Monday, October 25, 2021

Beyond Barkerville by A.M. Westerling

 Those of you who know me know that I am an avid camper and that one of my favorite camping vacation destinations is northern British Columbia. Words cannot begin to describe the beauty of this area. Imagine towering, thick forests, tumbling white water rivers and soaring mountain peaks and you get the idea. If you like the wilderness and outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping, this is the destination for you.

We usually set up a base camp just outside of Terrace on Lakelse Lake. 

From there, we’ll take day trips and for today’s post, I’ll share one of our more interesting tours and that was up the Nass Valley. As you drive north of Terrace, you follow the Nisga’a Highway which borders Kitsumkalum Lake. You can drive for miles in pristine wilderness, with the lake on one side and forests and mountains on the other and you’ll rarely see another vehicle or any signs of habitation.

Eventually you’ll reach Nisga’s Mem’l Lava Beds Provincial Park. The Nass Valley is the site of Canada’s most recent volcanic eruption, around 1750 and lava flows cover a large area.


From there, it’s up to New Ayiansh, which replaces the original town that was destroyed in the volcano. No one knows for sure but it’s estimated about 2000 people died during the eruption.

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can head over to Kincolith, which until recently was only accessible by boat or plane.

 I was fortunate enough to be included in BWL Publishing's Canadian Historical Brides Collection. My contribution was Barkerville Beginnings, the story of Rose and Harrison set in the historic gold rush town of Barkerville, B.C.. On this particular trip, we stopped in at Barkerville on our way home which of course helped immensely with my research!


You can find Barkerville Beginnings and all my books HERE on the BWL Publishing website. 


Websites I visited to write this post:

Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Agenda of Writing Novels by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

The Agenda of Writing Novels

Some people believe that there is an agenda or blueprint for writing books and as long as the writer follows that blueprint, they can write a book. However, that is not really true. Authors have different ways of writing their novels. Some outline each chapter. Others wing it just going where their characters take them. Some start with a plot and add characters and some have characters around whom they build a story. A few take an event or an idea and build on it putting in characters and settings as the story develops.

     I have never worked with a solid outline, or arc as it is sometimes called, for my novels, whether they are mystery, historical, or young adult. And this is mainly because I find that my characters seldom end up the way I first pictured them and the plot never takes the route I thought it would. I do start the story with a character in his/her everyday life so the reader can get to know them then I put in the trigger or problem that is out of the control of my main character or that starts the mystery. This puts the main character on his/her quest for a solution.

     I do have scenes pictured where characters are going to have a certain conversation or be at a certain place but unexpected conversations or character twists surface as I am writing the story. Some of these are surprises or mishaps or glitches that get in the way of my character’s quest. I strive not to make these predictable, nor so far out that they don’t make sense to the story. They should leave the reader with the thought that (s)he should have figured that would happen. Personally, I find that it is no fun to read a book in which you can foresee where the story line is headed and what is going to happen.

     If I get writer’s block or get to the end of an event and not really know what to write next, then I pick up one of the encounters that I know a character is going to have and I write that. Sometimes I will have two or three of them waiting to be put into the manuscript where they are needed.

     For the climax my character goes through the action of resolving the problem or solving the mystery. This has to be fast paced and sometimes at risk to my character. By this time the reader should be rooting for the main character and wanting him/her to succeed without injury. Hopefully, too, this is where the surprise comes in, where the reader goes. “Wow, I didn’t see that coming." or "I never thought it would be that person.”

     I have even been surprised or saddened or happy by the ending of my books. When I was nearing the end of writing one of my mystery novels I still hadn’t figured out which of two characters had done the killing. Suddenly, a different character put up their hand and said, “I did it and this is why.” I was surprised but realized that it made total sense.

     I believe that if my emotions are rocked by the ending so, too, should those of the readers. When the book was published I had readers tell me that they had also fluctuated between the same two characters as I had and they, too, had been surprised by who was actually guilty. Something a mystery writer is always happy to hear.


Saturday, October 23, 2021

A Wayward Girl by Victoria Chatham

 Here she is. Miss Charlotte Gray in all her glory. Finally. I don’t know about my fellow authors, but some of my books have been easier to write than others and Charlotte’s story was the one I have least liked writing. Why? Because Charlotte defied me at every turn. This girl was hard work.

Now, to a non-writer, that might sound really weird. You’re the author, they might say. You pick and choose what your characters do. That’s what being an author is, you direct your cast just as a stage or movie director does theirs. Any artistic endeavor has it's challenges, but few, I imagine, as those authors might have.

