Monday, February 28, 2022

Honoring Ukrainian Courage, Culture, Devotion, and Life By Connie Vines

All of the world is focused on current events at the moment. Therefore, my blog post will feature my 'Slovic' background, to honor the courage and devotion to democracy by the Ukrainian people.

Like many whose ancestors were able to immigrate before the time of the Iron Curtain, I also came to not all of their extended family members chose/or were able to make the journey.

My maternal grandmother's family traveled from Bohemia/Czechoslovica via a ship and settled in Chicago. Many of my childhood memories are of the Slovic culture, foods, nursery rhymes, fairytales, music, dance, and the drive to succeed.  Hard work, Family, Faith, and honoring those who came before them, was part of daily life.

Where did Ukraine originate from?

The history of Ukrainian nationality can be traced back to the kingdom of Kievan Rus' of the 9th to 12th centuries. It was the predecessor state to what would eventually become the Eastern Slavic nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

Famous Ukraine Story

"The Mitten” is a story of a little boy that lost his mitten in the snow. Soon after, an animal finds its way into the glove to seek warmth and shelter. It doesn't take long until many more animals have the same idea. The mitten becomes stretched out and cramped for space.

Traditional Crafts

Posted on Pinterest

Petrykivka painting (or simply "Petrykivka") is a traditional Ukrainian decorative painting style, originating from the village of Petrykivka in Dnipropetrovsk oblast of Ukraine, where it was traditionally used to decorate house walls and everyday household items. The earliest known examples of this style date from the 18th century, but it continues to thrive and develop as a modern art form.

The distinctive features of this folk art style are its flower patterns, distinctive brush techniques, and its traditionally white background (contemporary painters, however, often work on black, green, red, or blue backgrounds. (Wikipedia)

Traditional Clothes

Pinterest: Traditional Clothing and Embroidery 

Traditional Food

(Ukrainian hostesses cook this dish with sweet potatoes as a dessert.)

 Pinterest photo

Potato Pancakes


6 potatoes

1 egg

3 tablespoons of flour

1 onion

sunflower oil

1 package of sour cream


Peel potatoes and onion and grate them. Beat an egg and combine it with potato. Add salt, flour and mix everything properly. 

Heat the sunflower oil in the pan and pour the potato mixture in the form of round pancakes. Fry until one side of the pancake until golden, then and then turn over.

Serve a dab of sour cream.

I will close with a Ukrainian Proverb: 

Take care, my dear friends and readers,



Remember:  All of my books are on sale at Smashwords this month!!

Sunday, February 27, 2022



Azura Chronicles award-winning scifi-romance series 

The conversation, on some Facebook groups for authors this month, turned to common mistakes in English grammar. As a wordsmith, I cringe at typos, misspellings, and grammar blunders in professional books. And I’m talking about simple mistakes, not wrong tenses, dangling participles, or run-on sentences. In the media arena, the language of Shakespeare is taking a beating. But it’s a lot worse than you would expect.

Here is a reminder of a few common mistakes… are you guilty of those? Maybe you should stick this note to the side of your tablet or computer screen.

And these are only a few. There are many more. I particularly resent “it’s” instead of “its” and “than” instead of “then.” There is also “lie” and “lay,” “affect” and “effect,”

I can easily forgive readers and casual posters for not remembering their schooling. But if you make any of these common mistakes on your resume, for instance, you may well have forfeited the job.

And if you run an ad for your business with a mistake in it, the return will be so low, you’ll lose your investment in advertising.

Furthermore, I see these common mistakes repeated by newscasters, on advertising spots, on printed ads, and in articles by news writers and other professional people of the spoken and written word.

What about “verbing” or “verbification?”

There is also the new tendency of making verbs with nouns, called “verbing” by the Oxford University Press, or also verbification. This is part of normal language evolution. When there is no verb to express the action, you can use a noun as a verb. “To parent,” for example, has become part of the vocabulary, like “to vacation.”

It used to be that the printed word was respected and valued. Nowadays, anyone can write and print anything, without any knowledge of proper language, grammar, or spelling. Worse, they do not hire an editor. If it’s important enough to say or write for the public at large, it’s important enough to be edited.

Another way to improve your grammar is to read well written books. Here are my latest series.

