Wednesday, May 31, 2017

To "Dracula" from Priscilla Brown - Many Deadly Returns







This is my latest contemporary romance, which has nothing to do with vampires.
 Find it on the links below.

In Bram Stoker's Gothic thriller, Count Dracula was 400 years old; the story was published 120 years ago, in May 1897, and still scares readers in 44 languages. Over the years, surmising Stoker's sources for both Dracula the character and for his castle has caused vampire enthusiasts to go batty, and two areas of Britain have fangs bared over British inspirations for the bloodsucking count.

In 1890, Stoker visited Whitby in northeast Yorkshire, making notes on a supernatural tale he had heard of the living dead. In his story, he wrote of Dracula coming ashore there, functioning from the grave of a suicide, and attacking his first English victim. But Cruden Bay, a village on the coast north of Aberdeen, Scotland, boasts Dracula legends to get your teeth into. Even some lampposts carry Dracula effigies.

Stoker discovered the area while on a walking holiday along the arduous cliff track. The isolated dramatic North Sea coastline, turbulent seascape and ferocious weather awed him; it is this area which, legend has it, provided the inspiration for writing about the Dracula character. And it even had a suitable castle. Stoker set Dracula's castle in the east of Transylvania, where, to the best of knowledge, he never visited. According to local lore, Slains Castle, now a spectacular range of roofless ruins clinging precariously to a headland, influenced Stoker's conception of the vampire's eerie fortress. In the author's day, Slains was an intact large mansion; its construction over 340 years resulted in a conglomeration of styles and building materials, some of which can be discerned today.
 
On a chilly autumn afternoon, I and my travelling companion, Australians exploring northeast Scotland, optimistically judged the weather fit for a visit to Slains before the clouds racing across the pale blue sky turned sinister. We trudged along the muddy track to poke around the gaunt remains. At the castle, we trod warily trough the knee-high clumps of dank weeds and over sharp-edged masonry.

Investigating this labyrinth of an edifice with its narrow passageways, outlines of small and large rooms, shadowy corners, archways, staircases, window spaces of all shapes and sizes, we speculated at what each room may have been used for, and at the kind of lifestyles enjoyed by its occupants over the centuries. We clutched each other tightly as we stood rather unwisely too near to crumbling walls on the brink of plunging onto the wave-battered rocks (the walls, not us)...and then the fog blew in! The temperature dropped even lower,while tendrils of the infamous "haa" eddied around the spooky ruins. Wait! Was this only mist? Or Dracula himself? Shivering, we could almost imagine another manifestation of the vampire as a great black bat crawling through the window spaces.

We retreated to the welcome warmth of the historic local pub, where Bram Stoker wrote the first chapters of the book. Over coffee with a whisky chaser, we heard the story of how, after he'd eaten one helping too many of the local crab, his nightmare revealed a master vampire!



Warm wishes from Priscilla





Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tracking details in the Historical Novel, by Kathy Fischer-Brown


cover photo © by Janice Lang
Over the years I’ve read about how different authors construct their novels, and I’ve tried some of their methods. I’ve used index cards and index cards in multiple colors (each character was assigned his or her color). I even downloaded computer programs that claim to be “everything you need in one application to plan, plot, write, edit, keep track of characters (complete with bios and photos), convert into any number of formats, write your synopsis, and on and on. (I don’t recall if they went so far as submitting for you, but I imagine that’s not a far-fetched concept.) But for some reason, they just weren't for me.


Every author who’s ever written a book has his or her own method of constructing their stories. In many ways, all share as many similarities as they do variances. In the end, all that matters is getting from point A to where you want to be by the time you type “The End.”

But what about writing historical novels, which present a unique and often frustrating set of conditions? You have characters who have made themselves known—often by keeping you awake night after night while they babble on and on about their lives, loves, and aspirations; distracted by their prattle while you drive to the supermarket; offering brilliant scenes and dialogue while your dog endlessly sniffs around posts and mailboxes for messages before taking that last whiz of the night; or those genius bits of dialogue while you’re in the shower. And, even if you retain half of that of that inspired magnificence, none of it ever translates onto the page.

