Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Aiden in Africa by Eden Monroe

 

Visit Eden Monroe's BWL Author page for book details and purchase information


Pinch me I’m in Africa, or I was. So was Aiden Briggs of Just Before Sunset and that’s where the story begins, on the site of a large work camp in Kenya.

 

Swahili is the official language of Kenya, among other African countries, and Aiden would have to know a bit of it or use an interpreter, or both, like me, but a few of the basics include hujambo or just jambo: hello;  lala salama: goodnight or sleep well; sawa sawa: okay, alright; Habari: what’s new (information)? The Swahili phrase that has become iconic is hakuna matata which means: No problem! No worries! I heard that a lot when I was there; Aiden would have too I’m sure.

 

An engineer, it was Aiden’s second trip to the African continent in a professional capacity, and before travelling to East Africa he would have required several vaccinations and also carry antibiotics with him there as a precautionary measure.

 

Not far away from where Aiden and his men were working on a huge development project, lie the expansive grasslands of the Maasai Mara (sometimes spelled Masai Mara), one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. Encompassing 1,510 square kilometres of national reserve, punctuated at intervals by escarpments, rivers and several varieties of acacia trees, The Mara, as it’s more commonly called, is home to thundering herds of wildebeest and zebras, towering giraffes, the majesty of lions, leopards and cheetahs, hyenas, elephants, cavorting bands of monkeys and baboons, strutting ostrich and the occasional stylishly-plumed secretary birds. It is a land where sunsets are spectacular but brief, being so close to the equator, and an enormous hushed cathedral at sunrise.

 


In addition to side trips to Nairobi from where he called home to Suzanne every month, you can bet Aiden would have spent any other free time venturing into this magnificent wilderness that was so close at hand.  A massive expanse of golden grass, often tall enough to block the view from the safari van window, he likely would have embarked onto the savannah during these brief sojourns from any one of several beautiful lodges located high on the slopes of the Oloolaimutia Hills. I guarantee you, he wouldn’t have missed it.

 

He also no doubt visited with the Maasai tribe, because most foreign nationals do when they’re in the area. Known as the lion jumpers – the Maasai are one of the world’s last great warrior cultures. Their manner of dress is a symphony of bright colours in both garment and beadwork – crimson, lime green, deep sapphire, tangerine and sunbeam yellow. The women wear the rainbow, well, and the men are dazzling in their red shukas, believing that colour scares away lions. They are a fascinating indigenous people, and while I was there I received an invitation from the chief, to stay. I asked him for how long? He said forever, I want you to be my wife. He told me that Maasai chiefs can take several wives, and apparently there was a vacancy. I politely declined. Western women are popular there, and consequently marriage proposals were easy to come by.

 

Like me, when Aiden visited the Maasai village he would have seen tribal warriors such as those pictured above – one a young man, the other middle-aged; an elder following the Olng’eshere ceremony, one of three male rites of passage. Both carried the traditional cattle herding sticks of the Maasai herdsman. Tall, pencil-thin and able to jump as high as thirty-one inches off the ground in their adumu (jumping) dance, they struck an accommodating pose against the backdrop of the far-flung Maasai Mara – perhaps thinking of a different world that routinely sends curious tourists to their village. Celebrating their pastoral way of life, the Maasai are content and at perfect peace with the land. Visitors on the other hand, while deeply appreciating the incomparable spectacles of East Africa, are only passing through.

 

Aiden’s eight months in Kenya are coming to a close as the Just Before Sunset story begins, although as it turns out, his is an inglorious, explosive farewell to the magnificent dark continent. Once recovered sufficiently from the ordeal, he begins his long journey home to his own slice of heaven on the Kennebecasis River in beautiful New Brunswick, but he is completely unprepared for the bombshell that awaits him there. Just as his final hours in Kenya are life altering, so is his return home to the Kingston Peninsula.

 

Writing Just Before Sunset was an emotional yet gratifying experience, an opportunity to visit Africa again, this time through Aiden’s eyes, if only briefly, and I’m looking forward to sharing this heartfelt book with my readers.

 

Amani na upendo niwe nawe (peace and love be with you)

 


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Kamloops & Fly Away Snow Goose

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Two hundred and fifteen small bodies were "discovered" in May at Kamloops. I use brackets because everyone in the 1st Nations already knew what would be found in that field near the site of the old residential school.  

