Friday, November 30, 2018

Einstein Believed in Libraries by Karla Stover

Wynter's Way by [Stover, Karla]

"The Only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library."
       Albert Einstein

With the economy going gangbusters at last, my home town of Tacoma, Washington, the city can finally reopen the libraries on Mondays and add two library kiosks. Here’s how “” describes a library kiosk:  “Remote kiosks present libraries with a unique opportunity to meet patrons where they are and offer automated services to community members in the places they visit the most. Services can include checking out pre-stocked books, delivery of individually requested books, and book returns.” In Tacoma, the kiosks are going into neighborhoods where libraries were little-used and closed some six or eight years ago.

But on to more interesting libraries. When FDR was in office and created the Work Progress Administration (WPA) to put men to work, his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, had ideas of her own to help women utilize their skills: health services, school lunch programs, sewing projects, and libraries. And one of her innovations was the Pack Horse Library Project of Eastern Kentucky. For $28 a month, women traveled 50 to 80 miles a week on rocky terrain in all kinds of weather with saddlebags filled with books and magazines, making deliveries both to homes and to schoolhouses. The WPA paid for the salaries of the supervisors and book carriers; all books were donated. Members of the community had to not only donate books but also provide facilities to store the books and other supplies needed by the librarians on horseback. When donated books and magazines were beyond use, the librarians rescued what they could and made scrapbook collections of recipes, quilting patterns and other things of interest to women until eventually there were more than 200 different scrapbooks generated by patrons and librarians.

In countries where books rather than e-readers are valued, mobile libraries come in a variety of types. One is The Mongolian Children’s Mobile Library which carries books to nomadic herding communities and remote areas of the Gobi Desert. Another is the Elephant Mobile Library in Laos. It serves a two-fold effort: to increase public awareness about the plight of the elephants and to support literacy in rural communities. The project is a joint effort between Room-To-Read Laos, Action With Lao Children, and ElefantAsia in partnership with the local government. The elephant library has been an instant hit. "Stocked with 640 Lao-language children’s books (many featuring elephants) and supplementary educational materials, the library’s maiden voyage included four primary schools that serve more than 1,000 students in the northern province of Xaybouly."

Possibly so as not to be outdone, Kenya has a Camel Mobile Library Service which lends more than 7,000 books to nomads in the impoverished North East Province. "Many of the books are supplied by Book Aid International, the charity which gives more than half a million books a year to some of the world's poorest countries - and is supported this year by the Observer Christmas Appeal."

Meanwhile, Minneapolis has a floating library. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, artist Sarah Peters created a rowboat with a friend and can sometimes be found sometimes on Cedar Lake, distributing works – mostly books made by artists---not well-known titles.

The ship's book store
SIDEBAR: Rotterdam, the Netherlands had the first and only floating dairy farm, but that's another story.The Logos Hope, the world’s largest floating book store-cum-library, is a ship owned by the German shipping company GBA Ships e.V. which operates its fleet for specific charity purposes. It's registered to the Faroe Islands but travels around the world with a crew of 400 from 60 nationalities, and over 5,000 books. It is believed to be the world's largest floating "book fair."

Buenos Aires has a privately-funded bookmobile, the Czech Republic has a tram library, Ethiopia has a Donkey Mobile Library, and the list goes on.

I hope the children who visit Tacoma's new library kiosks get to interact with an actual person. It's a great part of the experience.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody

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(It's Mozart's Wife, my friends, under a new title and cover here and there, because of Amazonian-evil-shenanigans.)

I'll call this a movie review , but I confess I'm writing because I've been unable to get my last weekend's viewing of Bohemian Rhapsody out of my head. I've got a case of full on ear worm, too, from hearing all those great songs. This topic is not too far off course for me, because forty years back, I dared to begin novel writing after having my brain completely eaten by seeing Amadeus.  

