Saturday, May 8, 2021

Suspicious Neighbor by J. S. Marlo


 Winter before last, on a cold, dark January morning, Jessie's daughter walked into the house to drop off her five-year-old daughter before going to work.

Kate jumped into Jessie's arms. "Why is there a  car parked on the fire hydrant, grandma?"

"What?" Confused, Jessie stared back and forth between her granddaughter and daughter. "What car?"

"I'm surprised you didn't hear anything when it crashed, mom." Her daughter gestured for her to come outside, so Jessie donned a coat over her nightie and a pair of boots.

The fire hydrant had been tossed into a snowbank some six feet away and a black SUV with tainted windows all around and the driver's door open had been abandoned on the corner of Jessie's driveway where the fire hydrant used to stand.  The surreal scene in the twilight woke up Jessie more efficiently than the cup of coffee she hadn't had time to drink yet.

"I'm sure that car wasn't there at five-thirty when your dad left for work, or else he would have called the police." Jessie couldn't see anyone in the SUV, and couldn't smell gas, but she was still reluctant to approach the vehicle. 

Her daughter called nine-nine-one. Within minutes, the police and the fire truck arrived. While the officers and firefighters assessed the situation--no one was dead or injured in the SUV--one of the firefighters gave little Kate a tour of the truck and a stuffed bear. For Kate, it was the start of a wonderful morning, but for her mom and grandma Jessie, that should have been the first clue that something was wrong with the neighbor who rented the house on the right--except the women assumed the driver had abandoned the vehicle because he was either drunk at 6 a.m. and didn't want to get a DUI or had stolen it.

From her house, Jessie couldn't see these neighbors because her double garage blocked her view, but when she went for a walk, she often noticed vehicles parked  for a few minutes in front of the neighbor's house.  Then as the weather got warmer, she noticed the neighbor's big dog in the yard.  Every time she went outside, the dog would jump at the fence and bark and growled. The dog terrified little Kate who stopped wanting to play in Jessie's fenced yard.

Out of the blue, the owner of the house stopped by to talk to Jessie's husband. The woman had received an anonymous call saying something suspicious was going on in the house she rented to the man in his mid forties. "Do you think my renter might be running a prostitution ring?" she asked Jessie's husband. "Are you the one who sent me a message?"

"No, I didn't send any messages," answered Jessie's husband who had never met the owner until that moment, "but now that you mention it, I often see vehicles parked in front of the house , but the drivers always leave their cars running while they go inside, and they never stay more than five minutes, so I doubt that's prostitution, but something else may be going on."

Well, a few weeks later, Jessie decided to clean her shed which stood beside the fence separating her backyard from the suspicious renter's. At one point, she carried some junk out of the shed and froze in the doorway. Two RCMP officers were scouting the edge of her property for 'something'.  They glanced at her, then resumed their search without saying a word. Somewhat rattled by the encounter, Jessie carried the junk into the big garbage can in her driveway, but as soon as she came within view of the street, she froze again.

There were police cars, unmarked cars, and a armored vehicle in the street in front of the house. Her suspicious neighbor's property was swarming with police officers, some in standard uniforms, some in tactical gear, and others in civilian clothes.  They were carrying boxes out of the house, and processing the two vehicles in the driveway.

"Jessie?" The next door neighbor on the other side of Jessie's house, a single mom with four girls, ran toward her. "I was outside with the girls when the armored vehicle stopped in front of the house, followed by all the other vehicles. No sirens, no flashing lights. Officers in tactical gear just bolted out, busted  the door open, and charged in. They arrested two or three people."

The drug bust didn't surprise Jessie, but she was disappointed she had missed all the action. To have seen the RCMP tactical unit in action would have been awesome.

~ * ~

While it might make a nice opening chapter for a novel one day, I can't take any credit for the story because it's not a story--it's my life in a nutshell.

I'm Jessie. I live in a quiet neighborhood, but for many months last year, I lived next to a renter who was sentenced to 10-15yrs in jail--twice--for drug and weapon related offenses, but for some reason, he was released after only a few years both times.  Lots of cash money, drugs, and weapons were found during the raid, and as far as I know, he's still in jail awaiting his next trial.

After the raid, the owner renovated the house. There were bullet holes in the floor, and sewage backup after someone tried to flush the drugs. Half a dozen people were crashing in the house, many of them addicts. Some of them tried breaking into the house even after the owners got rid of everything. Me, I invested in heavy duty deadbolts in case they tried barging in the wrong house--namely mine.