I rarely have any trouble creating characters. Often, they have simply turned up in my mind like a mental visitor, sometimes welcome and sometimes not. All three heroines of Those Regency Belles (Charlotte Gray is Book 2 in the series) came one after the other without me having to think them into being. Hester Dymock (Book 1) very clearly wanted to be involved with healing and medicine, Phoebe Fisher (Book 3 and due out in 2022) wants to have fun and is a tad saucy. But Charlotte?

I had her pinned for a lady’s companion in a secluded, quiet, Hampshire estate. There would be a love interest, of course. Probably a nephew of the lady to whom our Char was going to be a companion. An impossible match to the outside world because of her lowly status, but with wit and charm Charlotte would win her hero. Would Charlotte have that? Not a bit of it. She wanted action, adventure, and a hot-blooded hero.

Many Regency purists might point out that young ladies would not do the things they sometimes do in my stories, especially Emmaline Devereux in His Dark Enchantress when she drives a team of four horses. Can’t be done, one critic told me. However, this aspect of Emmaline’s character was based on Mrs. Cynthia Haydon (1918-2012) who raised and trained Hackney horses and ponies and drove them in many combinations (single, pairs, tandem, four-in-hand) and competitions and was an exceptional lady for her time.

Mrs. Cynthia Haydon

My thinking is that in any era there are women who step outside of the box society has built for them and quite literally break the mold. Most are familiar with Jane Austen, but what about Maria Edgeworth, Sarah Guppy, Harriott Mellon, and Elizabeth Fry. If you want to read more about these ladies check out What Regency Women Did for Us by Rachel Knowles. In more recent years, look at what the ladies in the movie Hidden Figures achieved.

Charlotte was never going to lead a quiet, orderly life. My character notes for her changed practically every day. I think, in the end, I like her better for it. If you decide to read her story, I hope you agree with me.

Victoria Chatham





Friday, October 22, 2021

Cold coffee, carbohydrates, and creativity by Dean Hovey

 As authors, we have our "writing place." I'm a morning person and I have a preparation process for writing and my favorite chair. After brewing coffee, I pop bread into the toaster, and open a crossword puzzle. I believe the crossword stimulates my brain. It also expands my vocabulary. "Hmm, a seven-letter word for ant." After filling in the vertical words I discover that pismire is the missing word for ant. Hmm, that's something I might be able to use in a Whistling Pines mystery. I put that in the mental file for future reference and put my crumb-filled plate in the dishwasher. Then I brew my second cup of coffee.

Now, I'm ready to write. Well, I'm almost ready. 

I have my special writing chair, facing the living room window. My laptop is on a kneepad that gets the computer to the proper ergonomic height. I uncoil the unsightly monitor cord hidden because my wife had her card group over last night. I hook up all the electronics, sit in my chair, turn on the monitor, and...The glare from the dining room light is making it impossible to read the monitor. I untangle from all the cords, get out of the chair, and turn off the light.

Now, I'm ready to write. Again, I'm almost ready.

I pull up the manuscript file, read a paragraphs from the previous day (yes, I write EVERY day), and consider what Jill and Doug Fletcher are going to do next. I sip my coffee and realize it's cold. Deep sigh. I untangle, get up, dump out the cold coffee, and make a new cup. I'm considering the situation I've left my protagonist in as the pot gurgles. Hmm. Do I need some action here? Or, do I use this moment to insert a hint about the murderer?

With fresh coffee in hand, I return to my chair, pick up the laptop, sit down with fingers poised over the keyboard. I look at the computer monitor and realize the sun has moved higher in the sky and is now shining on the monitor. I untangle, get up, close the drapes, sit down, put the laptop back on my lap, poise my hands over the keyboard and...have no idea where my plot is going. Dang.

During my recent physical, I explained to my physician that carbohydrates stimulate my creative thoughts. She agreed, and explained the physiochemistry of carbs giving a burst of blood sugar that invigorates the brain. (She also pointed out that it would be good if I eliminated about 150 calories of carbs from my daily diet, a hint I now choose to ignore). I untangle, get up. find a box of Girl Scout Cookies in the freezer and pull out three of them-just enough to get my creative juices flowing. 

Back in my chair, waiting for the cookies to thaw, I remember committing to a library appearance and wonder if it's on the calendar. Up again, checking the calendar. Back to the chair. Bereft of ideas, I eat a Thin Mint while staring at the computer monitor. My back is uncomfortable, so I get up, find a couch pillow, put it behind me, and adjust it repeatedly until it's in just the right position. 

