Saturday, July 16, 2016

The poor pangolin

Hellllooooo (sing-song, soprano voice). How are you enjoying the summer so far? Hot enough? I live in the country north of Toronto and it is hot. 48 Celsius with the humidity. It feels like the Sahara desert and a Florida mangrove swamp all rolled into one. Thank God for air conditioning!

I’ve been quite busy these last few weeks, promoting and marketing and then marketing some more, my newly released book, The Twisted Climb. It’s been a yo-yo kind of experience, just like my sales numbers. I’m trying to ‘sell’ the eBook as hard/soft as I can to friends and family but so many of them say, “I’ll wait until the paperback version is published.”

How do you politely tell them not to be a cheap tard? That’s my polite version: tard without the bas in front of it. I mean, for under four bucks, you can enjoy the results of one year’s work. That’s a bargain, isn’t it? Please - if you have any suggestions about how to politely sway these tards, I’d love to hear from you. Your comments and thoughts are appreciated and welcomed!

Before I change the subject, I have to say something about the cover designer for Books We Love, Michelle Lee. Her work is outstanding. The Twisted Climb (pictured here) is in the young adult genre and Michelle’s selection for font and character representation is absolutely spot-on. The book contains drama, suspense, fantasy and paranormal events and the cover is a perfect reflection of that. Michelle Lee, you rock!

In my last blog, I talked about the pangolin, the only scale-covered mammal in the world. They are a slow-moving creature, covered in scales similar in composition to human nails, and without teeth. Without teeth? Yup. They have a tongue that begins somewhere in the abdomen and, depending on the species of pangolin (there are eight), it can extend up to two feet. Now don’t be thinking naughty things all you romance writers. Pangolins only eat ants and termites. Teeth are not required.

Unfortunately, the pangolin is on the endangered species list because they are being eaten to extinction through illegal trading/selling in underground black markets. Sad but true. In many third world countries, and under the guise of medicinal/quackery black magic, pangolins are slaughtered by the thousands. Some say that eating baby pangolins will enhance virility, prevent hair loss and eliminate migraines. Others say that grinding pangolin scales will enhance virility, prevent hair loss, cure dandruff and a multitude of other nonsensical conditions. In reality, pangolin meat and scales do nothing to enhance the human body. The truth is that continuous slaughtering of the pangolin will only augment the ignorant traditions and will ultimately result in the extinction of the species. Personally, I say no to that.

I’ve written a series of five children’s pictures books about these gentle creatures (still on the hunt for a publisher). It is my great hope that these books will place the pangolin in a new light, one where they are appreciated and not viewed as a black market quackery by-product.

J.C. Kavanagh

The Twisted Climb

Friday, July 15, 2016


Oh the pain of being rejected! Almost every author has experienced rejection: from literary agents, publishers and editors. Many are cringe-worthy. And if you let it, they can affect your self-confidence. But being rejected happens to every writer, even best-selling ones. Here are a few famous rejections of well-known works:

"Overwhelmingly nauseating, even to an enlightened Freudian...the whole thing is an unsure cross between hideous reality and improbable fantasy. It often becomes a wild neurotic daydream… I recommend that it be buried under a stone for a thousand years." - Lolita by Valdimir Nabukov

"The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level." The Dairy of Anne Frank by Anne Frank

"First, we must ask, does it have to be a whale? While this is a rather delightful, if somewhat esoteric, plot device, we recommend an antagonist with a more popular visage among the younger readers. For instance, could not the Captain be struggling with a depravity towards young, perhaps voluptuous, maidens?" – Moby Dick by Herman Melville

"For your own sake, do not publish this book." - Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence

“Do you realise, young woman, that you're the first American writer ever to poke fun at sex" -
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

“You’re welcome to le Carré – he hasn’t got any future." - A fantastically incorrect prediction by one publisher, sent to his colleague, upon turning down The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre

"We are not interested in science fiction which deals with negative utopias. They do not sell." -
Carrie by Stephen King

“I am only one, only one, only one. Only one being, one at the same time. Not two, not three, only one. Only one life to live, only sixty minutes in one hour. Only one pair of eyes. Only one brain. Only one being. Being only one, having only one pair of eyes, having only one time, having only one life, I cannot read your M.S. three or four times. Not even one time. Only one look, only one look is enough. Hardly one copy would sell here. Hardly one. Hardly one." - Letter to Gertrude Stein after receiving one of her manuscripts in 1912.

