Monday, September 20, 2021

Where Do You Find Success by J.Q. Rose #BWLPublishing

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

Follow this couple’s inspiring story, filled with the joy and triumphs and the obstacles and failures experienced as they travel the turbulent path of turning dreams into reality.

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

Where Do You Find Success?

Fall colors

Wednesday, September 22 is the official first day of fall, but we are having fallish-feeling days in West Michigan now. I love it. Fall is a time of change. The days are cooler, The kids go back to school. Mother Nature paints the landscape in gorgeous colors.  The apples turn a brilliant red and are ready for harvest. 

The transition from summer to winter sparks a change within me, one of reflection and review of my life. 


The Insecure Writers Support Group Blog Hop question for the month of September stirred much contemplation about success. The question was—“How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?”

I have to admit I felt the exhilaration of pride and success when I held my paperback book in my hand. I mean, opening the box of books from amazon was akin to the excitement of opening Christmas gifts when I was a kid. I feel that way with every one of my published books.

So many folks think of success as related to their job. I find we all look for success in our work, but also in our purpose for our lives. Does success have to be a ground-breaking event to be considered a success at all? Does it have to be as big as being part of the team that landed on the moon? Developing a vaccination to keep us safe from COVID infection? Discovering the components to build the World-Wide-Web?

Success to me comes in small and large packages that evolve throughout my lifetime. Some days my success was measured by how many times my daughter’s diaper was dry because she used the potty, when my third grade student figured out the math problem on his own, the bride loved her wedding flowers, my husband and family told me how much they enjoyed the dish I had prepared for dinner, the publisher of my first book offered me a contract because “she loved my voice,” the first time I ventured out to the grocery store during the shutdown and I returned and remained healthy!

As I look back on success, I discovered none of them had to do with money. Success is measured in your heart, not in your wallet.

During this difficult time in our world, when you are feeling down, reflect on the moments you felt success in your life. Let that feeling flow through your body for a moment. Then use that resurgence of strength and move on with a bounce in your step to achieving your next success, big or small.

“Success is the ability to do what you love every day. This may sound simple but what you love changes over time and having the ability to change what you are doing to match your passion is true success. This has nothing to do with money, wealth or status as each person has different passions and loves.” – David Hauser co-founder of Grasshopper, a virtual phone service for small businesses.


Wishing you a wonderful fall season!


Click here to connect online with J.Q. Rose

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Where Were You When? by Helen Henderson


Windmaster Golem
Click the cover for purchase information

After a week of memorials, the title for this month's post came easily. The subject is one of those where almost everyone has a story about the day, a personal connection to it, or was affected by the events of September 11th, 2001.  

Memorial in Light
Image by David Z from Pixabay

Using a degree of separation approach, here is my story.

  1. Freedom Tower
    (One World Trade Center)
    Author's image

    Worked in an office in one of the towers (fortunately, it was years earlier)
  2. Personally knew someone on Flight 93 that crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
  3. Lived in the county that lost more people that day than any other place other than New York City.
  4. A smoke plume drew me and others to the town waterfront where word spread of a plane hitting one of the towers. After the second plane strike, the crowd dispersed to their homes or work to make room for the emergency personnel to use our boardwalk and dock as a staging area. Watched the buildings go down on television until it went black. (The transmission towers went down and television was out for days until temporary services could be set up.) I was home and watching the smoke from my house when the fighter jets came screaming in hot and low across the town heading towards Manhattan.
  5. And even more personal connections. September 11th is a family member's birthday and another died exactly a month before.
  6. When air, bus, and rail travel shut down, trying to reunite stranded family members posed a challenge. One parent was locked down at their place of employment, while the children were locked down at school and would only be released to a parent. The problem? The other parent was stranded more than 1200 miles away. Finally the school allowed the children to be taken home by a neighbor. But there was still the problem of getting the parent on the East Coast home. It took several days to coordinate but a mid-point, highway shift did the job.

Flight 93, Memorial, Shanksville
Image by Andreas H. from Pixabay

Enough about the personal, time to switch to the professional.

  1. I had just written a local history, and the events of September 11th meant another chapter had to be added. At least it wasn't like another author I heard of who had just finished a manuscript about a plane and terrorist attack. Before gathering supplies to take to the rescuers, the novel went into the trash.
  2. Several years later when writing a history for a local organization, I had to again incorporate material I had gathered in the days and weeks following the destruction of the Twin Towers. The church has lost one of its leaders that day.
9-11 Memorial, Keyport NJ
Author's Image

Both of those books are non-fiction, how to incorporate the day into fiction. A few thoughts come to mind.

