Sunday, February 28, 2021

Mardi Gras and Gumbo Ya Ya by Connie Vines

 Last month's blog post focused on the art of perfuming. This month I'm focusing on the Cajun experience and giving you a sneak-peek into my next BWL release, Gumbo Ya Ya; an anthology for women who like Cajun romance.

Key points about Cajun Country:


In French, Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday. (Mardi is the word for Tuesday and Gras is the word for fat.)

This name comes from the tradition of using up the eggs, milk, and fat in ones pantry because they were forbidden during the 40-day Lenten fast, which begins the next day (Ash Wednesday) and ends on Holy Thursday (three days before Easter Sunday).

Therefore, a big part of Shrove Tuesday is eating an abundance of delicious fried food—especially donuts and Shrove Tuesday Pancakes!  YUM.

In England, where the day is also known as Pancake Tuesday, festivities include flapjack-related activities. 


everybody talks at once

It means “everybody talks at once, which, if you've been to any meeting, political, social, PTA or otherwise [in New Orleans], you know what gumbo ya ya means.”

Mardi Gras was celebrated in New Orleans soon after the city’s founding in 1718. The first recorded Mardi Gras street parade in New Orleans took place in 1837. Now a major metropolis, New Orleans is the city most known for its extravagant celebrations with parades, dazzling floats, masked balls, cakes, and drink.

American Cajuns:  Cajun, descendant of Roman Catholic French Canadians whom the British, in the 18th century, drove from the captured French colony of Acadia (now Nova Scotia and adjacent areas) and who settled in the fertile bayou lands of southern Louisiana. The Cajuns today form small, compact, generally self-contained communities.

And now, to the good part!

Five Reasons to Marry a Cajun Man (Just ask one):


Don't like spending all of your time in the kitchen working over a hot stove? Don't worry your pretty little face about it, chèr. Cooking for you is exactly what we want to do. As a matter of fact, it's what we think about doing when we wake up. Not only do we want to do the cooking, but we do it well. We get it from our mom. Oh, and we even come complete with our own cookware.


Do you always find yourself wishing your man would dance with you? Well, if you land yourself a Cajun, you'd better get your dancing shoes dusted off. We love to dance, and it doesn't matter where or who's watching. Wedding reception, night club, grocery doesn't matter to us. We even have our own unique way of doing it. If we really like you, we'll teach you.


When you marry a Cajun man, you can forget about having to make a "Honey Do List". If something needs fixing, we got that. I mean, like before you even notice something needs fixing we've already noticed it and are on our way with our tools to take care it. We even figure out how to fix things we have no business trying to fix. Cajun men are extremely resourceful that way. The only problem here is, we'll also fix our neighbor's porch, our buddy's trolling motor, our cousin's shrimp nets, our Parrain's blender and so on...You'll have to tell us to stop and come home.


You won't find a Cajun man moping around complaining about things. It's not that we aren't serious, we just don't see the need to let things drag us down. We're extremely resilient in pretty much every way. Cajuns don't wait for other people to fix our problems, whatever they may be. We figure it out, put some dirt on it and move on. Why would we want to be all mopey and boude when there's cold beer to be had?


People say that if you want to know how a man is going to treat you, watch how they treat their Mother. Well, inside of 5 minutes of seeing us around our moms, you'll want to run off to Vegas on a red eye flight to get hitched immediately. Our worlds revolve around our mothers and will revolve around you as well. We're mama's boys and damn proud of it. She's the woman who gave us life and taught us how to make a roux, and we'll always be eternally grateful for this and so much more. The same rules also apply to our grandmother. Also, be warned, your own mother may like us more than you.


Here are a few Cajun words and sayings you may hear when visiting Louisiana.

Cher [sha]: A term of endearment usually used with women, similar to ‘dear’ or ‘sweetheart.’ “Would you like another cup of coffee, chèr?”

Cocodril (ko-ko-dree): Alligator/gator.

Envie [ah(n)-vee] A longing or hunger to do or eat something. Other Southerners might use the word ‘hankering’ where a Cajun would use ‘envie.’ “I’ve got an envie for some boudin.”

Fais do-do [fay doe-doe]: A Cajun dance party. (Also, an expression adults use when they want children to go to sleep.) “Will we see you at the fais do do?”