"If I may be frank, Mr. Hemingway — you certainly are in your prose — I found your efforts to be both tedious and offensive. You really are a man’s man, aren’t you? I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you had penned this entire story locked up at the club, ink in one hand, brandy in the other." - The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

So how to handle rejection? In an interview, Beck McDowell, author of the YA thriller, THIS IS NOT A DRILL, says, “Don’t let the rejection get to you. Don’t take it personally. Keep writing. If one book doesn’t sell, get busy writing another one. Process is more important than product; your efforts are never wasted when you’re teaching yourself to write. Read great books like King’s ON WRITING and Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD. Read constantly in your genre, marking passages that impress you and studying those that don’t measure up. Attend local and regional writers conferences to hear what agents, publisher, and other authors have to say. Read everything you can find online about making those first few pages sing, researching agents and writing a query letter. But keep going. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Keep hoping. Break a plate, make a wish, and start a new chapter – in your life and in your work.

Mohan Ashtakala is author of “The Yoga Zapper –A Novel,” a fantasy novel published by Books We Love.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Sepia photographs and other stories revisited by Sheila Claydon

Eighteen months ago I wrote about a sepia print I found in a box of old photographs and how the beautiful young woman and dashing young man who were its main characters transfixed me. I was so intrigued by their apparent happiness that I tracked down their story and discovered that while it didn't have a sad ending, it didn't have a happy one either. By the end of their lives they were careworn and frail from years of hard work and semi-poverty. Their lives were typical of many people who lived in rural England in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  (To read their full story search for Sheila Claydon 14 September 2014 on this website)

Of course research prompts possibilities for a writer and before long I had the beginning of a book. It wasn't the real story of Rose and Arthur, although it borrowed a lot of facts from their lives, it was the one in my imagination.

There were two problems, however. The first was that I was still in the middle of writing Miss Locatelli, my book set mostly in Florence in Italy. The second was that however much I tried to avoid it, Remembering Rose insisted on being  written in the first person, something I had never tried before. It wasn't Rose's voice that was telling the story though, it was Rachel, her great-great-granddaughter.

It took me a while to discover that Rachel wanted to be Rose's mouthpiece across the centuries but when I did I had another dilemma. Time travel! I'd never tried that before either.

There was another problem too. I mainly write contemporary romance, so how was that going to work in a book that was about someone from the nineteenth century?

The end result, after wrestling for weeks with various ideas, is a number of intertwined romances, some contemporary, some historical, as well as a sort of family saga, and of course that elusive time travel. By the time I finished I felt as if I had run a very difficult marathon but it was worth it. I love Rose and Rachel even though they are very far from perfect, and I love their heroes even more.

Writing Remembering Rose has been like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle and although the real Rose and Arthur will never know they were the inspiration for this story, and would probably be horrified at how I've interpreted them, I like to think they would forgive me for playing with their lives if they did.

Sheila Claydon's books can be found at Books We Love and Amazon . She also has a website and can be found on facebook

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Road Tripping USA Part Seven by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


Author’s Note
I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in October 2014.
     We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
     Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

