Monday, August 31, 2020

Writing the Weather by Priscilla Brown

Men are off Cristina's essentials list during her working holiday at a luxury Caribbean resort. 
But can the resort's zany charmer of a pilot break through her defences?

 Today, 31 August, is the last official day of winter in Australia. As I write this a few days prior, here in temperate New South Wales the blustery wind seemingly straight from Antarctica makes us long for spring. However, signs of the season change began to appear mid-August; fruit trees, ornamental and productive, display blossoms white or shades of pink - until the wind catches them. The yellows of daffodils and jonquils are such optimistic colours, and deciduous trees are starting to show lots of buds.

The weather may be the most widespread topic of conversation in areas where the weather is changeable. On a chilly wet day, we may exchange comments with strangers under umbrellas at the bus stop; or start a conversation about the heat as we drop onto a shared seat after jogging around the park.

One of my personal writing-related files contains sections in which I jot down words or phrases which interest me. I use the three hand-written pages of weather-associated words for ideas, to edit and re-write as necessary for the weather to fit or augment the plot and the characters, and to help me avoid cliches such as lashing rain, howling gale.

Those weather conditions in which we situate our people are usually there for a crucial reason: have them enjoy, or struggle against, to stop them from doing something, to put them in danger, to act as a source of tension between them, and ultimately to move the story along. Such circumstances create atmosphere, physical and/or emotional, affecting characters' moods, influencing the plot. For several of the weather episodes in my novels, I've needed to do considerable research, which for me is always an enjoyable task. I do some on line from weather and news reports, and from reading and viewing local information, and where possible from visiting the area.

During a trip some years ago to the Eastern Caribbean, I had no thought of setting a novel in a location entirely exotic for me; the contemporary romance Where the Heart Is emerged later. While I gave Cristina a dreamy Caribbean beach (plus a dreamy man) in gorgeous weather, I also involved her in a hurricane with a perilous wet and windy mountain rescue by motorbike. I didn't experience the extreme weather event I put her and the motorbike rider through, but I did gain background knowledge valuable for future use. And in this story, the sub-tropical climate contrasts with the temperate spring of her rural Australian home.

As I sign off on this post, the wind is still strong enough to blow a dog off a chain, and tonight will be a two or three dog night. Maybe these are Australian expressions? The number of dogs theoretically (perhaps practically!) to keep you warm in bed.

Hoping your weather is kind to you, Priscilla



Saturday, August 29, 2020

Earth Walker

See all my historical novels @


A powerful connection to the earth is a common theme among all 1st Nations’ people about whom I’ve read, whether they live north or south of the arbitrary lines European colonists drew upon their home land. In every story I read written by 1st Nations’ People, there is a recollection of a childhood where adults have carefully fostered a deep consciousness of what European culture commonly puts in a generalized lump called “Nature.” It’s that experience with which we European moderns, the “come heres” of the western hemisphere, are -- every day-- less and less familiar.

Football with my cousin, 1950's

Instead of gazing at screens all day, most folks my age (+70) remember playing outside regularly, especially during school summer holidays. My house was near a dairy farm and the surrounding fields were in hay and alfalfa. The farmer didn’t care if my mother and I roamed across them, or if I went by myself to a wonderful pond adjacent to a woodlot. In the spring it was full of tadpoles, crayfish, and blue gills. Later, in summer, it was full of multicolored frogs. Butterflies and dragon flies sailed above muddy flats, and floated over flowering plants, whose names I did not know, although I much admired their bright colors and floating seeds.  

Sometimes I’d see rabbits, fox, or woodchucks, or come across deer at their midday rest.  Red-winged blackbirds nested among the cattails; purple martens performed their fighter-pilot maneuvers over the pond.  At home, we even had a mud nest of barn swallows every year on the far end of our porch—off-limits to us until they’d finished rearing their adorable, plump, dun-breasted family.

For several years as a young teen I was sent to a summer camp--my parents' were fighting their way toward a divorce--for the entire three months. This particular camp was truly rustic, with unheated cabins, water you carried in buckets, and a bunch of retired police horses. These days it would probably be closed down as unsanitary and unsafe. You could take a bath--if you were willing to go to the owner's house--once a week. Otherwise, you "bathed" in the farm pond in the afternoon.