Laissez les bons temps rouler [Lay say lay boh(n) toh(n) roo lay]: Let the good times roll. With more than 400 festivals each year, this saying embraces the fun-loving nature of Louisiana.

credit: Pinterest

EASY CAJUN DANCE STEPS    A link to a university website to teach you easy dance steps. 

AIR BOAT SWAMP TOUR!         A link to a swamp tour--yes, you will see a gator!

CAJUN MUSIC--Old School !      A link with Cajun Music which will have you dancing the Cajun                                                                     two-step!

I hope you enjoyed your visit to Cajun Bayou Country!

 Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Connie Vines

My vacation photos (pre: Pandemic).:

Trolley in New Orleans

My Favorite Coffee Shop: Café du Monde with a mug of café latte and beignets. 

Shrimp and Grits

And then there was my run-in (runaway from) the swamp gator!

MY BWL website link




Saturday, February 27, 2021

Who were the Paladins of Charlemagne? - by Vijaya Schartz

The Curse of the Lost Isle series starts in the time of Charlemagne and the Viking Invasions and ends during the Crusades.Find these books on my page at BWL Publishing HERE

When Charlemagne ascended to the Frankish throne in 968AD, he designated twelve Paladins to help him rule the Frankish Kingdom. They were highly trained noblemen, expert swordsmen and fierce warriors. They, took a solemn oath of fealty and swore to abide by Christian rules. Some say they were the first chivalric Christian Knights. Others argue they were Charlemagne’s henchmen, extortioners and executioners… which, in these violent and troubled times might be closer to the truth.

Ending the Dark Ages, Charlemagne united Europe in the name of Christianity, against invaders from the north (Vikings) and the Saracens in Spain. He beat medieval Europe into submission and imposed strict Christian rule. He established schools, promoted education, the copy of illuminated religious manuscripts, art, architecture, and he also maintained a formidable army.

On the battlefield, after a victory, Charlemagne gathered the surviving enemy soldiers, made them kneel, and gave them a choice. Convert to Christianity and join his army, or be beheaded on the spot. Of course, many converted, giving the new faith lip service only. Better be a live Christian than a dead Pagan, right?

Still, a number of vanquished soldiers chose death over conversion. Pagan roots ran much deeper than Christianity in many places.

The Celts, in particular, gave Charlemagne a difficult time. Especially the small kingdom of Brittany (French Bretagne) a bed of Celtic culture and legends, the birth place of Merlin, the place where legends of Vivian the Fae, Morgan the Fae, Pressine the Fae, Palatina the Fae, Meliora the Fae, and Melusine the Fae, still flourish, among other myths.

To deal with these pesky Celts, Charlemagne nominated his trusted nephew, the Paladin Roland, to administrate the Marshes of Brittany on the western frontier.

Roland is still famous in France and throughout Europe. This is his statue in Metz, France, not on a church or historical building, but at the train station.

The story of Roland:

Roland sworn in by Charlemagne as a Paladin knight

Roland, and Olivier, his childhood friend, swore fealty together as Paladins of Charlemagne. Roland is poetically associated with his sword Durandal, his horse Veillantif, and his oliphant horn.

The Song of Roland written much later, lists the twelve paladins as Roland, Olivier, Gérin, and Gérier (killed by the Saracen, Grandonie), Bérengier, Otton, Samson, Engelier, Ivon, Ivoire, Anséis, and Archbishop Turpin ...

There is also mention of Fierabras (meaning proud with strong arms), a converted Saracen knight who seems to have served as the basis for the legend of Percival, of King Arthur’s legends. Yes, medieval romantic tales often tend to ignore chronology as well as historical facts and dates… unless you consider reincarnation or immortality.

While returning from fighting the Saracens in Spain, Roland, closing the long column through the pass of Roncevaux in the Pyrenees, was ambushed by the Basques. He sounded his oliphant horn, calling for help. But his conniving uncle at the head of the march pretended not to hear the oliphant and refused to turn back to help. Grossly outnumbered, Roland and his company fought bravely. Roland, at the end, broke his faithful sword, Durandal, on a boulder, so it wouldn’t fall into heathen hands. Roland and his company were killed to the last, in Roncevaux in 778AD.

