Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Dreams are NOT dreams in Darkness Descends, by J.C. Kavanagh

Darkness Descends, 
Book 2 from the award-winning Twisted Climb series 
Unlike the incredible, scary and mind-blowing adventures in the dream world of Darkness Descends, my writing dreams are actually coming true. The day is finally arriving - the official Chapters' launch of The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends. Yes, I'm a-quiver with anticipation knowing I'll be re-acquainted with so many of The Twisted Climb readers and fulfilling my promise that I'd be back with the sequel.

Saturday the 20th is the big day. I'll be heading to the Chapters' store in Brampton, Ontario armed with custom book marks and a come-hither smile. The last time I was there (April 2018), I sold-out all copies of The Twisted Climb - but I made sure to inform every person who purchased a copy that the sequel, Darkness Descends, was in the final editing stages. And that it contained even more action and adventure and drama.

The book has been well received and in fact, has multiple 5-star ratings on Amazon as well as three 5-star ratings from the American book review company, Readers' Favorite. Lit Amri wrote: Darkness Descends has a "very well thought out premise. The "fantastical and ominous dream world" and "the clever plot twists make Darkness Descends an absolute page-turner."

Stephen Fisher agreed:  Darkness Descends is "a cleverly conceived story. J.C. Kavanagh does a superb job of creating a vast and puzzling dream world. She really brings this story to life, and I was entertained on all levels. I could not put The Twisted Climb-Darkness Descends down.

Outstanding job. I would love to see this grace the silver screen, or possible cable series."

 Here's a wee snippet from The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends.

The canoe began to move sideways in the river as the current of the Devil’s Door Rapids strengthened. They were drifting down the river instead of across it.

“Paddle hard!” Max shouted. The steam seemed to be thickening as they paddled against the current. Connor finally matched pace with Jayden’s stroke as they struggled to travel across. Perspiration glistened on their foreheads and they redoubled their efforts to manipulate the canoe on a forward path. The air temperature was rising significantly and the mist loomed like a low-lying fog. The moon glared down from its peak in the black sky, its rays sparkling within the fog around them, like mini diamonds. Suddenly, a chorus of wolf howls wailed in the distance. It was a familiar, chilling sound.

“It’s getting hotter and I can’t see through the mist,” hollered Jayden.

“What did you say?” The water was lapping loudly against the hull of the canoe, drowning Jayden’s voice.

Max leaned forward and his knee bumped into the zippered bag tied to the yoke. Curious, he unzipped it and peered inside.

“What’s in the bag?” Connor asked.

Max pulled out an unusual pair of goggles, holding them up like a peace offering to the moon. He gasped in delight when he realized what he held.

“Oh yeah!” he hooted into the darkness “They’re night vision goggles!” They were similar to a pair he borrowed regularly from his next door neighbour.

Max placed them over his eyes and adjusted the head strap. Immediately, the terrain was transformed into neon green and dark grey and he could see across the river and into the shadowy base of the squat mountain. They were heading in the wrong direction, though, and Max barked out new directions.

“Connor, steer to port!”

“In English,” Connor yelled. “Steer to the left?”

“Yes, left!” replied Max. “Left equals port!”

Max adjusted the goggle lenses to adapt to both the moonlight and the viscous waves of fog. He could see the current in the water moving on his right which meant they were travelling in the proper direction – across and not down the river.

Jayden glanced back in mid-stroke. “What do you see? And what is that sound?”

The calming rush of river water had slowly been replaced with a louder and more thunderous crashing sound.

Max moved his head in slow motion to the right, analyzing the imagery illuminated through the goggles. Internal gauges on the perimeter of the viewfinder displayed distance and temperatures. Based on the temperature fluctuations, he detected numerous hot springs sluicing all around them. Straight ahead, about 60 metres according to the goggles, a sandy shoreline loomed. But to the right, the river appeared to fall off and the thunderous cascading sound was louder than ever. The strong current was pulling them toward it. Max knew what it was: Devil’s Door Waterfall.

“Stay left! Jayden, give me some paddle power and Connor, steer hard to port – left!”

Jayden renewed her efforts, bending forward with each stroke. She couldn’t distinguish river or land through the mist, and the crashing sound of water made it difficult to hear Max. She leaned forward and her foot touched something at the bottom of the canoe. It was a zippered bag. The shadows in the bow prevented her from identifying it and she kicked the bag into the moonlight. Hoping it contained another pair of goggles, she leaned forward, eagerly unzipping the bag with one hand. The moon finally evaded cloud cover and burst into brilliance just as Jayden reached in and touched a smooth, cool object. Grasping it firmly, she pulled on it but stopped suddenly. Whatever was in there was alive and squirming. Inhaling sharply and repulsed by the contact, Jayden released it in disgust. She withdrew her hand and then recoiled in horror as the bag rippled and undulated in slithering motions. There were no night-vision goggles in this bag.

