Sunday, September 30, 2018

Wild Horses of Alberta by Nancy M Bell

My latest novel Wild Horse Rescue released On September 21, 2018. You can click on the cover to learn more about it.

The inspiration for this story came from the wild horses of Alberta who mind their own business and struggle to survive like any wild animal. Unlike a 'wild' animal, the horses are considered 'feral' by the powers that be and therefore have no protection. In fact the Alberta government has a committee that decides when they decree there are too many. They can decide to initiate a 'cull' which means the horses are rounded up indiscriminately regardless of age or gender and sent to auction where most end up in the hands of the meat buyer. Some of the members on this supposedly impartial committee are the very people who will participate in the cull and benefit financially from the sale of the horses. Fences have been left unrepaired and gates open so the horses wander unto 'private' land, often lured by feed or salt block, although of course this is denied vehemently by the perpetrators.
Those horses are on crown land, land the people of Alberta supposedly have rights and access to. However during one cull a few years ago, the rancher with the cull permit locked access gates and refused entry to Alberta citizens. To make matters even more convoluted five people who were doing nothing more than observing were arrested and held for a number of hours and had to go to court to be proven blameless. The official stance is that the horses have no natural predators which of course if untrue and has been rebutted by advocacy groups. Help Alberta Wildies is a group of concerned citizens who advocate for the horses and bring their interests to the public forum. You can follow them on Facebook at Help Alberta Wildies. There are a number of photographers who routinely go out and take photos while watching over the horses. There have been recorded instances of foals being caught in deep snow and floundering, left by the herd. Young horses so covered in ticks they are anemic, attacks by cougars, wolves and coyotes on young, sick or older horses.

The wild horses in the western United States face similar challenges and their round up methods include chasing the horses (including young foals) by helicopter, insisting this is the best and most humane method. I can only IDIOTS! You can follow their story on Facebook at WIld in North Dakota and The Cloud Foundation.
I am not a bleeding heart city girl, I'm a horsewoman with many years of experience and I can say with no reserve that most of the official babble from both sides of the border is HOGWASH. That's the nicest word I could think of.

In Wild Horse Rescue, Laurel Rowan who fans of mine will remember from Laurel's Quest and the other books in the Cornwall Adventures, is back home in southern Alberta. Her Cornish friend Coll Tinne is visiting for the summer. The wild horses are under a cull order and Laurel refuses to allow the horses she so loves and admires to be denied their freedom and their very lives. So she sets out to find a way to help them. The stallion in the story is Coal, but he is inspired by the stallion known as White Spirit who lives with his band near Sundre, ALberta. I have moved the horses in my story from Sundre down to near Pincher Creek, Alberta. Although I don't believe there are any wild horses left in that area. There used to be wildies on the Suffield Military Base living quite in harmony with their surrounding. However the Alberta government in their infinite wisdom decided to remove them all, a lot of them went to slaughter, but some were bought by concerned citizens who fought to keep the bloodlines alive. There is a Suffield Mustang Association where they keep track of the horses and the breeding lines. When the horses were removed the government introduced elk to the area, now twenty years later they find the elk (who aren't indigenous to the area) are destroying the riparian areas by the water holes and the grazing. Now, they are talking about 'managing' the elk. Again, I say IDIOTS. Bureaucrats who don't understand the animals or the land listen to special interest groups who have their own agenda which has more to do with money than the environment or the animals well being.

The wildies are born wild, they live wild, they survive as they can, the weak fall and the fittest survive. They are as wild as any deer or moose. Hanging the 'feral' tag on them just makes the wildies easy pickings for the unscrupulous. I encourage you to take a look at the Help Alberta Wildies facebook page. There is another group called Wild Horses of Alberta Society, however they support the cull and also birth control for the mares, which I do not. Many of the ranchers would be very happy if the horses disappeared altogether and that will be a sad day for Alberta and the world.

Duane Starr is one of the photographers who follows the horses. The photos below are his work. PLease realize most of the images are taken with telescopic lens, the photographer is not near the horses. You can also see the damage logging has done as the horses graze in the mess of the clear cuts. And yet the government and ranchers claim the horses are destroying the landscape.

White Spirit

Darrel Glover also took some of the pictures and the black stallion in the snow is by Rick Price

Clear cut mess

This little guy is Kai when he was found, he was snowbound and freezing. Some riders found him and rescued him. He was severely under weight and covered in ticks. He survived but sadly before he was two he succumbed to colic. However, he was loved and cared for during his short life, so fie on the ones who said he should have been left to die, 'as nature intended'. I believe if he was 'meant to die' the riders wouldn't have found him. Perhaps little Kai was test of our compassion, courage and greatness of heart. In which case some people would have failed miserably. I bless Help Alberta Wildies for taking care of Kai and loving him.