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

Saturday, February 26, 2022

A little more about the 1860s in Australia. Tricia McGill


Find this and all my other BWL books on my author page

In these weird days where thoughts of Covid lie heavily upon us, and technology changes by the hour let alone by the day, we spare little thought about the struggles and lives of the ones who came before us—those heroic souls who forged a life for themselves and others in the early years of settlement. Of course, I am concentrating on this fledgling colony of Australia. By the 1860s most major towns had been settled. Being an avid researcher I am now deep in this time period. Men set out in search of gold as well as land to call their own. It seems the 1860s was dominated by the struggles of small land holders (called selectors), along with the miners. These settlers were intent on persuading the government to gain control of the land from the squatters who had occupied large areas of Crown land either under a licence or lease. They believed it was time to make this Crown land available for farming. These selectors faced much resistance from the squatters who had found ways to keep the most fertile land for themselves.

Thus, this high demand for land caught the eye of those interested in exploration of the more regional and remote parts of the continent. They set out to find rich pastures for farming along with clean and fast-flowing water. Better routes between colonies needed to be established, and to better serve this an Overland Telegraph Line was essential. Explorers like Charles Stuart, Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills led expeditions to discover arable land. It was these intrepid explorers and others who mapped routes between the far-flung settlements. To cross this vast continent for the first time was a dangerous quest and proved to be fatal for some.

Burke & Wills were the first Europeans to cross Australia from south to north. This expedition is probably one known by most Australians, perhaps because of its sad ending. Both were inexperienced—Burke being a police investigator and Wills a surveyor and meteorologist. Burke was chosen to lead the expedition across the inhospitable interior so that Victoria could win a reward posted by the government, who wanted to build a telegraph line from Adelaide to the northern coast of Australia. Their party left Melbourne on August 20, 1860, with horses, Indian camels and 3 drivers. They followed the Darling River and then headed north to the Gulf of Carpentaria. The expedition included John King, Charles Gray, and William Brahe. Brahe remained at a base camp at Cooper’s Creek waiting for more men, who were delayed by months. Quarrels between the men over bad timing and spring rains marred the trip. They reached the mouth of the Flinders River (at the Gulf of Carpentaria) on February 9, 1861. Low on supplies they turned around. Gray soon died from fatigue. Burke, Wills, and King were very weak when they returned to the camp at Cooper’s Creek on April 21, 1861. Heading home hours behind Brahe, a group of Aborigines gave them food and water. They later were forced to kill and eat their last two camels. After more than a month of traveling since leaving Cooper’s Creek, they had wandered back to it. They missed Brahe, who had returned to the camp to check for them. Burke, Wills, and King again wandered off, but Wills became weak, so they left him with some of the food. Soon after that, Burke died (June 20, 1861). King returned for Wills but found him dead. On September 18, 1861, King was rescued by Alfred Howitt and his party who had searched for the lost expedition.

Charles Sturt led an expedition down the Murrabiggee and Murray Rivers and his exploration is considered one of the greatest in Australian history. The expedition disclosed extensive areas of land for future development in New South Wales and South Australia

He later led an expedition north from Adelaide to the edge of the Simpson Desert. Although he discovered no fertile land and was eventually driven back by heat and scurvy, his party was the first to penetrate the centre of the continent.  

New industries such as pearling began in Western Australia and a centre in Broome was established. The cities in all colonies grew and the arts flourished with the publication of books and poems about Australia by native-born Australians; artists born overseas and the native-born drew the Australian landscape and colonial personalities. Albert Namatjira was one of Australia’s greatest artists. Blending traditional use of colour with Western-style landscapes brought him fame and citizenship in a time when Aboriginal people had few rights. His early works transmitted the same spiritual connection with the land as more traditional Aboriginal art, and he represented his love of trees through lovingly rendered portrait-like paintings. Tragically he was just 57 when he died.

Find excerpts and reviews of all my books on my web page


Friday, February 25, 2022

First Lines

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

"My dear Mr. Bennet," said his lady to him one day, "have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?"

A modern editor would probably use a red pen on Jane Austen’s first two paragraphs, both of which are author statements. He/she might say the story should begin at the third paragraph – or maybe even later in the conversation between Mrs. Bennet and her husband. Thus we would lose one of the most quoted ‘first lines’ of any novel.

