Thursday, July 7, 2022

The Muse of Nature by Eileen O'Finlan



I recently spent a day at the New England Botanic Garden at Tower Hill in Boylston, Massachusetts. I used to have a membership there, but let it lapse during the COVID shut down. I figured I wouldn't be able to go anyway, so there was no sense in paying for something I couldn't use. But a few weeks ago my sister and her friend came to visit from Florida and wanted to go. My niece joined us and the four of us spent a lovely day wandering the gardens and woodland paths.

As I guided them out to the Belvedere, I remembered days that I had spent sitting alone in that Grecian-style structure. Those were days when I'd spend hours writing in my notebook, every so often looking out at the woods, the land below gently falling away, Mount Wachusett rising in the distance above the ribbon of blue that is the Wachusett Reservoir. It seemed that whenever my writing steam began to fade all I had to do was drink in the view for a moment and something would come to mind. Nature has that influence on me. It feeds my soul and my imagination.

As I stood with the others looking out at the view, my hands suddenly itched for a notebook and solitude. 

I think it's time to renew my membership.

View from the Belvedere 

Wildlife Refuge Pond at Tower Hill - Another inspiring location

Wednesday, July 6, 2022




Jay Lang



An Excerpt 

Pulling over to the side of the road, I turn off the engine and grab my phone from the seat. With my heart racing as fast as my mind, I quickly redial her. The automated message comes on immediately.

I feel the panic rising. I place the phone in the cubby and look at my watch. It’s 10:45pm. The last ferry leaves in fifteen minutes. I’m too far away from the terminal, but I’ve got to try. 

Tall trees reach high up to the small strip of night sky. My foot is heavy on the pedal, the truck fighting to stay on the winding road.


Chapter Two


The soft chatter of people I barely know reduces to white noise as I make my way in the direction of the red mahogany casket. I take a seat at the front, next to Mom, and I put a hand on hers. Denny is sitting on her other side, concentrating on his phone. He briefly looks up at me, showing his indifference, and then resumes texting.

“You look nice, Ma.”

She forces a grin while keeping her eyes forward. She’s pale and looks lost. Her cream skirt and matching blazer hang loosely from her body. The last two weeks in hospital have taken a toll on her already spindly frame. Besides the bandage on her forehead, the only other reminder of what happened is a small black brace on her right knee.

A lady wearing a flowered dress and a cardigan walks across the stage and sits at the organ.

When she starts to play, the chatter in the room dissipates. Mrs. Rumble, who is sitting on the bench behind us, taps my shoulder and offers her condolences.

The next hour of the pastor’s sermon is painful, not because I feel sad, but because of the guilt I have for not feeling anything at all. My father was a son of a bitch and I was his greatest regret. As I was a child full of promise in the beginning, he would bounce me on his knee and help me with my homework. In his mind, I would be a doctor or a lawyer, not a salmon hatchery worker and definitely not a lesbian. Hence my banishment at twenty-two to our summer cottage on Gabriola—far away from the West Vancouver palace I grew up in, and far away from his disappointed eyes.

When the service ends, the pastor and Denny walk down the aisle to the exit then wait to thank people for coming. What a crock of shit. Most of these people hated my father. The only respect they had for him was fear-based. He was a shrewd businessman and if you weren’t for him, you were against him. Undoubtedly, there are a few people in this room that were on the wrong end of his wrath.


Monday, July 4, 2022

Memories of the 4th of July by S. L. Carlson

I am S. L. Carlson, a proud and grateful BWL Publishing Inc. author. My books can be viewed and purchased by visiting

Memories of the 4
th of July by S. L. Carlson

I realize Books We Love is a Canadian Press. Realize, too, that I am an American. Hence, 4th of July memories on this blog post day of the 4th of July.


My dad loved the 4th of July. Actually, he loved being able to buy and set off the illegal M-80’s. Loud-loud bangs. I grew up with Dad exploding those as near to us as he dared. When I was engaged, Jeff and I went to my parents’ home over the 4th of July. Dad threw an M-80 near my bare feet. I was used to Dad doing that, but it was always unexpected. As it went off, Jeff pulled me to behind him, protecting me. (My hero.) Dad was so impressed with Jeff’s quick action, that he didn’t set off another firework that entire weekend.