Some water came into it from chilly springs , but a creek flowed in at one end and over a dam at the other, so it was constantly in motion. The pond had been part of the original farm for years, so it was established. Water snakes cruised among the lily pads and cattail beds. While those reedy spots were green and inviting in the slanting afternoon light, we stayed as far away as possible, treading water and playing mermaids in the middle with friends.

It was, among us campers, a badge of honor to never go to the big house and take a bath. How humiliating! How sorry we were for the girls whose parents insisted upon it! The rest of us washed our bodies and our hair in the pond. We floated bottles, half filled with air and half with shampoo, as well as cakes of Ivory soap on the surface beside us. After a day of playing games, hiking in the woods, riding and grooming horses, and entertaining ourselves with marathon games of jacks--we dismantled the ping pong table to use the smooth wooden surface--everyone was ready to wash off the sweat before dinner.

When I returned home at the end of August, at my mother's insistence, I marched straight upstairs and ran the bathtub full. Standing naked before the mirror, I could see the brown dirt residue left from three months of "bathing" in a silty farm pond. The swim suit outline was shades darker than my suntan.

Many years ago, my granddaughter was taken for a walk in the woods for the first time when she was around two years old. Her entire experience of "outdoors" up until then had been playing in groomed suburban yards, or passing through parking lots and shopping malls with her Mama. After a first walk with her daddy on a nature trail, she haughtily pronounced the leaf and stick strewn paths “messy and uneven.”

It’s a funny story, but it’s also sad, as it shows how limited a modern child’s experience often is of this world in which she lives.  Fortunately for her, Dad got the message. From then on, he spent time with his girl out-of-doors, so she wouldn’t suffer from what I’ve come to look upon as Nature Deprivation. She can now out-walk her Grandma any day.

Snow picnic, 1970's, at a favorite spot

When she went to college, this eighteen year old was surprised to find "Walking" was a physical education course. As phys. ed. was required of freshmen and sophomores, she signed up, and then she was again surprised by the exhaustion and pain of which her classmates complained.

Considering all this, I guess it’s no wonder that so many people today are disrespectful of the earth, especially if shopping malls, macadam, and the virtual world are all they experience. It’s not only a great emotional and spiritual misfortune for them personally, but I believe this disconnection is the root cause of our civilization's current mega-scale disregard for our only home, our birth mother. 

Pipeline explosion

I’ve been reading To You We Shall Return by a Lakota author, Joseph Marshall III. This is part of an ongoing attitude adjustment exercise, as I hope to broaden my outlook and see the world through another cultural lens. (The one with which I was raised seems to have ever so many blind spots.) From that book is a Traditional Lakota Prayer to Mother Earth: 

You who listen and hear all,
You from whom all good things come,
It is your embrace we feel
When we return to you.

~~Juliet Waldron

Friday, August 28, 2020

All Because of Neil Diamond by Connie Vines

Perhaps it's because of the never-ending-heat-wave here in southern California, 103 - 107 degrees (39 - 41 Celsius), or because my two pups (Chanel and Gavin) are following me around and continually begging to go outside so that they can experience sun-stroke first hand--but I find myself mentally designing my new and improved garden throughout  the evening.

My front yard has a huge mimosa tree, a small (stunted) mimosa tree, a southern magnolia tree and a grass lawn.  There is an area at the front of my patio which would make a lovely rose garden.  It's the perfect place for my roses.  Full-sun, facing west, and the area is nothing but dirt.

I've grown roses in the past, when my children were very young. During that time, I selected  the run-of-the-mill-generic varieties you find at you local garden--on sale and then discounted.  And, if I recall correctly, my rose bushes were particularly thorny.

Well, this time I was intent on finding  the perfect rose for my 'imaginary' garden's focal point.

Do you know how many 'new' varieties of roses are posted on the garden sites and Pinterest?
Do you realize how many photos there are to gawk over?

Too many to count, that's for certain.

