Thursday, January 18, 2018

His Brother's Bride is now available in French ~ Nancy M Bell

I am excited to announce the release of His Brother's Bride in the French edition. This is the first title of mine to be translated and released in another language, so I'm a little chuffed. You can click on the cover to see it.

This has been a busy year with His Brother's Bride releasing in March of 2017 and then I was asked to take over the creation of the Manitoba book for this collection. I partnered with Margaret Kyle as my research assistant and go to source of all things Mennonite in southern Manitoba. Landmark Roses is the result of that collaboration and the title released in November of 2017.

Click on the cover for the buy link.

Elsie Nuefeld loves to sit on her porch and watch the children grow in the Mennonite community near Landmark, MB. Returning to the area after moving to Paraguay for a time, Elsie is happy to be living on the wild rose dotted prairie of south-eastern Manitoba. Her granddaughters are growing up and getting married, it's an exciting time. Secure in her long standing marriage to Ike, Elsie is content to observe the community from the sidelines and rejoice in the joys of the young ones. She often walks with her daughters and granddaughters through the graveyard abloom with wild roses and shares the stories of the ancestors sleeping there. It’s important, she feels, for the younger generation to feel connected to those who went before. Elsie hopes when she joins those resting beneath the Landmark roses the tradition of honouring the memory of the forebearers continues.

Then I also had a hand in the New Brunswick title, On A Stormy Primeval Shore. Partnered with Diane Scott Lewis, I served as research assistant and alpha reader for this title. It was a wonderful experience and everyone I contacted for obscure information was very helpful. We are hoping to do some events in New Brunswick this June. On A Stormy Primeval Shore just released on January 1, 2018.

Click on the cover for the buy link.

In 1784, Englishwoman Amelia Latimer sails to the new colony of New Brunswick in faraway Canada. She’s to marry a man chosen by her soldier father. Amelia is repulsed by her betrothed, refuses to marry, then meets the handsome Acadian trader, Gilbert, a man beneath her in status. Gilbert must protect his mother who was attacked by an English soldier. He fights to hold on to their property, to keep it from the Loyalists who have flooded the colony, desperate men chased from the south after the American Revolution. In a land fraught with hardship, Amelia and Gilbert struggle to overcome prejudice, political upheaval, while forging a life in a remote country where events seek to destroy their love and lives.

All the titles in this series have been well received and garnered excellent reviews.

And to top it all off, my very first translated work!

until next post, stay well, stay happy, stay healthy

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Bit of Writing Advice - First Comes The Idea #MFRWauthor #Advice #Writing

The Aries Libra Connection (Opposites In Love)



For the next who knows how many months, I’ll be sharing writing tips I’ve garnered in my 50 years of being a published author.  The Aries Libra Connection is the first book I published electronically. It’s been retitled, revised, updated and now is published by Books We Love LTD. So now onto one of the things I’ve learned about writing.



Looking at writing your story from the Idea forward. What happens once that idea forms a seed in your thoughts? The idea can be anything that triggers you to want to write a story. You could read something and decide to from your own take on what you've read. How many stories are the fairy tales we've grown up with? Take Cinderella, Snow White, and a lot of other stories you've read or had read to you. How many tales share the themes of these stories?


The idea could be something you see. A couple embracing. A man and a woman quarreling. A child making mischief or being sad. What you see could be something like a milling mob, a merry-go-round, a speeding car. What you see can trigger the idea.


What you smell. Think of how you react to cookies baking or the aroma of spicy food.  You could find the scent of a place can trigger an idea. For me this can happen when I enter a hospital. The scents bring memories of my past as a nurse and often triggers an idea for a new story.


The idea could spring from something you've touched. A soft fur coat, the rough fabric of jeans. A rock, a bench, a brick. Any of these things could bring an idea to the fore.


Taste can also trigger ideas. We've all tasted something we think of as ambrosia or something that makes you ill. So let the ideas form.


Sometimes something you hear can trigger a story. The wail of a train at night. The sound of footsteps on the street behind you at night. The cries, screams of someone or even their laughter can form a seed for a story. I’ve had stories that hve come from reading something. Past Betrayals, Past Loves came from two readings. The first is Anna Karenina and the story with the unhappy ending. The other grain came from something I read in a book about Ancient Egypt. In a section on the time of chaos when there was no pharaoh came these words. A battle commander wished to be pharaoh. Mermeshu was his name.


But we all have these events in out life and ideas may form but once the idea is there, what comes next.  In the next few weeks, I'll be looking at the elements needed to make the idea into a story. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Some people think only of the five Ws but for me, there's the How. After all, it does have a w in the word.


