Sunday, November 18, 2018

It's Almost Christmas by Nancy M Bell

TO find out more about A Longview Christmas and my other books click on the cover and then scroll down in the website to see the Holiday titles.

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I thought I would share some childhood Christmas memories.

The Rafter Family Christmas Eve was always a variation of the same theme.

My parents would pack up the two youngest children, myself and my sister Wendy, and set off in the car to visit my Dad’s sisters ( my aunts) who lived in various parts of Toronto and the outlying area.
My Aunt Ola and Uncle Bunny lived near Whitevale, Ontario with my cousins Rose and Fred. They lived on a farm and had the most amazing white farmhouse. The floors always were polished to diamond brilliance and I loved their kitchen. Lots of room and tons of windows, it was a wonderful welcoming place. The adults would visit and we would play with Rosie and Freddy our cousins, either outside in the snow or inside on the floor. We would drop off our gifts and receive the ones that went home to go under our tree.

After eating Christmas goodies we would all pile back into the car and head off to the next aunt’s house.

Auntie Joy and Uncle Norm lived in the west end of the city with a house full of our cousins. Glennie was the oldest and then Charlie, Suzanne, Wayne, Billy, Dennis and Brenda. There was always lots to do at Auntie Joy’s, we played games and one year when they lived in Streetsville we played in the ravine near their house and got totally covered in burrs. We were not popular children when we got home. There was great food and the cousins always had the latest in games and toys to play with We dropped off the presents and packed the ones for us into the car and we were off again.

Next stop Aunt Loral and Uncle Bob and cousins Debbie and Lori. Aunt Loral’s was usually the last stop in the early years.

My Aunt Gloria and Uncle Tommy and Cindy and Tammy Lori lived in Caladar, which was up near North Bay when we were young, we would go and visit them on New Year’s Day every year. Later years they moved to Toronto, not far from Aunt Loral and we stopped there on Christmas Eve as well. Aunt Irma ( who later changed her name legally to Rocky) and Uncle Wally lived near Ottawa and we did not get to see them as often, or our cousins Gary and Scott.
Aunt Loral had a very small house and it always seemed so crammed full of Christmas. The living room was usually quite dark and the tree seemed to fill it up totally. She had the most amazing tree topper that was all the colors of the rainbow and it sent the colors all over the room, reflecting off all the walls and the front room window. As this was our last stop Wendy and I were both tired and didn’t spend too much time actually playing with Debbie and Lori. It was also getting late and near bed time so that Santa could come and leave his gifts for us. There was always time for yet more goodies and more pop. Aunt Loral always had great fruit cake at her house. Dark and moist. She also had a zillion of the little statues that used to come in Red Rose Tea. They were lined up on the top of the door frames in her kitchen and just about anywhere that you looked We always put the tree up on December 20th as that was my birthday. Mom and Dad never wanted to put the tree up earlier than that as we always had a real tree and they worried that it would dry out.
We had these really cool bubble lights that were all different colors but got really hot when you left them on too long. There was a fluffy white angel on top.
One Christmas Eve when we were still outside in the driveway just getting out of the car Wendy and I got a huge surprise. There, coming down the Cooney’s driveway, who were our next door neighbors, was Santa Claus!

We both screamed and then bolted for the back door. If Santa came while were still up and awake he wouldn’t leave us anything. We tore through the back door into the kitchen and down the back hall to the bedroom. With our wet snow boots and coats still on Wendy and I scrambled into bed and pulled the covers over our heads. I had a harder time getting into bed as I had to climb up into the top bunk, but I made it. Mom and Dad came in and tried to get us to take off our coats and boots and change into night clothes. Wendy and I wouldn’t budge, we were pretending to be asleep so that Santa would leave our presents. We were sure that he was coming to our house any moment because we KNEW he just next door and he hadn’t been to our house next. He must have already been to Jo-anne and John Lee’s place because they lived on the other side of the Cooneys, so we had to be next. Mom and Dad must have removed our boots after we were asleep because they were gone in the morning. And Santa did leave our presents for us that year.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

What Do You Do When A Series Ends? - Opposites in Love

I’ve been a student of Astrology for years and while deciding on a book to write, I thought perhaps, one where opposites attract. Aries and Libra were the first I chose. Now this was originally written years ago and I had to do some updating like getting rid of station wagons, giving my characters cell phones and putting computers into the hospital where I chose to base the six friends

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First in the series is Aries-Libra.
Jenessa is union and Eric is management. She charges ahead, sword in hand. He likes balance and looking at all sides of a problem. They must learn to work together to solve the hospital’s problems. This story had a bit of myself in it when I was part of a committee trying for a union at the hospital where I worked.

