Sunday, January 16, 2022

Being a Blog Host or Guest by Janet Lane Walters #BWLAuthor #BlogHost #BlogGuest


I have an active blog eclecticwriter and often have guests. I’ve been guesting on other people’s blogs. Since the first of the year, I’ve been noticing some things about the blogs I’ve visited. They all did something I often do not do. So I’m making a note to let the person pposting to know when their material will go live. Hopefully I’ll remember. Now for some questions from people who have blogs and those who visit other people’s blogs.


How do you promote your own blog when you have guests? Do you let them know? Do you post the appearance on Facebook, Twitter or other places that allow promotion? I try to do them all.

Do you go to your won blog when there’s a visitor and read the comments and make your own if needed? This is something I hope to do better with.


Now for those who are guesting, a few questions. Do you visit the blog and let the author know you’re glad to be there? Do you promote your appearance on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other places that allow this type of promotion? Do you check periodically for those who have visited and made comments? Do you dialogue with those who have commented?


When I visit, I do promote the blog I’m visiting on the day I appear. I also chack for about a week to see if there are any comments and also to comment if needed.


Other people’s blogs can give you venues and find readers and writers you may not know.



My Places



Buy Mark

Crazy Canucks, by J.C. Kavanagh


The Twisted Climb

Book 1 of the award-winning Twisted Climb series

Winter time in central Ontario, Canada, brings about snow, ice, freezing rain, blizzards and white-outs. If you like extreme weather, you'll fit right in. If you don't like the cold or any of the above weather conditions, well, you won't like Canadian winters. Me, I love it. Having the crisp, icy-cold wind ripple against your cheeks and feeling the delicate frostiness of snowflakes descending on your face... ah, that is a rejuvenating winter experience.

Me and my awesome and often crazy partner love to cavort in the elements. Summer is for sailing. Spring and Autumn are for taking care of the woods on our rural property. But winter - oh winter - it's for:
  • Chopping and stacking bush cords of hardwood
  • Shovelling snow (and driving snowblower)
  • Hiking the property (with glass of wine in mittened-hand)
  • Snowshoeing the property
  • Bonfires 
  • Enjoying home-cut fries/poutine around the bonfire
  • More snow shovelling (and driving snowblower)
  • Star gazing at back of property (with glass of wine in mittened-hand)

Ian and J (carved by Ian with chainsaw)

Firepit area

One section of trails

Clearing driveway in 'Canadian' disguise

Woodstove ready

After the hike... photobomb

And our newest outdoor entertainment: Axe/Knife throwing

My partner has this thing about knives (is it a guy thing?) and ever since axe-throwing became popular, he's wanted to build a target and set it up beside our shop. So, during the Christmas break, he decided it was time to design and build the target. Once that was accomplished, then of course we had to buy a set of throwing axes/knives. No sense building a target without deadly instruments.

Have you ever thrown an axe? Or a specially-designed throwing knife? Not for the faint-hearted. But definitely a challenge. Also a hilarious challenge. Most throws will have the axe/knife 'clunk' against the target and fall straight down. Or, it will completely miss the target (it's 40" x 50"). Great fun!  

J-I Axes homemade target. Yup, it says 'EyesBull'

Canadian chill at -25 Celsius (-13 F)

While some people might think outdoor winter activities are for crazy Canucks, I like to think they're for anyone crazy enough to enjoy the elements. That's me.

However, if you're the kind of person who prefers to curl up inside your home with a hot cup of cocoa, then I have two perfectly good, non-deadly instruments for you to hold on to. The first is: The Twisted Climb, voted Best Young Adult book, and the second is The Twisted Climb-Darkness Descends, voted Best Young Adult book in 2018. Book 3 in this exciting series is on the way!

Until next time, 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
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)
Instagram @authorjckavanagh

Saturday, January 15, 2022

What is Special About the First of January?


            The first of January, also known as the New Year, is the largest celebrated holiday in the world. In almost every country, whether Japan, Australia or Brazil, the day is marked with festivities, firecrackers and feasts.

            Astronomically speaking, January 1st is an odd time for the New Year. It signifies neither the spring nor the fall equinox, nor does it coincide with either of the two solstices. It lies in the middle of the earth’s journey between the Zodiac constellations of Capricorn and Aquarius and doesn’t match with the end or beginning of any of the seasons.

            In original cultures, spring marked the beginning of a New Year, logically enough, since the season marked rebirth—of plants and crops, after the barrenness of winter. It’s the season when, according to natural cycles, animals and birds mate. In China, the Spring Festival coincides with the New Year. According to the ancient Babylonian, Egyptian, Indian, Iranian and Mayan calendars, the year commences with the spring Vernal Equinox, usually in March or April, when the sun starts its northern journey.

