Thursday, May 28, 2020

Life Keeps Getting More Complicated--Why I don't Like Puzzles by Connie Vines

Where Did I Park My Barbie Jeep? - Memebase - Funny Memes

While we are all hunkered down during the Pandemic, everyone is discovering hidden strengths, honing new-skills, discovering new hobbies, or in my case--discovering tasks they really, really dislike.

Adulting is difficult and tiring, even in the best of times.
Now, we--well, me anyway, are entering a new dimension--frustration.

When I leave my home, masked, gloved, and careful to observe social distancing--I can't decide if I'm slightly agoraphobic, feral, or simply confused because I'm in the great out-doors.

Did I lock the door?

Did I turn off the oven?  Since I wasn't cooking this morning, odds are the answer is, yes.

I'm concerned about others during these uncertain times.  I worry about family, friends, and those with pre-existing medical conditions.  I also recall, in a time before vaccines were perfected for measles, whooping cough, mumps, and chickenpox.  My parents spoke of  families self-quarantined when a loved one contracted the deadly virus, polio.

Somehow, we are emerged from those difficult times and I trust we will again.

So, I'm blogging, writing, baking, and visiting with my youngest grandson, a second-grader, who is being home-schooled.

Of course, I wish to be supportive.  I listen as he pencils Mandarin characters and explains what he's learned.  At his age, I was fascinated with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs so we 'share' information.  He also loves puzzles.  I have no problem looking at puzzles online, finding the puzzles he wants--those with zillions and zillions of pieces.  Mount Rushmore--with 4-presidents faces carved in the granite, The San Francisco Bridge over the blue bay and fog-engulfed sky, and other challenges.  Which I happily give to him with a joyous heart.

Sweetie that he is, my grandson is worried that I'm sad, "Grammie, I don't have a puzzle".

Well, I didn't have the heart to tell him that I really, really don't like puzzles.  Oh, I understand the concept.  Find the corners, then fill in the boarders, separate by color then by 'what you think it is: nose, eye, snowman's hat'--whatever.

Perhaps, because I'm the eldest of five-siblings, I'm unfamiliar with the concept of 'personal space'.
My Barbie dream-house couch was stepped and broken by brother number 1, about two-seconds after I pulled it from the box.  My sister (at the age of 4), would systematically pull out every Oreo cookie from the package, eat the frosting and skillfully reassemble the cookie before placing it back in the package. Brother number 2 and brother number 3 would race to the door whenever the doorbell rang.

Please note: A trajectory is the path that an object with mass in motion follows through space as a function of time. Hence, a complete trajectory is defined by position and momentum, simultaneously.

Which means:  Connie, walking the the door to greet her date, was in the trajectory path.

Maybe because my job involves solving problems - Meme on ImgurAnd to add to the daily chaos: 

We had two dogs residing in the household.  My sister's well-behaved Lab/Shepard mix.

And my AKC champion purebred miniature poodle. Smart, trainable, loving, and master of Covert-Ops.

Jacques, ate marbles, crayons, and snagged biscuits to hide under couch cushions..

I hope I've brightened you day with my blog post :-).

I'm thrilled to share my "cover-reveal" for my next BWL release:
an anthology for women who like romance Cajun style

BWL LINK  Visit BWL site for my releases and much more!

my website and all social links


Wednesday, May 27, 2020

A brief history of the written word - Part One - by Vijaya Schartz

CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE CELTIC LEGENDS - "Edgy Medieval, Yay!" 5-stars Amazon - B&N - Smashwords

I was always fascinated by the multiplicity of languages, cultures, and different kinds of writing. My research about the origins of the written word only proved that not all the experts agree, but this is what I gathered. 

In every Asian country, there is a legend saying that writing was a science of the gods, and they taught it to man as a means to impart their knowledge. This explains why the most ancient writings are religious in nature and tell of the life and exploits of the ancient gods, as well as ancient teachings, like the knowledge of medicinal plants, acupuncture, etc.

In China, Cangjie, who, according to legend, brought writing to the court of the Yellow Emperor, was a very unique individual. He was described as having four eyes. Not your typical human being. 