The second in the series is The Taurus Scorpio Connection

Lauren a Taurus says her mother was ahired nanny and her father the Mellwood bank. She is searching for a home and returns to Eastlake where she went to college. Alex , A Scorpio has been burned by a rick woman who deserted him and their son. He has no desire for marriage and fights the attraction. This story came when reading about a poor little rich girl and got tied up with a charity donation for Doctors Without Borders.

The third in the series is The Gemini Taurus connection. Liz the heroine is a Gemini. She is a single mother raising twin sons. Her husband, a volunteer fireman, died trying to rescue a woman leaving her with two six week old babies. Jeff, the hero is a Sagittarius. He had a wonderful marriage and has no desire for another. Widow and widower raise sparks and his ‘hoof in mouth” disease provides some humor. Having Genini and Sagittarian family members, this was sort of written for them.

The fourth in the series is The Cancer Capricorn Connection.  Cate is a Cancer and a single mother. After taking a new position as a nurse manager of the Rehab facility, she is happy to be with her friends. When she learns Rick, her love from the past and the father of her daughter, she must learn to forgive the man who deserted her, the man she never tried to find.  Rick has his own lessons to learn and one is he still loves Cate. Is this love hopeless?  This story has a bit of myself in it. I’m a Cancer but never experienced being a single mother.  But I spent time in a rehab hospital when I had my knees replaced.

The fifth in the series is The Leo Aquarius Connection. Suzanna returns to Eastlake to join her friends as nurse manager of the Pediatric unit. She has a fifteen year old brother who was in a horrific accident and is undergoing rehab. She almost decides to leave when she learns Caleb a pediatrician has joined the staff. In the past, Caleb, a wealthy young man had propositioned her. She refused. They have a lot of learning to do, especially when Caleb’s parents push another woman into his path. Part of the inspiration for this book was watching a romance involving these two signs emerge.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Is a big stick required? by J.C. Kavanagh

So you've read a book. A fantastic book. You immersed yourself in the characters and in the various scenes and allowed yourself to be pulled into the intricacies of the plot. The words in the book joined together like a movie unfolding in your mind - word for word, paragraph for paragraph, page by page. What I like to call a word movie. 

Finally, you flip the last page and then sit back slowly in satisfied awe.

Now what?

Well, if you really-truly-completely want to share your satisfaction and acknowledge the author's way with words, a 'thank you' in the form of an online book review is your next step.

But somehow, the book review is a step that most people skip.

It's not because they don't want to say 'thank you' for the wonderful piece of work, or 'thank you' for bringing them totally and completely into the playground of the author's mind, it's because... well, it's because it's not encouraged enough. Not stressed enough. The importance of writing a positive review makes a huge impact on a writer's audience and fan-base. Think about it. How often do you search specifically for a particular author, or for books that are 4- or 5-star reviews? All the time? Most of the time? Probably.

Some websites make it easy to write a review. Others, not so easy. It's the resolve of the reader that determines which website(s) they place their opinion and name. Mind you, not all sites require the inclusion of your real name - so some form of anonymity is allowed. I know that the anonymous review is often the crutch used by negative trolls, but I'm only speaking to the readers who truly enjoy jumping in and out of the author's page-by-page creative playground.

If readers understood how important it is to share a positive reading experience with others around the globe, there would be more 'famous' writers. Yeah, I really think so.  Then, 'unknown' writers would have their works lifted for others to 'see' the word movie that each book brings to the screen of your mind.

It doesn't take a big stick to write a review. All it takes is some good words.

That's the 'thank you' a good author deserves.