Jeff and I lived for ten years in Buffalo, New York. Our house was a fifteen-minute drive to one of the bridges going over the Niagara River. Our summer vacations, when our boys were small, were spent at our favorite Provincial Park: Algonquin. Canada is dear to my heart. And we still have dear friends residing there.


Living so very close to Canada, and with Canada Day being on the 1st of July, the entire area celebrated a weeklong Friendship Festival. Events. Reenactments. Food. Parades. Parties. And, of course, fireworks every night throughout many locations on both sides of the river.

[picture many fireworks shots here]

One year, we watched fireworks from about a mile away from a third-floor gym. After about twenty minutes, the fireworks ended. We waited, then we finally went to bed. In the morning, we read in the newspaper (pre-internet), that one of the holders for the fireworks fell over. The lit projectile miraculously passed through a crowd of hundreds watching, crossed the road, and burst through the first doors of a hospital, exploding in that enclosed area. No one was hit or hurt!


My one and only trip to England was over the 4th of July. While there, Jeff and I kept rather hush-hush about our nationality, because many Americans can be rather obnoxious travellers. Something we actually witnessed. Needless to say, there were no fireworks, but some brilliant memories.


We also lived in the Black Hills of South Dakota for nearly ten years. That is a strikingly beautiful, but semi-arid land, and so for several years no fireworks were permitted because of wildfire danger. (It only takes a spark!) One year, a friend was visiting, so we decided to bite the bullet, fight the crowds, and go hours early out to Mount Rushmore to watch fireworks set off over the four presidents. Although we were there four hours early, we still had to park more than a mile away on a 2-lane hill near Keystone. Walk-walk-walk. No place in Amphitheatre left to sit. Found some free ground, quickly surrounded by others. Plopped down. Wait-wait-wait. Fog rolls in. FOG? The Hills are never foggy! There were times we could not even see the lit-up granite faces. Fireworks delayed an hour. Then another thirty minutes. Then, about 11 PM, cancelled. Walk-walk-yawn-walk downhill back to the van. Some kind driver finally allowed us pull out. The following night it was clear, but we didn’t feel like going back up for another long-long wait. We made designs with sparklers in our backyard.

Then we lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, for about ten years. The 4th of July weekend was called Field of Flight, with air shows and hot air balloon races. The non-commercial airport was about a mile from our house, so we had the privilege of watching/hearing the US Thunderbirds or Blue Angels or the Canadian force Snowbirds practicing and performing over our house. What a thrill raced down me at each of their passes.

There were also hot air balloons each morning and evening, depending on weather and wind. It was so cool to hear the “fffffft” of fire air going into balloons right over our roof. I’d rush outside to wave and give a shout out to the pilots.

Oftentimes, it was neighborhood dogs who set off the alarm of the hot air balloons approaching. Of course, the end of the festival concluded with fireworks.

In one of my unicorn books, I included fireworks through the POV of my main character who had never seen them before. Can you imagine? I hope you can. If not, read about it in a BWL book.


Happy celebrating, however you do. Build those memories.



S. L. Carlson Blog & Website:

BWL Inc. Publisher Author Page:


Sunday, July 3, 2022

Where Did That Idea Come From? by Diane Bator


I've been doing a lot of promotional things for The Conned Lady which came out in March and was asked the same question a few times. "Where did the idea come from for your book?"

To be honest, I'd never really thought about it. The human mind works in mysterious ways and ideas just seem to pop in from nowhere. We could talk about synapses firing which conncect thoughts and images, or how we're influenced by outside sources. I prefer to think of creative ideas as a blend of the two.

In the case of my Wild Blue Mystery series, the entire series began when I moved to a new town in Ontario across the country from where I grew up in Alberta. The entire series was formed from daily walks around town where I imagined scenes in local coffee shops, the indie bookstore, and a yard I walked past all the time. It started with the thought, "What if I was on the run and hiding from someone?"