Roland breaking his sword on a stone

On Christmas day in 800AD, in Rome, Charlemagne was crowned Roman Emperor of Occident by Pope Leo III. The great emperor died in 814AD. 

But his Paladin knights still fascinate modern youth and keep gathering fame in children’s books and videogames.

If you enjoy reading the heroic myths and legends of the time, I recommend The Curse of the Lost Isle series, based on the Celtic legends of Brittany. The first two books are set in Scotland during the Viking invasions. Then the story of this family of immortal ladies spreads to Luxembourg, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and the middle East during the Crusades.

Princess of Bretagne, Curse of the Lost Isle, book 1
Currently $1.49 in kindle. Also available in paperback
Find it at your favorite online store HERE 

"Well-written and researched, Vijaya Schartz's "Princess of Bretagne' is a joy to read. Although it is a fantasy, Ms. Schartz deftly weaves in historical aspects and customs of those times. One overriding theme is the clash between paganism and early Christianity during the Dark Ages.... a worthwhile and entertaining read." 5 stars review.

Happy Reading.

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



Friday, February 26, 2021

Time for a story—Tricia McGill

Find all my books here on my BWL Author page.

 One of the questions we authors often get asked is, where do you get your ideas? For me a lot of my ideas come at the crack of dawn as I wake up from a dream--but there are times when an idea will not come, so that is when I go through some of my old short stories to stir the brain up. I came across this short short that is so old I have no idea when I penned it. In my search I also found another story that has now become the background for my next book.

A Friend in Need

    She pulled her tattered dress about her shoulders. Branches caught at her hair as she ran. The sound of her breathing, loud and laboured, reverberated around her head. Footsteps pounded behind her. “Oh God,” she cried on a sob.
    Trying to increase her speed, she tripped over a root and just stopped herself falling flat on her face. Blood was oozing from the cut above her left eye, and the graze on the back of her neck where he’d hit her with something solid was beginning to throb violently.
    “Please let me live, God, and I promise I’ll never go off the rails again,” she whispered.

    All went quiet. Hopefully, he had lost track of her. All she could hear were birds rustling in the trees above her. The night was as black as a tomb. Thunder rumbled off over town and she jumped out of her skin. Surely the road wasn’t far ahead. He’d only driven down the track for about five minutes before he’d stopped and ordered her out at knife point.
    What was that? She breathed a deep sigh of relief. It was the headlights of a car directing her towards the road. Her feet were torn to shreds. She had tossed her high heels away so she could run.
    A sob caught in her throat as she fought through some scrub and saw the strip of bitumen ahead. A set of headlights lit up the dark sky. Panting and sobbing at the same time she almost threw herself in front of the car. It slewed to the right of the road as she was caught in its headlights. The passenger wound down the window and she recognised Mrs. Jenkins who worked in the supermarket.
    “Please, I need help,” she cried, her voice coming out in a croak. Pulling the torn and bloody dress tighter about her, she moved nearer the car.
    “Drive on quick, Cyril, we don’t want tarts like that getting in our car,” Mrs. Jenkins said in her cracked and strident voice.
    Cyril Jenkins put up a mild argument but began to drive off. And Mrs. Jenkins gave her a wicked grin out of the window. She remembered calling the woman a rude name only last week. Giving another despairing sob, she began to stumble along the side of the road. When she heard another car approaching she stopped and began to wave. This one slowed down a fraction, and as it passed her she just made out the driver.
    Mrs. Morris. Another person who wouldn’t spare her the time of day. Who was she to think herself so high and mighty? Latest rumour was that she was carrying on with the local vet.
    Her legs were getting weaker. She didn’t know how much longer she could keep going. It began to rain, great soaking drops that saturated her hair, and the frock she hugged about her, in seconds.
    She heard another car approaching. This time she made no attempt to hail it. What was the point? They wouldn’t stop for her. She supposed it would be all over town by tomorrow. Who would pity her? No one. As usual they’d say she got what she deserved.
    The car slowed and she turned slightly, expecting it to go past as the others had. It stopped and so did she, the rain now rushing down her face. Her bra and underslip clung stickily to her body and her feet stung.
    “My goodness, what on earth are you doing out in this terrible storm, and what’s happened to you?” a kindly male voice said as she collapsed in a heap at his feet. She felt herself being lifted in a pair of strong arms. “What on earth have you done?” the voice asked and she tried to tell him, but her eyes wouldn’t open and her mouth had gone so dry that words wouldn’t come out of it.
    The sun streamed through the blinds and she felt cozily warm beneath a blanket. Moving slightly she realised she wore a fleecy sort of nightdress and her feet were bandaged. The ache in her head had subsided, but when she moved her neck a pain shot up to her scalp.
    “Ah, so you’re awake. How do you feel?” Elsie Trotter, the nurse asked, and she knew she was in the small hospital on the edge of town.
    “I feel fine now,” she whispered as she took a sip of the water Elsie held for her.
    “What a to-do you’ve caused,” Elsie said excitedly. “The press are waiting to interview you. Sir Henry Whittenberger found you wandering out on the back road. He’s paid for all your medical expenses, and we’re to keep him informed of your progress. The local paper wants to print your story, and who knows, by tonight you could be featured on the six-o-clock news.”
    She sank back on the pillow, her head whirling. What a turn up for the books. And if they thought she’d caused a to-do already, wait till they heard who’d tried to rape her at knife-point. Then the feathers really would start to fly in this neck of the woods.


