Tuesday, January 31, 2017

FOOD FOR THOUGHT --- Priscilla Brown



Eating is my favourite part of food. Forget the shopping for it, the preparation, the cooking, just put it in front of me!

As the author of contemporary romances, I like my characters to eat well. I love doing the research for their meals since I don't have to cook these, and this research gives me an excuse to spend time in cafes. I delve  into cookery books, but only recipes with illustrations are any use to me; I collect recipes photographed in magazines, while wondering how anyone with a busy life and without a professional kitchen could possibly produce such concoctions.

In my stories, sometimes a character may go shopping for food but never with great enthusiasm: one or two have been known to resort to frozen dinners for one, and  a 'dateless and desperate' character went shopping on singles night at the supermarket where singles on the hunt used the signal of bananas pointing upwards in the cart. On a brighter note, frequently one character will cook specifically for the other, and in a romance novel this can be a huge turn on.
Picturing the food or entire meal in my head as I describe the particular setting, my intention is that the scene will bring the reader closer to the characters. Personality traits can be emphasised, and further aspects revealed (other than food preferences); the situation may be an occasion for drama, where tensions and conflicts are introduced, or maintained, or resolved, thus adding to the plot. Also, I'd like to think that a reader may vicariously enjoy one of the delicious meals some of my characters cook: in Hot Ticket, Callum makes yummy picnics and dinners for  Olivia, whose cooking is limited to whatever can be finished in under ten minutes. That is, until she prepares a meal for him that includes avocados, oysters, salmon and other seafood, aphrodisiacs all of it. Such is part of the lexicon for a romance writer! 

There are many food moments in literature of all kinds. A few of the best known instances may be in  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where the Mad Hatter's tea party offers tea, bread and butter; and in Through the Looking Glass, the walrus and the carpenter eat the oysters. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 'dined on mince and slices of quince'. Dickens' Christmas dinner at the Cratchits includes includes roast goose with stuffing, apple sauce, gravy and potatoes, followed by Christmas pudding with flaming brandy. Shakespeare's plays are full of food, though Macbeth's banquet wasn't much fun. Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene I: 'Eight wild boars roasted at breakfast' (for only 12 people!). The Winter's Tale, Act IV, Scene II: (The clown's shopping list for the sheep-shearing feast) 'Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice...saffron...mace...nutmegs seven, a race or two of ginger...four pound of prunes...'

Kissing Callum in his kitchen full of baking, Olivia jokes that she wants him for his food; George Meredith (1828-1909) wrote - Kissing don't last: cookery do!  What an old cynic!

 

 Enjoy your meal!

(As almost every waitperson says)


Priscilla







Sources: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll); The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (Edward Lear); A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens); William Shakespeare Complete WorksThe Oxford Dictionary of Quotations; various web sites.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Curious Facts about Lobsters and Oysters in 18th Century North America

by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Eighteenth century America holds a certain fascination for me. An old mentor, who had a strong predilection for the spiritual world and reincarnation, once postulated that I had lived a previous life in that period. She told me she sensed it in my writing. (Whether or not this is true is not up for discussion here, but I thought it was pretty cool at the time that Norma thought so.) At any rate, I am drawn to the period, and now, as I call on years and years of previous research and knowledge, and travel new paths in preparation for writing a novel in Books We Love’s “Canadian Brides” series, I am steeped once again in discoveries.

Of the many details of life in a former age, we historical fiction writers find nothing too insignificant or mundane. In other words, everything has importance, from the fabric of the clothes they wore and how it was made, fastened, and laundered, to the way they lighted and heated their homes; how they traveled and where they stayed when away from home; the sights, smells, sounds; and, yes, the food they ate, and how it was procured and prepared.

As a modern day “foodie,” I love cooking (and eating) and trying recipes from other cultures, and even have dabbled in “receipts” from the era I find myself steeped in for the time it takes to research and write my book. So this sort of thing is right up my alley.