I’ve sometimes wondered about the emphasis that the ‘advice givers’ put on the first lines of a story. The first line, ‘they’ say, must hook the reader, but is that true? Do readers really get pulled in by the first line of a story? Do they decide whether to buy or not to buy based on the opening sentence or paragraph?

It seems to me that this advice is based on an image of someone standing in a bookstore and picking up a book. In that scenario, the cover, the back cover blurb, and the first few lines of a book are probably the most important ‘hooks’ for a reader.

However, in this digital age and with Amazon’s facility of ‘click to look inside’ i.e. a sneak peek at the first few pages of a novel, the reader is sitting at a computer or using a laptop or tablet. They have more time – and therefore, in all probability, will read more than the average person standing in a bookstore.

I’ve done this many times before downloading books to my Kindle, and have usually read far more than the first sentence or even the first page (unless that happens to be riddled with grammatical errors or typos etc). Therefore I’d hazard a guess that the majority of readers with e-readers will make their decision based on part or even the whole of the Amazon excerpt, and not just the first line or paragraph.

Therefore, instead of agonising over our first lines, perhaps we should be thinking more about whether our first few pages will hook our potential readers into downloading our books. Those pages should pull them in somehow and stimulate their interest and curiosity about the story. It’s been said that a character doesn’t come to life for the reader until he/she speaks, so a conversation of some kind on the first page can be a good way of attracting a reader.

In my experience, as a reader rather than a writer, any long introspection or back story at the start of a novel is a big turn-off. Neither should the first page contain a lengthy description of a place. A couple of well-chosen sentences can be equally effective.

Finally, while it’s not essential for the main protagonists to meet on the first page or even for some kind of ‘conflict’ to be introduced immediately, it’s probably better to introduce some kind of surprise (pleasant or otherwise) or an unexpected event for the main protagonist in the first couple of pages.

I’d be interested in your thoughts about the first few pages of a novel – what attracts you and what puts you off?

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Thursday, February 24, 2022

Virtual Writing Conferences VS Physical Writing Conferences by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