Some of the wildies doing what they do to survive.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Time to Lighten Up (And Tell a Cat story)

Transport to Fort Providence residential school is only the beginning of their ordeal, for the teachers believe it is their sworn duty to “kill the Indian inside.” All attempts at escape are severely punished, but Yaotl and Sascho, along with two others, will try, undertaking a journey of 900 kilometers across the Northwest Territory. Like wild geese, brave hearts together, they are homeward bound.

Find Snow Goose and other historical novels @ these sites:

Okay, this is a cat and cat "owner" story. I'm in  need of some relief from increasingly Dystopian reality. Maybe you are too.

We recently acquired a new cat. "Willeford" (who came up with that?!) is a used cat, so, as they say about cars, he's only new to us.  He arrived from a kill shelter in a nearby county, a nondescript gray tiger, eight years old and all busted up and weak on the back end.

Yes, not only is he an elder cat, but he's also a "busted" cat. When we first got him, he couldn't even uncurl his tail. He could take zero pressure from a hand gently stroking his hips without sinking to the ground. He's gaining strength after these months of happy release from the rescue cage in which we found him. Someone may have stepped on him, as he's one of those cats who imagines his people can see in the dark. I've narrowly avoided falling over or stepping on him quite a few times in the last months.

At our house, he's been able to run up and down stairs for therapy, to leap onto beds and chairs and cat furniture for cuddling and combing. His injuries no longer preclude his jumping onto the kitchen counter to demand a faucet water drink, or, his personal favorite, a glass filled to the brim with water set beside us on a desk or table for our convenience--at least that was the original plan.

Willeford has turned mostly into William, or Willy. When he's a real sweetie, it's WILL-YUM-YUM, or just YUM, for short. Cat names often start out grandly, but, I've found, quickly morph. We once had an elegant feisty black female named "Bast-Ra" but that eventually became what our youngest child could pronounce at the time, which was "Bap."  "Bap" it remained, even after he could say Mom's fancy original.

Willy came with more than a few unusual feline behaviors we've never coped with before. For one thing, at first he was super needy. I spent the first few hours he was home, lying in bed with him where he hugged and kissed and rolled all over me, all while purring and drooling like a mad kitty. He non-stop kneaded any body part he could reach. I stayed because I didn't want to leave him in such a state, so I was just a quiet cat mom for him until his anxiety wound down.

He spent the night with me and for most nights following, though I can't say either of us got much sleep, as he spent the time crawling all over me and purring. His favorite resting place, because I am a back sleeper, was on top of my face, chest down and with his cat "elbows" digging into my neck, so that eventually my throat would close. Then I'd  choke and have to push him away. I've tried all sorts of strategies to get him to accept other more acceptable (to me) sleeping positions, but it's literally taken months to get him sufficiently relaxed in order to do so. Now, we share a pillow, though I have to be firm in order to keep enough to accommodate my skull. Even now, sometimes, he'll wrap his kitty arms around my head and then drag the rest of his body close into a wrap-around. It's like a fur "face-hugger" and the mental image is not pleasant.

Big Feet

 Almost a year in and his behavior is slowly changing. Some time in the summer, he made a decision to decamp to some spot more distant, perhaps onto the foot of the bed, or into bed with my husband whose larger frame accommodates his weight and sharp elbows better. It gives us both a breather, although I have to admit to liking the creature comfort of a cat pressed against the torso on cold nights.

We have no idea what went on with his last human, but, as Willy'd arrived at the shelter starved and "from the streets,"we came to believe that his person had died and that he'd been summarily cast out to fend for himself. No wonder all the anxiety, poor guy!

Willy remains an early to bed type of cat. That is, initially, at 7:30, he started calling and then leading us toward the stairs, clear as anything saying "Time for bed."  My husband jokingly remarked that was the time when Jeopardy(c) ended, a classic bedtime for the senior senior. (Yes, I meant to say "senior" twice.)

He likes to play, but he's rough and isn't always careful with his claws or his teeth. At first my legs and arms were covered with scratches and puncture marks too from Sorry! OOPS! I-lost-my-head-for-a-minute bites. Our other (also crazy) cat really doesn't get him at all, and she gets scared and won't play chase as he would like, so now and then he bullies her because it's the single fun feline interaction he can get.