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Thoughts on Writing a Series by A.M.Westerling

 The Ladies of Harrington House is the first series I’ve tackled as I usually write single title, stand alone stories. My process remained the same - before I start writing a book, I spend some time researching the time period. The Ladies is a Regency era series, a period I’m familiar with so I didn’t need to do much research. The series originally consisted of three novels however an opportunity arose to write a Christmas novella so I turned that into the prequel. For all the books, I spent a few days getting to know my characters and coming up with plot lines.

I usually keep a letter size file folder for every book I write. In it are my character arcs, notes to myself, daily writing progress and print outs of material I’ve found online that I think are worthwhile to have in hard copy, particularly if it’s something I can use for other books ie names, Regency slang, Regency clothing, types of carriages, etc.

However, in the case of The Ladies of Harrington House, I put together a series bible in a three-ring binder as I needed to keep track of details throughout all the books as of course the characters appear throughout the series.

I have separate sections for Sophie, Leah, Catherine and Evelyn, plus sections that are pertinent to all four such as a description of Harrington House and its servants and a description of the fictional town of Trewater. At the front I have a map of Cornwall marked with the location of the Harrington lands. 

A close up of the character tabs - in case you're wondering, Evelyn is included in the Characters section - I suppose I could add a tab for her but I know where to find her so it works.

Peaking out from the back (above) are the pertinent research print outs of Cornish history, covering such things as mining, smuggling and fishing in the area.

As I write, I jot down notes for each character in their appropriate section to make sure I’m consistent with their appearance and to keep the names straight. This is particularly important the deeper into the series I go.

I’m more of a pantser but I always have certain scenes that I know I will be including. In Sophie’s Choice, it’s the scene in the library where Sophie finds incriminating papers on Bryce. In Leah’s Surrender, it’s the shipwreck scene. I’ve just started Catherine’s Passion and already I know I will be including a scene where a mining disaster will involve the hero, Julian. For Evelyn’s Christmas Beau, the prequel, it’s the final scene under the mistletoe.

Over the years I’ve learned not to spend too much time plotting because invariably my characters run the show. When that happens, I know I’m on the right track!

It’s the first time I had to write a series blurb and this is what I came up with:

The Ladies of Harrington House is an exciting new series from BWL Publishing that is set in Regency era Cornwall. Three sisters, three stories: Sophie Harrington, the independent minded one determined to choose her own husband. However, has she lost her heart to the wrong man? Leah Harrington, the prim and proper miss. She survives a shipwreck but can she survive heartbreak? And Catherine Harrington, the quiet musician. Will her passion for the keyboard lead to passion in a man’s arms?

The first two books are already available HERE


Evelyn's Christmas Beau will be available in October of this year and Catherine's Passion is coming in January 2022. 