  • A main character could have an ancestor lost that day or who survived the buildings' collapse. And don't forget about the Pentagon or Flight 93.
  • If a contemporary novel, a television broadcast or visiting a memorial could trigger a flashback. Like the U.S.S. New York where steel from the towers was used in the creation of the vessel, the metal in the Keyport, New Jersey memorial also included a small section of a beam.
  • Or for a murder mystery, have the debris of the towers obscure a murder.
  • Using the images as inspiration and  focusing on the emotions.
  • My favorite plot would involve time travel and saving someone, with some romance of course.

Since my current work-in-progress is a fantasy romance, the actual events of 9/11 weren't appropriate. However, I went through my collection of images and several worked as inspiration for the aftermath of a tornado.  Someday, more of the ideas might be used. but not today.  Until then I prefer to fly with dragons, hang out with mages and wizards, and tell their tales. 

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. Follow me online at Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter.

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 of the pack. 

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Some Pre-Release reviews for Chance's Way and A shout out to When Words Collide by Nancy M Bell


To learn more about The Alberta Adventures series and The Cornwall Adventures that proceeded it please click on the cover above.  

First, When Words Collide, that wonderful and very affordable writers festival has wrapped up for another year. This is the second year we've gathered online and all things considered it seems we are getting better at managing Zoom calls. The wonderful thing about WWC is that all the presenters and hosts and organizers volunteer their time and expertise which makes this amazing event accessible to everyone. Hopefully next year we can all meet in person again in Calgary. I sat on several panels and did a presentation on Character Development which was well attended. Thanks to everyone who tuned it and participated.

Now, for a bit of shameless self promotion. As you may or may not know reviews are so important to an author. Chance's Way releases on September 1, 2021 and I have been lucky enough to get a couple of pre-release reviews. So, just to whet your whistle, so to speak....

From KC Finn of Readers Favorite

Author Nancy M. Bell has crafted a great YA drama that will introduce readers to country life in Canada, with sweet romance and highly relatable protagonists. Chance’s journey was intelligently penned and well-balanced to give a heartfelt but not overdone approach to his big life turnaround. The issues surrounding his ne’er-do-well father were so interesting to explore, and you could really feel Chance’s family conflict coming through. I also enjoyed the presentation of Laurel immensely, and her dialogue and charm made me want to read the rest of the books in the Alberta Adventures series to see her personal journey too. Overall, I would recommend Chance’s Way to fans of the existing series and new readers seeking emotional tales of young people just setting out to carve a future for themselves despite their setbacks and adversities.   

Till next month, stay well, stay happy   

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Treasure or Trash - Partial manuscript found #BWLAuthor #MFRWAuthor #Partial Manuscript


Treasure or Trash


When finishing up a manuscript before sending it off, I look through my files at the manuscripts begun and not continued to write. This time I came across one and sat to read the words. I decided this was really good and wondered why all I had was three chapters and a synopsis. This is a book akin to Code Blue, thus the reason for that cover. A medical suspense again hopefully with  twist as different as Code Blue.


Not being able to decide whi I’d gone no further, I took the thought to bed with me. With a blinding flash, the reason came to me. Committee of Angels came about in a number of ways that fit together like a tapestry being woven.


The first thought was because of an article I read that opened with these lines. 5 to 10 percent of the physicians in this country are unfit to practice medicine. For days those words percolated. At the time I was working at a local hospital as a nurse. Several times I ran into situations where I realized the doctor was incompetent. So did my colleagues. We spent several lunch times in the break room talking about the latest incident. This was added to what was simmering in my head.


That year I went to a writer’s conference and managed to snag an appointment with an editor. We talked about the book I was currently working on but then out of the blue, I thought of Committee. I spoke about the idea behind the book. “Send me three chapters and a synopsis.”


I sat down and finished the mterial for the proposal and sent it off and waited. One day the material came back with a rejection letter I still have in a box with enough rejection letters to paper a room. Here goes.


Your writing is great and the idea is very interesting. I have one problem with the story. One of the nurse characters is frankly a slut. Nurses would never behave the way she has in the story.


I laughed. Having just interrupted a fellow nurse and one of the new doctors making out in the stairwell that afternoon made me wonder about the editor. So I had in the meantime gone on to a different story and I put the partial in my file cabinet and forgot it until I decided I was looking for a new story. I’ve decided to pursue this book and see what I can make of it.