The former drug house had been on sale since Christmas. Three weeks ago, it sold. The next day, one of the addicts who often crashed in the house contacted the owner. She had just come out of rehab,  she was clean, she had turned her life around, and she wanted her stuff. The owner told her that the house was empty, so what did the woman who had allegedly turned her life around did a few hours later? She tried breaking in through the front window in broad comments!

Yesterday, the new owners moved in. I haven't met them yet, but hopefully, peace and tranquility will return once more.

As you can see, writers live ordinary lives...or do they?

Happy Reading & Stay Safe




Friday, May 7, 2021

Being Neighborly by Eileen O'Finlan


Many people, myself included, lament the loss of neighborliness. When I was a kid the neighborhood in our little New England town was a community. Everyone knew and looked out for everyone else. Too often today even next door neighbors barely know each other. We blame this on many things - people being too busy with work, the fact that people don't stay in one place for very long, allowing social media to take over out lives - and myriad other culprits. But do we ever consider that this change isn't all that new? The neighborhoods of my youth had nothing on those of early New England.

From colonial times until about the mid-1800s life in New England was extremely interdependent. The English colonists and their descendants got through life primarily on an intricate barter system. Goods and services were traded, recorded in account books with a monetary value attributed to each to ensure fairness, and reconciled usually on January 1st, with nary any cash exchanging hands. One family might have more cows than another so could produce more butter, cream, and cheese while the other family had a loom and wove textiles. Trading made sense. A person possessed of certain skills such as coopering, carpentry, or blacksmithing might barter his services for help on his farm (most everyone farmed at that time, especially in rural areas, whether or not they engaged in a trade) or for foods or goods.

If someone needed help completing a task or simply wasn't capable of doing it, another with the necessary skill was always there to step in. Of course, reciprocity was expected if it could be offered. However, widows and those in need or distress were never expected to reciprocate.

At certain times of the year entire neighborhoods got together to assist each other in the urgent work of mowing and storing hay, hard labor that had to be finished quickly. If rain threatened even the women and children old enough to help pitched in. That hay would feed their livestock throughout the winter. Without it their animals, which represented their own survival, would have starved. Men assisted each other in barn and house raisings. Women gathered to make quilts. Young and old alike worked and played together at "frolics" - gatherings where a group completed a labor intensive task such as husking copious ears of corn. Once the work was completed it was time for refreshments, music, dancing, and games, all of which might go on late into the night.

In Tales of New England: The Diaries of Hiram Harwood, Vermont Farmer 1810 - 1837 it is stated that twice a year neighbors gathered to work on the roads, plowing, scraping them clear of rocks, and mounding them in the middle. Work was assessed at $0.75 per day in the spring and $0.50 per day in the fall and all the residents were expected to participate to work off the tax rate assessed by the town.

Visitors were welcomed at any time. The norms of hospitality demanded that food and drink be offered to anyone who happened by at a meal time, shelter for anyone caught in a storm or after dark, and a place to sleep for a weary traveler. This went for strangers as well as family, friends, and neighbors.

When someone fell ill neighbors helped out with nursing and picking up the work of the sick person. A dying family member was never left alone. Family, friends, and neighbors stayed with that person right to the end. As it was customary for someone to stay awake all night with the body after a person had died, these same family members, neighbors, and friends spelled each other in this melancholy task until the burial.

Such profound interdependence must have made for some interesting social dynamics. People who had to rely upon each other for survival undoubtedly had to work hard at maintaining good relationships with one another. Yet, it might also be said that the tightly woven web of interdependent life into which everyone was born helped to make creating and sustaining healthy interpersonal relations the norm. Being that they were all human, there were undoubtedly tensions, anger, hurts, and upsets, but these must have been dealt with and mended as a matter of course much of the time.

By the mid-19th century these powerful bonds began to erode with the coming of the Industrial Revolution. More and more items that had once been made exclusively in the home began to be mass produced in factories. Single, young women began leaving their family farms to take jobs in the mills.  Young men or whole families migrated west to begin new homesteads and seek their fortunes. The market economy grew. Despite some setbacks along the way, the Industrial Revolution rolled on, forever changing the landscape and the relationships of New England.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Free Mystery Novel Download from BWL Publishing





 To download your free PDF copy of this novel

Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer. 


Detective Cole Stephens doesn't want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.


Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust?




