Tuesday, September 26, 2017

All things change—or do they--asks Tricia McGill

Find where to buy Amethyst and all my other books here on my BWL Author page

Of late I have been contemplating on how life changes over the years, but really when you come to think about it, apart from their mode of living, choice of religion, color or creed humans are the same the world over. What we mainly crave is someone to love and somewhere to call home. What brought this on was my latest book, Amethyst. This one is set in a small Australian town. Now to be honest I have always lived in a large city or the outer suburbs of one so my background in this story was based on what I learned from visiting friends at some time or another who resided in country towns much like the Yewbank featured in this book.

It got me thinking about my childhood living in a North London street surrounded by city-dwellers and the more I thought about it our street and surrounding area was not unlike a small town. I had an unusual childhood as three families lived in the house I was brought up it. We, that’s my parents, and any of my nine siblings who happened to still be at home, shared the bottom four rooms plus what we pompously called the kitchen but was in fact no more than a scullery. Anyone who has lived in an older style house in London who is around the same vintage as me will know what I am talking about.

So, the middle two rooms plus a small kitchen were rented by my mother’s sister who had two girls, the eldest being a year or so older than me. At the top of the house in two rooms plus two attic bedrooms was my eldest brother and his wife with their son and daughter. As you can imagine because we were all related we intermingled and thought nothing of going up and down and mingling (or interfering) in the lives of all occupants. In those days there was no such thing as childcare, after-school care, kindergarten or crèche. If the mother had to go out to work for financial reasons then either her mother or grandmother would care for the child/children and failing that a neighbor.

Now the reason I considered this was not a lot different to life in a small town is because we knew all our neighbors by name and all their offspring. We kids would all play out on the street or in each other’s back gardens, often disappearing for hours at an end. I can’t recall my mother asking where I’d been or who I had been with, I guess she had sixth sense or knew that anyone we talked to or played with must be all right as they were local. Mind you, she had a few simple rules: 1. Never take lollies from a stranger, especially a man. 2. Never go into the house of someone you don’t know. 3. This one came along when I got older—don’t let a boy touch you. Now, she never went as far as explaining just where he shouldn’t touch you. Oh, and following on from this one was—it’s up to us girls to say no to a boy. Likewise she didn’t explain fully which question we were supposed to say no to. I found out later that none of my four older sisters fared any better with their sex education (guess that has changed fundamentally over the years as now the teenagers seem to know it all) The last rule was that if you got into trouble you asked a policeman for help. I don’t know if it is any different where you live but I can’t remember the last time I saw a policeman on the street, they all drive around in their cars these days.

Our mother was always there when I came home from school or work. If she wasn’t then you knew she was up the local shops. We had an extensive extended family who kept in touch by mail. There was no telephone or email back then, but we always managed to learn when there was a wedding, funeral, birth in the family or any other special occasion and often had parties where distant relatives would be invited. Being such a large family any get together often evolved into a party.

I attended a small church school which still thrives today (I love Google Maps) and knew most of my classmates and where they lived and would often visit them in their homes. Of course there were a few that I was advised not to mix with as someone in THAT particular family had acquired a bad name. But isn’t that the same in every small town—there’s always the black sheep. When our mother passed away in 1964 as the funeral cortege passed along the shopping street someone who remembered her with fondness came out of almost every shop and bowed their heads in respect for a much loved woman.

Another thing that started me reminiscing is that the backdrop in Amethyst is the game of football—soccer as it is called in England, and footy here in Australia. Because we lived a stone’s throw from the old Arsenal football club, my brothers and all the local lads would go off to the matches when they were played at home. We knew not to go out about the time that the match finished as in those days everyone had to catch a bus or train home and there would be a three mile long queue of exuberant or glum men, depending on the outcome of the match, all waiting to get home. But I can’t remember any fights breaking out as they formed an orderly line as they discussed the good or bad day’s football.

Perhaps I sound melancholy when I go back in my mind to those days, but believe me the memories are all fine. Not many people share a childhood such as mine and if they did then we all know how lucky we were. I had an email from one of my nieces in England a while ago saying how she still remembers and cherishes the years in that house in that street and my answer was that it was such a huge part of all our lives that it lives within us and always will.

The pictures are of my old primary school, the church where I was bridesmaid to my sisters and where I got married, and the house where I grew up. All are still there as you see, and there are not many changes since those far off days. There was no tree outside our house and of course probably only one or two cars parked in the street back then. 

Visit my web page for excerpts and reviews

Monday, September 25, 2017

Artsy late-summer in Toronto


September has been heavy with "arts" in the Sawka household.

The main focus was getting my next novel ready for submission. Mission accomplished. Of course, I never seem take a break. Already I've started working on my next two novels. It really is fun.