The idea takes root. For me, I take the idea and think about it while falling asleep. Sort of like a bedtime story, Usually after days of this story telling the book begins to take form.


I'll be sharing what I've learned and am still learning in the fifty years I've been a published writer.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How cold is it? by J.C. Kavanagh

Award-winning book, The Twisted Climb
I live in Ontario, Canada and in mid-January, it's mind-numbing, nose-curdling, freezer-freezing cold. How cold is that? Well, it's colder than cold. Colder than the North Pole. Maybe the planet Mars. OK, not Mars. The average temperature there is -63 C. But at -39 Celsius where I live, well, that's not too far off the temperature on the red planet. And then, out of the blue, Mother Nature plays the see-saw game. Last week, the temperature here actually rose to +11. PLUS eleven! That's a balmy event, usually referred to as the January 'thaw.' But within 24 hours, the temp reverted back to -25 C. We Canadians take it all in stride, giving credence to the adage of being hearty and hardy folk.

The 'red' planet, Mars with average
temperature of -63 Celsius
The average temp at the North Pole
in January is -10 Celsius
I'll be the first to admit that I'm a hardy soul and that I love the outdoors - any temperature, any season. You can find me and my partner, Ian, traipsing around our property in any weather. Actually, the harsher, the better. Yah, that sounds weird but we love extremes. Breathing in that cold fresh air, tinged with the smell of burning wood from our wood stove, is the best perfume money can't buy. We constructed trails on our property and we've recently taken up with snowshoeing. Going through the deep snow is no problem thanks to this footwear. We like to follow the animal tracks - apparently they like to 'walk' the trails too! We have deer, rabbits, wolves, coyotes, fox and even the elusive ermine. One actually scampered to our back window last week and looked rather longingly at the flames in our woodstove.
An ermine (part of the weasel family)

A hungry fox eyeballing the birdfeeder

A funky, snow-covered tree along our trail

Me and Ian being 'hearty and hardy' Canadians, eh?

I'm still working on the sequel to my award-winning book, The Twisted Climb, so I'll keep this blog short and get back to my writing. Stay tuned for the The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends.

Take a moment and do something special today!
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)

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Plan for Electronic Hygiene

By now, it’s clear that people can get addicted to the internet. If not careful, it can take hours out of one’s day. Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment: classic symptoms of any kind of addiction.

The numbers are staggering: It is estimated that there are 4.93 billion cell-phone users in the world today, as well as 3.58 billion internet connections. Studies suggest that 1 in 8 Americans suffer from problematic Internet use. Those estimates are higher in China, Taiwan, and Korea where 30 percent or more of the population may experience problematic Internet use. The vast numbers of new internet users are coming up in underdeveloped countries, where land-line connections are few and far between.

What do people get addicted to on-line? Video games and on-line role playing are prominent, but most cases of internet addiction relates to sexting and on-line sex addiction. It is a recent phenomenon, headlined by prominent stories in the media, but none should be surprised when the next politician or prominent personality gets caught sexting or admits to online porn.

The greater concern is not the hard-core internet addict, but the casual internet user who find the practice eating away more and more of his or her time. A Globe and Mail story[i] (published March 21, 2017) reported that on average, English Canadians surveyed spent 24.5 hours online per week in 2016, up about two hours from the previous year. But, it recounted, young Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34 spent even more time on the Internet — an average of 34 hours per week in 2016, or nearly five hours per day.

Clearly, everyone needs to look at his or her internet usage, and come up with a plan to regulate and control their on-line usage.

Here is an example of a plan for electronic hygiene, which I developed over time. I was not addicted to the internet, but became concerned at the increasing amount of time spent on-line. I am sure more researched ones are available, but this one has worked for me.

1)      Do not check the smart-phone upon going to bed nor upon waking up. Many people keep their smart phones on their bedroom nightstand, and this makes it too tempting to check social media at night or upon waking up. Best to charge the cell-phone at night in the kitchen or another room.
2)      Do not check the internet the first thing in the morning. Waking up is time to get ready for the day: brushing teeth, showering, cooking and eating breakfast, etc. Only when the morning chores are done, should the internet be checked.
3)      Examine the websites you visit. Most of them provide little or no educational, social or personal benefit. Wouldn’t you be better off avoiding them?
4)      Make a schedule for the internet. What works for me is one hour in the mornings, say between ten to eleven, and one in the afternoon/evening. This takes discipline, but so does any type of hygiene.
5)      Make one day of the week as an internet fasting day—no going online for the entire day. Sundays work for me: it is a day we end up doing family things.
6)      If you have children, do not give them computers for their own rooms. Up until a certain age, they should use a family computer located in the living or dining room. And use parental control settings.
7)      Finally, make sure certain activities such as dinners, or visits to friends, are kept electronic free.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Coming Sheila Claydon

For many reasons, but mainly because I've been looking after my 3 year old granddaughter, I haven't had much time to write this year. In fact make that 18 months what with journeys to Australia and Hong Kong to visit family and friends, and longterm guests at home. It's just been one of those times when writing has had to take a back seat because people, when all is said and done, are more important. On top of all that I've had trouble with my website and, with no time to fix it, have wiped that as well.