J.Q Rose does it again. I enjoyed this Inspirational mystery about Pastor Christine Hobbs. Who would have thought a Pastor could be a suspect in a murder. Add a pot-belly pig and a kangaroo into the mix and... well let's just say strange things happen. Roseanne Dowell

It was a delightful cozy, with some romance, some religion, and lots of mystery. This novel has an interesting cast of characters, humorous situations, and was filled with surprises. Susan B.

I generally read edgier thrillers but a friend recommended this book, so I gave it a try. It turned out to be a witty, pleasant, and cozy little romantic thriller. Kia Heavey

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Men's Fashions in the First Part of the 14th Century by Rosemary Morris


To learn more about Rosemary and her work please click on the cover.

Men’s Fashion in the First Part of the 14th Century


I enjoy dressing my characters, rich and poor, in clothes made in a wide variety of fabrics. Poor people dressed in homespun, wore cogware - a common, coarse cloth that resembled frieze - a napped rough cloth, fustian a coarse twilled cotton or wool cloth, and other cheap materials. The descriptions and names of brightly coloured fabrics worn by those who could afford them triggers my imagination of wealthy characters dressed in sumptuous material. For example, biss or bissyn - fine linen, chaisel - fine linen for smocks, branched velvet - figured velvet, powdered, cloth sprinkled over, e.g., blue damask powdered with gold leopards and crowns. samite - very rich silk frequently interwoven with gold thread, and satin fugre - figured satin.

Tunics and Gipons

At the beginning of the century men wore short tunics. Some ended at the hip and revealed the lower part of linen braies (underwear). Braies fitted loosely with a belt or cord through the fabric at the waist to fasten them. Sometimes they were tied by a cord at the knees.

Until the first part of the century, when fashion gradually changed men wore short, shapeless tunics, with a girdle at the waist. In 1331 the gipon, worn over a linen shirt, was shaped slightly at the waist, and fitted close to the body.

Cote Hardie

The cote-hardie slowly replaced the super-tunic aka surcoat worn in the 13th century. The cote-hardie, worn over the gipon, had a low neck and tight fit. It fastened from the top to the waist with laces or buttons and had a full skirt open to the knees. Loose cote-hardies worn by poor people were usually pulled over the head. Its ankle or knee length skirt was slit up the front to the girdle at the waist.

Cloaks and Capes

Long, circular cloaks, the gentry’s lined with expensive silk, fastened at centre front or on the shoulder. Mid-length capes, some with attached hoods, buttoned down the front. I imagine these garments swirling with each movement, or wrapped tight during rain, wind and cold.

Foot Ware

Hose and stockings either ended below the knee joint or at the thigh. They fastened with garters below the knee. Some hose had a thin leather sole and were worn without shoes or boots. Hose was not always the same colour as the tunic or cote-hardie, and the legs might be different colours.  Socks, pulled up to a little below the calf, often had circular, coloured bands e.g., scarlet and yellow. Shoes were well-shaped and laced on the inner or outer sides. Some resembled a slipper, fastened with a strap and buckle around the ankles. Shoes embellished with embroidery or punched patterns, diamonds, circles, and squares etc were worn by the upper classes. Boots long and short were worn for riding or walking.

Hoods, Hats and Gloves. Hoods were usually made of cloth and lined with the same material, fur or, rarely, with taffeta. Liripipes introduced in 1330 hung from the hood on the right or left or down the back. Hats had a round or domed crown with the brim turned up at the front and back creating a point that jutted forward. Everyone wore or carried gloves with wide cuffs. The nobilities’ gloves were embroidered.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Ancient Celts by Katherine Pym


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Aligned Stones for worship?

So, I was surfing about the net the other day and found this article: Sacred Sites & Rituals in the Ancient Celtic Religion and began reading. You can’t find a lot on the Celts, so actually, if you think about it, how would scholars know the depth of the Celtic life?

They had an oral language where their priests memorized history and whatnots, but very little written has been found. Everyone speculates on the stones that are about the countryside, but no one really knows for certain why they are there, or if the Celts put them there. People are found in bogs, and scholars think they were used as human sacrifices when bad tidings knocked on their door.

The Norsemen preferred sleeping in the open. Celtics worshiped in the open. Under starry skies. I wouldn’t have lasted more than a day, maybe two in those sort of conditions.

