Monday, March 25, 2019

The Art of Art

Painting an image with words is fun. It’s two of my three favourite things. Mmmm, Thai food. I took some time to look at some painting a couple months ago. Sure, it was acrylic latex in and living room and hallway. But it carried my mind to the the idea of creating a work of my own. I mulled over the material I wished to use.
In my early teens I learned to draw with chalk pastels. I really enjoyed it. So, off I went to the art store where I picked up a set of pastels and quality paper.
My first test would be drawing a simple bird in a green area. I could get the shapes, but the difficulty came when I worked on the delicate areas. It was too heavy and  rough for my liking.
Yes, I had a look in mind. I wanted a “watery colour” look without the, well, watery mess. Back to the store I went.
The notion of working with coloured pencils appealed to me. I could easily get the details done and blend the colours a bit to fill the large areas. The finished work had shape and fine-finish. However, it still wasn’t quite what I wanted. The overall look lacked the desired intensity. An artist friend suggested mixing the two medias.
This test was cumbersome and didn’t have the uniformity of depth I was trying to achieve. I simply didn’t want the extreme messiness of acrylic or oil paint.
OK, I wanted the look of a water colour. So, I, uh em, dove right in. Again I put my credit card to work and bought a set of watercolour paints and good brushes. I took some time to get used to working with them. In the end, It was fun, a lot of fun.Two small tests of and achieved the look I wanted.
Tweet tweet.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Don't Waste Your Words by Victoria Chatham

I suspect all authors have had those wonderful moments of pure inspiration. That brilliant phrase that jolts you awake at 3 am, or a line of dialogue sparkling with wit or characters so real you can feel them. You write as fast as you can to transcribe the images into words on the page. But what words do you use?

My word usage depends very much not only on the characters themselves but in what period I have set them. Contemporary settings require the use of very different words to those I would use in a historical setting. When I build a character, I consider what their family was like and what education they received, whether formal or not. Is my character a 19th century Lord or Lady? Or is he a cowboy? Two sets of characters but requiring totally different words to describe them. The skill here is to pick the right words and only constant practice can serve, both from reading and extending your own vocabulary as you read.

We all know the devil is in the details, especially if you do not want a one-dimensional character. Picking a detail and embellishing it to paint a word picture takes time and balance. In my first ever attempt at a romance novel, a contemporary set in England, I wrote that ‘rain fell on London like a dirty sheet’. However, my critique partner pointed out that a dirty sheet was hardly romantic. The same applied to ‘sunshine slid down the wall like melting butter’. My critiquer’s comment? Ugh, messy imagery. And just so you know, both phrases were deleted.

So, what you as the writer might think descriptive, may actually convey something entirely different to your reader.  Choosing the right words to convey what you see is the art and skill of writing. However, there is the danger of going too far and boring or confusing your reader if you have tried to be too clever.  

Tools I use for choosing words are Marc McCutcheon’s excellent book ‘Building Believable Characters’ which includes forty-eight words for describing noses. Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have penned several books together beginning with ‘The Emotion Thesaurus’. Both books offer lists of words if you find yourself coming up short on a character’s details. If I feel I am coming close to repeating myself, I look for synonyms. Is there another word I can use without being a lazy writer? By that, I mean the buzzwords and phrases that crop up time and again particularly in romance novels.

In one book I read by a very well known NYT best-selling author, the heroine ‘shattered’ so many times I thought the poor girl, like Humpty Dumpty, could never be put together again. ‘Going over the edge’ and ‘her toes curled in her slippers’ are also done to death clichés. There are times when a cliché is the exact right combination of words to use, at others less so.

As writers we have vivid imaginations, it’s where a story comes from. But then comes the task of putting those stories into words and making the most of what tools we have to string them together in a way that best entertains our readers.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Was I Supposed To Declare That?

To order this novel online

Was I Supposed To Declare That?

