Monday, May 31, 2021

Choosing Characters by Priscilla Brown


Mayor Anna agonises over the parlous finances of both her alpaca stud and her country town.

 Is this sexy television producer financial salvation or major trouble?


Several characters in my contemporary romantic fiction choose themselves. Sealing the Deal developed from a farmer sitting on a gate watching her alpaca stud; for Hot Ticket, I had noticed a woman looking in the window of a lingerie shop;  the ferry hand who managed to get me and my rental car aboard his tiny boat without a scratch won a place in Dancing the Reel.

As an author, I need to know my characters well, and ensure they and their actions are appropriately motivated and credible; my familiarity with them increases as the story progresses. I don't plot in advance, thus offering them a lot of freedom to change or augment their personalities, backgrounds, mindsets, actions. But they must always have a narrative purpose - the rationale behind their existences, earning their keep so to speak. Every character has strengths and weaknesses, which, among other ramifications, determine how this person will respond to obstacles and to the behaviour of others; basically to move the story along.

I often find this character development a challenge - for example, I may like a certain individual, but will the reader be sympathetic to her/him?  And when I introduce a villain into the story, will the reader judge this character as such, and, as I intend, worry about the connection with the main characters? In my romance stories, the 'villain' is frequently the person keeping the hero and heroine apart.

Although I do not plot at the start, I always need to keep my characters under control. It may sound crazy to a non-writer, but our fictitious people do take on a life of their own. I have to stop them from wandering into idiosyncrasies and behaviours that do not fit with my overall idea of their place. A couple of stories ago, one of my chosen secondary characters wandered out of the story and into one where he was more important, so choosing him like that for the length of a novel was not going to work. He's waiting for a story of his own.

Ultimately, by the time I have finished the drafts, I must be sure I have chosen the characters suitably, and that the tone, the mood, which I  impose on them are relevant both to what they have by now turned into a plot and to the genre; the whole narrative should coalesce into a pleasurable read. 

Enjoy your reading, best wishes, Priscilla




Sunday, May 30, 2021

Author Readings by Eden Monroe


 Click here for Eden Monroe's BWL Author page and purchase information

“He felt for a pulse then grabbing his cell phone stabbed in Donna’s number ….

        “Yes, Dade!” answered Donna breathlessly. “What’s happening?”

        “We found Kerrah!” he all but shouted. “We’ve got her, but….”

        “But what?” shouted Donna. “How is she?”

        “I don’t know….” Dade faltered.

        “Dade, listen to me. Can you find a pulse?”

        “No … I can’t seem to find a pulse. She’s … cold. Oh my God!” he said, his voice breaking.”

                                                      A brief excerpt from Gold Digger Among Us


I was once asked by a hopeful novelist, about the importance of author readings; “whether anyone is actually interested in listening to an author drone on and on from their latest book. Aren’t readings the cure for insomnia?” she asked. She also stressed that when she got published she didn’t want to get “bogged down with what clearly doesn’t work.”


That person was attending a literary event at which I was among the fairly long list of reading authors. Ouch! I certainly tried to make my reading lively and interesting, but there’s always room for improvement. And my answer by the way was that author readings are extremely important, as is preparing for them.


So without meaning to be preachy, I decided to jot down a few tips I’ve learned along the way about author readings. These are pretty standard do’s and don’ts, but I enjoyed getting back in the zone and ready for when things start to open up again, post-pandemic. Of course this is old hat for most authors, those who have already mastered this skill, but might be helpful for the uninitiated.


Continue reading for the goose.


Reading aloud to an audience who could potentially purchase what it took us so many months to create, is a golden opportunity. Readers are fans, or at the very least potential fans, and aside from the budding novelist I mentioned earlier, come to hear what we have to say. This is our book; these are our words, given voice, our voice. We are the star of the performance, because that’s exactly what a reading is – a performance. We will bring our book to life.


No one knows our book better than we do, understands it better, so when we’re given the stage, we have to make the reading memorable - for the right reasons. It’s important to speak slowly – not race for the finish line, eager to be done. Instead, breathe, pace ourselves, and enjoy the ride. Most readings are about three to five minutes, so we must keep our reading short and bright; read with purpose and enthusiasm. We should approach each reading as an actor prepares for a role, really get into it – and above all, have fun.