Tuesday, February 23, 2021

For the Love of Chocolate by Victoria Chatham




If you read Regency romance, you will probably be familiar with the hot chocolate our heroines enjoy. We still like our hot chocolate today, whether flavored or topped with whipped cream or both. Opening a can of cocoa powder or an individual serving sachet is so much easier for us to make than it was for the Regency maid or cook. Ours is practically instant, and theirs took a good thirty minutes of work to produce a cup of silky rich hot chocolate. But from where did this fascination of ours for chocolate in all its guises come?

Anybody who likes chocolate in any form is probably familiar with the term 'food of the gods,' which reverts to chocolate's Aztec and Mayan origins when only the rich and powerful drank it. Cocoa comes

Cocoa pod and beans
from the beans, or seeds, of the cocoa tree pod. The beans could be given as a wedding gift or used as currency to buy a pig or a slave or used in official and religious ceremonies. An illustration in the Codex Tudela shows the traditional method of creating the froth the drink was famed for by pouring the liquid from one cup to another with a considerable gap between them. When the Spaniards arrived, they couldn't quite get the hang of this method, so they invented the molinillo, a type of whisk still used today.

Cocoa beans were first imported from Mexico to Seville by the conquistador Hernán Cortés in 1585. By the 17th Century, chocolate was a popular drink in France. In England, the first chocolate house was opened by a Frenchman in the Queen's Head Alley near Bishopsgate in London in 1657. Chocolate houses were the then equivalent of our coffee shops today and were a club of sorts for wealthy and elite all-male clients. White's Club, the haunt of gentlemen of the ton in many a Regency tale, was originally a chocolate house. Opened in 1693 by an Italian, Francesco Bianco, alias Frances White, the house was described by Jonathan Swift as 'the bane of the English nobility.' Such was chocolate houses' reputation for being hotbeds of gossip amongst social climbers and ambitious politicians that Charles II tried to ban them in 1675.

Ladies, of course, could not step foot in such establishments, so they drank their hot chocolate in the comfort of their own home. Not such a comfortable job, though, for the staff who had to prepare these drinks. Purchased in hard blocks about four inches wide and one or two inches thick and packed in a linen bag, in this form, chocolate would keep for about a year.

First, the chocolate was grated into a powder and placed in a pan with milk or water, maybe with a little wine or brandy in it, or even a flavoring of cinnamon, nutmeg, or flowered waters like orange blossom or rose. Then the pan was put on the stove, and the contents were brought to the boil. Constant stirring prevented the mixture from scorching. When it had boiled, the pan was removed from the heat. The contents were then whisked to blend the mixture with a chocolate mill, known in France as a molinet, and in Spain as a molinilla. Eggs, sugar, and thickening agents such as flour, corn starch or sometimes bread were then added to the pan. The cook would spin the chocolate mill between her hands, like rubbing two sticks to start a fire, further mixing the ingredients. Once that was done, the pot was put back on the heat and again brought to the boil, being stirred all the time by the cook, who must have had a strong arm. A little cream might be added, and then another good whisking would be required to produce the essential froth without which hot chocolate was not considered fit to be served.

Nothing but the best silver or porcelain would do for this beverage to be served from for the upper classes. Chocolate pots were tall and slim and often had an elegant swan-necked spout. They might even have a finial of polished wood or ivory on top of the lid. Some had a hole in which the handle of the whisk

 could be inserted so the chocolate mixture could be spun again to produce that all-important froth before pouring. Chocolate cups often had a holder in the centre of the saucer and were known as a trembleuse in France and a mancerina in Spain. When the habit of drinking hot chocolate spread to the rest of society, pots were made of sturdier materials such as pewter and pottery.

The history of chocolate is as deep and rich as the end product. Dark chocolate is reputed to have excellent qualities, from improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure to being rich in antioxidants. It can improve your mood and improve brain function. Amongst its nutritional qualities, it contains Vitamins A, C, D, B-6, and calcium, magnesium and potassium. In fact, in ratios per 100 grams, chocolate is richer in potassium than a banana. There is so much more to this marvelous treat that it should be a food group on its own. So, from the food of the gods to being feared by some religious bodies as exotic and decadent, to whether you like large or small marshmallows in your hot chocolate, we enjoy it in all its forms.

Victoria Chatham





Monday, February 22, 2021

To swear, or not to swear? That is the question.

