Monday, September 30, 2019

“You want jam, don’t you?” By Margaret Hanna

Click here to visit Margaret Hanna's BWL Author page for information and purchase links

One of the joys of writing fiction, historical or otherwise, is imagining and developing dialogue between your characters. Dialogue can advance the plot, reveal nuances of your characters’ personalities and illustrate a situation. Are your characters happy? Sad? Angry? Worried? Let them tell you through their words.

Dialogue can lurk behind what is written in historical documents. When my grandfather moved the farmstead and built the new house clear across the section in 1917, he moved more than the buildings from the original homestead site. All the garden plants came, too, as these diary entries prove:

Wednesday, November 14, 1917: dug rhubarb
Monday, November 19, 1917: dug up plants & fruit bushes in old garden. Planted same in new garden in pm.
Thursday, November 22, 1917: planted raspberries

Did Abe and Addie discuss this at all? Perhaps the conversation went something like this:

Addie: When are you planning to move the garden plants over?

Abe: Can’t right now. We’re too busy building the barn and the new house. It will have to wait till next spring.

Addie: You’re not too busy to scrape out that slough now, though.

Abe: That’s different. We need the pond to collect water for the livestock. We’ll move the garden come spring

Addie: And next spring you’ll be too busy with seeding and harrowing. Then come summer, you’ll be too busy with summerfallowing and breaking new land. Next thing you know, it will be fall and you’ll be too busy with harvesting. You want raspberry jam and rhubarb pie, don’t you, so move those plants over now before the snow flies. Otherwise there’ll be no jam next year.

And so, the garden was moved.

Of course, maybe it didn’t happen that way at all. Maybe Abe merely announced one morning at breakfast that he was moving the rhubarb today, and all Addie said was, “Okay,” and went back to wiping Bert’s nose or punching down the bread dough or doing one of the thousand and one things that a farmer’s wife had to do back when there was no electricity and running water.

Now, there’s a boring bit of dialogue.

                                                                          * * *
You can read about the move, and Addie’s best Christmas present ever, in Chapter 16, “A New House,” in “Our Bull’s Loose in Town!”: Tales from the Homestead. Here’s my imagined bit of dialogue (in this case, monologue) that started the move:

            August of ‘16, things came to a head. Bert had been fussing all day; he was teething. Edith wouldn’t stop running around and eventually she knocked over one of my freshly cleaned lamp chimneys and broke it. I scraped my knuckles on the wash board and they were raw and hurting. The dog had upset the basket of freshly washed clothes, so I had to rinse them off again, which meant another trip to the barrel and heating up more water on the stove. I was tired, it was hot, the house was hot, the wind wouldn’t stop blowing, the stove wouldn’t burn properly, and I was in no fine mood. Abe and Mr. Little came in wanting supper just as the potatoes boiled over. I lost my temper right proper and gave them both barrels.
            “I’ve heard that a farm has a big mouth, but why does that mouth feed only one-half of the farm? Why is it that you can get new machinery and the horses can get new harnesses and you can find the time to build a new granary, but I have to put up with a two room house with an old used granary for the summer kitchen and a cranky old cook stove and water I have to pail out of the barrel.” I turned to the stove and stabbed the potatoes over and over. “Supper isn’t ready yet, so just bide your time.”

Sunday, September 29, 2019

An AWOL Character Returns

See all my historical novels @

My first novel, one where the main character moved into my head and literally would not be let me alone, not to sleep, not for work, or even to quietly clean my house. Nanina talked and talked and talked for six months straight and I had to stay up half of every night typing like crazy just to get it all down. Miss Gottlieb's story of love, of magic, of music and of madness set me on the full time writer's path some forty (!!) years ago.  

Sometimes, after starting out with a rush and talking away like crazy, a character can decide to take a holiday--sometimes permanently. Actually, this is more like "going AWOL" for the hapless author, who may have a book contract to complete. This is one of the hazard's of being the kind of writer who is working their way through a planned series of linked stories. I once was far more "prolific" --the favorite description of all all agents who are shopping a writer to an editor--but my own little well of inspiration dried up about a year ago.