It might be a good idea to print your chosen passage in a larger font for easy reading, we don’t necessarily have to read from the book (unless you want to showcase artwork, as in a children’s book) but do let the audience see your book. We must practice until we can read with ease. Rehearsal really is key, and preparation should never be left to the last minute, it’s simply too important not to be ready. We should practice until we feel comfortable enough to lift our eyes to engage the audience, because we must not ever forget our audience. Practicing in front of a mirror works, and definitely time ourselves so we can keep to the time designated by our host. For many author readings the mike is simply shut off once the allotted minutes are up (and that allotted time includes thanking the host and any introduction to what you’re about to read), so we have to be ready to end on cue and at the right moment to put our book in its best light. Make people glad they listened to us, it truly is so important that they leave with a favourable impression, and ideally with one of our books tucked under their arm.


The selection we choose to read should contain dialogue and action, and it’s preferable to include only two characters, certainly not more than three, so as not to confuse people. Show conflict. The passage should best represent the book, without giving the key parts away, and it’s great to leave our audience on a cliffhanger; give them a reason to buy the book. Make them want more. For a children’s picture book, the reading would logically include the entire book, but whatever the genre, we have to make our characters real; make our subject matter real - relatable.


A ho hum reading will make for an audience that’s anxious to have it end because it’s painful to listen to. Boring. If we as authors don’t seem interested enough to do a standout reading, no one else will be interested either. If we’re nervous, and most everyone is, there’s nothing to be gained by sharing that with our audience; it’s best kept to ourselves. A nervous presenter can make for a nervous audience. Not good. Fake confidence and it will come. I’ve had authors at events that I’ve helped organize, insist that they’re just not good at readings. Well maybe that’s true at first, but we can get good at them if we try, because readings are a key selling tool. Also, we learn best by watching others – both what they do wrong and what they do right. Public readings are all part of the author journey. If we take every reading opportunity that comes along, we’ll eventually tame those butterflies and continue to improve.


Before we begin to read it’s a good idea to quickly brief our audience about the story, if we’re not starting at the beginning, and end the reading professionally, not just stop abruptly and hurry back to your seat relieved that it’s over. Take questions if we’ve been given the OK to do so, but even if it’s only a reading, save enough time to let the audience know where the book is available and remember to thank our host – onstage. We should also publicize the event ahead of time, and equally important is finding out, prior to the event, what the set-up will be. Will you be standing at a podium? Will there be a microphone? How much time is allotted per reading?


Above all, we have to get excited about our reading. If we’re excited and enthusiastic about our book, that excitement and enthusiasm will be contagious. We have to light a fire! Stand out from the crowd! Be original.


And now for the goose….


Another memorable event I attended included a reading from a children’s book about a goose. One of the authors, complete with brown leather aviator helmet and goggles, flew around the room (on foot with arms extended, goose-like), while reading. She immediately got and held everyone’s attention, and that reading is as vivid in my mind today as it was those several years ago. I don’t seem to remember the others….

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Old Friends & Flowers on Memorial Day


Juliet Waldron's website

Books @ Kobo

Books @ Smashwords

Books @ Barnes & Noble

Books @ Amazon

Perennials are my favorites. I can't claim to be a master gardener, but I do love to put my hands in the dirt and grow things.

Walking around the yard this spring, I'm pleased with all the color. We're past even the latest daffodils here in PA, but it's Memorial Day now and so the peonies are going great guns, as well as the irises and various other plants whose names my brain has misfiled. Perhaps I have forgotten the names, but I know that they come back reliably this time of year and that they have a delicate fragrance that I enjoy when I'm sitting on the porch. 

Many of my plants were gifts but ever so many of the givers are now dead. Each time I gaze at those  plants, blooming away with all their might, I think of the nice folks who shared them with me and I am grateful. 

Emily was one of the prolific givers. An athletic, charismatic red head, she and her equally good-looking husband Ray had a lovely down-a-country-road property. Over the years, Emily, who undertook nothing she did by halves, had turned their surroundings into a show place, with a stellar Koi pond surrounded by and ornamented with plants. There were the expected cattails and water lilies, but the papyrus she brought home from the nursery was a revelation, as I'd never actually seen a living breathing specimen before.

