Saturday, April 30, 2016

Great New Releases from Books We Love

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Friday, April 29, 2016

The Lennon-McCartney of the 18th Century

The tenor, Michael Kelly, wrote a memoir which remains interesting to anyone searching for Mozart stories, particularly about the Marriage of Figaro. (The Austrian Emperor and therefore everyone else in Vienna referred to Kelly as "Ochelli" because "The names of all Irishmen begins with an 'O". Therefore, OChelli he was--in Vienna.)  Lesson #1--never correct the Emperor of Austria if you would like to keep your job at the royal opera house...
From the tenor Michael Kelly’s "Reminiscences," published 1826 :
“I remember the first rehearsal of the full band, Mozart was on the stage with his crimson pelisse and gold-laced cocked hat, giving the time of the music to the orchestra. Figaro’s son, “Non piu andrai, farballone amoroso…” Bennuci gave with the greatest animation and power of voice.

I was standing next to Mozart, who, sotto voce, was repeating, “Bravo! Bravo! Bennuci!” and when Bennuci came to the fine passage, “Cherubino, alla vittoria, alla Gloria militar” which he gave out with Stentorian lungs, the effect was electricity itself, for the whole of the performers on the stage and those in the orchestra, as if actuated by one feeling of delight, vociferated Bravo! Bravo! Maestro! Viva, viva grande Mozart! Those in the orchestra I thought would never have ceased applauding, by beating the bows of their violins against the music desks. The little man acknowledged, by repeated obeisances, his thanks for the distinguished mark of enthusiastic applause bestowed upon him…” 


No more, you amorous butterfly,
Will you go fluttering round by night and day,
Disturbing the peace of every maid,
You pocket Narcissus, you Adonis of love,
No more will you have those fine feathers,
That light and dashing cap,
Those curls, those airs and graces,
That rosy womanish cheek.
You’ll be among warriors, by Bacchus!
Long moustaches, knapsack tightly on,
Musket on your shoulder, saber at your side,
Head erect and bold of visage,
A great helmet, waving plumes,
Lots of honor, little money,
And instead of the fandango,
Marching through the mud.
Over mountains, through valleys,
In snow and days of listless heat,
To the sound of blunderbusses,
Shells and cannons
Whose shots shall make your ears sing
On every note.
Cherubino, onto victory,
Onto Military Glory!
(Cherubino, alla vittoria, alla Gloria militar!)

This is one of the most famous (and fun!) arias in all of operaSet to Mozart’s most stirring martial music, it is mockingly sung to Cherubino, the teen would-be lady-killer, by the older servant,  wily Figaro. The Count who rules them all has just caught the boy hanging around once too often, first with his wife, and just now with Susanna, the pretty maid whom the Count is hot to seduce. As Cherubino is his ward and of noble blood, he can’t just murder him, (much as he'd like to,) so he's ordered him into the army.

The military is still the classic solution for boys who suffer from a chronic overload of testosterone and who are causing problems around your house—or on the street. Written in the late 18th Century, when war still had a cloud of romance hanging round it—no machine guns, tanks, drones or poison gas just yet—it’s straight on the mark. “Glory” is meant ironically. Figaro is sobering the boy up, saying that soldiering means real danger, exhaustion and suffering. So get ready, kid!

It’s a nice example of DaPonte’s nuanced writing, words that inspired Mozart to write his most famous scores. Figaro first sings mocking praises—“Pocket Narcissus” has to be one of the best put-downs ever. Then he gets tougher. There will be no further perfumed romps in My Lady’s chambers. Your new bosom companions, my son, will be hardened soldiers--and your 60 lb. knapsack. No more dances, only marching, almost always in the worst weather.  In the 18th Century, too, armies were often chronically without pay, not only because of the usual bad planning, but because wrecking havoc on civilians was (and, heck, still is) traditionally part of the game. DaPonte and Mozart, both freelance artists, know only too well that honor without the cash to back it up was a hollow thing indeed.

For the coup de grace, Figaro describes the pain which bombs and gunshots will cause your ears. It’s a misery particularly singled out by DaPonte and Mozart for Cherubino, a musical boy who writes beautiful love songs for all his girlfriends.

No more honey-dripping for you, Punk! From now on, your ears will “sing” to you of war! 

 ~~Juliet Waldron
Take a little walk into my 18th Century world:
And because it's Nanina Gottlieb's birthday today and because she too--aged 11--sang in this opera:


Thursday, April 28, 2016

Write-ins By Connie Vines

Happy Thursday, Everyone!

