Friday, September 30, 2016

Featuring the historical fiction and fantasy of BWL author Kathy Fischer-Brown

Over the next few months Books We Love will be sharing some of our Books We Love Amazon sale pages.  

As a child Kathy wanted to be a writer when she grew up. She also wanted to act. After receiving an MFA in Acting and playing the part of starving young artist in New York, she taught theater classes at a small college in the Mid-West before returning home to the East Coast, where over the years, she and her husband raised two kids and an assortment of dogs. During stints in advertising, children’s media publishing, and education reform in the former Soviet Union, she wrote whenever she could. Her love of early American history has its roots in family vacations up and down the East Coast visiting old forts and battlefields and places such as Williamsburg, Mystic Sea Port, and Sturbridge Village. At the same time, she daydreamed in history classes, imagining the everyday people behind all the dates and conflicts and how they lived.

The Return of Tachlanad
The Return of Tachlanad
by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Lord Esterleigh's Daughter (The Serpent's Tooth Book 1)Courting the Devil (The Serpent's Tooth Book 2)The Partisan's Wife (The Serpent's Tooth Book 3)
Lord Esterleigh's Daughter (The Serpent's T...
by Kathy Fischer-Brown
Courting the Devil (The Serpent's Tooth Boo...
by Kathy Fischer-Brown
The Partisan's Wife (The Serpent's Tooth Bo...
by Kathy Fischer-Brown
Winter FireWinter Fire: Canadian EditionThe Serpent's Tooth (3 Book Series)
Winter Fire
by Kathy Fischer-Brown
Winter Fire: Canadian Edition
by Kathy Fischer-Brown
The Serpent's Tooth (3 Book Series)
by Kathy Fischer-Brown


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Dragon Con = Crazy Fun

The Great Corvalo, star of his own horror short. I think my son is channeling Igor...

Okay! Dragon Con in Atlanta, Georgia, is a huge S/F-comic-anime-fantasy jack-of-all-trades gathering, hosting everyone from crazed tv show and gamer fan types to--well, just about anybody, even an ancient S/F geek like myself. My taste is eclectic, and this is definitely the Con for that as it has a lot of everything, from classic S/F novels to old television shows like the industry-spawning Star Trek, to Horror, to Doctor Who, to Brit, Japanese, and American fantasy. My son, a software engineer and his wife, retired civil servant, have been attending for years, and this was the year they finally persuaded me to leave my cave in Pennsylvania and come down for four days of collective madness. I had no idea of just how big this event was.

Street scene--While waiting in a panel entry line which wrapped around a city block, I was accosted by a nasty goblin,
star of a horror short also featuring Walter Koenig of the original Star Trek

In the first place, I hadn't realized that this was going to be 70,000 people all squeezed into 5 hotels and then erupting like pyroclastic flow onto the streets of downtown Atlanta, right in the heart of the business district. I attended the very first Star Trek Con in NYC many, many years ago, and let me tell you, it was nothing like this.

As you can see, I'm a Doctor Who fan with questionable taste in friends...

We emerged from the MARTA on the first day and immediately passed any number of assorted monsters, storm troopers, Anime characters, Orphan Black and Stranger Things characters waiting in line for breakfast at the Chick'FilA. By the time we arrived at  the registration line, we'd encountered any number of full dress (and full drag) attendees parading the streets. Soon, we'd all be moving from hotel to hotel in search of the next panel discussion we hoped to get into.

Parade Day was Saturday! It takes over the downtown for a few hours of total madness.

The last (utterly vain) human female, veteran of many surgeries, (Doctor Who) and her "moisturizers."

There were many dragons.

Tom Baker version Doctor Who--two of them--with a somewhat disturbing version of his sidekick, Amy Pond.

Everyone's favorite Alien stalks the streets, and, later, the hotel lobby...

We arrived at 7 a.m. on Saturday in order to grab a curbside seat for the parade, and the place was already filling up. On this day, another GA dwelling son brought his school age daughter, as we'd planned a long day's adventure with her. As a senior and a marching band member, she is BUSY, but she made time to join us, in her best Hogwart's garb--House Slytherin.

