Monday, January 30, 2023

There is no good time for Goodbye forever by Eden Monroe



I thoroughly enjoyed writing Gold Digger Among Us, the story of a cattle rancher who faces his share of challenges on the twenty thousand acre Tanner Ranch. From a punishing drought and fiery family drama to the unexpected return of a long-lost love back to stake her claim, Dade Tanner takes on all comers.

And speaking of cowboys, westerns and such, my spouse, Michael, was my writing resource for most things bovine and equine. An outstanding cattleman and horseman and accomplished gymkhana competitor, he was once featured in Canadian Cowboy Country magazine. He was an important part of my storytelling, and not surprisingly we also shared a love of a good western adventure. That includes Gunsmoke, arguably the greatest western of them all.

I must confess I had some serious catching up to do because for some reason I never watched Gunsmoke in its heyday, although I certainly remember it. I do recall once in passing seeing a tall man standing outside a saloon talking to a pretty painted lady with a beauty mark on her cheek, but that was it. Nevertheless I was aware of the Matt and Kitty mystique, the were they or weren’t they (an item), along with the “Get Out of Dodge” warning that became part of the popular vernacular. I even used it a few times myself.

Fast forward to 2022 when I was trying to come up with a gift idea for Michael and thought perhaps he might like to watch some of the old Gunsmoke shows. I believe I chose season four, volume two, at random. Well, he did like becoming reacquainted with the series, and it wasn’t long before I was ordering season four, volume one, and then another season and then another, eventually purchasing the 65th anniversary collection of the complete series. I was hooked too, buying into the whole Matt and Kitty thing! Watching like a hawk for any little gesture or knowing glance between them that might reveal they were more than just friends, and we found plenty of delightfully incriminating subtleties. I was the newbie and Michael had never really watched it in that way, so we had some fun with it. It was also great to see the parade of familiar faces guesting on the show: Bette Davis, John Drew Barrymore, Ed Asner, Charles Bronson, Gary Busey, David Carradine, Angie Dickinson, Richard Dreyfuss, Sam Elliott, Harrison Ford, Ron Howard, Leslie Nielsen, Leonard Nimoy, Jodie Foster, Nick Nolte, William Shatner, Jon Voight, Aaron Spelling, Robert Urich and Forrest Tucker, among dozens of others – many appearing more than once. 

I adored the regular cast and didn’t take it well at all when Chester left for greener pastures after season nine. I may have even threatened to stop watching, although Festus, his replacement, eventually won me over.

And here’s an interesting aside. Did you know James Arness (Matt Dillon) stood 6’ 7” tall (6’ 9” in his boots) and was a natural blonde? Producers wanted his hair dyed black with the rationale that he’d be taken more seriously in his role as a US Marshall.

In any event onward Michael and I continued with our journey back in time through twenty years of Gunsmoke and we enjoyed watching it together. And then early one morning my world turned upside down when Michael died unexpectedly, apparently from a massive heart attack. There are no words to adequately describe finding his body, too late to revive him. Straight up, it was a nightmare, only there was no waking up from this one. He was torn from my life without a good-bye, or even one more I love you. Taken away for a mandatory autopsy because of his sudden death at home, we didn’t see him again until four days later at his funeral.

So many tears.

On my own again, the silence that filled my days and nights was all-consuming, deafening; overwhelming. It was like I was underwater, sucked into a terrible vortex, struggling to find which way was up. I ached for something familiar, something from my life prior to losing Michael; something that didn’t feel permanently altered.  Anything that would bring even the tiniest measure of comfort. Sitting in the dark late that first night and in such agony, I reached for the remote and switched on Gunsmoke. I was so sad, tears streaming down my face, but maybe for an hour or two not so alone.