A Chinese character is an entire word in itself, often a graphic representation, an image that evolved over time. The pictogram for rain, for example, represents a stylized window and the falling rain seen through that window, with a flat cloud above. The writing is read from top to bottom and from right to left, allowing continuous writing on long scrolls. 

Since Chinese is an agglutinant language, it doesn’t use prepositions or other small connecting words. The placement of the word inside the sentence clarifies the meaning (who is doing what to whom, how, why, where, whether it’s a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.)

In the late 6th Century AD, a mass political exile saw large numbers of Chinese emigrating to Japan. They took with them the teachings of Confucius and their system of writing. Since the native islanders of the time (the ancient Ainu tribes) didn’t have writing, they used the Chinese ideograms to write their own language. Then different emigrants came to the islands and mixed with the Ainu and the Chinese to form the Japanese people. They wrote with Chinese characters, same meaning, different pronunciation, using the same brush strokes. 

However, the Japanese used a number of one-syllable connecting words to form sentences, and there were no phonetic syllables in Chinese. So, they added a number of small, simple connecting characters, called Hiragana, representing phonetic syllables, which are also used today to teach children to read and write, before they can memorize the thousands of complicated pictograms or ideograms (Kanji) necessary to read and write the main language.

Legends of India say that the Mahabharata, an ancient epic depicting the exploits of the gods during their time on Earth, was recited by the sage Vyasa from the oral tradition, while Lord Ganesha himself (the Elephant God) penned it down… implying that only the gods could write.

Other legends of India also portray the gods teaching writing to their people. Sanskrit is one of the oldest forms of sophisticated written language, used to write the Vedas. But it doesn’t use images, only letters linked together to form sounds and words. Sound is very important in India. Some sacred sounds are so powerful (like the mantras) that they are believed to manifest divinity.

In 3400 BC a cuneiform type of writing developed in Mesopotamia. Legend says it was given to the Sumerians by their Anunnaki gods, those who from the heavens came. The oldest tablets tell of the interactions of the Anunnaki with their human workers, stories of the flood, etc. The characters represented stylized Sumerian or Akkadian objects. Soon, these symbols were also used to represent specific sounds.

Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs seem to have derived from Sumerian cuneiform writing. Sometimes they represent an object, an animal, a river, a sacred symbol. However, a bird doesn’t necessarily mean a bird, but the phonetic sound of the bird’s name, which is used as a syllable in a longer word or name. To indicate that, the full name of a Pharaoh, for example, is enclosed into a cartouche. 

Since I want to keep this post brief, I will continue this history of the written word in parts 2 and 3, in the next two months.

In the meantime, you can read my CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series, where history and Celtic legends collide. Years of research went into it, and the result is an edgy medieval fantasy saga. Find it at - Amazon - B&N - Smashwords and more.  
From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.


Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo FB 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

So we think we have it hard—Tricia McGill

Find all my books on my BWL author page

For my next book, I have been researching London during WW11, specifically around 1940. This got me thinking about how it compares to what we are experiencing around the world right now with restrictions placed on our normal routines. Rationing in London continued until 1958 and I can still recall my mother sitting in the chair with her ration books in front of her and a worried frown on her face. How she coped with feeding her large family I will never know. I do remember that one sister who worked in a factory would sometimes come home with sugar that she had purchased on the ‘black market’. As a child, I had little idea of the meaning of all this as, being the youngest and spoilt, I was well fed and at times even had butter on my bread and not margarine, but that was after the war had ended. Add to this our Mother’s worry over the three of her sons serving overseas in the armed forces. Thankfully, they all came home.

The government introduced rationing as a means of ensuring the fair distribution of food and commodities and began at the start of the war with petrol. By January 1940 bacon, butter and sugar were rationed, and by 1942 many other foodstuffs.

A typical weekly ration of food for an adult would consist of:
4 ounces of Bacon & Ham 
Other meat to the value of 1 shilling and 2 pence (equivalent to 2 chops)
2 ounces of Butter              
2 ounces of Cheese                  
4 ounces of Margarine 
4 ounces of Cooking fat   
3 pints of Milk     
8 ounces Sugar    
1 pound of preserves every 2 months. (I guess this was why my mother often asked the grocer for sugar instead of her jam ration)
2 ounces of Tea         
1 fresh Egg (plus allowance of dried egg)
12 ounces of Sweets every 4 weeks.