Writing without interruptions and distractions--a fact or a life long dream?

If you have a full time day job (me) it is difficult to snag writing time.  While signing up for the book in a month writing challenge may work for many, it only creates additional stress for me.  Weekly critique groups were helpful when I was a novice writer.  Now I find attending a critique group results in  giving up writing time and ending up with several hours of additional home work.

So how do I get support, without taking on additional duties?

One answer: Hold a Write-in.

What is a Write-in?
A write-in is a gathering of writers at a predetermined place, within a predetermined time period--who work quietly and independently on his or her own project.

Is a Write-in like a Critique Group?
No.  Write-ins are only for writing. Writers arrive and leave at any time during the scheduled time periods, no pre-work is required. Any numbers of writers may participate.

Critique groups are for discussing manuscripts previously submitted and studies by group members.  Attendance is expected, and group membership is small and closed.

How Do I Organize a Write-in?

A Coordinator.  Our network chair coordinates suggestions for write-in locations each week and posts information on our weekly email list.  We could set up a yahoo group, but that seems too labor intensive.  We rotate between several locations:  a reserved library room, local coffee shops, homes.

Since I like to keep my weekends free, I usually attend the coffee shop group 2 evenings a month. Other members meet after a RWA (Romance Writers of America) Chapter meeting, or a book club event held at the local library.

A Consistent Time Frame, with Exceptions.  Saturday groups favor 9 AM to 3 PM with a break for lunch.  I favor the 6:30 - 8-ish group with multiple coffee refills, situated in several large booths at a quaint (aka: somewhat dated) coffee shop.

This is a welcoming, open, supportive atmosphere.  The only rule is to avoid talking, so writers can write.  It is during lunch time or during the first ten minutes that we play social catch-up or discuss publishing news.

For those of you who love a bargain, my books are on sale this month on Amazon.  Starting with "Lynx"  Rodeo Romance Book 1, "Brede" Rodeo Romance Book 2,  and "Here Today Zombie Tomorrow"  Novella 1 in my Sassy and Fun Fantasy Series!

Happy Reading,

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

For the love of a Barbarian - by Vijaya Schartz

DAMSEL OF THE HAWK just released in the medieval fantasy series Curse of the Lost Isle. The story is set in 1204, after the sacking of Constantinople by the Crusaders, and I had lots of fun with the research. My hero is one of the mysterious Kipchak warriors who served in the Byzantine emperor's personal guard. Savagely loyal, fearless, and deadly, the Kipchak offered their skills for gold, and Constantinople had plenty.

As barbarians go, the Kipchak are full of surprises for a westerner like me. Raised in France, I always considered the hordes from the east a bunch of uncivilized demons on little horses, eating raw meat, killing, and pillaging. Although some tribes were more violent than others, and despite the fact that many lived in tents, these barbarians of the steppes, when they settled, could build beautiful cities, temples and palaces. There is also a gap in centuries between Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan, who was on the rise at the time of the story.

The Kipchak also brought with them a number of amenities we still enjoy today. They didn't eat their meat raw, they grilled it, and many of us still like a good Mongolian Barbecue. They brought us medicine herbs and spices from the orient. They traded silk and precious gems as they controlled the roads between the continents. They enjoyed fermented drinks, made from goat milk, oats and barley, and they could drink great quantities of it. They could hold their liquor like no one else.

While the Crusaders used a crossbow and fired their bolts in volleys, the Kipchak used a small composite bow of wood, horn and sinew, with incredible precision. They could hit their mark from a great distance, with a single arrow, from the saddle of a galloping horse. The Kipchak's skills as riders reached the point of acrobatics. Their horses, small in comparison to the enormous destriers of the western knights, could travel great distances in very little time, even in mountainous terrain.

Always close to nature, the Kipchak raised horses, sheep and goats, and they loved and respected their animals, although they rarely named them. They even had a white dog deity named Kopec. Of course, that's what I named the hero's white sheepdog in the story.

But there was also gold in the Caucasus Mountains between the Caspian and the Black Sea, and the Kipchak weren't immune to the fascination of precious metals. The women wore headdresses and heavy necklaces made of gold coins, especially the khan's wives and concubines.

Their beauty was legendary. The term Caucasian comes from their look. Part Asian and part Viking (the Russ tribe that invaded from the north), they had golden skin and clear eyes, very little body hair, and the men kept their hair short under the turban. They bathed often and kept good personal hygiene, compared to the often smelly Crusaders.

I will miss my close relationship to these Kipchak warriors as I move on to writing the next book in this series, which will be set in Poitou and Aquitaine (France), and will feature Melusine the Fae, the infamous lady of Lusignan.