In the time of virtual everything because of Covid, I took part in my first virtual writing conference last year. I was both a panelist and in the audience for some sessions. I have attended physical writing conferences in Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, and Edmonton and there is a definite difference between the two. In my opinion each has its own pros and cons.
     There is a lot of coordinating and cost for the organizers of the physical conference. They have to find a venue usually a hotel with boardrooms. This allows the panelists and attendees to book a room and stay close to the conference. There are usually guests of honour who have to be paid. Besides monetary costs it takes a lot of time to figure out the panels: subjects, panelists, and the timing of sessions to accommodate writers or editors publishers who are on more than one panel. They also have to recruit volunteers to look after the rooms. These volunteers make sure the moderator runs on schedule, the audience clears out in time for the next one, and there are fresh glasses and jugs of water for each new session.
     There are also costs for the panelists and audience members of the physical conference. If they don’t live in the city where the conference is being held they have to travel which entails gas, hotel, and meals or plane tickets and car rental plus hotel and meals. If a presenter wants to be in the audience of any of the sessions they have to pay the registration fee just like everyone else. There is the also the extra cost of a banquet ticket if one is planned.
     I lived on Vancouver Island at the time and in order to attend any physical conference off the island I had to drive 1.5 hours to the ferry, and to make sure I get on it I have to be there about an hour early or pay for a reservation. Then it is almost two hours ferry travel to Vancouver. So that is four hours. If I am going to Calgary or Edmonton, it is another day’s drive. I could fly which is quicker but I would still have to pay for the ticket and to rent a vehicle to get around once there.
     Like the physical conference it would have taken a lot of time to plan the arrangement of the panels and panelists of the virtual conference. Monetary costs were probably low because there was no venue, no banquet, and no guests of honour.
     It cost me, and everyone else who took part, nothing to attend the virtual conference either as a panelist or an audience member. I had no plane ticket or vehicle gas and parking to pay for, no hotel room to book, and no new clothes.
     The length of the physical conference has to work around the time frame of the panelists and attendees. Unless they take a day off work the first panels can’t start too early on the Friday because of ability to get there. For that same reason, it has to close early on the Sunday so those leaving can start their long drive home or get to the airport in time to catch their plane.
     Because there is no travel involved, the first session of a virtual conference can start around the time people get home from work on the Friday. The only thing everyone has to remember is the difference between time zones. Being on the west coast the morning sessions started very early for me. The evening sessions ended before my supper time.
     When it was time to be a panelist I set my computer up and clicked on the link a few minutes before the session was to start. Pictures of the other panelists showed up on my screen and we visited a few minutes before the moderator started the session. When I was in the audience I clicked on the link and waited for the panelists to show up on my screen.
     Being on a virtual panel, the guests only see a shoulders and head shot of me so I just have to wear a good top and comb my hair. I have to make sure there was no light like a window behind to put my face in shadow. Also, depending on where I was I could have some unexpected interruptions—pets, children, phone ringing.
     Getting ready for a physical conference I have to pack enough clothes for the weekend. If I am on a panel I have to make sure I have all my material with me when I leave home. If I forget anything, I am out of luck. No packing for a virtual conference and all my material will be in my house somewhere.
     At a physical conference there are many panels taking place at the same time which can be frustrating if I want to attend more than one of them. For this virtual conference only one panel was offered each hour so I was able to take part in as many as I wanted. When I finished my panel or the presentation was over I could leave my office and pet my cats, pick strawberries, sit on my deck, or train my chickens to run an obstacle course.
     The downside to the virtual conference is that the only people I see are my fellow panelists. I don’t see the audience expressions so there is no interaction between me and them. I like to watch them to see if they are bored or glad that they came. I am happy to see that ‘ahah’ moment when something I say answers a problem they have been having.
     At both conferences there is time for the audience to ask questions. When answering a question at a physical conference I can speak with the audience face to face, I can judge to see if my answer is making sense. The questions at a virtual conference are typed so I don’t see the person asking. When I answer it I am only looking at my fellow panelists.
     Part of the fun of going to a physical conference is the contact with my fellow writers. We can meet for meals or a drink or have a quick chat between panels. I can walk through the conference centre soaking up the writing atmosphere. I meet readers, talk about books, and get feedback on my own books. It is wonderful when someone comes up to me and tells me they enjoyed a presentation I made or want some advice, or liked one of my books. This does stroke my ego because we writers need to have our egos stroked once in a while. We spend months, years even, alone writing a book, wondering if a publisher is going to like it and if a publisher does, will the readers like it and if they do will they tell us. It is a great feeling to go to the Vendor’s Room and see my books displayed on my publisher’s table. Even better to have someone buy one of mine and ask for an autograph.
     During a virtual conference, there is a Vendor’s Room showing a picture of all the panelists and their books. There is also a chat room where authors and readers can connect.
     There are a lot of differences between the two conferences. Most physical conferences have been cancelled for this year or turned into a virtual conference which is perfect in today’s time of lockdown and social distancing. In the future I am sure they will return as writers and readers decide what they like best: the convenience of the virtual conference or the comradery of the physical conference. I like both and if, in the future, I am able to attend either of them, I will.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

February new books from BWL Publishing Inc.




Visit  for the best in genre fiction


Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Scraps of paper and lost ideas

 I was deeply into a fast-moving part of a manuscript when my wife sat down beside me with a computer problem. After several minutes of unsuccessful troubleshooting, I referred her to our children, who are much more familiar with the workings of her Apple computer.

Turning back to my work in progress, I looked at my partially completed paragraph...and had no idea where the plot was going. I'd been on a roll, but the interruption took me away from the flow of ideas. I re-read several pages but couldn't recover the train of thought I'd been on. I deleted several paragraphs and went in a different direction. 

Today, my character told me he'd been inspired to pick up his guitar and play Vincent, by Don McLean. The lyrics, "Starry starry night," remind him of a painting by the artist who is the subject of an upcoming cozy. After queueing up that song on my computer, YouTube decided I would also like to hear Gordon Lightfoot music.

I was writing with music playing in the background when YouTube played a live performance. Gordon Lightfoot was talking between songs while tuning his guitar. He said the next song, Carefree Highway, had nearly been lost if not for a slip of paper with a few lines of lyrics he'd jammed in the pocket of his jeans. Armed with those few words, Lightfoot later picked up his guitar and composed one of his most famous songs. He quipped that if he hadn't found that slip of paper before the pants went into the wash, that song would never have been written.

As an author, I get that. I can't count the number of times I've had what seemed like a brilliant idea, only to lose the thought when I was distracted or fell asleep. To overcome that, I've sometimes rolled out of bed at 3 AM and written a brief outline, sent myself an email with a few key words, or sometimes written few paragraphs on a blank page, just so the idea isn't lost.

