Monday, January 3, 2022

The Necessity of New Year’s Writing Goals by S. L. Carlson

 

I am S. L. Carlson, a proud and grateful BWL Publishing Inc. author. My books can be viewed and purchased by visiting https://www.bookswelove.net/carlson-s-l


I’ve had the honor to have been in an on-line critique group since the early 2000’s. Every year we send each other our writing goals for the coming year. We started this annual tradition in order to keep ourselves on (writing) target, and also to be held accountable to fellow writers. Many Januarys, we end up laughing about our previous year’s impressive goals, unreached. Some Januarys, we give each other e-slaps-on-the-backs and e-hugs or e-high-fives for accomplishing a stated goal. Each new year is eye-opening to what we can and cannot, or do not, complete in a year. And each January, we refine our goals to become more realistic and attainable to our complicated lives.

I find this yearly habit encouraging and strengthening. More than that. As a writer, I find it vital in order to see and find my writing way.


Each year, I keep a file for the critique group. So this new month of the new year, I looked up the file of our 2021 writing goals. Couldn’t find it. I figured it was such a chaotic pandemic year (with me moving a little over a year ago to a new state), that I simply hadn’t pieced all our goals together like I’ve done the previous years. But when I searched my emails, lo and behold, not a single 2021 writing goal popped up.

I was stunned. I stared at my computer screen for the longest time because 1) I hadn’t sent out a request for goals (so unlike me); 2) no one else in the group made comments about it (so unlike them); and 3) I was struck with how much this pandemic and move has kicked my writing butt!

This new year, however, our house is finally in order, including furniture, and pictures on the walls. All our family have been vaccinated. It’s a new year. New beginnings. Time for new goals.

If you have not made writing goals for this new year, I admire your time, dedication, and tenacity to continue writing on your own. An author’s life can be very solitary. As for me, I need others. If I didn’t have a time-limit of when to have 3,000 new words written to sub to my critique group each month, I know I’d make excuses to fill my time with things other than writing, and there are always other things.

I’ve been in other on-line groups, like BIW (Book-in-a-Week), where you’d post on Sunday night however many pages you think you’d be able to write for the week, then report in on the following Sunday. I’ve also participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November for ten years. THAT is a rush – writing 1,667 blabbering words each day!

If you don’t have (or even if you do have) a writing group to share you goals with, share them in the comments below. Let’s make 2022 a spectacular year for writing.

 


S. L. Carlson Blog & Website: https://authorslcarlson.wordpress.com

BWL Inc. Publisher Author Page: https://www.bookswelove.net/carlson-s-l


New Year, New…Who Am I Kidding? by Diane Bator

 


Happy 2022! New Year, New…Who Am I Kidding?

Every year it’s the same old:

·       “I’m going to get in shape and lose weight.”

·       “I’m going to finally get that new job/career.”

·       “I’m taking my dream vacation.”

·       “I’ll eat healthier.”

·       “This year, I’ll budget and save money.”

·       “January 1st, I’m writing my book.”

Nothing wrong with that except life gets in the way and derails our plans. Not all the time. But who can resist when your spouse brings home pizza? Or a blizzard hits and the most exercise you get is shoveling the sidewalk and driveway before you collapse on the sofa? Then the car breaks down or the dog gets sick and it’s bye-bye dream vacation and budget.

But that book. Now that’s something you can work with, right?

What’s so hard about writing a couple hundred pages of that epic story you have swirling around in your head? It’s only 70,000 words and you probably speak that many on any given day. It can’t be so hard to write them down.

January 1:  Fresh notebook and a pen Aunt Matilda gave you for Christmas because she didn’t know what else to get you and you could use it for work. Big cup of coffee—the lifeblood of writers—and…GO!


January 2:  That empty page is still staring back at you. It’s so crisp and white why would you want to mess it up?

January 3:  Maybe you’d be best off writing on the computer. That way I can do some research at the same time.

January 4: Did you know it’s National Spaghetti Day?