Scholars say springs, river sources, and groves were sacred. Druids would stand in a grove and pray to their gods. They performed rituals and sacrifices. I’ve read people were sacrificed when great trials came upon them, such as war and invasion.

 The Celts were once a great people, and immigrated from the south before spreading across Europe & Great Britain. Burial sites were found somewhere in the mid-East, the bodies tall and slim with red hair and lots of jewelry. Were those Celts too? Where did they come from?

Their religion was the interpretation of nature’s events. The Druids, or priests, were very knowledgeable and considered filled with wisdom. What did they say during these rituals? What did they do? Who rolled the big megalithic stones across country and up-ended them? What did they mean to the Druids, the Celts? It must have been important considering the time and effort expended.  

A Druid Priest

The World History Encyclopedia states temples and sanctuaries cleared spaces on flat ground, “surrounded by earthworks”. They had a “rampart, outer ditch, and a single gate most often on the east side”.  Were there ever buildings on those sites? The pictures I saw did not seem to have had any.

Pottery and some statues of human beings seem to be the only artifacts that remain, except for the standing stones which may or may not be astronomically profound. Some say the head is where the soul is found. They say on the summer solstice some of these stones shine with moonshine or sunshine, depending on when you gather.

There’s a myth that the stones in Brittany come alive and dance the night away on certain celebratory times. If people get caught in the dancing, they are stone the following day.

 Julius Caesar found the Celts complexing. The tribe he ran into was the Carnutes, which is not dissimilar to the original tribes of Greenland and the territories of Canada, the Inuits. Did they travel the high seas to scatter with the winds on Greenland, Iceland and North America? We don’t know, but the idea would be fascinating.

 Were the Carnutes Druids or Celts? Did they explore the land and find something truly amazing, ethereal to worship? Is that why they worshiped in groves and near the crux of streams? How did they develop? It’s hard to read the articles I found because almost right at the first they state no one knows how the Celts were since nothing is written down. We can only surmise.


Many thanks to : Ancient Celtic Society by Mark Cartwright and World History Encyclopedia, and another article by Mark Cartwight – Sacred Sites & Rituals in the Ancient Celtic Religion


Sunday, May 2, 2021

Turning Ideas Into Fiction - Part 2 by Roseanne Dowell


Visit Roseanne Dowell's BWL Author page for details and purchase information

Creating Characters from our resources. 

Do authors need to lead adventurous, exciting lives like lawyers or doctors to become successful writers?

The answer is a simple, resounding NO!

Can lowly little Charlene Smith, ordinary homemaker, write a best seller? You bet she can! Look at J.D.Rowlings.  She actually wrote her novel at a small coffee shop and without a computer.  Imagine that writing a book written in longhand?

 However, writers do need good imaginations and good ideas. So where do they come up with ideas for their stories?

For starters, write about things you know about and enjoy. Skateboarding, bike riding, hiking, bowling- even working on cars are potential articles or stories.  What if a hiker found a dead body? Was it buried in leaves off the beaten path?  Why was it there? What happened to it? Was it shot, stabbed, strangled, or did it die of natural causes? You have the potential for a mystery. Or maybe someone brings a car into a mechanic or body shop.  Is there blood on the bumper? Hair strands?  Or maybe a beautiful woman brings the car in. The mechanic’s attracted to her. Might be the potential for a romance.

One of the first things to do is create my character, usually my main character. I want to know everything possible about them.  Not just their appearance and age, I want to know their innermost feelings, their faults, and weaknesses.  Because without these characteristics, your characters will come across as fake, unbelievable people. I always jot down these important traits.  I use index cards, although I do have sheets with all the important information listed.  But for me, index cards work better. They’re smaller and can be stored on my desk in a recipe box right next to my computer.  How you do it isn’t important, that you do it is. 

 Then I add their occupations. Where were they born? What’s their favorite color? Where do they live (town, big city, etc)? Do they live in a house or apartment?  Were they born there?  Do they live alone? Do they have hobbies?  I have a whole list I go through. These are just some of the questions I ask.  I want to know my character like I know myself. Once I know that I can really delve into their personalities.  What’s their favorite color, likes, dislikes. What makes them happy, sad, angry. But don’t stop there it’s only the beginning. I want to get into their heads. How would they react to this scenario or that?  Is all of this really important? Absolutely, we may not use all of these characteristics in the story, especially a short story, but we know them – that’s the important thing. And they are critical for a novel. Get used to doing this. Sometimes these thoughts come to me while I’m cooking or doing the dishes. If I don’t think I’ll remember, I’ll jot them down on a scrap of paper. And lately, I'm doing that more and more. I often wake up in the middle of the night with a scene or conversation (dialogue) going through my head. I've learned a long time ago, get up and write it down. I'll never remember it the next day. I've lost many good scenes by not getting up.