 The main charactor Carol Ainsworth in my newest novel is an undercover detective so when a customer came into my shop and mentioned he was a retired border guard, I was intrigued, especially after he related to me some of his stories. Because as I've discovered in life you can't write something as crazy as some people’s experiences. Fact is indeed stranger than most fiction.
I discovered he had published a book about his adventures in trying to keep our country safe and protected. Man, he had some stories to tell. You are probably all aware that a vehicle can be pulled out of the lineup completely at random, as not everyone follows the rules. Or are actually aware of the rules. (My advice here is make yourself aware of the rules!) Some of the excuses were beyond belief. "What? You didn't ask me to declare that. You should have informed me of everything I need to declare." Which would mean he'd have to spend about four hours going through a raft of books questioning every vehicle’s occupants as to whether they have with them anything that is not allowed to be brought in or is dangerous. Imaging the border queues then, eh?
Drugs are the most likely to be hidden and these people are so smart with their hiding places. They must have to virtually strip the car down to nuts and bolts and re-build it – and then do it all again to get them out! Of course, it’s not only the vehicles they hide them in (and I think you know what I’m getting at!) so if you’re thinking of border guard as a profession, be aware it will involve rubber gloves. They are also asked to help the police track down suspected drug smugglers, as the border guards don't need a search warrant to go through your possessions.
It is also very unwise to present yourself at the border drunk. Especially if you’re the driver. Some so far-gone they can’t stand, some who have attempted to run the border crossing and even some who have presented impromptu “donations”. Sorry dude but you can’t just drive in and pass out in the parking lot. Also, if asked to strip for a search it’s a good idea not to start humming “The Stripper” and trying to entertain the border guard to an “sexy dance routine” complete with flying underwear.
Two of the stories stuck in my mind. The guy who tried to smuggle an older car across the border only to realize he had different plates front and rear. But probably the best (or worst!), and this is where you gotta shake your head in disbelief, was the elderly American couple in the motorhome coming up to visit the "Wilds of Canada, where wild animals and Indians roam freely." Acting on a niggling feeling he asked for a check and found nearly twenty guns and handguns. For self-protection they said! Well after being fined $50 per gun and had them seized, needless to say the holiday came to a very abrupt end and back to America they went. I guess they didn't recon on dealing with the wild and wholly Canadian border guards.


Frank Talaber

Here's two of my Newest reviews for my new novel, The Joining, cover at the top of the page. 

I hate You! My wife who is off on medical leave, won't get out of the bathroom. Can't put your book down. LOL. Bruce W.

I talked to Frank at work and bought four of his novels, all right up my alley, urban Fantasy and Paranormal thrillers. But as we were leaving my girlfriend opened up the copy of The Joining, I had purchased and said, "Stop! You gotta go back I have to buy this book." Frank had hooked her in the first three pages. Well Done.  Joyce Nicholls

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.

To Order This Online

My webpage:

My Publishers Page: (My facebook short story page)
Twitter: @FrankTalaber

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake Recipe for Fun by J.Q. Rose

Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Mystery, paranormal
Click here to find mysteries by J.Q. Rose at BWL Publishing

Hello and welcome to the BWL Insiders Blog! 

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake Recipe for Fun
Hot Fudge Sundae Cake Recipe for Fun by J.Q. Rose

March is the month of shamrocks and leprechauns. It's also the month of waiting. Waiting for the sun to shine up north, the winter weather to wind down, the March Madness college basketball frenzy to begin, and for that first glimpse of spring to show up in your yard.

Needless to say Up North in the USA, folks are worn out with the horrible record-breaking snowstorms and floods. (I'm sure many of you reading this post are feeling the same about winter.) So let's have some fun today and bake a cake, a unique chocolate cake.

This cake is extra special because not only is it a tasty cake, but it also makes fudge sauce to top off ice cream so you can enjoy cake AND a hot fudge sundae all-in-one. Now, what's more fun than a hot fudge sundae? My favorite!