In the days that followed, that old classic western became my touchstone because when I pressed the play button and Gunsmoke came alive on the screen I was surrounded with familiar voices; family, as I escaped back to Kansas of the 1800’s. As the weeks passed I watched the rest of the four remaining seasons. There was no one to share it with anymore, or laugh at some of Festus’ comical quips, like: “I’m so mad I could smoke a pickle”, and by this time it was obvious that Matt and Kitty were indeed a couple, all attempts at platonic pretense sensibly abandoned. Whatever, I was among friends and fictitious as they may have been, they helped me lose myself in their stories night after night.


I still watch Gunsmoke from time to time, my favourite episodes, as I continue to heal from this dreadful loss. Who knew when our little nostalgic adventure began a few weeks before, how it would end – how anything in our lives will end I suppose, or when. I’m guessing it’s better sometimes that we don’t know. We are never prepared for the unexpected, but then is there any good way to lose someone you love? It would be a different kind of a nightmare to watch your loved one slowly slip away week after week, struggling to accept that they will soon be gone and you’ll be left behind to carry on without them. We’ve all been touched by loss in one way or another, and there is no easy way in any of it. There’s just the good-bye, and there is never a good time to say it, knowing it will be forever.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The Writer's Goals~~Then and Now

All My historicals @


How did we ever get into this writing business/hobby/obsession? 

Motive varies from writer to writer. Some of us wrote to escape, to create alternate worlds in which to live--worlds where we can control the outcomes. Some of us wrote to tell the stories that natter away in our heads incessantly, stories that entertain us so much, or engross us so deeply, we simply HAVE to share them.  There are many so motives for writing a book.  

When I began writing fiction seriously, by which I mean with an eye to publication, back in the late 1970's, there was a path in place to follow. We learned about the stamped, self-addressed envelope, the eye-catching cover letter, the one page synopsis, and the perfect, not-too-long first chapter, which we slaved and sweated over until finally, with great trepidation, we submitted to a carefully selected editor at a publishing house into which we thought our beloved "baby" would "fit." There were long waits for the mail and for some harried assistant editor's attention, followed by, over the years, perhaps a thousand rejections. Aiming at an ever-shrinking mid-list, acceptance into the "published writer" club became ever harder.

When we weren't working on our latest book or day jobs, we went to conferences and learned about genres and the rules which governed those genres, that is, writing to the expectations of your future readers. If your story was a love story, it had to have a happy-ever-after ending. If you wrote mysteries, you'd probably have read dozens of books by the all time greats, authors like Agatha Cristie, Earl Stanley Gardner, John Dickson Carr and Rex Stout. You planned your story and outlined a twisting plot, because "who dunnit" requires the reader to be engaged by the puzzle you've created, and, you, the author, has to remain always a step ahead. 

Back then, you had to be a master of your craft in order to mix genres, and, as a new writer, you did so at your peril. Over time, much has changed. One example would be the old genre, "Romance," which is now split into many many, many categories. The hard-and-fast rules governing genre writing are out the window. 

Moreover, what the ambitious writer of today dreams of is not only the traditionally coveted book deal, but also a movie deal, a TV show, or a series available on one of the many new hungry-for-content streaming platforms, such as Netflix, HBO or Showtime. 

These days you can cross all the genres you can imagine in film. Look at the success of Lucifer, which started on HBO, and, then found a new home at Netflix. Into what genre would you put this show? Lucifer had a Comic book genesis (via Milton's  poetic sermon, Paradise Lost, via Neil Gaiman's Good Omens. Now the title character is a witty, urbane modern celestial escapee from Hell, but added to that, we've got a mash-up of romance, comedy, police procedural, adventure, soap opera and kung-fu fighting + gunfire, all crammed into a fantasy-fast-lane of sex, drugs and rock'in'roll inside the entertainment world of modern Los Angeles. (How's that for a run-on sentence!?)


One of my cross-genre books:
Black Magic
Vampires, Shapeshifters, Historical, Adventure, Family Saga, set on an 18th Century 
Alpine estate that's nowhere near as placid as it appears.

Writing, now that we've crossed into another century, remains a labor of love/obsession that may or may not ever pay off. It's probably even harder than it once was to get published in the 21st Century, and ever so much harder to attract an audience with so much material clamoring for attention. 