It was a great way to learn more about the town I'd moved to as well as to keep my mind busy and meet other people. Once I joined a local writing group, I learned to write from prompts and added bits and pieces to my work in progress. They would inspire new scenes or even complete scenes I was working on. 

Writing prompts are great ways to coax ideas onto paper or computer. Here are a few samples of ones we used:
  • This time her boss had gone too far.
  • Red eyes.
  • Stars blazed in the night sky.
  • He woke to birdsong.
  • ‘Shh! Hear that?’ ‘I didn’t hear anything.’
  • He’d always hated speaking in public.
  • She woke, shivering, in the dark of the night.
  • The garden was overgrown now.
  • He’d never noticed a door there before.

Great ideas and inspiration can also be nudged by lines in movies or television shows, overheard conversations, indidents in real life, sights while on a walk, the mundane routine of daily life, photographs, family videos, and so on.

In short, inspiration can come from anywhere. As a writer, you just need to be open to the possibilities!

Diane Bator

Saturday, July 2, 2022

BWL Publishing Inc. new releases for July 2022




Click the covers for purchase information



Robie's War:  What good comes from a war? As far as Robie was concerned the answer was – profit.

It is Fall 1942 and the war rages on in Europe and on the North Atlantic. In the early years he had to deal with local criminals trying to profit from the sudden influx of men and materials destined for overseas and German agents. The issue of spies has fallen away as have most of the local players involved in thefts of war goods and materials. However, that is about to change.

It begins with a rash of hijackings outside the city. Robie is brought in to help his friend Inspector Phil Maloney, a RCMP officer on detached service to Naval Intelligence. Together they uncover a major French crime organization is working with a Montreal gang who are behind the thefts. The deeper they dig the more they begin to realize this could be their most perilous case yet.


The Tiger and the Honorable Man: 

A series of murder mysteries set in Ming Dynasty China. The protagonist is Lin Jiang, a gentleman scholar, poet, staunch follower of the precepts of Confucius, and chief magistrate for the city of Xiaolong in Fujian Province. With the able assistance of his manservant, Chen Ping, Lin investigates and solves these mysteries, bringing criminals, both high- and low-born, to justice.


Abruptly roused from his prosaic existence as a small-town magistrate in Ming Dynasty China, Lin Jiang is summoned to the house of Lord Chang Da, an extremely wealthy landowner and cousin of the emperor. To Lin’s consternation, the crime he is asked to investigate is the supposedly deliberate killing of Chang Da’s pet songbird.


Honor-bound to undertake the task, Lin soon discovers there is much more at stake in the great family of Chang. With the help of his trusty manservant Chen Ping, who himself has a dark connection to the House of Chang, Lin sets about discovering the truth. In so doing, he lays bare a tangled story of illicit love, jealousy, fraternal rivalry, and violent death.


Murder and Macchiatos:

Peyton Ashford is a law professor, her husband Cooper is the city District Attorney, and they have just turned an ancient barn, inherited from Peyton's grandmother, into Dauphin's Cove only coffeehouse, the Books and Brews Bistro. It is a very inviting place to have a delicious coffee drink and browse the many books at the back of the Bistro. While converting the huge upstairs of the barn into a beautiful living space for Peyton and Cooper, workers uncover a body behind the barn.


The body belongs to Peyton's great-uncle, whom she has not seen since childhood. The Sheriff declines to investigate so Peyton enlists the help of her two best friends, Willow and Kylie, to help her solve the murder. Strangely, this murder happened in the exact same way as the murder of her great-great grandfather, over 100 years ago. Along the way, a teenage girl mysteriously disappears and her parents refuse police help in finding her, but Peyton is determined to do so. A mysterious explosion destroys the teen's home, and searchers find the body of her brother...not killed in the explosion but murdered.


