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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Rushing Strawberry Season by J.Q. Rose

Hello and welcome to the Books We Love Insiders Blog!

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
Mystery, paranormal
Click here to find mysteries by JQ Rose at BWL Publishing

Gardener Ted's answer to getting strawberries sooner.

My dear husband, Gardener Ted, is trying to fool Mother Nature this year. He wants the strawberry plants in our garden to come early, so he erected this unique growing chamber to warm up the ground and get the plants to take off. Michigan springs are rather temperamental having cold days, then having beautiful sunny spring days. 

Close-up of the growing chamber
The plastic keeps the frigid winds away from the plants and helps warm them up when the sun shines. If it's too sunny, he simply grabs the plastic and rolls it up and clips it to the pipes for air to circulate through. 
Strawberry blossoms
Just looking at these strawberries in bloom makes my mouth water for strawberry cake or pie or a bowl of Cheerios topped with the delicious beauties. But, for now, I can only anticipate those sweet treats.

Gardener Ted prefers growing June-bearing berries rather than ever-bearing berries. We get a lot more berries from June-bearing. So, hurry up, June, so we can enjoy strawberries fresh from the garden. Fingers crossed they'll be ready a couple of weeks earlier this year!

Waiting for this season's tasty berries. Yum!
Do you love strawberries? Let us know in a comment below. Thanks for visiting.

Click here to connect online with mystery author J.Q. Rose.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

I am...the Great Indoorsman by Stuart R. West

Let's get something straight. I don't camp. The closest to camp I come is watching the old Batman TV series.
I'm a civilized chap, rather fond of climate control and beds. Beds were created for a reason. I believe it blasphemous not to use them. And cable TV, a must for survival.

Several years back, my wife talked me into a camping trip. We're talking really roughing it. Staying in a cabin in the wild woods of Oklahoma. The sheer Jeremiah Johnson-ish of it all! Sure, the cabin had a hot tub and a VCR player, but, man, I felt so...primitive. I mean, honestly! A VCR player, for cryin' out loud!

It was at this savage cabin I saw my first "walkingstick." Totally freaked me out. I screamed like my name had been called on "The Price Is Right." Sticks aren't supposed to walk. And people can't understand why I don't camp. Duh.

I suppose my Great Indoorsmanship began at an early age. Against my better judgment (and because kids are never given a choice), I was set to go on a cub scout weekend camping trip. Thankfully I came down with a stomach virus and missed the "adventure." On that ill-fated trip, my fellow scouts blundered into a wasp's nest and rolled through a thatch of poison ivy. If I even look at poison ivy, huge blisters develop on my eyelids.

Invariably when people try to convince me how wonderful camping is they fall short of selling it. Usually, their tales are rife with horror (Mosquitos! Flooding! All sorts of Biblical plagues!), hardly a convincing argument.

When you wake up freezing or sweating (both equally awful sensations), I hardly see that as a bonus. Campers are just opening themselves up to the Zika virus or a Bigfoot ravaging. Not to mention the various demented serial killers who lurk in the woods. I know, I've done my research. I've watched lots of horror movies. 

I gained my Indoorsman legs the hard, practiced way...on the sofa. Many hours spent on many a different sofa have toughened me into the sofa-sitting man I am today.

And I have the best job in the world, too. Writing. I never have to leave the sofa again. (Well, maybe to wheel the mini refrigerator and microwave in next to the couch, but you know what I mean.) 

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Step Beyond Book 2 of The Cornwall Adventures by Nancy M Bell

A Step Beyond: Beyond the world we know lie alternate realities, layered like an onion. Shy and insecure Gort Treliving takes a step into the worlds beyond the fields we know and discovers some amazing things about himself. Not the least of which is finding himself riding with Arthur's fabled knights across the legendary land of Lyonesse in search of a kidnapped queen. A Step Beyond is a powerful story of coming of age, melding adventure with the inner journey Gort must take to find the courage to face the challenges before him.

Click on the cover for buy links and to find out more.

