Saturday, August 6, 2016

Summer's Last Stand by Gail Roughton

Technically speaking, down here in the Deep South, Summer's a heck of a long way from making its last stand. That won't happen until mid-September at least, and there's no guarantee it'll happen until October. And even then, it won't go without a fight. Summer doesn't go out graciously down here, it makes its exit kicking and screaming and still manages to sneak back onstage for encores. 

Summer's not defined merely by the outdoor temperature, though. Summer's made of those lazy, hazy, sleep late days cherished by all kids who've already entered the hallowed halls of the American education system. The days of summer vacation that stretch from roughly the end of May to the first of August. Being a child born in the 50's who entered the education system in the 60's when school started roughly around Labor Day and wrapped up generally the first week in June, it's really hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the first day of school seems to creep up earlier and earlier each year. Down here in Middle Georgia, most school systems started back this last week. 

It's been a great summer for me. Really, really great. And notwithstanding the fact that I don't really like to travel or spend the night away from home, I love day trips. I love riding the back roads, looking out the windows at the scenery, at the small towns still busily living their small town lives along their routes. Fortunately for me, that's a love my husband shares and we've indulged it a good bit this summer, driving up to Lake Sinclair, re-visiting a few of the State Parks we remember fondly from our own childhoods and introducing them to our grandchildren.  

Middle Georgia's only a three to three and a half hour trip from the beach (just perfect for us Day-Trippers), even taking the back roads and not the interstate. Leaving early in the morning puts you on one of Georgia's premier beaches by mid-morning, giving families plenty of time for a beach play day, followed by a seafood feast at any number of seafood restaurants, and topped off by a drive home down the same back roads, when the changing angle of the sun shows you the passing scenery in a totally light than you viewed it that morning.  You know you're close when you see that gorgeous bridge in the distance, when you can watch the shrimp boats moving up and down the shoreline.

Last Saturday, we made a final summer trip down to Jeckyll Island. We'd been to the beach already this summer, but this time, it being the weekend and not a weekday, the kids got to go and not just the grandkids.  And when you watch your children watch your grandchildren walk along the sand, you know you've made memories that span three generations. For them and for you.  I'll miss summer. I won't miss the heat index, but I will miss the freedom inherent in the very word, the promise of high adventure and new places.  And speaking of high adventure and new places....

You ain't in Kansas anymore!

Gail Roughton on Amazon 

Published by Books We Love, Ltd. 

Visit her Blog and on Facebook

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Burning of St Paul’s by Katherine Pym

London burning
Of late there has been a plethora of articles re: the London Fire. The reason for this is we are nearing the 350th year anniversary of this spectacular event. Books are coming out. We’ll probably see a television special on it, maybe a movie.

If you believe in reincarnation, people who were there will remember it while we are being inundated with its drama. If you believe that memories can be passed down from one generation to another from the genes of our ancestors, if you are in any way related to them who lived through this event, you will remember the horror of it today.

The fire began in the wee hours of Sept 1, 1666 in Pudding Lane. A great wind rose that stoked the fire into a conflagration that did not end until Sept 5.

St Paul’s Cathedral was 2 churches in one. Underneath the grand structure, in the crypt, was St Faith where booksellers and their families worshipped. It was also a storage place for books, paper and printing presses. While the fire consumed the eastern portion of London city, people stored their goods there, expecting the great cathedral’s stout walls would protect them. 

View of London burning from Tower of London
When built 150 years earlier, the roof had been layered with lead, but over the years, holes had been patched with wood to keep out the weather. During the Civil Wars, horses had been stabled in the church. A blacksmith had worked within those vaulted walls, his forge chimney piercing through the cathedral’s lead roof.

In 1663 or so, a committee gathered to repair the old building. The closest they came was to enclose it with a webbing of wooden scaffolding. By Sept of 1666, the old cathedral was a neglected pile of stone. All it needed was a spark to meet its end, and what a spectacular end it was.

Wind whipped the London fire into a frenzy. It burned so hot, the glow and smoke could be seen for miles.  

People fled into the old church because it was stanchion against all adversity. They ran with what they could carry on their backs and huddled within the nave. Tuesday, as night fell over the burning city, the worst was yet to come.