So, there you have your characters…dressed and accoutered in authentic garb with tidbits of their surroundings and everyday details to flesh out their lives…while actual history is happening around them. You want them to cross paths with the army sweeping down from the north, or be in a particular locale where history happened, or interact at a dinner with some luminary from the past.

How do you do it?

When writing my very first ever historical novel, I stumbled upon a
method that has worked for me ever since: I use a calendar. Back in the days before computers, I discovered through a particular diary Id been reading for research that a certain day of the week in 1777 fell on a Tuesday. I was then able to create a blank calendar by hand for that month and drop in the dates. Later on, I figured out how to use the macro feature in an early DOS version of WordPerfect to quickly design and print out calendars for the year in which my book took place. Today, there are plenty of sites (here’s one that I like: http://www.calendarhome.com) that give you the option of generating calendars for any year you want. In the eons since, I have found lunar and solar calendars (here’s one of my favorites: http://www.rodurago.net/en/index.php?site=details&link=calendar) that contribute to creating scenes where the moon was full (and what time it rose and set). Through diaries and other references from the period, I found when the weather was fine or rainy or anything in between, and I popped that information into the calendar for a particular date, along with the historical events (each with different colored ink). So, if I wanted a character to make a trek to visit an actual historical personage at a particular place on a rainy day evening during a new moon, I had that information right there on the calendar.

covers © by Michelle Lee
Of course, sometimes, you need to “fudge” the facts to coincide with the events of the book, as well as for dramatic effect. For example, in The Partisan’s Wife (book 3, "Serpent's Tooth" trilogy), I had envisioned a scene with Anne (the heroine) and her husband Peter riding in a carriage north along Bowery Lane in New York as a full moon rose over the East River. The scene was amazing to write, since, due to the number of modern high rise apartments and other buildings on the East Side of New York, I doubt many on the ground on the Bowery today have seen a sun or moon rise over the East River in over a hundred years. And anyway, the moon rise on that particular date was at around 4:00 in the afternoon, when the daylight was still in full swing.

This post is reprinted from the April 13, 2017 Canadian Historical Brides blog.

~*~

Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the DevilThe Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, her latest release, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon, Kobo, and other online retailers.


Monday, May 29, 2017

First Nations Pipe Ceremony over Okanagan Lake






Union of the Sacred Pipes



Little Shell Chippewa Turtle Mountain Band
Prepare for a Pipe Ceremony 


In the hills around Okanagan Lake Valley is a place called Bear Creek.  As I hiked through these rocks, the echo of fast rushing water vibrated like thousands of flutes playing to the rushing waterfalls that all flowed into one giant lake.  

One day I mediated on a large rock in the middle of the Creek - the only access being to jump a log jutting into the water.  Opening my eyes to father sky, I watched crows chase a golden eagle.  The eagle flowed upward in ever expanding circles, and the crows followed, but the eagle flew higher and higher.  A fine mist rose from the rocks and powerful medicine herbs waved in the gentle breezes.  The sweet smell of Lavender and the pungent tang of pine filled the air. When I stopped and listened closely I heard the footsteps of the ancestors passing through the canyon - stepping from stone to stone - as they followed the game trails.


One day a white brother came to visit from Texas - a police officer - who loved the culture as I do, and wanted to share the pipe with some of the Native brothers.  We climbed a trail through a ravine of rocks to an old sacred clearing.  At the entrance to the clearing--a circle of rocks covered by moss and surrounded by juniper and Saskatoon bushes--we stopped and I offered tobacco, asking the ancestors to welcome our visitor.  The winds stopped, and a peace settled over the clearing, inviting our entrance.  We sat together, on the ground, waiting for some brothers who were pipe carriers to join us.