In an effort to help me overcome the random and unpredictable recovery process of my mind, one of my consultants supplied me with piles of recipe cards. After reading a few sample chapters of my first cozy, "Whistling Pines", Brian met me for lunch with three stacks of recipe cards. "These are characters. This pile is locations. The final pile is plot twists." He's continued to supply me with information, primarily via email now, but his ideas are boundless and well documented. He understands how many thoughts fly around while I'm writing, and he's determined to help me overcome the volume of ideas that are forever lost by my unreliable mental retrieval system.

My cop consultant, Deanna, sends me imperatives. "DON'T FORGET TO INCLUDE..." or "THAT CHARACTER CANNOT..." Messages sent in capital letters seem to stick in my mind better than lowercase texts.

Book signing events are often chaotic sources of plots and characters, supplied by the attendees. "You should set a book in the old quarry. My Aunt Harriet was killed by a burglar who set her house on fire. My neighbor was found tied to a chair in the basement with a gunshot wound to the back of his head-the coroner ruled it a suicide." In addition to the plot suggestions, colorful fans abound, giving me inspiration for quirky characters. The problem with a book signing is that the ideas fly at me while I'm politely inscribing books, trying to not misspell my own name. Most ideas originating from that setting are lost, but others stick in the dark recesses of my mind. Kirsten, a friend and librarian, suggested using images from a GoPro camera, a plot twist later used in "Devils Fall".

Like the bit of lyrics Gordon Lightfoot found in the pocket of his jeans, some ideas get randomly pulled out of my memory and inserted into books. Others end up in the mental equivalent of the washing machine: If ever recovered, they're blurred images on a water-soaked piece of paper that may or may not be recognizable.

Check out "Grave Secrets" the latest Doug Fletcher mystery from BWL publishing.

Grave Secrets is a mixture of memories from a Florida trip, research, suggestions from my cop consultant, and the voices of the characters. There may have been some notes on scraps of paper involved...

Monday, February 21, 2022

My dear friend Kathy, a celebration of life and crazyness, by Diane Scott Lewis


“A rich plot with building suspense, the writing is perfect and flows well. I loved this story.”   ~History and Women~

To purchase Ghost Point: Ghost Point

To purchase my novels and other BWL booksBWL

On January 3rd I lost a dear friend to cancer. She flew into the realm of the gods and goddesses, the fairy world we often spoke about. She liked to envision chants around bonfires and other mystical rituals.

We met in an on-line critique group, nine years ago. When my mother passed, Kathy was there for me, understanding the difficult relationships we both had with our respective families. We spoke almost every day over the internet after that. Her loss, her advance to a higher plain, is a big hole in my heart.

We almost met in person, while three hours apart when I attended the Historical Novel Society conference in Portland, OR, six years ago. She was to drive down from Seattle to meet. But that was when she'd found out her cancer had returned after fifteen years in remission. She cancelled to set up doctors appointments.

But I want to celebrate our dark humor, talk of witches, and fairies, the pagan souls we both shared.

Kathy was a dedicated Pagan, in her thoughts, not her actions. Our bon fires were metaphorical, as well as our flying away on brooms to cure the world of its ills. We had the 'what's the matter you-snap out of it!' attitude, and laughed at the craziness of life, the perilous political scene, and the irony of so many things. Her father had soured her on religion, so this was her 'feel good' place.

We had a third witch in our imagined coven, but for privacy reasons, I won't name her. We Three had a ball whirling through the flames of the pretend bon fires, stirring our cauldron. Imagining we had some control over the insanity of the world.

I'd send her funny jpegs to cheer her, though Kathy rarely complained about her own health. She was the strongest woman I knew.

When the doctors had to put a new port into her for her chemo, I sent her the above jpeg and she loved it. When things got iffy in the world around us, we'd say 'gird your loins' because that phrase is often found in historical novels and people scratch their heads about it.

Her last completed novel was a fictionalized tale of when, after a divorce, she took her two boys to England to research another novel. Her bravery to do that amazed me. (also available at  )

It's difficult not to mourn such losses, but I need to celebrate what we had, short though it seems now. I'm girding my loins! I'd like to think that she's flying about the stratosphere on a magic cloud, laughing at us mere mortals. We never did get to meet in person, and only spoke once on the phone (she sounded so young). But maybe that's how we kept the mystical part of our friendship intact. I was blessed to have her as my friend. We made each other laugh right to the very end.