Now, I'm ready to write.

I eat the second Thin Mint cookie while staring at the computer screen. No ideas come to mind. Doug and Jill aren't speaking to me. In desperation, I look at the book outline I created. Aha! Now I know what they're going to do! I eat the third Thin Mint and write an inspired sentence. "With the sun setting behind them, Doug and Jill look into each other's eyes and..."

NO! I need some action, not romance at this point. Hmm. I get up and bring the entire box of cookies to the coffee table and wolf down another cookie. Hmm, lets see. I take a sip of lukewarm coffee. I look out the window and watch an unfamiliar car drive past. "I wonder if the neighbors got a new car?"

Stuck, I fire off a text to my cop consultant with a few pages of manuscript. "What do you think should happen next?" I fire an email to my tuba-playing muse. He calls me "billiard ball brain" because he thinks of the ideas in my brain as a billiard table with balls caroming off each other and the pads until them come to rest with two of them touching. Those two bring disparate ideas that, when considered together, send me off in an interesting plot direction.

My cop consultant texts back. "We've already talked about this. You need to..."

My tuba player emails with a page of plot twists and an off-the-wall (he specialized in off the wall ideas) idea for a future book.

With their input, I lean back, eat another cookie, and realize my coffee is cold...again.

Suddenly, the billiard balls stop and the next scene becomes clear. The words come faster than my fingers can type. Jill Fletcher is screaming at me and leads me in a direction I hadn't intended. Yes! I write furiously until a voice says. "Dear, it's bedtime. Have you eaten anything other than cookies today?"

Leaning back, I look at the clock, then shake my head. "No, but I've written four chapters."

The process is repeated the next day and the next Doug Fletcher mystery, Gator Bait, takes shape. check it out on my BWL publishing page.

Hovey, Dean - Digital and Print EBooks (

Thursday, October 21, 2021

The Ghosts that Haunt New Brunswick by Diane Scott Lewis


Amelia is sent to a strange land in the eighteenth century to marry a soldier she's never met. But will the handsome Acadian, Gilbert, capture her heart? Part of the wonderful series of Canadian Historical Brides. The founding of a new colony by the Loyalists who fled the American Revolution.

To purchase On a Stormy Primeval ShoreCLICK HERE

As we near Halloween, I wanted to delve into the myths and ghosts of New Brunswick, Canada, where this novel is set.

In years of tales or myth, people have reported scented lilac ladies that float through rooms; keys that shift location; headless women; howling hounds; ghostly ships.

The Dungarvon Whooper is one of the most famous ghosts of New Brunswick. At Whooper Spring off the Dungarvon River (near Quarryville; once known as Indian town), there's an old logging campsite. The story goes that in the nineteenth century a young cook was murdered there by his lumber camp boss. His revengeful ghost terrifies local hunters, and especially lumbermen, with spine-tingling whoops.

Supposedly, the cook's grave has ever-blooming flowers. If anyone disturbs the grave, the ghost rushes out and screams. 

Another ghost story is told by an Acadian (the original French settlers) merchant. 

About forty years ago, in Northeastern N. B., a young man told a merchant that he was going fishing for months. He asked the merchant to supply his aged parents with groceries and when he returned he'd pay for them. Except, when the young man returned, he bought a car instead of paying the debt. When the merchant discovered this, he shouted: "He can go to hell!"

A week later, the young man went fishing again, got tangled in rough water, fell from his boat and drowned. Not long after, the merchant was cutting hay in his field. A big wind blew up, and in the middle of it rose the drowned man, his hair  blowing wild, wearing the same clothes he'd bought from the merchant's store. The merchant was so frightened, he burned the bills owed to him.

The drowned man's father came to him the next day and said he was walking his dog, and it howled and howled as if something was there. The unnerved father insisted on paying the debt. The village priest said to the father that his son was in Purgatory, and needed the debt paid so he could 'move on' to heaven.

In 1876, Rebecca Lutes of Moncton was only 16 when townsfolk believed she had supernatural powers. A judge condemned her as a witch and she was hanged from a tree branch, buried upside down, and concrete poured over the grave to keep her from crawling out. Today strange happenings are reported, floating lights, mysterious fires, and a creepy black cat, around her grave. 

I want to thank Alison Hughes for her wonderful site Eastern Gothic, ghost stories, for the first two stories:

For more on me and my books, please visit my website: DianeScottLewis   

Diane lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband and one naughty dachshund.

