Saturday, November 19, 2016
Lord knows I never set out to be a feminist. It’s really not in my genetic chemical make-up, having been born and bred in the backward state of Kansas. Even my mom, who I used to think was the most independent woman ever, recently said, “Politics need men in office!”(She clenches her fists in a show of power.) “Someone who’s led by God. A man! A really strong man!”
I’m not gonna get into politics, let alone the silly, sexist rhetoric of her proclamation. But she’s wrong.
Usually in my books, I begin with a male protagonist. But it’s the female characters who soon take center-stage, pretty much hijacking the action. They’re shrewder, much savvier. They’re the characters who pull the clueless guy’s butt out of the fire . It just flows naturally, nothing I ever planned.
Because I write from proof. Maybe it comes from a deeply embedded mind-set that all men know but are unwilling to admit: women are more logical than men. Contrary to TV and movies, I believe women are ruled less by emotion. They can survive anything. If the movie, Rudy, played over wide-screen TV’s in a bar, the stool-campers would be reduced to tears in seconds.
And what do men like to do? Fix things! Heck yeah! Jump right in, make things right, no moss on us! But what happens when we can’t fix things? We get lost in a world that’s incomprehensible to us. After we’ve played out our ineffectual macho attempts to make things right, women swoop in and save the day.
So far this is all just theory. But based on my highly scientific research, here are the astonishing—yet absolutely true—findings:
FACT! While watching movies, I’m always the sobby mess by the end of it. I can’t even think about the kid movie, Homeward Bound, without fogging up. (Oh…that final scene…sniff). My wife asks if I’m alright. Totally embarrassing. My “Man Card” should probably be revoked.
FACT! Outside of spider visits, my wife can handle any crisis. Made of steel. She’s more prepared for the End of the World, always thinking ahead, one foot set in the bomb shelter.
FACT! Our dog respects my wife more than me. Why? Because I’m the lovable playmate. Dang dog ignores me. But when my wife barks, the dog bows down. He’s no dummy.
FACT! Whenever confronted with a store or restaurant trauma, my wife’s the clean-up player. The way I “handle” the situation? I scream, shake and sweat like latter day Elvis. Heart attack in a Hawaiian shirt. Nothing good ever comes from my hissy-fits. My wife smoothly rolls in like a pavement layer and attains positive results with cool calm.
FACT! Women aren’t too proud to ask for directions. I mean, who does that, right?
FACT! Women live longer than men. Because, duh, they’re smarter.
If you’re a man reading this, I apologize, just ignore it. You'll forget about it soon enough. Women readers? You know I’m right.
For further FACTS, check out my “women are smarter than men books.” Every last one of ‘em features a woman as the hero. (Never mind the shirtless male model on the cover below; it's the character's wife who's the true hero).
Click on the cover below for a preview!
Friday, November 18, 2016
Lately I've been doing research for my contribution to Books We Love Canadian Pioneer Bride Series. My story is set in Ontario during World War 1. The story line very roughly parallels my grandparent's story. My grandfather and his brother came to Canada as young boys sent to work and live in Ontario by Doctor Barnardo's homes in London's east end. They were the sons of the youngest son of thirteen siblings. Why none of the aunts and uncles stepped forward and took them in I have no idea. But they ended up in Doctor Barnard's Foundling Home after their father died. They came separately but somehow ended up being placed close to each other near Renfrew and Eganville in eastern Ontario.
The boy who would become my grandfather enlisted in the army and went to France where he was a Sapper. His older brother followed him a short time later. My grandmother knew both boys but had an 'understanding' with the older brother.
Unfortunately, the older brother was killed on August 8, 1918 near a small French town called Marcelcave. He was in the first wave of troops that came out of the 'jumping off trench' and was cut down by enemy fire. The morning had been heavy with fog and the companies that were supposed to provide cover for the first wave of the attack didn't arrive in time. At first he was listed as Missing in Action but eventually his remains were identified. My grandfather was listed as his next of kin, so while he himself was still fighting he received the news his brother was first missing and then confirmed Killed in Action. My grandfather to be wrote to my grandmother telling her the news. They began a long distance relationship based on their mutual love for the private killed in action.