 Any character we create may have one of our hobbies or occupations – and how much more believable this character will be because we have first-hand knowledge. But that’s not the only way to come up with ideas. Now that’s not to say you have to limit yourself to these hobbies or occupations.  You can always research other occupations and interview people.  Maybe your main character is a sheriff or cop.  Call your local police department or sheriff’s office.  They are more than willing to speak with you about their profession.  But do have a list of questions beforehand.  Don’t flail about thinking about what to ask. Be prepared. You’re taking their valuable time and they’re more than willing to answer intelligent questions. At the end of the interview ask if they have anything to add or an interesting story they’d like to share with you, more potential ideas.  Libraries are another great resource for learning about occupations, as, of course, is the computer. I even asked one if I could use his name. He said he'd rather I didn't but gave me an alternative name to use. I remembered to thank him in the acknowledgments. 

Create interesting characters' names.  Sometimes the character will almost name themselves I’ve often started off with a name and as the story continued the name just didn’t fit. Silly as it may sound, the character themselves insisted I change it.  Another good reason to get into the character's head before you begin.

Characters are all around us.  Everyone knows portly Uncle Jess or ample-bosomed Aunt Sophie who can’t seem to resist pinching her nieces and nephews cheeks or slobbering them with kisses.  And we all know at least one person who loves to tease and play jokes. Use these characteristics in your stories. (But, please, please remember to change their names)

We all met a person that no matter how good the news will find something negative about it.  

Watch people in restaurants, malls, airports. Potential characters are everywhere. Next time: Learning to Lie. 

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


Saturday, May 1, 2021

BWL Publishing New Releases for May 2021


May Free EBook Download 

Visit our website in May and download a free copy of Dangerous Sanctuary by J.Q. Rose


Pastor Christine Hobbs has been in the pulpit business for over five years. She never imagined herself caring for a flock that includes a pig, a kangaroo, and a murderer. 

Detective Cole Stephens doesn't want the pretty pastor to get away with murdering the church music director. His investigative methods infuriate Christine as much as his deep brown eyes attract her.

Can they find the real killer and build a loving relationship based on trust


Friday, April 30, 2021

Remembering Firsts by Eden Monroe

I can see it from here, the place where it all began, and I’d love it if you’d come with me on this small step back in time. Destination? My very first novel, Dare to Inherit. No really, it’ll be fun. There are even cats involved, on a minor level.

Before we set off let me very briefly explain how the idea was hatched for this novel in the first place. I’d taken a distance ed course in creative writing, and for the second part of those studies I could either compile a selection of short stories, or create a novel. I chose to do the latter and was excited to get started. I knew the story I wanted to tell, but as is so often the case, it’s getting started that sometimes presents the greatest challenge. It’s like the first step on a thousand-mile journey because that’s what the distance will feel like by the time you’ve finished. Words, ideas, plots, bouncing around in your head like demented grasshoppers in a ripe cornfield, and it doesn’t relax until you organize your plan of attack and start moving in the right direction. If not the corn will be gone, and so will your ideas, lost in the mists of time.

So where to start? At the beginning, with that first sentence, because there are plenty more right behind that one, anxious to be recorded, and so off I went

 And now for the where this novel actually began. We won’t be going far, just up to the haymow. Say what!

Ahhh, I remember it well, it was a late September day, sunny but refreshingly cool, a most welcome relief from the baking heat of a country August; a day of coral, crimson and honey-gold trees set aflame against a cloudless sapphire sky. It was a day filled with exciting possibilities and promise; ideas inspired by a glorious autumn in full bloom. It was a great day to write.

As the vagaries of imagination go, I chose a most unusual but inviting retreat to start my novel. That’s right, the hushed sanctuary of a haymow, ripe with sweet smelling summer hay. Equipped with my faded black camp chair, notebook and pen, I was all set. But I wasn’t alone, because besides one very persistent house/barn fly that kept everything real, spring kittens, now gangly patchwork teenagers, taking a break from mock-battle cavorting, watched warily with their parents from atop nearby bales, ready for flight in a nanosecond.