J.C. Kavanagh 
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2) 
The Twisted Climb, 
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Release - Karma Nation

My family and I lived for fifteen years in a mixed-race neighborhood, with African-Americans, whites and Latinos, in Denver, Colorado. I had the pleasure of interacting with and exploring my neighbors’ experiences and views of America.

As an initiated Hindu Vaishnava priest, I was also active in Interfaith circles and spoke at various churches and conferences. This resulted in friendships with black pastors and inspired me to seek a deeper understanding of African-American history and spirituality. It is these experiences that led me to write Karma Nation.

Presented as a literary romance, Karma Nation follows the arc of two characters: Sam DeVon Johnson, a proud young black man, and Chantley Armstrong, a white American woman who grew up in an ashram in India.

The intense feelings aroused by a chance encounter in Boulder, Colorado suggest that they share a relationship from previous lives.

Chantley sees the world through the eyes of karma. “Everyone acts according to their karma,” she says, “maybe even entire nations.”

Deeply concerned with American injustice, racism and militarism, he asks, “What can you say about a country that starts its history with a slavery and a genocide? What kind of karma is that?”

Discovering that they may have been lovers at a plantation in South Carolina during the antebellum period, they journey through the South, visiting places and people connected to America’s troubled past and uncertain present.

As they fall deeper in love, their travel exposes conflicts whose origins neither is able to explain. They locate their plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, but its exploration reveals a shocking truth about the real nature of their relationship—one that makes them question who they are, their deep-seated beliefs and the meaning of love.

Karma Nation is, in short, an exploration of American cultural and racial attitudes as seen through the ethos of Hinduism. It is also the engaging story of two quirky characters who, having to overcome their own issues, grow towards maturity and love. I invite all of you to enjoy this book.

Mohan Ashtakala is the author of The Yoga Zapper, published by Books We Love. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Thank you and farewell

On 11 November 1918 the First World War effectively ended when a peace treaty was signed by Germany and the Commonwealth of Nations. An armistice, which is a truce made by opposing sides, was signed at 11 am on what has become known as the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. The following year, after the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, when what is now known as the Great War was formally ended, a peace parade was held. For a number of years after that, what came to be known as Armistice Day, was celebrated. It was not about victory. It was about peace. It was about remembering all those people who had died in the line of duty. To help us do this there has always been 2 minutes of silence at 11 am on 11 November.

It is now 100 years since the Great War ended. Tragically, WW2 followed in little over 20 years. There have been many other wars across the world since then as well, so now, what eventually came to be called Remembrance Day, is the day when nations remember all those other soldiers, sailors and airmen who have died more recently, as well as those who fought a century ago. Whether this will continue, only time will tell, but this year in the UK it was special.

Danny Boyle, the Academy Award winning film director, challenged the people in the UK to go to the beaches to remember those soldiers who boarded the troop ships that would take them into battle. 30 beaches around the UK were chosen and Formby Beach, which is right outside my front door, was one of them.

This might not look like many people walking towards the beach but they kept on coming and, if you look closely, you can see  crowds beginning to congregate on top of the sand dunes as well. They were making the journey to commemorate the lives of those millions of young men of all nations who never had a chance to grow old, and they were doing this on a day that started out overcast, cold and very wet. As the minutes ticked towards eleven o'clock, however, the clouds began to part, and by the time a lone bugler began to play the The Last Post, the haunting tune that would lead the crowd into 2 minutes of silence, the sun came out.

When the silence ended there was just one more thing the crowd had to do, and that was to watch as the incoming tide washed away the huge portrait that had been sculpted into the sand, an image of a WWI soldier. It was a final farewell and thank you to those who had suffered so much for the price of our freedom. 

My family, like so many others, suffered during both world wars. Uncles died and others sustained injuries that affected them for the rest of their lives, so I grew up knowing their stories, and also knowing about the deprivations many suffered after both wars. Unemployment, food shortages, a lack of decent housing, all went on for a very long time. Yet, without those wars and the tremendous sacrifices, would I have been the recipient of free health care for the whole of my life, or received a free first class education, benefited from female emancipation, been able to pick and chose a career...even write books that are published by Books We Love...the list is endless. 