February 1: Okay, January was a bust. It snowed far too much to write and you spent most of your time shoveling snow and working out the plot. Time to sit down with that notebook and stay off social media.


February 14: If you got caught writing today, the love of your life would disown you! Tomorrow’s the day.

February 15: Today’s the day! You sit at your desk. At work. And get pulled into meetings all day. By the time you get home…zzzzzz…

March 1: You read an article about how to write a book in 15 minutes a day. One you’re done laughing, you read it again. Maybe it could work. What you’ve been doing so far this year hasn’t helped you make any progress. You get home from work, have dinner and…sit in a quiet corner with a timer set for 15 minutes. Lo and behold! You’ve written an entire paragraph by the time your alarm goes off. It may not be as much as you wanted, but it’s a start! You celebrate with a piece of celery then add a cookie chaser.

March 13:  According to the Internet it’s Smart & Sexy Day and you’re feeling it! That 15 minutes a day is going so well that you’ve started taking another 15 minutes during your lunch break. Your story may not be Pulitzer material, but it’s your book coming from your imagination and the whole world will love it!

May 2:  Whose dumb idea was it to write a book?

June 6:  Those 15 minute sessions have expanded to 30 minutes now that you can bring your laptop and/or notepad outside into the sunshine. Fresh air and a little mental exercise never hurt anyone.


July 3:  While the U.S. has Independence Day tomorrow, you’re celebrating your own milestone. 50,000 words! Over halfway there!

August 20-28:  What should’ve been your incredible week at the beach ends up with you in bed with a stomach bug. How could you possibly get so sick in mid-summer? At least you have more time to write—when you’re not running to the bathroom. Back to 15 minutes a day. Better than nothing.

September 4:  The kids are back in school here in Canada and you have a surge of motivation. You spend the long weekend doing a final sprint to finish that book! At 4am Sunday morning, you type THE END. Your heart races, your palms sweat, you have a celebratory glass of wine and pace the house accepting awards and contracts from every publisher you can dream of. Sleep? Who needs it?

September 5:  You excitedly show your masterpiece to the love of your life who tells you not to quit your day job. You debate tossing your manuscript in the trash. Wait. Is that really what it’s called if you’ve a first time writer? It sounds so…Professional! You do a little research about editing and discover it’s harder than it looks. Good thing your friend is a teacher!

October 12:  Still waiting for edits from teacher friend. Maybe asking them to read it at the beginning of the school year wasn’t such a great idea. The teacher suggested you run Spell Check on it before you send it to anyone else. Why didn’t you think of that? How do you find Spell Check?

October 31:  There is nothing scarier this year than that manuscript you stuck in the drawer months ago! You’re about to stick roast it in a bonfire when you find something that makes you realize all may not be lost. A social media ad for a Book Coach. With butterflies in your belly, you do a little digging to see if this is legit or just someone else wanting your hard-earned bucks.

November 1:  Good news. The coach has a link to offer you some free advice on your first chapter. Should you? Shouldn’t you? If you don’t, you’ll burn the book and never speak of it again. If you do…

November 15:  The coach loves your story idea. Gives you some great feedback and gives you a few options regarding working with them. Hesitant to sign up, you take their advice and start rewriting your book from Chapter one to The End.

My editor...and boss.

November 20:  Love of your life gives you the gift of the Book Coach’s services for Christmas before you tear out all you hair.

December 31:  You spend the day polishing your revised book then sit back to put your feet up. Your coach sent you a list of a few editors to research and several publishers and agents to consider. Your eyes ache and your head is spinning but this is the best you’ve felt since you first typed The End.

January 1:  Fresh notebook and the brand new pen Aunt Matilda gave you for Christmas because you drained the old one. Big cup of coffee—the lifeblood of writers—and…GO!

Happy New Year & Happy Writing!

Diane Bator

https://www.holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/

 


Saturday, January 1, 2022

New Year, New You - BWL Publishing Inc. 2022

 Visit us at https://bwlpublishing.ca 

The winner of the Kindle E-Reader in our Winter Wonderland Contest

Abigail Gullo from Washington State

Congratulations Abigail


ENTER OUR NEW YEAR, NEW YOU CONTEST TO WIN ONE OF THREE LUXURY SPA BASKETS THAT WE'LL BE GIVING AWAY TO CELEBRATE THE NEW YEAR.