Still, if the madness is upon you...well, all I can advise is "Go for it."

~~Juliet Waldron

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Best Things to Do on Valentine's Day By Connie Vines #BWLAuthorBlog, #Valentine's Day Ideas, #Romance

 Valentine's Day has always been my favorite holiday. 

Valentine's Day is more than just gifts. Valentine's Day reminds me of pieces of childhood: excitement, handmade gifts, candy hearts in a small box, and fingers and chins sticky with chocolate. Of course, I adore flowers, sentimental/cute cards, chocolates...

I'm aware of the 'dark beginnings' of the holiday, but that can be discussed at another time.

February 14th will be here before you know t!

I may not be Cupid ...but I do write romance πŸ’•πŸ’–πŸ’˜

#1 Visit a Book Store or Brouse for E-Books online

The perfect date for bookworms. Spend the day exploring new reads together, grabbing coffee, and talking about the books you bought. (romance picks should be at the top of your list today!)

# 2 Make a Bucket List of Things you and your Significant Other would Like to do Together.

There are 365 days in a year. Local sites and historical areas are nearby and usually easier on your budget.

Here in the Burbs, my travels have included more than the usual (well-known) SoCal  choices:

The Ocean to Ocean Highway (Holt Boulevard)

Guasti Winery

Graber Olive House

Route 66 (Starts in downtown Chicago and ends at the Santa Monica pier in California).

Stomping grounds of Frank Zappa and the location of  Dr. Sandra Lee's (TLC network) medical office.

                                (copywritten by Connie Vines)

#3 Make Fondue

My personal choice for this year.

Why? It's perfect for two or for a Valentine's Day gathering.

Everyone gets to choose their own "dippable"—strawberries, bananas, marshmallows, or mini pretzels and it's easy to make. Only three ingredients are chocolate, cream, and a pinch of salt.

Flavors may be added to the chocolate: peppermint extract, cinnamon, and chile for a Mexican spin, or Amaretto or Bailey's Irish cream for a grown-up version.

And if it's just the two of you, chocolate fondue is a great way to end a romantic meal at home. The dip-ables can be prepped in advance, and the chocolate sauce comes together in just a few minutes.

For the dipping fondue chocolate:

1 cup (8 ounces) heavy cream

Pinch salt

12 ounces milk or dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped bar)

For dipping:


Banana pieces cut into 1-inch chunks

Dried apricots

Apple slices

Candied ginger

Squares of pound cake

Heat the cream:

Heat the cream with a pinch of salt over medium heat in a small saucepan until tiny bubbles show and begin to lightly and slowly simmer.

Remove from heat and add the chocolate:

Remove from heat, add the chocolate, and whisk until smooth and fully incorporated.

Serve immediately:

Transfer the chocolate mix to a fondue pot heated at low or low flame, or serve straight from the pot.

Arrange the dip-ables on a platter or plates around the chocolate pot.

Use a fondue fork, bamboo skewer, seafood fork, or salad fork to dip the fruit pieces and other dip-ables into the hot melted chocolate mixture. Eat immediately.

If the fondue begins to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of heavy cream and stir.


Happy Reading πŸ“–πŸ“± and Happy πŸ’—Valentine's Day, too!

Connie Vines

Visit my BWL page:

Find me here:  (links/ blog posts, etc. are here :-)

Friday, January 27, 2023

Celebrating the life of a furry little angel - by Vijaya Schartz

amazon B&N Smashwords 
I’ve always been in love with cats, and I can’t pass an adoption drive without looking at the cats.

I had lost a little part-Siamese I had for seventeen years, a few months before I saw Princess Jasmine for the first time. She was in a cage at Petsmart, and I noticed her right away. As I petted her and talked to her, I felt a connection with her… but the timing was wrong. So, I had to walk away… with regrets.

She was a young cat but no longer a kitten, and she had been through several surgeries after being mauled by her previous family dog while pregnant. After all her trials, her family chose the dog and abandoned her at the vet, who took her to a HALO no-kill shelter.