 Road Tripping USA Part Seven    
When we left the Florida Keys we drove to Del Ray and began looking for a campsite. Our GPS, named Lola, showed us that there were two south of us, but we didn’t want to go back. We went to two Walmart stores but neither one of them allowed campers. There was a KOA 30 miles away. Mike wanted to try for it but I convinced him to look for a parking lot. We found one in a strip mall with a few stores. Once settled we went and did some shopping.
     The stores closed and the parking lot was quiet. It was the night of the fall time change. As I put our clocks back an hour I pictured the extra hour of peaceful sleep I would have.
     It was a cool night so we closed our windows before going to bed. I was having a wonderful sleep when suddenly there was a loud knocking on our door. It jerked me awake. There was another louder knock, knock, and someone yelled. “Franky, Franky, wake up.”
     Mike and I looked at each other but neither of us said anything.
     “Franky, Franky, open up. I got forty dollars.”
     We remained quiet hoping the person would go away. But he kept it up. “Franky, Franky open up. It’s me. I got forty bucks.”
     He was not to be discouraged and kept banging on our door. “Hey, Franky, Debbie come on. Let me in. Open up. It's me. Come on, let me in.”
     Finally Mike opened the door. “We’re not Franky and Debbie. We are from Canada.”
     "Oh, sorry, sorry,” he apologized. “Franky and Debbie have a camper just like this. I thought it was Franky. Sorry. Sorry."
     Mike told me that he was sure the person was a woman and when he told her we weren't Franky and Debbie she began crying and left.
     We discussed Franky and Debbie possibly being drug dealers and if we were in a motorhome just like theirs maybe it would be best if we left. So we dressed and decided to look for a place to see the sun rise over the ocean. At Lake Worth Beach we pulled into a parking lot.
     Mike and I walked to the beach and on the morning of his 68th birthday we stood, hand in hand, with our feet in the Atlantic Ocean and watched the sun rise over the water.
     We wandered up and down the beach and though it was only 6:30am there were a lot of people walking in the sand, doing tai chi on the beach, surfing, and wading in the water. It was a very popular spot early in the morning. There was a long fishing pier and it cost me $1.00 to walk out on it. It was crowded with fishers.
     We wanted to eat breakfast overlooking the beach so we watched for a restaurant as we drove. But there were either houses or beach on the ocean side of the road. And there were bushes to block most of the ocean views. At Juniper Beach we found a parking spot along the road where the bushes were shorter.
     Mike had his birthday breakfast of cold cereal while watching the waves break on the sandy beach of the Atlantic Ocean.
     After enjoying the view for a while we continued down the road to the Blowing Rocks Preserve. I took the Sea Grape Path to the Main Dune Crossover viewpoint and watched as the waves hit a short wall of rock along the beach and shot into the air. This is part of the largest outcropping of Anastasia limestone on the Atlantic coast of the United States. It would be best to visit during high tide or winter storms when the spray can reach 50ft (15m) high.
     From there I walked about a quarter of a mile on the Dune Trail to the northern end of the beach. In the summer loggerhead, green, and leatherback sea turtles come ashore here to lay their eggs. From March to October visitors are supposed to leave the sand alone so that the eggs will hatch.
     We were travelling north on Highway 95 when Mike saw a sign for a Waffle house. He decided he wanted some for lunch. When we walked in we could choose between a table or stools at the counter. I pointed to the stools.
     “No, you can’t sit there,” the woman wiping the counter said.
     “We can’t?” I looked at her and she seemed serious even though the other waitresses were snickering.
     She shook her head. “Nope.”
     “It’s not even reserved for Canadians?” I asked.
     “Well, okay,” she said. “Come and sit down.”
     I looked at the menu she placed in front of us. Mike was going to have his waffles but I wanted to try something different.
     “What are grits?” I asked.
     “It’s boiled cornmeal.”
     Sounded good to me and I ordered some.
     “Do you want cheese or sugar with them?”
     I didn’t have a clue. “What do you like?” I asked her.
     “I prefer cheese.”
     So I had grits and cheese for my lunch. We enjoyed our food and conversation.
     After we ate we headed to Orlando and registered at Wekiwa Springs State Park to await our friends from Germany, who coincidently had planned a trip to Florida at the same time as we.
     Ducki and Sabine pulled in with their rented motorhome and parked in the site beside us. We sat and visited at the picnic table by our camper. We had a few drinks and then supper in our camper.
     The next day we walked on the Wet to Dry Trail then took the trail around Sand Lake. We went to the springs and Mike and I swam in the cool water while Ducki and Sabine sat on the hillside and watched. The water is crystal clear and that is because millions of gallons of cool water flow through the springs into Wekiwa Springs Run each day. This joins Rock Springs Run to become the Wekiva River.
      The Seminole Indians of the area used to be called Creeks. In the Creek language Wekiwa means ‘springs of water’ and Wekiva means ‘flowing water’.