Sometimes I wonder if we should get another younger cat which could possibly break up their negative game by the addition of a third player. Another cat might provide  a playmate for the energetic Yum. Should we do it? But as every cat mom knows, #1 there's a husband problem to be solved even before the inter-cat relationships can be solved

Our family has managed as many as five kitties at a time and done a decent job, but we're not getting any younger or any richer, and taking proper care of animal companions requires funds as well as love/time. We're approaching the end of the trail here, and the last thing any elder pet "owner" wants to imagine is that their beloved friends will be cast onto the street as Willeford was.

 ~~Juliet Waldron

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The Esteemed Right Worshipful Prioress S.R.D. meets Willeford.

Friday, September 28, 2018

How to Design a Fictional Town or City by Connie Vines

Why would a writer design a fictional town or city?

Many writers use actual towns and cities in their fiction, but there are some writers who opt to create their own towns and cities. Stephen King is known for the fictional Maine towns he creates in his fiction. There are various reasons a writer might choose to create a fictional town or city rather than use a real location. The primary reason may be because the content of the story might not be flattering, and the writer, out of respect for the real communities, may create a fictional location to set the story. Fictional settings also require less research. If you're writing about a real place, readers familiar with that town or city will be critical of details that aren't exactly right. Creating a fictional town or city allows you a wider range of flexibility.

So, how does a writer create a fictional town or city that will convince readers they are visiting a real place?

The first step is obvious.  Find a name for your town or city. Come up with a name that sounds like the name of a town or city. Check maps to ensure the town doesn't exist in the state where you will set the story. If it does, your readers will assume you're writing about the actual town. You can use the name of a real town, just locate the town in a state other than where it exists. Consider names for your fictional setting that are similar in sound or spelling to real places.

I created Running Springs, Montana in my first Rodeo Romance in this manner.  Running Springs is a city in the mountains of southern California.  I placed my town in the Bitter Route Valley of Montana.  The larger towns were towns I visited so those details were familiar to anyone living Missoula.

Draw a map of your town or city. It doesn't have to be detailed, but a map will help you write about your town or city as if it's real. You will know what happens if you head east on Main Street or west on Third Avenue. You will know where your residential sections are, where the dangerous part of town is and what businesses are in town. These are details that will help you bring your fictional setting to life for your readers. 

Populate your fictional town with people that give the town character. Create the types of businesses you'd expect to find in a town of the same size and in the same part of the country as your fictional town. If your town is in a state like Wyoming or Montana, chances are good there will be a farm supply store, if not in your town, then at least a nearby town.

Base your fictional town or city on real places to help you gain your bearings and structure, but avoid using specific landmarks that will give away your model town or city. If a landmark is important to the plot of the story, create a similar fictional landmark.

Locate your fictional town or city near a recognizable real-life city to help give your readers an anchor that will make your fictional town or city seem more real to them. In my Fun & Sassy Fantasy Series my anchor cities are in southern California.  Each city is easily recognizable to my readers.
Sensory details are a must.  What flowers grow on the hillsides of the Montana mountains in the spring?  What does a tack and saddle shop smell like?  The sound of cowboy boots clicking on a weather-beaten stair case?  What does a belting hail storm feel like?

Don’t forget the regional foods and everyday expressions. 

Does you heroine reach for a can of soda, coke, or pop?  Sweetened or unsweetened ice tea?

Details count. 

After all your fictional town is a living element in your story.  Your fictional town has played a part in defining your hero or you heroine.

If the author is very skillful the reader will feel as if she/he has visited this fictional town, or believes this town is a real town. . .somewhere.

What is your take on fictional cities?

Happy Reading,




Thursday, September 27, 2018

Why do writers like cats? by Vijaya Schartz

Find VIjaya's books from BWL Publishing HERE

As far as I can remember, I loved cats… and writing. I wrote poetry in first grade, around the same time I brought my first stray home. At the time my father didn’t allow us to have pets, but since then I adopted many cats… and I kept writing. I still write, and I still have a cat. 

Some say writers like cats because they are non-intrusive. I beg to differ. Even right now, my cat is begging for me to stop this computer nonsense and pay attention to her. 

Others say cats are the perfect writer’s pet because they sleep a lot and they like daily routines. That part is true. There is a time for me to write. That’s when my cat sleeps. Right now, it’s TV time and I’m still writing, that’s why my cat is so upset. 