When children fell sick at these residential schools, they often died. There were many reasons for this mortality, which can be summed up in two way: inadequate diet and poor living conditions.  (Another surely must be the cruelly severed connection between them and the family that loved them.) Some died in accidents like fires, as it was customary practice to lock the children inside their dormitories at night. 

Some children were even subjected to experiments. 

In one cruel instance, supplements necessary to maintain good health--vitamin C and calcium--on the limited residential school diet were given to some, but not all  children. One group received bread made with whole flour, others were given only white.   These children, left in the care of Church and State, were being used as human subjects, guinea pigs to provide data for nutritional scientists.The children didn't understand what was happening to them and certainly their parents were never told. 

In these schools there was, besides a lack of food, a daily ration of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The survivor stories I've read are not for the faint of heart. 

The part that remains most incredible to me is that the parents of these little children were not told what had happened to those they'd never see again. Instead they were lied to by people who made a great show of their religion. Parents were often told only the their children "had run away." It seems unimaginable, that the Church was eagerly assisting the government in their campaign to destroy the history and traditions of an entire People.

There are more, always more of these stories, as haunted survivors come forward. It all sounds like something out of the Middle Ages, not an an evil perpetrated here in North America in the 20th Century. From what I've learned, the residential schools in the US weren't better.

Now, First Nation's People are walking, across Canada, one group marching the 1200 miles from White Horse in the Yukon to Kamloops in B.C., in order to honor the memory of those children who did not survive. One image said it all--a young woman, a daughter of a survivor and her child, holding a heart-shaped sign in memory of her mother's little sister, Denise Boucher, aged seven, who died at the school to which the girls had been taken. 


Shoes and toys at a memorial for the lost children.



In this excerpt from Fly Away Snow Goose. Sascho, the young hero, has hunted all day without much to show for it. He encounters an Esker, a long snaking glacial deposit of gravel. By a grave site for a family who perished here, he remembers once making ceremony in this place with his teacher, his Uncle John. He thinks about the kwet’ı̨ı̨̀, the white people who are so busy changing the land and killing the animals, always taking and taking, and never giving thanks for the bounty of the land.

Sascho had seen the northern mines when he’d gone with his Uncles two winters ago on a journey to Sahtı̀, The Great Bear Lake, which lay at the border of Tłı̨chǫ land. His elders had shown him disturbed and ruined earth from which the spirits had fled. They’d explained how the water too, and the fish in these places, had been poisoned by kwet’ı̨ı̨̀ diggings. The creatures that had once made Sahtı̀ a rich hunting ground had grown few and wary. Even the caribou had changed their ancient paths in order to avoid these places.

Would his people succumb to kwet’ı̨ı̨̀ ways? Some already had. These men disrespected and ignored their elders, abused their wives and neglected their children, drank and stole, and brought shame—and the Ekw'ahtı (RCMP) —into their camps. Others, like his family, had tried to stay as far away from the kwet’ı̨ı̨̀ as possible. They, like the caribou, sought new paths. They learned to avoid the fouled ponds where the poor beaver lost his hair and the fish were filled with horrible ulcers...

~But where could we go, if we are forced to leave?

His Uncles sometimes spoke of this. Now, Sascho tried to push this unhappy future away. To leave the Tłı̨chǫ Dèè was unimaginable.

~We are part of this place, woven into the land like quills ornamenting a pair of moccasins. We are like the moose, the lynx, the beaver, the muskrat, the wolf and the raven, and all our brothers and sisters who live here.

Linked to the earth through the soles of his feet, Sascho’s spirit rose up and poured out in prayer to the blue immensity of heaven...




When John Wisdomkeeper and I wrote Fly Away Snow Goose, it was to honor John's personal journey. He was spared the horrors of the orphanage or the residential school, but only because he was part of the "sixties scoop" a decade when First Nation's children were removed from their homes and given to European adoptive parents.  He has searched in vain for his birth mother, who may have been forced to relinquish him. He has spent a lifetime finding his way home to the traditions of his People.



~~Juliet Waldron

All my historical novels may be found @

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https://www.julietwaldron.com


Two recent sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/26/world/canada/indigenous-residential-schools-grave.html

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/whitehorse-kamloops-residential-school-walk-1.6081975

Monday, June 28, 2021

It's Heat Wave Time--But I'm Revisiting Fall by Connie Vines

 I apologize for the late post to BWL Author Insider Blog.  Here in southern California, as well as all of the Pacific Northwest, we are experiencing power outages, record-breaking temperatures, and wildfires.  We also have flex-alerts, a preventative measure to ward off rolling blackouts. 