One by one each brother showed up from his journey.  One brother traveled from a rain dance ceremony; another brother came from the sweet grass fields in Montana; a third brother came late, joking that as he had traveled the shortest distance he came on Indian time.  My friend from Texas offered a medicine bundle from his home region and asked for prayers for his family.  He explained that he had spent a lot of time studying and learning the culture of the Cheyenne, the Apache, the Arapaho and the Hopi nations, and to him it was a great honor to come to this sacred ground where lay the bones of ancestors who had traveled here before, and join with this group of pipe carriers for other Native nations.

Together we sat down in a circle and opened our medicine bundles.  Father sky peered over our circle like a bright blue blanket streaked with orange and fringed with white clouds. Wisps of white floated around us as the spirits of many ancestors, gathered around our group as we prepared to share the sacred pipes.

We began by filling our smudge bowls with sage and sweet grass, which we lit and fanned with eagle feathers until the smoke drifted towards Father Sky.  Each of us reached into the smoke and brushed our arms and legs and heads with smoke to cleanse the hardships of our travels and prepare ourselves for the ceremony.  The pipe carrier facing the North started the traditional song of offering to the ancestors, and one by one we joined into the song, lifting our voices to invite the ancestors to travel across the spiritual realm and join us in our ceremony.  As one, we bowed our heads in the circle, sharing prayers for our loved ones and the great nations, asking for blessings for all mother earth’s living and spiritual beings.  We offered prayers for the animal kingdom, the plant world and the mineral world.  The pipe carriers lifted their pipes, pointing the stems to each of the four sacred directions requesting blessing for the circle, and then the pipes were lit. As we passed the pipes, we shared the stories and teachings of our ancestors, and laughed together at the antics of trickster and the pranks he had played on our friends and elders over the years.

When we fell silent, each of us settled into the peace and harmony that had fallen over the sacred circle.  In the darkness the voices of a thousand crickets hummed in harmony, and beyond our circle the coyotes howled to the night spirits.  Grandmother moon rose into the sky and shone her light over our circle.

When the pipes were out, we packed our medicine bundles.  Standing, we joined hands, offered prayers for a safe journey for the travelers, and returned to each a hug of friendship and a common wish for a future reunion of the pipes.

John Wisdomkeeper
Sus' naqua ootsin'


OKANAGAN VALLEY, B.C. - Located in southern British Columbia, Canada - the Okanagan Valley is one of the warmest regions in all of Canada.  The Okanagan includes the cities of Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon and Osoyoos.  During the summer months, visitors are offered countless sandy beaches, hot sun, and a variety of outdoor and water activities.  Okanagan Lake provides the valley not only with excellent swimming but is also a spectacular backdrop to the golf courses and Okanagan wineries and popular ski resorts located in the rolling hills of this wine valley.
- See more at: http://www.okanagan.com/#sthash.Lc2kyZ2N.dpuf


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Writing is Like Gardening by Connie Vines

Gardening and writing are all about the big picture


Now one thing is certain – both activities require a great amount of planning if you wish to be successful.

Gardens are made with planning in mind, especially if you happen to be a person who likes the visual arts.  Writing a novel, short-story, or an article carries the same care, understanding, and patience to gently usher a new life from the soil and see it grow and bloom in the light of day.
Much like lawn care requires trimming and hedging, weed control, and careful gardening, writing requires information gathering, sifting through data, facts and rumors to forge the ideas from all of this into something coherent and easily repeatable by all who read it.

The little details shared between both.

There are plenty of small details to worry about with small seedlings struggling in rain, wind and sunlight to grow and thrive in the light, possibly becoming large and strong plants as time goes by.
Just like this, writing possesses the same attention to detail needed to make sure your works thrive in the long run. Depending on what kind of writing you do, your articles, books or stories will also need to extend their roots toward the very ground that feeds them – the human mind.

Much like plants, your works may one day blossom to become a center of human attention, basking in the sun of popularity and giving fruit for those around them, spreading their ideas like seeds.
Patience is key to growth

Much like the tender beginnings of seedlings need patience, care and love, writing your own work requires the same approach.