“Snakes! SNAKES!”

Jayden bolted backward, falling into the bottom of the canoe. She rolled to one side in panic and the canoe tipped precariously. Her left hand still gripped the paddle while her right hand searched for support.

Max grabbed hold of the gunwales, the topside of the canoe. “Be still or we’ll tip!”

Jayden scrambled back as the moonlight became a spotlight on the snakes slithering out of the bag. The canoe tipped sideways again as she pulled herself in a semi-upright position in front of Max. Her paddle was dragging in the water and the force of the current yanked it out of her hand.

Connor was scrambling with his paddle, bringing it from left to right in an attempt to stay on course while maintaining balance. But it was too late.

The first snake lifted its head, poised to attack, and Jayden lurched to the left. Her sudden movement sent the canoe into capsize mode and before anyone could react, it overturned. She screamed helplessly as they were thrown into the hot, churning rapids.

* * *

If you're in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) on Saturday, October 20, come by the Chapters store at
Market Hall, 52 Quarry Edge Drive, Brampton, Ontario L6V 4K2.

J.C. Kavanagh 
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2) 
The Twisted Climb, 
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Email: author.j.c.kavanagh@gmail.com
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Visiting a Historical Church in Houston, Texas

The Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, the first free African-American church in Houston, Texas, played an important role in the history of the American South and beyond.

Antioch Missionary Baptist Church
The Declaration of Emancipation, signed by President Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862, declared that all slaves from states in “active rebellion” during the Civil War be granted freedom. The Declaration, however, did not cover Texas, which while aligned with the Confederacy, did not participate in active rebellion.

This situation continued until after the Civil War ended, when on June 18, 1865, General Grainger of the Union government arrived at Galveston Bay, close to Houston, and ordered all slaves in Texas, the last existing slaves in America, to be set free.

Reverend Jack Yates was born into slavery in Kentucky in 1828. Through self-education, he became knowledgeable in the Bible. In 1865, he moved to Houston and started preaching in a “Brush Arbor,” a church for slaves and freemen under trees.

A great organizer, he was quite successful and in 1868, became ordained as a Baptist Pastor. He convinced his congregation to purchase a piece of land in Freedman’s Town, now a part of downtown Houston, and build a Church on it. Besides worship, he was instrumental in establishing ministries that helped develop educational, economic and social skills.

Rev. Jack Yates
However, he is most known for a movement he started. Determined to honor the day of final emancipation of African Americans, he organized an event which he termed “Juneteenth.” Unfortunately, opposition arose when the City of Houston would not allow celebrations to take place in any of its parks, due to racial opposition.

Undaunted, Rev. Yates organized the community to buy its own park, which he named Emancipation Park, for their festivities. Since then, Juneteenth celebrations are observed in many cities throughout America and even in other countries.

Last year, I had the good fortune to visit the church. I was greeted with wonderful hospitality by the congregants and deacons and attended a presentation on the church’s history. I sat on one of the original hand-carved pews bearing the marks of adzes of the freed men, enjoyed gospel music and the energetic sermon of the pastor. I would encourage all visitors to Houston to explore this wonderful institution.

Mohan Ashtakala is the author of "The Yoga Zapper," published by Books We Love.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Brussel sprout stroganoff and fried grasshoppers... by Sheila Claydon

Is it me or a late onset problem with my wooden spoon, or are recipes just becoming more  complicated and less authentic?

I've eaten meals in many different countries, both in restaurants and in private homes, and because I enjoy trying new foods I have always paid attention to how people from different cultures cook and present their food. I ask questions too, and when I return home I sometimes try to replicate the recipes or incorporate a new technique into my cooking. This means that I can attempt many dishes from around the world as well as regional specialities from across the UK, and if I've been shown how or asked the right questions, I can usually produce something that is both recognisable and edible.

This is not the case with many modern recipes though. Rarely do the pictures match the final result and sometimes the list of ingredients are just plain off!  Much as I like vegetables I'm never going to find spaghetti tossed in a kale and spinach sauce and topped with a fillet of white fish appealing, and the same goes for a Brussel sprout stroganoff! Why even call it a stroganoff when it doesn't have a single authentic ingredient?

Nowadays magazines and newspapers compete with one another to print recipes and there are all those food blogs out there too, many of them supposedly to save us time. The selling point is that if we follow their method we can cook supper in a jiffy without having to wonder what we can produce out of the mix of ingredients in our larder and refrigerator. Sometimes this works but more often it doesn't, either because the ingredient list is too varied and exotic or because the mix of foods is too outlandish. Cauliflower pizza anyone?