Today, I decided to write about my idea of a perfect Autumn date...as in a romantic endeavor. 

My (or perhaps, the heroine of my WIP) favorite Autumn date: an early morning 45-minute drive to Oak Glenn, California in the San Bernardino Mountains for apple picking.  A thermos of hot coffee is a must bring along.  I love stopping along the way to experience a beautiful sunrise.  There's a sharp chill in the air and it's, a bit windy--the leaves of the trees sing, and pebbles and bit's of sand dance along the edge of the highway.

Breakfast fortifying breakfast at Apple Annie's then off to the orchard.  A stroll among the trees while making small talk with your special someone. Then, suddenly, you discover the perfect tree!  Standing on tip-toes to reach the best apples in the orchard, with your date leaning on the high branch a bit, so the lush apple dip within your reach. 

All-too-soon, you find your basket is overflowing.  Laughing you both reach for the apple at the top of the basket. After all, you must try just one.

Ladies, first, he says, offering you the first bite.

Tart and crisp a bit of the juice rolls your chin.

He smiles while gently brushing away the moisture.  You office him the apple, and he gently removes it from your fingertips to take a manly bite or two!

Afterward, it's a short drive to the pumpkin patch in Yucaipa for a couple stand-in-photo as Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstin Monster before playtime with the goats at the petting livestock area.

If my date joins in the fun--he may just be a keeper!

The links lead to the perfect Oak Glen experience :-)

Oak Glen

Fun YouTube Video of the Petting Zoo




My Pumpkin!







All of my ebooks are on SALE via Smashwords this month!
Vist BWL link!
https://bookswelove.net/vines-connie/





→→.      Current Release :-)


Happy Reading,

Connie Vines

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Why are we obsessed with book covers? by Vijaya Schartz

This is the cover reveal for my October release
Angel Brave, Azura Book 3 - Visit my page at BWL

As an author, I see images in my head when I write. Like a 3D movie, with sounds and lights and special effects, and color, and smells, and heat, and cold… and all these elements end up in my story. So, I have a pretty good idea of what my characters look like, sound like… and I want my readers to see the same movie in their heads as they read the book. So I do make suggestions to the artist cover designer, here Michelle Lee, and this latest cover does reflect my vision perfectly.

Chuck Lorre, creator of The BIg Bang, Young Sheldon
Two and a half men, The US of Al, and many award-winning sitcoms.

I remember something Chuck Lorre wrote in a vanity card at the end of a show. I paraphrase: “I learned over the years, not to obsess over whether or not the actor looks like the character in my head, but rather to find a talented actor who will make the character his or hers.”

And here resides the secret of success. Learning to let go of the characters we created to let the reader re-imagine them. I’m certain authors whose stories make it to the screen struggle with the same problem. How the movie director, the screenwriter, and the producers see the characters often differs from what the original novelist had in mind.

The Archangel Twin books
Evil has many faces, not all of them human...

Sometimes, the book cover reflects my vision of the characters, and sometimes not. And who is to say which is best? My idea of Michael was very different, but I do love the new covers for the Archangel twin books.

Byzantium (Space Station) series, action, romance, and telepathic cats

Then, there is the cover without people on it, a trend which comes and goes with the seasons. It portrays adjacent scenery or an animal relevant to the story. Like in the Byzantium Space Station series, with telepathic cats as secondary characters.

Chronicles of Kassouk - Sci-fi Romance with big cats

In a series, there is also the concern for continuity. A long time ago, with another publisher, I received a cover that was unacceptable. It was book 3 in a series, and while the first two book covers featured photographs of male cover models (it was sci-fi romance) the cover of Book 3 was a comic book drawing with juvenile UFOs and little green men. It took me a while to figure out a nice way to tell the person in charge that this cover, while lovely, didn’t fit the mood of the story, and most importantly didn’t match that of the two previous books. Ooopsie!

Ancient Enemy series - Sci-fi Romance

All the book covers in a series should reflect the same palette, ambiance, font, design, etc. so the potential reader can recognize a book as belonging in a familiar series. Like The Curse of the Lost Isle, or the Chronicles of Kassouk.