Two months later, I spotted Jasmine again during a special adoption drive at Petsmart. She still hadn’t been adopted despite her sunny personality. Her adoption fee had gone down, and this time I was in a position to adopt her. I took it as a sign that we must be destined for each other.

I took her to the house I shared with my now ex-husband. She enjoyed running in the backyard, chasing lizards, hunting bugs, and playing chicken with the chickens.

A few months later, afraid she might feel lonely, I adopted a kitten from a friend’s backyard litter, an adorable tuxedo we named Spunky for his fearless exploits.

Jasmine didn’t like him at all. She wanted the house to herself. But mainly Spunky liked my lap, her favorite place, and Jasmine didn’t like to share. So, she gave him the stink eye and kept her distance when he was near me.


One morning, as I was making the bed upstairs, Jasmine came up to me mewing and mewing. I could tell something was very wrong. She seemed to want me to follow her down the stairs, so I did. It was a beautiful day and the doors and windows were wide open. Jasmine took me to the front yard to the corner of the house, where a thick vine grew all the way to the top of the chimney.

And there, the reckless little kitten who had tried to climb the vine, was crying pitifully, out of strength, barely able to move, entangled so tightly in the vine, that I couldn’t free him with my bare hands. I had to get some cutters to cut the strands constricting his little belly.

Although Jasmine resented the kitten, she had come to get me when he was in trouble. Don’t tell me animals don’t have a soul. And there are angels among them. Jasmine was definitely an angel and saved this kitten’s life that day.

From then on, Spunky lost his spunk, and Jasmine became the alpha mama cat. Later on, we brought in a few occasional strays and abandoned kittens who needed a home. Jasmine never played with them but watched them play from the top of the stairs.

Spunky grew into a beautiful cat but didn’t stay with us very long. He had faulty genes and a neurologic condition (like his brother who remained with my friend and also died early). It’s sometimes the case with feral kittens. Bless his little soul.

Shortly after Spunky’s passing, my husband and I separated. Of course, I took my little princess Jasmine with me. She was happy from then on to be the only cat in the home, even if it was a small apartment without a yard. She could lie in my lap every night, and sleep on my bed, and demand tuna and get it from me every time. And she never had to share anything again, not her toys, not my lap, not my bed, not the food, not my affection.

She became a lazy fat cat that my friends called “well fed” so as to spare her feelings. But for the past year or so, Jasmine had been losing weight. At first, it seemed like a good thing, and she could move better, and jump on the bed again, to wake me up every morning before sunrise.

Her passing didn’t really come as a surprise, since she was sixteen and had a hard beginning, but I cry every time I see her in my mind, that cute little angel, sleeping with eyes open, unseeing, her soul already in a better place. My apartment feels empty without her. I miss her sorely. R.I.P. little angel.

When I’m ready to love again, I will adopt another cat, but first this pain has to heal.

In the meantime, Jasmine still lives in my books, as she was the inspiration for many of my cat characters, who, like her, are telepathic, and angelic in nature.

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo

Vijaya Schartz, award-winning author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Ah sweet love! —Tricia McGill


Find this and all my other books on my BWL Author page

While going back over long forgotten posts I came across one I wrote ages ago. Because I write Romances and am a glutton for happy ever after endings, of course I tend to look at life through those rose-tinted specs, even though I know that in real life only a small percentage of love affairs end in that happy ever after. 

Love comes in many guises of course. In my life I’ve known all about abiding love. The kind that comes with having a loving family around you—and the kind that comes with having true and trusted friends. Most importantly, the kind that comes with having a long and contented marriage with a steady, dependable man. My late husband was my best friend. He knew things about me no one else did, even my family—it was he who encouraged me to follow my dreams when I began to write. Each form of love brings a certain amount of heartache of course and has varying degrees of laughter and tears attached. I know I’ve been blessed, as some people know no love at all in their entire barren lifetime.