The scenes you create, the information you share over the course of time will help become the food for thought of the final form of your work, just like all seedlings need care to become majestic plants. To reach the destination at the end of the road, you will need to walk that road first.
The goal is the fruit of your labors.

You can’t always control the outcome of what you do; it is much the same with writing as it is with plants. Your works won’t always flourish, the conditions may not always be right for them to grow and some will wither and die.


It is inevitable, such is the circle of life, such is the circle of ideas and information around the world. Keep that in mind, keep working hard and even as you fall sometimes, pick yourself up and remember that the end of the road holds the biggest prize you will ever have – your own success.
My latest lesson involved tomatoes. This year I’m trying to grow the Heirloom variety. I’ve never succeeded in growing them in the past, but I so love their colorful, crunchy addition to my salads that I keep on trying. This summer, my Early Girl tomatoes are growing in abundance.  But I’ve again watched helplessly as a late cold snap in May (unheard of her in So. California) turned the health green leafage into curling yellow leaves and the promising green globes into not-so-healthy appearing offerings on the vine.



I asked my local ‘plant guru’ and consulted past journal scribbles (yes, I keep notes about everything 😊).

I planted too early.  I planted too late.  Heirlooms don’t do well in this area.  Go back to planting Beef-Steak tomatoes.

So many suggestions.  So many paths.

What does this have to do with writing novels and short stories for publication? Or with life in general? Everything.

We often believe that, if we have a goal and work hard at it…we should expect to succeed. But in life, as with gardening, events over which we have no control may either enhance or stand in the way of our success.

For tomatoes, if the soil (never plan in the same location year, after year) or weather aren’t right (or disease, vermin, or insects attack the plant), the plants may not develop healthy fruits. I can try to solve the problem, if I ever discover what it is. But I also might be wise to vary my crops in the hope of coming across another vegetable that I can successfully grow with a lot less trauma.
New writers often start out having a vision of a particular story. If that completed novel, novella, or short story doesn’t get snapped up by an agent and immediately sold to a publisher—the author may be tempted to either give up on writing altogether, or spend years agonizing over revisions of the same story.

A senior editor at a major New York publisher once told me that her best advice to novice writers was to, yes, be persistent—work on your craft daily and keep submitting—but experiment with a variety of genres and styles of writing. Because we just don’t know what we’ll be good at.

Besides, we can’t stand around forever, mourning those rotting tomatoes or underappreciated stories.
Much like plants, your works may one day blossom to become a center of human attention, basking in the sun of popularity and giving fruit for those around them, spreading their ideas like seeds.

Keep writing.

Keep gardening.

Keep working hard and even as you fall sometimes, pick yourself up and remember that the end of the road holds the biggest prize you will ever have – your own success.

Happy Reading and Writing,

Connie


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Saturday, May 27, 2017

THE TRIBULATIONS OF PRINCESS JASMINE by Vijaya Schartz


There is a cat in this story. Find all my BWL stories HERE


My kitty cat Jasmine, a princess in my mind, has a dramatic story worth sharing, and who better than me to tell it?

This is how I imagine Jasmine as a kitten
As a kitten, like all kittens, Jasmine was cute and cuddly. A nice family found her abandoned by a feral mother and adopted her. They called her Jasmine because of the yellow in her calico coat. They had a house with children, and a big guard dog. Jasmine was allowed outside and had a very independent life.

Curiously, without a mother, or another cat in the house to teach her how cats behaved, Jasmine never learned to play like a cat. Instead, she learned manners from the big guard dog. So, when a stranger approached the house, she growled warnings and thought it was her job to protect the house and its occupants.

At six months, before learning to be a cat, Jasmine became pregnant. Like all expecting mothers, she was very protective of her future litter. So, when the big guard dog challenged her, she faced him, hissing and growling, like a dog ready to fight. The big dog did not understand that she was protecting the little ones in her belly, so he stood his ground.