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Our Visit to Amish Country by J.Q. Rose #travel #Amishcountry


Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
a perfect read for the scary month of October
Click here to download this paranormal mystery
and more mysteries by J.Q. from BWL Publishing


Ohio towns we visited plus Berlin, Ohio engraved in this brick wall.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Setting as Character by Helen Henderson

Windmaster Legacy by Helen Henderson
Click the cover for purchase information

One of my favorite characters to write is setting. Once a reader suspends belief, the world can encompass whatever the author's imagination can create. Or, possibly more important, places that I would love to visit.

In the Windmaster Novels, readers are invited to journey the high seas, and from mountain heights to cavern depths on an epic quest to save the future of magic. One inspiration for the land of Tarekus in Windmaster Legacy was the Australian outback. The landmark where Lord Dal and Lady Ellspeth were to join the caravan was based on Uluru, or Ayers Rock, the massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Australia's Northern Territory.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

In the veldt, Dal, Ellspeth and the caravan encounter long-necked animals that eat the tender leaves off the top of trees. These creatures are called by tree-trimmers by the locals.

Settings can not only be where an author wants to go, but have been. Looking through old travel photographs of the Desert of Maine reminded me of the area around Montrat. The area is a perfect place for a rogue mage, such as Leod in Windmaster Golem to practice his spells without anyone being aware of his activities.

Spelunking is a  non-starter for a fun activity. That is unless the ground opens up and swallows you, and traveling the underground is the only hope of escape. On the other hand, Ellspeth willingly entered a cave to save the future of mage. And, she had to do it without the knowledge of what was to come or the comfort of Lord Dal and his magic.

That is not to say that I didn't have real-world experience that served as inspiration for the cave in Windmaster. I have visited caves open to the public from Ohio to New York and used the experience as inspiration for Ellspeth's adventure. Each had their own unique world. Access to the underworld varied from rough-hewn, water-slicked stairs to a modern elevator. Some chambers were narrow and walked. Other sites had large, vaulted rooms with a river running through them and visitors traveled by boat.

The real world does not consist of one environment, one microsystem, or one geography. Varying the setting is important to me. And I hope my readers enjoy their journey in the dunes of Montrat, the scrub of Tarekus, and from mountain heights to cavern depths.

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 have adopted her as one of the pack. 

Monday, October 18, 2021

Time- where does it go? by Nancy M Bell


To find more of Nancy's work please click on the cover.

Time, where does it go? It feels like only yesterday I was sixteen and galloping through the Rouge Valley near Scarborough, Ontario. My world was filled with horses and the people associated with them. That time in my life is kind of like a golden halo, you know the old saying- the Good Old Days. Of course, life being what it is, there was good and bad in those days. But the constant thread running through it all was the horses and my passion for them. 

It wasn't until I was seventeen that I got my own horse, but I still remember those wonderful patient horses who made up the dude string at Rouge Hill Stables. Considered by some as old, or used up, or just a grade (the equine equivalent of mutt), but they patiently put up with packing non-riders up and down the big hill to gain access to the valley. They did their job without complaining day in and day out. I learned so much from those horses, in my mind's eye I can see them still.

And now, in December I will turn sixty-five. Officially a Senior. How the hell did that happen? My youngest will turn forty in February of 2022. I mean...are you kidding me? Where did all that time go- how did all those years slip by without me really noticing? I have been many things in my life, but through it all the constant has been my horses. Although many horses have made an impact on my life, there are a few that were truly horses of my heart. Brandy was the first horse that was mine, one that no one else could make a decision about. That's the problem with loving horses that don't belong to you, other people can make decisions that take that horse away from you. The second horse of my heart was Tags, a big chestnut quarter horse that looked more like a stocky thoroughbred (and acted like one as well) the third horse, the horse of my old age is Emily. She's twenty-one and still looks much younger. She's been mine since before she was born as I owned her momma. 

I know some men can keep track of events that happened in the past by what car they drove at that time, for me it's what horses were around me that brings back the memories clear and strong. In my heart I am still that sixteen year old kid riding horses in the moonlight through the blooming apple trees beneath Spy Glass Hill, wearing my heart on my sleeve and believing anything is possible if you just want it bad enough.

That idealistic outlook is a bit tattered by the passing years, but I guess I do still believe anything is possible if you just work at it and don't lose focus. The old lady I see in the mirror now can still startle me sometimes, who is she? And behind her eyes I can still find the golden halo of youthful optimism, and always the horses, teaching me courage and fortitude and reminding me patience is a virtue.

 Until next month, stay well, stay happy.

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