Another little comment about the book. I was talking about the idea at the nurses’ station when I doctor overheard what I was saying. “You can’t write that book,” he declared and stomped off. Since thirty years has passed, I decided to try again.


My Places



Buy Mark



A Sea Shanty, by J.C. Kavanagh


The Twisted Climb – Darkness Descends 

Book 2 of the award-winning Twisted Climb series

I've just returned from a month in Georgian Bay, Canada, sailing its beautiful shores and anchoring in the most beautiful and pristine bays. So it's only natural that my creative writing turned to composing a sea shanty, which, by definition, is a work-song sung by laborers on a sailing vessel. This shanty, however, is not a reflection of my time on the water. Oh no. The only thing that is true in this sea shanty is the name of our boat, Escape Route.

A Sea Shanty
by J.C. Kavanagh
There once was a boat named Escape Route
She was manned by a captain who often would toot
His horn, of course, was the tooter in tow
On the rough and foggy seas, he would blow and blow.
One day a dear woman he happened upon
She was stately and curvy and ne’er did frown
Her skin was like bronze and her hair fell a’plenty
O’er her shoulders and chest, right down to her belly.
It was love at first sight and he just had to have her
He practiced and practiced his seagoing swagger.
On a starry night with the moon hanging bright
He stood before her and expressed his delight.
“You are what I need, what I want and desire
Your very face lights my heart like a fire.
Will you be mine, for now and forever
For I will be yours till the seas dry – and that’s never.”
He waited and waited for her response
When a deep voice growled from the shadows ensconced
Behind his true love, a figure emerged
A sword in one hand and a dagger in the other.
“She is mine, all mine, you seagoing cock
Go blather and dither at some other dock
My ship and my lady
Forever will be
Carved in my bow and my heart o’er the sea.
This wooden delight that makes you swoon and croon
Is my sea angel guarding me all day and all night.
So off with you now, besotted scum that you be
And leave me and my lady
To live o’er the sea.”
The love-struck sailor turned away from his love
As her wooden eyes seemed to glow from above
He paused and twisted for one more look
His heart swelled with sadness – his true love captive by a pirate, a crook.
And then the pirate threw his dagger and the smitten sailor dropped to one knee
As he descended into darkness, his final thoughts came to be
“Ne’er more shall I kneel
By the bow while I bleed.”
The pirate turned away, murder accomplished
When the heavens opened suddenly with rain and thunder
The deluge became a flood and the ship took on water.
“Oh ye gods above!” the pirate shouted and clamored
“What did I do to deserve such a fate?”
And then with dagger pointed at his wooden angel so dear
The lightning exploded into the pirate and they became one white smear
They danced and they jerked until the pirate was no more
And the carved beauty shed a tear as she sank to the sea floor.
They say the smitten sailor
Can be heard in a storm
Blowing his horn
For his love lost, so forlorn.

Above are three types of figureheads, each restored from an old ship.

Stay safe everyone!

J.C. Kavanagh, author of 
The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends (Book 2)
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2018, Critters Readers Poll and Best YA Book FINALIST at The Word Guild, Canada
The Twisted Climb,
voted BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers Poll
Novels for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)
Instagram @authorjckavanagh

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Autumn Delights



Every season has its charms. My favorite is Autumn, when leaves turn color, air feels crisper and a fresh energy animates the muscles.

Of three months duration, autumn begins with mid-September’s Fall equinox and ends on mid-December’s winter’s solstice, marking the transition from summer to winter. In popular North American culture, however, autumn starts on September 1, Labor Day, and is associated with the end of vacations and the return to school.

I have always enjoyed long drives in the country during this season. Forests turn brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange, while wheat fields glow a healthy gold. While Alberta certainly boasts brilliant fall foliage, especially in the mountains, the forests of maple on the Canadian and American east coast are certainly more popular and a tourist attraction in their own right.

I vividly remember childhood visits to apple farms during this season. My parents would take my sisters and me to a farms that offered us the chance to pick and purchase ripe apples from their trees (not to mention the ones I ate for free!)

For many, autumn is the season for football and hockey. Children join hockey and football leagues at this time, either at school or at local community centers. Baseball’s World Series is played in autumn, while professional hockey and football seasons commence at this time. With the beginning of university and high-school, varsity sports get in on the action.