A competitive law professor and a Federal Drug agent become involved, determined to prevent Peyton from solving these crimes, especially that of her great-uncle. Fake art reproductions, hundreds of thousands of dollars fraudulently acquired, a stolen antique scrimshaw, a deadly lab, and the interference of a strange woman all add to Peyton's problems in trying to solve the worst and most unusual crimes the small town of Dauphin's Cove had ever seen.


Fatal Business:

When Roger Bartlett doesn’t return from his deer stand at sunset, his friends go looking for him. Failing to find him overnight, a broader search starts the next morning, led by the Pine County Sheriff’s Department.  Sgt. C.J. Jensen discovers footprints leading to a remote summer cabin. Inside, she finds Bartlett, dead from a gunshot wound.

The investigation quickly focuses on Barlett’s tire recapping business in the tiny town of Askov. The workers, all parolees from the nearby Federal Prison, are wary of the interviewing deputies, and are less than forthcoming. Roger’s widow seems upset, but she is the biggest beneficiary of Bartlett’s death, so a prime suspect. His partner was in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting, but his past criminal record is suspicious. As Sgt. C.J. Jensen and Investigator Pam Conrad dig, they develop a long list of suspects, all with alibis for the time of the shooting. Consulting with recently retired Sgt. Floyd Swenson, Pam and C.J. sift through layers of lies and misdirection until they uncover the motive and confront the killer.




Friday, July 1, 2022

Happy Canada Day from BWL Publishing Inc.


According to Wikipedia  Canada Day is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of Canadian Confederation which occurred on July 1, 1867, with the passing of the British North America Act, 1867 where the three separate colonies of the United Canadas, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick were united into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.[1][2] Originally called Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la ConfΓ©dΓ©ration), the holiday was renamed in 1982 when the Canadian Constitution was patriated by the Canada Act 1982.[3] Canada Day celebrations take place throughout the country, as well as in various locations around the world attended by Canadians living abroad.[4]


BWL Publishing Inc's Canadian Historical Brides Collection

For details and purchase information visit



A pictorial journey around Canada

 * * * * *

Canada's Maritimes

Lunenberg, Nova Scotia

Canada's East Coast

Toronto, Ontario Skyline

Canada's Prairie Provinces

Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump Alberta
Canada's West Coast

Panorama Vancouver British Columbia

Canada's North

 Northern Lights over Downtown Whitehorse Yukon


Thursday, June 30, 2022

Bewitching Felines by Eden Monroe


Ahhh, bewitching felines…. I lost my heart to them many years ago.

Our first cat at home was named Tiny, because she was, well … tiny, and I loved her completely with a child’s trust that she would live forever. But of course she didn’t, and I can still feel that horrible wrenching grief when she met an untimely end. I was the one who found her and it was my first experience with that kind of loss.

There have been several others who have soft-footed their way through my days, both real and imagined. Like the very spicy Cinnamon in Almost Broken:

“The telephone stopped ringing, finally, and as she stood there willing herself to relax, a dark orange ball of fluff strutted proprietorially into the hallway, stopping for a moment to massage the beige tufted hall runner with extended claws. It created a rhythmic picking sound that would only be appreciated for its usefulness by another feline, and never by an antique wool rug.

‘Cinnamon, you stop that,’ Viola scolded the cat gently, having recovered herself. ‘You’re going to damage my runner. I’ll put you in the back room and leave you there if you keep it up, my dear.’

The cat ceased its mistreatment of the hall runner as requested, regarding her mistress with wide olive green eyes that said she knew Viola would do no such thing….”

It’s been said that animals sense when people are good, or maybe they simply respond to whatever good there is in a person. Viola Callaghan in Almost Broken was not a nice person by anyone’s description, but she loved her cat. It seems that was one of her few redeeming features:

“Cinnamon yowled impatiently again, clearly not pleased that Odell was in the house. The cat tolerated him at best, hissing if he took liberties such as trying to pet her long thick fur, tickling her behind her ears or trying to get her to play with her yarn toy, dangling it annoyingly in her face. That was last week, and she’d ignored it with a sour look, stomping away in disdain. He got on her wrong side just by being here because she was fiercely protective of Viola, and Odell had felt the sting of her claws often enough to verify that.

