Monday, May 17, 2021

New Book and other news _BWLAuthor #MFRWAuthor #Pre-release #Sale

 

Haunted Dreams – On Pre-Order plus other news

For some reason I can't get the picture of the cover to copy

 






 

Haunted Dreams is available for pre-order. Plus M&MT is now free on Amazon which will hopefully give us a bunch of sales for the other books in the series.  Be sure to promote it on your blog posts.   https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071DMVYN5

 

Haunted Dreams – Blurb:

Rachel Lange is a Cancer and a student in a Master’s program in Child Psychology. Her dreams are haunted by an abusive relationship and by an estrangement from her father, her only close relative.

Zach Majors is an attorney and a Libra. His dreams are haunted by his experience in Afghanistan and by the problems of his young sons, one who has nightmares nearly every night. He has come to Fern Lake to try to help his sons grow and to feel safe.

Between Rachel and Zach, the attraction is instant but they each have problems to overcome before they can think about the future. She has formed a rapport with the angriest of Zach’s sons. Together this pair must find peace within themselves and bring healing to their families.

 

A BIT FROM THE STORY

“They’re here.” Davey pointed and ran toward the blue sedan.

Rachel turned. Beside her friends, she saw a tall man with blonde hair. He must be Nate’s new partner. She closed her car door and followed Davey.

 

* * *

 

Zach walked to where Janine and Nate waited. He watched Davey running toward them. A dark-haired woman followed. Who? He reached the couple. “Where are the trees?”

Nate laughed. “Open your eyes.”

Zach saw rows of trees in the distance. There were none cut for him to choose one.

Davey grasped his hand. “Mr. Majors, see all those rows. You walk to the ones that the trees as tall as you want and pick one. Then a man comes and cuts it down. Didn’t you ever do that?”

Zach nodded. “The only Christmas trees I ever saw for sale were already cut and standing in a lot. How do they know which one you want?”

Nate cocked his head. “The rows are marked by heights.”

“That tells me nothing.”

“I believe you need an eight to nine footer. That’s the size I want. I’ll point them out.”

The dark-haired woman reached them. “Sorry bit I couldn’t keep the impatient one at home. He locked himself in my car. When I tried to program my GPS he read the directions."

“How did he know?” Janine asked.

Davey’s grin widened. “I looked on the internet and printed the directions. I used my little flashlight to read them.” He waved the paper.

“Clever,” Zach said.

Nate groaned. “My fault, I showed him the site.” He turned to his son. “While I admire your cleverness I think there’ll be no computer tomorrow.”

Davey nodded. “That’s fair.” He clasped his father’s hand. “Rachel had to come. She needed a tree so she bought one in a pot. When we come home from Disney I’ll keep it until spring. Then we can plant it.”

Janine turned to her friend. “Good thought. She indicated Zach. “Rachel Lange, meet Zach Majors.”

Zach reached for Rachel’s hand. “Good to meet you.” The moment their fingers touched he felt a jolt that made him catch his breath. He studied her. What had just happened? He forced himself to release her hand. He wasn’t ready for an attraction to any woman.

Rachel stepped back. A few snowflakes sprinkled her dark brown hair. “Have fun finding a tree. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

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Sunday, May 16, 2021

A good weed? by J.C. Kavanagh


I look in my gardens and think not. I sigh as I admire the wee flowers poking out of the newly warmed ground (in southern Ontario, the overnight temperatures are only now above zero Celsius). So this past weekend, I dived into the dirt, knees bent and arms outstretched, wishing I could strangle the weeds that are strangling my growing flowers. Aarrgh!

I ask again: is there such a thing as a good weed?

Redroot Pigweed.
Famous (?) for devastating grain crops because they produce between 10,000 and 30,000 seeds per plant. And if that isn't bad enough for your home garden,
 the seeds can lie dormant for up to 40 years.  

Yes, you know what these are.

Garlic Mustard.
Nasty rotten no-good weed.
The roots are thought to produce a toxin that contaminates the soil for adjacent flowers. 

The weeds in my garden are not good (see above). They spread like wildfire and their roots are similar to the highway system of a huge metropolis. The nerve of them to grow in my garden. I can't identify some of the weeds when they're tiny so I let them grow for a day or two and then, dang! Suddenly they're a foot tall and spreading their strangling roots. The very nerve.