I believed I was done--written out. Instead of mourning or getting bent out of shape, I've been trying to Zen my way through the absence. After all so many years of story telling, there was certainly a sense of loss, but I was determined not to brood or feel sorry for myself, but simply to take a "wait and see" attitude. 

Recently, however, I've received cage rattling, from not one, but from two characters, the leads in two quite different unfinished novels. One is pure, unadulterated romance (Aphrodite help me!). The other is Zauberkraft Green, which was supposed to be the third story in my "Magic" series. As the name suggests, these are historical novels with a fantasy flare, stories which cross a lot of genres, from Gothic to Adventure to Horror and Romance. 


Zauberkraft Green's main character is Charlize, who is the grandchild of Caterina, who is the heroine of the strongly romance-inflected Zauberkraft Red. Charlize is also the niece of Goran, Caterina's first born son and the shape-shifting hero of Zauberkraft Black

Typically--at least, what I'd come to expect from Charlize after we became acquainted--was a lot of ADHD precocious chatter, even a certain bitchiness. Then, just as suddenly as she had begun, her voice vanished from my head. 

I'm beginning to think she didn't want  to talk too much about the things that frightened and threatened her, because, hell, what I do know about those elements of the story frighten me too. However, all of a sudden, right about the dark of the moon a few days ago, Charlize began to speak  again. This blog is a kind of celebration that she's taken it upon herself to reappear and (maybe) finish the darn story.

Or at least, I hope so! I don't want to go on too long about her reappearance or gloat. As everyone who writes, or aspires to, knows, these gifts from the Spring of the Muses must not be taken for granted.  A lot of work and even more concentration will be necessary to turn whatever odds and ends she shares into the spooky journey I hope that Zauberkraft Green will eventually be. 

BTW, all three of these novels are Regencies, even if the first two have a European setting instead of the traditional Lyme Regis or Bath. Young teen Charlize, however, has been adopted by an Englishman, a kindly gentleman who has made an honest woman of her beautiful mother and moved them all to London, so here they are at least, proper Regency people, living where they are supposed to: in the UK. 

Wish me luck! I'm sure I'll need it.

~~Juliet Waldron
(Happily hearing voices in her head again!)

See all my historical novels @

Saturday, September 28, 2019

An Afternoon with The King (Elvis) and Marilyn by Connie Vines

My blog posts are usually on the topic of writing.  Today, however, my blog post is about the King of Rock-and-Roll, with a nod to Hollywood’s blonde bombshell—Marilyn Monroe.

My husband still talks about the time he saw Elvis Presley preform at the Louisiana Hay-ride.

Connie, The King, and my youngest son
We all have a favorite Elvis movie.  Or favorite Elvis song. Many of us have visited Graceland (count me in), ate peanut butter-and-banana sandwiches, and acknowledge that Elvis had that certain-something (the it-factor) few, if any entertainers can match.

Dressed in black and wearing a sequined gold jacket, his long, but neatly combed black-tinted hair, The King stepped onstage last week at the stage of the Gardner Spring Auditorium and launched into the driving beat of “Blue Suede Shoes”.

Shaking, gyrating, and quivering, and oozing with sullen sexuality that shocked watchers in the 1950s, he swiveled through all the great hits: “Jailhouse Rock”, “Heartbreak Hotel”, “Don’t Be Cruel”.  It was had believe it wasn’t Elvis himself.

It was like stepping back in time.  The flirting, teasing, and banter between The King and Marilyn, was so true-life that you thought you were watching Elvis and Marilyn interact together.



And a wonderful tribute to Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe.

If you get a change to watch them preform live, or catch them on T.V., don't pass up the opportunity.