These are three varieties of roses which caught and held my attention:

File:Rosa Ingrid Bergman (7376469430).jpg - Wikimedia Commons
The Ingrid Bergman rose is so beautiful. 

rosa new orleans – Flowersense
The New Orleans rose would be perfect
This is the rose I should select as it goes along with my New Orleans/Cajun theme of my next release: Gumbo Ya Ya.

However, this is the rose bush I will be searching for during planting season:

Neil Diamond Rose | Spring Hill Nurseries
The Neil Diamond rose is my favorite!

 Do you have a favorite rose or type of flower is a 'must' for your garden?  Do your have any gardening tips you'd like to share?

Well, now that I've selected my first rose bush of the planting season, I can get back to my novel.

🌹Thank you, 🎤Neil Diamond!

I always try to add something new for my readers to enjoy 😋

Rose Petal Tea



2 cups fresh fragrant rose petals  (about 15 large roses)*
3 cups water
Honey or granulated sugar to taste
Clip and discard bitter white bases from the rose petals; rinse petals thoroughly and pat dry.

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, place the prepared rose petals.  Cover with water and bring just to a simmer; let simmer for approximately 5 minutes or until the petals become discolored (darkened).

Remove from heat and strain the hot rose petal liquid into teacups. Add honey or sugar to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe Notes
* All roses that you intend to consume must be free of pesticides.  Do not use or eat flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides not labeled for food crops. The tastiest roses are usually the most fragrant. 

Happy Reading!


Fall of 2020!

Early 2021

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Connie Vines Amazon Author Page


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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Why I love writing scary villains - by Vijaya Schartz

September release MALAIKA'S SECRET on BWL Publishing site

I love colorful characters and I confess that the villains in my stories are just as interesting and fascinating as the hero and heroine. It’s not by accident. First, a hero or heroine can only be as heroic as the villain is dangerous. A weak villain presents no threat to the protagonist. Then, there is the liberating factor. 

When I started writing, I couldn’t imagine telling the story from the mind of a bad person. It seemed sinful, naughty at best. But while writing my first book, I accidently jumped into my villain’s head. As I descended into the dark abyss of my evil character’s psyche, viewing the world from his twisted mind, I had a life-changing revelation... I enjoyed it! 

Some memorable villains in the two Archangel books.

Was I a bad person? I pride myself in being spiritual and this new discovery was disturbing. According to what I learned as a writer, however, no one is totally good or totally bad. We are all nuances of light and dark, some darker than others. After dealing with the guilt, questioning my righteousness and my sanity, I realized that being able to understand sinful intents and the mechanisms and motivations of evil people was a good thing for a writer. 

Ancient Enemy series:
"Captain Kavak certainly ranks as one of the worst villains ever encountered!"

Ever since, I make it a point to develop my villains, and some of them are so evil, they will give you thrills and shivers. That’s the case for the villains of my September release, Malaika’s Secret. Admiral Mort Lowell was born on a dark moon of Tenebra II. Half Human and half Tenebran, he was rejected by both races as a child for his hybrid looks. Drawing support from a mysterious secret society, he quickly rose in the ranks of the Galactic Trade Alliance. 

Because of his white skin, black hair, and the black visor protecting his sensitive retinas, some call him a Vampire. Others call him a shark because of his sharp, pointed teeth. But those who fear him for his scary looks have no idea how dangerous and wicked the man is inside, or from where he draws his power. 

The paperback is available now, and the eBook is in pre-order, to be delivered on September 3rd. Order it today from your favorite online store HERE.

Special Agent Tyler Conrad works security undercover on the Byzantium Space Station and adheres to a strict moral code. When strange beings with wings are murdered, and a dangerous lion wanders the station’s indoor streets, Tyler’s investigation leads him to a mysterious woman, who could make him break all his rules and get them both killed.

Forbidden to love, the beautiful Malaika, guardian of the glowing crystal in the temple of the Formless One, is an illegal mind-reader who hides perilous secrets. She has seen the great evil coming to Byzantium but must hide her extraordinary abilities or perish with her people.

