Fault does have a bit of a hard time when she's a single mother. Before the path of true love can run smooth they all have other problems to contend with though.

Sheila can be found at:

Books We Love
Barnes and Noble

She also has a website and can be found on facebook

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...