That's not to say that I don't take time for other thinks. Last week I took an extremely well deserved break from filming the first comedy skits for my Youtube channel, SAWKA TV.

Of course it will have promos for my BWL novels. Right now we are testing the cameras finding locations and writing scripts for these promos. All is well so far.

Last week Nancy and I attended the Toronto International Film Festival. We saw the amazing documentary called The Judge. The film tells the story of Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman to become a judge in Palestine. Turns out we were at the world premier of the movie and she was attending. I was lucky enough to have a photo taken with her.

Yesterday my acting classes started again. It is always a challenge for a novice like me. However, I'm learning a great deal and throughly enjoying it. We work on short scripts from movies and TV and get excellent advice on our technique. This class used very short scripts and at the end we swapped scripts and did a quick cold read. By chance my acting partner and I were handed a scene from the popular show Greys Anatomy. This also happens to be my Wife's favourite show. As for me, well, I usually (always) leave the room.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Story-star Kendra Spark – Growing up with Ghosts

Hello everyone and thanks so much for stopping into BWL today: ) I’m Kendra Spark, the story-star of Unorthodox, a paranormal suspense-thriller with elements of romance and a generous portion of supernatural; ) The story released on September 15, 2017, and I’m as excited about it as S. Peters-Davis is, my author: )

S. (that’s what I call her) asked if I would share what it was like growing up with the ability to see and communicate with ghosts…so here goes…

I honestly don’t remember a time I didn’t see ghosts, mostly because I didn’t know the difference between people alive or people dead, they all looked the same to me and pretty much treated me the same. The first time I realized it was when my mother asked about my imaginary friend. At five years old, I didn’t really understand the word imaginary, other than it meant not real, but Jonny stood right beside my mother. Our chat about Jonny didn’t go so well.

Mom ended up taking me to a few doctors to find out what was up with a daughter who always played with imaginary friends. Thank goodness Grandma Ellie whooshed in and saved the day before I ended up on medication. Grandma knew about Jonny, she could see what I saw.

The thing is, ghosts knew I could see them…I never hid it, so they kept coming around, wanting me to give someone a message or just wanting to talk. They were mostly lonely.

As I grew older it was tougher to chat in public with spirits. I got labeled for being a weirdo and became a bully target. I shut down all “air-talk” and only my best friend, Jenna, knew about my ability. It mostly scared her, so I didn’t talk too much about it with her either, only with my grandmother.

I didn’t have a lot of friends, not even in college, but I loved journaling about my ghost experiences. That was partly why I became a writer…I adored writing out their stories. Plus the fact I was an avid reader and enjoyed losing myself in someone else’s life, especially mystery-suspense romance stories.

Ghosts are part of my life and I’ve finally accepted my ability as something worthy…even though I won’t share this with most people. They don’t see what I see and will never understand, unless they actually know I’m an honorable person who doesn’t lie…like you all now know: )

Thank you for stopping in and hearing all about my ghost sight – about why I do what I do; ) I hope you enjoy S. Peters-Davis’ book about me, Unorthodox, A Kendra Spark Novel – I plan on being in a few more of her stories.

Happy reading; )   


About my author:

S. Peters-Davis writes multi-genre stories, but loves penning a good page-turning suspense-thriller, especially when it’s a ghost story and a romance. When she’s not writing, editing, or reading, she’s hiking, RV’ing, fishing, playing with grandchildren, or enjoying time with her favorite muse (her husband) in Southwest Michigan.

She also writes YA paranormal, supernatural novels as DK Davis.

Friday, September 22, 2017

High Tea and Higher Spirits

High Tea and Higher Spirits

I'd thought I'd write about ghosts, with the most spookiest time of the year approaching. Since I'm writing a new book series that starts in Victoria. You know Victoria, BC, more English than the English. And more haunted than your average graveyard on All Hallow's Eve. Don't believe me. Well listen to these tales and I'll have more next month.
The Fairmont Empress has several ghosts frequenting the building. As early as last year two contractors quit during the new renovations when they heard noises in a empty suite next to them. Both swore they saw a figure hanging from a rope. The figure was a man that hung himself, in that room several decades ago. 
There's reports of a woman that knocks on doors, and is seen trying to get into rooms. Apparently a former cleaning maid, still making the rounds after she passed away. Her name is Lizzie and she fell to her death near the front entrance from the sixth floor. During the early years of the hotel when another tower was being added the staircases were temporarily taken out. She hadn't noticed and was found dead. Sometimes she's also seen laying content on the ground holding her prayer beads.
Then we have Margaret from Calgary, who lived in the hotel back in the fifties, when the hotel was nearly empty in the winter. So she stayed there for months on end. Did everything on a set precise schedule and time. When she didn't show up for tea at her set time, someone went up to her room and found her passed away in her bed. It soon became to be known as the unrentable room, with people claiming the TV channels would switch on their own, lights would turn off and on. And some swore the sheets would pull down by themselves. It was soon converted into a storage area and all was quiet. Until the hotel decided to add a new elevator several years later to go to a higher set of floors. Quickly the reports of lights dimming, knocks on doors and a elderly lady asking for directions began afresh. 
Then there's the builder of the hotel himself, Francis Rattenbury. Who also built the legislative buildings, the Lake Louise Hotel in Banff, among other great buildings. He received little or no recognition for his grand structures and after leaving his wife for a much younger lady, he was found bludgeoned to death by her younger lover. Sir Francis was buried in a unmarked grave and his ghost is often seen near his picture by the front entrance.
 I guess while the guests often return, so do the departed for another cup of the fine tea and great scones. 