And then I look at my lawn. There are yellow weeds everywhere - you know them... dandelions. Who thought of that name? They aren't dandy at all and they have no resemblance to lions. If they weren't so vivid in colour and if the bees didn't love them so much, I would have my way with them and they'd be 'dandydead.'

In my flower gardens, I tried to outsmart the weeds. I added a layer of mulch. 

The weeds laughed.

I tried adding a thicker layer of wood chips. 

The weeds laughed harder and my perennials cried for sunlight.

There's no way around it. I have to weed out the weeds. 

Weeds are like bullies. They throw their weight/roots around, striking a nerve whatever they touch. Being a bully comes naturally to Jayden, one of the main characters in The Twisted Climb series. Can she maintain that character trait while her dad encourages her inner kindness? Or will her cruel, alcoholic mother continue leading her down the 'poor-me' path. Check out the award-winning series and you be the judge. Be bully, or be nice?

In the meantime, stay safe everyone.

 

J.C. Kavanagh, author of
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)
Instagram @authorjckavanagh

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Childhood Bullying and what to do about it

 

 


Nearly everyone has been bullied at some point in their lives, especially during their school years. Most have experienced it occasionally and for only a short while. But what if a child is subject to daily bullying, lasting weeks, sometimes months and even years?

The consequences of long-term bullying, for children and teens, can be devastating. Younger children express the daily anxiety as stomach aches, headaches, sleep disturbances, withdrawal and nightmares. For the especially vulnerable, bullying can result in dropping out of school, self-harm, panic attacks, depression, and violent behavior.

At least one in three adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied, while 47% of Canadian parents have reported their child being a victim of bullying. Studies suggest that roughly 6% of students aged 12 to 19 bullying others on a weekly basis while 8% are victims of weekly bullying.

Children get bullied in several ways. The most common is verbal bullying, which include racial slurs, unwanted sexual comments and threatening words. Another is social bullying, which includes mobbing, public humiliation and graffiti. Cyber bullying, the use of the internet, smartphone and other devices to intimidate, harass and spread rumors or explicit images, is a fairly recent phenomenon. Finally, physical bullying, the hitting, poking, stealing possessions and unwanted sexual touching, has been around since time immemorial.

The sex of the victim plays a role in the type of bullying. Girls are more likely to be subjected to cyber and social bullying than boys, while non-cisgender children are three times more likely to be victimized.

What about the bully? In many instances, bullies are also victims—of violence in their homes, dysfunctional family situations and of unhealthy power relationships in their lives. Studies show that 40 percent of bullying boys engage in delinquent behavior as compared to 5 percent of those who don’t. Many grow up to be troubled adults, displaying psychological problems, aggressive tendencies and adult depression. The prevention of bullying in children and youth is an important factor in reducing future possible criminal behavior.

Much can be done to counter this problem. Among the most effective are in-school programs, which provide comprehensive, school-wide models that seek to track, prevent and alter both the environmental factors and the victimization of students. Students can be taught some simple steps to protect themselves, such as walking away, asking for help and staying in groups. Programs, such as BullyingCanada.ca offer free hot-line services and counselling to both students and parents.

 

 Mohan Ashtakala is the author of "The Yoga Zapper," a fantasy, and "Karma Nation," a literary romance. (www.mohanauthor.com) He is published by Books We Love (www.bookswelove.com)

 

 


Friday, May 14, 2021

My Hobby Is People Watching...by Sheila Claydon



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Three very different books with three very different heroines, and written over a period of several years. Why is this interesting? Well I've just read an interesting blog by one of my fellow BWL writers, Roseanne Dowell, where she talks about creating characters. In it she says that characters are all around us from elderly relatives to friends and loved ones, or from just observing people in restaurants, or at the airport, or anywhere else where we can watch the world go by.

It got me thinking about how I create the very different characters that inhabit my books and I realised that each one is made up of a mix of people I have either met or read about. Take Mel in Double Fault for example. Hardworking, determined, prepared to do almost anything to protect her children, she is very much like someone I know. Emotionally, however, she is very different. She has shut herself off from love because she never wants to be hurt again.  I've taken that from an entirely different person. Then there are the opposing characters of her twin children, one ebullient and one much more reserved and shy. I love writing about children because although they all have very different characters, there is a universality about them from cuteness to tantrums that tugs at the heartstrings. 

