Saturday, January 28, 2017

Everybody Wants to Write a Book by Connie Vines

Topic for January: Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not.
Writing is hard work. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?

How many times have you heard someone say, “Someday I’m going to write a book?”  Many a time, I’m certain.  However, most do not.

Why? Because writing is hard work.

What got me started?  Like most children, I loved reading, drawing, and listening to the oral family history spoken by my grandparents.  I also like to write stories (not particularly good stories) but for a second grader I did have a handle on the concept of plotting.  Thinking back, I unnerved adults with my pointed interview questions, and thoughts about the meaning of life and life-after-death vs death-after-death.  Picture:  Tuesday Addams wearing glasses and constantly grumbling about receiving yet, another stupid doll instead of a filling cabinet for her birthday.

When, exactly, did I start and complete my first novel?

While I wrote short-stories, nonfiction articles for publication during my twenties, I didn’t get serious about completing a novel until thirties. My children were in school and I worked part-time.  That gave me a block of free time to write (vs the scribbling on 3 x 5 index cards when I was cooking dinner or a note pad during a child’s 1 hour nap).  I was serving on my church board when the choir soloist told me her sister was a co-president of the Orange County Chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America).  At the time, I hadn’t every thought of writing a romance.  I wrote for the YA and middle school market and dabbled in historical fiction, but Shirlee convinced me that the networking and workshops would be beneficial to me.  She was correct.

Attending monthly meetings/workshops, exchanging rough drafts with my critique members during lunch, and input from the multi-published members gave me the confidence to persevere.  It also made me crawl out of bed after my husband left for work (at 3:00 in the morning) and write before getting my children off to school.

I also discovered that I couldn’t give up my YA stories while I found my footing in a new market.

“So, what did Connie do?”  you ask.

I work two novels at once—which I still do to this very day.

Crazing making?  Yes!

Writing romance isn’t easy.  Strong, well-developed characters, good plot (and multiple sub plots), sharp dialogue, and emotion—lots of emotion.

Writing is addictive.  The story unfolds, the characters present themselves, and away the writer goes—into a new Universe.

What makes me complete my novel/story?

The best way for me to describe the feel is I am driven to finish the story.  Native Americans say the story chooses the Storyteller.  It is the Storyteller’s responsibly to bring the story to life.

Happy Reading!

My Rodeo Romances (Lynx and Brede) are on sale this month (click on my Amazon Author Page link).

Everyone needs a little Zombie  Valentine Romance, don’t they?

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow” is available on

Free on Kindle Unlimited!

Where am I?

Friday, January 27, 2017

The reason for cattitude - by Vijaya Schartz

Angel of Lusignan - Curse of the Lost Isle Book 8
Find Vijaya Schartz's books from BWL HERE

Cats have a special place in our lives and in our hearts. Cats and writers have a special relationship. I had many over the years and all had different personalities, but I loved them all.

The first cats were traced to the Egyptian "Mau" (which simply means cat). The domestic cat had an important role in ancient Egypt, keeping the rodent population under control, protecting the grain and other food supplies from rat infestation. So important that it was worshiped and rose to the rank of deity, with the Goddess Bastet. 

Not native to the Americas, the first domestic cats came with the first explorers on Christopher Columbus's caravels. More found their way across the Atlantic on the Mayflower. Every ship sailing for the Americas (or on any long voyage) carried a contingent of highly respected and well fed cats.

These precious animals were treated like royalty on ocean-going ships, because they had an important job. Like in ancient Egypt, they kept the rodent population under control, and protected the food storage. It took weeks to cross the Atlantic in those days, and if the food was eaten or contaminated by vermin, crew and passengers might starve or succumb to diseases before reaching their destination.

In continental Europe, cats were never considered special. In the British Isles, however, as the country developed its Navy and conquered more colonies, the cult of the cat rose to high status. Great Britain gave credit where credit was due. Without the domestic cat, there might not have been a superior British Navy or a British Colonial Empire.
Princess Jasmine, my current companion.