Then there are the recipes sent in by the general public. The apple cake I tried because the writer said it was a firm family favourite, where I discovered that the only authentic word was firm because it came out of the oven squat and heavy and only suitable for a doorstop. And the meatloaf turned fish loaf recipe. I couldn't even try that.

Having tried the proliferation of recipes in all forms of the media for a long time, frequently unsuccessfully, I've decided it's my own fault. I have a kitchen shelf full of perfectly good cookbooks whose recipes have been tried and tested over the years, plus the knowledge that comes with preparing family meals day after day after day for what seems like forever, so why do I even read recipes that will never see the light of day in my kitchen. I guess it's because I like food and I'm always up for trying new flavours. After all I didn't expect the fried grasshoppers I ate in China to taste so good, nor the lassi yoghurt drink and the cauliflower curry in India, or the 4 hour cooked Christmas cabbage and rollmop herrings in Denmark. In Germany it was the weisswurst which is Avery unappetising looking but delicious white sausage, in France snails, in Australia alligator, in Scotland haggis and in Wales lava bread which is a special seaweed.  There have been many more but because they are culturally authentic dishes and snacks, lovingly prepared, they have all tasted good. Not so the many recipes that are now out there. Some of them work of course, but so many of them don't, so now I'm going back to basics. After all what is nicer than lemon and garlic chicken, a mushroom risotto or good old spaghetti bolognaise...and there is always steak and fries of course!

There are references to food in many of my books, and in a couple of cases actual recipes, but these are all things I've eaten and enjoyed, not suggestions plucked from a magazine, and when I wrote about them it took me right back to the pleasure of eating them. There is the cake my grandmother always made in Remembering Rose, the wonderful meal I ate in a tiny taverna at the top of a mountain in Italy in Mending Jodie's Heart and then there's the very simple early morning breakfast in a boat off Dolphin Key in Reluctant Date. Visit http://bwlpublishing.ca/authors/claydon-sheila-romance/ to find out more if, like me, you are a hopeful foodie.


You can also find me at Sheila Claydon on facebook

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Women Actually Took Part in the Klondike Gold Rush by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

I had been to the Yukon twice and hiked the Chilkoot Trail in 1997, the hundredth anniversary of the Klondike Gold Rush, so I knew some history of the area before I started my research for my novel Romancing the Klondike. But I didn’t know anything about the north prior to gold being discovered on Rabbit Creek. When I began my reading I learned that there were good sized towns such as Circle City in Alaska and Fortymile in the Northwest Territories (the Yukon Territory was not formed until 1898) with theatres, libraries, schools, stores, and medical doctors. One little known fact, though, was that while most of the residents in the north before the gold rush era were men, there were also many women who lived there with their prospector husbands or who came as nurses, teachers, cooks, dance hall girls, and ladies of the evening.

       One such woman was Ethel Berry who made the trek from California as a newlywed with her husband, Clarence, in 1896. When they heard about gold being found on Rabbit Creek (later named Bonanza Creek) Clarence staked a claim on Eldorado Creek, a tributary, and the couple set up camp in a 12X16 foot long cabin. There was only a dirt floor and a window that was covered with a flour sack. The winter was cold and Ethel spent her time keeping the wood stove going and cooking and cleaning. Clarence’s claim proved to be one of the richest claims in the Klondike and when they returned to Seattle with two hundred thousand dollar’s worth of gold in the summer of 1897, Ethel was dubbed the Bride of the Klondike by the newspapers. In 1898, they crossed over the Chilkoot Pass with thousands of hopeful millionaires and went back to their claim again.

       Another woman who struck it rich in the Klondike was Belinda Mulrooney. She was raised in Pennsylvania and left home at twenty-one. She worked in Chicago and then San Francisco before heading to Juneau, Alaska, in 1896. When she heard about the gold strike in the Klondike she decided to go there. She bought the necessities she would need but she also thought ahead and purchased silk underwear, bolts of cotton cloth, and hot water bottles. These she carried with her over the Chilkoot Pass in the winter of 1896.

       When the ice melted on the Lindeman and Bennett lakes and Yukon River she floated down the river to the new town of Dawson City, reaching in it June of 1987. According to Belinda Mulrooney herself, when she finally reached Dawson and the gold fields after many months of hardship, she tossed a 25-cent piece, her very last coin, into the Yukon River for luck. She was 26 years old and full of confidence. And rightly so for she sold her silk underwear, bolts of cloth, and hot water bottles for six times what she had paid for them.