None of them came near, that privilege was reserved only for mealtimes, but they rarely looked away from the woman held captive in their gaze; the intruder in their midst. A novelist!  In their haymow! Eventually they became bored, tucked limbs and napped, periodically peering suspiciously through fuzzy eye slits to make sure I hadn’t decided to come any closer while they dozed. I hadn’t, because one sudden move and they’d scatter like crows, the camaraderie of the moment lost.

 While they slept, I swatted ineffectually at the fly but no matter, I had started down a thrilling new path, armed with the exhilarating notion that I could one day become a published novelist as I continued to let my imagination play outside of the box. The novelist within had been set free in a tsunami of creative flow as my hand raced over each page trying to keep pace with what I could imagine, enjoying the rush of being swallowed up in the fascinating world storytelling.


That haymow chapter would eventually become a full-length manuscript honed to a much more streamlined product, revisited, refined and lovingly enlarged upon to complete my course and over time, become Dare to Inherit, my debut novel released by Books We Love. It was a wonderful experience when it made that all-important leap from the proverbial hatbox where it landed after the course, to a published book.

Finally, the sisters: Jocelyn, Chloe and Willow, were set in motion for real, facing off against their newly deceased adversary, Aunt Feenia, who, despite her untimely demise, still means business. But she can’t hurt them anymore … or can she?


May 5 - May 8

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Walpurgis Nacht



Walpurgisnacht is said to be named after an early Christian woman (Saint Walpurga, 710-779) who was missionary to the Black Forest German pagans. Like most saint's stories, I take it with a grain of salt. 

More likely, Walpurga was a wise women or, perhaps even a female divinity of place. If you can't at first get rid of those old gods and their generosity with a good time, the early Christians soon found that these local holidays were easily co-opted. Taking over a night of bonfire and dancing is not too hard, but you have to discourage (first with threats and then by fire) the far older fertility rites of liberated sex in the woods. (Imagine! Women running wild!) Among the English, you'll family names of Robinson or Green or Grove are common, and are often said to have had their origins in babies born after a spring fling in the forest. 

This is one of the stories within Roan Rose, whose heroine is born into the just such a peasant community.

For humble farm folk, the older traditions often quietly continued. After all, the New Religion allows you to repent whatever indiscretions you've committed during the night at the next morning's Saint's Day Mass! Alcohol, a good party and warm weather are stimulants to the young who, in all ages, are universally singing "Born to Wild" after any big celebration with the opposite sex present.

This Walpurgisnacht, or Hexennacht, ("witches night,") falls midway between the summer solstice and the equinox and were therefore once commonly named "Cross Quarter" Days. Like Samhain (Halloween/Hallow's Eve) May Eve is considered another "time between" when the "veil between the worlds" is thin. So, besides a party--if you were inclined to celebrate--you might have a picnic or leave food for the spirits of place, or "bring in the May" by decorating your home with flowers and greens just as my mother showed me long ago. These quieter alternatives to that blow-out bonfire are more in order where I live and to the state of my elder body. However, from sundown on April 30th until sunrise on May 1st, the old rule, bar the caveat "'an you harm none" was: Do what you will!  

While researching the habits of 18th Century Vienna, I learned that there, Saint Brigitte was the proper Lady to celebrate on May 1st. The similar name indicates that she may be a form of Brigid, the ancient Celtic triple goddess of artistic creation, rebirth and renewal. In my reading I learned that so many tried to leave the city for picnics and flower picking in the surrounding fields and woods on that day, that there were, by the late 1770's, traffic jams. Once, I read, the Emperor Joseph himself could not get out of town on one particularly carriage-clogged May Day because he did not drive out sufficiently early in the day.  

In My Mozart, the teen heroine has a name day on April 29th. She attends a fateful party in the Vienna Woods with the louche fellow players from her new workplace, a Volksoper, where she dreams of the blazing kiss of Orpheus.




In Zauberkraft Black, the hero, a little drunk and sorry for himself, stumbles upon just such a party among his tenants the first night of his homecoming from the Napoleonic Wars. He finds a great deal more is going on there than simply drinking and getting lost in the new green woods with a willing farm girl.  How little, this gentleman will find, he has known his own peasants!


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It's probably pretty clear by now that I love this holiday and still keep it with flowers, new loaves of bread, and a of wine. On Saturday too I will pick up a few more native plants from a local Conservancy group--all very formal this year because of Covid--and bring them home to my yard. (Please grow, My New Darlings!)