Visit Dean's BWL Author Page here:

Early in my writing career, a polite librarian cornered me after a reading. She said, "You're such a nice, polite, young man. Why do your characters swear like mule skinners?" I explained that the use of strong language built the persona of some characters. Hardened criminals don't use garden party language, and my bad guys used the words and phrases appropriate for their characters.

Shortly after that I was approached by a writer whose manuscript had been returned by his publisher for a rewrite. The editor said his evil characters were too polite and his publisher directed him to add character-appropriate profanity to their dialogue. He'd read one of my early books and decided I knew the right words and how to use them in context. Laughing, I explained that I'd worked with several people who could turn the room blue when frustrated or irate. Personally, I choose not to use those adjectives, but my saltier characters sometimes throw out a profanity. I declined the request to teach him how to swear. He contacted me later, having toughened up his character's language, and receiving another rewrite request from his publisher. The editor told him that yes, he'd inserted some profanity, but he obviously didn't know how to use it in proper context. The writer was aware of the words, but didn't know who to use them as his dark characters would/should.

After writing two very dark novels, I got feedback from a variety of people. Some likened my dark stories to popular east and west coast authors whose bloody, violent books caused nightmares. Three others made me introspective. My sister-in-law, a well-educated and well-read woman, said she set books aside if there was an "effenheimer" on the first page. She didn't need to read any further. Two others were ministers, people I respected and whose opinion I valued. One took me aside and asked why I wasn't writing what was in my heart, rather than writing hard-boiled stories that I thought mystery readers wanted. The other minister echoed the feedback from my sister-in-law, "I'm sure your books are good, but I haven't got past the first swear word."

My following books were cold cases, with long dead bodies and less salty murderers. I received feedback about how much the readers liked the protagonists and their empathy. I won a Northeastern Minnesota Book Award (NEMBA) for my characterization of life in the region. I went a step further and wrote a series of virtually bloodless cozies with zany senior citizens. No one swore. Readers told me they laughed until they cried.

In 2019 I started a new series with BWL Publishing featuring Doug Fletcher a US Park Service ranger. In Stolen Past, Doug investigates a mysterious death and is teamed up with a Navajo Nation Police officer. They don't swear, even while investigating a murder and the theft of artifacts from the Navajo reservation and park service land. In the second book, a surly teen fires off a few strong words to establish him as a pain in the butt, but the rest of the book is free from profanity.

In four subsequent books Doug Fletcher investigates crimes in Texas, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. I use profanity sparingly, if at all. I sometimes need to establish a character's dark persona, but a single swear word, or even the phrase "He swore like a sailor" is enough to paint the character without writing the actual string of profane words. I often leave the actual expletives to the reader's imagination.

So, I leave it up to you. To swear, or not to swear. What do you prefer to see in the books you read? If you're a writer, what's your approach to the use of profanity?

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Paying off at the Boom, murder in 1800s Virginia by Diane Scott Lewis


In my upcoming novel, Ghost Point, my characters are involved in the Potomac Oyster Wars, which took place in the 1950s. Men were fired on and killed in the quant town of Colonial Beach, Virginia.

I bring in an earlier grisly practice called "Paying off at the boom."

My hero Luke, is already 'dredging' oysters, an illegal practice that destroys the beds. The Oyster Police commanded by Maryland are constantly patrolling to arrest the Virginians out on the Potomac River.

Luke is desperate for the extra money to support his family. But soon dead bodies are found at the Point off Monroe Bay, and the Virginian's worry this old practice is again being used.

"Throughout the 1800s and well into the 1900s oyster shucking and packing houses could be found all along the shoreline of Maryland and Virginia. Newly freed slaves, whites, and immigrants labored side-by-side working long hours with little pay to fill the demands for oysters from as far away as Australia. Even the shells themselves became a commodity as farm fertilizer and for use in mortar.

"Watermen, often known as a rough and bawdy lot, made their living from the water often under harsh conditions and amidst several major wars. It was hard work harvesting oysters, and often men were tricked into working on boats only to be left along the shoreline with no pay. Another more sinister method of payment was called “paid by the boom,” meaning that after a stint aboard a boat, the worker would mysteriously fall overboard, never to be heard from again."