A funny, brave woman with wit and talent, the gods must have needed her wry and steady advice. She told me she wasn't afraid of dying, she said 'energy' never dies, but she often wished she could stay longer. 

Fair winds, my dear sister of the heart! And strength to your loving husband who also had to say goodbye.

Kathy's expertise was the seventeenth century; check out her other wonderful historical novels.

Katherine Pym Novels

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

She's trying to set up a new website on Blogger: wish her/me luck!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

How the Internet Affects Your Brain Function by J.Q.Rose #BWLpublishing


Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Mystery, paranormal
Click here to find mysteries by J.Q. Rose at BWL Publishing

Hello and welcome to the BWL Publishing Insiders Blog! 

The Writing and Wellness site released a study entitled The online brain: how the Internet may be changing our cognition. According to the Oxford dictionary, cognition is "
the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses." 

Lead author Dr. Joseph Firth reported, “The key findings of this report are that high-levels of Internet use could indeed impact on many functions of the brain. For example, the limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet encourages us towards constantly holding divided attention—which then, in turn, may decrease our capacity for maintaining concentration on a single task.” from the article 5 Ways to Power Up Your Writing in the Morning.

Dr. Rawan Tarawneh, in an article from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, states, "While digital multi-tasking may be a good practice for shifting focus, it may also weaken our ability to maintain focus on one area for an extended period of time." He adds, "In addition to its negative effects on cognition, excess internet use has been associated with a higher risk for depression and anxiety and can make us feel isolated and/or overwhelmed."

Photo courtesy of Pixabay by Geralt

Starting your day by checking your email and social media will set your brain up for a day of distraction. It's like starting the day eating sugar, so the rest of the day you will crave sugar. With all the multi-tasking online, you create a pattern for your brain to be in racing mode for the rest of the day.

If the Internet interferes with an adult brain, just imagine what it can do to a child's brain. The Internet has already shortened the attention span of adults to 8 seconds...shorter than a goldfish attention span. !!! 

The article suggests five ways to start off your morning so you will have a productive day of writing.

1. Read a poem
2. Read a book
3. Meditate
4. Make a gratitude list
5. Write down your thoughts for five minutes.

Have you noticed you have trouble concentrating during the day? Do you have any other suggestions on how to start your morning without first checking the Internet? 

Click the links below to connect online with JQ Rose:

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Changing Times by Helen Henderson

Windmaster Legacy by Helen Henderson
Click the cover for purchase information

As I worked on preparing for the upcoming release of Fire and Amulet, I was struck by how things changed since my first established work.   

Those early pieces consisted of numerous messy drafts handwritten on lined notepaper. Next came the laborious and sometimes aggravating transformation of the drafts into double-spaced, typed manuscripts. This required mastering the skill of erasure and the ability to replace the paper in the typewriter for perfect alignment for the key strike to make the correction. The finished manuscript went into a box and consigned to the tender care of the postal service. Things such as antique photographs for the covers were often hand-carried to the editor to prevent their loss.

Review of the galleys required more than a careful line by line check. Unlike printing today with digital printers and modern word processors, since production was by offset printing, text autoflow and automatic pagination didn't exist. Changing the wrong word could mean the redo of several pages. Wanting a rewrite of several paragraphs, or heaven forbid, an entire scene resulted in a stern request from the editor to justify that significant a change. Which meant that the great idea you just had could not be used.

Magnetic card readers provided a means to save the work and easier corrections. Instead of retyping pages, mere reprinting accommodated text shifts and repagination. Then came large floppy disks. Yes, we used to crack the cases of corrupted floppies to remove the disks inside. The resulting games of frisbee provided entertainment in the wee hours of the morning. Desktop computers and early word processors made things even easier, but paper and pen remained the basis for drafting and brainstorming. Laptop computers allowed for writing while sitting on a riverfront bench watching boats parading up and down the channel.

Just as readers now have options besides printed books, so do writers. Writing the twist on a dragon shifter story, Fire and Amulet used even newer technology than my previous works -- a tablet. Until Trellier and Deneas' tale is available, it is a good time to read any of the fantasy romance series, the Windmaster Novels, you might have missed. 