So as we watched the waves wash away all that was left we said thank you, and farewell.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four?, I want to thank Joan for letting me take over her spot this month. To introduce myself, I am Helen Henderson, the author of the Windmaster Novels. I like to hang out with mages and fly with dragons.

Windmaster, the first book of the Windmaster Novels, was never intended to be a novel, let alone the start of a series. It was a short piece written to help someone during their recovery after a severe illness. But after Lady Ellspeth of the House of Cszabo, captain of Sea Falcon gave the order to cast off the mooring lines and set sail, the characters decided they wanted more story told and a full-length fantasy was created. The adventures of Ellspeth and the Archmage, Lord Dal took me on an epic quest from a tropical island to Dal’s clanhold in the high mountains and into a thrilling journey deep in a cave. Their story ended, or so I thought.

I went on to other projects, flew with dragons, but Dal and Ellspeth tapped me on the shoulder. “We want to tell you about our new ship, Windmaster.” Since he’s a mage, I couldn’t refuse. (I don’t think he’d turn me into a toad, but didn’t want to take the chance.) So while there was never a plan for a series, work on a Book Two began. The first problem was a name. I couldn’t name it after the ship because that was already taken. Since this trip would be to take Dal’s mother to her ancestral lands overseas, the title became Windmaster Legacy.

I had fun researching Windmaster Legacy because of the foreign setting. Pictures of the Australian outback and Ayres Rock (now referred to as Uluru) surrounded my workspace. The scenes intermingled with images of koalas and giraffes that I’d taken. Unfortunately not in their homeland, but in local zoos.

One Book, Two Book, not a series you say. Just two books set in the same world. Although Windmaster and Windmaster Legacy are stand-alones and can be read independently of each other, there was one itty bitty little thing. In most of my novels, a myth or legend is told. While having dinner under the stars Dal notices two stars are brighter than the rest. Ellspeth tells him the legend of the lovers, Iol and Pelra. Although they were from competitor trading houses, Iol and Pelra petitioned to be handfasted and were granted same if they both accomplished a given task within the required time.

As the legend goes, “The ships returned in the final hour allowed by the bet. Despite their return within the allotted time, the parents reneged and declared Iol and Pelra had lost the bet and refused to allow the marriage. The ruling council of Iol’s house ordered him to a remote inland lake to captain an old scupper. Pelra was confined to her family complex. Unable to return to their ships and the sea, the pair sneaked to the twin rocks that guarded the harbor entrance. When the families sent soldiers to enforce their orders, the water god brought up a storm to protect the lovers. Then he transformed Iol and Pelra into shipfish. Legend has it they swam together to the end of the world. One powerful leap carried them into the night sky.”

As you may have guessed, Book Three recounts the full story of Iol and Pelra. Windmaster Legend, the tale of the star-crossed lovers and their quest sets sail Spring 2019.

But the title of the post is “One Book, Two Book, Three Book, Four?” Only three have been talked about. If you pay close attention at the end of Windmaster Legacy, you will get a hint of whose story Dal and Ellspeth want told next.

~till next time, Helen

Click the book covers to purchase from your favorite online bookseller.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Remembering WWl

For more information about Susan Calder's books, or to purchase visit her Books We Love Author Page. 

Yesterday, November 11, marked the 100th anniversary of the formal end of World War 1.
The occasion led me to remember my trip to Europe three years ago with my husband Will and our son Matt. We began our tour of Canada's battlefields with a stop at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France.  

From the Vimy visitors' centre, we walked up to monument, past a section of land that has been forested to prevent erosion. A sign told us that the bumpy terrain was caused by mine explosions during the war. German troops planted the mines when they occupied the strategic ridge from 1914-1917. The explosions went off as Allied forces advanced up the hill. Barbed wire fences and "Keep Out" signs warned that unexploded munitions remain buried under the grass. 

Our approach led to an impressive sight. Sculpted of Croatian limestone, the Vimy monument features 20 human figures representing peace and the defeat of militarism.  

The names of 11,285 Canadians killed in France whose graves are unknown are inscribed on the memorial's outside wall. Back down the hill, we stopped at the cemetery for the Canadian soldiers who died at Vimy or on neighbouring battlefields. 