Some Reviews from happy readers:

A worthy sequel to Laurel's Miracle. ~ Tira Brandon Evans

It’s an outstanding read. Once you start, you can't stop. Looking forward to the next in the series ~ Lynne Anderson

And to tempt you further, here is short excerpt:

“Come with me for a while. Leave what is for a time, and travel with me to what was once,” GogMagog entreated him.
“Lead me to it.” Gort stepped away from the warm crystalline shoulder of the great stallion.
The farther they walked from the dank little shed and Uncle Daniel’s rage, the better he felt. The pain faded from his limbs, and strength flowed outward from the warmth in his chest.
GogMagog kept pace beside him. Rainbows of light flickered around the stallion and encompassed Gort in their radiance as well.
His steps became firmer and steadier as a golden peace flowed through him. His back straightened, and a smile broke across his face when Gog curved his huge head back toward him to lip his ear.
The darkness grew opaque and finally faded into a pearly grey; a diffuse nebulous light filled the sky. Tipping his head back, Gort was startled to see the ghostly shape of gulls winging through the mist.
The stallion stopped and shook moisture from his sleek body. Gort laid his hand on the thick neck and then pulled back quickly, holding it in front of his eyes.
Gort gazed in amazement as the large callused hand in front of him flexed its fingers. He turned and looked GogMagog in the eye, further amazed there was no need to look up to do so.
“What happened to me?” The voice sounded two tones deeper than it should.
“You are as you were once,” GogMagog said solemnly.
“Who am I supposed to be, though?” Gort fought down the panic rising in his throat; this wasn’t his body clothing his spirit. Feeling lost and strangely adrift, the boy-man turned to Gog for support.
“You are who you have always been.” Gog touched him gently with his muzzle.
At the touch of that strong soft nose, Gort let his panic slip away. Running his hands over his new and improved body, he stared down at his now humungous feet and strong calves, while his hands found the twisted cords of taut muscle in his thighs. Gort took a step forward and overbalanced as the long sword on his belt swung against him. The hilt fit snugly into his hand when he grasped it to steady himself.
Without stopping to think, Gort drew the lovely weapon from its scabbard. The metal hissed and sang as it pulled free. The blade cleaved the air in clean two-handed passes. The man gloried in the sight of his sinewy forearms and strong wrists, the large capable hands grasping the sword in a practiced grip. The air welcomed the bite of the blade, and shimmering rainbows of power danced on the tempered blue steel. The blade moved effortlessly, anticipating the desire of the one who wielded it.
“It’s like it knows what I’m thinking.”
“It is your sword. Of course it knows your wants.” GogMagog snorted gently down his neck.
“Who am I?” The warrior rested the point of the weapon on the toe of his heavy leather boot and regarded Gog over the cross of the hilt.
“You don’t remember, yet.” Gog regarded his heart friend with fathomless, starlit eyes.
Gort opened his mouth to reply and then promptly lost himself in those eyes.
With a swiftness and surety that shocked him, the knowledge entered the top of his head and filled out the forgotten corners of his body and soul.
“How did I lose this? Where did I lose myself?”
“You lost it by following the wrong path on your way to the mystery,” GogMagog answered.
“The mystery,” Gort said softly, “what mystery? Why did I take a wrong path? ”
“It is the mystery that binds us to the Beginnings. The one which lives in each of us and yet belongs to no one entity.” GogMagog lowered his head and rested his forehead against the man’s. “As to the why, we are not made perfect and so must sometimes wander away from the Light.”
“I should know, but it drifts like smoke and slips through my fingers,” Gort said in frustration.
“Give it time, Crystal Warrior.” GogMagog advised him and shook his mane so his bridle and bit jingled harshly. “Do you know how you are called in this life, or shall I remind you?” GogMagog inquired.
“I am a warrior, a knight, and my name is Gawain.”
His voice trailed off in wonderment. Images flooded his consciousness with the uttering of his name. In rapid succession, a company of large warhorses crossed his inner eye, each as magnificent as GogMagog, with knights in gleaming armour, pennants flying from their lances, a huge castle on a high hill exactly like the ones in all the fairy tales, a meeting place in a high vaulted chamber lit by torches, and a tall fair-haired man with the fierceness of eagles in his blue eyes. The face of his brother in this life, the mirror image of his own face, save for the broken front tooth that flashed as the man smiled, his face full of a fierce joy. Gaheris, my baby brother. Recognition swept through him like a flame.
