Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The Treadmill is my Enemy by Stuart R. West

Great to read while on the treadmill!
I hate the treadmill. Yet I try and get on it three to four times a week. Obviously I must be some sort of masochist, because, honestly, how else do you explain how something so horrendous is supposed to be good for you? Pure agony.

Whoever said exercise is good for you is a huge liar.
Every morning I wake up, knowing I should exercise. "Just five more minutes," I tell myself. It's particularly hard to rouse on those dark Winter and Fall mornings when the only ones up are insomniac serial killers and vampires. Yet, eventually, I get up.

You know, the magical number of "50" is usually a milestone to be celebrated. The human body, on the other hand, has very different ideas. If there's a party being thrown, it's purely a pity party, the body mocking its host all the way to the grave. It's like one of those charts detailing the state of our economy; the one with the arrow plummeting down into the red zone.

Anyway, after twenty to thirty minutes on the "monster machine," I'm done. And it's not pretty. Buckets of sweat roll off me. I look like a wet T-shirt contest reject (doubtful I'd garner any votes, but you get my drift--just, um, stay downwind because I smell like canned spam). My heart is galloping to burst through its cage. I'm leaning over the cursed machine, panting, hyperventilating like a pneumatic air compressor. My back hurts. And my knees! Oh, my knees! When I walk, they emit an unhealthy squelching gelatinous sound. I swear it sounds like aliens replaced my kneecaps in the middle of the night with fish bowls.

The worst part? After all this torture, the treadmill's electronic face taunts me, registering joy that I've burned off a mere 100 calories. 100 lousy calories. If I were to eat half of a small donut, I'd break even. Any more food over the day, though, puts me back over the top. The demonic treadmill is laughing at me

You know, there's gotta' be a more pleasant method of exercising. Maybe I'll try yoga. Now...where's that leotard?
I imagine the character Zach loooooves the treadmill!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A little Sneak Peak by Nancy M Bell



To learn more about Nancy's work please click on the cover.

I've been working on the next book in The Alberta Adventures series. It's working title is Dead Dogs Talk. Where Wild Horse Rescue centres around the wild horses in Alberta, Dead Dogs Talk will centre on the horrendous practice of dog fighting and puppy mills. Often the two go hand in hand. I thought I would whet your whistle so to speak and share the first bit of Dead Dogs Talk with you.