Although it's a fairly middle-of-the-road biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody struck me similarly.  The movie was, after all, about another human one of a kind, one of those rare people about whom others say: "They broke the mold." Don't think I'll get any argument if I say that we'll never see another Mozart, nor will we ever see another Freddie Mercury--at least, not in this dimension.*

Rami Malek as Freddie at Live Aid in Bohemian Rhapsody

Like Wolfgang M., Freddie Mercury was born with an abundance of charisma, drive, and a mad desire to entertain. A biopic hero with drama-ready flaws and conflicts, Freddie Mercury's bisexuality, when yoked to the excesses of the 70's and 80's rock world, made him one of the many victims of the AIDS epidemic. His career, like those of many many artists, performers and musicians, was cut short. Fortunately, the audience in whose company we saw Bohemian Rhapsody seemed to honor this gifted "sinner."

Freddie Mercury

I went with a friend to whom those dark days of AIDS in the 80's still hold a lot of pain. Magda has custody of the cremains of three dear friends who--as they burned away in their 5th floor walkups--had only their artistic "families" to tend their terrifying disease, and later, to mourn them. 

On my side, things were far more casual. I'd come to hear and see a spectacle with great rock songs.  You'd have to have lived under the proverbial rock not to have heard any music by Queen--even if it's just the football anthem We Will Rock You. Somebody to Love is one of my all-time favorites--and, along with Radio Ga-Ga--one of today's ear worms.

My sons were growing up when Queen was knocking out hits. "Kid" music made its way from behind closed bedroom doors into my ears. While I've always loved classical music and opera as well as rock'n'roll, I never doubted the musicality of this band. To me, Queen's music was operatic, if it not 'opera.' And it wasn't just the lead singer. The other band members seemed to hear the music resident in the spoken word as well. Even when lyrics don't appear to make much sense, the words themselves, the sounds and the mouthfeel, become essential parts of their electrifying composition.

The plot is pretty sanitized -- maybe even homogenized? That, in the end, didn't really detract from my enjoyment. I was a working mom when Queen strode onto the scene and had no time to follow the dramas surrounding rock personalities, so the story was mostly news to me. I really liked this movie far more than I'd anticipated, because of the unexpected sweetness of the story. It was romantic, in a way, with dark moments and all.

Bohemian Rhapsody begins as the freakish, sexually ambiguous and talented hero finds first acceptance and then unlikely stardom through hooking up with a band at the precise moment their lead singer decamps. Farouk--or Freddie, as he christened himself--has finally found freedom to express the craziness and the talent inside. He and the band enter into  touring and performing show-biz destiny.

The dark moment comes when Freddie beaks up the group in order to pursue a solo career. The change doesn't make heart (or even self-preservation!) sense, for deep down Freddie knows he's abandoned his musical family--in a way, his only safe place. The script is evenhanded; no bones are made about that fact that this star needed his band as much as they needed him. Queen--just like the Beatles--was a creative partnership. 

After a plea from his ex-wife, Freddie asks pardon of the other three band members, and Queen goes on to their epic performance at Live Aid. There isn't a focus on it, but we all know that Freddie has also received his AIDS death sentence.

I came away not only liking the movie, but the characters. Here's a show biz story where you expect bad decisions, drugs, fabulous music, and walks on the kinkiest of wild sides, but it resolves on such a quiet, decent--almost domestic--note. Self-knowledge, willingness to forgive and plain old human honesty bring this musical family back together again. A small thing, in the landscape of human triumph, you might think, but this old woman didn't really need another dose of darkness.

Freddie, who loved opera, performing with the divine Monserrat Caballe, one of his idols.

~~Juliet Waldron 

Juliet Waldron @ Books We Love

*Yes we're all unique, like snowflakes, but some of us have far more curliques than others!


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Is it Too Soon for Eggnog Latte? by Connie Vines

Visit Connie's BWL Author page for book information and buy links
Visit Connie's BWL Author page for book information and buy links
Is it too soon for Eggnog Latte? I asked myself while driving to the gym, the Hallmark station jingling joyful Christmas songs via Sirius Radio.

I recalled a tweet and chuckled.  “The eggnog latte was the only thing keeping me from beating people during the holidays. Please bring it back!” tweeted GeekyLady. In 2014.