Gort shook his head and leaned on GogMagog’s shoulder for a long moment. His legs threatened to fail him, and the ground was strangely mobile beneath his feet.
“Am I really that Gawain?” Gort asked GogMagog at a loss to see how it could be else wise.
“You are that Gawain.” GogMagog’s voice was tinged with laughter. “Sir Gawain, Knight of the Round Table, with your fealty sworn to the Great Bear, Arthur, High King of Britain. Brother to Gareth, Agravain and Gaheris. Son of Lot of Orkney and Queen Morgause, Arthur’s half-sister.”
“It doesn’t seem possible, too good to be true. I ride with King Arthur. He’s my liege lord, and I’m a knight, an actual knight of the Round Table.”
“You better get used to the idea, Sir Gawain.” Gog butted him with his great nose.
“It’ll take some getting used to.”
His sword whispered as it slid into the scabbard.
The knight turned to the stallion, and shook his head in wonder, past being surprised. The horse now sported a high backed saddle and elaborate tooled leather bridle. He gathered his reins up, set his left foot in the stirrup, and swung up into the saddle, being careful to settle the wonderful sword on the left side of the stallion. Gog moved restlessly under him as he loosened the reins slightly, and the big stallion moved off at a ground-covering trot.
“Where are we headed?” He thought to ask as the horse followed the track through gorse and heather.
“Where we must,” the stallion replied.
The man half formed another question and then let it drop. Time enough to sort through it all. He turned his face into the wind and inhaled the buttery coconut scent of the yellow gorse crushed beneath the huge hooves of his companion.
The sun burned off the last of the mists, and Gort found himself riding along the edge of a sharp cliff. Below him, the grasses billowed in the wind, and there was a far off glimpse of blue sea to the west. The stallion continued to move in a roughly southeast direction, letting the curve of the cliff dictate his progress. The stallion picked his course without any help from the rider.
“I suppose I should start thinking of myself as Sir Gawain now.”
“Yes, you should,” GogMagog agreed. “No one here will know you as Gort, except me of course.” GogMagog shook his head so the reins bounced on his neck.
“Where are we?” Gawain spoke to the pointed ears of his horse.
“We are close to the sacred mount, where the giants dwell.” Gog flicked his ears back at Gawain speaking into his mind.
“But where’s the sea? There should be water below the cliffs here, and all I see is land and forest.” Gawain looked at his surroundings in puzzlement.
“This is the land as it was, not as it is in your present time. We are almost in the land of Lyonnesse, the part of the kingdom that stretches from cliffs all the way out to the hills of Scillies.” GogMagog negotiated a tricky part of the descent down to the forest and farmlands beyond the cliff path.
“So, there really was a lost land beyond Land’s End? The legends are true,” Gawain whispered.
“You are looking at it this moment, and it is part of your duty to defend its inhabitants from harm, and to arbitrate their disputes,” GogMagog informed him breaking into a rolling canter as the stallion gained level ground.
“Do I live here as well?”
“We live at the castle on the Hill of Cadbury. One day it will be called Camelot, but not for a while yet,” Gog replied. “We are here on business as part of our circuit for the season.”
Gawain looked with interest at the neat farmsteads as they sped past. He glanced over his shoulder, in the distance the unmistakeable peak of St. Michael’s Mount stuck up out of a thick forest clinging to its lower slopes and blanketing the flat plain surrounding it.
Ahead of him, Gawain could make out the faint blue shapes of the hills that marked the Scillies. They were hazy with distance and disappeared from his view from time to time as the well-beaten dirt road they followed looped over the rolling farmland around them.
Something important niggled at the edges of his brain—something about an angry man and a dark shed. Gawain disregarded the annoying thoughts and concentrated on the pure joy of the horse beneath him and the strength flowing through his body.
There was time enough to worry about whether or not he could make the correct choice when it was needed to decide who was in the right between two complainants. The morning sun was warm on his face and the air cool enough he was comfortable in the linen undershirt, light surcoat, and pants.