            So how did January 1 become the beginning of the New Year? The first instance occurred in Rome, in 153 BC, under the rule of Julius Caesar. It marked the Roman civil year, when Roman consuls, the highest officials of the Roman republic, started their one-year tenures. After the fall of the Roman Empire, medieval Europe banned January 1st as the New Year, considering it a pagan holiday, and replaced it with the 25th of March, which roughly corresponds to the date of Jesus’s death and resurrection.

            The use of January 1 as the New Year can be traced to the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory XII in 1582 as a way to correct the Julian calendar. The imprecision in the Julian calendar, which added a full day every hundred-and-twenty-eight years, created difficulties for the Church in calculating Easter, celebrated on the Sunday after the ecclesiastical full moon on or after the twenty-first of March. European scholars had been well aware of the calendar drift since the early medieval period. After much debate, in 1622, the Catholic Church adopted January 1 as the beginning of the New Year.

Many people in the world follow two and, sometimes, more calendars, pertaining to their cultures and their religious holidays. Best wishes for the New Year, whenever you celebrate it!

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

Friday, January 14, 2022

The Past is a Different Sheila Claydon

Readers are taken back to the 1800s in Remembering Rose, the first book in my Mapleby Memories trilogy. In the third book, due out in May and still untitled, readers are taken to the 13th century. Until today I didn't expect to travel further back but now I have learned a whole lot about life 50,000 years ago.

Why? Well because my 20 year old granddaughter, who is studying Biology at university, asked me to check a paper, shortly due to be submitted, for flow, and also to advise on losing approximately 400 words without significantly altering the research. 

As it is a scientific paper I had to read it through several times to fully understand it, especially the scientific terms, but once I done that I became really interested. I learned, for example, that animals and humans have domesticated each other. Initially wolves and humans lived in the same area but without interacting, but by the time humans began to develop into agricultural societies, about 10,000 years ago, they were working together. It is thought that a human preference for smaller, more docile and therefore easier to manage dogs, are what led to the breeds we see today.

One of the interesting changes is that wolves could solve tasks by observing the behaviour of others and they could also follow the human gaze to 'see' a problem, whereas domesticated (wolves) dogs cannot differentiate between the intentional and accidental actions of their handlers. Domestication has taught them to ignore cues not specifically addressed to them. Instead, living in close contact with humans has taught them to rely on help rather than trying to solve problems independently.

Cats, of course, are very different and it is thought that initially they probably took advantage of the the mice and food scraps they found around the first settlements. Later they learned to live with humans, becoming more docile and developing behaviour and reward conditioning, but even today, thousands of years later, they are still largely independent, and able to find their own food and breeding partners.

Domestication of horses occurred much later, around 6,000 years ago and, surprisingly, given how important horses have been for transport, farming etc. over many centuries, their behaviour has changed far less than that of dogs and cats. While they benefit from the food, shelter, physical care and protection humans provide, left to their own devices they would still very quickly reassume a feral lifestyle.

There was much, much more. All of it interesting. However I found the animal/human relationship the most intriguing. Probably because I have been around dogs, cats and horses all my life but never, until now, considered how they have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. And how we have helped them do just that. And how they, in turn, have helped us domesticate ourselves. 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

A Cup of Kindness


Happy New Year, dear readers. 

Auld Lang Syne means “in old times,” to the Scots people. Robert Burns was trying to keep his beloved Celtic language alive when he popularized it. He described Auld Lang Syne as ‘an old song, of the olden times, and which has never been in print, nor even in manuscript until I took it down from an old man’s singing.’  

The town of Bedford Falls sang it at the end of It's a Wonderful Life, when a happy George Bailey finally realizes that his life has been a worthwhile struggle. We sing it at the dawn of a new year, to mark the passage of time. To grieve a little while we promise to do a little better, love a little stronger, be a little kinder. What words could be more poignant as we enter the third year of a global pandemic?

The words say, “We’ll take a cup o’ Kindness yet." That refers to the old tradition of toasting: raising a glass, a “cup o’ kindness,” but I am always moved by the notion of kindness in a cup overflowing, bestowed on each other at the start of each year. 

Kindness. A whole cup of it, I wish to you this new year of 2022, my friends, and beyond.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Canadian Mystery Novels, eh?