There is also a universality about all my heroines. Every one of them is feisty and determined, Arabella in Miss Locatelli particularly so as she battles to save her family business. And in Cabin Fever, Ellie faces up to her own work challenge with an obstinacy that borders on the impossible...until she pulls it off of course! 

And then there are the heroes, all of whom have problems and idiosyncrasies of their own, the same as my heroines, because none of them are close to being perfect. After all, who is in real life?

Something else apart from Roseanne's blog has has triggered this introspection about creating characters, however. It's what has been happening in my own life in the past few weeks. I live right opposite a nature reserve. It's an idyllic spot comprising miles of woodland, sand dunes and wild beach. For much of the year it is relatively quiet and much enjoyed by local residents. Unfortunately, thanks to social media and TV,  it has now been discovered by the wider world.  I use the word unfortunately, not because local residents don't want to share our lovely beach and countryside, but because the nature reserve and the village don't have the necessary infrastructure to cope. There isn't enough parking. Toilet facilities are minimal. The routes down to the beach are almost inaccessible for families with small children in strollers as it's a long haul up and over the sand dunes carrying picnics and blankets. When someone has travelled 2 hours in a car for a day out, however, such difficulties are not going to deter them. Consequently, on a sunny day there are cars everywhere. They are parked across resident's private driveways, on grass verges and pavements, on corners, and across double yellow lines and, worst of all, when these very frustrated tourists drive around in search of that elusive/non-existent parking space they cause such terrible traffic congestion on narrow roads that residents are confined to their homes, unable to get out. In recent months an elderly woman was knocked down, an emergency vehicle was unable to reach a house where a man had had a heart attack, and nurses and carers haven't been able to get to their elderly and/or chronically ill patients. 

So how does all of this feed into the characterisation of the people who inhabit my books. Well for a start I have a front seat view of how people behave in what is often very stressful situation, and how they resolve their individual problems. This includes the reaction of residents as well as the day trippers. And now, because the whole situation is becoming untenable, a group of householders have come together to petition both the local council and the organisation that runs the nature reserve. We are asking for better traffic controls in residential areas and more parking and toilet facilities much closer to the beach. To do this we have had to knock on doors to invite people to sign our petition, and although I can't speak for my fellow petitioners, what fun it has been for a writer. 

At last I've had a legitimate reason to ring doorbells and engage strangers in conversation, and the old adage is perfectly true, everyone does have a story and it takes very little encouragement to get them to share it. Being interested is enough. I have learned about family histories, the successes or otherwise of children, details of local business people, ditto local villains (that surprised me!) plus, most fascinatingly, the hidden history of the village where I have lived for so long. How, for example, many years ago, the field opposite my house used to flood sufficiently in the winter for the locals to ice-skate on it. Now it doesn't flood at all. Is that a small window into local climate change? Also how, in the summer, the same field used to host the village fair, an event that has now moved much closer to the village centre. 

I've also been able to peep into houses, either from the doorstep or through a window as I approached the door, and seen how very differently people live. There are the pristine, beautifully curated homes with floral displays and shining floors. There are the homes bursting with children where trainers and boots are scattered across the porch and toys litter the hall. There are dogs of every shape and size, and everyone of them aware that, as a dog owner, I probably have dog treats in my pocket. Then there are the very elderly who, because of the exigencies of Coronavirus, rarely have visitors. These were some of the most interesting because their memories of local events go back a long, long way. And in almost every case  they were pragmatic about their situation and determined to make the best of it. So all in all my experience of watching and engaging with people has been very interesting indeed. I now have plenty of material for many more books. All I need is the time to write them!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

New Series, New Book!

 



I'm delighted to be presenting a new YA series this month...the Linda Tassel Mysteries. Linda is a daughter of the Eastern Cherokee nation in Georgia. In Death at Little Mound she is discovering about the ancient people of her homeland through her work on an archeology dig. Into her life comes Tad Gist, a recent transplant from Buffalo New York. Just in time to help her solve a murder.

my first Nancy Drew mystery...The Secret in the Old Clock!


I enjoyed writing about Linda from Tad's point of view. I set the stories in the 1990s, when my children were teens.  What fun to revisit that time of their lives. When I was a teen, I loved reading Nancy Drew mysteries, but was frustrated that Nancy stayed a perpetual sixteen through all her adventures. I plan to follow Linda and Tad through their teen age years and deepening romance.

I hope you or a young reader you know will join them!