While I am not now, nor have I ever been so inclined—even when I was a fragrance consultant (think: test PH levels and find perfect signature fragrances; not the spray unsuspecting clients upon entrance to the shop). Not when the shop stayed open until 12:30 am and staff custom wrapped each gift with hand-fashioned bows and designer gift paper in a back room about the size of a side-by-side refrigerator.

However, I love my eggnog latte and gingerbread latte (no whip on both) from Starbucks and Christmas music.

So, when do our readers like to snuggle under a quilt, or here in SoCal, or under a light-weight throw and read a holiday romance?

Is November too soon? 

Is January too late?

Writers, when plotting your holiday romance novel, to you begin in the middle of summer with the a/c blasting or do you wait until Fall?

I write my holiday novels during the season.  Yep, Christmas novels now.

I bake. I shop. I indulge in assorted crafts.  And yes, I drive to Starbucks—but not daily, for heaven sake.  I am thrifty-- I’m saving for Christmas gifts after all; and must watch the calories too.

Confession:  I have been known to fake my Eggnog latte.  I purchase the low-fat eggnog and add it warmed up a bit into my home brewed coffee.  My copy-cat gingerbread latte includes gingerbread seasoning and a trickle or two of molasses and creamer into my coffee.

Obviously, I have a great deal of distractions 😊. 

To get me started I will often journal with a few writing prompts (yes, pen to paper because it activates a part of the brain where creativity resides).

·         Pretend you have been given a baby reindeer to raise. Write about what you will do to take care of it. What challenges will you have to overcome?
  • Write about the perfect Christmas Day. Include plenty of details.
  • Character A vows to do something nice for a stranger during the Christmas time. Character B is that stranger.

Since I write n multiple genres and cross-genres, my stories will often include a holiday without the holiday being the primary theme of the story.

Both “Brede” and “Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow” include the Christmas season without holiday being the theme of the entire storyline.

What is your favorite holiday setting?  What is there about a holiday romance that makes it special for you?

Share your favorite holiday memory with me.  Or your favorite holiday cookie recipe.

If you have young children/grandchildren you might like to share a joke or two.

Here are a few of my holiday favorites  🎅  🎄

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
A: Frostbite. 

Q: What do snowmen like to eat for breakfast?
A: Frosted Flakes!

Q: What did the gingerbread man put on his bed?
A:  A cookie sheet.   

If you are looking for a few new holiday recipes to bake and share, you may wish to visit my Pinterest account:  novelsbyconniev . I have a wonderful recipe for eggnog Bundt cake and gingerbread recipes galore!

Visit my website:  for links, book trailers, and more.  Don’t forget to enter the contests and giveaways here at the BWL website!

Wishing you a joyous Holiday Season filled with BWL ebooks!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

‘Tis the season for new Xmas movie classics - by Vijaya Schartz

Find all my BWL Publishing titles HERE
The Ancient Enemy series ends with Kicking Bots, during the holiday season

I love this time of year, especially because I can binge-watch Christmas movies on cable. I’m not talking about the black and white classics, like It’s a Wonderful Life, or Miracle on 34th Street, but about the movies of this century that are becoming the new classics. Not all are noteworthy, but here are two of my favorites. Of course, the stellar cast helps, as these feature some of my favorite actors. You may also notice that they are not movies for children, nor are they tear-jerkers, but drama-comedies for grownups to thoroughly enjoy.

LOVE, ACTUALLY (2003 Romantic Comedy) – Now, my favorite holiday movie of all times. You can’t go wrong with Hugh Grant, Keira Knightley, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, Laura Linney, Billy Bob Thornton, to name only a few. The story follows eight different couples embroiled in their own problems during the holidays. From the playboy prime minister (Hugh Grant) to the pathetic lowly employee with a disabled brother, and the blocked writer (Colin Firth) who leaves the country to write and falls in love with a Portuguese immigrant. This holiday tapestry puzzle comes together as we gradually discover what links these characters. At the end, as they are all gathered in the same room, we are overjoyed, and our faith in the holiday spirit is renewed.