In matters of food, I am amazed at how trendy tastes can be. Take lobster, for example. Not to mention that I love lobster (boiled, broiled, baked, steamed, grilled, sautéed, stuffed, on a roll, in a salad or casserole…you name it), I was surprised to discover that back in colonial America, the lobster suffered from a terrible rep. The first settlers in New England went so far as to regard them as a problem. (Yikes, we should have such problems today!) Chalk it up to the lobster’s amazing abundance. They were so plentiful, for example, that following a storm, lobsters would be found washed up on beaches in piles up to two feet high. People literally pulled them from the water with their bare hands. And they grew to be humungous, some weighing in at 20 to 40 pounds and up to six feet long. (Imagine that tail, grilled, with drawn butter, garlic, and lemon juice.)

Of course, if you consider how stinky a pile of dead lobsters can be on the beach in the midday sun, you’d understand some of the 
An illustration by John White depicting Native American
men cooking fish on a wooden frame over a fire.
Library of Congress
complaints of our ancestors. Other reasons for their shunning, I’m still scratching my head over. Because people literally grew sick and tired of eating them, time came when lobsters were considered unfit for anyone except the abject poor, criminals, indentured servants, and slaves. And even those people complained that having to eat them more than two or three times a week was harsh and inhuman treatment. To add insult to injury, lobsters were fed to livestock or ground up and used as fertilizer. Native Americans used them for bait and ate them only when the fish werent biting.

These days, as David Foster Wallace wrote in “Consider the Lobster,” his excellent article published in Gourmet Magazine (August, 2004), “lobster is posh, a delicacy, only a step or two down from caviar. The meat is richer and more substantial than most fish, its taste subtle compared to the marine-gaminess of mussels and clams. In the U.S. pop-food imagination, lobster is now the seafood analog to steak, with which it’s so often twinned as Surf ’n’ Turf on the really expensive part of the chain steak house menu.”

Sad to say, this increase in price and prestige is due in part to the fact that the once monumental populations of these delectable crustaceans is in steep decline. In Long Island Sound, where my uncle used to skin dive for them, their numbers are almost at extinction levels.

Oysters—which for over a thousand years—had been a delicacy on European menus, are mollusks that can be compared in sheer numbers to those of the lobster. They too were more prodigious and larger on the seventeenth- and eighteenth century North American shores than those we’re used to seeing these days and those in the settlers’ countries of origin. A staple in the diet of Native Americans living in coastal areas, oysters then could reach nearly a foot in size. Liberty Island—the site of the Statue of Liberty—was named by the Dutch as one of three “oyster islands” in New York Harbor due to the local Algonquians’ preference for a place over-flowing with oysters. These were the same natives who taught the Pilgrims and Jamestown settlers how to cook them in stews to stave off starvation, and they soon became a common item in our ancestors’ diets. Stewed or pickled, oysters also became a popular trade item.

For any daring enough, here is a “receipt” from Vincent La Chapelle (1690-1745) in his The Modern Cooks and Complete Housewife’s Companion, (curtesy of Colonial Williamsburg):

TAKE some Chibbols, Parsley, and Mushrooms, cut small, and toss them up with a little Butter; put in the Oysters, season them with pounded Pepper, sweet herbs, and all spices, leave them with a little Flour, and add a little Cullis or Essence; then take your small French Loaves, make a little Hole in the Bottom, take out the Crum, without hurting the Crust, fill them with your Oyster ragout, and stop the Holes with the Crust taken off; place your Loaves so filled in your dish, with a little Cullis or Gravy over them, let them get a Colour in the Oven, and serve them up hot for a dainty Dish.

I’m sorry to say that, with the exception of Winter Fire, my historical romance, and The Partisans Wife (book 3 of “The Serpent’s Tooth” historical trilogy), I haven’t incorporated the food of the era as much as I would have liked. This will not be the case in Where the River Narrows, my Canadian Historical Brides book (with BWL author Ron Crouch) based on the history of American Loyalists in Quebec during the American War for Independence (pub date August 2018).

American version of The Complete Housewife,by Eliza Smith
For my next blog, as I continue searching for the minutia of everyday life, I will post another snippet of the commonplace things that make eighteenth century North America so unique for me. So, please tune in again. And thanks for reading.