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Monet's Cataracts - and mine

 

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Last summer I noticed a cloudiness in my left eye. I suspected it was due to cataracts, which run on both sides of my family. My husband had them a few years ago, with similar symptoms. When my eye doctor confirmed the problem in both eyes, she remarked that she likes referring severely near-sighted people for cataract surgery. In most cases, the treatment significantly improves their vision and they'll need thinner eyeglasses, and sometimes, none at all.

Cataracts are one thing that make me glad I don't live in the past. My relatives who had the surgery in the 1970s were hospitalized for a week, and afterward they had to wear Coke-bottle-bottom eyeglasses. My grandmother was an early recipient of lens implants in the 1980s. They worked well for her after her month of bed rest. Today, recovery is quick--minor restrictions like no swimming for a week.           

After cataract surgery, I'll be able to snorkel without prescription goggles. 

I used to think cataract surgery was a 20th century invention and people who lived earlier simply went blind. But it goes back to the fifth century BC. The treatment then involved striking the eye with a blunt object, dislodging the eye fluid and restoring limited vision. Centuries later the surgery evolved to inserting a needle into the eye and extracting the cataract. The basic method hasn't changed a lot since then, according to my cataract information sheet. Today's treatment involves inserting a fine probe into the eye, removing the cataract and then injecting a lens implant. 


The year after my husband's cataract surgery, we took a holiday in northern France. On the way to Paris, we stopped at Giverny, the former home of impressionist painter, Claude Monet. We were intrigued to learn that Monet had cataracts for almost twenty years before they were treated with surgery. We wondered if this explained the muted and blurred shades in many of his impressionistic paintings. 


Monet's failing vision led him to use larger brushstrokes. He saw some colours differently with cataracts. Fog increasingly shrouded his view of everything. Post-surgery he destroyed or redid some of the paintings he created when he saw his world through cataracts. 

Water Lilies by Claude Monet, painted in 1920, three years before his cataract surgery, hangs in The National Gallery, London  

Due to my high astigmatism, my eye surgeon recommended I upgrade to a lens that corrects this problem. I further upgraded to a multifocal lens that can handle distance, intermediate (computer) and reading vision.  The standard lens sets vision to only one level, making glasses necessary for most people. 

It's now two weeks after surgery on my second eye and my vision isn't perfect. My right eye is 20/20 for distance. The left is worse, but much better for reading. The left also sees halos and glare when I watch TV. The eye technician says these should diminish in time and I can expect my eyes to take 4-6 weeks to settle. I see well for most activities, which is a huge change after wearing glasses since I was ten years old. I'm still getting used to my naked face and find myself trying to remove or put on imaginary glasses. I wear sunglasses on windy days so grit doesn't blow into my eyes. But it feels great, if a little strange, to wake up every morning and see the world clearly. 

     Monet's garden, Giverny, France

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Where's the Fun? by Karla Stover

 



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Every time I get a list of new books coming out, I look for something humorous. Today's fiction included something going on in a corrupt California town, federal agents being killed, a poem from
 Biden's 
inauguration, a dust storm and murder in a marsh. Non-fiction had portraits of immigrants, a woman who lost her mother to cancer, Matthew McConaughey's diaries, the state of the Republican party and caste systems. We live in the best, most generous country in the world and seem to love to wallow in misery. 

I just learned, today, that Patrick McManus died. McManus was a Pacific northwest native who wrote humor columns for hunting and fishing magazines, novels featuring a woodsman named Rancid Crabtree and one-man comedy plays. Ordinarily I wouldn't read a book about hunting and fishing but his are just so much fun. 

I really enjoyed the first three Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich but the author is up to number 26 and the same things happen in each book. However, I just read that in November 2019, when Twisted Twenty-Six came out, it opened at number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list of combined print and eBooks. You can't argue with the success of her books but you don't have to read them, either.

I really liked Jay Len's autobiography, Leading With my Chin and Tim Conway's What's So Funny: My Hilarious Life but not a lot of others memoirs by comedians.

When the pandemic first hit and Washington State was shutdown, I started buying used books off the internet. And what I bought were published ages back, some of which were made into movies, and all of them non-fiction. Our Hearts Were Young and Gay published in 1942, spent five weeks in 1943 on the New York Times non-fiction best sellers list. It was made into a movie, a play, and was used as a codebook in World War II by German intelligence. Sometimes The Egg and I is referred to as fiction and at other times as non-fiction. It came out in 1945 and quickly hit the best sellers list. It's fallen into some into disrepute because the author didn't care for her native American neighbors and poked fun at them and some of her other neighbors. The Bishop family (Ma and Pa Kettle in the book) and a few others sued her but lost. The movie was only so-so. Cheaper by the Dozen was published in 1948 and in 1950 won the French International Humor Award. It was also made into a not-so-good movie. Hollywood seems to think it can do a better job than the authors did. Although, having said that, the movie ending of The Silence of the Lambs was much better than the book's ending.