       With this success, Belinda turned her attention to the prospectors in gold fields. She set up a lunch counter to feed the single men and then added a bunkhouse for those who didn’t have a cabin to stay in. Eventually she built the two story Grand Forks Hotel and Restaurant, with multiple bunk beds on the second floor, at the junction of the Eldorado and Bonanza creeks. The hotel also acted as a trading post, a gold storage, and sometimes as a church. In the back were kennels for the husky dogs used to pull the sleds which were the main transportation in the winter.

       Being the smart woman that she was, Belinda had the floor swept every evening and those sweepings run through a sluice box. This earned her as much as $100 a day from the gold dust that fell from miner’s pockets and clothing. And she began to delve into the gold claims themselves, owning or co-owning fiving mining claims by the end of 1897.

       Belinda turned her entrepreneurial skills to Dawson and bought a lot on the corner of Princess Street and First Avenue. She sold Grand Forks for $24,000 and used her profits to construct the three-story high Fair View Hotel which opened to enthusiastic and impressive reviews on July 27, 1898. This was the most impressive building in Dawson and held thirty guest rooms and a restaurant.

       Impressed by her strong business sense, a local bank asked Belinda to pull the Gold Run Mining Company out of the red. She had the company in the black in 18 months.

       Belinda married and divorced and eventually moved to eastern Washington State and built herself a castle. She and her siblings lived there until her fortune ran out and she began to rent out the castle. She died in Seattle in 1967 at the age of 95.

        These are just two examples of the many women who lived in the north, who took part in the Klondike gold rush, and who are not included in most of the books written.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Walking The Lakes with Wordsworth

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

I've wanted to visit England's Lake District since my university days, when I took a course in Romantic Poetry. The Lake Poets, my professor said, turned to nature as a reaction against the country's industrialization, not unlike the hippies of our time. No poet was more associated with the bucolic lakes than William Wordsworth, who was born in the region, travelled away for awhile and returned to marry and live the rest of his long life. Last spring I learned why he loved The Lake District so much when I spent a week there.   

A walk near Grasmere - in The Lake District everywhere you look is a picture
On one of those fine days, my husband and I visited two of Wordsworth's homes in the village of Grasmere. We arrived early at Dove Cottage, William's starter house when he married, and got a private tour before a busload of tourists crowded the small rooms. The guide pointed out the poet's favourite artifacts, which included a cuckoo clock that made William and his sister Dorothy laugh hysterically each time the bird popped out. Life was simpler then.   

Dove Cottage, where we learned that during his lifetime Wordsworth was always referred to by his first name

William's funny cuckoo clock

William built a terrace in the garden behind Dove Cottage to get a view of the lake, now obscured by houses and trees. 

William earned some money from poetry and worked as a Distributor of Stamps, but much of his income was inherited from his father and an acquaintance who died young and left the poet money to support his talent. From Dove Cottage, we walked a 40 minute path to Rydal Mount House & Gardens, William's more upscale home, where he lived from 1813 until his death in 1850. Here he wrote and revised many of his poems and published his most famous one, 'Daffodils.' The Wordsworths rented the house until his wife's death in 1859. Their great great granddaughter later bought the property, opened it to the public in 1970 and still uses it for family gatherings. 

Rydal Mount

I liked that the living room looks lived-in

Rydal Mount grounds

Rydal Mount's huge garden looks much as it did in William's time. William often said the grounds were more his 'writing room' than his office in the house. He was known to recite his poems aloud while revising them and often did this on his solitary walks through the countryside. William was born before the invention of trains and wasn't rich enough to own a horse and carriage. He thought nothing of walking five hours to the northern Lake District town of Keswick, to visit his friend and fellow Romantic poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. 

Writing, walking, wandering through gardens. What a wonderful lifestyle.   

Willam's and his wife's grave in Grasmere lies next to that of his sister Dorothy, who lived with them and inspired many of his poems. Dorothy's diaries reveal that she could almost be credited with composing the first draft of 'Daffodils.'    

We were too late in the season for William's daffodils, but we walked past fields of bluebells. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Walk With Me in the Rain

           I write when the house is quiet; when even the dogs lie at my feet in slumber and there is nothing to interrupt the flow of my words. Then I create a world only I can see.  Sometimes, I don’t understand the emotional entanglement that occurs when I become immersed in that creative process. I ache for my characters; cry for their heartbreaks and laugh with their joys.

            And I walk with them in the rain.