~*~

Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The 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 on-line retailers.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Dejah Thoris Paperdoll



http://bookswelove.net/authors/waldron-juliet/
For more about Juliet Waldron's books and to purchase visit her Books We love Author Page


My mother was artistic, with all sorts of talents she never developed. One summer in the 50's, digging around in a box at the back of a closet in our Skaneateles house, looking for cast-off dresses in which I could play medieval princess, I discovered some treasures from her teen years that I thought were even more amazing than those old sequined party dresses.

Mother had dabbled in painting, pencil, charcoal, and watercolors, I’d known that because some landscape paintings were framed and up on the walls of the parental bedroom. I hadn’t realized, though, that she’d been pretty darn good at drawing the human figure, too.  Inside a letterhead stationery box I discovered a cache of hand-made paper dolls. (When “they” didn’t make what she wanted, Dorothy made her own!)

Neatly cut and colored in pencil and watercolor was an entire cast of romantic movie characters, some of whom I instantly recognized. Remember, these movies were TV staples during the early 50’s…First up was Robin Hood—Erroll Flynn, of course. There were even clothes, too, with tabs so fold over the basic figures, green robber’s attire, fur trimmed robes and/or mail were available for Robin of Locksley, and several dresses for Olivia de Havilland, as Maid Marion.  Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind; each pair had several outfits, even hats. , too, for both gentlemen and ladies, those because these were small, they had, over time, grown a bit the worse for wear.

Wow! Needless to say, I was impressed.




At the bottom of the box, though, was a set which puzzled me. There was a woman dressed in a sort of scanty two piece bathing suit and wearing a long necklace of “diamonds,” which you could tell by the shape. Because of my father’s stacks of the founding S/F magazines, Astounding Fiction and Amazing Stories, I got the otherworldly gist of her outfit, but the real tip off was that her skin was bright blue. She also had slanted eyes, black hair and a crown. The odd little scraps in the bottom of the box proved to be a sword and shield. There was a mate for her, too, a sort of Tarzan looking dude in a loin cloth, but he was flesh- toned.

What they were, I had no idea. So, box in hand I went downstairs to find Mom, show her what I’d found and learn the identity of the buxom blue and rather shockingly undressed girl and her equally exotic companion.  While I’d expressed how overwhelmed I was at her skill, Mother looked a little cross. “Put them back,” she said. “They're the very last ones I ever made. I don’t want you to play with them.”

I could certainly understand how she felt about her handiwork, even after having grown up--and all that. I told her that I would put them away carefully. Then she relaxed a little and we sat down in the kitchen and looked them over, while she reminisced about the movies and those stars who still, I could see, shone pretty bright for her.

“Mother, who is this blue girl?” We’d got to the last paperdoll in the box.




“Why that’s Dejah Thoris. Don’t you know who she is? She’s from A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author who wrote Tarzan.

Now, I’d loved Tarzan and had spent a lot of time pondering whether you could actually teach yourself to read as had young Greystoke. Learning to read hadn’t been all that easy for me—years later, I came to understand that I’m more than a tad dyslexic.

“But why is she blue?”

“Well, she’s a Martian. She lays eggs instead of having babies.  We’ll have to look around and see if we can find you my old books. It was a series that I really liked.”

The egg bit seemed weird, but, you know, I reasoned—aliens! I didn’t think of it right away, but, if Dejah Thoris laid eggs, did she need breasts?   

I think I’m one of the few who really enjoyed the CG extravaganza of 2009, called John Carter, but maybe you have to get acquainted with this pulpy bit of fantasy when you are young. However, I remain suitably impressed by the memory—as that’s all that’s left after 60 years--of my mother’s truly excellent paperdolls.    

 ~~Juliet Waldron



 Historical Novels, from the Middle Ages to the Victorian era:

http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    Books by JW at Amazon
Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton's story:


http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744






  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Everybody Wants to Write a Book by Connie Vines

Topic for January: Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not.
Writing is hard work. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?




How many times have you heard someone say, “Someday I’m going to write a book?”  Many a time, I’m certain.  However, most do not.

Why? Because writing is hard work.