“The pall of black, oily smoke over the city grew more and more dense, forming clouds so thickly charged with particles that a thunderstorm broke out, but it was unlike any storm the watchers... had ever seen. Out of the lowering pall of smoke, lightning began forking down around St Paul’s, the bolts stabbing into buildings that already were ablaze. The peals of thunder were lost in the roar of the flames and screaming of the wind...” pg 134 Great Fire of London

“The dry timber forming the roof above the stone vaulting burnt furiously... Large parts of the roof, both stone and burning timber, fell in, and the Cathedral became a roaring cauldron of fire...” pg 177 The Story of London’s Great Fire

The choir loft crashed into the vaults, causing the floor of the cathedral to collapse.  Tombs split open, their contents furiously burning.  Walls burst apart like cannon torpedoes, and the massive lead roof melted, pouring off the sides of the walls like silver rain.  It covered everything in a silver sheen before running in molten streams down London streets. 

Ludgate burning w St Paul's in the background
The next morning, a man named Taswell walked through the smoking ruins of London to Paul’s Cathedral. “The ground was so hot as almost to scorch my shoes; and the air so intensely warm that unless I had stopped... I must [would] have fainted... I perceived the metal belonging to the bells melting; the ruinous condition of the walls; whole heaps of stone of a large circumference tumbling down with a great noise just upon my feet, ready to crush me to death.” pg 181 The Story of London’s Great Fire 

Flames still burned from St Paul’s 48 hours later. Those who had sheltered in there slept with dead in their vaults. Piles of stone cooled under a sheathing of lead. It covered ancient relics in silver relief, reminders of the cathedral’s better days.  

The city hissed and smoked for weeks after. Over the months, spontaneous explosions would burst from cellars where the fire had never stopped smoldering.

Yes, we’ll see more of this in the coming weeks, but I don’t know if the extent of the calamity will ever be felt by those glued to their seats. Only those whose memories have drifted through the eons to this moment will really know what it was like.

Map of the destruction

Many thanks to:

Wikicommons, Public Domain
Bell, Walter G. The Story of London’s Great Fire, London 1929

Hanson, Neil. The Great Fire of London in that Apocalyptic Year, 1666. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey, USA. 2002

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Coming August 7th, Pre-Order available now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Do you believe in Fate? by Heather Greenis

I must admit, I do. Fate brought me and my husband together.

 I can’t say it was love at first sight. Not even close. He was a client at the bank I worked at and curled at our local curling club. He was a social curler. I had, and still have a bit of a competitive edge. A bit, is an understatement. I want to win while I have fun.

 So why wasn’t it love at first sight? Well, his wife had a big say in that. Now before you ruffle your feathers, allow me to assure you, we did not break up a happy, unhappy or anything in between marriage. A greater being had other plans for his wife which is truly a shame. A friend, she was a remarkable woman. My husband visits her regularly at the local cemetery to chat.

 A few months after his wife passed, the social put us on a team together. During one of our games, he fell and banged his knee on the ice. My first response was ‘Are you okay?’ Honest, I was sincere asking him that. I do have a bit of a heart. But the moment he said he was fine, I burst into laughter. He responded to my laughter with a joking ‘I hurt my %&@$% knee.’  I think he was looking for sympathy. Nope, I wasn’t going to allow him to get all sucky. Instead of sympathizing, I howled with laughter. I can be so mean. Then he laughed at me laughing at him. I think deep down, we both knew, then and there, we had something special. A strong friendship, plus.

I found myself a gentleman who still believes in chivalry. What are the chances? I’m not overly romantic, but I do like being treated like a lady. Hubby opens doors and assists with my coat. Sorry ladies, he does not have a brother. I’ve been asked that more than a few times.

 Best friends, we make each other laugh. Even going through emotional storms, we bring smiles to each others faces. I think storms make a person stronger. They make you dig for your emotional strength.  We still joke about that day on the ice.

 Fate brought my characters, Stewart and Natasha together. A chance meeting at a river. It was love at first sight, but I wasn’t kind to them. Instead, I test their fortitude with twists and turns and chuckles along the way. I do not allow them to wallow in self pity. The saga is not a fairytale romance. Life isn’t like that.

 Stewart possesses my husband’s wit and his intelligence. Don’t tell my husband that. It will be hard to live with his expanded ego.

 I remember when I finished one of my first drafts, I gave the electronic manuscript to my husband. An avid reader, I was half expecting him to say, ‘hmmm, not really my thing.’ A polite way of saying, ‘I don’t like it,’ without the risk of pissing me off.  A happy wife and all that fun stuff.  Instead, his response was, ‘This is good, but you can’t end it there.’

 The four-part continuing saga took me over 10 years to write. The saga grew, new characters were added and developed. Crises and, well … you’ll have to read it for yourself.

