Thursday, April 30, 2020


In book 4 of the Settlers Series, we catch up with most members of the extended family from the previous three books. Annie at 18 is the eldest Carstairs girl. She has lived out at Bathurst west of the Blue Mountains, where she was born just after her Mama, Bella and Papa, Tiger settled there back in 1824. After visiting her brother Tim and his wife Jo just before Christmas 1843, Annie decides to stay in Port Philip, seeking adventure much as her brother did when he set out with Jo the previous year. Annie has inherited her mother’s independent streak, a character trait that sometimes leads her to make the wrong choices.

Jacob O’Quinn works for her brother, and the likeable young carpenter catches Annie’s eye. Jacob is quiet and reserved in his manner, having spent his life with his widowed mother. When handsome Zachary McDowell, the complete opposite to steady Jacob comes along, he sweeps Annie off her feet. Heedless of advice given by others, Annie makes a choice that turns out to be the worst she could ever make.

Restless, Annie decides to return to her home, and Jacob makes the decision to escort her. The journey back across the mountains proves to be a lot more eventful than she assumed it could ever be. The road itself may have seen improvements through the years but there will always be unexpected incidents to turn life around on its axis. A suspected murder brings the might of the law down on the shoulders of the young couple.

* * * * * 

In Devil's Fall, Doug Fletcher Book 5,  Doug Fletcher's Thanksgiving vacation is interrupted by a phone call from his Texas U.S. Park Service superintendent. A Wyoming coroner determines that a climber’s fall from Devils Tower isn’t the accident it first appeared to be. Doug is thrown into an investigation where he peels back the layers of rumors and lies provided by colorful Black Hills residents to find a murderer in a region where the deer hunting season is winding down and everyone has a gun in their pickup truck.  

* * * * *

Legend states that hanging a Dreamcatcher over your bed will catch the bad dreams and only allow the good ones to flow through to the dreamer. Willow has been told “if you believe, then it will be so”, but her nightmares about the events causing her amnesia still haunt her, and while she knows she doesn’t belong with the Blackfoot tribe, it is the only shelter she has...

…until Garrison York appears. Montana rancher and blood brother to the Chief’s son, he is given charge of helping Willow discover her past, but the instant attraction between them makes him want to concentrate only on current pleasure. With neighbors trying to steal land for railroad expansion and relatives willing to kill for fortunes in gold, can Garrison keep Willow safe until they determine her true identity?

* * * * *
Night Corridor: 2nd Edition 2020  
After nine years in Bayshore mental institution, once called the lunatic asylum, Caroline Hill is finally being released.

There will be no one to meet her. Her parents who brought her here…are dead.

They have found her a room in a rooming house, a job washing dishes in a restaurant. She will do fine, they said. But no one told that women in St. Simeon are already dying at the hands of a vicious predator. One, an actress who lived previously in her building.

And others.
And now, as Caroline struggles to survive on the outside, she realizes someone is stalking her.

But who will believe her? She's a crazy woman after all.

Then, one cold winter's night on her way home from her job, a man follows and is about to assault her when a stranger intercedes.

A stranger who hides his face and whispers her name.
I loved this book and stayed up all night reading it! The characters were so well-drawn that I could almost hear them breathing, see them laughing, feel their emotions. It's rare that I feel like I KNOW the characters THAT well, but I did here, in THIS book - especially the main character, Caroline, but also the minor characters - every one of them! I could see and hear Caroline, almost feel her breath on my skin. The writing and the plot drew me in, from page one. I was fully engaged and up all night, reading and enjoying this book, to the very last word. M. Lewis

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Tales of Sheltering in Place

(Did the Hamiltons own a cat? I doubt the relationship would have been as formal as that. In the 18th Century, cats lived mostly in barns and stables and the houses of the poor. Cats were déclassé. Dogs were, and still are, a more gentrified proposition. It just occurred that although I have cat characters in every book I've written, there are no prominent pussy-cats in A Master Passion.)  

Life for me and my husband has slowed to a crawl while we shelter in place. It's been five weeks for us, hiding out, around here. That is nowhere near as long as more urban areas nearby, so we're grateful for that. We are also grateful that we do not have to get up and go to work every day, risking our lives for a paycheck, like so many younger folks with small children at home are doing. The experience for us is like being under some form of 1%er house arrest. 