Jasmine attacked. Unfortunately, the six-months-old kitten was no match for the big guard dog. The dog caught her small head in his powerful jaw, clamped down, and shook the kitten like a rag doll.

The family ran to her help, but by the time they calmed the dog and convinced him to release his prey, poor little Jasmine lay there, inert, bleeding, unconscious. They rushed the kitten to the vet and left it there, saying, even if Jasmine survived her ghastly wounds, they could not take her back, because their guard dog had tasted her blood. It would be too dangerous for the kitten to return.

Upon examination, the vet discovered that the dog's fangs had pierced through the kitten's head, perforating sinus and bones. Jasmine needed extensive surgery, and there was no guarantee at all that she would survive. But the vet loved animals and suspected Jasmine had a strong will to live. So he took it upon himself to perform the first surgery... then the second... then the third. The unborn kittens did not survive, and the vet neutered Jasmine.

Geisha. Rest in Peace
That spring of 2007, I had lost my little companion of seventeen years, a mixed Siamese cat named Geisha. It took me months to finally decide to adopt a new kitty who needed a good home.

In September of 2007, After months in recovery, Jasmine was back among the living and up for adoption through HALO, a no-kill shelter. Among the kittens in the cages at PetSmart adoption center, she was the largest cat. Now nine months old, she was much older than the cute little fur balls playing with each other. She did not play, and despite her regal posturing, she had the serious look of those who have suffered.

Jasmine at nine months, when I adopted her


When I read the paper stuck to her cage, detailing her health history, my heart broke. She'd been up for adoption for a while without luck, and as a result, she was on sale. I took it as a sign that we were meant to be. So, I adopted Jasmine, and brought her home.


Jasmine quickly grew up to be a big cat
 Because of her pierced sinuses, she doesn't purr loudly like a regular cat. Her purr is imperceptible, but I know when she purrs. And she is susceptible to sniffles. Imagine my surprise when a writer friend came to the front door to attend my critique group, and the young cat started to growl low in her throat, like a dog.

Since Jasmine had lost her unborn babies, I thought maybe a kitten would keep her company, and she might enjoy playing with it and caring for it. When another writer friend of mine had a litter, I adopted a cute little tuxedo cat. Unfortunately, Jasmine did not like other cats, not even kittens. She wanted me all to herself. So she spent more and more time outside, where she watched the other cats in the neighborhood. When the new kitten played with the toys, she always watched from the upstairs landing, but never participated in the game.
She enjoys hiding in the patio jungle



As always, life interfered. Eventually, I left my house (and my husband), and I took Jasmine with me to live in a small apartment. She is now ten years old, and has become a plump cat. Some would call her fat, but my friends call her well-fed. She loooves her tuna. I taught her to play, but she still prefers watching me play with her toys. She also enjoys watching the outside world from her ivory tower on the patio of my third floor apartment.

This is a test. Can you see the cat?
 Jasmine learned the art of camouflage, and hiding in plain sight, like any good hunter. She particularly likes this blanket. Sometimes I look for her in my apartment and can't find her.

 She needs lots of cuddles and she is getting them. She has what she always wanted, me, all to herself. She is the most loving companion I could ever wish for. I hope we enjoy many more years together.


My love of cats transpires in my books. Except for my medieval series, there is a cat in most of my stories. Check them out.

 
Vijaya Schartz
  Romance with a Kick
  http://www.vijayaschartz.com
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble Smashwords
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Friday, May 26, 2017

A tale about a snake by Tricia McGill

Find all my Books We Love titles here on my Author page
I am primarily a romance writer, but in the past I have written some really odd short stories that are far from romantic. I blame my Muse who tends to go off on tangents of her own. But bless her (of course it’s a her) she helped me overcome obstacles along the writing path. My life has been blessed, so I blame her for some of my drearier stories.

