Thursday, January 12, 2023

My Christmas in Toronto Airport



Nine days before Christmas, my husband Will and I flew to Toronto to visit relatives in nearby Kitchener and enjoy a holiday in Niagara-on-the-Lake with our son, his wife, and our granddaughter. Everything went perfectly until a storm blew into eastern Canada on December 23rd, our day to fly home to Calgary. We woke to an email from Westjet, our airline carrier, advising that our flight was cancelled and they'd rescheduled us to a flight three days later to Regina, where we'd spend the night in the airport and connect to Calgary in the morning. Our choices were to accept this change or get a full refund. We were stunned, but our first challenge was to drive to Toronto airport before the rain turned to snow and the wind picked up. Our rental car rocked the whole two hours on the highway, but we made it safely.

At the airport, we learned Westjet had cancelled all their Canadian flights from Toronto that day. An agent told us our flight in three days was the best we'd get, due to the rush of holiday travel and flight cancellations following a snowstorm in Vancouver the previous weekend. 

"If it's any consolation," she said. "Some people have spent six days in this airport." 

In our present mood, this wasn't much consolation.   

Fortunately, Will's sister Bernice and her husband Bill live in the suburbs of Toronto. We phoned them to ask if they'd mind unexpected visitors over Christmas. They had no plans until their Boxing Day gathering with Bill's family. We lugged our suitcases on the airport train to downtown Union Station, had lunch in the food court, and caught the commuter GO train to the station near their home in Scarborough. 

Will tried calling Westjet to get a flight that left earlier and/or avoided a Regina overnighter. A recorded voice replied cheerily, "We're happy to serve you, but aren't taking calls now." The website's callback feature could only give us an appointment on December 30th, three days after we'd get home. The website blocked off new plane reservations through December 28th. Other airlines were either sold out for the Christmas period or charging exorbitant prices.     

The next morning, Christmas Eve, Will tried phoning the airline again. To his surprise, the phone rang. He set it on speaker while we had breakfast, chatted, and played cards with Bernice and Bill. Five hours later, an agent came on the line. She checked reservations and found flights popping up, probably due to people cancelling their holiday travel when they learned they couldn't get to their destinations by Christmas. 

The agent rebooked us on a direct flight to Calgary at 10:15 that night. After a fun Skype 'Twas the Night Before Christmas reading with our excited granddaughter, Bernice and Bill drove us to Toronto airport. We breezed through check-in and security. Our gate agents began boarding procedures and then announced our flight would be delayed because the pilot had to get here from Edmonton. Our new departure time would be one a.m. Everyone let out a collective groan. 

The agents left, their shifts over. Passengers went to wait in a bar; a few milled around the gate desk. They noticed a sign flash that our flight was cancelled. We all quickly got emails telling us this. Someone said that a guest relations desk was down the corridor. We all trooped down and joined the lineup of passengers from a cancelled Vancouver flight. Will and I got emails with our new booking -- four days from now. More emails arrived with food vouchers valid at the airport until the next day.      

A guest relations agent grabbed a mic and spoke to the whole lineup. He told Toronto residents to go home and return for their rescheduled flights. The rest of us were entitled to hotel accommodation, although the airline had no rooms left in their supply. If we could find a hotel room, they'd later compensate us up to $150, plus expenses for transportation. Will and I remained in line with others who had specific questions. One man had a meltdown at the desk and shouted at the agents that he'd been stuck here since yesterday waiting for a flight. After he stormed off, the clock struck midnight. An agent wished us all, "Merry Christmas." 

After discussing our situation with an agent, Will and I decided to spend the rest of the night in the airport, rather than hunt for a hotel, and collect our unloaded luggage in the early morning, when the lineup in the baggage area would be shorter. We'd wait to phone Bernice after she got up in the morning to ask is she'd take us in again.  

In a relatively unpopulated departure gate, we lay on connected chairs to catch some sleep. The chairs were hard. I brooded on our faulty choice to grab this flight rather than accept the one the airline had assigned. The airport was chilly and we'd packed our coats in our luggage, another bad decision.  

At four a.m., we gave up trying to sleep and went to the baggage area, which was a sea of suitcases. The agent told us there were ten times more cases stored elsewhere and he wouldn't spend two or three hours searching for our individual luggage. Instead, the airport would scan all the bags and eventually send them to their destinations. But what would we do for the next three days in Toronto winter with no overcoats? This was our problem. 

We spent our airport food vouchers on breakfast and snacks, and caught the train to downtown. Travel was all indoors, and easy with only carry-on bags and few passengers on Christmas morning. At Union Station, we phoned Bernice and wished her Merry Christmas. 

"You're home already?" she said. 

"Ah, no."

On our commuter train ride, the sun came out. We passed pretty views of neighbourhoods waking up and waves whipping in Lake Ontario. Bernice and Bill picked us up at the station for the second time and reminded us they save everything and stock up on supplies. They loaned us jackets and shirts that they didn't wear anymore, toothbrushes, and (for Will) pajamas and a razer. Bernice asked if I'd prefer pajamas or a nightgown. 