Here is my new release:
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 7 (standalone)
from Books We Love Ltd
by Vijaya Schartz
in eBook and paperback

1204 AD - Meliora, immortal Fae and legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or  embrace it and trigger a sinister curse... and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake...


Vijaya Schartz
Blasters, Swords, Romance with a Kick

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

We all need a friend--Tricia McGill

A Heart in Conflict is available here
Everyone who knows me well, knows I am a passionate lover of animals. I watch just about every animal documentary on TV, and support a few wildlife societies. It never ceases to delight me how some species seem to mate for life, and others find true and lifelong friends of a different species. I am left to wonder why some humans can’t take a leaf out of the animals’ books and do likewise. How many of us have a special friend, be it male or female, who knows us almost as well as we know ourselves and know just what we would be likely to do in a given situation. I have been blessed in my life to have had close friends who have stuck by me through the highs and lows.

I had a very interesting conversation with my hairdresser the other day. We were discussing the way of the world and how too many  people seem to spend their lives being jealous, envious or just downright nasty about others who appear to have more than them or are getting on a tad better than they are. So many people seem to despise someone who is ‘getting on in the world’. The tall poppy syndrome seems to abound. Certain people are lauded when they are striving to become better at what they do, but once they achieve stardom, success or show they have excelled in a particular skill, are then subject to criticism. And why are so many obsessed by another’s shape, looks or bank balance? I’m appalled at the number of young people who are having Botox, plastic surgery or similar to alter their shape or looks. Spend more time just being a better person for goodness sake and not a better looking one. Go out and become a volunteer and see how much satisfaction can be gained by helping someone less fortunate, and spend less time worrying about trifling matters such as the size of your breasts or backside.

Take movie stars, and the load of rubbish some have to take on social media or in the glossies. I rarely buy magazines to be honest, and the only chance I get to open one and actually see what is inside their pages is at the hairdresser (again) or in the doctor’s waiting room. How many times I have read that a star is expecting a baby as she so obviously has a ‘bump’, only to learn it was an over-zealous reporter jumping to conclusions. A star is said to be ‘furious’ with her husband or boyfriend because he has been flirting with another woman. How on earth does the writer of this article know this star is so angry? Has the writer ESP so knows what goes on in the other’s mind. Or, was it a close friend of the star perhaps informing them of her fury? Some friend, to disclose her friends’ personal details to a newshound!

Back to my original paragraph about animals and their devotion to each other. I recently read this story about two chimpanzees who spent a combined 58 years in isolation. Jeannie was in a research lab and Terry a zoo, before they were rescued and taken to a sanctuary, where they are now inseparable. They rarely let each other out of sight and spend as much time touching as possible, as if in reassurance that their days of isolation are behind them. It is clear they relish their friendship and freedom. What a wonderful thing to know they have discovered the pleasure to be gained by holding hands with a true friend.

Buy When Fate Decides (Challenge the Heart Book 1)
Find all my Books We Love books here
See what animal pics I have on Pinterest

Monday, April 25, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author Ginger Simpson

Hi, My name is Ginger Simpson and I'm proud to be part of Books We Love.  Although I've written cross genres, mainly to prove I could, I love historical westerns, and I've written several of them.  I think I'll stick to the genre closest to my heart because as a pantser, the old west characters who pop into my head come with all the information I need.  Of course, because credibility is important to me, I do research language and other issues I may question, but I truly love my hero or heroine's anxiousness to share their tales with me.  They tell me a story and I SHOW you a novel.

I have several works-in-progress, but I just turned seventy.  I guess my ability to complete them is in the hands of the Lord. I keep praying for a long and productive life because I have so much more to share. Hard to believe I started this journey before I retired from the University of California, Davis and that was almost twenty years ago.  I wouldn’t change a thing because every decision I’ve made has brought me where and who I am today.

So far, I’ve written:

Destiny’s Bride -Debut novel and Western
Lost in His Eyes - Western
Arizona Sky - Western
Dancing Fawn - Western
Sarah’s Hope and Passion – Western/Modern Day
Yellow Moon - Western
Time Invested – World War II Historical Romance
A Novel Murder - Mystery
Culture Shock – Paranormal/Fantasy Mystery
Discovery –Short Story Collection with discovery as a commonality.
Shortcomings – Young Adult
Ages of Love – Combination 3 Romance stories
Hattie’s Heroes – Western/Modern Day
Ellie’s Legacy – Tennessee Romance Historical
Time Tantrums – Time Travel
Beaches – Debut/Swan Song Erotica
First Degree Innocence – Prison Mystery/Romance
Betrayed – Women’s Fiction based on a true story
Sarah's Hope - Latest release

Here's a few excerpts from some of my recently released works:  

Arizona Sky

"Can anyone hear me?”  Odessa Clay screamed. Nothing in the desert stirred except the hot wind that whipped her long hair into tangles. In the distance, a dust funnel swirled across the trail. Her nails dug into her fisted palms when her gaze returned to the overturned wagon atop her father. Again, she struggled to lift the cumbersome weight.