When Admiral Mort Lowell, a hybrid Tenebran nicknamed the Vampire, makes a surprise visit to Byzantium, Tyler knows something wicked is afoot…

The previous books in the Byzantium Space Station series are: BLACK DRAGON (Book 1) and AKIRA'S CHOICE (Book 2). Although each novel stands alone, this is the right order for the series. Find the links below my signature line.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes
amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo FB 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

So what really is in a kiss? Tricia McGill

Annie's Choices By Tricia McGill

A lot it seems. This post was meant to be about that first kiss—and how it affected us. But as happens with research (this is why I love it) you end up finding out a lot more than you set out to find. While recalling my first ever kiss I was taken back to when I was about 14. That was when I met the boy who gave me that kiss. I was

looking my best (or so I thought) in a black and white check skirt and jacket that I treasured. My sister Joan made it for me to wear at our dear Dad’s funeral when I was just 12 (I didn’t grow much in those years). Needless to say, the day mentioned above saw me also wearing white ankle socks and a white bow in my hair (my sisters did love to put me in a bow).


My cousin, who was slightly older than me, and already courting her young man, decided it was time I also found a boyfriend. I was not that interested to be honest—boys were just pests at that time. Anyway, the boy she and her friend picked out for me was nearer her age and quite a good-looking fellow—tallish with dark hair—every young girls dream. Unfortunately, he took one look at me in my ankle socks and hair bow and laughed. That killed any thoughts of romance with him. To try to cut this story a lot shorter, I must have caught the eye of his younger brother who was somewhere in the vicinity. A few days later, he turned up on his bicycle in my street and sought me out—told me he thought I looked nice and hung around for a while, eventually giving me my first kiss. Truth is, I have no recollection of how that felt, only know that it was at the kerbside. To round off this story—roll on a few years to when I was an almost married woman. We met these two brothers at a party. To my utter dismay—or it might have been relief—the younger one treated his then wife with a certain disdain, flirting with all the other women, me included, while his older brother had become a real gentleman.


There have been a few first kisses since that one, some memorable some not. Funnily enough, I didn’t fall in love with my husband of forty years at our first kiss. Which goes to prove that it does not always map out that the best first kisser proves to be the best partner in life. He was pretty good at many other things that mattered.


So back to my research. It is believed by some that the idea of kissing came about millions of years ago and had nothing to do with romance. It is thought that ancient mothers force-fed their babies mouth-to-mouth after chewing the food, just as many other species still do.


Many cultural groups did not have a clue about kissing apparently. Early historians have named India, and in particular, Verdic Sanskrit who mentioned in his literature as far back as 1500BC that they rubbed noses together. One theory is that while in the process of nose rubbing someone slipped lower and realised that the lips were more sensitive and touching them gave real pleasure.


Over the centuries, more historic references turned up. An epic poem by Mahabharata mentions that when their lips met she made a noise that produced pleasure. Let’s not forget the Kama Sutra, a classic text that apparently contains many descriptions on the technique of kissing. I say apparently, as I have never read it. Then of course along came Alexander the Great, bless him, whose conquering armies spread the art of kissing wherever they went. They supposedly learnt of it from the Indians. Then after Alexander died, his generals went off to various parts of the Middle East to carry the word—and the kiss.


The Romans, it seems, popularized the art of kissing and thus spread the practice to parts of Europe and North Africa. Aha, I was waiting to find out where what we know as ‘French kissing’ derived from. Believe it or not, there were devoted “kissing missionaries’. What began as a kiss of friendship delivered on the cheek, developed into a more erotic lips-to lips, and finally a kiss of passion which became the French Kiss. The Romans even had laws that went along with kissing. If a virgin girl was kissed in public by a man, she could be awarded full marriage rights from him.


By the Middle Ages most Folk in Europe were kissing, but the practice was governed by the rank of the kisser. The lower the rank the further from the lips the kiss was delivered. So if you were a lowly serf who could not read or write you signed your name with an X and sealed the contract by kissing that X. It seems this is how the practice of putting an X to signify a kiss on your Valentine’s Card or letter to a loved one came about.


Go here for more information:


So, this I all learnt because it has always fascinated me how the touching certain parts of the body by the one you love can bring so much pleasure, and I was curious about the simple kiss and got to wondering who touched lips for the first time and thought to themselves, “That was pretty good.” I cannot imagine the cave

men, depicted hauling their mates around by their hair, coming up with it. Now we know—it was most likely a mother feeding her offspring by mouth that started it all. I wonder if the Vikings found pleasure in kissing. That’s research for another day.