Filk with talented Nick Edelstein--his uniform that of a Next Gen Starfleet Commander--who can do a mean Jimi Hendrix riff, too!

Filk is a Dragon Con tradition--the songs we all know with substituted S/F lyrics. Word play is second nature to writers, so I found this great fun. A well known classic in the genre would be Yoda, by Weird Al Yankovich, easily found on Utube--if you need to. My grandgirl, an apple who has not fallen far from the tree, could and did sing along with this deathless classic at one of the filk sessions we enjoyed. The term "Filk" comes from a long ago typo in a scholarly article about the influence of S/F upon Folk Music. Embrace the Typo, we say--or 'we says,' as LOTR's Gollum would have it.

Devo Mutants w/old lady in fav Dr. Who t-shirt

In short, this was
Zot! Pow! overwhelming!

The world has learned to embrace Nerd-dom, and finds it can still survive. (The world has also learned that it sure can make a good ol' American buck off all these OCD crazies, as well!) Two floors of a downtown mall were dedicated to vendors so the shopping sprees available were limitless. The crowds there were just as crushing as the hotel parade-see-and-be-seen lobbys.  Costume Play (Cos Play) seemed to have the most entries, though sugar-fix theme decorated cupcakes could also be purchased.

Not usually much of a shopper, I tried on a lovely green dragon tail--only $50.00--but decided I could probably live without this, especially when I considered wearing it onto the plane...

And, for all you Game of Thrones fans, the place was alive with characters from this show. Blonde Danerys look-alikes were everywhere, but we didn't manage to get a good picture. I especially liked the ones who had colorful baby dragons perched on their shoulders, a tender maternal touch.

Game of Thrones characters were everywhere

In the end, though, for me, this was big fun with family, always a GMA's ultimate good time.

All pics courtesy of DIL, Sons, and their trusty phones.
(And I'm sufficiently old that still sounds a little weird.)

~~Juliet Waldron    Historical novels by Juliet Waldron at Amazon

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

What Eccentric Writing Habits Have I Never Mentioned? By Connie Vines

Most authors, of course, have personal eccentric writing practices. Fueled, no doubt by his or her personal muse.  Agatha Christie munched on apples in the bathtub while pondering murder plots, Flannery O’Connor crunched vanilla wafers, and Vladimir Nabokov fueled his “prefatory glow” with molasses.

Then there was the color-coding of the muses:  Alexandre Dumas, for decades he penned all of his fiction on a particular shade of blue paper, his poetry on yellow, and his articles on pink; on one occasion, while traveling in Europe, he ran out of his precious blue paper and was forced to write on a cream-colored pad, which he was convinced made his fiction suffer. Charles Dickens was partial to blue ink, but not for superstitious reasons — because it dried faster than other colors, it allowed him to pen his fiction and letters without the drudgery of blotting. Virginia Woolf used different-colored inks in her pens — greens, blues, and purples. Purple was her favorite, reserved for letters (including her love letters to Vita Sackville-West, diary entries, and manuscript drafts). Lewis Carroll also preferred purple ink, but for much more pragmatic reasons: During his years teaching mathematics at Oxford, teachers were expected to use purple ink to correct students’ work — a habit that carried over to Carroll’s fiction.

So how do my little eccentric (or never before mentioned) writing practices measure up?  Is my personal muse quirky, dull, or out of control?

Since my quirks are normal for me, I had to think about this for a bit.

I always drink coffee that is part of my current ‘setting’.  When my setting is New Orleans I mail order my coffee from my favorite spot.  Café du Monde.  I have my cup and saucer, and a portable mug when I writing outdoors.

 I have a blue coffee pot and matching tin cup when I am writing westerns (yes, the coffee is VERY strong and black).  And of course, a Starbucks cup or a Disneyland mug when my novels take place in So.Cal.

My music and my menu planning are also linked to my settings.  All within the range of normal.  Though I have more than my fair share of coffee mugs and cups.

I listen to diction videos on YouTube so that I am not relying on my memory for the sound of a Cajun accent, Texan’s drawl, etc.