 Kathy Warren Southern Maryland-this is living

Though these events never happened in the 1950s during the notorious Oyster Wars, where Maryland Oyster police fired on Virginia watermen dredging oysters, I 'imagined' a revisionist reoccurrence of this terrible practice. 

Storm over Monroe Bay
picture by Alleyne Dickens

The skeletons would wash up at the area called the Point, which formed a hook at the end of Monroe Bay. Thus it became known a Ghost Point.

Don't forget to pick up a copy of  Her Vanquished Land, my latest release; a story of the American Revolution, told by a young British loyalist. A woman caught up on the losing side.

"Rowena is a star. Bless Derec Pritchard who loves Rowena for who she is. Their chemistry is fabulous. Readers will love to read this alternative view of American history." InD'tale Magazine

To purchase my novels and other BWL books: BWL

Find out more about me and my writing on my website: Dianescottlewis

Diane Scott Lewis lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty puppy.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Nine Tips to Get Ready for Spring Gardening


Arranging a Dream: a Memoir by J.Q. Rose

Click here to discover more books by JQ Rose 
on her author page at BWL Publishing 

 Nine Tips to Get Ready for Spring Gardening

Seed catalogs are arriving and spring fever is taking over. You’re ready to get outside and get some dirt under your nails after thumbing through those colorful seed catalogs. Alas, after looking out the window or walking outdoors, you realize there is no way that spring is close.

Lettuce in GT’s Garden

So, what do you do to chase away those can’t-garden blues? My gardener husband, Gardener Ted aka GT, shares these tips to get ready for spring.

1. Clean out pots/containers that you will need for transplanting.

2. Inventory for transplanting–such as seed-starting soil, ingredients for mixing soil, cell packs, warming mats, lights.

5. Inventory seeds left from last year (and pitch the way out-of-date seeds.) Make a list of the ones you will need for the garden you are planning this year.

6. Look over your journal from last year and make notes for improving this year’s garden. If you didn’t keep a journal, look into ways of keeping one for this coming year. It can be a spiral book for jotting notes or something you use online. Decide what will work best for you.

7. Go through photos from last year and organize them into digital folders that make sense. Group photos of the tomatoes in one, beans in another, etc. You may even want to play with making a movie of your garden using PowerPoint or other programs.

8. Look for and organize recipes you want to try this year using your fresh garden produce

9. The last option is to watch YouTube gardeners to discover new plants, new technology and innovative methods in growing vegetables.

Before you know it you will be out in the dirt again. Oh, maybe you should add to the list–buy some Ben Gay and a hot pad for your aching back. Happy Gardening!!

The glory of gardening!
GT's Garden
About JQ Rose: 

Whether the story is fiction or non-fiction, J.Q. Rose is “focused on story.”  She offers readers chills, giggles and quirky characters woven within the pages of her mystery novels. Her published mysteries are Deadly UndertakingTerror on Sunshine Boulevard and Dangerous Sanctuary released by Books We Love Publishing. Using her storytelling skills, she provides entertainment and information with articles featured in books, magazines, newspapers, and online magazines. 

J.Q. Rose and Gardener Ted

J.Q. taught elementary school for several years and never lost the love for teaching passed down from her teacher grandmother and mother. She satisfies that aspect of her character by presenting workshops to encourage and guide participants with recording their life stories.

She decided to take her own advice and pen her memoir, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir about the first year they were in the flower business in 1976.

When it comes to gardening, Ted does the planning and growing.  J.Q. prepares the vegetables for meals and writes about vegetable gardening. Her articles have been featured in newspapers, magazines, blogs, and online magazines.

Gardener Ted developed his tried and true gardening tips as a lifetime gardener, greenhouse grower, and garden center business owner.  Growing up on a farm in Central Illinois cultivated his love of gardening at an early age.

The married couple shares the joy of gardening with their four grandsons and granddaughter who are a lot of help when it comes to gathering and eating the produce from the garden. Besides gardening, traveling, camping, and playing the board game, Pegs and Jokers, keep them out of trouble.