I’m never sure what prompted me to write in the first place. If I couldn’t see to read or write I feel my life would have no purpose. People who don’t understand writers think we’re strange. How have you got the patience they ask? How can I answer them when I don’t know myself? All I know is that I often wonder what my mind would be doing if it wasn’t toying with new ideas. Perhaps I would have continued with my first love, painting. But the urge to paint was never as strong as the urge to write. When I read a book or a passage of writing that stirs me to strong emotions I yearn to have the same effect on a reader.

So, I hope you enjoy this little tale. Incidentally I love most of God’s creatures but I am sorry, snake lovers, but I can’t stand them.

All God’s Creatures

            “Leave it Red,” Joe warned the orange-tinted dog, and at the sound of the man’s voice the lizard scuttled off the rock where it had been sunning itself and disappeared down a crevice. With an adoring glance at its master the dog settled down for another nap. A water rat surfaced with a small splash, then, as it caught sight of the two fishermen and the dog, dived under the water, departing as swiftly as it appeared.

            “Snakes!” Willy announced, piercing another maggot with a hook and casting his line in to the murky water of the river. “If there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s them long scaly reptiles. Rats I can stomach--and I can put up with lizards--but them darned snakes I can’t abide!” He grimaced as he wiped his hands on a piece of dirty rag.

            Joe gave him a sidelong glance and chuckled. He knew what was coming; he’d heard this story so many times he knew it word for word. Quite used to being the listener rather than the talker he sighed resignedly as he stared at the bobbing red float on the end of his line. He could have a doze as Willy told his story in his soft monotone.

            Willy pushed his battered hat back a bit on his greying head as he gave his companion a quick glance to ensure he had an audience. “We were on our way to Queensland when I had the encounter with the old Joe Blake--face to face so to speak. Have I ever told you about how the bludger fell on my head?”

            Joe didn’t bother to reply; Willy would carry on regardless of his answer. “Lovely little spot it was, just outside Mackay. We were all set to spend a night at this caravan park, and I decided to nip in the loo. Good job I didn’t bother to unhitch the caravan before I went in there, for I was standing up doing what had to be done when this blessed snake--all of six feet long--fell off the rafters and hit me on the shoulder on its way to the ground.”

            The length of the snake had grown with each telling of the tale but Joe wasn’t about to interrupt his mate and tell him that once it was about two feet long, if that.

            “If I was ever going to flake from a heart attack, I would have done it then,” Willy went on, warming to his tale. “Then, what does it do? It slithers into a cubicle between me and the way out. I’m telling you, I didn’t have much choice about which way to turn; so I hops up onto the nearest toilet seat. Five minutes later I’m still yelling for help when I heard my Dot outside wondering what had kept me so long. I peered through the slats of the window high up the wall and told her to fetch help as quick as she could because I was sharing the space with a bloody Taipan.

            “I’m telling you, it felt like hours that I stood there waiting for Dot to come back, and I was watching the space under the door until my eyes were nearly popping out of my head, and also peering upwards in case the bludger had a mate up there waiting to join him. At last Dot came back and wondered where it was. I didn’t have a clue where it was, and I told her so as I poked my nose through the slat in the window.

            “Dot had brought the owner’s wife with her and this dear little soul was all of three feet high and was toting a rifle she could barely carry; it was so long and heavy. I got a bit hysterical then I suppose, for I began to yell a bit when I questioned her as to what she was going to do with the bloody weapon. ‘I’ll take a shot at it if I see it move,’ she tells me, and I thought, God, if the snake doesn’t get me she will. And the thought occurred that if she fired the blessed thing the recoil would knock her off her feet and she had a good chance of killing me before she ever hit the snake. Can’t you fetch your husband to see if he can catch it? I asked forlornly, but she informed me that he was out for the day. She seemed to have a sudden brainwave, for after mumbling something about fetching the snake man, she marched off.