Ooey-gooey Hot Fudge Sundae Cake
Courtesy of Starr Roan
How lucky I was to come upon a recipe in my Church Ladies Cookbook. In my experience, all the best tried and true recipes are found in these cookbooks. No bowl or beaters to clean up after putting it together because it is mixed in the pan. Finish the process by pouring hot water over the batter and put the dish in the oven. Yeah, really! 
Caution: Be sure to use a large enough dish and place it on a piece of aluminum foil just in case the sauce boils over out of the pan.

Here's the recipe! Thank you Starr for sharing this in The Fruit of the Spirit Cookbook, Fremont United Methodist Church.

Hot Fudge Sundae Cake Recipe

Step 1 in the Recipe
1. Stir the following ingredients together in an ungreased 9 x 9-inch pan.
1 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt

Step 2 in the Recipe
2. Add the following ingredients to the pan.
1/2 c. milk
2 T. oil
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix with a fork until smooth.

Spread evenly in pan. 
Step 3 in the Recipe
3. Mix together 1 c. brown sugar and 2 T. cocoa. Sprinkle over batter.
Pour 1 3/4 c. hot water over batter. Do not stir.

Step 4 Place the cake in the oven and check it as it bakes for 40 minutes.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Spoon cake into dishes and top with ice cream. Spoon extra sauce from pan over top.

Ta-dah! Be sure to let it stand for 15 minutes.
I must admit I didn't take a picture of the hot fudge sauce topping on the cake and ice cream. I didn't even think of it until my card-playing group had cleaned their plates!  

Have you made this cake? Did you like it? Do you like chocolate cake? Let me know in the comments below. 

I hope this recipe has added some fun to your March day. 
Thank you for stopping in.
Author J.Q. Rose

Click here to connect online with J.Q. Rose

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Piranha Fishing on the Amazon River by Stuart R. West

One click away from mystery, murder and humor.
Continuing our further (mis)adventures in the Amazon Rain Forest...

After another night of sleeplessness, we... Oh. Wait. Did I not tell you the unfortunate sleeping circumstances of our lodgings?
You see, the Heliconia Lodge is very nice, offers great food, and the staff is top-notch. 

But seeing as we're in the jungle, of course, air conditioning is unheard of. Electricity, too, for the most part, which is why the lodge runs off a generator. Naturally it wouldn't make much sense to run it full time, so they turn it off three times a day, usually when I wanted to shower.

(Side note on showering: Our first day at the Heliconia, we kept going out on excursions and each time I'd soak through my clothes. Not by rain, mind you, but sweat. So I kept showering and changing clothes. Six wardrobe changes in one day, I felt like Cher in Vegas. By the next day, I pretty much just gave up on hygiene. Sure, you didn't want to sit downwind of me, but everyone in our group was in the same boat. Literally.).

Anyway, I could live without electricity during the days. We were never in our room anyway. But then they'd power down the generator every night at midnight. The room fans would stop as the entire compound ground down with a dying, monstrous groan: pretty much an alarm clock to jolt me awake. I usually clocked in a solid 45 minutes before the generator stopped.
In bed. NEVER asleep!
Then nature's sound machine took over, keeping me up most of the night. (And the endless sweat, natch. In fact, I've come up with the perfect slogan for the Heliconia Lodge: "At Heliconia, we sweat the hell outta you!")

What does nature's sound machine sound like, you ask? Kinda like this (ahem)...


You get the drift. Some kind of unidentified bug/animal/monster took to haunting me right outside our room: it sounded like a blacksmith pounding out metal. Also, I was too busy wondering what sort of varmints were scampering around in our dark room to sleep. The horror stories about scorpions, tarantulas, and snakes didn't help.

So. Sleep deprived, missing the wonders of air conditioning and quiet, we wandered once again into the jungle on a medicinal plant trail, great for pharmacists, exhausting for we mere authors. 
Our guide, Antonio, using his version of G.P.S.: "Great Product of Survival"
However, we did something very cool. We planted mango trees in the Amazon jungle in honor of Earth Day. I'll gladly brave the sleepless nights, nocturnal monsters, and near death experiences by visiting again in five years to eat a mango from our tree.
Cool was the order of the day as later we went piranha fishing. Danger's my middle name (not really, not even close).