My grandfather was part of the engineers and was gassed and buried alive for three days with another man. Eventually he was rescued and sent to convalesce in England. When he was returned to Canada after the war he ended up in Vancouver where he found a job peeling logs for Fraser Mills. He sent my grandmother her engagement ring hidden in a box of chocolates and she eventually travelled to Vancouver where they were married in New Westminster. I have changed a more than a few things in my story because a) it is a work of fiction and b) I needed to change things to fit with my requirements for the plot. I didn't want to write what would effectively be a non-fiction story about my grandparents, but there were some very interesting twists and turns that work very well for what I wanted for my plot.
Below is an artist's rendition of Marcelcave
I can only imagine what life was like in the mud filled trenches living on top of each other filthy and infested with lice and fleas.
Although the battle of Amiens (which Marcelcave was part of) was a huge victory there were many Allied casualties and wounded.
I have found that as I delve deeper into my family's past that the great uncle I never knew becomes more alive and a part of me. No war is pleasant and all wars are bloody and cruel affairs. Modern warfare with the ability to separate ourselves from the reality by the use of electronics and drones give the combatants some distance, but there are still those on the front lines who look the enemy they wish to kill in the eye and it is very visceral and real, much like the boys in the trenches of World War 1. I can only be glad that there is no longer a cavalry and that horses and mules are no longer required to move guns and equipment. The number of horses and mules killed and wounded is huge, the beasts had no say in whether they went to the front or not and certainly a large percentage of them were terrified. The more I dig the more real these things become, I only hope I can do justice to the era in my writing.
Remembrance Day has just passed and while I have always taken time on that day to honour those who fought and fell and in particular those whose blood lines I carry, this year it was all the more poignant when I paused to remember them on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. When my sons were young I always read In Flanders Fields to them and told them stories about their great grandfather, his brother who fought in WWI, and their great uncle who fought in World War II and was captured by the Germans and spent time as a prisoner of war.
His Brother's Bride will release early in 2017, I hope you enjoy the story I have cobbled together from my own ancestor's story and my fertile imagination. Please look for His Brother's Bride and when you read it spare a moment to bless and remember those who fought and those who fell.
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Language is important in world building. In paranormal stories finding words that give an other world flavor can be difficult as well as confusing. I’ve read some books with glossaries but constantly turning pages to decipher meaning can turn a reader to a different book. Also using too many strange words can turn prose into gibberish. What you need to do is find words that hint to what the characters are tasting, seeing, hearing, touching and smelling.
If you say. “He raised a con of lug and sipped, the reader’s brow will furrow. But if you say He raised a mug of kafa, the reader will think coffee.
I have three reference books I use. One is a seven language dictionary and the other is an etymology. They have helped me find the words I need. When writing the
For historical stories the wrong word can jolt the reader out of the story, Also too much usage of the right words such as dialect can send a reader searching for another book. Sometimes the word can be right but it seems too modern to the reader. Take pothole. There have been potholes that were called just that during historical periods as well as today. A friend had to change pothole in her book because an editor felt the word was modern. Also remember when you’re searching for a word to use is that words can change meaning.
In contemporary stories language plays a role in creating the dream. Every career choice, region of the country have specific words. There’s argot, cant, slang whatever you choose to call these expressions, using one of these words can point to a specific area or career.
For example, I’m from
If a character says “Heart attack:” we might think lay person but if "Cardiac arrest,” is used we think of medical personnel.
He aimed his piece, or his gat or his gun or his Glock. Those words can change an opinion of a character and of the world he or she inhabits.
One good thing about writing a contemporary story is there are experts to interview who can provide language and information to help build your world. These people are almost always happy to talk to a writer.
Actually when doing an interview I had an interesting event. How I was nearly arrested for murder.
I needed to speak to a policeman to learn when I could schedule a murder victim’s funeral as this led to the climax of the story. My daughter had a friend from school who became a policeman. He had been at the house many times and was semi-adopted into the family. I called his off-duty phone and left a message for him to call me back.