Student guides conducted a tour of the preserved trenches and tunnels.

Moved by all we'd seen at Vimy, we drove to the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial. Newfoundland didn't join Canada until 1949 and fought as a separate regiment in WWI. 

Beaumont-Hamel caribou monument
On July 1 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the Newfoundlanders left the trenches to storm a ridge occupied by German forces. Most of the soldiers made it less than half way before they were mowed down by German guns and artillery. An Allied explosion set off earlier had warned the Germans of the impending attack. The Newfoundland regiment failed to take the ridge. 
Plaque in Musee Somme 1916, in the town of Albert, France

Nearby, in Thiepval, we visited the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, where graves of British Commonwealth and French soldiers represent the joint nature of the 1916 Somme offensive. The British Commonwealth headstones are rectangles made of white stone; the French headstones are grey crosses. 

We left France and drove toward Bruges, Belgium, for several days of respite from war. But on the way we stopped at Ypres, the location of several WWI battles that virtually destroyed the city. After the war the city was rebuilt to its former style, attractively we felt. 

Main square in Ypres
At the Ypres Memorial to the Dead, people were setting up for the weekend's ceremony to commemorate the first poison gas attack, which took place in Ypres in April 1915. Lights shining on the stone monument's list of war dead cast an ominous glow.  



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Being Thankful

    Kansha shite iru
                Every language has a word for “thankful.” Since it’s November, I automatically thought to write about Thanksgiving, but realized not everyone celebrates that specific holiday. And when you stop to think about it, why do we celebrate being thankful on only one particular day of the year? It should be an everyday occurrence.
                Many of you are already nodding your head, because we do give thanks every single day. We’re thankful for our families, our jobs, our homes, our health. But have you ever thought about all the totally unique, out of the ordinary things? Let me give you an example.
                I had the opportunity to visit Paris this summer for a writing workshop and we visited Versailles one evening. While walking back up the path to the seating by the fountain, I bent over to catch my breath. (This is not a blog about how out of shape I am!) I saw a cell phone lying on the gravel. Since it was night time and the phone was black, I’m surprised I noticed it at all. I picked it up and tried to open it, hoping to call someone and tell them I had found a phone with their contact but the phone was either locked or the battery was dead. I would simply have to turn it in and hope someone checked with security. (Since my son had once left his phone on a restaurant table, I realized how hopeful someone was that this would be returned to them.)
                With a bright flash, the phone rang. I quickly swiped it and answered with a cherry “hello” only to have someone start chattering in French, of which I know “bonjour”.  I quickly gave it to our workshop director, who spoke fluent French. The end result was we left the phone with a security agent at a place the owner could easily find. No doubt that person was thankful for our help, but I was just as thankful that I had been able to help, just as someone had once done for my son.
                Out of the ordinary, uncommon things to be thankful for, and yet just as wonderful as the roof over my head. Every time I drive up to the house from a trip, and especially if it’s dark, I thank my parents and two sisters for watching over me and getting me home safely.
                As an author, I am thankful for the ability to put words together in such a way as to create a story. That may sound simple, but believe me, some days the words do not want to play together nicely! A completed novel leads to being very thankful to readers because your interest and reviews give my publisher faith in me and my next novel. So much so that the book featured here is my 20th full length novel! “Prelude and Promises” is a fun romance about how opposites attract and I hope you will grab a copy. If you do, you can participate in BWL newest contest.
                And speaking of publishers, a huge thank you to Books We Love, who is having a BOGO until December 25th. The link is and it’s as simple as submitting a purchase receipt for a book from Books We Love.  
I challenge you to come up with the unusual for your daily thankful-ness. And if you want to share thankfulness with a stranger, next time you’re in a drive-through (Starbucks, McDonalds, etc), pay the bill for the person behind you. They won’t track you down but believe me, they will be thankful. 
Best wishes as we enter the holiday season.
Barbara Baldwin, who is thankful for so many things it would be impossible to list them all.

It's Almost Christmas by Nancy M Bell

TO find out more about A Longview Christmas and my other books click on the cover and then scroll down in the website to see the Holiday ti...