I have had one thing going for me, however - Books We Love. Always there for all its writers, it has continued to give me an online presence as well as republishing 3 of the books I wrote in the eighties when the copyright unexpectedly reverted to me, so 2017 has not been entirely book free. Vintage romance! How did I get to be so old?

The republication of those books has been a boost to my writing morale too, especially the fantastic new covers courtesy of the wonderful Michelle (, and now it's time for a comeback.  January 2018 is definitely a time of new resolutions, although right at this moment the workload looks overwhelming.  A book to edit before it can be republished, a half-written book, Part 2 of a series, to revisit and finish, and a website which is still only a work in progress.  I'm enjoying rereading the story of Golden Girl though, the Vintage romance soon to be republished, and it has reminded me of how difficult writing used to be.

Golden Girl was my very first book. I wrote it by hand in notebooks and on sheets of paper at the kitchen counter while my children were at school, and then typed it (a top copy and 2 carbons) on a portable typewriter. I also had a part-time job.  When a publisher accepted it I blew the money on a holiday for the family, our first ever abroad and my first ever flight. I've done a lot more travelling since then but nothing has quite replaced the thrill of that trip to Munich although strangely enough, given that nowadays I hang my writing identity on a have pen/will travel persona, I've never written about it. In 2018, with a study, a computer and the Internet for reference, writing a book is much less onerous. Another big plus is that publishers now accept books online. No more printing, collating and packing up copies and making sure return postage is included. In 2018 the whole process is much more manageable.

Anyway, back to Golden Girl. The story is based on an experience I had when I was a young secretary and was asked to front the launch of a range of  new cosmetics. It only entailed a couple of days in London, nothing so exotic as Paris, which is featured in the book, nor did I meet such charismatic characters as Alain Matthieu and Paul Genet, the hero and anti-hero. The experience gave me the idea though and now that I am re-reading it prior to publication, it is reviving many memories.  Faces and names from the past have come back to me as I wonder what happened to all those people I used to work with. I have also remembered that part of the launch included sitting on a carnival float dressed as a French courtesan, something I had completely forgotten until now!  It was all very tame stuff compared with what the heroine has to put up with in Golden Girl though. And I remember it was fun. 2 days away from the office, free cosmetics, a new dress...what was not to like.

My Golden Girl heroine, Lisa Morgan, has it a lot harder and copes in ways I would never have managed myself. She also has to deal with the sexual politics of the 1960s which were very different from those of today. I got a lot wrong too. I wouldn't write a book now with so much sight-seeing detail, even though it has its uses. For anyone visiting London or Paris for the first time, following in Lisa's footsteps as she explores them offers a blueprint of where to go and what to see.  Maybe I'll go back one day and revisit those places myself but if I don't make it at least I have the memories.

My other Vintage Romances were republished last year. Set in Moscow, Hollywood and, more prosaically, an English town, they set me on the path of writing about faraway places when they were first published. In those far off days I was prepared to write about places I'd never visited, using reference books and travel magazines for authenticity. Now I wouldn't dream of doing that. If I haven't been there then I don't write about it. Since those early days as a writer I've learned a lot, but re-reading and editing them has been fun and the stories still stand up, so if you decide to read them to learn about a different time that is not exactly history but is still very different from the Twenty-first Century, then enjoy.

You can see all of Sheila's books Vintage, Contemporary and Series at:

They are available at:

And if you have time, then stop in and visit her at:

Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Years Writing Resolutions by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey
A New Year’s Resolution could be described as promise made by a person to change themselves or something in their lives for the better. It could be being nicer to their neighbour, reading more, or having more fun. This change begins on New Year’s Day and is supposed to last for the year.

Making a New Year's Pledge is a custom observed mainly in the Western Hemisphere but is sometimes found in the Eastern Hemisphere.

Eight of the top ten resolutions are: spending more time with loved ones; getting in shape through exercise; losing weight; quit smoking; stop drinking; enjoy life more; pay off bills; learn something new.

How do these resolutions relate to my writing?