 

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Friday, December 31, 2021

This is Fiction! by Priscilla Brown

 

 

 

Gina is lover shopping, 

but is a New Year's Eve party the right store for her? 

https://books2read.com/Class-Act

  

When our  readers start a book, we authors are asking them to 'suspend disbelief' (also to suspend doing the ironing, looking for a missing sock etc. etc.)  

An author of contemporary romance fiction, my imagination works to create stories involving narratives of a situation, event or circumstance which could happen, or could have happened, in real life. I like to introduce credible characters into environments plausible to their personalities, individual histories, lifestyles and physical backgrounds. 

 

 Although not my usual field, some years ago I entered  a contest for historical short stories to be published in an anthology. I was already familiar with the physical setting on a Scottish island, but not the time frame during World War II. My story concerned a young woman on the island ferry who feels sorry for a young man wearing an army uniform unsuitable for the freezing weather, clearly a soldier on leave exploring the islands. She invites him to her cottage for a warm drink...Of the three judges in this context, two who were writers gave it high marks, while the third, a non-writer, marked it fail, giving the reason as a query 'Would she really ask a stranger into her house?' Maybe this judge was applying present-day mores to a 1940s wartime situation, unable, or choosing not, to consider it as a complete fiction appropriate to the time and place. Although perhaps the story did fail as it could not convince this judge. However, it did win a place in the anthology.

 

May 2022 be kind to you, with lots of great stories to read and enjoy.

Best wishes, Priscilla 

 

https://bwlpublishing.ca 

https://priscillabrownauthor.com 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Missing Children by Eden Monroe

 

 

 

Click for Purchase Information and Book Details

Amber Alert, an acronym for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, was named for Amber Rene Hagerman (November 25, 1986 – January 15, 1996).

Thousands of children, just like Amber, go missing worldwide every year, although in many countries, statistics are either unavailable or unreliable for any number of reasons. In Canada, the first statistics on missing children were released in 1987 and in that year a staggering 57,233 were recorded. In 2019 that figure had dropped to 40,425 according to records compiled by the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC), but is no less astonishing.

In the few global statistics that were available (globalmissingkids,org), the United States led the way with an estimated 460,000 children reported missing every year. In Canada there were 45,288 (estimated) reported missing; United Kingdom there are an estimated 112,853 missing children reported every year; Russia, an estimated 45,000 in 2015, India, 96,000 each year, Australia, an estimated 20,000 missing children reports every year, and in Germany there were an estimated 100,000 cases of missing children annually. While those numbers sound astoundingly high, in reality even one missing child is one too many.

In Back in the Valley, Book Two of the Emerald Valley Ranch series, parents Rowdy and Victoria Brooks are thrust into that nightmare when their six year-old son, Daniel, goes missing, his twin, Liam, left behind. It’s the first time the brothers have ever been apart:

“The scream of sirens filled the air as more cruisers arrived, one officer quickly beginning to put up yellow crime scene tape.

“’ ‘Yes, that’s what they’re saying. I’m down here now, in the parking lot.” Lindy sounded as though she was about to cry. “I came in to get gas and ran into all of this. They’re talking to everyone that’s here, but I came after the fact. Victoria’s car is still at the pumps, and the door’s open. I know it’s hers because it’s got Texas plates. The guy in the store said they’ll probably put out an Amber Alert. Rowdy and Victoria and Liam are in the back in the office with the police, but you could hear Liam crying at the top of his lungs, that poor child. Just screaming. Oh Martin, this is horrible! A child abducted right here! In Sussex!’ “

In addition to a massive police response to locate the missing child and reunite him with his family, in Back in the Valley, the community draws together in their tireless search for any clues as to Daniel’s whereabouts. And then they get a major break:

“ ‘9-1-1, what is your emergency?’