Gawain slowed GogMagog to a walk and stopped in the shade of huge tree to allow a farmer to drive his cattle across the road and into the far pasture. The man raised his hand in greeting, and Gawain returned the salute.
“My goodwife has bread, cheese, and wine if you wish it, Sir Gawain,” the farmer hailed him.
“My thanks to you and your goodwife, Hal, but I have provision enough for my journey,” Gawain answered the man.
“How do I know his name is Hal?”
“You know because you are Sir Gawain, and this is your bailiwick. Relax and trust your responses. Everything will come to you as you need it to,” GogMagog advised him.
Gawain lifted his hand in farewell as the last of the milch cows entered the gate of the field on the other side of the road. They carried on for a distance, the knight not thinking of anything in particular and enjoying the spring morning.
Sooner than expected, they came to a small market square, nothing much, just a tiny inn which served as a roadhouse, and a few houses scattered around the junction of two narrow crossroads. GogMagog stopped in front of the inn without waiting for Gawain to signal him. The stallion turned his large head and surveyed Gawain with his dark eye.
“When did you change colour?” Gawain asked the stallion in surprise. For sure enough, GogMagog was no longer his shining crystal self, his coat was now a dark steely grey with a long silver mane liberally sprinkled with ebony hairs. His long full tail swept the ground behind him. The stallion’s lower legs were black, his muzzle and the tips of his ears were sable as well.
“This is how I appear in this time. I am still who I am, just as you are still Gort underneath.” GogMagog's mental voice held laughter, and he winked at Gawain.
“Takes some getting used to, this does,” Gawain told him. “Why are we stopping here?”
“This is your first stop. Give it a half day or so, and things will come back to you. Do you remember where we go from here?”
Gawain thought for a moment and then smiled. “There is an inn another half day’s ride from here where I usually spend the night. Good stable for you, and soft bed for me. The Hoe and Harrow, it’s called.”
“Very good, Sir Gawain, now, do get down off my back and get to work.” Gog heaved a huge sigh and lowered his head when a stable boy raced out to take the war horse’s reins from Gawain as the knight stepped down from the broad back.
The line of complainants was short, much to Gawain’s relief. Before the sun reached the zenith, they were on the road again and headed to the much larger and more sumptuous Hoe and Harrow.
Gawain turned the judgments just levied over in his mind and found himself more than pleased with his performance. He felt much more at home in this new body and had grown quite fond of GogMagog as a steel grey instead of his usual crystal self.
A sudden thought occurred to him and he laid his gauntleted hand on Gog’s shoulder in front of the high pommel.
“Do you have different name like me?” Gawain spoke out loud into the dust spangled sunlight.
“I am known as Ailim, which means silver fir, some call me Gringolet. It is actually keincaled, which is Welsh for handsome and hardy. The Welsh is mispronounced more often than not and I prefer Ailim. My name is the cause of great renown all over the realm. We are very fierce fighters, you and I.” Gog sighed lustily and snorted the rising road dust out of his large nostrils.
Gawain nodded absently and rested his right hand on his leather-covered thigh.
“Why is the pommel of this saddle so blasted high and the cantle, too? I feel like I’m stuck up here for good.” Gawain tried to settle himself more comfortably in the seat of the great saddle.
“Why, ‘tis to keep you from falling on your head when we joust.” Gog’s voice was thick with the horse equivalent of laughter.
“We joust?” Gawain asked faintly.
“To be sure, we are the champions of many tourneys. The Lady Nuina always gives you her scarf or ribbon to wear on your sleeve. Surely you remember the Lady Nuina?” Gog shook his head to dislodge the flies pestering his face.
Gawain closed his eyes and sought to put a face to the name. At long last, a face floated across his inner vision. Long dark hair caught up in a silvery net, and laughing eyes that shone for him alone dominated the lady’s radiant face. Ah, yes, he remembered the Lady Nuina.
“So I know how to joust?” Gawain was dubious.
“Yes, you great lunk head, you can joust. Just leave off worrying and follow your instincts when the time comes.” Ailim picked up his pace into a rolling canter. “Time’s a wasting, and I want my dinner sometime before sundown,” the horse told Gawain.