‘I’ve got to feed the cat,’ Viola explained when the yowling shot up a notch. ‘She’s on a schedule and I have to keep to it because she’s diabetic.’

‘I thought it was her thyroid.’

‘It is, and during her last check-up they discovered diabetes, so….’

‘Well, she’s old, but she couldn’t ask to be any better cared for. You are devoted to that cat.’

Viola stooped and picked up the cat, Cinnamon settling into her arms and immediately beginning to purr loudly. ‘She’s the only one I have in this world who loves me unconditionally, so why wouldn’t I be devoted to her?’’”

The most recent feline star of my life was Daisy, for fifteen years anyway, and she was actually part of every BWL book in the about the author section. She was amazing, thirteen pounds of feisty devotion.

I remember the day Daisy came into my life, a spirited, orphaned, barn kitten. She made her debut the day after the exterior boards on the barn had been oiled. That’s when we saw this little cream coloured kitten march out of a horse stall early one spring morning. She was maybe four or five weeks old at best, with a jet black nose, matching ears, tail (white tip) and paws (except for one cream-coloured toe), and our first thought was oh no, she must have gotten into some barn oil residue. But how was that even possible? Any unused product had been safely stored away when the job was done, but however it happened, she would have to be cleaned immediately.

On closer inspection we saw that it was not oil at all, those were her natural markings! So … how on earth did a Himalayan kitten get in the barn where that spring’s crop of feline babies were either orange, grey, white, black or an interesting combination thereof? Only Daisy had Himalayan markings; the typical flat face, pretty blue eyes, and a bit of orange on her forehead, obviously in salute to a ginger tabby mother who was apparently now missing. And where had the kitten been all this time? It seems her mother had gotten into a small opening in front of one of the horse stalls and had her baby in there.

We placed Daisy with another mother cat and her kittens in the haymow, and she was quickly accepted, the latest addition soon nursing contentedly.

The mystery of Daisy was solved the very next day at the local convenience store when I saw a lost pet poster for Gabriel, a beautiful Himalayan tomcat. So we knew where at least one of his stops had been while he was on the lam.

At about eight weeks Daisy made the journey from the barn to the house in a pet carrier, and to ease that transition we brought along another kitten, Irene, whom Daisy had become attached to.

And so continued Daisy’s life on the farm, still as feisty as ever, with one feline fiasco after another. Such as leaping unexpectedly onto the bannister at the top of the stairs. When she reached the bottom she flew through the air and landed with a thud. Another vet visit, but there were no injuries and in a couple of days she was raring to go again

When she and Irene were spayed, we had to keep them both quiet for a few days. Once home I opened the door to the pet carrier and Daisy shot out like a cannonball, leapt into the air and flipped over onto her back. The vet said I should bring her in right away to be checked, and Irene watched from her little bed as we loaded Daisy into the carrier once again. Thankfully though, Daisy’s stitches had held.

She was sassy and irreverent by times and doled out affection strictly on her terms. If you violated that trust with an impromptu hug or tickle you were soon to know it wouldn’t be tolerated. Still, she was loving and loyal and enjoyed keeping me company when I wrote. She was my muse.

Daisy left us in June of 2021, her health slowly going downhill during the two years prior to her death. Her vet had warned me that her breed would likely only live to the age of fifteen or sixteen, and with the aid of regular meds she made it just two months beyond her fifteenth birthday. And then things took a dramatic turn and sadly it was the end of the road. We miss her terribly; I still expect to see her around every corner, even after all this time. I couldn’t even write about her until now because it was just too difficult; the painful goodbye still too fresh. But I want to remember her in a significant way, and so this is for her

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Writing During Vampire Hours -- Secrets Writers Keep By Connie Vines #Writing Tips, #NightOwls, #Cowboys, #Western Romance, #Fantasy


Vampire Hours?

According to the Urban Dictionary:

When someone keeps vampire hours, they are awake all night and sleep all day. They are unreachable by phone, text, or social media during daylight hours when the rest of their friends are up.

While I do not sleep all day...  