Dead Dogs Talk
©Nancy M Bell 2020

Laurel surveyed the buckskin prairie rolling away from her toward the purple hued Rockies in the distance. She inhaled the familiar scent of dry grain stubble and dust with underlying notes of cool brought on the wind from the west.
“I know it sounds lame, but have you ever seen anything so beautiful?” Laurel turned and spoke to Carly, her best friend.
“I love this time of year. The sky is just so…so…blue and the aspens are all turning gold.” Carly nudged her mare up beside Laurel’s Sam, the saddle leather creaking as she shifted her weight.
Laurel grinned at her. “Let ride down by the river under the trees, the sun’s just about the right angle to turn those leaves all gold and sunstruck.”
The girls turned the horses away from the harvested barley field and followed the worn path along a fence line toward the coulee. The track snaked around and followed the gravel range road before detouring around a stand of aspen crowding the fence near the road. Laurel turned Sam toward the path that dipped down the slope of the coulee.
“Hey, Laurel, wait up!”
Laurel pulled up and twisted in the saddle to see what was holding Carly up. “What’s wrong?” She pivoted Sam on the narrow trail and moved back to where Carly was sitting motionless. “What? You okay?” Laurel drew even with her friend and let Sam halt beside the mare.
“Look…” Carly motioned toward the aspens and low bushes. “Is that what I think it is?” her voice choked off.
“I don’t see…” Laurel nudged Sam a few steps closer and leaned down trying to see what was upsetting Carly. “Oh my God!” She piled off her horse, dropping the reins to ground-tie the gelding. Shoving her way through the tangled bushes, she halted by a bent aspen tree. Tied by its neck to the lowest branch was a brindle dog. Blinking back tears, Laurel reached in her jacket pocket and pulled out her jack knife. Muttering words her father would frown at, she started to saw at the thick rope.
“Who would do something like this?” Carly’s voice trembled as she pushed through the long grass and brush. “The poor thing, I hope it didn’t suffer.” She stuffed a hand against her mouth.
The dog’s head flopped to the side when the rope finally parted, and the limp body collapsed onto the trodden grass. Laurel dropped to her knees and began working at loosening the noose around the thick neck.
“It’s dead, Laurel. What are you doing? Let’s go, we should tell someone. What if whoever did this comes back?” Carly started edging back toward the horses.
“I don’t care! The least we can do is take this damned rope off her.” She pulled the noose free and sat back on her heels. “Poor baby. Look at the scars on her face, and the wounds all over her. Makes me so mad I could just spit.”
“Shit!” The limp body gave a shuddering convulsion and the unfocussed eyes fluttered. Laurel scrambled backward. “Carly, she’s alive! The dog is still alive. Come help me.”
“We should go and get help, Laurel. What if the thing is vicious? Or has rabies?” Carly hesitated at the edge of the trees.
“We can’t leave her like this. She might run off before we can get back once she’s recovered a bit. She needs a vet. And we need to take pictures of everything. Damn, I should have thought of that before I touched anything.” Laurel pulled her phone out of her pocket and took pictures of the rope and the dog and the area while keeping an eye on the dog who panted in rasping breaths. “Keep breathing, girl. Keep breathing.” She edged closed to the dog, reached out cautiously and straightened out a front leg that was twisted under a broken tree limb. The dog lifted her head and Laurel froze with her hand still on the leg.
“Get back!” Carly’s voice was shrill.
“It’s fine, she’s not even growling. I think she’s too weak to do much more than lie there.”
“Now what do we do? It’s getting late, you know. Look at the sun.” Carly waved an arm toward the western horizon where the sun hovered a hand’s width above the shorn barley.
“Call Chance. He can bring the truck.” Laurel released the dog’s leg and stood up.
“I don’t know if he’ll even come,” Carly was doubtful. “You know how he gets.”
“Call him, will you? I’m going to call Dr. Sam and let him know we’re bringing in an injured dog.” Laurel scrolled through her phone to the vet’s number. She glanced at Carly and scowled. “Call your damn brother, Carly. If he says no, we’ll figure something else out. He can’t bite you over the phone.”
“Hi Marg,” she responded when the vet’s receptionist picked up the phone. “It’s Laurel Rowan. I’ve got an injured dog that’s in pretty bad shape here.” She paused to listen. “No, no, not one of mine. Carly and I found this dog while we were out riding. It’s in pretty bad shape, she was tied to a tree, half strangled and looks like she’s been in a fight. What? No, there’s no one around that we saw. As soon as we can get a ride, I’ll bring her in. Thanks.” Laurel ended the call and shoved the phone back in her pocket.
“Chance is coming.” Carly joined her under the aspens.
“Good. Hey, did you bring any water? I bet she’s dehydrated.” Laurel squatted beside the dog again and reached out a hand. When the big dog did nothing more than roll an eye toward her, she stroked the dog’s shoulder. Running her hand gently over the ribs and down her spine, Laurel’s gut clenched. Her exploring fingers found bumps and contusions, along with matted blood and open wounds. “Hey baby girl, it’s okay now. We got you,” she murmured.
“Here.” Carly shoved a half full bottle of water at Laurel. “It’s all I’ve got on me.” She hesitated before kneeling beside Laurel. “How bad is it?”
“Bad enough. Looks like someone beat the crap out of her before they dumped her here.”
The growl of tires on the gravel heralded an approaching vehicle. Laurel glanced through the trees toward the road. “Is it Chance? Stay down, Carly, until we’re sure it’s him.”
“Oh God! You don’t think whoever did this would come back, do you? What about the horses? Anybody could see them from the road…” Carly turned pale.
“Don’t freak out on me, now. Just stay in the trees until we’re sure it’s Chance. I don’t think whoever did this cares enough to show up again.”
The crunch of tires on gravel slowed and a beat up brown pickup slowed to a halt where the horses stood ground-tied on the opposite side of the fence.
“Carly? Laurie? Where the hell are you?” Chance stepped out of the truck, sounding annoyed.
“Here!” Carly pushed through the trees toward her brother. “The dog’s in the bushes here. It’s too heavy for us to move. Laurel’s with her.”
Chance reached inside the truck and killed the engine before he stalked down the ditch and swung a long leg over the top strand of barb wire. He followed his sister through the low brush and halted beside Laurel.
“What a shittin’ mess. You sure it’s alive?” He nudged the dog with is boot.