"A nightgown would be good." 

"What length?" she said. "And do you like short sleeves or long?" 

It was like living in Walmart. 

Despite the fatigue from our sleepless night, we enjoyed Christmas Skype and Zoom calls with relatives, sharing our granddaughter's thrill with her presents, and had tasty hamburgers and fries for Christmas dinner. On Boxing Day, Will and I went to the real Walmart to buy underwear and socks. After lunch, we strolled through the Toronto Zoo, where Bernice volunteers. The zoo wraps Christmas presents for all the animals to claw open when they smell the food inside. Will wanted to call Westjet again in hopes of getting a better flight, but I noticed they'd upgraded us to Premium seats and the connecting flights left and arrived at convenient times. He agreed to wait another day to fly home in comfort. 

We used that extra day to shop for winter coats at Costco. I'd been thinking I needed a new one anyway and bought a down coat, in red, a coat colour I had never considered wearing.  

On December 28th, we once more rode the trains to Toronto airport. With no luggage to check, we got to the gate quickly, and learned our flight would be delayed while waiting for crew members. 

Uh, oh, we thought. That's how it begins. 

Before long the desk agent announced the flight was cancelled due to lack of crew. She advised everyone to stay in place while they rebooked our seats. Will and I got a phone call from Westjet, offering a flight in two hours to Calgary via Vancouver. This plane was also delayed, waiting for ground crew, but the crew actually arrived. We boarded the plane, but had to wait another hour because the flight attendants counted more passengers on the plane than the number that had checked-in at the gate. They kept counting us, consulting their tablet seating charts, and discussing the problem with the pilots and management. Eventually we took off, either because they got the numbers to balance or figured 'what's an extra passenger or two?'

We assumed this delay meant we'd miss our connection in Vancouver, until a flight attendant checked our boarding passes and said this plane was our connecting flight. In Vancouver, it would turn around and fly to Calgary, where the pilot lived. We couldn't believe we'd get home that night, but we did, and walked into our house at 1:20 a.m.   

On New Year's Day, Westjet delivered one of our suitcases. The other one arrived the next day. All of our possessions were intact. Our journey was over. 

What's my take-away from this experience? 

In hindsight, when weather and the airline threw a wrench in our plans, rather than gripe about an airline that couldn't handle snow in Canadian winter and demand the near impossible -- getting home for Christmas -- we should have accepted the situation and made the most of the unwanted change of plans. When we got past the griping, we enjoyed our Christmas spent with generous relatives. It was a more interesting and memorable Christmas than the quiet, alone time we'd planned; arguably a better holiday time. Bernice and Bill agreed (I think they meant it). Will and I also enjoyed sharing stories with our fellow stranded travellers and jokingly called them our new friends. I wonder how their journeys ended.  

Next time I fly, I'll bring some essentials in my carry-on luggage, including warm clothing. Although, there are always stores where I travel and I really like my souvenir red coat. 



Happy New Year!



Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Idle Hands Are The Devil's Workshop by Karla Stover


Visit Karla Stover's Author Page for book details

It's been around a long time under various names: Frivolite in France because it was considered to be a  frivolous occupation; Oochi in Italy due to the little eye-like shape that is created; and Makouk in the middle East and Schiffchenarbeit in Germany both based on the shape of the shuttle used. In Great Britain, Australia and the United States it's called tatting, possibly because of the disjointed nature of the final project. Some researchers think they have tracked the art back to an obscure, embroidery-knot tying art related to macramé but can't decided who to credit, the early Italians, Egyptians or Chinese. Regardless, various 15th century painting show ladies making strings of knots tied together at close intervals and sewn onto garments. Others, however, think it may have come from netting and the decorative ropework done by sailors and fishermen who were known to create attractive ropework motifs for their wives and girlfriends.

By the 17th century sophisticated patterns had traveled from China to Europe and women were tatting at sophisticated parties and flirting with the shuttle. The results of these early efforts were single little ovals. Not until the 18th century did seamstress / author Eleanore Riego de la Branchardiere and self-described "teacher of fancy works," come up with a way to tat a continuous chain of rings by making little loops called picots. However, in spite of the picots, tatting has never been anything other than a decorative piece of needlework used to trim collars, gloves, handkerchiefs, baby clothes and altar cloths. Queen Carman Sylva of Romania called it "something pretty to do," and she tatted a chalice cover using fine gold wire and working in tiny pearls.

Tatting has been out of favor since World War II, that's 80 years, but it's not expensive. has a good selection. And as one "anon" once said, "I keep my end tables full of needlework and quilting so I don't have to dust them." It's a blatant misplaced modifier but I get the idea.

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Book Signing – I’m scared, maybe terrified – Barbara Baker


The book signing takes place January 14, 2023 at Owl’s Nest Books in Calgary, Alberta. Please come.