I visit areas on Google Earth and Zillow.  Even if I have lived or vacationed there, I may have forgotten an interesting ‘something’ I can insert into dialogue, or find a way to describe a scene.

I talk to myself.  Oh not simple little sentences.  I’m talking about a two-way conversation: “Do you think that might work?”  “No.  No one is that stupid!”  “How about. . .”  This is the time my husband walks by to find out who’s on the phone, or if I’m asking him a question.  The dog even pokes her head in to see what’s going on.  I’m thinking this is a bit outside of the ‘normal’ range.

When I write I have to make certain my work space is in perfect order.  I have colored folders/pens/notebooks that match and are exclusive to the story I’m working on at the moment.

I never enroll in an online class when I’m writing—it’s guaranteed writers’ block.  I never talk about my WIP because I mentally clock that as writing time and lose interest in the story before it’s completed.

Whatever story I am working on is my favorite.

I survive on 3 hours sleep when I am deep in a story.  I know I drink coffee, but seem to run the story in my mind when I sleep too.

I also pick up the quirks of my heroines.  I have several friends who are in theater and they've said it’s a bit like ‘method acting’. Fortunately, I’m back to my state of normal a couple of weeks after typing THE END.

I think all of this is part of a writer’s voice.  It is what we, as readers, look for in a story.  Hopefully, it is what my readers, enjoy about the novels, short-stories and novellas that I write too.

Happy Reading!


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You can also find me @ Dishin' It Out

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Angel of Lusignan - Myths and history - by Vijaya Schartz

It's always a little sad to write the last book in a long series. I've been working on the Curse of the Lost Isle medieval fantasy series for twenty years, off and on, and Book 8, ANGEL OF LUSIGNAN, will be the last one, bringing Melusine's curse to its conclusion.
In the historical chronology, this book takes place before Beloved Crusader and Damsel of the Hawk (portraying the other two sisters and set during the Crusades), but it is the most well known legend of Melusine, the myth scholars have been studying for centuries... particularly in Europe.

melusine 2 This book is set in Lusignan, the town Melusine created according to legend. Lusignan is also the name of the family she started in Aquitaine. Melusine is first featured in Book 2, PAGAN QUEEN, as a child. She reappears in Book 3 SEDUCING SIGEFROI, Book 4 LADY OF LUXEMBOURG, and Book 5 CHATELAINE OF FOREZ.

Previously, from her Luxembourg family, after marrying Sigefroi, she gave birth to a line of kings and emperors who lived in Germany, Flanders and Austria. In Forez, her initial success was later crushed by religious cleansing.

guydelusignanIn Lusignan, she gives birth to a powerful family. Her descendants Guy of Lusignan and his brother became kings of Jerusalem and Cyprus during the Crusades. Another descendant of hers is the famous and infamous Eleanor of Aquitaine, twice queen, and mother. King Richard mentions more than once the stain upon his family, his evil ancestress through the centuries, the cursed one. That was Melusine.

melusine-basreliefBut beyond the myth and the legend, I wanted to find the heart of these characters. Remembering that history is always written by the victors, and Paganism was crushed by Christendom. So it made sense that the Pagans of the time would be reviled and presented in a negative light, even accused of horrible deeds.

In my research, I strive to peel the layers of superstition to find the truth of these fascinating characters, and bring them to life in a favorable light, with their hopes and struggles. I hope you will enjoy reading their story as much as I enjoyed writing it. 


Vijaya Schartz
  Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble - All Romance eBooks -

Monday, September 26, 2016

Music evokes sweet memories—Tricia McGill

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While transferring stored music files from my computer to my new tablet I came upon songs I haven’t played in a long time and as I listened to each one an almost forgotten memory returned of the exact moment when I heard that particular tune for the first time and why I fell in love with it then. It’s likely that younger people will not have heard of some of these songs or my favorite singers, but like old photos or mementos, each holds a special place in my heart.

Most Saturday mornings my sister and I would visit the local market where a variety of stallholders plied their wares. This sister had a passion for earrings and would spend hours deciding which to purchase, whereas my preference was the music stall where the latest records (remember them, those vinyl things that were in vogue in the 50/60s and beyond).