Over the years all the local wildlife found the pond, from deer to leopard frogs and tree toads. These little guys hatched in the water, then climbed, for the next part of their life cycle, into the nearby trees. They filled spring twilight evenings with their sweet quivering choruses. Herons came too, enraging Emily because they didn't just eat the frogs out of the pond, but her enormous Koi. 

We were visiting one night, enjoying their company on the deck--they worked together in their auto dealership and had a big supply of "people are crazy" stories--when suddenly Emily shouted, leapt up and ran, an Amazon screaming curses, towards the pond. It was all explained in a flash, when an enormous blue heron, his long, yellow landing gear still dangling, executed an emergency take-off. I'd never seen one of these big birds so close, and certainly never one with a large, flapping red and white Koi in his narrow beak!


These peonies came from Emily, who told me a long story about her favorite Aunt Pard, whose flower garden and warm presence she remembered with equal pleasure. These were the old-fashioned kind of peony, no ginormous blooms, but, instead, a fragrance you don't often find in modern cultivars. These peonies were not happy in her yard, but, for some inexplicable reason they loved mine. Consequently, over the years, I've split them many times. Now they perform their brief, bright celebration of May in many groupings all over my yard--and they do smell sweet! 

Today, enjoying the flowers, I remembered this couple, their out doors parties--blazing fires under 60 foot oaks, and barbecue-potlucks that lasted all night, their hunter's venison feasts and the annual trout opening day Bacchanalia begun before dawn, just behind their house on the rushing, brown Quittaphilia. So many laughter-filled, good-company evenings with them! 

Now, astonishingly, these active, vital people are both gone. Like many long-married couples, Ray followed his Em to the grave within 6 months. Although they are no more, I have these lovely peonies to always remind me of them both.

~~Juliet Waldron

Where to buy Mozart's Wife

Friday, May 28, 2021

It's (Almost) National Kitchen Klutzes Day--Let's Celebrate! by Connie Vines

(The actual date is June 13th--but I blog on the 28th of each month, so this gives you ample time to celebrate!)

Even those who know her/his way around the kitchen, are able to relate to the occasional--or daily kitchen mishaps.  

Writing, Painting/Drawing, Music, and Cooking are classified as the 'Arts".  I find creative people are usually gifted, to some degree, in all of the Arts. (I'm also inclined to include gardening under the Arts umbrella, however, that's another blog post.)

Culinary Arts, in which culinary means "related to cooking", are the cuisine arts of food preparation, cooking, and presentation of food, usually in the form of meals.

I must admit most of my 'heroines/heroes" are able to cook.  However, as in real-life, there are Kitchen Klutzes in my novels, too.  I must also confess, I routinely have more than my share of kitchen mishaps.  Especially, since we have all been spending a great deal of time cooking family meals these past couple of months.

June 13th honors those who would like to cook and be in the kitchen, but it just doesn’t seem to work well for them. After all, it is National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day.

Klutz:  most commonly referred to as a clumsy person.

Kitchen Klutzes are the people who set out with the intentions of being like Ree Drummond, Molly Yeh, Gordon Ramsey, or even the great Julia Child as they open up the cookbook.   Mixing bowl or Kitchen Aide mixer and ingredients on the counter, they imagine knife cuts as swift as Wolfgang Puck or Bobby Flay. However, reality quickly dissolves all those dreams as smoke billows from the oven, skillets erupt in flames, and salt is mistaken for sugar. Those knife cuts turn bloody, cookies and fingers are burnt, cakes go flat. The Kitchen Klutz has struck, and visions of spilled milk are pitifully cried over.

It may be necessary to keep a first aid kit and fire extinguisher handy when Kitchen Klutzes are around. Eat a sandwich before going over to dinner. Be ready to call 911 and have your favorite take out restaurant on speed-dial if things don't go well.

HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalKitchenKlutzesDay

There several ways to celebrate this humorous holiday.

Laugh at yourself. Share your mortifying stories of kitchen failure over a slice of microwave pizza.