I sat in the orchestra section of The Southern California premiere of the tribute concert, The King & Marilyn. The concert features Ontario, CA’s very own Daniel Durston as The King. Daniel is currently performing in a hit show in Las Vegas and also starred in the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical national tour, Million Dollar Quartet, and can be seen on TruTV this fall as Elvis.  Also starring television celebrity Alisha Soper as the bewitching Ms. Monroe. Alisha has been seen on TV portraying Marilyn Monroe in Lethal Weapon (FOX), Feud (FX), and Extra TV’s 25th Anniversary.

The audience had a wonderful time.  Daniel stayed in the lobby taking photos and getting to know every patron long after the performance had ended.

To watch snippets:

Can't get enough Elvis?  Check out "Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow".

Who is that man Meredith's sister married?

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Happy Reading,

Friday, September 27, 2019

The way of the Samurai - by Vijaya Schartz

Find BLue Lioness and my other BWL books Here

Not so long ago, I practiced Aikido, a Japanese martial art. I lived in Hawaii at the time, a place of mixed cultures, where part of the population is of Japanese descent. I had a Japanese Sensei, who taught his pupils the fascinating traditions of ancient Japan. I even learned the language and visited the country with its feudal castles and many temples.


The most mysterious part of Samurai culture, at least for Westerners, is that deep sense of honor that pervades every thought and action. The Samurai were the equivalent of the medieval knights of ancient Europe… on steroid. Their dedication to the clan was complete. Without a second thought, they would sacrifice their life to save their master’s honor or the honor of the clan. 


 Myamoto Musashi was the most famous Samurai of ancient Japan. He was a Ronin, a masterless Samurai, and had the reputation of being ruthless. Himeji castle illustrates the architecture of the period. It was built to withstand battles and invasions... and it did survive the test of time. 

The movie THE LAST SAMURAI illustrates that innate sense of honor in a way most westerners can understand. But Martial arts are not reserved for men. Many young women, even in ancient times, took the sword and adopted the way of the Samurai... until they chose to marry and have children.

As I am finishing the story of AKIRA’S CHOICE, a November release from Books We Love, I enjoyed revisiting the heroic times of the Samurai. Although it's a science fiction romance, my heroine is of Japanese descent, a Samurai by tradition, and a bounty hunter by necessity. More precisely, she is a Ronin, a masterless Samurai. The story is set on the Byzantium space station, part of the Byzantium series but a standalone story, although a few characters do appear in several books. Oh, and Akira has a cheetah retriever as a companion.

When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the Galactic Trade Alliance want a kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the Byzantium space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Kazmo, a decorated Resistance fighter, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Byzantium, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.

"A captivating story with interesting, appealing characters. Being a cat lover, I found the relationship, with its psychic element, between Freckles and Shane absolutely captivating. As always, Ms. Schartz’s solid plot and crisply-written prose incorporates a good blend of action and intrigue... This story can easily stand alone... but I believe you’ll enjoy this exciting Sci-Fi series much more if you start reading it from the beginning... a must read for all fans of Sci-Fi romance. Go pick them up and settle into your favorite armchair for some entertaining reading. 4.5 stars - Manic Readers

Vijaya Schartz, author
 Strong heroines, brave heroes, romance with a kick
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Thursday, September 26, 2019

How long is long enough?

Find all my books here on my BWL author page

What prompted this question was a comment made by a reviewer recently about my Mystic Mountains. This reviewer gave the book a much-appreciated five star rating but said, “I felt it was a bit over drawn in length.” This surprised me, as at 304 pages it is not overly long for a historical.

Asking a writer how long their book is going to be, or should be, is like asking the age-old conundrum, “How long is a piece of string?”

I envisioned a very different ending for Challenging Mountains, my recent release, where Tim’s family would have a get-together, but then as I drew near the final scene it told me that was enough and that is where I should sensibly leave my characters. Publishers have certain rules about the length expected for each genre and most contemporary stories are termed as ‘quick reads’ I guess, and Historicals and Time-Travels are expected to be longer.