And from a little further into the story:
Gawain and the Lady Nuina raced down the narrow corridor with the knight counting off the doorways and passageways as they ran, depending on his survival skills to help him remember which one to open. He stopped, pulled on the latch and gulped mouthfuls of fresh clean air as the door swung open on the laundry yard. Leaving the door ajar behind him for Lancelot and the queen, Gawain sprinted for the cubbyhole and his gear.
The knight wrapped the Lady Nuina in his cloak and gave her one of his small throwing knives. She hid it the pocket of her skirt and gave him a glittering feral smile before she kirtled up her skirts and raced beside him through the kale yard. They skidded to a muddy halt at the back of the stable, and Gawain searched the interior for any sign of Alain or Ailim.
“We come.” Ailim’s mind voice was high with excitement. “Rose is with us, and Alain has managed to find gear for her.” Ailim was quite pleased with himself.
Gawain and the Lady Nuina dashed to the entrance of the stable that opened onto the courtyard. Everything was in chaos—horses raced wildly about rider-less and crazed; Arthur’s knights were everywhere with their bright swords flashing. The cobbles ran red with blood, and Gawain thrust the Lady Nuina behind him to shield her. Suddenly, Ailim appeared right beside them along with Alain and the two horses. The main gate stood ajar, and Gawain could see the gate keeper struggling to close it as Arthur’s men fought to open it. Gawain closed his eyes briefly as Gaheris ran the old man through with his sword. He pulled his mind back to the moment at hand and lifted the Lady Nuina onto the back of her palfrey. Thrusting Alain at his own chestnut lady, he caught Ailim’s reins as the page tossed them in his direction.
“Get the lady free of the castle and hide until I come for you. Guard her with your life, Alain,” Gawain commanded the lad.
“Aye, Sir Knight, have no fear, the lady will come to no harm in my keeping,” Alain’s eyes flashed in excitement at his first taste of battle. The lad looked as wild as the mare beneath him who rolled her eyes until the whites showed.
The lady in question wheeled her mount with expert hands and drew Gawain’s short sword holding it ready to use. “Aye, Sir Gawain, have no fear,” she repeated Alain’s words with a dark smile, “the lady is not defenceless.” The light of battle glittered in her eyes and bathed her face with an unholy joy.
Gawain would have fallen to his knees at her feet in reverence except for the small matter of the battle at his back. “Goddess keep you, Lady. I see the Morrigan’s hand on you this day and Epona at your side.” Gawain gave her his heart with his eyes.
“Later, Gawain, we will have later,” she promised as she wheeled her mare again and neatly leapt over a fallen body on the stones.
Gawain watched until they were safely out of the castle gate, the Lady Nuina’s cloak flying behind her as the mare took the makeshift barrier March’s men hastily erected across the gate in a graceful leap and soared out of sight.