            “Ten minutes later my legs were getting a bit shaky and it was growing mighty hot in that concrete block. When I asked Dot if she had any idea where she’d gone my dear better half decides to get smart by cracking that the woman may have gone to send a smoke signal to this snake charmer bloke. I quickly informed her that I didn’t see this whole episode as a subject for her cute jokes. My dignity was wilting, along with my temper after so long atop a toilet seat.

            “It must have been fifteen minutes before she came back with this joker who was covered from head to foot in red dust. You could barely see his tatty shorts for dirt and his singlet and hat were filthy. On bare feet as big as dinner plates he marched straight in to the toilet block and with not so much as a qualm walks out again with the snake’s head held firmly between a finger and thumb. ‘It’s harmless,’ he says. ‘You can come out now, it won’t hurt you.’

            “I didn’t care if it was as harmless as a new born babe, I wasn’t coming out until he’d fixed it, and I told him so in no uncertain terms. Ignoring me, he turned to the owner’s wife with a disdainful shrug. ‘It’s only a tree snake,’ he tells her. ‘You don’t want it killed, do you? They won’t attack you if you leave them alone. Even the venomous ones wouldn’t hurt you if you let them go their own way. Any snake that climbs is no threat to us and even the ones that crawl will not bother you if you stay calm and ignore them. They all deserve the right to live.’

            “She decided she wanted it killed, and despite this joker’s quaint ideas I thoroughly agreed with her. ‘It’s the fourth one I’ve seen this week, and they’re scaring my goats,’ she proclaimed, and I thought to myself: Bugger the goats, what about the guests! I could see he didn’t want to do away with the reptile but finally he whacked it on the ground until it stopped moving. I’ve never felt so relieved in my life, but I could tell he was upset. With a sort of pitying sneer at me he walked off.

            “Leave them alone, I thought sourly. What is he, some sort of a crank? I spluttered. It could have been venomous for all I knew! ‘No, he’s no idiot,’ she replied. ‘Just eccentric. He owns all this land as far as the eye can see. He loves snakes and believes that all God’s creatures have a right to live. I thought he’d take it home to join the others he has crawling about his house and garden.’ I shuddered. He was definitely a crank as far as I could see.

            “Anyway, off she went without so much as an apology, so quick smart I bundled Dot into the car and drove us out of there as fast as I could. The little old lady was peeping through her curtains. She should worry! We’d already paid her for the night’s rent in advance. As we passed the adjacent property we saw the snake man; driving a tractor around a paddock and sending up great clouds of red dust in his wake.”

            Willy sighed as he wound in his line. He shook his head at his empty hook. “I don’t like killing things any more than the next man,” he muttered, as he threaded another worm on his hook and tossed his line back into the water. “But snakes are killers and you have to get them before they get you, don’t you?”

            His float disappeared with a jerk beneath the water and he whispered excitedly, “I’ve got one,” as he carefully reeled in the taut line and landed the flapping fish. The silver and gold creature bounced, gasping, on the bank and Willy grinned. “Good one, eh?” he said as he disentangled the hook from the writhing fish.

            “What are you going to do with it; take it home for your tea?” Joe asked as they and the dog looked down on it.

            “Nope.” Willy grinned again. “I’ll put him back so he can live to fight another day. Besides, what with all this talk about pollution these days I don’t think it’s safe to eat them from this stretch of the river.”

            They both nodded sagely as with a flash of silvery scales the fish swam out of sight beneath the oily water.


Note from Tricia: This story was based on a true incident, and my husband was the one whose shoulder the snake landed on while on holiday in Queensland years ago. And incidentally, although Australia has some of the deadliest snakes on earth, this was the only close encounter we had with one on our many travels around this beautiful country. Although, one of our dogs did get bitten by one but luckily we got her to the vet in time and she was saved to live another day.   


Visit Tricia McGill's Web Page  


Christmases Past...by Sheila Claydon

My latest book, Empty Hearts, is a vintage romance. It isn't about Christmas, but the cover, designed by the wonderful Michelle Lee a...