Recently, I looked up funny books from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. I liked Cold Comfort Farm but not the Jeeves books by P.G. Wodehouse (1930s). I never read Pippi Longstocking (1940s) but I remember the Gilmore girls loved it. I think I saw the movie, Please Don 't Eat the Daisies but have no memory of the book (1950s). However, Barbara Pym's book Excellent Women (1950s) is described as "rich and amusing." So, maybe it's worth a try. 

For those who remember them, Jean Shepherd, Peg Bracken and Erma Bombeck were well received in the 1960s. However, if I had to recommend a more contemporary book that is a joy  to read, it would be The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, no cannibals, no sex just a funny memoir. And, since few of us are flying these days, arm chair travel may be the next best thing. Maybe I'm a snob but I  just don't care about a "Grammy winner recounting difficulties in her formative years," or one person's "journey listening to her inner self,"  or a collection of "essays on anxiety, loneliness and productivity."

Please tell me if you read these books and why you enjoyed them.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Making Bread

 

Her Scottsh Legacy | Universal Book Links Help You Find Books at Your Favorite Store! (books2read.com)

            I recently binge watched a series, as many of us have probably done during this pandemic. It was a historical drama and at least once in every episode, the female characters were in the kitchen kneading dough. Given the time period – 1750 – it was certainly a normal enough occurrence, at least for the more common folk. The wealthy, of course, would have cooks and kitchen maids making their daily bread or in some cases would order it from commercial bakers.

            Unknowingly, I used this same daily activity in my latest historic romance – “Her Scottish Legacy”. As I wrote, I found my characters quite often in the kitchen where the housekeeper seemed to spend her days making bread. When the heroine asked about it, the woman replied – “Have you seen the two giants I’m cooking for?” – referring to the housekeeper’s husband and the hero, both of whom were large, hard working men. The thing is, some action needs to be occurring while a conversation is being held that moves the story forward. In addition, having information about foods, and/or the method of preparing them, in a novel gives readers insight into the daily life of whatever time period the story is set.

            For example, in the medieval period baking was a luxury few were able to enjoy. Ovens were not a standard fixture in any household, so bread-baking never really entered the home in the medieval period. It was a commercial activity, such as bread-bakers in London. But those who could afford a wood-burning stove (and to heat it) would start with bread. The better the quality, the higher up the social order you were. Rich people ate fine, floured wheat bread. But if you were poor you might have only rye or black bread. Only the very wealthy ate the cakes we tend to think of today.

        It’s fun to add texture to your stories with bread-specifics of the time. In my story, the Scottish bannock is a flat, round bread, larger than the scones and not to be confused with the medieval trencher. In medieval times, people used thick bread rounds as plates, called trenchers, with meat and sauce heaped on top. Then we have the French baguette, developed in the 18th century; the pretzel by European monks in the 6th century and the bagel by Ashkenazi Jews in Poland in 1400. And of course you’ve heard the story of the “invention” of the sandwich by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich in the 18th century.

        Another surprising fact is that yeast breads have been around since 1350BC, possibly first created by the Egyptians who used yeast in making beer. It is not clear as to which came first – beer or bread.

        I love baking bread. Punching and kneading dough has always been a great stress relief. It’s unfortunate that in the last few generations the art of bread making has been lost. It is so much more convenient to purchase and of course much less time consuming. I believe a “benefit” of the pandemic is that bread making has made a comeback although at the beginning of 2020, yeast and flour were difficult to find.

        Would you like to try your hand at bread making? Here’s one of my favorite recipes for delicious coarse-textured bread your family will love.