     We had supper at Ducki and Sabine’s campsite and visited well into the night.
     After breakfast we said goodbye to Ducki and Sabine. It had been fourteen years since we’d seen them last in Banff, Alberta, and we vowed not to let that much time go by before seeing them again.
     As we drove, I programmed the town of St Therea’s into Lola. She asked us if I wanted Allenbelle Road. Not knowing better, I agreed.
     Along the highway we stopped at a roadside table where a man had set up rows and rows of honey and syrup. We bought some cane syrup and some Tupelo Honey, which we’d never heard of.
     “The honey is made from the Tupelo gum trees that grow along the Apalachicola and Chipola rivers,” he explained to us. “The bees are placed on platforms above the river’s edge and they fly through the Tupelo-blossom-laden swamps to gather their nectar for honey.”
     I tried some and it does have a very unique flavor.
     When we reached the small town of Sopchoppy, Lola told us to turn onto Allenbelle Road. We realized her directions were wrong but I said let’s see what she wanted to show us. It turned out to be a cul-de-sac behind some trees off the highway. We drove past the four or five houses and then were back at the highway again. We considered it another adventure courtesy of our GPS.
     As we waited for traffic to clear a black man came over.
     “Do you have seventy-five cents for me to buy a coffee?” he asked.
     “We sure we do,” Mike said and reached into his pocket for his change purse.
     “Well, it would be nice if you had a dollar or two so I could get some breakfast.”
     “Okay.” Mike pulled the bills out.
     “It would be great if you have five dollars. I could really get something good to eat for five dollars.”
     Mike gave him a five dollar bill.
     “I’ll pay you back if you are from the area.”
     “Don’t worry about it,” Mike said. “We’re from Canada.”
     “Oh, Canada,” he said. He looked at our motorhome. “Did you drive all the way from Canada in this?”
     He told us that his father had been stationed in North Dakota years ago so he’d lived near the Canadian border for a while.
     “Are there any black people in Canada?” he asked.
     “Yes, there are a lot,” I said.
     He thanked us and walked away.
     As we drove east we caught glimpses of the Gulf of Mexico to our left. The houses along there were on stilts because of insurance. Depending on the area, a house has to be so many feet above sea level. If the area is at sea level the bottom floor might have to be 12ft (3.6m) above the ground. If the area is eight feet above sea level then the bottom of the house has to be 4 feet above ground.
     We wanted to have a picnic on the beach so we headed to Carabelle to find a park that showed up on our map. Along the way we saw some empty waterfront lots for sale on the Gulf of Mexico. Some had driveways so we pulled into one and parked. We had our lunch overlooking the blue waters of the gulf. Afterwards, we strolled along the beach and I walked out on one of the docks. Then it was a lovely drive along the shoreline into Carabelle.
     Carabelle lays claim to having the world's smallest police station, which is actually a phone booth and a bus stop bench beside the highway. Prior to March 10, 1963, the police phone was in a call box bolted to a building. However, tourists passing through would make long distance phone calls on it. The box was moved but still the unauthorized calls persisted. When the telephone company decided to replace its old phone booth with a new one, the old booth was taken to house the call box. It was moved to its present location and while it protected the policemen from the rain, tourists still made their phone calls. Finally, the dial was removed.
     When we left Carabelle we passed the park that we had been looking for. There were picnic tables with shelters, a nice beach, and lots of people but we had had a dock and the place to ourselves. It doesn’t get any better than that.
     As drove we were sometimes beside the water and sometimes in the trees. We went through East Point and crossed the 4 mile (6.4 km) long bridge to St Georges Island. St Georges Island, which is a barrier island, is 28 miles (45kms) long and 1 mile (1.6km) wide at its widest part.
     We found a public access to the ocean and walked down to the beach to put our feet in the water of the Gulf of Mexico. I found it cooler than the Atlantic Ocean. I went to the Cape St George Lighthouse.
     The lighthouse was built in 1833 but partially destroyed in a hurricane in 2005. It was moved to its present site and rebuilt. It has a 92 step circular stairway to the top floor then an iron ladder to the light. I had a 360 degree view of the gulf and the town below.
     A man had a fruit stand near where we parked. We bought a large avocado, a pineapple, a red onion, and some tomatoes and tangerines. All were Florida grown and very fresh.
     The old bridge that used to connect the island to the mainland is now used as a fishing pier. Mike sat under the bridge and fished. He had no luck.
      We continued along the coast to Panama City and stayed at a Walmart downtown. Across from it is a building that is upside down. Even the palm trees in front of it are upside down. I asked the greeter at the Walmart what it was
     “Well,” he said. “A few years ago a hurricane come through and picked that building up and turned it upside down.”
     “Yeah, right,” I said.
     “Hey, I did tell that to one woman and she believed me.”
     “So what is it, really?”
     “It’s actually part of an Amusement Park.”