So you will understand why cats are so full of their importance. While the need for rat hunters has dwindled, these furry aristocrats still claim the respect due to their special class of nobility. They are precious and they know it. Cats are the epitome of haughtiness and have mastered all forms of disdain. They will refuse the treat they crave, just to claim and eat it on their own terms. They do not tolerate being ignored, and some behave like spoiled rotten divas.

We should not blame them for their behavior. As with any kind of nobility aware of their high class status, they see the world differently. While dogs have masters, cats have staff. Whether we are aware of it or not, humans were born to serve their cats. That's the way the world turns. And even if we do not agree, all cats know that.

Cats also have special powers. Probably from their time being worshiped in Egypt, they kept the power to vanish from a room and reappear in another, or outside, without ever using doors. They are said to have nine lives. Maybe that's how they remember their glorious past. They can disappear, be totally silent, and hide where no one can find them. But forget it's time for their special tuna treat, and you will never hear the end of it.

In any case, we should be grateful to our feline friends. Although they will not be ignored, we value their love of cuddles, and secretly we like their attitude. After all, who could resist a kitten's innocent round eyes and not go awww?

I also have cats in many of my novels, although not in my medieval series, and I'm currently writing a new novel with... a cat... a very big cat... so stay tuned...

Vijaya Schartz
  Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble Smashwords

Thursday, January 26, 2017

God save the Queen--Tricia McGill

Find all Tricia McGill's Books We Love titles HERE

It amazes me how even today a vast majority of people are fascinated by the British Monarchy. Magazines make a lot of money publishing pictures and anecdotes of members of the Royal Family, be they British or otherwise. I, personally, am a monarchist. Arguments go on here in Australia about whether or not we should become a Republic. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it is my motto. I admire and respect Queen Elizabeth, who has done a marvelous job throughout her long reign, and I do hope she can continue until the day she passes on. Just my humble opinion.

One of my brothers met Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth when she visited one of her Royal Navy minesweepers that he served on after WW11. His only comment I can recall was that she was tiny and had lovely skin. My eldest sister, Doris, also met Her Majesty here in Australia on one of the Queen’s early visits. I seem to recall my sister was more worried about one of the other waitresses who had the audacity to be showing an inch of her under slip. That just didn’t do in front of the Queen. Doris was introduced to the Queen, which gave her something to talk about for years.

Another monarch who has fascinated me over the years is Queen Victoria who ruled the United Kingdom of Gt Britain and Ireland from 1837 to 1901. Many authors are also intrigued by the Victorian Era, as shown by the books set in that period. Mind you, it is not so much Victoria who holds my interest as her large family. And being a romantic at heart I pictured this idyllic love affair between her and her beloved Prince Albert, and their perfect life surrounded by their many children conceived through that love.

Alas, my previous opinions concerning Queen Victoria were completely shattered recently when a programme aired on BBC TV; Queen Victoria’s Children. What a fascinating insight into that royal family.
And what an eye-opener. Far from being this devoted family, wholly content within their blissful cocoon, they were what today might be considered dysfunctional to say the least.

My heartfelt thanks to historian Jane Ridley for some of the following facts, mainly taken from her book Bertie: A Life of Edward V11, published by Chatto & Windus:  

Victoria and Albert’s marriage was a love match of course, but in time their picture of perfect domesticity was proved a lie. The four sons and five daughters were born due to Victoria’s insatiable infatuation for her prince. The façade shown to the world proved to be so different to the actual facts.

Because, in the 17 years of their marriage, Victoria was pregnant a lot of the time, the Prince ably took on her heavy workload. This annoyed hell out of her and they were caught in this power struggle, which caused endless rows, some shaking the walls of the palace as she stormed about slamming doors. This makes her more human to me, as my husband and I had many a door-slamming argument even though we dearly loved each other. Poor Victoria, although she loved her prince she must have been madly jealous when he made such a good job of the tasks he took on. Albert became terrified of these temper outbursts of hers and doubtless considered at times that she might have inherited the madness of George 111.