What got me started?  Like most children, I loved reading, drawing, and listening to the oral family history spoken by my grandparents.  I also like to write stories (not particularly good stories) but for a second grader I did have a handle on the concept of plotting.  Thinking back, I unnerved adults with my pointed interview questions, and thoughts about the meaning of life and life-after-death vs death-after-death.  Picture:  Tuesday Addams wearing glasses and constantly grumbling about receiving yet, another stupid doll instead of a filling cabinet for her birthday.

When, exactly, did I start and complete my first novel?

While I wrote short-stories, nonfiction articles for publication during my twenties, I didn’t get serious about completing a novel until thirties. My children were in school and I worked part-time.  That gave me a block of free time to write (vs the scribbling on 3 x 5 index cards when I was cooking dinner or a note pad during a child’s 1 hour nap).  I was serving on my church board when the choir soloist told me her sister was a co-president of the Orange County Chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America).  At the time, I hadn’t every thought of writing a romance.  I wrote for the YA and middle school market and dabbled in historical fiction, but Shirlee convinced me that the networking and workshops would be beneficial to me.  She was correct.

Attending monthly meetings/workshops, exchanging rough drafts with my critique members during lunch, and input from the multi-published members gave me the confidence to persevere.  It also made me crawl out of bed after my husband left for work (at 3:00 in the morning) and write before getting my children off to school.

I also discovered that I couldn’t give up my YA stories while I found my footing in a new market.

“So, what did Connie do?”  you ask.

I work two novels at once—which I still do to this very day.

Crazing making?  Yes!

Writing romance isn’t easy.  Strong, well-developed characters, good plot (and multiple sub plots), sharp dialogue, and emotion—lots of emotion.

Writing is addictive.  The story unfolds, the characters present themselves, and away the writer goes—into a new Universe.

What makes me complete my novel/story?

The best way for me to describe the feel is I am driven to finish the story.  Native Americans say the story chooses the Storyteller.  It is the Storyteller’s responsibly to bring the story to life.

Happy Reading!

My Rodeo Romances (Lynx and Brede) are on sale this month (click on my Amazon Author Page link).

Everyone needs a little Zombie  Valentine Romance, don’t they?

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow” is available on Amazon.com

Free on Kindle Unlimited!



Where am I?

www.novelsbyconnievines.com
https://www.facebook.com/AuthorConnieVines/

https://www.pinterest.com/novelsbyconniev/
http://mizging.blogspot.com/
https://twitter.com/connie_vines

https://www.youtube.com/user/novelsbyconnievines










Friday, January 27, 2017

The reason for cattitude - by Vijaya Schartz




Angel of Lusignan - Curse of the Lost Isle Book 8
Find Vijaya Schartz's books from BWL HERE


Cats have a special place in our lives and in our hearts. Cats and writers have a special relationship. I had many over the years and all had different personalities, but I loved them all.


The first cats were traced to the Egyptian "Mau" (which simply means cat). The domestic cat had an important role in ancient Egypt, keeping the rodent population under control, protecting the grain and other food supplies from rat infestation. So important that it was worshiped and rose to the rank of deity, with the Goddess Bastet. 


Not native to the Americas, the first domestic cats came with the first explorers on Christopher Columbus's caravels. More found their way across the Atlantic on the Mayflower. Every ship sailing for the Americas (or on any long voyage) carried a contingent of highly respected and well fed cats.

These precious animals were treated like royalty on ocean-going ships, because they had an important job. Like in ancient Egypt, they kept the rodent population under control, and protected the food storage. It took weeks to cross the Atlantic in those days, and if the food was eaten or contaminated by vermin, crew and passengers might starve or succumb to diseases before reaching their destination.

In continental Europe, cats were never considered special. In the British Isles, however, as the country developed its Navy and conquered more colonies, the cult of the cat rose to high status. Great Britain gave credit where credit was due. Without the domestic cat, there might not have been a superior British Navy or a British Colonial Empire.
Princess Jasmine, my current companion.

So you will understand why cats are so full of their importance. While the need for rat hunters has dwindled, these furry aristocrats still claim the respect due to their special class of nobility. They are precious and they know it. Cats are the epitome of haughtiness and have mastered all forms of disdain. They will refuse the treat they crave, just to claim and eat it on their own terms. They do not tolerate being ignored, and some behave like spoiled rotten divas.