Dia de Los Muertos

Autumn is renowned as the season for festivals. Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the land and Halloween is associated with carved pumpkins and gift-giving. England has its Harvest Festival, the Moon Festival is celebrated in East Asia, Oktoberfest in Germany and Mexico has its Dia de Los Muertos. I enjoy celebrating Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, with fellow community members at the local community center or at the temple in Calgary.

Mohan Ashtakala ( is the author of The Yoga Zapper, a fantasy and Karma Nation, a literary romance. He is published at Books We Love (

Finding a Sheila Claydon

I'm often asked about writing a book. Do I plan it chapter by chapter? How do I develop my characters? Do I ever use real people? Do I ever suffer from writers block? Do I suffer from deadline stress? Yet strangely, the one thing I am rarely asked is what triggers a story? Yet to me that is the most interesting part of writing.

I can pinpoint the taking off point for every story I write, and it can sometimes be something that happened months or even years before that has been quietly sitting and waiting for its chance to shine. At other times it is almost instant. Take Reluctant Date for example. It is set mainly in an (anonymised) place where I had such a wonderful holiday that much of its geography and ambience is lifted directly from that experience. It didn't take me long to decide to find a heroine either. She more or less leapt at me from a magazine article about dating websites. I find that once I am focused on a story everything else seems to fall into place. I'm not sure if it's because I am looking or whether the characters are just out there waiting until I decide to tell their story!!

In Kissing Maggie Silver it was the photo of an interesting looking girl in an advertisement that started it. That, and yet another holiday where a countryside ranger took us on a trek. I just put them together.  Whereas  Mending Jodie's Heart was triggered by a house, a horse, and a bridle path!

As they say, every picture tells a story. And I can remember why I wrote every single one of my books just by looking at the cover. A sepia photo for Remembering Rose, a cruise from NewZealand to Australia for Cabin Fever, a magazine article for Finding Bella Blue, and so on and so on. 

Now, however, it is time to write a new book but one that is part of a trilogy, a follow-on from Remembering Rose and Loving Ellen. This makes it a little more difficult as part of the story is already there so whatever my trigger is, it has to fit with the previous two books. And that's where old ideas come in. The ones I've had on the back burner waiting until I'm ready. And this time the trigger is another photo, but not of a person. It is of an old and derelict watermill. 

The mill is at least 600 years old. I came upon it unexpectedly a few years ago when I was walking my dog in woodland, and I was so intrigued by the fact that none of the local people seemed to know anything about its history, that I took several photos and stored them away for future use. And now seems to be the right time for it to take its place in my next book. Those who have read the first two books in the trilogy will already know quite a lot about the village of Mapleby. What they won't know, however, is how times are changing for the villagers, and the old mill has quite a lot to do with that.

It's half written. It hasn't got a title yet, and it won't be published until June next year, but without the old mill it might not have happened at all. So here's to story triggers and to the writers who recognise them and store them until the time is right. In the meantime, I have to get back to my writing.

Monday, September 13, 2021

The Joy of Flying


Find my books here

When I was ten, my parents took my sister Kate, brother Peter and me on our first trip by airplane. We traveled from New York to Washington DC. We visited museums, the OAS headquarters, and a cathedral. 

But my most vivid memory was of the Lincoln Memorial. My father stood us beside the wall of the north chamber and had us recite the words of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. I did not understand the sense of our sixteenth president’s thoughts about the national trauma that was our Civil War. But I understood the beauty of the sound of his thoughts…

With malice toward none, with charity for all, 

with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, 

let us strive on to finish the work we are in,

 to bind up the nation's wounds, 

to care for him who shall have borne the battle 

and for his widow and his orphan, 

to do all which may achieve and cherish 

a just and lasting peace 

among ourselves and with all nations.

I have shared my father’s love of flying ever since that trip.

On September 11, 2001 I was emerging from the subway in lower Manhattan when the first plane hit the World Trade Center. I rushed up the steps of the Federal Courthouse to meet with my fellow jurors, hold each other’s hands, and watch the debris bursting out of the gaping black hole like white doves in flight against an impossibly blue sky.

My father called me from his home in Florida a month later. His printer was broken.  He needed me to help him choose a new one and get it up and running. He was insistent, he’d pay for my flight, my mother was already making me a pie. He needed me right away.

So I boarded a plane, breathing deeply, telling my racing heart that all would be well, that my father needed me.