Truth was, Victoria detested being pregnant, even though she enjoyed the initial act of conceiving the babies. And over time she hated almost every one of her offspring. She brought in a wet nurse as she considered breast feeding ‘disgusting’. Her breasts were more for Albert’s pleasure than to satisfy her baby’s hunger. In her documented letters to several of her children and friends she admitted her dislike for her children. To be honest, she was a battle-axe of a mother, domineering and unlikable, never caring or soft. It seems most of them couldn’t wait to get married and away from her.
Bertie, the eldest, who later ruled as Edward V11 (and by all accounts made a not too bad job of it) was disliked, and even bullied, by both parents for his philandering ways. They both considered him a half-wit. Imagine! The story of his “fall from grace” when, while training with the army in Ireland, he smuggled a prostitute into his bed, is well known. Victoria and Albert must have been beside themselves with chagrin.
Victoria blamed Bertie for Alfred’s premature death because, after her husband visited his son at Cambridge where they took a long walk in the rain, Albert took sick. He died three weeks later, but it is probable the rain soaking had nothing to do with it. The cause of death was likely typhoid. Victoria could not bear to have Bertie near her and for the next 40 years of her life wore black as she mourned her Prince. The public saw her as a pathetic grief-stricken widow. We now know the story is very different.
In fact her pathological need to exact control of her large family caused her to send informers and spies out to report back to her on all of her offspring. I found it inconceivable to hear that after Bertie married Princess Alexandra, Victoria went so far as to get the doctor to report back on everything, even Alexandra’s menstrual cycle.
Victoria once remarked that Bertie was like her. Obviously she was right, for Bertie was highly sexed, and had a bad temper. His saving grace was that he was charming. At least he has been praised for the way, in later years, he modernized the British monarchy.
Victoria’s other sons didn’t fare much better with their mother. Dear Leopold, a hemophiliac, was described by Victoria as "a very common-looking child". What kind of mother can’t stand the looks of her son? She did her best to wrap him in a cocoon as if he was an invalid, appointing a bully of a servant to look after him. Leopold won the chance to study at Oxford after a long battle with her. He was only 30 when he died. What a miserable existence he must have endured.
The only son who was anything like his father was Arthur, later the Duke of Connaught. He was her favorite, simply because he obeyed her.
As for the girls, Vicky, the eldest daughter, couldn’t escape her mother’s interference even after she married Fritz, the heir to the throne of Prussia. Victoria wrote to her daughter almost every day, trying to manipulate their lives in Germany. And when Vicky became pregnant what did her mother say? The “horrid” news upset her dreadfully.
Thank goodness Vicky, and her sister Alice, also married to a German prince, decided to defy their mother and secretly breastfed their babies. Of course Victoria found out and was furious. I imagine all the children were scared of their mother at any given time. Because she was also their sovereign they were compelled in some way to obey her.
The youngest child Beatrice (known as Baby) was kept at home. Baby was terrified of her mother. Victoria refused to speak to her for 6 months after Beatrice told her that she had become engaged to be married to her own German Prince. Thank goodness there was one daughter with the courage to rebel. Feisty Louise refused to marry her mother’s choice, and chose Lord Lorne, the son of the Duke of Argyll instead. Sadly this proved a bad choice as it was a disastrous, unhappy marriage.
Perhaps I should not be so harsh on Victoria, for she herself was brought up by an overbearing mother who designed “The Kensington System”.
This consisted of a strict set of rules concerning the upbringing of the future Queen. Victoria grew to hate her mother, who was strict to the point of being brutal. Victoria also hated her mother’s lady-in-waiting Lady Flora Hastings.  Doubtless Victoria felt released from her mother’s clutches when she married her handsome Prince Albert. But then all these babies began to come along, putting a curb on her own pleasures, presumably fostering her resentment. They often say a bully breeds a bully. Hopefully this trait wasn’t passed on to her offspring. I can't help but wonder just why she didn't look more kindly on her children considering her own miserable childhood.