“God, please help me.”

 She pushed, shoved and lifted with every ounce of strength she had left. Her muscles burned and the veins in the backs of her hands protruded, but the wagon didn’t budge. At one hundred pounds and barely five feet tall, she proved no match for solid wood. Her chest heaved and each breath took effort. She brushed sweat-dampened hair from her brow and knelt. All her struggling had only succeeded in setting the left rear wheel into a slow spin. It created an eerie whirring in the silence. She chewed her bottom lip, driven by determination.

“Hold on, Pa. I’ll find some way to help you.”  

 His pale features contorted, and fear clutched her heart. She rose, turning her gaze up and down the trail. The dirt unfurled like a brown ribbon between the expanse of cactus and sagebrush. Odessa, refusing to let her father see her hopelessness, blinked back tears.

Anger heated her blood. This was all her fault. First her mother died giving birth, and now her father lay dying because of her. He’d wanted her to have a woman’s influence in her life—more opportunities. Their trip had gone smoothly until Pa whipped the horses to a faster pace to combat the heat—stir a breeze where none existed. The same wheel that spun now had been the one that slipped into a ragged rut and tipped the wagon over. She’d jumped clear, but Pa remained pinned from the waist down beneath the sideboard. The accident snapped the harness rigging, and the animals ran off. What she wouldn’t give for one of the horses to wander back right now. 

Lost in His Eyes:

Tying something around her waist wasn’t the problem. Her legs had grown weak and she doubted she could stand. Still, the idea of living appealed more than dying. “I-I can try.” She braced herself with the sides of the well and forced herself to her feet. Her head spun and she feared she might faint. The rope unfurled as he released it. His comment about the place being deserted didn’t make sense, but then nothing did at the moment.

With shriveled and weak hands, Harlee secured the braided horsehair around her waist, and gripped the lifeline with all the strength she mustered. “Okay, I’m ready, I think,” she called up to her rescuer.

“I’ll pull and you use your feet to walk up the wall.”

“I’m not sure I can. I have no feeling in my feet.

“Well, if I have to come down there and get you, there’ll be no one here to pull us both out. You’ve got to try.”

“I’ll try my hardest.”

She made a first step and a second. Water dripped from her body and splattered into what remained in the well. Her limbs trembled and the coarseness of the rope nipped through the thin material of her dress and chafed her skin. On her third step, her left leg gave out and she slammed against the wall, knocking the air from her lungs and scraping her cheek against the rough stones. The stranger slackened the rope, allowing her to collapse back into the water. Harlee massaged her burning face and even in the dim light saw blood on her fingers. She used the wet hem of her dress to soothe the burning and dab the wound.
“Are you all right?” His deep voice resonated and brought her to her senses.

Wouldn’t anyone who’d been trapped in a well for days be just fine? She took a deep breath and resisted asking him if he was serious.

“Did you hurt yourself?” He yelled louder.

“Yes. My cheek is bleeding and my hands are raw, but I’m ready to try again.”  Determination drove her.

“Okay, I’m going to start pulling again, so stand up and hold on tight.”

Her mind whirred with questions she hoped to ask. Harlee struggled to her feet and took a firm grip on her lifeline. “I’m ready; pull."


Sarah's Hope

The love of her life is dead and Sarah escapes for a weekend retreat to the mountain cabin she and her beloved Wolf bought as a means to escape the city. A bad storm is brewing, Sarah is on edge, and that's when the anonymous calls start. A mysterious voice knows too much about her and her life, a life the caller threatens to end.

Sarah comes face-to-face with a kidnapper hired to kill her, but manages to escape his deadly grasp. The devoted idiot is determined not to divulge who hired him, but does give away a valuable clue. Sarah's freedom only escalates the killer's plan. Who hates Sarah enough to want her dead, and why? Will she and the police find the person responsible for the calls and other mysterious events before the threats become a reality?

Check out my latest release, Sarah's Hope, and don't forget to visit my author page at

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