We should not blame them for their behavior. As with any kind of nobility aware of their high class status, they see the world differently. While dogs have masters, cats have staff. Whether we are aware of it or not, humans were born to serve their cats. That's the way the world turns. And even if we do not agree, all cats know that.

Cats also have special powers. Probably from their time being worshiped in Egypt, they kept the power to vanish from a room and reappear in another, or outside, without ever using doors. They are said to have nine lives. Maybe that's how they remember their glorious past. They can disappear, be totally silent, and hide where no one can find them. But forget it's time for their special tuna treat, and you will never hear the end of it.

In any case, we should be grateful to our feline friends. Although they will not be ignored, we value their love of cuddles, and secretly we like their attitude. After all, who could resist a kitten's innocent round eyes and not go awww?

I also have cats in many of my novels, although not in my medieval series, and I'm currently writing a new novel with... a cat... a very big cat... so stay tuned...

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

God save the Queen--Tricia McGill

Find all Tricia McGill's Books We Love titles HERE

It amazes me how even today a vast majority of people are fascinated by the British Monarchy. Magazines make a lot of money publishing pictures and anecdotes of members of the Royal Family, be they British or otherwise. I, personally, am a monarchist. Arguments go on here in Australia about whether or not we should become a Republic. http://www.republic.org.au/ If it isn’t broken don’t fix it is my motto. I admire and respect Queen Elizabeth, who has done a marvelous job throughout her long reign, and I do hope she can continue until the day she passes on. Just my humble opinion.

One of my brothers met Queen Elizabeth at Portsmouth when she visited one of her Royal Navy minesweepers that he served on after WW11. His only comment I can recall was that she was tiny and had lovely skin. My eldest sister, Doris, also met Her Majesty here in Australia on one of the Queen’s early visits. I seem to recall my sister was more worried about one of the other waitresses who had the audacity to be showing an inch of her under slip. That just didn’t do in front of the Queen. Doris was introduced to the Queen, which gave her something to talk about for years.

Another monarch who has fascinated me over the years is Queen Victoria who ruled the United Kingdom of Gt Britain and Ireland from 1837 to 1901. Many authors are also intrigued by the Victorian Era, as shown by the books set in that period. Mind you, it is not so much Victoria who holds my interest as her large family. And being a romantic at heart I pictured this idyllic love affair between her and her beloved Prince Albert, and their perfect life surrounded by their many children conceived through that love.

Alas, my previous opinions concerning Queen Victoria were completely shattered recently when a programme aired on BBC TV; Queen Victoria’s Children. What a fascinating insight into that royal family.
And what an eye-opener. Far from being this devoted family, wholly content within their blissful cocoon, they were what today might be considered dysfunctional to say the least.

My heartfelt thanks to historian Jane Ridley for some of the following facts, mainly taken from her book Bertie: A Life of Edward V11, published by Chatto & Windus:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/sep/14/bertie-life-edward-vii-jane-ridley-review  

Victoria and Albert’s marriage was a love match of course, but in time their picture of perfect domesticity was proved a lie. The four sons and five daughters were born due to Victoria’s insatiable infatuation for her prince. The façade shown to the world proved to be so different to the actual facts.

Because, in the 17 years of their marriage, Victoria was pregnant a lot of the time, the Prince ably took on her heavy workload. This annoyed hell out of her and they were caught in this power struggle, which caused endless rows, some shaking the walls of the palace as she stormed about slamming doors. This makes her more human to me, as my husband and I had many a door-slamming argument even though we dearly loved each other. Poor Victoria, although she loved her prince she must have been madly jealous when he made such a good job of the tasks he took on. Albert became terrified of these temper outbursts of hers and doubtless considered at times that she might have inherited the madness of George 111.