"I don't 'rise' from my bed at sunrise, either.  πŸ˜Ž. 

🌞 vs. πŸ§›

The conventional wisdom is that morning people are high achievers and go-getters, while late risers are lazy. But what if going to bed in the wee hours is actually an advantage?

πŸ•―  On the school site before 7:00 a.m. was my day job (my-oh-my was that torture.) until I recently retired.

The Wonder Years

Staggering into the kitchen, adjusting the curtains so that I was not blinded by the sunrise. And wondering how I was going to get through the day on 4 or maybe 5 hours of sleep.

Wondering: Would I wake up if I spent my lunch break in the car and fell asleep?  

Wondering why I could only write at night? Life would be simpler if I could write during my lunchtime. Le Sigh.


While I don't broadcast to the world, I write until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning; nothing goes unnoticed when you live in the burbs. πŸ˜Ž 

Everyone is up at sunrise going to work or working in his/her front yard. 

I wear sunglasses at 10 a.m. when I check the mail. No one 'sees me' until an hour or two before sunset when I sit on my front patio with a cup of coffee. 

They all seem to go to bed (all lights out between 8:00 and 9:00 p.m.) not long after sunset.

My sweet neighbor across the street said, "Whenever I get up at night, your lights are still on..."

"I know..." πŸ˜‰

πŸ¦‡ Writing should never be a race to the finish. It should be an extended immersion in a hot tub or a relaxing meditation. Good writers write at night because it's devoid of distraction, there's nothing else left to do in the day, and there's no one else to hurry to.

πŸ¦‡Bursts of inspiration like this at night frequently within the creative community. Writers, artists, and inventors throughout history have all said they've been most inspired during night-time— think of Tennesee Williams. He spent so much of the night writing he would be found asleep in his bed the next morning, still wearing the same clothes as the day before (source: Williams' notebooks). (Connie doesn't do this.)  


Do you have a favorite time you like to read?

Please visit my website/blog. Remember my books are on sale at Smashwords, too.

Happy Reading, everyone.

Connie Vines




Monday, June 27, 2022

Editing a book, like editing a movie – by Vijaya Schartz

Available on amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

I recently watched a documentary on film editing that got me thinking. The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing is a 2004 documentary film directed by filmmaker Wendy Apple. The film is about the art of film editing. Clips are shown from many groundbreaking films with innovative editing styles. It’s available on several streaming services, and you can also find it here:

When I watched this documentary, I couldn’t help making comparisons. To me, it was exactly like editing a book. Action and reaction, how to handle dialogue, what to cut and what to keep, what to enhance and what to gloss over, closeup vs. wide lens, seamless transitions, when to speed up and when to slow down, pace and rhythm, focus, and using all these elements together or one by one, to enhance emotions. 

I’m often told my books are fast paced and read like movies, and maybe that’s the reason. I think like a movie editor. I’m very visual, and in my head, when I write I see the scene on a big screen in full action and color. After all, no matter the medium, writers like film makers are first and foremost storytellers. 

From this documentary, I also learned that film editors in the early stages were women and remained anonymous. Later, when it became clear that editing was an important part of the creative process, more men joined the teams. Only recently did film editors get recognized by the movie industry and received well deserved awards. 

Bad editing can ruin a good movie, and brilliant editing can save a mediocre one. So, it also is in book editing. 

That’s why I like to take time to thoroughly rewrite and edit my books like a movie, cutting, pacing, enhancing, and moving paragraphs around, breaking up descriptions and sprinkling them as dialogue tags, removing the fat, then looking for inconsistencies. Editing a book is not just looking for typos or grammar mistakes, although I hunt for them relentlessly. 

After I’ve done my very best and I like the final result, I send my new baby to my publisher… then I pray they like it, and hope my publisher’s editor will catch what I didn’t. 

I’m currently working on ANGEL SHIP, the first book in a new science fiction fantasy series (BLUE PHANTOM) set in the Azura Universe, and scheduled for release in October. 