Bulgur Honey Bread

1 cup bulgur wheat (dry)

3 cups boiling water

½ cup honey

2 Tbsp oil

1 Tbsp salt

2 packages dry yeast

½ cup warm water

6 ½ to 7 cups flour

            Combine bulgur, boiling water, honey, oil and salt in a large bowl. Cool to lukewarm. Add yeast to ½ cup warm water and stir to dissolve. Add to cooled bulgur mixture. Blend in flour in 3 parts, beating after each addition until dough leaves side of bowl. Turn onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic and doesn’t stick when pinched with fingers. Put in a greased bowl and let rise until double (about 2 hours). Punch down, divide in half and shape in loaves. Put in two loaf pans, cover and let rise until double. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Brush with butter.

While you’re waiting for your dough to rise, download and enjoy “Her Scottish Legacy” at Her Scottish Legacy | Universal Book Links Help You Find Books at Your Favorite Store! (books2read.com)

Barb Baldwin, who often judges the quality of a restaurant on whether they serve fresh, home made bread and biscuits or brown-and-serve.

http://www.authorsden.com/barbarajbaldwin

https://bookswelove.net/baldwin-barbara/

 


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Marketing, thy name is Satan!

 

Vanessa C. Hawkins Author Page

If you look up the word Marketing in the dictionary you may come across something like this...

MARKETING verb 1. ♦ frustration, vexation, agitation; Marketing is the biggest pain in the ass and writing a book is a thousand times easier and why!? Why did I ever think I could market my book? God help me, please! PLEASE! 2. ♦ the Devil; Marketing is the Devil.

Just in case you failed to understand the definition, here is a visual. 


While it's true that many writers are humble scribes furiously scribbling their fancies on paper, when it comes to becoming a... duh duh duh! author, most of us don't know shite about putting ourselves out  
there. In fact, once we get over the initial excitement of being offered a contract by a publisher, many of us succumb to the crushing weight of what will happen once our book is out amongst the public. What do I do? Book launch? I have to read IN FRONT of people?

Well yes. You should. But Especially during Covid times it is not always easy. 

Social Media, book store signings, readings, writing press releases, online virtual author meet and greets, and book tours are all great, right? BUT... they also lean towards the boisterous signs of an extrovert. 

Now I'm not saying that all writers are introverted creep-a-zoids who stay isolated in their rooms for hours on end writing about characters they've thought up in their heads to put them in silly, cruel and oftentimes weird situations but... I also don't know how to finish that sentence.

Just because Stephen King resembles a goblin doesn't mean he's weird... right?

But really, no. Not all authors are introverted. Are a lot of them? Yes. Do some bear an uncanny resemblance to goblins? Maybe. But you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover... even though we totally do. I talked about it actually last month.

My point being: marketing is hard. A lot of authors struggle with it. Sure, anyone can put a book up on the internet, but how do you stand out among thousands of other authors trying to survive and eke out a living in an Amazonian wilderness? 

Well... good question! And honestly... I don't really know! If I did, I'd probably be doing something else, like sipping martini's and eating ice cream sundaes made with edible golf leaf and caviar, topped with a unicorn horn or chocolate dragon claws or something.

Mmm... edible dragon horn...  



But despite that, my book A Curious Case of Simon Todd, was featured in a Bookbub recently, and if you don't know what Bookbub is, it's a platform where authors can apply to feature their books on their site for a fee. Now getting a Bookbub deal isn't easy. I applied more times than Bart said Ay Caramba in the first six seasons of The Simpsons. But when I did get a deal, it was a great experience! I sold over 500 books on Amazon alone and made more than my fee cost and had a plethora of people message me requesting signed physical copies!

Now people like Stephen King can sell 500 copies in the time it takes to blow their nose... but for a little guy like me, I was in heaven! 

After that I contacted the newspaper and told them about my success... and though a lot of them didn't care and ignored my emails, others interviewed me and I got in the newspaper! Twice! Well one isn't running until Tuesday BUT I'M STILL COUNTING IT!

So I guess the trick to marketing is to just keeping trying. The Curious Case of Simon Todd was published in 2018, but I still managed to get some solid sales almost 3 years after it was released! I mean... George R. R. Martin is hated by SO many people now... but that's a recent thing! His first book was written in 1996! 

Same, George... Same...

So don't give up! Keep on trucking! Great things take time and all that other positive vibe crap that someone says to keep people motivated! You can do the thing... even if the thing is pretty much the devil... 
Did I mention this already? I did? Oh, okay... just checking.

And someday soon, I'm sure YOU TOO can be hated by millions of people for not finishing a series you continue to make thousands of dollars on each and every day! YAY!

I'm only kidding... don't be mad, George. I'm sure you have a good excuse...