We try to keep to a routine, but it's not easy for me. I confess to liking senior classes at the gym and before this disaster movie became the new normal, those kept me to a schedule. Now going out is a fraught undertaking, while you suit up like you are going out an airlock. It's too much trouble--and if you don't have to, you find yourself inventing reasons not to go out at all. 

We're staying up later and sleeping later, too, rolling around in a warm bed until long after the sun comes up--for which I give deep, heartfelt thanks! I'm a senior who needs a great deal of sleep--the main difference between me today and when I was three is I don't fight naps.

For the last few weeks, just as I begin this delayed awakening, Tony materializes, conjuring himself out of thin air. He leaps onto my chest and then settles as a furry weight, purring loudly.  The Male of his Caretaker/Servants gives him too many treats, because he is such an adorable little beggar. Since the Quarantine, his once svelte gray body has blimped into a gray, overripe zucchini. Turns out, there even is a zucchini breed to supply the perfect new nickname for our newly tubby Anthony: "Grayzini." )

 There is stuff in this refrigerator that needs to be checked out.

His weight settles me. What's there to get up for? I'm supposed to stay home, after all and if I get up too early I'll find myself with no excuse not to clean. As soon as that idea crosses my mind, I have no strength to struggle. His purr is a nearby waterfall. Almost immediately I sink into the Dark Arms of Morpheus--or somewhere similar. REM sleep in the morning is very, very close. 

Tony's silver paws knead in time with those waves of sound. For several days this was nice and we'd go back to sleep together. Lately, though, he's got a new plan, and it isn't as nice as before. Sorry to report, he begins to knead my neck. I need to detach those claws quickly, before they can puncture me. I'm afraid that he'll go at it in the same heartfelt way he tears at the carpeted cat tree he's inexorably destroying downstairs. Apparently cuddly is so over! This week, he's jack the ripper.

Joining the crowd, I've been baking more than usual. My go-to comfort food is bread.  Unfortunately, flour and yeast are both in short supply. 

Horrors! This frightens me more than the t.p. shortage. My primary comfort food is buttered toast. Of course, that will quickly turn to pudge all over me because there are No Actions, Especially Involving the Ingestion of Gluten that does NOT have consequences for my metabolism. 

Despite that, I remain a reflexive bread baker.  It "looms large in me legend" as Ringo says in Hard Day's Night. When I got married, same year as that movie, I could cook burgers, boil potatoes and fry eggs, but that was the extent of my culinary skills. To show that I was in earnest about this new wife business, I read, cover to cover, The Joy of Cooking with which my in-laws had thoughtfully presented me.  Bread baking seemed to be the best Real Housewife Kitchen Activity I could adopt. Of course, my stern New England mother-in-law was pleased by this; she instructed me. She baked bread every week for her family, and for many, many years I followed her lead.

Now, faced with a lack I've never encountered before--yeast--I've been watching videos to discover methods of creating yeast via fermentation with dried fruit, flowers, potatoes, even from Yellow split peas. I hope yeast making(?) doesn't become a necessity, but it seems that in these perilous times of The Great Global Reality Check, it's time to learn some new-to-me but genuinely foundational cooking skills. If there is an "after," how-to knowledge is always grist for the historical novelist's mill.  

  ~~Juliet Waldron

All My Historical Novels

Romance, Handsome-Hunks, and Moon Milk by Connie Vines

It is April, well, almost May, and we are all still sheltering at home.  Like everyone else, I’m trying to establish some-sort-of-daily routine which is proving extremely difficult.  The weather goes from fall-to-winter-to-spring, and repeats.  However, as of yesterday, it slammed full-throttle into summer. 

Chanel, my sassy toy poodle, follows me around in confusion.  Last week were didn’t venture past the covered patio because of continual down pour of icy sheets of rain.  Then it was the wind and then rain, again.  Now we both get-up to at 5:30 a.m. and water the yards, etc.  before having a cup of coffee; while it is still dark outside. Chanel thinks I needs intervention. She positions herself on the davenport, where ‘we’ have our coffee and watch the 7:00 a.m. news, and barks at me (anyone who lives with a poodle knows they can give a dressing-down like southern mama) demanding I sit down.
I ignore her, and go outside--she follows me (mumbling all the way).