Curse of the Lost Isle, Celtic Legends, Paranormal Romance

This said, I hope you’ll check out all these titles on my pages below.

Happy Reading!

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats







Saturday, June 26, 2021

Time for a story--Tricia McGill

Find all my books here on my BWL author page
When young I travelled west from London many times heading to Devon and Cornwall, first with my family and later with my husband. I always loved the moors, be it Bodmin or Dartmoor. The rugged scenery stirred something in me, even as its remoteness could often be daunting to a city dweller. This short story was obviously inspired by one of my trips down that way.

It stood on Dartmoor, well away from the road to the village. Its surrounds were covered with brambles, its roof sagging. The weathered beams beneath protruded in places and stood out starkly against the grey sky. She walked towards it, stepping over nettles and rocks. The stories about ghostly noises heard by the locals in the deep of night didn't put her off. They said that signs of ghostly inhabitants had been recorded at this time of the year when the days were short and the mists dropped to shroud the moors practically every day. 

She'd spent the past evening in the cosy bar of The Boar, pumping all the locals about the ghost. Every story was different, but she chose to believe the one about the ancient warrior who haunted the cottage. He was to have been married and a week before the wedding day was sent off by his King to fight in a distant county, where he had been killed. His beloved had waited in the dwelling that was to have been their home; waited in vain for her knight's return. When he never returned her ruthless father had forced her into a loveless marriage with a landowner. 

When the story reached the part where the maiden ended her life by throwing herself from her hated husband's castle wall her skin crawled and her heart began to beat in double time. Had her overworked imagination let her taste the girl's despair, felt her hopelessness, and endured her pain as she stood on the battlements; her wretchedness warring with her faith?

She pushed open the door that hung on one rusted hinge. It protested as she lifted the rotten wood back out of the way. There was a fireplace opposite the door, recessed in the thick wall. A few cinders piled in its grate showed it had been used recently by a tramp, or perhaps a lost hiker had built a small fire here when one of the mists the moors were renowned for had come down, stranding him. 

Once, a staircase must have led to the upper floor where a small room might have been nestled beneath the roof beams, but that had long since collapsed. There was just a ragged hole in the ceiling now, letting in the drizzle. The walls had been built to last, for most of them were still intact, just crumbling here and there by the small window openings. She ran a hand over one of the solid blocks of stone she knew had been carved from one of the local hills.

A sense of homecoming enveloped her, which was strange to say the least, for hadn't she spent all her twenty years living with her parents in a comfortable semi-detached house on the outskirts of London. Once, when she was about ten, her mum and dad had brought her on a holiday to this part of the West Country, and as her dad drove near to this old dwelling she'd called to him to stop, begging them to let her look it over. Bemused, her parents had stood aside while she explored its derelict interior.

That same compulsion that urged her to come inside then had called her back. In the years since, she had known that one day she would return; had been biding her time. Waiting, in fact, until her parents had no real need of her any more. Perhaps people would say there was something weird about a house calling you, but to her it was not extraordinary at all. Although it was something she never discussed with anyone. Her parents had long forgotten her fascination with this place. 

The sky was getting darker by the minute; even though her watch told her it was barely two. Curving her arms about her middle, she shuddered. Not with fear, but because she felt chilly in her thin sweater and lightweight slacks. She should head back to the hotel, but knew she couldn't leave yet. Going to stand by the fireplace, she rested a hand on the wall above it and stared down into the grate, knowing instantly that she'd stood here before, in the same position, but also sensing that then her heart had been heavy with sorrow. Her eyes misted as a great sadness crept over her; an echo of the anguish she'd known then. But even as she began to weep, she knew her tears were not for herself but for some distant soul whose feelings had somehow become intermingled with hers.

“Anna,” a soft voice whispered, and she gave a startled little moan as the faint sound seemed to reverberate about the room. 

Her first instinct was to deny the caller, for her name was Jean, but then she found herself returning the call with a whispered response of, “Hugo?”

Hearing a slight movement behind her, she turned her head to stare over a shoulder. A man stood in the doorway, framed by the fading light. She felt no surprise to see him there, in fact now knew she had been waiting for him. Waiting all her life. He wore a simple shirt of some woven fabric above a pair of breeches, with leggings fastened by cross garters.

“I didn't hear you arrive,” she said softly as he walked towards her, hands outstretched.