... please finish the books, George.  

...Please?

Oh and if you're a reader and not an author... Leave a book review! They're pretty much our bread and butter... Our precious! 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Suspicious Neighbor by J. S. Marlo

 




 Winter before last, on a cold, dark January morning, Jessie's daughter walked into the house to drop off her five-year-old daughter before going to work.

Kate jumped into Jessie's arms. "Why is there a  car parked on the fire hydrant, grandma?"

"What?" Confused, Jessie stared back and forth between her granddaughter and daughter. "What car?"

"I'm surprised you didn't hear anything when it crashed, mom." Her daughter gestured for her to come outside, so Jessie donned a coat over her nightie and a pair of boots.

The fire hydrant had been tossed into a snowbank some six feet away and a black SUV with tainted windows all around and the driver's door open had been abandoned on the corner of Jessie's driveway where the fire hydrant used to stand.  The surreal scene in the twilight woke up Jessie more efficiently than the cup of coffee she hadn't had time to drink yet.

"I'm sure that car wasn't there at five-thirty when your dad left for work, or else he would have called the police." Jessie couldn't see anyone in the SUV, and couldn't smell gas, but she was still reluctant to approach the vehicle. 

Her daughter called nine-nine-one. Within minutes, the police and the fire truck arrived. While the officers and firefighters assessed the situation--no one was dead or injured in the SUV--one of the firefighters gave little Kate a tour of the truck and a stuffed bear. For Kate, it was the start of a wonderful morning, but for her mom and grandma Jessie, that should have been the first clue that something was wrong with the neighbor who rented the house on the right--except the women assumed the driver had abandoned the vehicle because he was either drunk at 6 a.m. and didn't want to get a DUI or had stolen it.

From her house, Jessie couldn't see these neighbors because her double garage blocked her view, but when she went for a walk, she often noticed vehicles parked  for a few minutes in front of the neighbor's house.  Then as the weather got warmer, she noticed the neighbor's big dog in the yard.  Every time she went outside, the dog would jump at the fence and bark and growled. The dog terrified little Kate who stopped wanting to play in Jessie's fenced yard.

Out of the blue, the owner of the house stopped by to talk to Jessie's husband. The woman had received an anonymous call saying something suspicious was going on in the house she rented to the man in his mid forties. "Do you think my renter might be running a prostitution ring?" she asked Jessie's husband. "Are you the one who sent me a message?"

"No, I didn't send any messages," answered Jessie's husband who had never met the owner until that moment, "but now that you mention it, I often see vehicles parked in front of the house , but the drivers always leave their cars running while they go inside, and they never stay more than five minutes, so I doubt that's prostitution, but something else may be going on."

Well, a few weeks later, Jessie decided to clean her shed which stood beside the fence separating her backyard from the suspicious renter's. At one point, she carried some junk out of the shed and froze in the doorway. Two RCMP officers were scouting the edge of her property for 'something'.  They glanced at her, then resumed their search without saying a word. Somewhat rattled by the encounter, Jessie carried the junk into the big garbage can in her driveway, but as soon as she came within view of the street, she froze again.

There were police cars, unmarked cars, and a armored vehicle in the street in front of the house. Her suspicious neighbor's property was swarming with police officers, some in standard uniforms, some in tactical gear, and others in civilian clothes.  They were carrying boxes out of the house, and processing the two vehicles in the driveway.

"Jessie?" The next door neighbor on the other side of Jessie's house, a single mom with four girls, ran toward her. "I was outside with the girls when the armored vehicle stopped in front of the house, followed by all the other vehicles. No sirens, no flashing lights. Officers in tactical gear just bolted out, busted  the door open, and charged in. They arrested two or three people."

The drug bust didn't surprise Jessie, but she was disappointed she had missed all the action. To have seen the RCMP tactical unit in action would have been awesome.

~ * ~

While it might make a nice opening chapter for a novel one day, I can't take any credit for the story because it's not a story--it's my life in a nutshell.

I'm Jessie. I live in a quiet neighborhood, but for many months last year, I lived next to a renter who was sentenced to 10-15yrs in jail--twice--for drug and weapon related offenses, but for some reason, he was released after only a few years both times.  Lots of cash money, drugs, and weapons were found during the raid, and as far as I know, he's still in jail awaiting his next trial.