I hope you'll fall in love with Gort aka Gawain and the Lady Nuina aka Ashling. YOu can follow the link in the cover at the beginning of the post to visit my author page at BWL Publishing Inc where you will find links to all the places where A Step Beyond is available. You will also fine Laurel's Quest the first book in The Cornwall Adventures and Go Gently, the last book in the series.

Coming this September a whole new series begins featuring Laurel and her friends. Set in lovely southern Alberta, Wild Horse Rescue deals with a subject very close to my heart.

Until next month, stay well, stay happy. Next month I'll be featuring the last book in The Conrwall Adventures Go Gently.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Interview with Janet Lane Walters

Love talking with Janet about the writing process!

Getting Yourself Out There - Promoting - Janet Lane Walters


Getting Yourself Out There


The Leo-Aquarius Connection (Opposites in Love Book 5)


     One of the most vital and difficult things to do is to get out there and promote yourself. Sometimes this can be very expensive and finding ways to do this without spending much money is good. Name recognition is what’s important. But getting your name out there means finding ways to promote yourself. I’ve found two ways that are inexpensive and fun (at least for me.)

The first is blogging. I have a blog and I blog every day. Not really me, since sometimes I feature my own books and other times, I feature other authors and their books. That will pull readers to other sites. Now I have monthly blogs. One is Sweet and Saucy where the first day of the month, I’m able to feature a book. This is taking me and my books to a new venue. I also post monthly on this blog. This year, I’ve decided to accept invites to other blogs once a month. Thus finding new places and potentially new readers. Don’t know how this will work but at least my name is out there again and again being seen by new people.

I’m fortunate since I write in several genres but my advice is to look for blogs that specialize in what you write, mysteries, young adult, science fiction and fantasy. Volunteer to write a post. Read the posts there and make comments. Then maybe choose to blog elsewhere once a month. If you have a blog, open it to your fellow writers as some of us have done and even open it to other authors. I found my monthly gig by having the author post on my blog.

Another thing is when you are a guest on a blog, periodically check to see if anyone has commented or asked questions. If so respond.

The second recommendation is to join Marketing For Romance Authors. Though Romance is in the title, people of other genres do belong. They do a number of different ways to promote yourself. So look at their site and join the group. Lots of information here and questions answered. This will give you a number of ways to see what they do.


I’ve been using their Wednesday #MFRWHooks link to promote my books. I know Helen Henderson also does this. You can either post a different book every week. Since I have such a large back list, that’s what I’ve been doing. I am almost finished with my list and will start going with series next. Once a week, you need to do this and once you get into the habit, it’s not that difficult.

These are the ways I’ve been promoting and what this means is that I’m out there several times a month and people are seeing my name. I know of at least once when someone said they were buying my books. Not sure if they did but I’ve triggered interest.



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Laying low with a new enemy - Sciatica, by J.C. Kavanagh

WINNER Best Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
WINNER, Best Young Adult Book 2016
P&E Readers' Poll
Well, a delightful spring season has finally arrived here in Ontario. We jumped from snow and ice in early May, to a summer-like spring this past week. Yay! I've been busy with yard work and raking and trimming, etc. etc. My property has a variety of areas: grassy, treed, trails and woods. It requires many hours of maintenance but I've always loved the outdoors and my partner feels the same way.

But all of this physical work comes with a price.

In my case, it's the price of back pain.

It began during the first two weeks of May, I spent most afternoons raking and then transporting via wheelbarrow, the leaves and debris that accumulate over the winter months. Yeah, I felt good! Until my next-to-last wheelbarrow load. I bent over to pick up the pile of leaves and somehow twisted the wrong way. And that was all it took. Sigh.

So for the last few days, I've been walking just like the alien guy in District 9. Have you seen that movie? It's a sci-fi about space ships from a dying planet that find their way to earth, only to hover above cities until humans 're-locate' them to a type of refugee camp. There, the creatures love to eat cat food (only a writer would think of that hehehe). The gait of these creatures is identical to mine: a combination of stiff leg and waddle.

Cutting down the bamboo stalks

Inserting nasty killer vine into the wood chipper

Snow boulder Queen: the snow/ice storm in mid-April 2018
I want to be 39 again. My mind tells my body that every day. So, I'm thinking that pain is your body's way of snickering at your mind. "Who's 39?" my body asks. And then laughs and laughs and laughs.

The sequel to The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends will be published this summer. Stay tuned!