“I came as soon as I knew you were here, Anna.” His smile was agonisingly familiar. “It's been so long. Now we are home for good, my love.”

She fell into his welcoming arms, and he held her in a tight embrace. “Hugo, my love, we'll never be parted again,” she whispered, knowing they would be together now through eternity.

As they kissed, warmth invaded her limbs, and she felt the rays of the sun on her head. In the second before her eyes closed, she momentarily saw the room as it had been long ago, with the table of roughhewn wood set with a linen cloth finely embroidered about its edges. Simple crockery laid for a meal; the dresser by the wall with familiar plates lined up on its shelves and a copper pot holding wild roses. 

“Home at last,” he said in a low voice at her ear.

She knew it was the truth. This was where she belonged. Where her heart had always belonged. Her love was truly home; and so was she. 

Tricia's Web Page


Friday, June 25, 2021

Cornish Pasty - A Meal for the Miners by A.M. Westerling

 Today I’m sharing a classic British recipe that originated in Cornwall, the setting for my Regency romance series entitled The Ladies of Harrington House. I'm currently working on the third book Catherine's Passion and the hero in it, Lord Julian Fitzgerald, is reopening a tin mine. It’s thought the pasty originated as a convenient meal for Cornish miners who were unable to return to the surface at lunch time. Their hands would be dirty but the pasty could be held easily by the crust and provided a hearty meal.

Picture from the Spruce Eats website

***

 Recipe found here:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/classic_cornish_pasty_67037

 


Ingredients

For the pastry

·         5  500g/1lb 1oz strong bread flour

·          120g/4oz vegetable shortening or suet

·         11 tsp salt

·         25g/1oz margarine or butter

·         175ml/6fl oz cold water

·         1 free-range egg, beaten with a little salt (for glazing)

For the filling

·         350g/12oz good-quality beef skirt, rump steak or braising steak

·         350g/12oz waxy potatoes

·         200g/7oz swede/turnip

·         175g/6oz onions

·         ssalt and freshly ground black pepper

·         knob of butter or margarine

 

Method


1.    TTip the flour into the bowl and add the shortening, a pinch of salt, the margarine or butter and all of the water.

2.    Use a spoon to gently combine the ingredients. Then use your hands to crush everything together, bringing the ingredients together as a fairly dry dough.

3.    Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface (there’s no need to put flour or oil onto the surface because it’s a tight rather than sticky dough).

4.    Knead the dough to combine the ingredients properly. Use the heel of your hand to stretch the dough. Roll it back up into a ball, then turn it, stretch and roll it up again. Repeat this process for about 5-6 minutes. The dough will start to become smooth as the shortening breaks down. If the dough feels grainy, keep working it until it’s smooth and glossy. Don’t be afraid to be rough – you’ll need to use lots of pressure and work the dough vigorously to get the best results.

5.    When the dough is smooth, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge to rest for 30–60 minutes.

6.    While the dough is resting, peel and cut the potato, swede and onion into cubes about 1cm/½in square. Cut the beef into similar sized chunks. Put all four ingredients into a bowl and mix. Season well with salt and some freshly ground black pepper, then put the filling to one side until the dough is ready.

7.    Lightly grease a baking tray with margarine (or butter) and line with baking or silicone paper (not greaseproof).

8.    Preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan assisted)/325F/Gas 3.

9.    Once the dough has had time to relax, take it out of the fridge. The margarine or butter will have chilled, giving you a tight dough. Divide the dough into four equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a disc roughly 25cm/10in wide (roughly the same size as a dinner plate).

10. Spoon a quarter of the filling onto each disc. Spread the filling on one half of the disc, leaving the other half clear. Put a knob of butter or margarine on top of the filling.

11. Carefully fold the pastry over, join the edges and push with your fingers to seal. Crimp the edge to make sure the filling is held inside – either by using a fork, or by making small twists along the sealed edge. Traditionally Cornish pasties have around 20 crimps. When you’ve crimped along the edge, fold the end corners underneath.

12.  Put the pasties onto the baking tray and brush the top of each pasty with the egg and salt mixture. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 45 minutes or until the pasties are golden-brown. If your pasties aren't browning, increase the oven temperature by 10C/25F for the last 10 minutes of cooking time.

***

Now that you’ve made your pasties, munch on one while you’re reading the first two books in the series, Sophie's Choice and Leah's Surrender, available on the BWL Publishing website HERE.



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