One benefit of writing a series, especially one containing members of one family or clan, is that you can always catch up in the next book with characters you have taken a fancy to or hope those you disliked would have a not so happy ending. I fully intended Challenging Mountains to be the final book in my Settlers series, but as happens often with us writers, one of the characters started to play with my mind and insist I write her story next. Because Tiger and Bella (Book 1, Mystic Mountains) ended up with eight offspring I could be stuck with this family heckling me until I am in my dotage (which I fear is not too far away).
Find reviews and excerpts here on my Web Page

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Let Me Entertain You by A.M.Westerling

Available at your favourite online store HERE.

I’m new to this blog so perhaps let me tell you a bit about myself. I write historical romance as A.M. Westerling and my friends know me as Astrid. I live in Calgary, Canada and am a huge fan of the Calgary Stampeders and Calgary Flames because yes, I’m a homer. 😊 (I love pro sports because to me, that IS reality television and I have been known to spend a Sunday or two watching NFL football as well…😉) Hmm, what else, I’m married and have two wonderful sons, two delightful daughters in law plus Tilly (left) and Arlow, my grand dogs to show for it. 

I’m a chemical engineer by education and worked in Alberta’s oil and gas industry but now I’ve left that and can do the things I really enjoy – like researching and writing my books. I love my garden and I absolutely adore camping off the grid. I like yoga and I like my spin class and I love a good British detective series. A girl of simple tastes, really.

I’ve published 5 books with BWL Publishing, the first was my Regency romance "The Countess' Lucky Charm" which is the book I'm spotlighting here today. Now I’ve snagged a spot on the BWL Publishing Authors blog so it seems I’ve hit the big times! It’s not my first foray into blogging, I did participate in the BWL Publishing Canadian Historical Brides blog spot. Here’s the link if you want to see what I’ve been up to there:

I don’t write serious novels and I certainly don’t claim to have written the Great Canadian Novel. What I write is romance, pure and simple. Boy Meets Girl then Boy and Girl must overcome obstacles to get their Happily Ever After. Throw in a little history and there you have it - escapism from the realities of every day life and that’s what I call entertainment.

Now I’ll share a little secret with you. On August 8 of this year, I guest blogged here and submitted a Regency short story that I’d written a number of years ago. Much to my surprise, my publisher emailed me a couple of hours later and told me she’d loved the story and could I possibly turn it into a three book series? She even came up with the series title – The Ladies of Harrington House. Well, could I?! Of course I could! 

The opening scene in the book is the Aug. 8 blog spot so you might want to nip back there and take a read. Today’s excerpt is the second scene of Sophie, Book 1 of The Ladies of Harrington House:

Sophie handed the reins to Hobbs, the head groom. He tipped his cap, revealing a thatch of red hair matching the freckles scattered across his cheeks, before fishing in his pocket for a carrot. He handed it to her.  “Looks as if you’ve given Dancer a bit of a ride,” he said.

She held out the carrot and the mare’s lips rippled across her palm before snagging the treat. “It was a beautiful day for it and I’m afraid time ran away from me.” That wasn’t really the truth. Her encounter with Bryce Langdon had left her feeling unsettled and she’d tried to ride away the feeling. She stroked Dancer’s nose. “You’ll give her a good rub down?”

“Of course,” he replied. “And I should warn you, your mother’s been searching for you and is in quite a state. Sent one of the footmen out here to see if you’d returned yet.”

Sophie groaned. She’d really hoped to make it to the sanctuary of her room to change before catching her mother’s notice. The entire household was in an uproar over tonight’s dinner party. Lady Harrington’s evenings were always a success and invitations to them were highly sought after. That success didn’t come without a price – Mama ran herself ragged organizing to the tiniest detail. Every last bit of silver must be polished, every last candle in the sconces must be replenished and Harrington House dusted and polished from top to bottom. Her mood wasn’t always the best at these times and the family had learned to stay out of her way. “Thank you, I shall pay heed.” She patted Dancer one last time before waving at Hobbs and turning away.