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Arranging a Dream: A Memoir

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir by J.Q. Rose

Prognostication and Prediction

Windmaster Golem
Click the title for purchase information

After a year of isolation, thoughts turn to spring. Writing this as a major snow storm works its way across the country, there is the question of when will spring come. Before the days of widespread, instantaneous communications via radio, television, and the internet, people still needed advance information on the weather. The first thing that comes to mind regarding predictions of what the weather will be or the severity of a winter is The Old Farmer’s Almanac. 

However, people are not the only ones who can prognosticate. Animals can see and hear things that people can’t, a fact that’s been known for essentially all of human history. From a groundhog and woolly bear caterpillar, to geese, cows, hornets, and other animals, we still look to many animals to predict the weather.

Image by LiveLaughLove from Pixabay

If the groundhog sees its shadow on February 2, six more weeks of winter remain. If it does not see its shadow, spring has arrived. Perhaps the most well-known is Punxsutawney Phil. However, the National Climatic Data Center estimates Punxsutawney Phil’s accuracy at 39%. The Pennsylvania groundhog is not the only weather oracle. Among them are Staten Island Chuck who lives at the Staten Island Zoo. Chuck, more formally referred to as Charles G. Hogg, did better. He had a ten-year span of correct predictions. However, the ceremonies weren't always smooth sailing. During one event, he bit the Mayor of New York City. Across the river, New Jersey resident Essex Ed makes his own determination of spring’s return. He has since diversified and now also prophesizes on who will win the Super Bowl.

More than just American groundhogs issue a prophecy about the return of spring. Shubenacadie Sam, who lives in Shubenacadie Wildlife Park in Nova Scotia, is typically the first groundhog in North America to make his prediction on Feb. 2, since it gets the earliest sun and is an hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time on Atlantic Time.

A point to remember is that a forecast based on only one saying is rarely accurate. When several phenomena pointing toward the same forecast are observed, however, many an old farmer will tell you the folk sayings can be extremely reliable.

Weather is not the only thing animal oracles can predict. Sports-predicting animals include a rhinoceros, a miniature pig, a kangaroo, several sharks, a goat, a panda, and an elephant. Each has their own method from eating a treat decorated with the desired team’s logo to using a paint brush to mark the team’s shirt draped over an easel.

For many years, Ozzy, a 680-pound grizzly bear at ZooMontana expressed his choice to win the Super Bowl by eating a treat with the team’s symbol on it. He retired from his position as Super Bowl prognosticator to be replaced by Sid the Wolverine.

Paul the Octopus at the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, specialized in predicting the results of international football (or soccer to some of us) matches His 85.7% correct rate in the 2010 World Cup brought him worldwide attention as an animal oracle.

By the time this post goes live, Punxsutawney Phil, Staten Island Chuck and their kin will have made their predictions. Super Bowl 55 will be over and the champions crowned. What prediction remains to be seen is whether spring will come early or not.

Winter/Spring photos by the author.


To purchase the Windmaster Novels: BWL

~Until next month, stay safe and read. Helen

Find out more about me and my novels at Journey to Worlds of Imagination.
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Helen Henderson lives in western Tennessee with her husband. While she doesn’t have any pets in residence at the moment, she often visits a husky who has adopted her as one the pack. 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

To learn more about my work please click on the cover 

What a crazy year this has been. Way too full of Covid and bad news. However, the sun is returning and we are turning our faces to the spring. Even while the Alberta prairies are still locked in cold and snow the flowers of spring are stirring in my heart.

I am working on the last book in The Alberta Adventures. Any of you who have followed Laurel and her friends through the three Cornwall Adventures series and then the first two of The Alberta Adventures will be familiar with Chance Cullen and his struggles. The first two books in this last series are about rescuing something, horses and dogs respectively. The third book is Chance's journey and his struggle to rescue his life from the downward spiral and bad choices he has made recently. I'm not sure where it's going quite yet as the story is still evolving. It begins right after Laurel, Carly and Chance graduate from high school. Chance and Carly's dad is in prison for his role in the events in Dead Dogs Talk and Chance is slowly coming to terms with the fact he needs to find his own way and that isn't following the example his father has set. I hope you'll watch for Chance's Way when it releases and see how things play out. I'll keep you updated on how things are going with the plot in my blog posts on the 18th of each month.

Until next month, stay well, stay happy, stay strong.



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