  Welcoming spring and giving thanks for the seasons while whispering a few prayers for a bountiful harvest can't, at any time or place, be a bad thing. These days, Mother Earth is in need of all the good vibes we can send to her.

~~Juliet Waldron

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Key to Your Heroine--is Hidden in Your Closet? by Connie Vines

 Research is my middle name.

I plan family vacations to include possible ‘future book settings’, ‘historical events’, ‘regional foods’—well, you know where I’m going with this.

In the past, research often required hours spent at the public library using the card catalog, or reading microfiche.  Oh, how the Internet has simplified my life.

However, breathing life into your heroine, and bringing your story to life, are all elements that writers spend hours and hours perfecting.

Sensory details, setting, motivation, and that ‘something’ which is the spark of each and every story is often elusive.  Sometimes, just sometimes, the pieces of your fictional universe fall neatly, and unexpectedly, into place.

This is what happened to me.

While sorting through my closet, I discovered a treasure of carefully-packed-away-items.  Being the eldest daughter, I’ve acquired the family photos, was blessed with the oral histories of grandparents and one great-grandmother, as well as that of and other relatives.  I carefully placed the items on my bed.  I stroking a silk scarf belonging to my maternal grandmother. I focused on the blending of colors and the threads of silver catching the light. This was when I knew I was experiencing an 'important moment' in her life.  A snap-shot of who she was, who she wanted to be—a time before she was my grandmother. Before she was married. Before she had a child of her own.

She was a young woman.

Had she gone shopping with her sister or her mother to purchase this scarf?  Or had she ridden the EL, after work, to a department store in downtown Chicago?  

Was she going to a dance? 

To dinner?

Or, to the theater?

Her mother, Marie, was raised on a farm in Bohemia, Czechoslovakia (before it became the Czech Republic). As an adult she moved to Prague, working as a secretary until she married her husband, They had 6 children, my grandmother was the youngest.

In 1898, the family (minus my grandmother, who was born in the United States) boarded a ship and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Ellis Island and before settling in Chicago, Ill . 

My grandmother in the 1920s working at A.B. Dick.
Which later became Xerox.  She became their 1st female supervisor and held
 that position until she retired.

I located pieces of her jewelry, the scarf still smelled faintly of her perfume (or was it simply my memory of her fragrance?), necklaces, earrings, broaches, and bracelets. There was a beaded evening bag.  I recalled a photo taken when she and her sister worked as extras in the motion pictures of the 1920 and 1930s.  They stayed with their older brother (musician, Tony Lada of the Louisiana Five) in San Monica, California.  

Tony (Anton) Lada's band was the first band to tour Europe. He preformed at the Troubadour. He was one of the founding members of SAG .  There were so many stories about Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, and many more. . . 

I was certain I had it in a box, perhaps a few of the pictures had already been scanned to my computer.

The wax music cylinders were all damaged in a flood but I had some sheet music and one '78 record. 

Louisiana Five/youtube link

These are the steps that help me discover my heroine and my hero.  

This is why my characters become living, breathing people to me and to my readers—step by step; their stories are revealed to me as snapshots of pieces of their lives. 

Gritty Old Chicago?  

The glorious film sets when talking pictures were cutting edge? Or the days of silent movies.

Rudolph Valentino was all the rage (Catch his silent movies on YouTube—he really was was a hottie!)

There are so many wonderful stories in passed down through a family oral history.

The relative who immigrated from Sicily.  

I also have my great-great-grandmother’s butter churn from the 1800s— when made the journey from Tennessee via a covered wagon (the Scottish branch of the family tree) but that’s another story.

So, what treasure do you have hiding in your closet?

What stories have your ancestors passed down to you?

What story is waiting to be told?

Thank you for stopping by to read my blog posting.

My current release, "Gumbo Ya Ya" is set in New Orleans and the Louisiana bayou. My husband's family is from Louisiana. New Orleans and The French Quarter are wonderful cities. 

Remember, my novels always, always include delicious recipes. And Gumbo Ya Ya, not only has gumbo recipes; but old time pass-down-family recipes, too!

Happy Reading!


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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Warrior Women Part 2 –The Dark and Middle Ages - by Vijaya Schartz

Queen Boadicea or Boudicca of Roman Britain

Early on, Boudicca was publicly flogged by the Roman occupants for claiming her father’s crown and lands, and treated like a slave despite her rank. Then she was forced to watch the rape and torture of her two daughters, who were about 12 years old.