Queen Victoria’s letters are available in some form from most online book sellers.
Find her scrapbook here:  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Settling in Southern England

Suspense Thriller by Randall Sawka

Settled in nicely in southern-very southern-England. We love our 2-bedroom apartment. It helps us deal with the rainy weather (who knew it rained in England : ) ). If the sky opens up I can slip away in to one of the bedrooms to write. This allows Nancy to use the living area and kitchen without causing distractions. When the weather breaks, as it did today I dashed off to a local pub to scribble away. Yes, I'm having coffee and water. Keeps the brain going.

That's not to say I don't take days off. We found ourselves at a massive tank museum just outside of Weymouth. It was amazing. Dozens and dozens of tanks from the first to the latest. Even found ourselves beside the tank used by Brad Pitt in "Fury." The museum lent it to them and kept it in the exact condition from the movie for the time being. Thank you Andy for the private tour!

The cool sea air has been invigorating. I'm writing at a record pace. Very fulfilling. Today we will sort out the final six weeks of our year-long, around-the-world adventure. Looks like Malta and France. Ah, but that's for next months blog.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What's in DK Davis' Writer's Tool Shed?

Hello everyone. Welcome to Books We Love Blog. Please settle in, grab that cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea and join me as I share what’s in my writer’s tool shed with you. Please feel comfortable asking questions or leaving comments as I’ll respond to every one of them.   

I’m DK Davis, a new author to the Books We Love family. I pen young adult supernatural, sci-fi adventures with varying degrees of romance.  My first book, Secret: In Wolf Lake is the first in the Secret Series, published January 1st, 2017. An excellent way to kick off the New Year; )

I live in Southwest Michigan with two nine-year-old cats who own me (Izzy and Crocks), and a sassy ten-year-old Sheltie (Dusty) who does his best to herd them, along with me and my husband too…or anyone who enters our home. He’s definitely a bark-aholic and not afraid to tell you so. LOL

It’s so nice to meet you...and now on to what brought you to this post… 

A Writer’s Tool Shed

What does that even mean? Laptop? Pens? Notebooks? Websites? Links? Books on the Craft?

NOPE, none of the above. Well, I do have all of those things…just like every author does, but what I’m referring to as my “tools” is something more specific to me.

Every author has their own system/process of writing. What works best to stay in the flow, that forward trajectory, driving them around the final lap called “the end” of a story.

Don’t we as writers want that for ourselves – anything that speeds things along for us?

Now, I own a shed with writing tools that keep me on track, help me to eliminate “most” struggles or obstacles before they paralyze my progress.

My Tools of the Trade

  • Character Sketches: a complete biography of the main story-stars including the villain. The biggy here is to list any trauma or shattering moment that changes/shifts the story-star’s perception. Use a lesser degree for secondary story-stars. (check out Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field, amazing book for fiction novels also)
  •   Plotting: Index cards (14 beginning, 28 middle, 14 ending = 56 cards) also given in great detail in Syd’s book. It’s a line-up of events, plan of action that keeps me moving forward, although sometimes the characters change those events, my momentum and drive remains until the end. Plus this story lay-out doesn’t take very long to do once you get started with the brain storms.
  •             Timeline: Writing this as I finish each chapter. Listing the day and also time (if relevant) of the characters story, word count, page numbers, and highlights/events of each chapter. It is a godsend when referencing back to a scene or dialogue or event as I’m writing.
  • Research Notations: Rather than doing all the research before I start my book (I can spend a ton of time doing unnecessary research for the sake of having “everything” before I start that first chapter – talk about a procrastinator) I use the “Review” comment tool to make notes throughout my story as I’m writing. That way I know specifically what to research and where it needs to go after the story is completed.

I’m still honing my story-writing skills, and my tools may change or I might add more of them…but for now, I’m totally impressed in all of them listed here – they sharpen my process, speed things up, and I love all of them for that; )

Thank you all for stopping in, hope you found this post helpful. If you have a tool in your writer’s toolbox that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment; I can always add another tool to my arsenal.