A few hours later he returned the call. “What’s wrong? What can I do?” he asked.
“It’s about this woman I just murdered. How long before she can be buried.”
Then I heard. “No, Guys settle. She’s a writer.” There was a pause. Then he said, “Ma, I’m at the station. You’re on speaker.”
Another aspect of world creating, particularly for those writing historical or paranormal romances is the history of the world or the era. The reader needs to know some of the background if it’s important to the story.
Now, sharing every detail of the world is tempting but the readers want action not a history lesson.
When writing contemporary romances the writer must decide how much of the current events they want or need to relate. Much will depend on the story’s focus.
There are also rules of the world you’ve created. Most of us know the rules of the contemporary world and we can learn about the ones of the historical one. When writing a paranormal story the rules must be known to the reader. This is your world and you need to know them. These rules must apply to the characters and be established as customs in the world you’re inviting your readers to enter.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Lately, on my library’s New Arrivals racks, I’ve been seeing novels that take place in Hollywood’s Golden Age, with the protagonists befriending various movie stars. Sadly, for me, I’ve read so many biographies from Old Hollywood, I find these Myrna-Loy-is-my roommate books hard to take. Likewise, I couldn’t get interested in the early Hollywood, George Clooney movie farce, Hail Caesar or Sunset, where Bruce Willis plays Tom Mix and James Garner is Wyatt Earp. Mix’s horse, Tony, was the first Wonder Horse. His hoof prints are alongside Mix’s at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. An interesting sidebar: Earp began living in the Los Angeles area around 1910 and, beginning in 1915, served as an unpaid technical adviser on some early silent westerns. Even then accuracy mattered He knew western stars William S. Hart and Tom Mix well enough for them to act as pall bearers at his funeral. Chit-chat aside, including well-known, dare I say entities, in any writing requires accurateness. Let’s consider a couple of legendary Hollywood horses.
Trigger’s original name was Golden Cloud and his first movie role was as Olivia De Havilland’s mount in The Adventures of Robin Hood. When Roy Rogers was making his first movie, the studio rented five horses for him to choose from. Rogers chose Golden Cloud, eventually bought him, and renamed him. Things a writer would need to know:He could run faster than the camera car.
He was never bred.
He slept on set until someone said, “Quiet on the set.” At which time he woke up ready to act. Then, at the word, “Cut,” he relaxed.
Roy Rogers attributed Smiley Burnett with the name, Trigger.
Trigger was housebroken.
Gene Autry’s Champion the Wonder Horse(s), there were three. Things a writer would need to know:
He had stunt doubles.
His hoof prints are next to Autry's handprints at Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
In addition to such normal tricks as playing dead and jumping through rings of fire, all three of the horses could dance the hula and the Charleston.
He (they) had their own television show.
Silver(s) Two horses shared the role of Silver, Clayton Moore’s horse in The Lone Ranger. Moore personally chose Silver #1. Things a writer would need to know:
Silver #1 was used when scripts called for a gentle horse.
Silver #2 was the only horse with which Moore toured.
Silver had a chase-scene-and-stunt double named Traveler. Those chase scenes were made with Traveler’s owner, Bill Ward, riding him.
In his old age, Silver#1 made head shots.
Scout, the horse Jay Silverheels rode as Tonto, could outrun Silver and had to be reined in.
Buck was the name of Matt Dillon’s horse. He never saved Dillon’s life or led the way to a hideout. However, Dillion rode several horses in Gunsmoke. His deputy, Festus Haggen, rode a mule named Ruth. Doc once called his horse, Popcorn.
Careful writers, such as Katherine Pym, do their research. Longfellow would approve, once saying, “It takes less time to do a thing right than to explain why you did it wrong.”
Sadly, with the demise of westerns came the demise of famous horses.