Cats are independent, and the epitome of indifference. That part is usually true, unless it’s tuna time, or close to tuna time, or two hours before tuna time, or three in the morning and she decides it’s tuna time. 

My cat's favorite camouflage blanket

So, if cats are just as demanding as other pets, why is it so many famous writers had cats and adored them? My rational opinion could be that cats are quieter than dogs and don’t need to be walked, but I believe it goes much deeper than that. Cats are intriguing, challenging, smart, and obstinate. They tickle our muse. And if I have a question, I can always ask my cat. She will give me the right answer. 

Here are some other reasons why great writers loved their cats: 

"A cat has absolute emotional honesty: human beings, for one reason or another, may hide their feelings, but a cat does not." Ernest Hemmingway 

"I write so much because my cat sits on my lap. She purrs so I don't want to get up. She's so much more calming than my husband." Joyce Carol Oates 

"That's the great secret of creativity. You treat ideas like cats: you make them follow you." Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing 

"I simply can't resist a cat, particularly a purring one. They are the cleanest, cunningest, and most intelligent things I know, outside of the girl you love, of course." Mark Twain 

"I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat." Edgar Alan Poe 

"When a Cat adopts you there is nothing to be done about it except to put up with it and wait until the wind changes." T.S. Elliot 

There is a cat in my latest novel, a telepathic cougar, the companion of my kick-butt bounty hunter heroine. If you haven’t read it yet, pick it up and enjoy.

What in the frozen hells of Laxxar prompted Fianna to pursue her quarry to this forbidden blue planet? Well, she needs the credits... badly. But as if crashing in the jungle wasn't bad enough, none of her high-tech weapons work. She'll have to go native, after the most wanted felon in five galaxies. It's not just her job. It's personal.

Acielon has never seen an outworlder like this fascinating female, strangely beautiful, and fierce, like the feline predator loping at her side. He always dreamed of exploring the universe, despite the legends... and the interdiction. Is it truly a hellish place of violence, lies and suffering? If it spawned this intriguing creature, it must also be a place of wonders, adventure and excitement...

Fianna's instincts tell her someone is watching. Sheba, her telepathic feline partner, doesn't seem worried... yet, something on Azura isn't quite right.

"I don’t know how Vijaya continues to write books that both aggravate you to no end and keep you on the edge of your seat. You can’t put it down until you know what happens next. Before you know what happened, you are at the end of the book and wondering how you got there so fast. It is hard not to get caught up in and lost in the imagery created on the pages of the locations. You can even smell what is in the air. Yet another page turner I couldn’t put down! Thank you Vijaya for keeping me entertained." 5-stars - Beverley J. Malloy on amazon


Vijaya Schartz

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Is it wise to go back? Tricia McGill

Find buy links to all my books here on my Books We Love author page.

For years I have been writing time-travels, and repeatedly admitted I would love to go back to certain times to learn if things were really as the historians and archaeologists have assured us they were. I am in the process of writing the life story of one of my sisters, the one who was closest to me throughout my life. I began this project as an act of love and admiration, but have to admit that there have been moments when I have been so sad and so filled with melancholy that I have to wonder just why I began. Well, no I don’t really wonder why, because I know I made her a promise. I was the one who encouraged her to learn how to use a computer, and I was the one who then encouraged her to write about her life. Her finished, very abridged, version took all of twenty pages so as you can imagine it has been a huge project to turn it into a novel.

She and I probably spent more of our lives together than any of our other eight siblings so were with each other through the good and the bad, the sad and the happy. This is where I have become unstuck as they say, for the sad times are the ones that bring me to tears, and leave me wondering if I should have started this particular journey. But believe me there were more than enough happy times to compensate. I guess most people feel the same melancholy as I at times as we reminisce about times past.

Our early lives were so far removed from the lives lived by the young of today, with no television, no phone, no way of contacting, other than by letter. How we managed to keep in touch with our very large extended family would puzzle and amaze the kids of today. To invite someone to a party or a wedding, a letter had to be written. In the old days there must have been a very good postal service, as a reply was usually received with a week. Thank heaven for hand written letters, they hold so much history.

But then again, those were the days of calling in for a visit when you could be sure that someone was at home. No one I know seems to do that anymore. A phone message or a text has to go to them to inquire if it is all right to pop over for a while. The days of surprises are over. I can well recall how much I loved coming home from Sunday school to find one or the other of my older siblings and their families had popped in unannounced.