Truth was, Victoria detested being pregnant, even though she enjoyed the initial act of conceiving the babies. And over time she hated almost every one of her offspring. She brought in a wet nurse as she considered breast feeding ‘disgusting’. Her breasts were more for Albert’s pleasure than to satisfy her baby’s hunger. In her documented letters to several of her children and friends she admitted her dislike for her children. To be honest, she was a battle-axe of a mother, domineering and unlikable, never caring or soft. It seems most of them couldn’t wait to get married and away from her.
Bertie, the eldest, who later ruled as Edward V11 (and by all accounts made a not too bad job of it) was disliked, and even bullied, by both parents for his philandering ways. They both considered him a half-wit. Imagine! The story of his “fall from grace” when, while training with the army in Ireland, he smuggled a prostitute into his bed, is well known. Victoria and Albert must have been beside themselves with chagrin.
Victoria blamed Bertie for Alfred’s premature death because, after her husband visited his son at Cambridge where they took a long walk in the rain, Albert took sick. He died three weeks later, but it is probable the rain soaking had nothing to do with it. The cause of death was likely typhoid. Victoria could not bear to have Bertie near her and for the next 40 years of her life wore black as she mourned her Prince. The public saw her as a pathetic grief-stricken widow. We now know the story is very different.
In fact her pathological need to exact control of her large family caused her to send informers and spies out to report back to her on all of her offspring. I found it inconceivable to hear that after Bertie married Princess Alexandra, Victoria went so far as to get the doctor to report back on everything, even Alexandra’s menstrual cycle.
Victoria once remarked that Bertie was like her. Obviously she was right, for Bertie was highly sexed, and had a bad temper. His saving grace was that he was charming. At least he has been praised for the way, in later years, he modernized the British monarchy.
Victoria’s other sons didn’t fare much better with their mother. Dear Leopold, a hemophiliac, was described by Victoria as "a very common-looking child". What kind of mother can’t stand the looks of her son? She did her best to wrap him in a cocoon as if he was an invalid, appointing a bully of a servant to look after him. Leopold won the chance to study at Oxford after a long battle with her. He was only 30 when he died. What a miserable existence he must have endured.
The only son who was anything like his father was Arthur, later the Duke of Connaught. He was her favorite, simply because he obeyed her.
As for the girls, Vicky, the eldest daughter, couldn’t escape her mother’s interference even after she married Fritz, the heir to the throne of Prussia. Victoria wrote to her daughter almost every day, trying to manipulate their lives in Germany. And when Vicky became pregnant what did her mother say? The “horrid” news upset her dreadfully.
Thank goodness Vicky, and her sister Alice, also married to a German prince, decided to defy their mother and secretly breastfed their babies. Of course Victoria found out and was furious. I imagine all the children were scared of their mother at any given time. Because she was also their sovereign they were compelled in some way to obey her.
The youngest child Beatrice (known as Baby) was kept at home. Baby was terrified of her mother. Victoria refused to speak to her for 6 months after Beatrice told her that she had become engaged to be married to her own German Prince. Thank goodness there was one daughter with the courage to rebel. Feisty Louise refused to marry her mother’s choice, and chose Lord Lorne, the son of the Duke of Argyll instead. Sadly this proved a bad choice as it was a disastrous, unhappy marriage.
Perhaps I should not be so harsh on Victoria, for she herself was brought up by an overbearing mother who designed “The Kensington System”.
This consisted of a strict set of rules concerning the upbringing of the future Queen. Victoria grew to hate her mother, who was strict to the point of being brutal. Victoria also hated her mother’s lady-in-waiting Lady Flora Hastings.  Doubtless Victoria felt released from her mother’s clutches when she married her handsome Prince Albert. But then all these babies began to come along, putting a curb on her own pleasures, presumably fostering her resentment. They often say a bully breeds a bully. Hopefully this trait wasn’t passed on to her offspring. I can't help but wonder just why she didn't look more kindly on her children considering her own miserable childhood.

Queen Victoria’s letters are available in some form from most online book sellers.
Find her scrapbook here: http://www.queen-victorias-scrapbook.org/contents/3-3.html  

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Settling in Southern England

Suspense Thriller by Randall Sawka
\





Settled in nicely in southern-very southern-England. We love our 2-bedroom apartment. It helps us deal with the rainy weather (who knew it rained in England : ) ). If the sky opens up I can slip away in to one of the bedrooms to write. This allows Nancy to use the living area and kitchen without causing distractions. When the weather breaks, as it did today I dashed off to a local pub to scribble away. Yes, I'm having coffee and water. Keeps the brain going.