 It began as one big book, taking the Donovan family through generations. Too big, around 1200 pages, I decided to break the plot into 4 parts, each ending with a cliff hanger. Natasha’s Dream, Natasha’s Diary, Natasha’s Hope and Natasha’s Legacy, making The Natasha Saga.

Speaking of reading it, I received an amazing review through goodreads. It’s a long review so I’ll just given a wee snippet of it.  The review is from Holly:

 ‘Sometimes I get the rare chance to read a book series or in this case, a saga that leaves me speechless and deeply moved. This series has touched my heart and soul at the deepest level. …Heather Greenis has done a brilliant job as a master storyteller with this saga. Her amazing skills as an author have resulted in a story that will touch each and every reader in the deepest way possible.’

This review tells me, ‘mission successful. I accomplished my goal.’ If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy the plot.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016



In a leap of faith, driven by desperation and the chance to improve the lives of their families in Australia, men took advantage of the Selection of Land Act, and staked their claim on parcels of crown land. Unfortunately, for many inexperienced in the ways of farming in a harsh continent like Australia, they were doomed to failure and heartache. Many not only lost their land but their lives. Others struggled on for years, their lives blighted by bitterness and regret at a leap of faith that didn’t deliver the riches they had dreamed of. Some made an adequate living. A few, of course, prospered. Rather than a leap of faith, I would call it a lottery. It all depended on the experience of the man, but more importantly the quality of the land on which he selected.

In Australia the 1860/61 Land Act allowed free selection of crown land. This included land illegally occupied by the squatters, (wealthy ranchers), who had managed to circumvent the law for years. A similar scheme apparently operated in the US as well, (nesters against the ranchers).

The Act sometimes allowed selectors (small farmers) access to the squatters’ land, and they could purchase between 40 and 320 acres, but after that, the authorities left them to fend for themselves. Not an easy task against the wealthy, often ruthless squatters who were incensed at what they thought was theft of their land.

The Act of Selection was intended to encourage closer settlement, based on intensive agriculture. Selectors often came into conflict with squatters, who already occupied land. The bitterness ran deep for many years, sometimes erupting into violence.

Steele Rudd (a pseudonym for Arthur Hoey Davis 14.11.1868 – 11.10.35), an Australian author wrote a story On Our Selection. He based it on his father’s experience as a selector struggling to make ends meet on a small parcel of land.  It started out as just one chapter published in a magazine in December 1895 and eventually became the basis for Dad and Dave, a popular radio series which ran from 1932 – 1952.

Henry Lawson 1867 – 1922, was born on the gold fields of NSW. Many believed him to be the first poet to capture the Australian way of life. After a childhood ear infection, he was totally deaf by the age of 14, and he grew up to be bitter about his poverty and ill-fortune.

In 1888 he started publishing his stories and poems.

The Fire at Ross’ Farm, was a classic poem about selector versus the squatter.

Robert Black, the squatter’s son, loved Jenny Ross the selector’s daughter.

When Robert tells his father about the bushfire (wild fire) threatening the Ross farm, his father said, and I quote these couple of lines from Henry Lawson’s poem, which I feel epitomise the extent of the hatred and mistrust between the squatters and the selectors.

Then let it burn the squatter said, I’d like to see it done

I’d bless the fire if it would clear Selectors from my run (run is an old, no longer used, Aussie term for ranch).

Jo Saunders is a feisty American beauty and Luke Campton is a wealthy squatter.
Explosive results and tragedy follow Jo and Luke when they cross the fine line dividing love and hate.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author Eleanor Stem

Due to an eclectic mind, Eleanor Stem writes stuff that is ‘out there’.  Not X-File stuff but theories like: what precipitated mythology? There had to be a source that caused these stories. What was the true message of prophets before word-of-mouth and time morphed the truths, or were deliberately changed due to the powers-that-be didn’t like something that was written? Those are the type of stories Eleanor enjoys writing. On a more mundane note, Eleanor lives in a small Texas town with her husband and pug mix. 

Miri’s Song is considered an alternative historical fiction. It is the personal story of Magdalene’s spiritual journey after being rescued from death by Joshua the Nazarene.  

The Salt Box is a YA fantasy that explores a world that is pristine, the people gentle. The mass of their bodies are more translucent than the homo-sapiens. They judge another by their auras. Their land is clean. The oceans are of fresh water. A new species comes to their world and through the innocence of a gift, changes everything. 

A Poodle, a Wedding Anniversary, and a Opossum By Connie Vines

I had an article about the craft of writing written and ready to post.  I decided, instead, to share that post next month. Why? For thos...