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If I've grabbed your interest, try my authors page on facebook. 

or my short story page.

People have asked who the heck is Frank Talaber and what’s his writing style?
I usually respond with; mix Dan Millman with Charles De Lint and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins. 
PS. He’s better looking than Stephan King and his romantic stuff will have you sobbing and gasping quicker than Robert James Waller.

His novels transcend the boundaries of urban fantasy, science fiction, crime, mystery, thriller, spirituality and comedy. He also writes in the genre of romance, mystery romance, thriller romance and sexy erotic romance. 
With a knack of bringing the BC west coast to life he was born on the wild Canadian prairies but immigrated to the cedar forests of coastal BC. Mated to a mad English woman, from gypsy ancestry, him not the wife. In the early hours of morning, when only cats stir and raccoons fear to tread he is writing, creating or making coffee. Stranger ways exist in the backwoods of Borneo, Australia or the American Bayou. But not here in the country of Bigfoot, Timmy’s and hockey. 
Or as he also often says; you don’t have to be mad to be a writer. But it helps. A lot.

"After being stranded twenty kilometers from the nearest road at the tip of Rose Spit, Haida Gwaii, and having to push his spanking new SUV a few kilometers along the beach before the tide came in and we ran out of booze, my first reaction on being asked to write a back cover blurb was, “over my dead body." Some people will do anything to get an endorsement.” 
Susan Musgrave 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fields of Gold Beneath Prairie Skies, Canadian Historical Brides, Book 6 (Saskatchewan)


Newly released and available at your online and brick and mortar bookstores, be sure to add this one to your collection.  Author Suzanne deMontigny has done an amazing job of telling the story of this couple struggling against huge odds to build a life on the Saskatchewan Prairie following WWI.

French-Canadian soldier, Napoleon, proposes to Lea during WWI, promising golden fields of wheat as far as the eye can see. After the armistice, he sends money for her passage, and she journeys far from her family and the conveniences of a modern country to join him on a homestead in Saskatchewan.

There, she works hard to build their dream of a prospering farm, clearing fields alongside her husband through several pregnancies and even after suffering a terrible loss.

When the stock market crashes in ’29, the prairies are stricken by a long and abysmal drought. Thrown into poverty, she struggles to survive in a world where work is scarce, death is abundant, and hope dwindles. Will she and her family survive the Great Depression?

Available from a Bookstore near you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fall Camping with J.Q. Rose

Hello and welcome to the Books We Love Insiders Blog! 
You can get to know more about your favorite authors, meet new authors 
and discover great reads right here.
Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose
Pastor Christine Hobbs never imagined she would be caring 
for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer.
My dear hubby, Gardener Ted, and I just returned this week from a camping trip to Ludington, Michigan. We camped in the city's Cartier Campground and explored the area known for their beautiful sandy beaches on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

Lake Michigan shoreline
Photo by J.Q. Rose
Are you a camper? I'm a camper, but I'm not a hardy camper. I like to camp with AC, microwave, and an electric blanket in our 25' fifth wheel trailer. We tried tent camping when we were younger, much younger, and I didn't like it. But with all the amenities available now with the new, roomy campers and motorhomes, it's more like living in a condo on wheels. My kind of style.
Our camper
Photo by J.Q. Rose
The autumn season is the best time to camp. People are geeked up to go camping when spring comes, especially after a cold, dark winter of staying indoors. While every season has its own benefits, I am a fan of fall camping, especially if you can go in the middle of the week like we did

Here's a list of reasons why I enjoy fall camping Up North:

1. No crowds. Because school has started, families can only camp on weekends, and yet, many are busy with a full schedule of sports, clubs, and family activities to keep them from camping.
2. Mild temperatures. Great sleeping weather with temps in 40's-50's and bright sunny 60-70 degree days. (Cool temps in the morning and evenings make a campfire even cozier.)