This was after we possessed a record player of our own, but before that, one of my already married sisters owned one of these wonderful gadgets. She had a copy of Al Martino singing “Here In My Heart”. I’m sure I wore that out, as every time I visited her I played it over and over. I think that was one of my very early crushes—not on Al who was far too old for me then—but with his voice. If you have never heard it give it a Google and I defy you to say it doesn’t do something for you.

My list of heart stoppers is a mile long, so I will choose a few of my favorites:

David Whitfield singing “Beyond the Stars”. I was a pimply teenager when I purchased this and his “Answer Me” at the market, along with Dickie Valentine singing “A Blossom Fell” (this brought back memories of a boy I went out with just once who thought it was cool to serenade me with his rendering—believe me, it wasn’t).

“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers. (Another one to Google if you have never heard their version). My best friend, who happened to be my cousin, and I would sing this out loud as we walked home from a dance. 

We would go to a local dance hall a couple of times a week and at this time I loved anything by Guy Mitchell. One boy there was Guy’s double and he broke my heart, for although he seemed to like me he took another girl home. Remember “My Truly Truly Fair”?  Ah, sweet memories! Likewise, Johnny Ray and his “Cry” evokes so many memories of that dance hall along with Elvis’s “Heartbreak Hotel”. I can still see us as if it was yesterday. Oh boy, two silly girls at a table in the bar section of the hall, when the announcer on the radio said it was this young man’s first big hit, and I still get that same old tingle in my tummy when I recall the moment he started to sing.

Any song by Vera Lynn, but especially “We’ll Meet Again” or “Yours”, take me back to the old home in North London when I was very young and my mother or sisters would sing along with Vera while I played on the floor, usually behind an armchair in the corner. For some reason I have many memories of me behind a chair. It must have been my private and safe place where I would invent games alone for hours while my older, noisy, siblings went about their life around me.

And what about Bill Haley and the Comets and “Rock around The Clock”? My cousin and I practiced our rock and rolling to him and his “See You Later Alligator”! And there were my brothers laughing at us and our antics while we cavorted in the living room. We went to see Bill and his band perform live in London. An experience never to be forgotten.

Last but definitely not least there was Frankie Laine, my absolute all-time favorite. We also saw him perform live. I can still feel the shivers up my spine that made me hot and bothered when he cracked that whip while singing “Mule Train”. Then there was “Rawhide” and “Cool Water” <sigh> and when he sang “Danny Boy”, well, that was simply the best. I owned just about every one of his recordings and don’t ask me why, but left most of them behind when we came to Australia. And would you believe, my dear father in law sold them all. <Another big sigh> Never mind, I now have his recordings right here on my computer (and on my new tablet & phone) to play at any time to take me right back to my heydays of youth and glory.

Perhaps it is just me, but not many of the modern singers match up to those oldies. For one thing, you understood every word they sang—no mumbling or rapping in those days—just good old fashioned talent and music to dream by. And we didn't swoon over them just because they were young and handsome, but because their songs and style gave us shivers and memories to cherish.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hiking Trails and a Short Stroll to Wales by Randall Sawka

The heat and humidity of Taiwan restricted outside writing to a minimum. As I prefer to write in the AM, the heat was already building. This drove me literally (literaturally??) in to air conditioned coffee shops. Those four and a half months were interesting but typical highs in the mid 30's C that felt like 42 were a bit much.

What a difference roughly 9704.66 Km makes!

Here we are in a tranquil setting north of the Cotswalds in England. The scene is quite similar to Vancouver Island.

Here we have returned to drinking the coffee hot.

Lush green hills and valleys and dozens of walking and hiking trails-and a short stroll to Wales. (I couldn't resist the rhyme.)  Of course, we will be moved indoors once the cooler weather hits in about 4 weeks. In the meantime, off we go to pick some plums and apples for a pie. I know, I know, not healthy, but so tasty.

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Ghosts and memories—Tricia McGill

Check out my Books We Love author page for information on all my books.  This little story I wrote years ago is one of my favorites, fo...