She darted across the cobblestones that paved the courtyard between the stables and the house and slipped into the kitchen door. As expected, pandemonium reigned in the kitchen and Sophie knew better than to interrupt. Mrs. Winston, the cook. The woman, red faced and perspiring, tossed her a distracted glance then focused again on what looked to be buttered apple tarts.

No sooner had Sophie stepped into the hall than she heard her sister Leah’s voice. They were three – Sophie, the eldest at twenty, Leah, two years younger and Catherine, two years younger again.

“You’re in for it,” Leah said, waggling her finger at Sophie. “Mama’s been looking for you for the past hour.”

Sophie rolled her eyes skyward. As usual, Leah was her impeccable self, not a hair out of place and her peach colored muslin frock freshly pressed and tidy.

Not like Sophie. Despite her attempts to re-pin her hair, most of it hung loose down her back and the sea water had left damp stains on the skirts of her riding habit. She bunched them forward so her sister wouldn’t notice. “We all know how she ties herself in knots when she’s entertaining.”

“Particularly this evening as we are to welcome our new neighbor, Lord Langdon.”

Whom I’ve already met, she thought and a frisson of excitement tickled her scalp when she remember the admiring look in his dark eyes. “Yes, I know,” she said aloud.

“What do you suppose he’s like?” Louise’s face grew dreamy. “He’s said to be ever so handsome and he’s unmarried. Do you suppose he’ll fancy one of us?”

Sophie snorted. “Don’t expect Papa to agree to us marrying anyone at this time. You know he’s said we’re to wait until we’re twenty-one.”

“I don’t know why,” Leah pouted. “Abigail Penner had her season at eighteen and is already engaged to be married while we are stuck here in Cornwall.”

Where I much prefer to be. “It’s not so terrible. There are shops and tea rooms and a theatre close by in Truro.”

Leah gave her an incredulous look. “You? What do you know of the shops?”

Sophie made a wry grimace. She fooled no one, visiting the shops was not her favourite form of pleasure. She much preferred outdoor past times such as riding or archery. If she must be indoors, then she filled her time with reading or sketching. Needlework made her head ache and her fingers were like sausages on the pianoforte that graced the sitting room. “I’ve heard tell that some of the establishments are as fine as any that can be found in London.”

Leah frowned and gave Sophie a push. “You’d best find Mama.” Her grey eyes were earnest. “Or she’ll have your head.”

Sophie nodded and headed towards the staircase leading to the upper floors. With any luck she could shed her riding habit and its telltale stains.

Halfway up the staircase, Catherine flashed past her heading downstairs, blonde curls bouncing with every step. “Where have you been?” she threw over her shoulder as she reached the bottom. “Mama’s in a state and nothing will do but she must speak with you.” She didn’t wait for Sophie to respond but darted into the library.

To hide, Sophie could only presume, and she picked up her pace. Mama must really be annoyed with her this time if both Leah and Catherine issued warnings. She reached the first landing and had her hand on the railing of the stairs leading to her room on the next level when Lady Evelyn Harrington’s voice rang through the air.


Mama’s annoyed tone couldn’t be ignored. Drat. Sophie’s heart sank and she cast a longing glance up the stairs. She’d not make her escape after all. She turned and spied her mother advancing on her like a square-rigged frigate. Plump and petite, her stature belied an iron will. A few wrinkles haloed her blue eyes and a few grey hairs shadowed her blonde hair but she was still attractive and Papa adored her. She still looked much as she had when their family portrait was painted soon after Catherine’s arrival. It hung over the staircase with other Harringtons past.

“I’d ask where you’ve been for most of the afternoon but I see you’ve been wading.” Her mouth tightened and she pointed to the hem of Sophie’s skirts. “I can only assume your boots are also wet because I can’t imagine a daughter of mine being so foolish as to splash about barefoot where others might see you. And please don’t tell me you went down to the beach. It’s not safe with all the smugglers sullying our coast.”