For now, I'm on the hunt for some elegant, yet tasty, Fancy Feast.

J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb
BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
A novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh) 

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Karl Marx

Karl Marx and Jenny von Westphalen

Karl Marx’s two hundredth birth anniversary was celebrated on May 5th of this year.  His philosophy, as expressed in the Communist Manifesto and other writings, is revered by some and reviled by others. The purpose of this article is not to discuss Marxism, but to bring to light some odd facts about this influential thinker.

1)      Ironically, Marx didn’t like Russians. A lot of his antipathy came from his fellow Germans who, at that time, regarded Russians as barbarians. He also considered Russia, under control of the Tsar at that time, to be the biggest enemy of communism and thought his revolutionary ideas best-fitted for England, France and Germany.

2)      He named all his daughters “Jenny” in honor of his wife Jenny von Westphalen. It appears that he loved his wife dearly, but there is evidence that he had an affair with their housekeeper, Helene Dumuth.

3)      One of his maternal uncles founded the Phillips Company (later Phillips Electronics) and became an extremely wealthy man. Loans from his family were crucial for Marx’s financial solvency

4)      He had to use pseudonyms to rent houses or flats in order to escape surveillance from authorities. He remained quite poor for most of his life.

5)      He worked as a reporter for an American newspaper, the New York Daily Tribune, founded by Horace Greeley in 1841. It provided a source of regular income while he lived in London.

6)      Marx suffered from terrible health. He drank copiously, smoked excessively and slept poorly. This aggravated an existing liver problem and caused him much pain.

7)      He suffered from “carbuncles,” or painful boils on the skin, brought about by his poor liver, bad diet and habits, and was blamed for his sarcastic and insulting nature, which he displayed even to his closest friends. The abscesses were so bad that he could neither sit nor work in an upright position.

8)      He died a stateless person. Though Prussian (German) by birth, he was exiled because of his radical activities. He also lived in France and Belgium, both of which ordered him to leave. He finally settled in London, where he wrote most of his famous works.

9)      Only between nine and eleven persons attended his funeral, including his two surviving daughters and their husbands. His tomb is located in the East Highgate Cemetery, London.

10)  In honor of Marx’s bicentennial, the Government of China gifted a 4.5 meter (15 foot) statue of the man to Germany. It was installed in Trier, the small Westphalian town where Marx was born, on the fifth of May, 2018.

Mohan Ashtakala is the author of The Yoga Zapper, published by Books We Love.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Sometimes it's Sheila Claydon

I lead a very busy life, the same as most of you no doubt. Given the choice I would opt for a 36 hour day. That way I would stand a better chance of fitting everything in. Of course I'm perfectly well aware that busy, busy, busy is not the best way to live; a philosophy the poet William Henry Davies (1871-1940) explained far better than I can in his famous poem Leisure:

What is this life if, full of care, 
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait 'til her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

William Davies took this to extreme by living the life of a hobo and tramp both in the US and the UK for a significant part of his life, and he never did settle into paid employment. Eventually, however, through sheer doggedness and determination, he began to earn a living through his writing, and eventually became one of the most popular poets of his time. In later life he became friends with many of the literary figures of the day and also socialised with famous artists and members of the higher echelons of society. The sculptor Jacob Epstein crafted a model of Davies' head and Augustus John painted his portrait. 

Since his death many of his works have been given a musical setting and songs have been written using the words from his poems. Not bad for a hobo who not only lost a leg as a result of trying to jump a freight train at Renfrew, Ontario, but who left school at age 14 under a cloud for being a member of a small gang who stole handbags. 

There is so much more to his life, and so many poems and stories all of which can be found on the Internet, but the best is him reading his own poem, Leisure.  I have always had an aversion to listening to poets read their own works because so many of them adopt a style that is either drearily monotonous or delivered with too much emphasis on rhythm, both of which distract this particular listener from the actual words. Actors, on the other hand, will often paint a picture with their voices and, by doing so, manage to convey the true meaning of the poem. This is a generalisation of course and I would have to listen to a great many more poets before I could prove my point. William Henry Davies is, however, the exception that proves the rule. Just watch the virtual film that uses his real voice as he recites his poem Leisure at and it is immediately clear that he means every word. 