He didn’t need my help, of course. He needed me to get on a plane, to not let being an eyewitness to another national trauma take away my joy of flying.

Thank you, Daddy.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

My COVID-19 Book Launch


                               Please click this link for author and book purchase information

For my first three novels, I had book launch parties at my local independent bookstore. Close to 100 people packed Owl's Nest Bookstore's premises for each event. Shortly before the pandemic, Owl's Nest cut its store space in half and nowadays most people I know aren't keen on packing into rooms with strangers. Last month, Owl's Nest suggested I look for a larger venue. 

Pre-COVID book launch

Venues in Calgary weren't easy to find. The libraries weren't renting their larger spaces yet. Other venues were operating at reduced capacity. My first choice currently only allows a maximum 30 people and wasn't available on September 16th, my scheduled date. Eventually I found a church meeting hall large enough for people to spread out. I felt we could host a safe event that would be fun despite the requirements that we wear masks and not share food. 

Unfortunately, Calgary's COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued their rise into September. The Alberta government reinstated restrictions. These wouldn't prevent the launch from going ahead, but I feared the situation would keep too many people away. Owl's Nest and I decided to move the event online, to the disappointment of one friend who was really looking forward to getting out and experiencing an in-person author reading, a novelty for her. 

Right now, I'm busy getting ready for this fourth book launch, which will take place on Zoom. I plan to do three readings from my new novel, Winter's Rage, one for each point-of-view character. I'll also talk about writing this third book of my Paula Savard Mystery Series. In particular, I'll discuss:

  • Why I scrapped my first draft half-way through and restarted from scratch
  • How I found the book's title
  • How COVID-19 affected the story     

 All off this will be backdropped by Powerpoint slides, including pictures of the street where my fictional murder took place. It was easy getting these pictures since the street is in my neighbourhood. 

"Wintergreen Close," my fictional crime site

It's also easy -- and free -- to attend the launch. All you need to do is go to the Owl's Nest Events Page  , scroll down to Susan Calder: Winter's Rage, and click the link to register. Owl's Nest will then email you a Zoom link to join the event on September 16 at 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time. One advantage of a virtual book launch is that people can attend from around the world, as long as they're awake at that hour.    


Saturday, September 11, 2021

Mornings at My House, by Karla Stover


Henry Thoreau referred to mornings as "a cheerful invitation" and I totally agree. I like to wake up at dawn and watch the trees outside our bedroom window. When we first moved into unincorporated Pierce County we lived in the country. One morning a herd of horses ran by the window. One neighbor had goats and another a pear tree with pears that were pink inside. There used to be a big wetland at the end of the street and with the window above my head open I could hear the spring peppers. Sadly, the wetland was almost completely built on and what is left has no peepers. The horses, goats and pear tree have been replaced by houses.

After dawn has done its due-diligence, we get up, get dressed, and turn on the news. When the dog goes outside, our peanut butter trees,

which are in full bloom, fill the yard with a wonderful jasmine-like smell. But the cats, Sally and Marley waste no time in telling us they're hungry. Then it's a challenge to find a food they don't turn their noses up at. My husband also checks the front porch because sometimes the neighborhood stray wants fed, too. My husband also wants breakfast (I'm a brunch eater) and eats while I wash the previous night's pop corn bowls, (I cut out after dinner sweets and my husband lost two pant sizes) check my emails and take a look at the headlines on BING. Last week I saw a funny misplaced modifier but when I went back to look for it, it was gone. Here's one from the Seattle Times: "“Microsoft, which has used its solid, boldfaced, italicized logo since 1987, is expected to unveil its new, more colorful logo Thursday at the Boston opening of the 23rd Microsoft store.”  It was actually the 23rd store in Boston. But I have to look at headlines because the local news is mostly, traffic, weather and covid. And now it's time for our walk. A lot of the land between Tacoma and the next town east of us (Puyallup, pronounced Pew all up) is undeveloped and we liked to walk in the woods on a ridge above the creek. On the way down, though, I get a 98ct. coffee with three creams from McDonalds.

When our walk is over and if we have no errands, we're home by 10:30. That rarely happens. Errands include but are not limited to: picking up a prescription, buying some groceries, stopping at the library, giving blood. Five years ago my brother had surgery and needed somewhere between seven and nine units of blood. I decided I'd replace the units so they'd be available for someone else. I took iron and vitamin supplements for a year before I could donate and now I'm about three units away from fulfilling the promise. Last week I was approached by a man asking for money. I asked if he was hungry and he said, "Oh, yes." So we went into the nearest AM / PM and I let him pick out what he wanted--chicken and a Pepsi. As a 'thank you' both our cars ended up in two different shops, the front door lock broke, and our washing machine out. Fate does indeed have a cruel sense of humor.