Let’s face it, love as sung about in most songs, is a fleeting and fragile thing. Where would Country or Pop singers have enough to write about without the heartache brought on by losing a lover. I likely chose romance as my choice of genre because of my smugness in having known such enduring love. True love as experienced by two people of whatever gender is a wonderful thing. Fate, Destiny, my Guardian Angel, call her what you will, has been more than kind to me. She’s always guided me to take the best and most rewarding fork in the road as I meander through these pathways of life. 


As for friends, I’ve been so lucky in my life as I’ve always had friends around me that I can depend on. I have friends back in England that I only hear from now and then, and some have been steady for many years. Friends have come and gone in different stages of my life. I have long-time friends who live interstate or up country that I catch up with rarely these days, but they still remain firm friends.

Some cynics say there is no such thing as a platonic friendship between a man and woman, but I personally think this not entirely true. Some of my best friends over the years have been male, and truth be told I have always liked the company of these platonic ones. I like how men’s minds work (well the part that is understandable to a mere female). They have such a different way of looking at life to us females—more uncomplicated I always feel. And they take such pleasure in the simple things—such as absconding to their shed or workroom to potter about for hours doing who knows what. They don’t care if the dishes are left in the sink or if the bed is unmade at three in the afternoon, there’s more important things in life.

Then there’s my super cyber friends—some of whom live in far flung corners of the world and I will never get to meet them face to face. But they are also constant, some having been a guide in helping me through varying parts of my writing career, providing assistance and advice that helped me on the way to becoming better at my craft. I’ve always considered myself a simple story-teller, following my heart rather than my head, but without the advice gained via this wonderful world of the internet where would any of us be today.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Canadian Lakes by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Canadian Lakes

 I am a Canadian and all my mystery, historical, romance, and young adult novels are set in Canada. Canada is the second largest country in the world and has about 20% of the world’s freshwater. It also shares the world’s largest body of freshwater-the Great Lakes-with the United States. Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, are divided by the border while Lake Michigan is totally in the United States.

Nearly 14% of the world’s lakes over 500 sq km (193.05 sq mi) are within Canada’s borders. The largest lake totally within the country is Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. It is the 4th largest in North America and the 9th largest in the world. The name comes from the Chipewyan word satudene which means ‘grizzly bear water people’.

Great Slave Lake, also in the Northwest Territories is the second largest freshwater lake in Canada and the 10th largest on the Earth. With a depth of 614 metres (2,014 ft) it is the deepest lake in North America. It was named for the Dene, the first nation’s people who were called Slavey by the Cree first nations.

Lake Winnipeg, in Manitoba, is Canada’s third largest freshwater lake and has the largest watershed (the rivers that drain into a lake plus all the land with streams that drain into those rivers) in Canada. Its watershed is about 982,900 square kilometres (379,500 square miles) which is about 40 times its size. This ratio is the biggest of any other large lake in the world. Waters flow into Lake Winnipeg from the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario and from the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana making it the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world.

Lake Athabasca sits on the northern border of the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan with 26% in Alberta and 74% in Saskatchewan. It is the fourth largest lake totally in Canada and waters from it flow northward through the Slave and Mackenzie river systems to the Arctic Ocean.

It is estimated that there are about 2 million lakes of various sizes in Canada and they make up about 9% of the country’s mass. This means that 891,163 square kilometres (344,080 sq mi) of Canada’s total area of 9.985 million square kilometres (3.8 million sq mi) is covered by freshwater.