So much for William Henry Davies, but what about the rest of us? Very few people can lead his sort of life, or would even want to, but what we can take from it is the need to stand and stare from time to time. I have help with this in the form of a small dog who tells me, without fail, every day, that she needs a walk, and because I am lucky enough to be surrounded by fields and woodland, we both find the time to stand and stare, even when it's raining or blowing a gale. I don't always want to go but I'm always so pleased I did by the time I return home again. Even the bare skeletons of trees in winter have a beauty that is worth watching, but it's not always bare trees. Sometimes it's bluebells.

Who could fail to feel uplifted on a walk like this, one that helped to inspire my book Mending Jodie's Heart. Set in my local countryside it eventually became the When Paths Meet trilogy, a family saga with three different romances at its heart. Without taking the time to stand and stare I might never have thought of it.

Details of all my books can be found at and at 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

When Words Collide

For more information about Susan Calder's books, or to purchase visit her Books We Love Author Page.  

Three months from today I'll be hanging out at When Words Collide Festival for Readers and Writers -- the best deal in town for Calgary readers and writers. Where else can you get three full days and evenings of writing-related programming for $55 (less if you register in advance or qualify as a senior or student). Many writers from outside of Calgary find the trek worth making every year. I and others have been there since the festival began in 2011, seven years ago.

What has struck me the most about WWC is the energy. The multi-genre festival was inspired by science fiction and fantasy writers and readers, who know how to have fun at conventions. They aren't shy about dressing up in costumes.
Astro Hal at 2013 WWC
I also like the sense of democracy. Anyone registered can volunteer to sit on a panel or propose a panel or presentation topic. The first year I did a workshop on dialogue and was surprised by the numbers of people streaming in. Festival attendees choose from up to 10 activities each hour, including panels, presentations, blue pencil cafes, pitch sessions and book socials. Evenings feature parties and readings.

Here's an example of one panel offered this year. It is bound to draw a crowd, with these famous authors discussing this popular topic:

Historical Themed, Multi-Authored Book Collections with panelists Nancy M. Bell, Joan Donaldson-Yarmey, Victoria Chatham, Jude Pittman, and moderator Mahrie G Reid. Panel description: These collections are popular, especially in romance & fantasy. BWL Publishing Inc. (Books We Love) enlisted authors to deliver a collection called Canadian Historical Brides, 12 novels designed to celebrate Canada 150. (10 provinces and the territories) Several of the authors, including the publisher, Jude Pittman, will present a panel on the challenges and processes of planning, writing and publishing such a collection.
Nancy & Jude at 2017 WWC
Once again BWL will have a table in the Merchants Corner, with its authors' books for sale. The Merchants Corner is open to the public during the festival and is located in the Atrium building of the festival hotel, the Delta Calgary South.

Other free events open to the public are:

1. Festival Guest readings. This year's festival special guests will be reading at the Fish Creek Public Library on Thursday Aug 9 from 7-9 pm. They will also be reading at the Delta Calgary South Hotel on Friday Aug 10 from 1-3 pm in the Bonavista Ballroom (Tower Building).

2. Mass Autograph Session. The festival guests and 80+ attending authors will be signing books on Saturday Aug 11 from 8-10 pm in the Fireside Room (Atrium Building).

The mass autograph session follows the banquet, which always adopts a theme. Last year I participated in the autograph session dressed in my roaring twenties banquet costume. 

Ever since the banquet started encouraging costumes, it has sold out well ahead of the festival.

Whether it's planned or serendipity, When Words Collide has managed to find a sweet spot that combines lightness with serious learning, book promotion and networking for readers and writers. 

2013 WWC:  Jamis Paulson describes how small press publishers are born 

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