The Super Moon
|The 'super' moon on November 14, 2016. (Photo by J.C. Kavanagh, Lisle, Ontario)|
Did you see the 'super' moon the other night? The clouds parted and behold! There it was - displayed in all its eerie magnificence. The sight of it reminded me of the many moon descriptions in my book, The Twisted Climb (a novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart AND the perfect Christmas gift. Really.) https://www.amazon.com/Twisted-Climb-J-C-Kavanagh-ebook/dp/B01GZ2L2MQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1479249830&sr=8-1&keywords=the+twisted+climb
Paranormal plusMany of my readers are curious to know details about the sequel to The Twisted Climb. The plot has been brewing in my mind for some time now and the tentative title is: The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends. Most of the draft outline is complete and now I have to sew it together, seam by seam, chapter by chapter. It's truly inspiring to hear friends and strangers alike suggest story lines and events in the next book. "Jayden and Connor HAVE to meet in real life!" is one recommendation. "Introduce more paranormal activity" is another. I get goosebumps when my fictional characters are discussed as if they are real, living people.
Available in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and now, Australia!Books We Love is a great promoter of - guess what - books we love! And now the publishing company is opening readership potential to one of the largest continents in the world - Australia. It's great to be part of this fine Canadian company as it opens doors for readers around the world and promotes our "word movies."
The Twisted Climb
A novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart.
Monday, November 14, 2016
Click the cover to read a sample
This weekend it has been time to remember the fallen, those soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought for a safe and peaceful future for the rest of us. For me, born and brought up in England, the union flag says it all. For my American, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand friends and colleagues, and those from many other countries, it will be a different flag but the emotions will be the same.
So what does Remembrance Day mean to me? Well my family is a bit out of kilter when it comes to the two World Wars because the nineteen year age difference between my parents means that I had close relatives active in both conflicts. In WWI it was my father's family, in WW2 my mother's.
One of my father's brothers died at the Battle of the Somme whilst another one never really recovered from months in the trenches up to his ankles in dirty water. It left him with fragile lungs, crippled feet and a permanent aura of sadness. He, like so many others, would never talk of what he'd seen and been through. Another paternal uncle returned unable to father children with all the heartache that entailed.
In WW2 my maternal grandfather, only 20 years older than my father, was torpedoed in the North Sea in the dead of winter. As his ship went down he managed to clamber aboard an open boat but his brother-in-law who was also his best friend, my Great Uncle William, wasn't so lucky. He drowned. Although my grandfather survived for 6 days until a rescue boat arrived, he never fully recovered from either the physical or mental ordeal.
My mother's older sister lost everything she owned when her house was bombed. She and her tiny daughter survived but my aunt's ears were so damaged by the blast that she remained deaf for the rest of her life.
Another aunt lost her young pilot husband shortly after their marriage and as a consequence suffered periods of mental instability for the rest of her life.
My parents were both in the Royal Air Force where my father was responsible for ensuring that bombs were safely loaded into Lancaster bombers while my mother, then only twenty years old, drove the aircrews to the airfields at night. There was only a pinpoint of light in each of the headlights of her truck and no signposts to follow in the pitch dark countryside. She once told me that frightening as it was, the far worst thing was driving to collect the crews when the planes returned always knowing that there would be some who hadn't made it safely back.
Having been lucky enough to grow up and then raise my own family in a time of peace, I can hardly imagine what it must have been like to live in those uncertain days, waking up each morning unsure whether you and all your loved ones would make it to nightfall. I know I and millions of others owe a great debt to all the unsung soldiers, sailors and airmen of both wars as well as to the brave families they left behind, and this has been doubly brought home to me by a letter that has been long treasured in my father's family. It was written by my long lost Uncle and sent to my widowed paternal grandfather the night before the Battle of the Somme. It is faded and fragile but the words and the determination to be brave and do his duty are are clear. He was twenty years old.
France June 30th 1916
In case it is God's wish that I do not return, I am sending this purse and contents as a final gift. All my private things will be sent to you later. If I am killed I die like thousands of Britain's finest men.
Give heaps of my love to all the family, your loving son Bernard.