Delightful Dahlias by A.M.Westerling


Sophie's Choice, Book 1 of my Regency Romance series, The Ladies of Harrington House, is available from BWL Publishing HERE.

Every author has their preferred method of finding inspiration. If I'm stuck on a plot point or need inspiration, I'll go for a walk or do a bit of research. However, in the spring and summer months, I like to spend time in my garden. That's my patio right outside my backdoor. 

One of my favourite flowers is the dahlia and I have a number of varieties. I lift the tubers every fall and plant them again in pots indoors in early April before transplanting them outside. By mid summer the blooms have arrived and they’ll flower continuously until the first frost. After that, I lift the tubers, shake off the dirt and store them in a cool, dark place until next spring.

Dahlias are quite the interesting flower. They’re named after Swedish botanist Anders Dahl who originally classified them as a vegetable as the tubers are edible! They supposedly taste like a mix between radishes and potatoes although I can’t vouch for that. Originally from Mexico, they were introduced to Europe by Spanish settlers. Mexico’s national flower is a dahlia. Before the discovery of insulin, dahlia tubers were used to balance blood sugar because of their high fructose content. The petals were used to treat rashes, insect bites, infections and dry skin.

There are thousands of types of dahlias and they are categorized based on size, flower pattern and how they resemble other flowers. Some of the blooms can be as large as a dinner plate! Oddly, there are no blue dahlias although they come in every other colour. In the 19th century, a London newspaper offered a reward of one pound to anyone who could breed a blue dahlia but the prize has never been claimed. I've had the orange pink tipped dahlia pictured above for at least 5 years. 

It was Queen Victoria’s favourite bloom and used in Victorian era wedding bouquets as a symbol of commitment and an everlasting union. They also symbolize elegance, creativity and inner strength. During the Regency era, they were included in wedding bouquets only if they were locally grown, tucked in amongst other flowers such as roses, peonies, sweet peas, scabious, lilies and delphinium. Queen Victoria is not the only one with a fondness for dahlias. Bees stop by constantly! 

The most surprising fact I discovered about dahlias while doing my research for this blog post is that the tubers are edible. I wonder who discovered that?!

 Find all my books on the BWL Publishing website HERE.




Monday, August 24, 2020

Featured Author Janet Lane Walters

Where to begin?  Hi, I’m  Janet Lane Walters and I’ve been writing for a very long time. My first sale was a short story published in 1968. I’ve gone on to have more sort stories published and when the market dried up, I moved to writing novels. Actually a rejected story set me off. An editor wrote “This sounds like the synopsis for a novel. Learning how to write novels took several years. The first one I wrote was published after 16 rejections with many suggestions from editors and making revisions, the seventeenth time the novel was purchased. That was in 1972. Also had several poems published and four non-fiction books.

Calling myself an eclectic writer, there’s a tendency to dabble a bit in my writing. There are contemporary romances, paranormal romances, alternate world romances, some that combine history with the present day, more reincarnation than time travel. Also among the mix are cozy mysteries, one medical suspense. Also there are two YA series, one for teens and one for a bit younger age written under J. L. Walters for four of them. I tend to jump around when I’m writing and sometimes a series is shelved for a time when a new idea pops into my wild imagination.

Another cover or more to show my eclectic writings. For details and purchase information visit my BWL Author page:


My home is in the scenic Hudson Valley about thirty miles from NYC, on the west bank of the river. I just realized the house is 100 years old and has changed much since we bought it about forty years ago. I can see the river from the upstairs window in the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. Married to the same man for 50 plus years but recently a widow. There are four children, the youngest daughter is an adopted black girl. The children have given me seven grandchildren. Four are black and three are Chinese. The eclectic sort of runs over into the family.

I’ve had many hobbies in the past including knitting, needlepoint, cookie baking, Yoga, composing music and Astrology. Of course there’s reading. That’s been my hobby since I was three and received my first library card. My grandfather taught me how to read.

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