                   Please click this link for author, book and purchase information

At last year's Ontario Library Association's online conference, I sat on a panel about novels set in Canada. The moderator divided the topic into three parts--Canadian characters, settings, and stories--and asked each panelist to discuss one of the sub-topics in relation to one of our novels. To my relief, I was assigned setting, which I considered the easiest of the three. The other two stumped me. When I create characters, I think of them as people, not Canadians, and my stories lean toward the psychological, rather than events particular to Canada.   

I chose Ten Days in Summer, the most Calgarian of my novels, to illustrate how I include specific setting details and how they shaped the story. The novel takes place over the ten days of Calgary's annual Stampede Festival, when the whole city goes wild-west. People wear cowboy hats and boots to go shopping. Beer tents and free pancake breakfasts pop up everywhere. I explained how I looked for opportunities to set scenes at Stampede happenings. Paula, my sleuth, first encounters two of the suspects while she's watching the parade that launches the festival. She later meets one of them in a sports pub featuring an inflatable football player wearing a bandana. Paula's Stampede clothing style is to wear a different coloured bandana each of the ten days. Does that make her uniquely Canadian?

No, but it does make her Calgarian. I realized the characters in my mystery series naturally reflect the people who live in Calgary. In Ten Days, there's a wannabe cowboy. I have several Calgary friends who own horses they board on acreages outside the city and ride on weekends. When I lived in Montreal, I didn't know anyone who did this. Many characters in the series, including Paula, have moved to Calgary from elsewhere. Through its history, Calgary has attracted newcomers during its periodic boom times. In contrast, other locales might be characterized by the absence of family and friends, who have left for greater opportunities. The type of people in any story tells us as much about the place as its landscape. 

I still don't see Paula and friends as particularly Canadian, although readers outside of Canada might notice behaviours I simply see as 'normal'. Maybe Canadian novel characters tend to be remarkably polite. 

Reflections on Canadian characters got me wondering about the third aspect discussed on the panel, uniquely Canadian stories. I find these most noticeable in historical mystery novels, especially ones that fictionalize a real murder from our country's past. In Ten Days in Summer, I had fun making up a crime related to a lessor known fact of Canadian history. King Edward VIII, who famously gave up the British throne to marry Wallis Simpson, was a wannabe cowboy. When he was Prince of Wales, he bought a ranch in southern Alberta, which he visited with his wife after his abdication. My research suggested the Duchess of Windsor was less than enthralled with life on the range. I wove that into an imagined crime that played a small, but pivotal, role in the Ten Days in Summer murder.  

  The Duchess and Duke of Windsor at the E.P. (Edward Prince) Ranch in 1941.  
 The Duke as urban cowboy. 

I have read Canadian mystery novels that deal with contemporary events and issues that are uniquely Canadian. Since the time of U.S. Prohibition in the 1920s, our long and friendly border with the United States has prompted cross-border crime that continues today. Disputes over pipelines and clean drinking water on indigenous reserves have resulted in fictional murders. 

People generally read mystery and thriller novels for entertainment, and in the process learn much about a country's people, place, and stories. When I travel, I like to read novels set in the location I'm visiting. But I also read to learn about myself and my own country.       

I became so intrigued with the subject of uniquely Canadian characters, places and stories that I pitched the idea for a Calgary Public Library program. They've now scheduled the topic for Wednesday, January 26, 7-8 pm, as part of the CPL's Books and Ideas series. I'll be interviewed by Margaret Hadley, a former instructor of Detective Fiction at the University of Calgary. I expect we'll have a lively conversation. You can register for the program here with a CPL card. Non-members are welcome and can email or call the library at 403-260-2600. 

Hope to see you there, eh? 


Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Fun With Fleas? by Karla Stover


for more information and to purchase click link below

I admit it, I'm a fan of weird stuff---one reason I love YouTube videos. You can find anything  there. And since I've long been curious about flea circuses, and since we used to go to Seattle's Ye Olde curiosity shop where fleas wearing clothes are on display, I checked YouTube to see if anything was posted. Sure enough, there I saw one harnessed to and struggling to pull a little cart. Probably, only grooming monkeys are fond of fleas but PETA should have stepped in and rescued that flea; it was really straining.