We leave our billets at 5.30 pm tonight and at dawn Saturday morning, July 1st 1916, I come to close grips with the Hun in his own trenches. The money is all French. I do not want the family to grieve too much.
From the family photos he was the best looking, and from the memories of his many siblings, the best loved. He was certainly one of the bravest. My father, 7 years his junior, hero-worshipped him. None of the family ever forgot him.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
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 Eleven
Mike and I drove into a different time zone and arrived in New Mexico. At Robo Canyon Road we turned to go to the Carlsbad Caverns. Mike wanted to rest so I bought my ticket at the visitor’s center information desk. It was 1:45pm and I only had until 2:00pm to begin the hike down into the cavern. Anyone coming after 2:00pm had to take the elevator because of time.I began the paved switchback trail down to the Natural Entrance. Once inside the cavern I continued downward on the Main Corridor. There are dim lights giving off just enough light to see but not too bright. I tread my way carefully, sometimes ducking under huge boulders, sometimes walking through narrow openings in the rocks, sometimes walking on the edge of drop-offs. I passed the Bat Cave, the Green Lake Overlook, and walked beside Iceberg Rock, a 200,000 ton boulder that fell from the ceiling thousands of years ago. I went slow relishing my time, sitting on benches to gaze at the beautiful formations. I was even passed by one group.
I was introduced to caving when we moved to Vancouver Island. I heard of the Horne Lake Caves and the first summer I made three trips to the caves taking my children and grandchildren when they came to visit. There are different tours and each summer we would go further into the cave. When I was planning this trip I made sure that the Carlsbad Caves was one of our stops.
At the bottom of the corridor I was 750ft (229m) underground and at the Big Room. The Big Room is almost 4000ft (1220m) long, 625ft (191m) across and 255ft (78m) high at its highest point. I began the 1¼ mile (2km) walk around the outside of the 8.2 acre (3.3ha) room in awe that I was in the Carlsbad Cave considered by some to be the 8th Natural Wonder of the World. I wandered along the paved path enjoying the different sizes and shapes of the stalactites, stalagmites, the columns, draperies, and the soda straws all formed over thousands of years by the single drops of water.
Stalagmites form when droplets of water containing calcium carbonate fall from the ceiling and begin to form a mound on the floor of the cave. Stalactites form on the ceiling when the calcium carbonate is left once the drop of water has fallen. When they meet they are called columns. Some of these formations are tall and huge and when you consider that it takes about 100 years to grow just one inch, you realize just how many millions of years this cavern has been here with these creations slowly growing.
I didn’t want the day to end but I finally took the elevator up to the visitor’s center, one of the last to do so before closing time. I bought two travel mugs at the gift shop and went to the camper.
West of Deming we crossed the Continental Divide again, drove through Lordsburg and entered Arizona. We turned onto Highway 90 towards Tombstone and drove into town looking for the OK Corral. The main street was blocked off so we found a place to park. At that moment four men in long black coats, cowboy hats, and boots strolled out into the street. Mike stayed in the camper as he wasn’t sure how fast or how far he could walk and the show looked like it was about to begin.
I walked to where the four men stood in the middle of the road. Tourists took turns having their pictures taken with them. I bought a ticket to see the performance of the Shootout at the OK Corral. I walked out the back of the building past a buggy display, the prostitute’s crib, and C.S. Fly’s Photo Studio to the gun fight stage. Actors portrayed the events that led up to the gun fight and then the shootout itself. Virgil Earp, (the Marshall), and his brothers Wyatt and Morgan, along with Doc Holliday were up against brothers Ike and Bill Clanton and brothers Frank and Tom McLowery (also spelled McLaury). At the start of the fight Ike Clanton, who was unarmed, ran off. After thirty shots in thirty seconds the McLowerys and Bill Clanton were dead, Virgil, Morgan and Doc Holliday were wounded and Wyatt was uninjured. I recorded it for Mike to see on my camera.