Well, that's as much as I'm going to share for now. You can find me at www.nancymbell.ca AuthorNancyMBell on Facebook and on the BWL Publishing Inc webpage.
Until next month, stay well, stay happy

Monday, February 17, 2020

February Is For Romance Ala Janet Lane Walters #BWLAuthor #MFRWAuthor #Romance #Medical #Nurses #Doctors


February Is For Romance
 

Most of my books have some romance in them. Many have characters who are in the medical field.  The Doctor’s Dilemma was one where I stepped away from my northeast centered focus and set the action in Texas where I had once lived for several years. This was a fun book to write.
 

Pursuing Doctor West was another fun book to write. I had great fun finding new ways to thwart my heroine, Zelda, in her pursuit.  Most of the time, this story made me laugh as I planned new scenes and turned the tables on the heroine.


The Gemini Sagittarius Connection is another fun book to write. Like the first book on this page, this one has a set of twins. What I really had fun planning was the hero. As a Sagittarian, he can suffer from “foot in mouth” disease and finding ways for him to show this side of his character were fun.
 
All of these books and other’s which are romances visit me at one of these places.

My Places

Buy Mark

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Don't blame the pangolin, by J.C. Kavanagh




Short-listed for Best Young Adult Book 2018,
The Word Guild

As Sheila Craydon wrote in her BWL blog on Valentine's Day, effects of the Coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it's now named ('COVI' from coronavirus and 'D' meaning disease, and '19' representing the year the first cases were reported), is being felt world-wide. Scientists and doctors are combining their research efforts to determine the source of the deadly virus. According to the Medical News Today website, Chinese-based researchers believe the virus 'host' is not a bat, which is the mammal that typically carries a coronavirus. No, they suggest that the harmless, most-poached and critically endangered pangolin is to blame. It is their belief that bats are unable to directly transmit the virus to humans and that an "intermediate animal is usually the one responsible."


You've probably said, "Pangolin? What is a pangolin?"

Pangolins are the only scale-covered mammal in the world and sadly, they are being poached to extinction. Pangolins mainly eat ants and termites, and in fact, help reduce the termite population in countries like the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Malaysia. Pangolins have no teeth and use their long sticky tongue to slurp out termites and ants from their nests. Pangolins are typically nocturnal and use their scales as a defense against predatory animals. When frightened, the pangolin will roll into a ball, using their scales as a type of armour.

A pangolin rolled in a self-defensive ball.

A baby pangolin's first outing from its nesting burrow, typically at 30 days.
A tree pangolin capturing termites from a branch.
Baby pangolins will remain with their mother for up to two years.
In many Asian countries, the scales of the pangolin are sought for alleged 'medicinal' purposes, though there is no medical support for these traditions. In addition, the pangolin meat is considered a delicacy in some countries and this spurs the illegal, black-market trade. Unfortunately, the wholesale slaughter of pangolins continues in spite of the fact that the pangolin has been described as "the most poached and trafficked mammal in the world." All species of the pangolin are on the endangered list, and many are on the road to extinction. All because of illegal trafficking.

In China and many other countries, laws have been instituted to protect the pangolin. These laws prohibit the capture, sale and/or transport of the animals. In fact, those caught selling pangolins could face up to 10 years in prison.

This, however, has not deterred the black market pangolin trade. 

In the city of Wuhan, China, where COVID-19 originated in a seafood and wild animal market, it is believed that the virus transmitted from a host animal to humans. Researchers are still investigating if the source was a bat which transmitted to a pangolin and then to humans. However, since the first human case was treated late December 2019, the virus has been transmitted directly from human to human. What researches haven't proved, though, is if there were pangolins sold illegally at the Wuhan market. No one has (yet) come forward to admit they sold live/dead pangolins. Doing so, though, would be of significant benefit to determining if the pangolin was the virus' intermediate 'host.'

Is the pangolin really to blame for COVID-19? Or is it the greed of black-marketers, combined with human indifference to the potential extinction of a mild-mannered, toothless, ant-eating animal. Would there be human transmission of the virus if the pangolin was not used as bush meat and nonsensical medicine? I'm not a scientist, so I don't know. But maybe this is nature's way of saying, to paraphrase Pink Floyd, "Hey, people, Leave the pangolins alone!"
The eight species of Pangolin, found from Asia to Africa and the Philippines.
February 17 is World Pangolin Day. According to Wikipedia, pangolin populations have decreased by up to 75 per cent in some countries. In 2017, almost 12 tons of pangolin SCALES were confiscated from a ship in China. The year before, a ship grounded near the Philippines was found to have 10,000 kilograms of pangolin meat rotting in its cargo hold.