Warm campfire
Photo by J.Q. Rose

3.  No bugs. Mosquitoes are too cold to fly!
4.  The fall colors. Breathtaking panoramas of color in the woods. I never tire of seeing Mother Nature dress up for autumn. 
Colorful fall trees
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
5. Apples. Mmm. Crispy, crunchy treats that are actually good for you. The roadside markets and farmers markets are teeming with fruits and vegetables of the season.

Are you a fall camper? What do you like best about the fall season? 
Please leave a comment below.

J.Q. Rose catching the sun
on the beach in Ludington, Michigan

Click here to connect online with J.Q.at the J.Q. Rose blog.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Bad Day in a Banana Hammock by Stuart R. West

For a Listing of Stuart R. West's Books and Purchase Links, Click Here for Stuart R. West's Books We Love Author's Page!  
About Stuart R. West
Author Stuart R. West, just like his smarty-pants books, thinks he's funny. Yet over the years, his family, teachers, bosses, and wife have told him it's just not so. You be the judge.

 Zach wakes up with no memory, no phone, and no clothes except his stripper g-string. And oh yeah! There’s that pesky naked dead guy in bed next to him. Problem is Zach's not gay. Or a murderer. At least, he doesn't think so.

Only one person can help him, his sister, Zora. Of course Zora's got problems of her own—she has three kids at home and is eight month's pregnant with the fourth. So she’s a bit cranky. But that’s not going to stop her from helping her brother.

With kids in tow, the siblings set how to find the true killer, clear Zach's name, and reassure Zach he's not gay.

Reviewers who DO find Stuart R. West's books funny! 
“An hilarious murder mystery romp. Ride along with Zach and Zora on this most entertaining of mysteries.”
-Heather Brainerd, author of the Jose Picada, P.I. mystery series.

“Bad Day in a Banana Hammock will have you wiping up tears of hysterical laughter.”
-Suzanne de Montigney, author of the Shadow of the Unicorn series.

Book #2 in the Zach and Zora Comic Mystery series!

And coming in October! The third book in the Zach and Zora Comic Mystery series: Nightmare of Nannies.

*Stuart R. West's Books We Love Author's Page: http://bookswelove.net/authors/west-stuart-r/
*Stuart R. West's (totally inconsequential) blog: Twisted Tales from Tornado Alley
*And the rest (like on Gilligan's Island): Facebook, Twitter


I'm SUCH a Little Girl! by Stuart R. West

Click here for The Book that has Stuart R. West in gender crisis!
After my wife read my latest book Peculiar County, she said to me, "I can't believe you were able to capture the mindset of a teenage girl so well."

Talk about a backward compliment! I mean, should I be worried? Should I hand in my Manly Man Membership card?

Maybe I'll start having sleepovers, invite all the neighborhood teen girls over. We can stay up all night, do each other's hair, talk about cute boys and boy bands. Pillow fight!

Except, well...no.

Not only do I not have any hair to braid, I don't think the neighbors would look too kindly on an old bald guy hosting a teenage sleepover.

So. Foregoing sleepovers, what are my other options?

I mean, I'm getting this kinda talk about my writing from a teen girl's perspective everywhere. Take for instance, "The Cellophane Queen," a notoriously hard-nosed book critic. Here's a snippet of her review of Peculiar County:

"The first person approach to Dibby, the 15-year-old female lead, is a highly dangerous task for a 50-something old guy, but he just dug in and channeled a perfect Dibby from 1965. This was a brilliant choice. Trying to emulate a 21st Century 15-year-old would be doomed to failure, but the 1965 version of a polite lil gal from Kansas with plenty of issues like a runaway mom and the high-school drama queen hellbent on making her life hell? Brilliant."--The Cellophane Queen review

See what I mean? Did the critic really have to bring up my *ahem* "50-something old" status? And make a big deal outta my writing from the viewpoint of a 15-year-old female?

Honestly, I just sorta wrote the lead character from an outsider's viewpoint, not too far removed from my own awful high school years. Changed things up a bit. And, frankly, anyone who's read any of my books knows the female characters are always the smarter, stronger ones.

Still, I'm scared. I've never liked sports, just kinda find them a waste of time. Bachelor parties? Feh. Who wants to go to parties without any women? And if I'm being absolutely honest right now (and I always am with you guys), I've owned a few pink shirts.

Fine. The critics have spoken. From now on, I'm only going to write books about serial-drinking, barrel-chested, bone-crunching, double-fisted, chain-smoking, hard-loving, window-smashing, refrigerator-lifting, terrible-smelling, neanderthal men! HooYAH! 

Right after I finish my planned epic series of books about Sweet Pollyanna Pourtney's New Red Velvet Shoes.

Stuart R. West's Books We Love Author's Page: http://bookswelove.net/authors/west-stuart-r/