An ancient historian tells us that this Celtic queen of the Iceni “possessed greater intelligence than often belongs to women.” She is represented with waist-length, flaming red hair, wearing a gold torque and colorful clothing.

With a piercing gaze and a harsh voice, she rallied the Celtic tribes into an army of 100,000 and killed 80,000 Roman soldiers with superior armament. With her daughters, she led the charge on her light chariot, carrying flaming torches, like raging Furies.

Decimated at first, the Romans eventually received more reinforcements, the Celts lost and were exterminated. Boudicca, who survived the last battle, escaped, only to kill herself with poisonous hemlock. She refused to be paraded in Rome as a vanquished enemy.

Norse mythology - Valkyries and shieldmaidens

Norse legends speak of Valkyries, heavenly shieldmaidens, who flew over the battlefield and collected the souls of brave warriors slain in battle. So, for a long time, history assumed the stories of Viking Warrior Women to be legend as well.

A Viking grave from the tenth Century in Birka revealed weapons, gaming equipment, and two horses. Assumed to be that of a powerful Viking warrior, the skeleton suggested the person was female. Recently, a DNA analysis confirmed the powerful warrior was indeed a woman.

In truth, the Vikings counted many shieldmaidens in their ranks. Many were mentioned throughout history. Now, we know they were real.

One of the most famous Viking warrior women is Lagertha, wife of Ragnar, portrayed prominently in the History Channel series Vikings.

Japan’s Samurai women

Since the 12th century, many women of the Samurai class learned how to handle the sword and the naginata primarily to defend themselves and their homes. In the event that their castle was overrun by enemy warriors, the women were expected to fight to the end and die with honor, weapons in hand.

The Onna Bugeisha were female Samurai trained to protect entire villages and communities, not only the family property. If a Samurai had no son, he reserved the right to train his daughters as full-time onna bugeisha.

Rather than sitting at home waiting for the fight to come to them, some young women with exceptional fighting skills rode out to war with the men. They behaved like Samurai. They had the strength to fight with two swords. They could enlist in the army of a daimyo and fight side by side with male Samurai. They wore the attire and the hairstyles commonly worn by the men of the army.

An example of such an onna-bugeisha is Tomoe Gozen. Of course, like many warrior women of her time, official history labeled her more of a legend than a real person. But nowadays, we know better…

Joan of Arc - Medieval Warrior maiden – 1412-1431

As France was losing at home against the English during the 100-year war, this teenage peasant girl, a maiden, managed to convince the heir to the throne of France to give her control of his flailing armies. Among the chaos of war, she secured and attended his coronation.

As a keen strategist, Joan of Arc won many battles for the king of France. She didn’t hesitate to reprimand prestigious knights for swearing, behaving indecently, skipping Mass, or dismissing her battle plans. Personal attacks by the English, who called her rude names and joked that she should return home to her cows, upset her greatly.

Joan of Arc wore weapons and armor and brandished a standard as she led her men to battle. But it is said she never killed anyone. She was wounded at least twice, taking an arrow to the shoulder during her famed Orléans campaign and a crossbow bolt to the thigh during her failed attempt to liberate Paris.

Betrayed and delivered to the English, she was imprisoned. After she made a solemn promise never to wear men’s clothes again, they stole her woman’s clothes, forcing her to dress like a man. With the complicity of a French Bishop, they condemned her for that crime. They also condemned her for cutting her hair like a man, hearing voices, and being convinced she was following the will of God. She was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431. She was 19 years old.

In my writings, I like to portray warrior women. Here is my medieval maiden in the Celtic legends Curse of the Lost Isle series. Damsel of the Hawk is a standalone in the series. Find it on Amazon HERE Find it at BWL Publishing HERE

1204 AD - Meliora, the legendary damsel of Hawk Castle, grants gold and wishes on Mount Ararat, but must forever remain chaste. When Spartak, a Kipchak warrior gravely wounded in Constantinople, requests sanctuary, she breaks the rule to save his life. The fierce, warrior prince stirs in her forbidden passions. Captivated, Spartak will not bow to superstition. Despite tribal opposition, he wants her as his queen. Should Meliora renounce true love, or embrace it and trigger the sinister curse... and the wrath of the Goddess? Meanwhile, a thwarted knight and his greedy band of Crusaders have vowed to steal her Pagan gold and burn her at the stake...

Happy Reading

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes, cats
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