In the meantime, you can read the two other series in the Azura Universe: Byzantium and Azura Chronicles. Available on amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Sunday, June 26, 2022

How do you choose your character’s names—Tricia McGill

Find all my books here on my BWL Author page

We writers get asked many questions. Main one being, “Where do you get your ideas from?” Next on the list is, “Don’t you run out of ideas?” Then there’s, “How do you choose the names?”

Of course, we do not have trouble answering these queries as after years of writing the main one comes easily. Our ideas come from our imaginations. We all have one of these, just some use it more than others. Since I was knee high to a grass hopper I have dreamt, and can honestly say still do most nights. Sometimes I awake with the dream still there vividly and at other times it is just a thought that drifts into my sleep and slips out again as swiftly and can barely be recalled next morning.

My latest book is another Australian historical. I love writing about Australia’s vivid past so it seemed practical to begin another. As far as naming my characters goes, I rarely have trouble finding names for my main characters. I already more or less know the characteristics of the person, their age, their personalities, so their names seem to come naturally. As this book is set in 1860 Australia, I can’t give them modern names although of course some names are still as popular now as they were back then. When I take a look through the current popular names for boys I see that Jack, William, Thomas and Henry are still going strong. As far as girls go, Charlotte, Amelia, Grace and Chloe are still popular and will probably always live on. My mother’s name was Annie, so that will always remain one of my favourites and is timeless.

My hero’s name this time is Walter (Walt) as it suits him to a tee, and my heroine is Faith of the title which is, ‘For The Love of Faith’. Good solid old Walt is always there for Faith who deserves his devotion. I seem to have more trouble finding names for my secondary characters as we do not want them to outshine our main people. Often I will name one of the secondary characters and out of the blue decide to change it. Thank heaven for good old ‘find and replace’.

I do have a lot of characters who play a very small part in my stories so to me their names are often just as important. I always keep a running character chart as it wouldn’t be a good idea to start calling somebody Charlie and then on the next page rename him George. My characters are very important to me so must be named carefully. 

Visit my web page for excerpts and more

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Adjectives - avoid or use?


When I was at school (a long time ago!), my English teachers insisted we used lots of adjectives to make our writing more descriptive.  In contrast, writers today are warned against the overuse of adjectives. 

Various reasons are given for this: too many adjectives give your novel a ‘purple prose’ tint, or clutter the text with unnecessary modifiers, or give the impression that the writer cannot quite find the right word.

Mark Twain said: "As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out."

The question is – which adjectives should you strike out?

First there are the redundant adjectives – the tiny kitten (aren’t all kittens tiny?), the large giant (ever seen a small giant?), the narrow alley (an alley IS a narrow passage), the cold snow (if snow wasn’t cold, it would be water!). Omit the adjective if the noun is self-explanatory.

Secondly, there are the adjectives which can be replaced with a much more descriptive word e.g. ‘a downpour flooded the streets’ instead of ‘heavy rain flooded the streets’, or ‘the witch cackled’ instead of ‘the witch gave an evil, sharp laugh’.

There are also some adjectives which have become almost meaningless and should be avoided (except occasionally in dialogue), including wonderful, lovely, gorgeous, stupid, foolish, horrid – and the obvious one, nice.

However, a story without any adjectives could end up as very clinical and dry. As with most things, moderation is the key. We are not advised to avoid adjectives altogether, but to avoid overusing them. Eliminating all adjectives would be as big a mistake as overusing them. Adjectives can clarify meaning and add colour to our writing, and can be used to convey the precise shade of meaning we want to achieve. We should save them for the moments when we really need them and then use them selectively – and sparsely. 

Adjectives should only be used to highlight something the noun can’t highlight. We’ve already seen that the ‘narrow alley’ has a redundant adjective, but what about the ‘dark alley’ or the ‘filthy alley’?  Not all alleys are dark or filthy so in these examples, the adjectives are adding something that is not already shown by the noun. This is the main reason for using an adjective.

And now I'm off to take my own advice and look through my ms. for redundant adjectives!