After the raid, the owner renovated the house. There were bullet holes in the floor, and sewage backup after someone tried to flush the drugs. Half a dozen people were crashing in the house, many of them addicts. Some of them tried breaking into the house even after the owners got rid of everything. Me, I invested in heavy duty deadbolts in case they tried barging in the wrong house--namely mine.


The former drug house had been on sale since Christmas. Three weeks ago, it sold. The next day, one of the addicts who often crashed in the house contacted the owner. She had just come out of rehab,  she was clean, she had turned her life around, and she wanted her stuff. The owner told her that the house was empty, so what did the woman who had allegedly turned her life around did a few hours later? She tried breaking in through the front window in broad daylight...no comments!

Yesterday, the new owners moved in. I haven't met them yet, but hopefully, peace and tranquility will return once more.

As you can see, writers live ordinary lives...or do they?

Happy Reading & Stay Safe

JS


 


 

Friday, May 7, 2021

Being Neighborly by Eileen O'Finlan

 


Many people, myself included, lament the loss of neighborliness. When I was a kid the neighborhood in our little New England town was a community. Everyone knew and looked out for everyone else. Too often today even next door neighbors barely know each other. We blame this on many things - people being too busy with work, the fact that people don't stay in one place for very long, allowing social media to take over out lives - and myriad other culprits. But do we ever consider that this change isn't all that new? The neighborhoods of my youth had nothing on those of early New England.

From colonial times until about the mid-1800s life in New England was extremely interdependent. The English colonists and their descendants got through life primarily on an intricate barter system. Goods and services were traded, recorded in account books with a monetary value attributed to each to ensure fairness, and reconciled usually on January 1st, with nary any cash exchanging hands. One family might have more cows than another so could produce more butter, cream, and cheese while the other family had a loom and wove textiles. Trading made sense. A person possessed of certain skills such as coopering, carpentry, or blacksmithing might barter his services for help on his farm (most everyone farmed at that time, especially in rural areas, whether or not they engaged in a trade) or for foods or goods.

If someone needed help completing a task or simply wasn't capable of doing it, another with the necessary skill was always there to step in. Of course, reciprocity was expected if it could be offered. However, widows and those in need or distress were never expected to reciprocate.

At certain times of the year entire neighborhoods got together to assist each other in the urgent work of mowing and storing hay, hard labor that had to be finished quickly. If rain threatened even the women and children old enough to help pitched in. That hay would feed their livestock throughout the winter. Without it their animals, which represented their own survival, would have starved. Men assisted each other in barn and house raisings. Women gathered to make quilts. Young and old alike worked and played together at "frolics" - gatherings where a group completed a labor intensive task such as husking copious ears of corn. Once the work was completed it was time for refreshments, music, dancing, and games, all of which might go on late into the night.

In Tales of New England: The Diaries of Hiram Harwood, Vermont Farmer 1810 - 1837 it is stated that twice a year neighbors gathered to work on the roads, plowing, scraping them clear of rocks, and mounding them in the middle. Work was assessed at $0.75 per day in the spring and $0.50 per day in the fall and all the residents were expected to participate to work off the tax rate assessed by the town.

Visitors were welcomed at any time. The norms of hospitality demanded that food and drink be offered to anyone who happened by at a meal time, shelter for anyone caught in a storm or after dark, and a place to sleep for a weary traveler. This went for strangers as well as family, friends, and neighbors.

When someone fell ill neighbors helped out with nursing and picking up the work of the sick person. A dying family member was never left alone. Family, friends, and neighbors stayed with that person right to the end. As it was customary for someone to stay awake all night with the body after a person had died, these same family members, neighbors, and friends spelled each other in this melancholy task until the burial.

Such profound interdependence must have made for some interesting social dynamics. People who had to rely upon each other for survival undoubtedly had to work hard at maintaining good relationships with one another. Yet, it might also be said that the tightly woven web of interdependent life into which everyone was born helped to make creating and sustaining healthy interpersonal relations the norm. Being that they were all human, there were undoubtedly tensions, anger, hurts, and upsets, but these must have been dealt with and mended as a matter of course much of the time.

By the mid-19th century these powerful bonds began to erode with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. More and more items that had once been made exclusively in the home began to be mass produced in factories. Single, young women began leaving their family farms to take jobs in the mills.  Young men or whole families migrated west to begin new homesteads and seek their fortunes. The market economy grew. Despite some setbacks along the way, the Industrial Revolution rolled on, forever changing the landscape and the relationships of New England.




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