THE HOLIDAY (2006 Romantic Comedy) – This movie is rapidly climbing to the top of favorite holiday movies lists. Again, great actors, like Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black (who shines in a serious and touching kind of role). On impulse, two recently single women of vastly different backgrounds swap houses across the pond for the holidays. The movie trailer genius from L.A. ends up in a snowy English countryside cottage, and the British columnist with a heart of gold experiences a Hollywood mansion for the first time. As a result, both their lives are changed forever. A feel good movie with lots of holiday cheer.

Here you have them, my favorite holiday movies. What are yours?

In the meantime, you can read my books. Which are not holiday related, but full of action, love, good and evil, angels and villains, and other historical or futuristic characters. Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz

Romance with a Kick

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Monday, November 26, 2018

How movies have changed—or is it just me? Tricia McGill

Find buy links to this and all my other books here on my Books We Love Author page 

I watched a movie recently that brought back a load of memories. Its title is, ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ and came as a complete surprise to me. I had no idea what it was about, or who starred in it until I began to watch it. Annette Bening portrayed Gloria Grahame in the final stages of her life.  Her lover Peter Turner was 26 when she met him and she was already in her 50s, had four children and four husbands behind her. This movie was adapted from Peter’s memoirs and despite its gloominess and sadness at the end, I found it an enchanting story. Their love was so poignant and convincing, and apparently caused quite a stir. Jamie Bell, who stole many hearts as Billy Elliot, plays Peter. Coincidentally Julie Walters who played his dance teacher in that movie plays his mother in this one and for me stole every scene she appeared in.

This movie took me off on another jaunt down memory lane. Oklahoma was my favourite that Gloria appeared in. I recall her as the blonde with the unusual pout. My whole family were avid movie goers as well as avid readers and one or the other of them was always off to the ‘pictures’ as we called the cinema. I recall my two oldest sisters going off to see Fanny by Gaslight. I also recall they considered me too young and innocent to see what they thought a ‘scandalous’ film. During my teens one sister, who was still at home after the others had married, and I often went to the cinema two or three times a week, paying one shilling and nine pence for a seat. 

Some of the movies we saw stand out in my mind forever, and some were considered Greats. Strangers on a Train springs to mind, simply because it starred Farley Granger, who I had a crush on at the time. Many younger people reading this have likely never heard of him. But I guarantee you know of greats like James Dean, John Wayne, Marlon Brando, James Stewart, Clark Gable, Doris Day, Janet Leigh, Elizabeth Taylor, to mention a few—my list could go on and on. One of my favourite actresses was Susan Hayward. We never hear much of her now, but I will never forget With a Song in my Heart.

Do a search for 1950s movies and you will see the list is endless and full of greats. I remember my sister and I queuing in the rain to see Bing Crosby in The Bells of St. Mary’s which coincidentally I watched only recently on TV masterpieces. And let’s not forget Disney’s early greats like Bambi and Dumbo. Often there would be ‘standing room only’ at the cinema, which meant we would stand along the sidewall until somebody vacated a seat. Oft times my sister and I would not end up sitting side by side. In those days, there would be no long breaks between programmes and some folk would stay to see a movie through again, which often meant a long stand on the side aisle. Musicals were always my favourite. Movies like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, High Society, Guys and Dolls, The King and I.

Getting back to my original question, have movies changed. Of course they have. We’ve gone from love scenes that invariably ended with a fade-out after the first kiss, to show it all sex scenes that in my honest opinion have gone too far. I much prefer to use my imagination. There is so much technology used nowadays that it is often mind-boggling. Don’t get me wrong, I love it and if I was born just 20 years ago that’s the industry I would choose. I am full of admiration for the creators of movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and its successor Guardians Vol 2, both currently my favourites. Not only is the technical stuff amazing, but I just love the little critters who make the movie so amusing and likeable. 

Being a Sci-Fi fan, I am in awe of the sheer splendour at how the producers make it all come to life on the screen. What doesn’t please me about modern movies are the car crashes and/or shoot ups that often use up the first 30 minutes or so of the movie, and then often 80 per cent of the entire film.