            I close my eyes and visualize a world quite different from the concrete one in which I live. As I shuffle beneath an autumn canopy, bursting with crimson, mustard yellow and dusty brown, I long to sit down among the crackling leaves and listen as the wind echoes through the branches. I write the words to help me remember this day -- the gentle caress of the breeze, the call of a bird, distant laughter.

            I look above me but I don’t see trees. I see a young sapling or a towering oak; or an orchard rich with fragrant blossoms. For when others read what I have written, I hope they become part of the world that I created especially for them.

            I hope they walk with me in the rain.

            I drive down the road, wanting to capture the feel of furnace blasts of heat which throw tumbleweeds across the path to make the trip less tedious. I need other words for “hot” because my story takes place in summer and it is hot.  I take hints from the wilted fields; brown pastures which should have remained green another month.  Is it sweltering?  Torrid?  Bone melting hot?

            Before I can decide, the summer heat is drowned by the rain -- an earthshaking thunderstorm, lightning ricocheting across the sky before it turns into a warm, soft, summer rain. Rain is a deluge, a torrential downpour, a miracle, a disaster, a respite.  It is the angel of life for barren fields during a drought, or it can wash away a lifetime of hopes and dreams in an instant.

            Can you recall riding through a puddle on your bike as though it were a great sailing ship, lifting your feet high but getting soaked anyway? Do you smell the clean earth and feel the mud squish up between your toes?

            Are you ready to walk with me in the rain?

Have you ever visited a town where no one lives but where the ghosts will speak if only you will listen? Will you dress up in old fashioned clothes and pretend to be an outlaw’s girlfriend, getting a tintype taken in an old time saloon?

            This is how I write; caught up in dreams of another time.  There is an insatiable need within me to create worlds in which I know I can’t belong, but to which I am allowed a visit--for another hour; for ten more pages; for tonight. 


Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Do you underline book titles? by Rita Karnopp

In my book, Kidnapped, I found myself drawing on the fact my husband and I were strugging to have a child.  So Laura became a character I truly related to. I cried while writing the final courtroom scene.  My husband stopped at my desk and asked, "Are you okay ... what's wrong?"  I answered, "It's so sad."  I truly believe if we the writer are brought to tears by the words we type ... then our reader with most likely cry when they read them.
Laura and Aaron Palmer’s marriage is over, but they have newly adopted daughter, Amie, to consider. If they split up now, young Amie could be taken away from them both forever.
Life is complicated, but it takes a turn for the worse when Laura finds Amie’s picture listed in an ad for missing and abducted children. But are the people who claim to be Amie’s biological parents really what they seem, or is something more sinister at play?   
Alienated emotionally from each other, and paralyzed with fear, can Laura and Aaron find a way to save their marriage and protect their adopted daughter? This story entwines your heart with the bonding love of a child.

    4 Nymphs ~ This is a truly engrossing tale for anyone who has ever wondered about the stories behind those faces on the milk cartons. Author Karnopp does a great job revealing the stress of a couple unable to conceive. Her characters are all well developed and understandable, even the supporting cast. The story tugs at your heartstrings, without being saccharine or maudlin. I enjoyed it. ~Sphinx Minx

    4 Star ThrillerKidnapped by Rita Karnopp is a thriller. The characters have their own distinct voice. You could see the flaws in Aaron and Laura, and as the story progresses you see them mature and grow. This is a plot that could easily be ripped from the headlines. Kidnapped is an entertaining read. ~ Debra Gaynor for ReviewYourBook.com

Do You Underline Book Titles?

I’ll bet each of us has paused when we’re ready to write/type the title of a book … back in the day all book titles were Underlined … and then later they were all CAPITALIZED or italicized … but things have changed. 
How do you handle book titles?  Put them in “quotes?”  The truth of the matter is … whether it be a book, online, a newspaper, a proposal, or a magazine article, the writing of titles are handled in so many ways.  But, which one is correct?

The answer is: probably all of them.  Today how you handle book titles is a style choice not governed by grammarian law.
According to the Chicago Manual of Style and the Modern Language Association, titles of books (and other complete works, such as newspapers and magazines), should be italicized. 
Opposite, the AP Stylebook suggests that you use quotation marks around the names of books (with the exceptions of the Bible and catalogs of reference material, such as dictionaries and almanacs, which should not be styled in any way). 
Some publications also follow their own style guides.  Just so you know, an editor will edit your story to fit her/his style preferences anyway. 
So, what does that mean to you and me? It means: Don’t worry about it too much. Just pick one style and stick with it for consistency purposes.   


Dreams are NOT dreams in Darkness Descends, by J.C. Kavanagh

Darkness Descends,  Book 2 from the award-winning Twisted Climb series   Unlike the incredible, scary and mind-blowing adventures in th...