Secret Series:
A series of secrets, invisible yet glaring, and most include a Supernatural spin, like an unwelcomed sensation sparking every nerve ending. 

Secret: In Wolf Lake:
Samantha’s dealing with a lot of emotional blow-back from her mother’s new marriage. Then she discovers a gifted creature living in Wolf Lake, and life suddenly becomes all about keeping his existence a secret, earning his trust. That is until his life depends on her saving him. But she won’t be able to do it alone…

You can find DK Davis here:
Books We Love Ltd. Author Page –

Monday, January 23, 2017

Voices by Victoria Chatham

We have a new member of our family. A kitten acquired as a companion for our resident cat who was sad and lonely after his next-door cat buddies moved away. Uh-oh, you’re thinking, crazy cat lady here. Well, crazy possibly; cat lady, slowly getting there after being a life-long dog-lover.

I'd always known my dogs' voices. Like with my kids, they had their distinctive sounds which I could determine three fields away but I somehow never expected a cat to be so vocal. I’d had cats in the past, briefly as it turned out because moving cars can’t stop in time for them if the driver even cared to. I simply don’t remember their voices, but our Number One cat objected vociferously to the newcomer, going from the deepest, base growl deep in his chest to a continual and very disapproving ‘yuuuuaaaakkkk'. Imagine having something tacky on your tongue and try vocalizing it. Yep, just like that.

The kitten, on the other hand, has a squeaky little meow that sounds like a rusty hinge. She sometimes chirrups and mutters to herself with a soft ‘ft-ft-ft’ sound. At other times, mostly when secured in her cat carrier, it makes you wonder how a one-and-a-bit-pound kitten can make such a racket.

Voice is such an individual expression, whether it is cats, dogs, or kids. The guy on the corner is going to sound different to a movie actor, and look at the number of those who are now lending their voices to animated characters. Movie buffs know those voices. They are instantly recognizable. Maybe the actor’s name doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but the voice resonates with you. Most recently Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Matthew McConaughey have voice-starred in Moana and Sing. Last summer Ellen Degeneres was Dory, and who can forget Eddie Murphy as Donkey in the Shrek series?

So it is with authors. Each has a different voice. Unlike cats, dogs, kids and movie stars, authors’ voices develop over time. We may start out writing like our favorite author. Mine was Georgette Heyer, which brought me to writing Regency romance. However, I so enjoyed contemporary author Maeve Binchy that I couldn’t bring myself to write in that genre. How could I write like Maeve if I was not her? Go figure.

It is only in the constant practice of writing that an author develops their voice, their personal way of stringing words together. They may listen to the nuances of emotion in their minds when they write dialogue and transfer it to the page, or picture their favorite colors when describing a view or setting. They may have a particular take on life because of their origins, but none of this will be immediate when they first start writing.

There may be several false starts before a writer becomes aware of the choices they are making in their word usage. The wider a writer’s vocabulary, the more choice they have and will sound more authentic. When I read a word I don’t know, I make sure to look it up in my dictionary. I may never use it, but at least I’m expanding my vocabulary. Hiding behind common-or-garden phraseology may tell a story, but it will not have any impact. One author described voice to me as ‘having the confidence to bleed on the page’.

The world around us, our family and friends, our experience of life influences us in ways that we don’t always appreciate. I might think of our resident cat’s growl when my Alpha Male hero faces the villain or our kitten’s ‘ft-ft-ft’ when I describe my heroine having something of a hissy fit with her nose in the air.

It has taken me many years of constant writing practice to achieve the confidence I now have to ‘bleed on the page’, to have confidence in my writing and my essential voice.