Give your favorite Kitchen Klutz the gift of cooking classes. Or, better yet, offer to cook.

Watch your favorite cooking flops show.

Don’t forget to share your stories and celebrations using #NationalKitchenKlutzesDay on social media.

Or try a few of these never fail meals.

Walking Tacos

Heat a can of chili in the microwave (in anticipation of stove top misadventures).

Take smaller single-serving packs of Fritos and then slice them open on the side, then serve the chili right inside the packets of Fritos. Add in additional toppings of cheese, diced onions and minced jalapeƱos. You just hand everyone a fork and they each have their own individual servings of Frito Chili. It makes for an easy cleanup too!

Crab Fondue (For that Romantic Evening Meal)

Nobody really needs a reason to eat more cheese, but this crab fondue recipe is a good one. Crab meat (or imitation crab) and packaged cheese, this fridge and pantry meal is easy yet satisfying.

8 ounces cream cheese, cubed and softened

1 pound processed cheese, like Velveeta

1 cup dry white wine

12 ounces canned crab meat

1 dash of Old Bay seasoning, or to taste

In a fondue pot, slowly melt the cheeses in the dry white wine.

Fold in the crab meat.

Heat through.

Serve with crusty French bread, cut into squares.

Please share a recent, or memorable meal, you prepared. You know, it's the story which is forever embedded in the family oral history.

I'll go first!

Let me share my first kitchen mishap.  I was a new bride and prepared Gumbo for dinner  (my husband is from Louisiana).

Gumbo requires a thickening agent.  I like okra (my paternal grandmother was from Texas and she prepared fried okra).  I also added ground sassafras powder.  This adds a fruit sweet flavor and also smells like root beer.  It is part of Cajun and Creole cooking--also a thickening agent.

Well, my gumbo had to be pried from the pot because it had the consistency of a paste.  Very thick, very hard paste. The rice, cornbread and pecan pie were delicious.  Not a healthy meal, for certain, but it stuck to our ribs for several days.


For fool-proof kitchen recipes and Cajun Romance, remember to read my latest novel: Gumbo Ya Ya!


Remember all of my novels features recipes, too!

Click here for BWL author site and links:

For my website: Social Links, Purchase Links, and more:

Happy Reading,


For Western Fix'n's and Western Romance:

Kindle Unlimited: Brede and Tanayia --Whisper Upon the Water

FREE May 30 & 31

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Warrior Women Part 3 - 16th Century to modern times - by Vijaya Schartz


Find Vijaya's novels at BWL Publishing HERE and on her website HERE

Amina, Warrior Queen of Zaria (1588-1589)

Amina was queen in a part of Nigeria now known as Zaria, where women could inherit the throne on an even keel with men. Many city states dominated trans-Saharan trade after the collapse of the Songhai Empire to the west. At the age of sixteen, Amina became the heir apparent. Although her mother’s reign was known for peace and prosperity, Amina immersed herself in military skills from the women warriors of her tribe.

Three months after her ascent to the throne, Amina started her conquests to expand her domain and open safe trade routes. She remained a warrior queen for 34 years until her death.

India during the Raj (British occupation): Velu Nachiyar (1730–1796 AD)

Queen of Sivaganga from 1780 to 1790, Velu Nachiyar was the first female freedom fighter against the British. Also known as Veeramangai (brave woman), she was trained in martial arts, horse riding and archery. She was also fluent in French, English and Urdu. 

After her husband was killed by the British army, she took refuge with Haider Ali, the Sultan of Mysore, then she launched her attack. When her daughter was martyred in the fight against the British, the queen formed a women’s army and named it after her daughter. Her fearlessness and gallantry on the battlefield are still remembered today.

Nakano Takeko, last female Samurai of Japan

The last Samurai warrior woman, Nakano Takeko, was recorded in the 19th century. During the Battle of Aizu, she led a corps of female Samurai against the Emperor's forces. She fought with a naginata, the traditional weapon of choice for Japanese women warriors.

Takeko was leading a charge against the imperial troops when she took a bullet to the chest. Knowing she would die, the 21-year-old warrior ordered her sister Yuko to cut off her head and hide it from the enemy. Yuko did as asked, and Nakano Takeko's head was buried under a tree.