Time and time again on our trip, we'd been told piranha were good to eat. I'd never realized piranha was an edible fish, just sort of thought of it as an eating fish (remember: movies are my education). I kinda think it might just be practical on the Peruvians' behalf to eat what they have plenty of (otherwise I'm completely baffled by the choice of monkey's head soup). Oddly enough, though, piranha was never offered to us at the lodge. But we were prepared to catch dinner for everyone.

Off we went on our fishing expedition! I warned everyone I was prepared to fall. They all agreed, hardly a shocker. 
Before the fishing trip with happy and high expectations!
Hooks were baited, lines were sunk, and we waited. And waited. And waited, just merrily bob-bob-bobbing along. The blasted piranha kept nibbling at our bait, just eating it. Our buddy fed the piranha a lot (next fisherman: "Man, that's one fat fish.").

Only one of us snagged a piranha (teacher's pet, teacher's pet, teacher's pet!), a small one at that. 
Expectations dashed!
Still, all in all, how very awesome it is to snootily drop into conversation, pinky finger raised, "The other day we were on the Amazon River, fishing for piranha..."

While we're on the subject of sharp toothed critters, check out the second in the Zach and Zora comic mystery series, Murder by Massage. My hapless heroes face all sorts of shark-toothed, crocodile-teared types such as
dancing cops, ex-radical hippy militants, pompous pastors, and a creepy set of "Furries." What're you waiting for? The party's started and it's a blast!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Janet Lane Walters Talks Her Romance Love of Regency - Rosemary Morris #BWLPublishing #Regency #Romance

A Love of Regency with Rosemary Morris

I’m a big reader of Regency Romances and I’ve found Rosemary Morris’s stories great to read. I’ve read everything she’s written but I’ve been reading and reading her days of the week series. When I’m rough drafting a new story, I enjoy rereading stories I’ve read before. Meeting old friends gives me a break from the deep thought that goes into the start of a new story.  Reading these books has kept me on track since they are very different from what I’m writing.

I once thought I’d like to write Regencies and I have one Regency historical written. There were three more books planned but after finishing the one, I knew I didn’t have the stamina for the research for the other ones. I’ve decided to leave that for my favorite Regency writers. Rosemary is one of those. I’m enjoying reading the days of the week stories and those are the ones I’ll speak about here.

Thursday’s Child is the last one of the series I read. In this book, we read about a young woman who is outspoken and naïve. Her charm lies in her innocence and her real caring for others. For her journey, love brings lessons and an understanding of herself and others. The writing allowed me to enter her world and to care about her and the other characters in the book. Indeed, she has far to go.

Here’s the blurb:
On their way to a ball, eighteen-year-old Lady Margaret is reminded by her affectionate brother, the Earl of Saunton, to consider her choice of words before she speaks. Despite his warning, she voices her controversial opinion to Lady Sefton, one of Almack’s lady patronesses, who can advance or ruin a debutante’s reputation. Horrified by her thoughtless indiscretion, Margaret runs from the ballroom into the reception hall where she nearly slips onto the marble floor.

Baron Rochedale, a notorious rake catches her in his arms to prevent her fall. Margaret, whose family expect her to make a splendid marriage, and enigmatic Rochedale, who never reveals his secrets, are immediately attracted to each other, but 
Rochedale never makes advances to unmarried females. 

When Margaret runs out into the street, out of chivalry it seems he must follow the runaway instead of joining his mistress in the ballroom, where anxious mothers would warn their daughters to avoid him. Rochedale’s quixotic impulse leads to complications which force him to question his selfish way of life. Entangled by him in more ways than one, stifled by polite society’s unwritten rules and regulations Margaret is forced to question what is most important to her. 