That's not to say I don't take days off. We found ourselves at a massive tank museum just outside of Weymouth. It was amazing. Dozens and dozens of tanks from the first to the latest. Even found ourselves beside the tank used by Brad Pitt in "Fury." The museum lent it to them and kept it in the exact condition from the movie for the time being. Thank you Andy for the private tour!







The cool sea air has been invigorating. I'm writing at a record pace. Very fulfilling. Today we will sort out the final six weeks of our year-long, around-the-world adventure. Looks like Malta and France. Ah, but that's for next months blog.

Randall

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

What's in DK Davis' Writer's Tool Shed?




Hello everyone. Welcome to Books We Love Blog. Please settle in, grab that cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea and join me as I share what’s in my writer’s tool shed with you. Please feel comfortable asking questions or leaving comments as I’ll respond to every one of them.   

I’m DK Davis, a new author to the Books We Love family. I pen young adult supernatural, sci-fi adventures with varying degrees of romance.  My first book, Secret: In Wolf Lake is the first in the Secret Series, published January 1st, 2017. An excellent way to kick off the New Year; )

I live in Southwest Michigan with two nine-year-old cats who own me (Izzy and Crocks), and a sassy ten-year-old Sheltie (Dusty) who does his best to herd them, along with me and my husband too…or anyone who enters our home. He’s definitely a bark-aholic and not afraid to tell you so. LOL

It’s so nice to meet you...and now on to what brought you to this post… 





A Writer’s Tool Shed

What does that even mean? Laptop? Pens? Notebooks? Websites? Links? Books on the Craft?

NOPE, none of the above. Well, I do have all of those things…just like every author does, but what I’m referring to as my “tools” is something more specific to me.

Every author has their own system/process of writing. What works best to stay in the flow, that forward trajectory, driving them around the final lap called “the end” of a story.

Don’t we as writers want that for ourselves – anything that speeds things along for us?

Now, I own a shed with writing tools that keep me on track, help me to eliminate “most” struggles or obstacles before they paralyze my progress.


My Tools of the Trade

  • Character Sketches: a complete biography of the main story-stars including the villain. The biggy here is to list any trauma or shattering moment that changes/shifts the story-star’s perception. Use a lesser degree for secondary story-stars. (check out Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field, amazing book for fiction novels also)
  •   Plotting: Index cards (14 beginning, 28 middle, 14 ending = 56 cards) also given in great detail in Syd’s book. It’s a line-up of events, plan of action that keeps me moving forward, although sometimes the characters change those events, my momentum and drive remains until the end. Plus this story lay-out doesn’t take very long to do once you get started with the brain storms.
  •             Timeline: Writing this as I finish each chapter. Listing the day and also time (if relevant) of the characters story, word count, page numbers, and highlights/events of each chapter. It is a godsend when referencing back to a scene or dialogue or event as I’m writing.
  • Research Notations: Rather than doing all the research before I start my book (I can spend a ton of time doing unnecessary research for the sake of having “everything” before I start that first chapter – talk about a procrastinator) I use the “Review” comment tool to make notes throughout my story as I’m writing. That way I know specifically what to research and where it needs to go after the story is completed.


I’m still honing my story-writing skills, and my tools may change or I might add more of them…but for now, I’m totally impressed in all of them listed here – they sharpen my process, speed things up, and I love all of them for that; )

Thank you all for stopping in, hope you found this post helpful. If you have a tool in your writer’s toolbox that you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about it. Please leave a comment; I can always add another tool to my arsenal.




Secret Series:
A series of secrets, invisible yet glaring, and most include a Supernatural spin, like an unwelcomed sensation sparking every nerve ending. 

Secret: In Wolf Lake:
Samantha’s dealing with a lot of emotional blow-back from her mother’s new marriage. Then she discovers a gifted creature living in Wolf Lake, and life suddenly becomes all about keeping his existence a secret, earning his trust. That is until his life depends on her saving him. But she won’t be able to do it alone…

You can find DK Davis here:
Books We Love Ltd. Author Page – http://www.bookswelove.com/authors/davis-dk/