One historical record says in 1742 a watchmaker named Boverick may have used gold to make a small coach and harnessed some fleas to pull it. Another says in 1578 a watchmaker named Mark Scaliot made a lock and chain and attached it to a flea to demonstrate his metalworking skills. There are other claims but it wasn't until the 1820s when the first flea circus showed up courtesy of an Italian named Louis Bertolotto. Using 435 fleas all wearing battle dress, carrying teeny little swords and seated on "golden saddles Bertolotto created a mock-battle, ( he liked to recreate political events of the time )depicting Napoleon's Waterloo defeat. Supposedly, though, in 1764,  a man named John Henry Mauclerc saw a four-wheeled "ivory chaise" with a figure of a man sitting in the chaise which was being drawn by a flea. Possibly more creditable was Charles Manbey Smith who, in 1857, said he saw a "small brass cannon on wheels being drawn by a flea." It cost him a penny to witness this miraculous event. By this time, however, the fleas were of more interest than their accoutrements. Bertolotto soldiered on and his fleas continued performing until sometime in the 1870s. Then a man named John C. Ruhl took a flea circus from Germany to California and small flea circuses entertained people in the United States until the 1960s. However, England did America one better. There was a flea circus at “Belle Vue Zoological Gardens,” in Manchester, England, and it worked until 1970. Not to be bested, some say that every year at Munich, Germany's Oktoberfest a flea circus operates still.

         There are approximately 2,000 flea species but it is the human flea that is used in the             circuses.
         Whether they can actually be trained to do tricks is debatable. They can jump, though,          as many pet owners will testify so if they're close to a ball, jumping might push                     it. Their natural jumping behavior could then be interpreted by the audience as a                    ‘trick’. By placing objects, such as a ball near the flea, the flea could then ‘push’ or             move it. With no one to care about the welfare of the fleas, glue was also used to                 fasten them to the  an attraction. Their struggles to get "free from the glue made                 some people think they were  having fun."

        Here are a couple pictures, but for those truly interested, check out eBay. Like             me, you might be surprised.




Monday, January 10, 2022

Subliminal Advertising

 How many of the following products can you recognize?

1.          1. You’ll wonder where the yellow went…

2.         2.  Wake up to _____ in your cup.

3.          3. They’re magically delicious.

4.        4.   Plop, plop, fizz, fizz…

5.         5.  I wish I was an __________.

6.         6.  Double your pleasure, double your fun…

When television advertisers created jingles, they discovered a very important fact. Jingles were catchy, short songs easily remembered and repeated by children. Thus for every time a jingle played on TV, children would repeat it and basically gain the product “free” advertising. If you completed the six examples above, did you sing the jingle as you tried to finish it? Uh-hum. J

Another way companies brand their product is by developing a spokesperson who is in all their ads. Recognize these? Is it possible to say their name without adding the company they’re associated with?

Companies also get you invested in their products by having celebrities in their commercials. State Farm is one of the best known to me as they use several football icons in their commercials. And if you’re a football fan, you think “if it’s good enough for them maybe I should take a look.”

Back in 1967, I did a term paper on subliminal advertising*, the art of projecting indiscernible objects onto a movie or television screen to see if people watching would be influenced by that projection. For example, a small picture of a popcorn box was put into the top corner of the movie screen – flashed for only a tenth of a second – and statistics were kept as to whether popcorn sales increased. Keep in mind sight is only one of our senses; therefore advertisers can bombard us in any number of ways. Think of the last time you walked through a mall (I realize that was a really long time ago) and you smelled caramel popcorn or the rich aroma of roasted coffee. How easily your feet moved you in that direction. * What Is Subliminal Advertising? Definition, Types & More - ShareThis

I find this subject fascinating although I know there can be far reaching effects from such “brainwashing”. You need to be aware that suggestions are being made to you not only with actual commercials (which we tend to walk away from to get our lunch or use the restroom) but within the program itself. For those familiar with the movie “E.T.”, remember what candy became an overnight sensation when the movie came out? Hershey agreed to spend $1 million promoting E.T. in exchange for the rights to use E.T. in its ads. The payoff was huge—the little peanut butter candies saw a reported 65% to 85% jump in profits just two weeks after the movie's premiere.

The examples, of course, are everywhere, but I started thinking about how much closer to home such things were as a writer. Without consciously thinking about it, my heroine asks for a Kleenex when she sneezes; the hero opens the door of his F-150 pick up to take her to the local pizza joint where they have cokes and wood fire pizza. I am certainly not getting paid to use brand names in my writing (wouldn’t that be nice) but do I have to be concerned about saying “coke” instead of “soda”? In some cases, the need to use a brand name helps distinguish and define the people in the story. For example, the hero putting on a North Face jacket tells you he has good (and more expensive) taste and enjoys outside activities. Naming a premium wine choice at the restaurant is similar.