I have been fascinated by pangolins since 2014 when I first read a CNN article about their potential extinction. In the meantime, I've written five children's picture books and a movie script about the adventures of Mama Pangolin and her wee son Foleydota. (These books have not yet found a publisher as BWL publishes text, not pictures!) However, to promote knowledge of the pangolin, I've included it in my Twisted Climb series of books. Young Georgia's favourite stuffed animal is a baby pangolin that she cradles in her arms each night before bed. Of course, the stuffie is made with a velvety outer fabric that is perfect for caressing and holding so tenderly.

I'll finish this blog by paraphrasing an old Coca-Cola commercial: Let's live in harmony.


 J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2)
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll and Best YA Book FINALIST at The Word Guild, Canada
AND
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Email: author.j.c.kavanagh@gmail.com
www.facebook.com/J.C.Kavanagh
www.amazon.com/author/jckavanagh
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Weird Apps





Most of us use apps—those digital applications, downloaded on our cellphones, to help us order a pizza from our favorite fast-food joint, track appointments or manage our finances.  The number and variety of apps have mushroomed over the past decade. Many of them are useful, such as the one from your local transit department which lets you when the next bus is coming. Others, however, are only mildly useful, and a few, truly bizarre. Here, then, are ten apps that will leave you shaking your head:

1)      Nothing. Yes, Nothing. You press the Nothing icon on your phone and nothing happens. Nothing is free, but a premium version (which still does nothing) costs a whopping $0.99.

2)      Hold On. As the name implies, the idea is to keep pushing down on the app for as long as you can. A little timer pops up and lets you know how long you’ve been holding on. But, Why?

3)      I am Rich. Designed for rich people to make them feel good about how much money they have. At $400 a pop, I am Rich is definitely not for the poor.

4)      Fake Conversation. Ever want to desperately leave a boring meeting or a bad date? Fake Conversation will send you a fake phone call from a doctor, layer or even a magazine editor. The app will tell you what to say; you repeat it, and everyone around will be convinced you have a real emergency on your hands.

5)      Ghost EMP Meter. Yup. Your smartphone will sniff out pesky spirits and lingering apparitions. Note: It may not work if your smartphone itself is demon-possessed.

6)      Drunk Dial NO. This actually may be useful. The app allows you to enter the phone numbers of people you should not call when drunk (think: your ex or your boss.) It will hide those numbers for a period of forty-eight hours, long enough for your sober side to reassert itself.

7)      Binky. For totally random people. Binky will send you an endless stream of completely unconnected random stuff which you can browse or resend. Being totally pointless, it faithfully reflects the entire digital experience.

8)      $1,000,000. The app loads images of currency (in denominations of $50 or $100) which you can count by swiping on the screen. You won’t become rich, but your fingers will feel the pleasant tiredness a real millionaire experiences when counting his money.

9)      Lick the Icicle. The app shows an icicle on your smartphone. As you start licking it, the icicle starts melting. At this point, it’s uncertain if your tongue will stick to your smartphone if you stop licking.

10)  Places I have Pooped. As the name implies, this app allows you to map every place where you have answered the call of nature. Rather than humans, it is probably more useful in helping dogs and cats mark their territories. Use your phone to help your pooch to play Places I have Pooped.


 Mohan Ashtakala is the author of “The Yoga Zapper,” a fantasy, and “Karma Nation,” a literary romance. www.mohanashtakala.comwww.bookswelove.com.



Friday, February 14, 2020

Plans are made to be broken..by Sheila Claydon


At the moment the world is on tenterhooks because of the Coronavirus. Of all my books this is the only one where an unexpected illness strikes. Why? Well probably because nobody likes to think about illness unless they have to.

Click here for my books and author page

As Woody Allan once said:  If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. Not that any of my plans were desperate or that important in the scheme of things, but I was due to be cruising around Japan at the end of March on the very ship that is now quarantined in the port at Yokohama as more and more members of its crew and passengers contract the Coronavirus. 

On top of that, the British citizens who were flown out of Wuhan, the centre of the epidemic, have been quarantined in hospital property only 12 miles away from where I live. 