Sunday’s Child began the series.

Georgianne Whitley’s beloved father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. While she is grieving for them, she must deal with her unpredictable mother’s sorrow, and her younger sisters’ situation caused by it. Georgianne’s problems increase when the arrogant, wealthy but elderly Earl of Pennington, proposes marriage to her for the sole purpose of being provided with an heir. At first she is tempted by his proposal, but something is not quite right about him. She rejects him not suspecting it will lead to unwelcome repercussions.

Once, Georgianne had wanted to marry an army officer. Now, she decides never to marry ‘a military man’ for fear he will be killed on the battlefield. However, Georgianne still dreams of a happy marriage before unexpected violence forces her to relinquish the chance to participate in a London Season sponsored by her aunt.

Shocked and in pain, Georgianne goes to the inn where her cousin Sarah’s step-brother, Major Tarrant, is staying, while waiting for the blacksmith to return to the village and shoe his horse. Recently, she has been reacquainted with Tarrant—whom she knew when in the nursery—at the vicarage where Sarah lives with her husband Reverend Stanton.

The war in the Iberian Peninsula is nearly at an end so, after his older brother’s death, Tarrant, who was wounded, returned to England where his father asked him to marry and produce an heir. To please his father, Tarrant agreed to marry, but due to a personal tragedy he has decided never to father a child. When Georgianne, arrives at the inn, quixotic Tarrant sympathises with her unhappy situation. Moreover, he is shocked by the unforgivable, brutal treatment she has suffered.

Full of admiration for her beauty and courage Tarrant decides to help Georgianne.
The other books in the series so far are Monday’s Child, Tuesday’s Child and Wednesday’s Child. If you love Regencies, you’ll find every one of these books a great read. I’ll also be rereading them in the months to come.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

And.... ACTION! Generating word movies, by J.C. Kavanagh

Reading fiction out loud is an art form - but only if you want it to be. You could read the printed word without nuance and without intonation. Yawn. Or you could bring your story to life by embracing the 'actor' within, by proactively taking centre stage. Because reading your book out loud is actually an audition of sorts - an audition to generate credulity and confidence in your story, in the characters and in the details and descriptions of the various settings. Reading out loud triggers the auditory senses, which triggers brain function and hopefully, triggers a sequence of images in the internal playground that is within your mind - images that I call 'word movies.' The writer/speaker is in charge of setting the mood and instilling uniqueness to each character, all by using tone of voice, hand gestures, facial expressions. It's acting out your own novel and generating a word movie.

How exciting is that?

Yeah, it seems that way until you're challenged to read your novel to a group of teenagers. In a classroom.

That's where I'm headed in the next couple of weeks - to 'read' my second novel, The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends, to a group of Grade 8 students. My throat gets dry, my knees knock and I tremble at the thought of 'acting' out my book. Basically, I'm performing my audition of every character and every scene in Darkness Descends. But... I believe in my book. I believe the story. I believe and love/hate the characters. And I believe that a truly good book will draw the reader into the playground-mind of the writer so that they both 'see' the same word movie. If I can keep a group of teenagers engaged, then I'll know my audition was successful.

I hope everyone who's read The Twisted Climb series enjoyed the word movies. I did. I'm proud of the fact they both were voted Best Young Adult Book (The Twisted Climb in 2016 and Darkness Descends in 2018).

Speaking of auditory senses, kudos to authors Jude Pittman and John Widsomkeeper for delivering the first audio-book for BWL Publishing, entitled "Street Justice." You can find the audio book via this link:

TWO Book Signing Events

Come see me on Saturday, March 30 at the Chapters store in Newmarket, Ontario from 1 till 5.
Two weeks later, I'm heading to the Chapters store in Barrie, Ontario (Saturday, April 13). Drop by!

J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2)
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)

The Art of Art Painting an image with words is fun. It’s two of my three favourite things. Mmmm, Thai food. I ...