Rights of Writers: Can I Mention Brand Name Products in My Fiction? Is an excellent article by Mark Fowler about the four basic types of brand/trademark problems in writing, with examples of each, but his bottom line is, “The use of brand names in fiction is not a sleep-depriving issue.  It would be obsessive (and stylistically unpalatable) to use the R-in-a-circle symbol or the TM symbol every time you refer to a brand name in your text.  And, as long as you do not write falsely and disparagingly about real brands and the companies who manufacture them, you are unlikely ever to run into a problem.

I had the delight of sharing some of this discussion with my characters, JC and Charlie in “Loving Charlie Forever”, a time travel. They were trying to figure out what they could “invent” back in 1850s to support themselves, but were having a bit of an integrity crisis worrying about taking away another’s invention before its time. I’ve always liked writing time travels because of the knowledge that some characters have given they’re from the future. Usually though, they don’t have the wherewithal to invent a particular item. And afterall, what fun would that be for the real inventors?

In your reading, and perhaps your writing, you’re likely to run across brand names and chances are, you read right over them with the intent to which they were used. If it bothers you as an author to “promote” a brand name, (afterall, they’re not paying you to mention their product) then use a generic form or eliminate the reference altogether.

If you like time travels, I invite you to check out the following at Books We Love:

"Spinning Through Time"

Prospecting for Love"

"Hold on to the Paat"

"Loving Charlie Forever"

Don't forget to enter BWL's New Year, New You. Visit their website for a chance to win a delightful spa basket!

All Best Wishes,



Saturday, January 8, 2022

English language - Fun Facts by J. S. Marlo



The Red Quilt
"a sweet & uplifting holiday story"
is now available 
click here

I'm currently re-writing and re-plotting a series I wrote over a decade ago. Not only am I having lots of fun with it, but it also made me realize how much I grew as an "English" writer. Here are some fun facts about the English language I dug out while I was brainstorming some new subplots. 


A pangram sentence is a sentence using every letter of the alphabet at least once, like The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.


An ambigram is a word that reads the same when turned upside down, like SWIMS.


A palindrome is a word that reads the same forward or backward, like racecar, radar, or madam.


An anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase, typically using all the original letters exactly once, like KOBO is an anagram of book, or schoolmaster is an anagram of the classroom.


An isogram is a word with no repeating letters. The longest one in English is subdermatoglyphic.


An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word. These are some acronyms that have become accepted English words: scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus), laser (light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation), or sonar (sound navigation and ranging).


A contronym is a word having two meanings that contradict one another, like to bolt (to secure or to flee), to buckle (to fasten or to collapse), or left (remained or departed).


A portmanteau is a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two other words, like brunch (from breakfast and lunch).


A capitonym is a word that changes its meaning when its first letter is capitalized, like Turkey (the country) and turkey (the bird).


About 4,000 words are added to the dictionary each year. That’s roughly a new word every two hours.


The shortest, oldest, and most commonly used word is I, and the shortest complete sentence in the English language is I am.


The longest word in English is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, which is a type of lung disease caused by inhaling ash and dust.


The most common adjective used in English is good, the most commonly used noun is time, and the word run has the highest number of definitions with 645.


There are seven ways to spell the sound ee in English. This sentence contains all of them: He believed Caesar could see people seizing the seas.


E is the most commonly used letter in the English language, A is the second-most common, and Q is the letter used the least.


More English words begin with the letter S than any other letter.


The ampersand used to be the 27th letter of the alphabet. I often use it, and I'm kind of sad it disappeared from the alphabet in the 17th century.


The only one word in the English language contains the letters X, Y, and Z in order is hydroxyzine, and the longest common word with all the letters in alphabetical order is almost.


The longest common word you can make using only four letters is senseless, the longest one with no vowels is rhythms, and the only one with three consecutive double letters is bookkeeper


The first number spelled out that contains the letter A is one thousand. You don’t use the letter B until one billion.


Some English words exist only in plural forms, like binoculars, scissors, pants, glasses (spectacles), shears, jeans, and pajamas.


In the world, there are 378 million native English speakers (those who speak English as their first language) and 743 million non-native English speakers (those whose first language isn’t English). In average, a native speaker knows between 20,000-35,000 English words.


I belong in the non-native group, and I have no idea how many English words I know, but I read somewhere that those who read fiction have a larger vocabulary than those who read non-fiction (fiction tends to contain a wider range of vocabulary than non-fiction) or don’t read.


So, happy reading! An adventure, and a few new words, await you between the pages of a new book. Better still, read to a young child and take him or her along on the adventure.


Stay warm & stay safe!





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