Find me at:

Sunday, January 22, 2017

A Pink Smartie For My Sister

I was born in Beaverlodge, Alberta. I’ve never been there, but they tell me it’s nice. Well, I mean I left when I was two and moved Edmonton, Alberta. Okay, let’s make this clear, my parents left and I was taken with them. I wanted to stay behind, but the powers that be wouldn’t hear of it. The only thing I know about the town is that my older sister, Judy, is buried there. She had pneumonia when she was two and died. My mom told me that when I was two I also got pneumonia and was deathly ill. She got on her knees one night and prayed, “Dear God, let him live and I’ll take as many kids as you can give me.”

She did say after six more she should have put a limit on that promise.

My favorite playground as I grew up was the Beverly waste oil pit and dump, before it was covered over and turned into the golf course. I dread to think of all of those thousands of tons of oil when they come seeping into the river someday. Man, the stuff we used to find in that dump. A storehouse of wonder for young boys. I bet there’s a lot great great great grandparent seagulls that still to this day tell the youngsters of all the grand feasts they used to have there and now all they get to snack on are inedible white balls.

I’ve been asked what makes me so determined to never give up. One of the most profound things that ever happened to me was when I was about fourteen or so, my second father died of cancer. He was the heart throb of my mom’s life. She never remarried and as far as I remember only ever went on one or two dates after. She tried to commit suicide, shortly after his death, she couldn’t continue living life without him. At that age I would have been the dad of six younger siblings.

I made it my resolve to never give up. After 398 rejections I finally got my first novel published and this spring I’ve got the fourth being released.

The motto of this story is I never, never eat pink Smarties. I’ve got all the pink Smarties, I’ve never ate on my desk. Well, it’s only one, but I was more of a M-and-M fan most of my life. And it’s actually a brown Smartie spray painted pink. But there’s no website devoted to brown ones so I painted it pink one day. Don’t believe me go to this website.
You think if people wanted to get married over pink ones and worship them, then you just can’t go eating them willy-nilly.  So, I’ve got another book to write, but before I go my intentions are to lay that pink Smartie on my sister’s gravesite in Beaverlodge one day and say “hi, saved something special for you.” I think she’d like that.

Frank Talaber

Frank Talaber’s Writing Style? He usually responds with: Mix Dan Millman (Way of The Peaceful Warrior) with Charles De Lint (Moonheart) and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues).
PS: He’s better looking than Stephen King (Carrie, The Stand, It, The Shining) and his romantic stuff will have you gasping quicker than Robert James Waller (Bridges Of Madison County).
Or as is often said: You don’t have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps.

Writer by soul. Words born within. 
Karma the seed. Paper the medium.  
Pen the muse. Novels the fire.

Twitter: @FrankTalaber

Coming in February 2017, Thunderbird's Wake

 A penitentiary is a dangerous place and into the world of the criminal enters a saint. Well, bearing rattles and guardian beasts, the native born find him a saint. To the rest he's more nuts than a squirrels winter stash. There's a god asleep, awakening. Humans that seek justice and a sprite that needs justice from humanity.
So what makes you want to break into one? You can ask Charlie, but he ain't telling. And if he did you wouldn't believe it in a dozen lifetimes. Come enter, the madness this spring

Endorsements for the upcoming Book

There are many aspects true to First Nation’s beliefs. For example the transformation of animals and anomalies within our realm. Frank Talaber’s writing is clear and concise, leaving no grey areas. But his true talent as a writer is not only a sense of time, history and capturing First Nation’s humor, but going from the real to the surreal and the supernatural. A gift he plies very well.
Tom Patterson
Nuu-Cha-Nulth Artist and Master Carver

Just when I was beginning to wonder where the next great Canadian story teller would emerge from, Frank Talaber has written a modern crime mystery with a twist. In “Thunderbird’s Wake” Talaber weaves the richness of Canada’s west coast aboriginal spirituality into the science of modern forensics. CSI comes to Haida Gwaii as the shaman and the detective conduct an investigation that will take them and the reader on a journey to a place where murder, redemption and ancient mysticism intersect.

Michael G de Jong, QC
Minister of Finance, Government House Leader,

Province of British Columbia

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...