In 1998 two of my older sisters decided to go back to England to visit the remaining family and friends. Of course they asked, and expected, me to accompany them on this trip, more than likely because of me being younger. I refused, partly because I hate flying and after my only flight back to England in 1975 swore that I would never go through that torture again. They couldn’t understand my reticence, but deep down I knew the reason. I had no wish to see the changes in people I knew and loved. I preferred to remember them as they were the last time I saw them. On my sisters’ return, I couldn’t believe it when they said they now understood what I meant. It was worse for the eldest who had not been back since she left the shores of home in 1949 to begin life in a new country. She left behind brothers in their twenties and went back to grumpy old men way past their prime.

Visit my web page for excerpts and reviews of all my books.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Urban or Rural

At a dinner the other night a younger couple described their trip to Europe focusing on the sites in London, Paris and Amsterdam. This led to a fun debate on what constitutes an interesting
The younger couples planned or dreamed of similar getaways filled with museums, city squares and a few serious hikes through mountain passes or jungles in places like Indonesia and Costa Rica. Granted, some of them had not been to the Louvre or the gaudy Gaudi structures in Barcelona. This and other ‘urban’ attractions are worth a look. Go for it.
As the survey moved to Nancy and me we were in perfect synch.
We certainly require comfortable accommodations. Our campsites would have a neon Hilton sign above it. Yes, I know, neon is gone. The point is that there is electricity in the building and a shower.
The trick for us is finding a hotel or B and B in a small enough city that a good meal can be had and interesting coffee shops are a short stroll away. Of course, the city should have an interest site or two we can stroll to and enjoy.
Paramount to everything else are rural walks/ hikes in the immediate area. We found endless trails in rural England that brought us to cute little villages and friendly pubs. Even with on the Greek Islands we  got away from the hustle and bustle with strolls through endless olive groves and pathways along rivers.
It stuck us that a day with a light picnic lunch and perhaps a bottle of wine and two glasses in a very rural setting of rolling fields provides us with calming memories and contentment.

Monday, September 24, 2018

My Tsunami Summer

Summer is officially over. Thank God!

This past summer I couldn’t get enough of tsunami videos. I stoically watched 2-3 hours a day of YouTube footage, mostly of 2004 Indonesia and 2011 Japan. It wasn’t until the end of July when I finally acknowledged my strange summer obsession and looked up from the floodwaters long enough to question why. Answer: my summer had become wave after wave of losses. It all began with my husband’s sudden loss of health the third week in June.

He had earlier scheduled four weeks off this summer for vacation and study leave, including our second-ever cruise. It turned out to be not a vacation, nor study leave; not even staycation. It was a summer-long sickation with his mysterious illness continuing to baffle doctors as of this writing.

Included in this summer’s losses were the cruise and the money for it because, always being fit and healthy, we had not considered travel insurance. Our spare refrigerator-freezer quit working. Of course, since it’s not often used, I didn’t notice it had stopped until all the food was spoiled. Our second car (25-years-old) became no longer dependable. We sold it for parts, but have not gotten a replacement. We sold our boat of 13 years because he could no longer trailer it. This was the first summer that family has not visited us, nor us them. My husband’s dizziness made him unable to drive; I became chauffeur. He lost 30 pounds since the illness began. (Yay, weight loss; boo, unintentional.) I gave up knitting since I only knit at night while watching dramas with him, but he was not up for watching TV. I gave up gardening – the first time without veggies in our yard in over 40 years. We also loss power for six hours one evening, but no big deal. I gave up singing and playing guitar, but worst of all, stopped writing.

Unexpected positive things also came as a result of this past summer – spending hours together without distractions; unburdening ourselves of big material things; my husband could sit, so sorted and shredded 40 years of bills and receipts; I couldn’t concentrate to write, and didn’t want to be far from him, so began making miniatures (HO railroading scenery and buildings, D&D and gaming, and a miniature house for my grandkids, of their own house). Also, surprisingly, three places asked me to do book signings without me even contacting them.

With the dozens of medical tests, we know all the things which are going right for my husband. A bit of self-diagnosis, what ifs, and insisting on certain tests…we aren’t there yet, but we feel we’re getting close to finding answers.

My husband’s only about 50%, but able to drive himself to work. I began writing on my next book, and am very excited about it. I also quit watching tsunami videos.

Going through periods of loss is tough. Seeing the hope of light at the end of the tunnel is hopeful. May you, who have gone through or are going through loss, see some encouraging hope of light. Keep on writing. Keep on reading.

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