Once home, it's time for chores and in the afternoon I finally have time to work on my next book. The pandemic shut downs were never a problem for us. It's not an exciting life but we like it.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Treasure Hunting


Available at


  Can you believe it’s September already? While our world isn’t exactly all roses at the moment, let me take you back in time to September 5, 1856. On that day near Parkville, Kansas, 150 people lost all their possessions as they were tossed into the river when the Steamboat Arabia, on which they traveled, hit a tree limb and sank within minutes. (And you thought you were having a bad day.) Note that at this time there was no travel insurance, either for the people or for the 200 tons of cargo the Arabia transported. Although no lives were lost, possessions and cargo sank beneath the river and would not be rediscovered for another 130 years.

Over the years since 1856, many people have searched for the Arabia as there was a reported large quantity of whiskey on board which would fetch quite a sum at market. When it was finally discovered and unearthed in 1988 in a Kansas cornfield there was no whiskey, but there was a treasure-trove of pre Civil War goods heading for the wilderness around Omaha, NE. The first intent by the salvagers was to sell the treasure but they decided to restore and preserve, thus we now have a wonderful working museum down at River Market in Kansas City.  It’s not your traditional treasure of gold and silver but rather a time capsule of the 1850s. I was amazed at the amount and diversity of goods aboard the steamboat.

Everything from buttons and shoes to construction tools and preserved pickles are artfully displayed in the museum. On any given day, visitors can watch preservationists diligently working on other uncovered items that tell a story not readily available in our history books.

            Even though the Arabia museum is a work in progress and the restoration of artifacts continues, Dave Hawley (one of the original treasure hunters) has continued searching for other steamboats. The Missouri River has an estimated 300-400 sunken riverboats, many of which are now deep beneath farm fields as the river has changed course over the years. In 2016 he finally located the Malta, a steamboat sunk in 1841, loaded with Indian trading supplies for the American Fur Company.

 Aboard the side-wheeler steamer was cargo for Peter Sarpy, Papin & Robidoux and other Chouteau trading posts and merchants along the Missouri River. Once metal detectors hit a strong signal they drilled for a core sample which resulted in finding 150 gold buttons, fabric, well-preserved ceramics and a large iron hook. But as of today, the Malta is still 37 feet underground as the cost of excavation is around $3 million. You can find out more at Malta | The Arabia Steamboat Museum | Kansas City (

            From the time the Arabia museum opened, I have been an avid visitor anytime I’m in town. The evolving displays fascinate me; the history of the river and steamboats lure me into a past which I know was much harsher than how I romanticize it. Yet that is what fiction writing is about – taking a real event and spinning a tale of romance and intrigue. I love entwining the past with the present and especially like having the museum at my fingertips for research. I invite you to come aboard the Arabia with me on her last fateful journey by getting a copy of “Hold On To the Past” (available at

Sunken steamboats on the river or storm-wrecked sailing vessels on the ocean – these are the settings for legends, tall tales and great historical novels.


Barb Baldwin


Thursday, September 9, 2021

Nobody likes a Shady Beach by Vanessa Hawkins


  Vanessa Hawkins Author Page

So every month I say I'm going to get a head start on this blog so's alls I gotta do is sit back and eat Cheetos on the 8th, and every month here I am, arse in chair, struggling to figure out what I could possibly write to inspire/entertain my small train of followers who are now used to being disappointed in me...
Deep inhale... she'll get it right eventually...

But this time allow me to let you know why I am late. This time I actually have an excuse, believe it or not... I was on vacation! My family and I went to PEI which, if you are unfamiliar with Atlantic Canada, means Prince Edward Island. It's a small province east of New Brunswick, home to red 
sandy beaches, lots of potatoes as well as hay bales the size of three cows tipped together.

Hay there!

We stayed in a cottage somewhere within the middle of nowhere, saw beach goats and had a grand ol' time with family. At one point I think there was a bonfire, and we did go see Ripley's Believe it or Not, but honestly I thought the attraction was pretty... uh, well... BELIEVEABLE to say the least.  

Sorry Ripley...