With the ticket to the show I could also get a free copy of the edition of The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper that was put out the day after of the shootout. Besides the testimony of witnesses to the shootout there were advertisements for Pioneer Baking Soda, the Tombstone Carriage Shop, the Arizona Mail and Stage Line, and a $400 Reward was offered for the apprehension of the murderer of William C. Drake (late private of Troop G, 4th U.S. Cavalry, Fort Bowie, Arizona.). I also bought two bottles Sarsparilla.
We drove to the Boot Hill Trading Post. We went through the building to Boot Hill cemetery to look at the graves of Frank and Tom McLowery and Bill Clanton. I dropped a post card in a box in the gift shop for mom.
We stopped to visit friends, Berny and Barb in Yuma for a couple of days and they took us to a Mexican Flea Market. It was outdoors and large. We wandered up and down the aisles. I bought some boots and lots of material to make throws and pillows. Mike found a couple of hats. We listened to a Mexican band playing music. The whole market had a happy atmosphere.
I tried on a few jackets and shirts before I found two of jackets that I liked. One was pink and one was blue and they fit nicely. Mike came in and bought them for me. Sandra, the owner, asked us where we were from and Mike told her, Vancouver Island and ran through the spiel of going to Sarasota for a breast cancer survivor dragon boat festival.“My sister in Kentucky just had breast cancer surgery and is going through treatments,” she said.
She had a computer on her desk. “Look up the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission web site,” I said.
She saw the pictures of the venue, the races, and the opening and closing ceremonies taken by the drones.
“I’m sending this to my sister,” she said and forwarded the information.
Before we left I gave her a set of my novels and I am happy to say that Sandra and I are now friends on Facebook.
We reached the Pirates Den campground in Parker, Arizona, on the Colorado River. Our friends, Deb and Duane and Rosalie and Mike, were camped there. Deb and Duane are our son’s in-laws and Rosalie and Mike are Deb’s sister and brother-in-law. Although our son, Oliver, and daughter-in-law, Sherry, and another couple, Dean and Kate, were staying at an apartment in Lake Havasu, they were all at the campground when we arrived.
Deb and Duane have a pontoon boat and the next morning I went with them and Rosalie and Mike to Lake Havasu. We drove across the Arizona Bridge, formally the London Bridge, to the island where Oliver and Sherry were staying. Duane launched the boat and the seven of us (Dean and Kate had other plans) sailed up the narrow canal. We went under the London Bridge then around the island. It was so bright and sunny and peaceful. We sailed back the way we'd come.
Lake Havasu is a manmade lake formed by Parker Dam. Lake Havasu City was established in 1963 by Robert McCulloch on the eastern shore of the lake. He purchased the famous London Bridge from London, England, in 1967. He had the bridge, which had been built in 1831 and spanned the Thames River, dismantled and brought to Lake Havasu City. He built a reinforced concrete structure and covered it with the exterior granite blocks from the London Bridge.
The next day we went across the lake to a casino on the California side. Oliver had suggested we each play $20.00 for fifteen minutes and then we would split the winnings. Sherry and Duane won at slots and Oliver won at the blackjack table. The rest of us lost. When all the money was put together it came to around eighty dollars and we gave the money to Duane and Deb for gas for their truck and boat.
On the US Thanksgiving we said good bye to everyone and headed to Mesa. Before going to see our friends, who spent the winters there, we went to a Walmart for some groceries. We were in our seats making a grocery list when a truck pulled up beside us on the driver's side. A young Hispanic woman and a child got out. They came over to our motorhome. Mike rolled down his window and we smiled at the woman.
“Are you having a Thanksgiving dinner?” she asked
“What?” Mike said.
“Are you going to have a Thanksgiving dinner today? We have lots of extra turkey at our place.”
We were both taken by surprise. I stumbled as I answered.
“Um, we are from Canada and we were going to some friend’s house here in Mesa,” I said. “But thank you very much for the invitation.”
We were so impressed that they would invite strangers into their home on Thanksgiving. They must have thought that because we were in a motorhome we wouldn't be doing a big celebration dinner. I regret not going with them. It would have been nice to get to know such wonderful people.
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