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Link to my Amazon author page:  

Friday, June 24, 2022

Sayings by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Be Careful What You Wish For is an old saying with an ominous warning to it and Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining is also an old saying but it has an upbeat tone to it. Both of them apply to my story.

Be Careful What You Wish For

For years women who had had breast cancer surgery were told not to use their arms for any strenuous activity for fear of causing lymphedema, a build up of fluid in the arm. Don McKenzie, a Canadian sports medicine specialist at the University of British Columbia, opposed this idea. In 1996, he formed a dragon boat team composed of 24 women with a history of breast cancer in Vancouver, B.C. They called themselves Abreast in a Boat. And they proved that strenuous exercise was good for their arms and for their overall health.

A few years later, they entered in the Vancouver dragon boat festival and I saw them on the television news. I had never heard of dragon boating before and I said to my husband. "That looks like fun. I'd like to try it sometime."

In January of 2001, I was doing a breast self examination and found a small lump. My annual mammogram at the Breast Centre in Edmonton was scheduled for February but I called the centre and told them my news. They booked me an appointment in two days. Although no one said the C word, after the questions, the mammogram, and the ultrasound, I was pretty sure it was cancer. Then I was told that I needed a biopsy and that it could be scheduled for the next week. However, they added "We have an opening in the next hour and we can do it today." I knew for sure it was cancer.

At my pre-op session a woman came in to tell me about a group of women living with cancer or who had had breast cancer that met every month for coffee and to offer support. I asked her if she knew of a breast cancer survivor dragon boat team in the city. She found the contact information for Breast Friends and two weeks after my surgery I joined the team. I wasn't allowed to get in the boat until three months after my last radiation treatment so I didn't get to actually paddle until 2002. Each summer we practiced on the North Saskatchewan River and attended dragon boat festivals in Alberta and British Columbia.

When I moved to Vancouver Island in the fall of 2004, I joined Angels Abreast in Nanaimo. We practiced in Departure Bay (staying out of the way of the ferries) and on the narrow strait between Vancouver and Newcastle islands. We went to festivals up and down the island and in Vancouver.

Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining

In 2006, an international festival was held in Vancouver to celebrate the ten year anniversary of breast cancer dragon boating. Besides the teams from Canadian, teams came from the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Italy, and Asia. It was great to walk through the paddler's village and meet fellow survivors from around the world.

In Sept. 2007, another international breast cancer festival was held in Caloundra, Queensland, Australia, and Angels Abreast went to that. What a wonderful time we had. The residents of the city were friendly, the venue was excellent, and the hosts did a great job of organizing. The 100 teams of twenty-four paddlers, steersperson, and drummer paraded through the streets dressed in pink, and many people yelled "Canada" or honked their horns when they saw our Canadian flag hanging from our balconies. The festival lasted three days and again I met many special women. After the festival some of us toured around Queensland and New South Wales. We went out to the Great Coral Reef and even with my fear of heights I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge. From Sydney we flew to Fiji for a week.

The next international festival was held in Sarasota, Florida, on October 24, 25, 26, 2014, and the team decided to attend. The other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home. I wanted more than that, so my husband, Mike, and I decided to do a three month tour of the U.S. Since I needed to be in Sarasota by October 22 to practice with the team, we picked September 23 as our leaving date and Dec. 16 as our return date. I applied for and was given three months off work.

We had such a great time touring through nineteen states. In Sarasota I stayed in the hotel with my team for the three day event. Again, such a wonderful venue, although at 6:00am it was dark and cool. Once the sun came up, we warmed up fast.

The last international festival was in Florence Italy in 2018. Again, rather than fly there for just the festival and maybe some local touring, I opted to spend nine weeks in Europe. I did two bus tours, travelled by train and stayed in hostels and hotels for eighteen days and then did a Baltic Sea cruise.

Since my diagnosis I have met so many strong, caring, fun-loving women plus I have visited some awesome places around the world. I am now back living in Edmonton and paddling with Breast Friends again. Only one woman is still with the team from when I paddled here years ago.

I am looking forward to paddling this year and many years to come, the silver lining to my cloud.

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