After the fiasco of people rushing out to purchase ridiculous amounts of toilet paper at the outset of the pandemic, (I am still trying to work out just why that idiot started the stampede) I got to thinking about how people coped during the war years in that department. One of the first things some of the older generation that I spoke to said in response to this was, “We had to manage with newspaper—how would they like that?” This was cut into squares, which would then hang on a hook in the little room. Some lucky people even managed to acquire tissue paper.

Two of my sisters were married in 1946 and even then they had to buy the fabric for their dresses using their allowance from their ration books. Fruit and some vegetables were in short supply and many people grew their own. If someone heard that a delivery of say oranges had arrived at the greengrocers then the women would rush to get on the mile long queue to wait for their share.

So you see, we may complain that we cannot get to hug our loved ones, but there is a light at the end of this current tunnel and soon you can welcome home your children and grandchildren. We have online shopping where we can still order to our hearts content and have it dropped off at our door. We have our trusty phones and can keep in touch with our family and friends and even chat face to face with them.

Funnies are flying back and forth each day. Here are some of my favourites:

I am starting to understand why pets try to run out of the house when the door opens.
Does anyone know if we can take showers yet or should we just keep washing our hands??
I’m so excited; it’s time to take the garbage out. I wonder what I should wear? 
You think it’s bad now? In 20 years our country will be run by people home schooled by day drinkers… 
Day 7 at home and the dog is looking at me like, “See? This is why I chew the furniture.” 
My Mom always told me I wouldn’t accomplish anything by laying in the bed all day, but look at me now! I’m saving the world...! 
I swear my fridge just said: “what the hell do you want now?” 
Coronavirus has turned us all into dogs. We roam the house all day looking for food.  
If anyone owes you money, go to their house now. They should be home... 

I’m giving up drinking for a month. Sorry, punctuation typo... 
I’m giving up. Drinking for a month.
Stay safe, and always look on the brighter side of life.

Visit my web page for more on all my books

Monday, May 25, 2020

Ten Top Ways to Know You've Had a Good Day Writing by A.M.Westerling

We’ve all had those days where we’ve sat down at the keyboard and – nothing. Writer’s block has dug in its nasty claws and no matter how hard we try to get something going, we sit staring uselessly at a vacant screen until admitting defeat and getting up to do laundry. I recently had such a bout with my current work in progress, Leah’s Surrender, Book Two of The Ladies of Harrington House series. Turns out my heroine, Lady Leah Harrington did not have a goal of her own. It’s pretty hard to write an engaging story about a spirited heroine when all the other characters push her around! 

However, what about those other days? The ones where we sit down and the word magic takes over and we become lost in the zone? That’s what happened to me with Sophie’s Choice. Sophie had her story to tell and the words literally flew from my fingers. It’s the fastest I’ve ever written a book – just over four months. (You can find Sophie's Choice at your favourite online store HERE.)

Okay, other than the obvious – words on the page – what are the other ways we can tell we’ve had a good day writing?  With a nod and a wink to David Letterman, the ten top ways to know you’ve had a good day writing are:

10.       You go for a walk at 3 in the afternoon and realize you haven’t combed your hair yet.  And then realize it’s windy and no one can see it, anyway.

9.         You emerge from your cave and your husband, after taking one look at your blank      face,  says, “Hon, instead of you cooking, why don’t we go out for dinner?”

8.         Your written world has become more real than this one for a moment or two and        when someone asks, “What did you do today?” , you can honestly say “I was on a                 Royal Navy frigate on the Atlantic Ocean that was on the verge of sinking during a                 winter storm.” Spoiler alert – yes, that is a scene in Leah’s Surrender.

7.         You take a break from writing for a minute and discover a 5 star review on Amazon    for your latest release. (Thank you Theresa for the awesome review of Sophie’s                     Choice!)

6.         Your publisher emails with words of encouragement while you’re working on a            difficult scene, leaving you with the fire in your belly to prove her right for signing                   you and darn it, you will conquer that scene. And you do.