Sophie clasped her hands at her waist. “No Mama, I didn’t go to the beach. I was hot so I dipped my toes in the creek behind the mill.” Heat crept up her neck and into her cheeks and she hoped she didn’t look as guilty as she felt over the fib. Thankfully she said nothing about Sophie riding out without a groom to accompany her so Hobbs must have kept that to himself.

Lady Harrington sniffed. “More than your toes, I’d say. But never mind that for now.” She smoothed an imaginary stray hair. “The Earl and Countess of Blackmore will be joining us this evening, as well as Vicar Sinclair and his wife and of course Lord Langdon. I have in mind a small entertainment.”

“Entertainment?” Sophie dug her fingers into her palms. Please no, not the pianoforte. Despite hours at the keyboard, the fugue by Bach she’d been working on for weeks resembled the screeches of a tom cat rather than anything musical.

Her mother smiled. “I’m not deaf, I’m not expecting you to play. I had thought Catherine could accompany you while you sing. Your voice is more than passable.”

“Sing?” For Lord Langdon? How could she look him in the face after their encounter this afternoon?

“Yes, sing. I suggest “Greensleeves”. It’s a lovely piece and your sister has mastered it admirably.”

“Sing Greensleeves?”

“You’ll find the music on the bench. If you’d been home sooner, you’d have had more time to practice.”

“But -.”

Her mother raised a manicured finger. “There will be no excuses from you. I intend to make a good impression on our guests, particularly our new neighbour. I understand he is a barrister of some note.”

“I see.” A barrister. A man who earned his living. That explained his comment that he was no drawing room fop. A small burst of admiration flushed her cheeks anew. Most men she knew, including her father, contented themselves with overseeing the management of their estates. But perhaps Langdon didn’t have an estate before purchasing the neighboring property. That would explain his foray into law and if he were as successful as her mother implied, he’d done well for himself to become a landowner.

“Besides,” continued her mother, “it’s a good opportunity to practice the entertainment we shall offer once we are in London for your coming out this Season. We shall host evenings where you will sing, Catherine shall play and Leah will read her poetry.”

“I don’t want to come out in London. I’m quite happy here in Cornwall.”

“Nonsense. How are we to find you a suitable husband otherwise?”

“I don’t fancy being paraded about like a prize thoroughbred and given away to the highest bidder.” Sophie tried to keep the petulance from her voice but failed miserably judging by the frown on her mother’s face.

“Paraded? Given away? It won’t be like that at all. We’ll find a suitable young man and soon enough you’ll be inclined to accept his attentions, you’ll see. Perhaps someone like Viscount Weston.” She slanted a glance at Sophie. “His parents are ever so charming and you could do far worse.”

I doubt that very much, she thought. Giles Weston might be considered a catch and she might be able to overlook his pimpled face and yellowed teeth however once she’d seen him whip his horse until the animal bled. That cruel streak she could not overlook. Nonetheless arguing with Mama would lead nowhere. Once she made up her mind, there was no changing it. Sophie bit her lip. Best to say nothing.

Lady Evelyn stood on tiptoe and kissed Sophie’s cheek. “Do wear your lilac frock this evening. It brings out your eyes.”

“As you wish.” Well, at least that was one thing they could agree on. Until now, she’d not had the opportunity to wear her newest frock. She loved the white silk embroidered flowers along the hem and indeed, the lavender shade made her green eyes a deeper hue. 

Her mother sailed off, leaving a rose scented breeze behind her and a befuddled Sophie clutching the carved oak railing of the stairs. Not only was she to reacquaint herself with Lord Bryce Langdon this evening, she must sing for the man. How was she to do that without bursting into giggles of embarrassment?

By making sure she sang as well as she possibly could. After she changed, she’d search out Catherine so the two could practice as Mama had suggested.

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