Monday, July 11, 2016

Successful Advertising? Time Will Tell by Karla Stover

A Successful Advertising Ploy?  Time Will Tell

When I wrote Murder, When One Isn’t Enough, the title was going to be Tahuya Daze because the majority of the book takes place on Hood Canal, in or near the tiny town of Tahuya. BWL and I decided the name would be confusing to book buyers so I changed the title. But I wanted to make Hood Canal and Tahuya residents aware of the book so this is what I did.

1.      Had a blow-up copy of the cover made and laminated:                       cost appx. $2.00

2.      Bought a complimentary sheet of paper to mount it on:                      cost $1.10

3.      Bought a white Styrofoam backing board:                               cost $1.10

4.      Bought 2 four-foot stakes                                                        cost $1.43

5.      Bought lettering from a craft store:                                          cost appx $5.00.

I mounted the picture on the backing and that on the white board. At the top, using the sticky letters I wrote

AMAZON, Prime, kindle.

On the Saturday before the 4th of July, this year on July 2nd, Tahuya has a festival, so that morning my husband and I drove there taking the poster and stakes. We found a place along the road where the ground wasn’t too hard, pounded the stakes in, and stapled on the poster. Now, it remains to be seen if my strategy will work.

Since Tacoma has festivals and farmers’ markets practically, it occurred to me that I could do this at each one. I would just change the poster to read A Puget Sound mystery and mount pictures of the two covers.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author Mikki Sadil

Hello, I’m Mikki Sadil. I was born on a Quarter Horse ranch out in the middle of Nowhere, Texas. I grew up with horses, but also in a military family, where moving from post to post was a normal part of life. Consequently, I lived in many states, and in three foreign countries before the age of 12, when my father was finally posted for the last time, and we landed in Los Angeles, California. I’ve been writing most of my life, but not really for publishing until a few years ago. In the meantime, I taught Sociology courses at a university in Southern California, became an exhibited artist, and for 23 years, bred, raised, and trained Appaloosa horses for the show ring, along with my husband. When we retired from horse breeding and training, we moved to the Central Coast of California. Now I live here with my awesome husband, our “smartest” and “most beautiful” in all the world Corgi, Dylan, our lazy Siamese/Himalayan cat, Beaujangles, and a beautiful but unfriendly (!) Cockatiel, Riley.

I write books for kids and teens. Someone asked me one day why I write for kids, when writing for adults is more lucrative. In a way, that’s a hard question. Writing for kids, those from ages 11 or 12 to teens about 16, is not an easy thing to do. Adults pick up a book, read a couple of chapters and then decide if it is something they like and are going to finish. Kids pick up a book, read the first page, and either love the book or hide it under the covers because Mom will be ticked off if they don’t finish it! So why do I write for “picky” readers? Because I love it. Because I want to challenge young people to read, to get away from the video games that consume so many of them with their violence and foul language, and find fun and entertainment within the pages of a book. I don’t “write down” to the younger kids, the 10, 11, 12 year olds. I write for them in the same way I write for older teens…I challenge them to comprehend the words that make up a story that takes them away from the everyday life of school, TV, and video games. I write for kids because I want them to know, understand, and appreciate the history of our country. I want them to visualize themselves in the same kinds of situations my characters are always in, and realize that their imagination can take them to places they have never been, or even thought about. I write for kids because I want to share with them the magic that’s in my heart and mind, and I want them to find that same magic in the pages of my books. I want them to see and experience all of the other worlds that imagination can take them to.

The Freedom Thief  When thirteen year old Ben McKenna finds out his father is going to sell Ben’s best friend, a crippled slave boy, he knows the only way to save Joshua is to arrange an escape for him and his slave parents. With this accomplished, Ben and his friends embark on a journey into a world of danger, desperation, and deception that Ben knew nothing about, in order to find the Ohio River and the freedom for Joshua and his parents that lay beyond.

Lily Leticia Langford and the Book of Practical Magic   What do an eleven year old girl, an IQ of 160, and a book of Magic have in common? Absolutely nothing…unless your name is Lily Leticia Langford. Lily Leticia has an IQ of 160, and is in high school. The other freshman girls won’t have anything to do with her, because, after all, she belongs in elementary school. Girls her age won’t have anything to do with her, because after all, she’s in high school. She thinks she can solve everyone’s problems, whether they want her to or not. Consequently, Trouble seems to follow her around like a puppy dog. But when she finds a book of Ancient Magic, Lily Leticia’s Troubles have just begun.

Night Cries: Beneath the Possum Belly, book one   Sixteen
year old Gabriela Gaudet is just learning about all of her psychic powers. For weeks, the voices of three little girls who had been murdered five years ago, have been begging her to find their killer. When her parents’ traveling carnival comes to the children’s small town, and breaks down, Gabriela knows this is the town that covered up the children’s murder, and she sets out to find this killer. Along the way, she meets Remi, the young man, also psychic, who is determined to help her. A web of evil surrounds this town, a web that includes gargoyles and witches, and one that threatens to draw Gabriela into its sticky strands. Will her powers be enough to fight off this malevolence, or will the town win again? The Possum Belly waits.

You can find these and my other books at:  

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...