The struggle of 20th Century women to be accepted in the military.

I remember when I was a teenager, learning that the Israeli military accepted women in their ranks. Not wearing skirts and typing reports in an office, but in combat gear on the front lines. I was fascinated.

First Israeli women in the military

Since then, after much hesitancy concerning the battlefield, the US military is training women for combat. They are now fighter pilots, foot soldiers, Marines, and much more.

US Fighter pilots

US Navy Seals

But this is a phenomenon happening around the world. We see battalions of fighting Amazons in Russia, women soldiers in Africa, in India, in the middle east. The women have risen and are taking control of their own lives, to defend their freedom, their rights, their land, or their family.
Warrior Women of Kenya

Women in India's Military Police

Russia's battalion of Amazons

Kurdish women fighting ISIS

If you like strong heroines with a warrior slant, check out my books. In my novels, they are bounty hunters, law-enforcement officers, Avenging Angels, soldiers, starship captains, Amazons, and warrior queens. They are often in charge, and playing an important role in their society. Sometimes, they rescue the hero, and they are definitely his equal.

I especially recommend these to lift your warrior spirits. Book 1, Angel Mine is 99cts in kindle, Book 2, Angel Fierce, is an award-winner, and Book 3, Angel Brave, is coming in October.

There is a planet out in the universe, emitting a strange turquoise glow. A long time ago Azura refused to join the Trade Alliance. The Alliance sent their military fleet to destroy the Azurans, but their powerful supernatural abilities spread fear even among the fiercest Devil Dogs. Since then, records have been erased. Rumors and legends all but died. Azura is strictly forbidden, and the daring few who venture beyond the warning space beacons are never seen again...

Happy Reading

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

There are ways to travel back in time—Tricia McGill


To be released June 1st

Last year when the fear of an epidemic began to take hold of the world—and in general, my part of the world, Australia, I began to compare the coming disaster with the many others that have befallen our planet. Being an author, of course I began to work out ways of how to create a world where people were fighting to survive. Then the idea struck of what would a character do if she/he was whisked back in time from one crazy period in history to another. To make things easier, I already knew the world where she was going very well, so had no need to invent one. Little did I know when I began my latest book that Covid would turn our world upside down. That is the way with disasters; they strike suddenly and leave a trail of mayhem in their wake.

My family lived through WW11 and as the youngest, I heard stories as I grew about the war years, and how life was back then. Thus When Destiny Calls was born. Why not send my heroine back in time to 1940 Britain, when the Blitz was at its worst? My family lived in North London and that is where I spent my early years. 

Highbury Fields is a large park that features a lot in this latest book of mine. I have many memories of that area so had no trouble recreating it. I was married in the beautiful old church alongside the park, as were two of my sisters. My mother would send me up to the shops along Highbury Barn with a list. No supermarkets back then, you waited your turn to be served just like everyone else. All the shopkeepers knew my mother and her family well. 

One extremely foggy day when, as they say, you could not see a hand in front of your face, and the buses stopped running, I therefore had to walk home from school and the direct route was alongside the park. How I made it home that day I will never know, but I guess a lot of it was just a matter of animal instinct. Later, I joined a netball group and we played on the park courts in the summer evenings.

My one and only remaining sister will be 99 this year, so was therefore about 18 in 1940, just like Minnie in my story. Chloe, my main character cares for the old Minnie in an Australian nursing home. Minnie’s one remaining treasure is a photo album, which contains all her memories of her years as a young woman during and after the war, so it was inevitable that Chloe, who listened to Minnie’s many stories of how they all coped back then, would land back there. Chloe meets up with all the characters from Minnie’s album, and specifically a man named Bill who owns a dog called Tiger (hence the wonderful book cover). Was Chloe, by some strange quirk of Fate, called back in time to meet her destiny?

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Pleasing Petunias by A.M. Westerling


Petunias are some of the most popular bedding out plants and are considered an annual in most areas. I buy them every year as they’re easy to grow, bloom all summer and come in a variety of colours. Mind you, the first year I planted them I had no idea what to do with them so I didn’t pinch them. I ended up with 2 foot long stems with a single bloom at the end! One of my favourite varieties is Wave (pictured below) but pretty much any variety you buy will do nicely. On our front steps we have two barrels, it's a hot and sunny spot, just perfect for petunias. In the past I've leaned towards shades of purple but this year I've gone with red and white.