‘Yes, I was driving to work on the Noonan Road about twenty miles from Markhamville in Kings County and I saw something lying on the side of the road, right beside the grass. I was past it before I realized what I was looking at. I backed up and sure enough, it was a child’s sneaker. My headlights reflected off the decals on the side of it.’ “


Children can also become lost of their own volition, separated from their parents at crowded venues of any kind, or sometimes they can simply wander off into the woods. Whatever may be the case, they’re unable to find their way back. When I was fifteen, a short distance from where we lived a small child did just that, disappearing from his grandparents’ backyard in rural New Brunswick, and off into heavily forested backcountry. As I recall it happened in late spring and while daytime temperatures were fairly warm, the nights were still cold. Searchers of all ages came from far and wide to comb the area for this precious little boy. My father also participated in the search and my mother made sandwiches to help feed the volunteers. I remember delivering those sandwiches on my bicycle to the search command post at the top of the hill; saw the distraught mother weeping and being comforted as she waited for word about her son. And on the second day he was found, about a mile away in dense woods lying under a tree, his shoes and socks on the shores of the nearby lake. Sadly he had not been discovered in time. Immediately airlifted to hospital by military helicopter, he succumbed to the effects of his ordeal.

We were eating supper the evening he was found, when frantic knocking sounded at our back door. It was a reporter wanting to use the phone (those were the days before cellphones) to call it in that rescuers had located the child. It is impossible to forget the tension and sadness of that difficult time. There was a pall over the entire community, and beyond, and tears fill my eyes all these many years later as I’m writing this.

In Back in the Valley, a well-meaning child becomes lost in dense woods when he decides to conduct his own search for Daniel Brooks, and so authorities had two missing children on their hands within a twenty-four hour period:

“Will studied the mixed Acadian forest in the distance. ‘I say we give it an hour and if nothing, we’re going to have to have help. They can bring in a dog if they have to. There’s a lot of woods up there. Let’s get going, see if we see a print or something that let’s us know we’re on the right track.’

“All three started off, parking Martin’s truck alongside the edge of the woods and then setting off on foot into the thick underbrush, over and around fallen rotting trees and past sharp snags on tree trunks that made for slow going, and of course there were the ever-present mosquitos. By 9:45 p.m. they were back, grim-faced as they stood in the kitchen.

Martin ran a hand over his face tiredly. ‘There’s no sign of him and he doesn’t answer. We’re going to have to get some help right away. I’d say the rain isn’t far off.’”


When a missing child meets the criteria for an amber alert, we the public can help by:

-                  Watching for the child, suspect and/or the vehicle described in the alert.

-                  Giving information on the location of the abduction and a description of the victim, suspect and/or any vehicle involved.

-                  Immediately reporting any findings by calling 9-1-1 or the phone number included in the alert, but do not call 9-1-1 to request information about the abduction.

               In the event a child becomes lost or separated, kindercare.com offers sound precautionary suggestions for parents:

-                  children should be taught critical names and numbers;

-                  to freeze and stay in one place, right where they are, until found, and don’t go off with anyone;

-                  shout your name in a big strong voice, even yelling Mom or Dad will work;

-                  shout your child’s name as you search, don’t worry about being polite;

-                  equip your child with a whistle – a good loud one that will attract attention.

Whether lost or abducted, every year many missing children are indeed found and returned safely to their grateful loved ones. Whatever the circumstances may be, or the outcome, it is an unthinkable ordeal for the parents and loved ones, and in both cases immediate action is required.

Amber Alert was put in place in the US in 1996, and because of that child abduction alert system, as of July 5, 2021, 1,074 missing children were brought to safety. (ambertalert.ojp.gov.statistics).

Amber Hagerman’s murder remains unsolved.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

12 Days of Medieval Christmas

 





In medieval times, Christmas was ardently Christian, but there were naturally Pagan traditions aplenty to be found hidden within the celebration. Some of these ancient traditions, like the German "Bad Santa" Krampus, still have plenty of fans.