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 the pack. 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Is it Spring yet? by Nancy M Bell


To see more of Nancy's books click on the cover above.

I chose the cover of The Selkie's Song because it's just so pretty and reminds me that Spring is coming. Really, it is.
With that in mind I thought I'd just share some of my poetry that celebrates Spring.

May Moonlight

How many times have you heard

You can’t go back again?

It’s true you know, you can’t

You can go back to the way things are now

Never to the way things were then.

Long summer nights spent under the stars

Riding in the moonlight up Spy Glass Hill

The May darkness rich with the perfume of apple blossoms

The orchard ghostly white in the gloaming

The world is dark around me where I stand alone

Once more at the apex of that steep hill

Silence gathers, deep and still

Muffling the subtle chatter of the river

I see them coming through the cedars

Rising through the pearly clouds of flowering trees

Young and confident riding sure footed horses

Too young to know how the sweetness of this moment

Will linger in memory long years after this enchanted night


The banners of Spring are flying on the blue of morning

Yellow catkins dance in the sunlit air over the ice-skim puddle

Purple crocus carpet the brown and grey prairie

Bright butter yellow jonquils nestle close to the house foundation

Sheltered from the ever present Alberta winds

Spring comes riding the coat tails of the mighty Chinook

The earth breathes in misty tendrils above the rough ploughed field


Winter’s back is broken, melt water runs like blood

Warm sun shyly promises the glory of June to come

Alberta blue sky and flowering prairie flowing forever

The long cold months are gone, come celebrate Spring  

But Spring doesn't always come gently, does it?

Spring Snow

The storm demons are howling rabidly across the sky

Dragging their icy talons against the window glass

Screeching their defiance through the hydro wires

Buffeting the house with their fists of wind

Shrieking they the fall upon the exposed prairie

Vomiting great gouts of snow to cover the earth

They hurl handfuls of icy pellets in my face

As I struggle to let the stock into the barn

Mean spiritedly they snatch the door from my frozen fingers

Slamming it open and popping one of the hinges

I bare my teeth at them and wrestle the door from their grasp

Hold it steady as the horses troop in out of the angry storm

The bale of hay spills its summer scent in the frigid air

A sunlit meadow song to battle the storm raging outside

The storm demons grab me in their teeth and shake me

As I blindly make my way back to the house

Power and fury personified; they scream their defiance

Their voices howling through the wind in my ears

Reluctant to exchange the winds of winter

For the thunderheads of summer 

Seasonal Sestina

Why is it that the first flowers of Spring

Are so special and the green of new leaves

Wakes a wild joy in my heart

Is it because they signal the end of Winter

Filled with the promise of long summer days

And the lazy hum of honey bees among the flowers

The tiny white snowdrops are among the first flowers

Along with the purple crocus of Spring

Courageously piercing the snow with their leaves

Small purple clusters to gladden my heart

Throwing a gauntlet in the face of Winter

Shining brightly through the short Spring days

The snow retreats with the lengthening of days

The garden paths are strewn with clots of flowers

The sweet bouquet of flower scented Spring

Bright daffodils dance above their pointed leaves

The tulips glowing red as the sun’s heart

They chase from the path the last of snowy Winter

Now only under the brambles lies the evidence of Winter

Soon that too will retreat from the sunny days

The lilacs burst into a froth of fragrant purple flowers

The scent mingling with the sun warmed air of Spring

Slow awakening summer flowers break the soil with their leaves

Heralding the coming of Summer’s heart

Spring passes softly into summer; the pulsing green heart

That rules the year opposite the white of Winter

The long halcyon green and gold days

Forged by the fire of the sun and the glory of flowers

There is just the faintest memory now of Spring

The full heady bounty of Summer canopied by trees of leaves

In due course fiery autumn will colour the leaves

And the flames of October will quicken the heart

The winds of snow will welcome the Winter

The frosty silver and blue of early winter days

Will make us forget the summer of flowers

Too new and beautiful yet to make us wish for Spring

By January we will be wishing for green leaves and Spring

Our heart will have hardened against the silver beauty of Winter

And we will hunger after the days of Summer and flowers 

Thanks for sticking with me this far, and here's hoping Spring is right around the corner.

Until next month, stay well, stay safe

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