That’s me and my opinion. I know that many of my friends are of the same mind. You can’t understand what half the actors are saying and they should take a lesson from actors like Richard Burton who had perfect diction and made your toes curl with his magnificent voice. And likewise, Sir Laurence Olivier. And don’t get me started on the sound tracks—why are they so loud, half the time drowning out the voices of the actors? 

Ah well, as they say, “To Each His Own”. Come to think on it, wasn’t that an old black and white movie with Olivia de Havilland and John Lund?

To find more info on all my books visit my web page.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Seasonal Un-Yummies

The holidays are here. Wonderful gifts, great get togethers, and delicious foods.
Wait, hold it. Foods for the season need to be ranked. More precisely, some of them are rank.
Lets mull over a couple discussion options, or targets, as it were...with some mulled wine at hand. Ah, there we go.
It is almost silly to mention the first item, Yorkshire pudding, because it is nothing like a pudding. Nor is it a food. Ok, technically it is edible. Just kidding, it is impossible to put that stuff in your mouth and then smile.
Don’t worry, there is a simple solution to this. If you are at a table and find Yorkshire pudding in front of you follow these three easy steps. First, pull out your time machine and go back about two hour. Second, take the Yorkshire pudding ingredients and add sugar, and cherry pie filling, combine, and bake. Third, humbly accept the “thank yous’ from everyone at the table two hours later for the delicious donuts.

Now, Perhaps a game of deck shuffleboard would be the appropriate venue to talk about fruitcake. Don’t have all the items needed for a game. No problem. We simply have to plug in our table saw, throw on some safety goggles and slice our discs out of the fruitcake. Note: have an extra blade on hand if you are planning to cut out more then four.
First you have to make sure the fruitcake is fresh enough. The rule of thumb is, if its less than eight years old it's certainly in the prime of its life.
Ok, maybe fruitcake has gotten a bad rap over the years. Wait a minute. No it hasn’t. Just ask, well, anyone.

Disposal of above is a tricky business. Perhaps ones first instinct is to to drop it in the compost bin. Of course, if you drop it and you live in an apartment it will likely end up in the apartment below. Even worse, it might land on the dinner table and someone might be tempted. Composting is also an issue since the recycle depot will probably be obsolete before the fruitcake starts to decompose. There is always the nuclear option. Often that is a figure of speech.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Forced Word-Count Writing - The NaNoWriMo Word Race by S. L. Carlson

November is the month for novel writing. Actually, for the writer, every month is the month for novel writing. But each November comes around with that wonderful push for writing 1,700 words per day during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that you know you aren't alone. There are thousands of people world-wide participating online, and you can follow many others, encouraging and being encouraged to write-write-write.

Forced daily word-count writing is not intended to be polished. It's totally about getting the rough draft down. Revisions, edits, and critique groups follow over the next few months.

First off, November only has thirty days, so that's one day less than seven other months to meet the 50K goal. One day can make a huge difference. Also, there are holidays (in the States) with family gatherings to prepare for and attend. Right off the bat, I hate the idea of November being novel-writing month. But writing is about persevering, running the word race to the end of the book.

The first week of NaNoWriMo is exciting, and the game is on. That first week is enthusiastic pouring out of words on your new novel. The second week, other life priorities sneak in, and you stumble over the hurdles and fall behind. By week three, you figure you're too far back to ever catch up, so feel like giving it up. Many do at this point. There are writing suggestions to keep you writing, like throwing a birthday party for your main character, plan it and write it all out. At the end of the month, it will most likely become fodder and deleted, but you're inspired once again. And if you push on...week four can be just as exciting as week one.

Writing the rough draft of a novel doesn't have to happen in November, but I find the process whenever I write just the same: initial excitement of the race, lagging behind, thinking what you've written is garbage, wanting to quit, then catching your second wind and finally crossing that finish line.

So, don't give up. Join with others for writing encouragement. Get your story down. Afterwards, take a breather, then get back to it, hacking and revising and editing until your trophy is in hand. Keep on writing!

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