The Twelve Days of Christmas themselves are both a memory of the Roman Saturnalia (Rome, which was The Empire of its time) as well as the even more ancient human observance of our planetary trip round the sun. The Sun's rebirth --that shortest day, when the sun is weakest, Winter Solstice--became, in Christian calendar, Jesus's natal day. We use the 25th now, but that had to do, I believe, with 18th Century adjustments to the western calendar. 

Those twelve days are no longer observed with the same pomp as in medieval times. Some years, after a bad harvest,  the poorest villagers might have been hard pressed to have enough to eat for the rest of the winter.  During famine years, it must have been a feat to manage any kind of "feast," but the custom of pre-Christmas fasting always helped to shore up supplies. 

Imagine twelve whole days of celebration! During that time, a peasant farmer or craftsman was not supposed to so much as lift a tool, although they were allowed to feed their livestock. This means that a great deal of planning necessarily went into preparation for this prolonged "vacation" at each year's end. Extra wood had to be cut and stacked close by houses. Stores of hay and grain laid into barns so that it would be a minimal task to feed the animals. Just like today, however, nothing changed for the "essential workers" of the time. Cooks, housewives and scullery boys, or the servants at the Castle. All these people remained on the job.

The 24 days preceding Christmas is called Advent and was the occasion of this fast. In the Late Middle Ages, this meant no meat, cheese, or eggs could be eaten--although this particular tradition is no longer part of our (consumption-driven) culture. In the past, there was a belief that a person must prepare themselves both physically and mentally for the upcoming ritual experience of the Divine Mystery that was to come. 

If you were a peasant, however, there was a practical reason to consume less before Christmas--simply to conserve enough of what food stores you had in order to provide for those festive 12 days.  The poorest villagers lived hand-to-mouth upon a diet of beans, barley or oat porridge, and near-beer, their menu filled out with whatever green stuff they could scrounge from the edges of their Lord's forest.   

Besides food for man and beast, other supplies had to be stocked as well. Wood for fuel was a necessity, of course, but specific types of wood was split and stacked together--hazel, beech, oak and ash all being used at different times during the cooking process to adequately heat those earthen or brick ovens for the baking of meat, bread and pies.  Hazel twigs burned hot and were fire-starters; beech and ash supplied a steady heat, while oak lasted longest of all and burned the slowest.

Rush lights were made by soaking rushes in left-over cooking fat and pan scrapings. These would burn for about an hour, hot, and bright, but smoking heavily and carrying the odor of whatever fat had been used, and this was the way a medieval peasant "kept the lights on" during the long, dark winter nights. This was making of rush lights would have been going on in late summer, July and August, while the reeds (species: Juncus Effusus) were still growing, and the pith which would absorb the fat, was well-developed.     

                                                             he farming year of 4 Seasons
      

Pork was the traditional food of Christmas in the British Isles, a custom with pagan roots.   The wild Boar was hunted to extinction in Britain by the 13th Century, so the Christmas pork then on would have to have been domestic. Those medieval pigs would have looked rough, though, feral and unfamiliar.

Pagan associations of the pig feast at midwinter are many. One of the most interesting discoveries at the famous Neolithic sites of Woodhenge and Stonehenge  were mountainous heaps of pig bones. Such feasts are a well-attested-to-tradition in many Germanic, Slavic and Norse cultures.

                                              Freya and her brother Freyr, Gods of the Vanir.*
                                                   Here, Frey is shape-shifted into a Boar.


Getting the boar's head -- the centerpiece of any prosperous farmer's feast -- ready for the table was laborious task which began with slaughtering, scraping, and butchering, followed by a bustle of preservation. Sausage was made from the blood and the hide readied to be tanned. Every bit of that pig would be consumed in one way or another. 

                                                                       Semi-feral hog

Pig's are "thrifty" animals, and in medieval times fed well in the woods upon acorns as well as the standard remains of human cooking. Then as now, the pig gave his all! Removing the skull from the meat and flesh was no easy feat. After this careful dressing out, the remaining flesh and ears had to be carefully preserved for eventual presentation at Christmas Eve Supper. 