The real horror story was when I found three spiders, an earwig and one beetle from dimension enormous in the bathroom over the course of a few days. Also, when I was packing, I had one spider--not included in aforementioned army of nasty cottage bugs--run over my leg in its desperate attempt to flee the premises. I actually went to bed thinking of it that night... I have spider PTSD... 

It's a joke!

But despite the mental AND emotional anguish of fending off so many minibeasts, Prince Edward Island was a fun time. I brought my spawn, who got to see her cousins for the first time, and despite being a Covid baby she was NOT super awkward around other human beings that she hadn't had the fortune of meeting before. Success! And what a heartwarming sight! My cardiovascular unit at least tripled in weight and height before it leapt up out of my throat at the sight of the beetle from big town...

So all in all, a good trip and WITHOUT having to take any... uh... medical grade enhancers... *ahem keep it kid friendly, Vanessa...* 

Wait... if you knew you were going on vacation why didn't you just plan in advance and write the blog a bit EARLIER in preparation for the intended time away? If you were any sort of decent human being with even a MODICUM of forethought, you would have prepared SOMETHING for those people who continue to drag themselves through your hastily scrawled drivel every month! How do you expect to ever make it as a writer if you can't even commit to THAT? How do you expect people to keep putting up with you? How do you--

And so did those Cavendish potatoes... Till next time!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

I live in bear country by J. S. Marlo



In "Mishandled Conviction", Violette and her pregnant daughter flee in the forest to escape their abductor only to encounter a mama bear with her two cubs. To describe the bear encounter, I use the phrase If it’s brown, get down. If it’s black, attack. If it’s white, you’re dead, but how true is this statement?



I live in Wood Buffalo, Northern Alberta. As of August 11, there has been 134 black bear encounters in the municipality since the spring. 59% of these encounters occurred in residential areas. Late summer and fall are active months for black bears as they will eat as much as they can before going into hibernation, so that number will rise in the weeks to come.

The only bear I saw so far this summer was  a cub crossing the street ten feet in front of my car. I did stop to let him cross safely, but no, I didn't get out. I didn't see his mama, but she couldn't have been far since that cub was too young to fend for himself.

In Wood Buffalo, there are only black bears, but black bears aren't always black. They come in different colours: from cream, to cinnamon, to brown, to black, and almost everything in between.


When we use the term "brown bear", we mean a grizzly bear, not a black bear with brown fur. It is actually important to know the difference between a grizzly and a black bear in order to know how to react to them.


Though grizzlies are generally bigger than black bears, you can't rely on colour or size alone to differentiate them. A grizzly has a prominent shoulder hump and an elongated face, unlike the black bear who has no obvious hump and a more rounded face. Their toes aren't aligned the same way, so their prints are different. Grizzlies also have longer claws, though I would rather not come within distance of being able to see their claws.

So, should you fight back if you encounter a black bear, or lay down if you come across a grizzly? In most cases, that would be the right thing to do, but before you reach that point, there are a few other things to do--and not do.


First, if you see a bear, DO NOT RUN! And never turn your back to a bear.

If the bear hasn't seen you: move away cautiously.

If the bear saw you: speak calmly, wave your arm slowly, and back away. Get ready to use your bear spray, which should be clipped to your waist and not hidden at the bottom of your backpack.

If the bear charges, and your spray doesn't work,  fight the black bear but lay down for the grizzly (protect your head with your arms) as you have very slim chances of winning a fight against a grizzly. That being said, if the grizzly doesn't lose interest in you after a few minutes and start biting you, you may want to fight back.


In practice, these worst-case scenarios don't happen very often. There are ways to minimize your chances of dangerous encounters: hike in groups, make noise, stay on the trails, pay attention to paw prints and scats (fresh poop means bear nearby), carry bear spray and know how to use it. Humans aren't on black bears' or grizzlies' menu, but bears will react if they are startled, if they feel threatened, if you stand in the middle of their berry patch, or heaven forbid if you come between them and their cubs.

Bottom line: Don't be afraid to enjoy the outdoor, but stay ALERT! And don't forget, bears are good climbers.


 A quick note on white bears, aka polar bears: they are at the top of the food chain. No human ventures into polar bear territory without a loaded rifle unless they want to become a midday snack. So, if a polar bear is charging at you, and your finger isn't on the trigger, I'm afraid that bear will be the last thing you'll ever see.


For more information on how to play safely in bear country, Read the Alberta BearSmart Guide

Happy Reading & Stay Safe




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