And then, of course, there is my daughter-in-law, who is Chinese. She and my little Eurasian granddaughter spent the Chinese New Year in China with family and friends. My son, who had to work, stayed at home in Hong Kong, which was just as well as he has been their only contact with the outside world for the past 14 days. Although they were very far away from the epicentre of the Coronavirus they were still required to self-quarantine when they returned home,  and my daughter-in-law has only today been allowed to return to work.

My granddaughter is still at home because her school has been closed since Christmas and will not reopen until 4 March at the earliest. Also most of her friends have either left Hong Kong for a perceived safety with family elsewhere, or have not returned from the Christmas holidays they were celebrating somewhere else in the world, so with no school and few friends to play with, it is fortunate that she loves to draw, write, make things, help cook, and also do the homework she receives every week by email.

From a different perspective, however, some of what is happening is very interesting. My son, who works in change management in businesses in Hong Kong, is having to adapt his own work practice whilst also helping other people to cope with working from home. Culturally, home working is not the norm in Hong Kong and this, together with the very limited size of its family apartments, means that the forced confinement is having a deep psychological effect on many people.  Apartments in Hong Kong are on average the smallest in the world (484 sq ft). Many of these are homes to more than three people. As a comparison, the average one-bed flat size in Manhattan, New York, is 716 sq ft while in London it is 550 sq ft. Because I regularly help edit his various presentations and papers, it means I am able to be part of the whole thinking around the effects of Coronavirus on business around the world...not something I would have chosen given how it is affecting and frightening so many people, but interesting nevertheless.

So here I am, living in a coastal village in the North West of England, miles away from any major centre, in a place of clean beaches and fresh, unpolluted air, and yet, because of globalisation, I am still caught up in the world-wide effects of the Coronavirus. It is a strange, strange world.

Now all I have to do is to send the medical face masks I've managed to buy in the UK over to my family in Hong Kong because there the shops have sold out altogether, and without a mask nobody goes out! In usual circumstances China makes 20 million face masks a day and Chinese people use them regularly both as a protection against traffic pollution and when they have a cold or cough which they don't want to pass onto other people. Now, however, production has fallen and people are panic buying. Fortunately we still have plenty in the UK where wearing them is not the norm at all. Who is to say when that will change, however. In the meantime we can spare some where they are needed most.

In my son's words at the end of his recent advisory leaflet to Hong Kong employees working from home for the first time: until it's over and we can all relax, work well and stay healthy.





Thursday, February 13, 2020

Kindness Never Wasted

coming in April!
shortlisted for Laramie and Chatelaine Awards!



Located in the middle of the St. Lawrence River lies the island Grosse Isle. It was once the main point of entry for immigrants coming to Canada. On the island was a quarantine station. The year 1847 (“Black ’47”) was the worst year of the Irish Great Hunger, brought in approximately 110,000 migrants to Canada. Nearly 90,000 landed at Grosse Isle. 

An Irish Farewell, 1840

About one out of every six migrants did not make it through that year. They died in the filthy holds of “coffin ships,” in crowded tents on the quarantine islands or in port cities. Most succumbed to typhus.

newspaper account
By year’s end, thousands of children had become orphans. No one is sure of the exact number as many were informally placed out and left no trace in the records. 

Over half the orphans were placed with French Canadian families, many in the countryside. Some were treated merely as farm hands. But some of the adoptive parents were self-sacrificing and expressed love and respect while they urged the children to keep their Irish surnames and preserve their Irish heritage. The descendants of these Irish Canadians have become accomplished in many walks of life. They include artists and musicians, politicians, writers and scientists.

memorial to the fallen on Grosse Isle
My friend Paulinus Healy, chaplain of the Toronto Airport, first told me the infinitely sad story of the fallen of Grosse Isle and the wonderfully redemptive one of the French Canadian families who took the orphans into their homes and hearts. “You’ll write about it some day, “ Paulinus predicted.  I have in my April 2020 historical novel, Mercies of the Fallen.  Sergeant Rowan Buckley is a Grosse Isle orphan taken in by three French Canadian sisters. When the American Civil War breaks out, he decides to head south with his neighbor, a former slave, to join the Union army.


I hope I have captured the character of fallen people, who, if shown kindness, return mercy to the world exponentially.

PS -- As February is romance month, Books We Love authors are offering excerpts from their contemporary romances, romantic suspense and paranormal romances on the BWL free reading club. Check it out and join today at https://www.facebook.com/groups/BooksWeLovebookclub/