The housewife would store the fleshy remains in a simple pickling liquid (vinegar, mustard seeds) until it was time to prepare it for the feast. Then she would remove it from the pickle and stitch it back together--a sort of taxidermy job-- and fill the pouch with a stuffing mixture of raisin paste and nuts, after which it would be roasted. Serving the boar's head on a platter surrounded by greenery traditionally began that first festive meal of the Christmas holiday.  

The medieval farmhouse had been decorated with Holly and Ivy. Sometimes, a Christmas Crown, an open wattle basket decorated with sprigs of Holly and Ivy was woven by the men and hoisted up high above the rising smoke of the central hearth where it would remain for the next twelve days. Holly and Ivy--representing of male and female--was a custom left over from more ancient religious observances. In medieval times, though, it was often said that if there was more ivy than holly among the decorations, the house would be ruled by the wife during the next year.  

Pastry for pies, both sweet and savory, had to be sturdy enough to stand up by themselves, as this was before people had a great many kinds of differentiated cookware, such as today's pie pans. Frumenty was a sort of yogurty smoothy made of cracked wheat and milk and flavored with dried fruit, nutmeg and cloves. These exotic spices arrived in a medieval kitchen after a 7000+ mile trader-to-trader journey. Other dishes served might be a sweetened milk gelatin or a gelatin cone of meat scraps, called a "Shred Pie." 



There would be church services every day. Masses were celebrated in honor of the birth of Jesus and in honor of the many saint's days which cluster throughout the twelve days. St. Stephen's Day is next (known in the UK and her still extant colonies) as "Boxing Day." December 27th celebrates the feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. On the 28th comes the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which commemorates the slaughter of new born boys ordered by King Herod. The memorial of St. Thomas Becket, Bishop and martyr, a "turbulent priest" murdered by order of King Henry II of England, comes on the 29th. Next comes the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which often falls upon December 30th. The last day of the year is the feast of Saint Sylvester. The following day, January 1 of the new year, is celebrated as "the Solemnity of the Nativity of Mary, Mother of God" in Christ's mother Mary is honored.  In some denominations, this last is said to be in honor of the Circumcision of Jesus, falling as it would, eight days following any proper Hebrew boy-child's birth.  


Twelfth Night, the final celebration, had many traditions. One of them was Wassailing, which could be a parade around the village or just around the kitchen, accompanied by singing, piping, banter, and still more food and drink. Villagers would visit one another's homes and sing carols. Sometimes drink was offered by the homeowner as a thank-you. In some places, the tradition of Mummers, men and women in costume, was a time-honored part of the Twelfth Night celebration.

                                                  Mummers singing and dancing in costume

In apple orchards, offerings of toast soaked in punch might be placed in the branches of the trees, or glasses of cider were poured into the orchard earth, as a thank-you offering to the fruit trees for their cider. At the Twelfth Night feast, a Lord of Misrule was chosen by passing a large freshly baked loaf of bread around the table. As everyone tore off a piece and put it into their mouths, one of them would discover the single pea that had been baked inside. This person became Lord of Misrule, crowned with a garland. His office was to devise party games and tell jokes and tales. Often these feasts would dissolve into riot, with people pelting one another with bread and leftovers and rowdy, drunken dancing. This was the night when the Magi found Jesus and worshiped him as "King of Kings."
 
                                                                   The Four Seasons

Then, like a bucket of cold water emptied upon everyone's head, came "Plough Monday," the day when farmers returned to their fields and women cleaned house and began to card wool, and spin and weave again. Another Christmas had gone and the toil of the year had once more begun. 




~~Juliet Waldron

All my historical novels @ Amazon

My historical novels @ Books We Love

Sources:

Life in a Medieval Village by Francis Gies and Joseph Gies        http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B004HIX4GS

*Vanir-the original Norse gods, overshadowed in surviving stories by the later arrivals--the Aesir gods with whom people now are more familiar--Thor, Odin, Frigg, Balder etc.

How to Celebrate Christmas Medieval Style:

https://youtu.be/BY2TN8E5yAs




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