Petunias are South American in origin and the Mayans and Incans believed that the odor of these flowers had the power to chase away underworld spirits and monsters. According to folklore, these flowering plants thrive where there is positive energy and will not grow where there is negativity. If given as a gift, they have two meanings: either the giver is comfortable with someone or conversely, they also represent anger and resentment. I couldn’t find any medicinal purposes for petunias so I suppose their beauty could be considered food for the soul. My local Home Depot had these gems one year but I haven't seen this unusual colour since.   


You can plant petunias anywhere ie in borders, hanging baskets, pots or even as a seasonal groundcover. They like full sun and will become spindly and won’t bloom if the spot is too shady. They can spread anywhere from 18 inches to 4 feet, with a height from 6 to 18 inches. If putting them in a pot, make sure the pot drains well and use a good potting soil. If planting in the ground, add compost to poor soil to promote growth. I fertilize mine every 2 weeks with 20 20 20.  They are fairly heat tolerant and don’t need water every day but keep an eye out for frost! They do well in mixed planter pots. 


However, keep the soil moist and when you do water, water thoroughly as shallow watering encourages shallow roots. Also, dead head regularly to encourage new blooms. When they start to get too leggy, I pinch them about halfway down the stem and just above a leaf node. They’ll look a little sad at first but a good dose of water and fertilizer will encourage growth and they’ll rebound nicely. These popular plants have few insect or disease pests although aphids and slugs can be a problem. I live in a dry climate so that’s never been an issue for me. 

If you're looking for an easy to grow annual, try petunias, you can't go wrong!


Find Barkerville Beginnings, Book 4 of the Canadian Historical Brides Collection, and the rest of my books over at BWL Publishing HERE. Proud to have earned this badge!

Monday, May 24, 2021

A Writing Challenge by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

A Writing Challenge.

It was Wednesday evening, the night of my writing group meeting. As writers do when they gather, we were talking about writing. One of them gave us a writing challenge. We had to write five beginning sentences for five stories. We had ten minutes to do it.
After much thought, I came up with these five:
If you didn’t know your actual age, how old do you think you would be?
The day that my brother blew his hand off is the day that I lost my father to booze.
Whatever the past, the future is spotless.
I don't give a dang, for I have seen the elephant.
The only time I like water is when it is cold and the day is hot.
As each one read hers, we discussed them trying to figure out how the story would go. At the end of the meeting we decided that we should take one of our sentences and build it into a short story, or the beginning of a novel for our next meeting.
I took my second sentence and here is the beginning of the novel I wrote around it.

     The day that my younger brother, Ralph, blew his left hand off, was the day that I lost my father to booze. Not that he hadnt drank before. He'd have a beer on Saturdays with the neighbours or a drink at family gatherings but it was that day that he began drinking every day as soon as he got home from work.
     And the change was immediate. When he and mom came home from the hospital after leaving Ralph, Dad went to the cupboard and pulled out a half empty bottle of whiskey. He got a glass and poured it almost full. He drank it down. I was watching him as mom told me and my younger brother, Jimmy, that Ralph had lost his hand and would be in the hospital for a few days. Dad took time off work and he and Mom went to see Ralph every day. But every evening Dad drank himself into a stupor.
     When they brought Ralph home from the hospital the only change in Dad's routine was that in the morning instead of going to the hospital he went to work. He got up sober, left the house at his usual time and was sober up until the moment he entered our door after work. It was once that door was closed on the outside world that he'd sit in his chair in the living room and pour his first glass of whiskey or vodka or rum whichever he had on hand at the time. Mom would serve him his supper there while the rest of us ate at the table in the dining room. His evenings varied little. Sometimes he'd stare at the television set, sometimes he'd stare into the corner of the living room. And he continued drinking all evening until he passed out, usually in his chair, sometimes on the couch, occasionally he made it to bed.
     He became, and remained for the rest of his life, a functioning alcoholic

     So far the story is not finished but I still have hope that one day it will be.

Blog Archive