1.)    Spending more time with loved ones.
Writing is a solitary undertaking. I sit in a room alone with my computer (some writers use pen and paper.) I don’t like to be disturbed because that disturbance usually comes when I am right in the middle of a scene and I want to get it all down the way I am visualizing it. In order to spend more time with loved ones, I have to cut back on my writing. I read an article about one best-selling writer. Her son asked her if she would go to his baseball game. She said she couldn’t because she had to work on her next great book.

2.)    Getting in shape through exercise.
I spend my writing time sitting in a chair. If the story line is going well, I want to keep at it to the detriment of other activities.

3.)    Losing weight.
Hunger distracts me. I find that I write better if I have a full stomach, usually full of chocolates, but anything works.

4&5.) Quit smoking and drinking.
I have never smoked so that is easy. I only have an occasional drink so I am fine with that, also.

6.)    Enjoy life more.
Again, doing anything outside that room takes time away from my writing. And since I enjoy writing my books and planning more stories, I guess I am enjoying life.

7.)    Pay off bills.
Many writers write in order to pay off their bills. Some write hoping that they will have the next great best seller and earn lots of money. Most write because they love to write. Learn something new.

8.)    Learning something new.
Most beginner writers take writing courses to learn their craft. For others writing comes naturally. Many writers take a course in something they are writing about so the reader feels that the writer knows what they are putting in their books. When I write my historical novels I do a lot of research—reading books, visiting the places I am including in the book, and checking sites on the Internet. I have learned so much about Canadian history that I didn’t know before. I like to live by the saying: keep learning because it doesn’t cost anything to store the information.

So how do my New Year’s pledge(s) relate to those resolutions? I am going to continue doing my exercises in the morning before I begin writing so that I stay in shape. In spite of liking to write with a full stomach I work at maintaining my normal weight and will make sure that I continue to do so. Luckily at this time in my life, I don’t have any large debts and can write because I love to. I am not going to take up smoking nor will I drink more. But I think the most important one is I am going to continue enjoying life by writing more but also by spending more time with family and friends.
       In the past I have set aside my writing so that I could do things with my family and friends. They laugh with me, go places with me, are happy for me when I do something new and different. Writing is words on paper.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Starting Over

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

For the past decade or so I've stopped making New Year's Resolutions mainly because I inevitably break them by Jan 2nd.
But this year I made a specific one that I'm determined to keep: finish the first draft of book # 3 in my mystery series by April 30, 2018.

For me 2017 was good year for getting published. Books We Loved released my second mystery novel, Ten Days in Summer. Two of my short stories appeared in anthologies, Passport to Murder and Writing Menopause.

A third short story was turned into a work of art by Calgary artist, Sylvia Arthur.
At Loft 112, this Saturday, Jan 13, 7:00 p.m., Sylvia and I will be talking about our joint creative process. I'm told the event is sold out. 
That's me at the back beside the green wall, a year ago when the Loft announced the writing/art projects 

But 2017 was not my most productive year for writing. I got distracted by travel, visits from family and friends, promoting my recently published works and the birth of my first grandchild, all fabulous happenings I wouldn't have missed.

Now it's winter in Calgary, I have no serious travel plans for a few months and it's time to write.

April and June of last year were my only two months of serious writing and I accomplished a lot, I thought at the time. I got half way through the first draft of my new mystery novel before I had to set it aside for summer activities. I was reasonably satisfied with the work, but my subconscious had other ideas. While mulling the novel through the summer, I came up with a different approach that would fit more with what I want to do with this story. So it's back to page one.

Starting over isn't as painful as it might seem. My scribbles in April and June helped develop the main characters and plot, and some of the old material remains in the revised version. A departure for this series book will be multiple narrators. My first two mysteries were told entirely from the viewpoint of Paula, my sleuth. In the current draft, Paula's investigation alternates with back story chapters narrated by two suspects. Their perspectives point to motives for all of the suspects that build to one of them 'doing it.' Among other things, I hope this will help readers understand the 'why' of the crime, which is as important to me as the 'who' and 'how.'

The good and bad of New Year's Resolutions is that by putting them out there I feel pressured to follow through. It's now 10 days past January 2nd. The work is going a little better than I'd expected, so far, but I long to travel somewhere warm, hang out with friends, Skype with my granddaughter. I have to prepare for this Saturday's presentation at the Loft. I should line up some book promotion and could easily spend all winter organizing my basement and files.

Except for my resolution.    

His Brother's Bride is now available in French ~ Nancy M Bell

I am excited to announce the release of His Brother's Bride in the French edition. This is the first title of mine to be translated an...