5.         Your husband knocks on the office door and asks, “Honey, are you still alive?”

4.         You’re writing on a legal tablet in the bath, the water’s turned cold and your                significant other knocks on the door to ask if you’ve drowned.

3.         Your dog puts a guilt trip on you and you realize that it’s gone 6:00 p.m. and you’re    still in your pj’s and slippers with a half full cup of cold coffee.

2.         Your kids call you from their cell phone and say, “Mom, can you stop writing for a        minute and pick us up? We’re the last ones here.”

And the number one way to know you’ve had a good day writing?

1.           You type the words “The End” on your current work in progress!

All my books are available through BWL Publishing HERE.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

BWL Publishing Inc. May New Releases

In book 4 of the Settlers Series, we catch up with most members of the extended family from the previous three books. Annie at 18 is the eldest Carstairs girl. She has lived out at Bathurst west of the Blue Mountains, where she was born just after her Mama, Bella and Papa, Tiger settled there back in 1824. After visiting her brother Tim and his wife Jo just before Christmas 1843, Annie decides to stay in Port Philip, seeking adventure much as her brother did when he set out with Jo the previous year. Annie has inherited her mother’s independent streak, a character trait that sometimes leads her to make the wrong choices.

Jacob O’Quinn works for her brother, and the likeable young carpenter catches Annie’s eye. Jacob is quiet and reserved in his manner, having spent his life with his widowed mother. When handsome Zachary McDowell, the complete opposite to steady Jacob comes along, he sweeps Annie off her feet. Heedless of advice given by others, Annie makes a choice that turns out to be the worst she could ever make.

Restless, Annie decides to return to her home, and Jacob makes the decision to escort her. The journey back across the mountains proves to be a lot more eventful than she assumed it could ever be. The road itself may have seen improvements through the years but there will always be unexpected incidents to turn life around on its axis. A suspected murder brings the might of the law down on the shoulders of the young couple.

* * * * * 

In Devil's Fall, Doug Fletcher Book 5,  Doug Fletcher's Thanksgiving vacation is interrupted by a phone call from his Texas U.S. Park Service superintendent. A Wyoming coroner determines that a climber’s fall from Devils Tower isn’t the accident it first appeared to be. Doug is thrown into an investigation where he peels back the layers of rumors and lies provided by colorful Black Hills residents to find a murderer in a region where the deer hunting season is winding down and everyone has a gun in their pickup truck.  

* * * * *

Legend states that hanging a Dreamcatcher over your bed will catch the bad dreams and only allow the good ones to flow through to the dreamer. Willow has been told “if you believe, then it will be so”, but her nightmares about the events causing her amnesia still haunt her, and while she knows she doesn’t belong with the Blackfoot tribe, it is the only shelter she has...

…until Garrison York appears. Montana rancher and blood brother to the Chief’s son, he is given charge of helping Willow discover her past, but the instant attraction between them makes him want to concentrate only on current pleasure. With neighbors trying to steal land for railroad expansion and relatives willing to kill for fortunes in gold, can Garrison keep Willow safe until they determine her true identity?

* * * * *
Night Corridor: 2nd Edition 2020  
After nine years in Bayshore mental institution, once called the lunatic asylum, Caroline Hill is finally being released.

There will be no one to meet her. Her parents who brought her here…are dead.

They have found her a room in a rooming house, a job washing dishes in a restaurant. She will do fine, they said. But no one told that women in St. Simeon are already dying at the hands of a vicious predator. One, an actress who lived previously in her building.

And others.
And now, as Caroline struggles to survive on the outside, she realizes someone is stalking her.

But who will believe her? She's a crazy woman after all.

Then, one cold winter's night on her way home from her job, a man follows and is about to assault her when a stranger intercedes.

A stranger who hides his face and whispers her name.
I loved this book and stayed up all night reading it! The characters were so well-drawn that I could almost hear them breathing, see them laughing, feel their emotions. It's rare that I feel like I KNOW the characters THAT well, but I did here, in THIS book - especially the main character, Caroline, but also the minor characters - every one of them! I could see and hear Caroline, almost feel her breath on my skin. The writing and the plot drew me in, from page one. I was fully engaged and up all night, reading and enjoying this book, to the very last word. M. Lewis

Saturday, May 23, 2020

What Writing Has Cost Me by Victoria Chatham

During a recent conversation with someone who has enjoyed all my books, I was asked what writing had cost me. This wasn't meant in a financial way, more in terms of what social or personal changes I may have experienced. 