Calendars. Boy, do I have calendars! A poodle calendar in the kitchen, 2 small calendars in my purse (1-writing; 1-personal), a ceramic Snoopy Dog House (Peanuts) calendar where you change the month and daily date.  Well, you get the idea—I still can’t keep my days and dates straight.

However, I do have a system.  I eat brunch (because if I’m hungry at 9:00 am, I eat breakfast.  If I forget to eat until 1:00 pm, it’s lunch). Then there’s an evening meal and usually a snack (often with the vitamins I forgot about mid-morning).  I write/blog/post to social media daily.  You have probably noticed my newly vamped website and Facebook page, too. I’ve been posting cooking videos (without audio because, talking and cooking equals mistakes).

My current WIP is my Anthology (set in New Orleans, Louisiana) titled: Gumbo Ya Ya: for woman who like romance Cajun, and my 2nd Sassy & Fun Fantasy novella, titled: Bell, Book, and Gargoyle.  New Orleans is one of my fave vacation spots (my husband is from Louisiana).

Café du Monde serves the best coffee au lait and beignets (I wear my powdered sugar well). And then, let's revisit my swamp adventures—GTK, I was able to out-run a gator!

While Bell, Book, and Gargoyle takes place in Hollywood, California, so it in easy drive (if you ignore the hours and hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic) from my house.

All of my readers are aware of my ‘obsession(s)’.  One of which residing/experiencing the world of my characters/ aka: setting.  When it is impossible, physically, it is possible to live in my characters' setting in other ways.

1. I listen to the music/YouTube the local news station.
2. Cook the local cuisine.
3. Research, research, and research again.
4. Study the fashion trends.
5. Etc.

New Orleans is a snap (relatively, if you ignore the swamp adventure), I've vacationed there numerous time.

Southern California—I’ve got this! 

Ummm, now there’s the Gargoyle—still working out the ‘flying’ thing.  So, I decided to focus on my heroine.  She has trouble sleeping.  What helps her fall to sleep—especially after a fleeting encounter with a Gargoyle?

Moon Milk.

What is Moon Milk? You ask.  If you aren’t familiar with the natural sleep-inducing beverage, I’ll share both my research and personal experience.

Moon Milk is a drink made out of warm milk, honey, spices, and herbs. Supposedly, sipping on moon milk before bed time helps you drift peacefully into sleep.

The most important ingredient in moon milk is ashwagandha (also known as Indian ginseng, "has wide ranging health benefits and has a grounding and relaxing effect on the mind and body," to quote Dr. Chanoff , “It's used to treat stress, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and nervous system disorders she added. You can buy it in powder form at your local health food store or on Amazon). *I’m not endorsing ‘ashwaganha’, as the warm milk, alone, is effective for me.

**I did look up ‘ashwaganha’ for health alerts. “For most healthy people, ashwagandha is considered safe. However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it, in addition to people with hyperthyroidism . Furthermore, this herb may interact with sedatives, as well as medications for the following conditions: diabetes. June 11, 2019, **  (inclusive on positive effects on hypothyroidism—so I monitor when I add ashwaganha to my Moon Milk). The ashwagandha powder smelled very off-putting. I was concerned about the taste. It proved to be delicious—creamy, cinnamon-y and sweet.


1 cup whole milk or unsweetened nut milk (such as almond, or cashew)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground ashwagandha
2 pinches of ground cardamom
Pinch of ground ginger (optional)
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon virgin coconut oil or ghee (I do not like ghee)
1 teaspoon honey, preferably raw


Bring milk to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in cinnamon, turmeric, ashwagandha, cardamom, ginger, if using, and nutmeg; season with pepper. Whisk vigorously to incorporate any clumps. Add coconut oil, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until warmed through, 5–10 minutes (heat, the stronger the medicine). Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in honey (you want to avoid cooking honey or you'll destroy its healing properties). Pour into a mug, drink warm, and climb right into bed.

It's 11:45 pm and it's time for Chanel (see picture) and I to go to bed.  I am not sipping Moon Milk.  I have be 'drinking coffee' (this was probably a bad choice of beverage).

Happy Reading, Stay Safe.  (remember my book are 60% off at Smashwords).

Remember to visit my author page at the 
Chanel while I write this blog post.

bwl website! For book purchase links and more!

Connie's website   (my blog feeds here)

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