Monday, January 23, 2023

Releasing and Promoting a Book by Victoria Chatham

A major part of releasing a book is to promote it and then promote it more. I was happy to recently showcase Brides of Banff Springs and the Canadian Historical Brides Collection at Olds Municipal Library. When I contacted the Librarian about a booking, she was excited to offer me a date, which we arranged over the phone. We decided to have a meet and greet in the afternoon for people who might not be able to attend the evening reading and book signing session. This worked out very well as a lovely lady called Catherine came to meet me and told me that her mother had been the head housekeeper at Banff Springs Hotel. It was her job to open it up every spring along with the hotels at Lake Louise and Fairmount. I can't even begin to imagine how big a job that would have been. This lady also met King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the late Queen's mother) when they visited Canada in 1939 and received a commemorative silver powder compact. I would love to have seen it, but I understood why Catherine wanted to keep it safe at home. Another young lady, who had already read the book, said her first job was in housekeeping at the hotel, and she could easily identify with Tilly, the heroine.
My table for the afternoon session was just inside the main entrance, so it was easy to talk to people as they came and went. Just in case a little extra is needed, a bowl of candies or quality chocolate is a good way to get people talking, and many admired the gift basket. The framed poster listing all the Historical Bride books also drew a lot of attention, with many visitors saying they did not know much of Canada's early history.

Nicole Peers, the Librarian, was not sure of numbers for the evening reading, but as people began to arrive, she quickly found more chairs to seat them. Before I started the reading, I presented Nicole with the gift basket, a thank-you to her and the staff for hosting me.


My author tagline is History, Mystery, and Love, so I picked three appropriate passages and read a bit of the history of Banff, the beginning of the mystery concerning the ghost bride and finally, the scene where the hero asks the heroine to marry him. The audience response was encouraging, with still more people wanting to talk afterwards about their experiences with Banff, having lived or worked there or been constant visitors. The funding from the Government of Canada helped make this a fun, exciting evening. Nicole said it was one of the best author evenings the Library had hosted, and I was only too happy to have been a part of it.

The first two images are from the author's collection.

The last two images are courtesy of  Ayesha Clough, Red Barn Books.

Victoria Chatham




Sunday, January 22, 2023

Skunks and aliens

 Readers familiar with my Whistling Pines cozy series know that quirky people and situations are regular plot components. I'm always on the hunt for a new plot or twist, and there's never a shortage of material. With a 2023 plot about arson in the works, I've been trying to keep the whirling ideas from congealing. Yes, my head is a swirling mass of plots, characters, and facts that mesh into a book. My tuba-playing friend and consultant, Brian, calls me billiard ball brain because he feels that the inside of my head must resemble a billiard table after the break, with ideas bouncing off each other like billiard balls until they come to rest in some pattern that becomes a plot.

It's wonderful to have tons of ideas, and a stream of plots coming from friends, readers, and the news. On the other hand, it's infuriating to be drafting a book when the billiard balls come to rest, demanding that I start a book outline and an opening chapter.

That happened today.

I'm about 75% though a first draft of Taxed to Death, a 2023 Pine County mystery, and my attention NEEDS to be on those final few chapters. 

My writing was interrupted when my wife pointed out hundreds of small holes (1" diameter) that had randomly dug in our yard. It was our personal mystery. Who, or what, had excavated the holes? They looked like a random aeration of the turf. There were no footprints. There was no indication of what had been removed. It was stuck in my mind. That new billiard ball started rolling.

I tried to ignore it, but I mentioned it to some friends during lunch and there was consensus that a family of skunks had been digging up grubs (larval June bugs), which are apparently a skunk delicacy.

Finding that solution plausible, I fired off an email to a number of people, hoping to find someone who would volunteer for skunk removal/relocation duty. My fist response was from an old friend who suggested that it was more likely that the holes had been dug by an alien lawn aerator. I replied that having weighed the probabilities (yes, I have taken a couple statistics courses) of skunks vs. aliens, I'd determined that the likelihood of the holes being created by aliens was somewhat more remote than my odds of winning the Powerball. His response was brief, "I can't reply. My aluminum foil hat is interfering with my WiFi reception."

A new billiard ball was in motion; a vision of people wearing foil-wrapped baseball caps to ward off the effects of cosmic rays. I know these ideas will come to rest and weave themselves together with some other craziness that will become a future Whistling Pines plot.

In the meanwhile, I suggest that you read Whistling Artist so that you're familiar with my protagonist Peter Rogers, the recreation director of the Whistling Pines Senior Residence, and the cast of colorful supporting characters from that series.

Hovey, Dean - BWL Publishing Inc. (

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