As a child, books were always my best friends. I’m not sure if this was the result of being an early reader or the fact that being an army brat and constantly on the move taught me very early on the pain of parting from friends. After the second or third posting, I didn’t bother trying to make them and kept pretty much to myself. I became an observer rather than someone who participated in whatever was going on.

The bonus, though, of each new school was discovering its library and there, I excelled

because I read books way above my grade and so became popular with the librarians who were often the English teachers, too. Yes, I sucked up big time in order to get my hot little hands on more books than the curriculum required.

In my early teens, I switched from reading to writing. I was absolutely convinced I had what it took to be an author. I tinkered with writing, gaining on the way prizes for essay writing at school and good passes in English Literature and Grammar (taught as separate subjects back then) in my GCE exams - this, I think, would have been the equivalent of graduation.   

Once I was married and had a family, I was always writing something, from annual reports at work to stories for my kids. But then I decided to write a book for my daughter. It took me two years to complete but it satisfied me in a way that reading did not. Writing days were
Sundays, when I shut myself in my bedroom tucked up on the window seat with a flask of coffee and a plate of sandwiches. It was known that I was not to be disturbed unless there was lots of blood or something on fire. Writing became a constant friend, the one to whom I never would have to say good-bye. Sure, there were and are moments of au revoir, but then a new idea grabs me, and the writing begins again.

Over the years I know my writing has set me apart, a little. The days when I’ve said ‘no’ to this or that proposed outing because I wanted to write has caused coolness in some friendships and ended others. The times when I have been uncommunicative because I was deep in my story have not necessarily been understood, either. Joining a writing group was the best thing I ever did because being with other people who ‘get it’ is a great place to be.

Overall, writing has given me much more in terms of satisfaction than just about anything else, so for me, there has been far more reward than cost. 



Thursday, May 21, 2020

A woman doctor, unheard of, by Diane Scott Lewis

Even as a small child I thought all doctors were men. When I had my first female doctor I was surprised, looked at my mother in dismay, and wondered if this was a mistake.

In researching my novel, Rose's Precarious Quest, set in 1796, I discovered how difficult it was for a woman to become a licensed and respected physician. Women weren't even allowed to attend college.

However, there were instances of females performing as doctors throughout history. In medieval Germany, an abbess, Hildegard of Bingen, wrote extensively on medical treatments, c. 1151-58. Women of this era worked as midwives, surgeons, and barber-surgeons, especially in rural areas.
When universities developed medical training in the 13th century, women no longer had access to advanced medical education.
Hildegard of Bingen

In the 17th c. physicians were the college educated, top-tiered men. They examined, diagnosed, but never got their hands dirty. Women often worked as barber-surgeons, taking over from their fathers or other male relatives where they'd studied as apprentices. Limits were put on their practice, where men had full rein. Female surgeons worked unlicensed for the most part.
printers' medical symbol

One of the first females to earn an MD was Dorothea Erxleben of Germany in 1754. She was taught and encouraged by her father. The majority of women MDs wouldn't be licensed until the 19th c.

There were exceptions. Lucretia Lester of Long Island practiced midwifery for years, but she was respected as a nurse and doctoress to the women she treated in the latter half of the 18th c..
A Mrs. Grant attended lectures by professors of Anatomy and Practice of Physick in Edinburgh, also in the 18th c.. She had a certificate and practiced as a doctoress in Scotland.

In my novel, Rose studies illegally as a physician in 1796. Assisting the local doctor, she uncovers a dreadful secret that threatens his livelihood. Catern returns to the village to face the man who raped her and worse. When Rose’s sister is betrothed to this brutal earl, Catern struggles to warn Rose of the truth. And who is the mysterious Charlie who wanders the woods?

Purchase Rose's Precarious Quest (scroll down) and my other novels at BWL
For more info on me and my books, check out my website: Dianescottlewis

Medical History, 1998, 42: 194-216
Women in Medicine, Wikipedia

Diane Scott Lewis lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty puppy.