When my first novel, SUMMER OF LIES, was released, COVID was shaking up the world. People met on Zoom, Facetime or Messenger. No public gatherings allowed. I must admit, I was okay with that. Talking to real people in real time about my book scared me.

But now that WHAT ABOUT ME? has been released in a less restrictive COVID environment, I will be at my first book signing. In public. With those real people.

The logistics are taken care of. I have chocolates, a small poster, my favourite pen, a selection of colourful sticky notes and a bottle of hand-sanitizer. To be prepared, I Googled Everything I Need to Know about Book Signings. A few articles disagree with each other but spelling the person’s name correctly in the book, bringing your favourite pen and smiling were consistent throughout.

But here’s my problem. I’m an introvert. Stop laughing! I am. Honest. Yes, I can talk the ear off an elephant if need be and can converse with mammogram technicians like nothing is amiss, but when someone asks about my writing, I force my eyes not to dart around in search of an exit. And my mouth - well all the words it knows reaches the exit before I do.

I’m thankful that, in seconds, I can redirect the conversation - possibly mention grandkids. I have six of them and numerous tales of their antics. Or there’s my 90-year-old dad. He’s super interesting and I have a lifetime of stories to share about him.

When I attended my first writers’ retreat in 2009, I realized my hesitation to discuss my writing with strangers. At the introduction supper I sat at a large round table. There was constant chatter about agents and publishers and editing techniques. 

I was in awe of their writerly worldliness right up until someone asked me what I was working on. With my fork, I lifted a piece of lettuce from my plate and said, “do you think the dressing is raspberry vinaigrette?” Yes, I dodged that bullet! And I still deflect those conversations.


I wish I knew. Book reviews have been good. Emails and notes say readers enjoyed my novels. So why can’t I promote them? Do I have Imposter Syndrome? Maybe?

Today I blame the problem on my lack of sales skills. People say being good at sales is an art - just like writing. And it takes practice. Since I’m at the bottom of the ‘art of sales’ learning curve, I will take all suggestions on how to have a successful book signing.

In the meantime, I ask myself, what if no one shows up? Do I eat the chocolates? Do I cry? Do I cry first and then eat the chocolates?

You can contact me at:

Summer of Lies: Baker, Barbara:9780228615774: Books -

What About Me?: Sequel to Summer of Lies : Baker, Barbara: Books

Monday, January 9, 2023

On Finishing Manuscripts by Vanessa C. Hawkins



 Vanessa Hawkins Author Page

Exhausted and overcome by Christmas and another completed manuscript, I have naught the energy to write much more this month. So I shall give you fine readers this: a poem on finishing manuscripts. Enjoy! 

Twas the night before New Years, 

And all in the house,

A mother was writing

and trying to rouse

her creations! 

Of romance! and fear! and conclusions, 

but kiddos indulged with sugar lllusions

won't sleep. And now it is half past the hour, 

and mother, up late, is starting to sour,

and so as the hen scratch digs wounds on the page, 

she worries her ire is starting to rage, 

but despite all her kids and her spouse and chores, 

she finishes early, the manuscript soars!

from 'in progress' to 'finished'

my, what a delight, 

but now everyone's sleeping

she's up past midnight.

 So the New Year is gone, 

and the fireworks done, 

and now all she has left 

is to edit...

No fun. 

Hope everyone had a Happy New Year! :) 

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Characters' job & hobby by J. S. Marlo


Wounded Hearts
"Love & Sacrifice #2"
is now available  
click here 



When I started writing, someone told me to give my characters unusual/curious/interesting professions or hobbies, especially my female characters.

Over the years, I developed my characters in many different ways, so I went back to see what I've done with them--and what they haven't tackled yet. So, here are the biographies of some characters:

- Star is a scuba diver who investigates insurance claims. Hauk is a boat captain looking for underwater treasures.

- Riley is a librarian hoping to become a scriptwriter. Blythe is an actor whose real life is stranger and more dangerous than his fictional life.

- Rowan is a geologist turned B&B owner. Avery is a tormented RCMP looking for comfort in a bottle who likes to reconstruct animal skeletons. Bjorn is an Icelandic tour guide with a meddling grandmother.

- Amelia is an Army Colonel. Hope is a teenage deaf biathlete. Richmond is a sheriff haunted by his past.

- Julia is an accountant. Thierry is a teenage goaltender struggling with the code of silence. Luke is an explosive expert.

- Maxime is a university swimmer with a target on her back. Ross is an undercover officer.

- Liliane is a painter in charge of an election office. Jasper is a detective with a secret love interest.

- Becca is a journalist who snuck into a decommissioned military base and ended in the past. Ash is in charge of repairing and restocking warships.

Violette is a jill-of-all-trade who gets trapped remodelling an escape room. Joe is a police officer who owns escape rooms. 

- Lana is a retired military nurse and potato farmer. Eli is a retired submariner raising his five-year old granddaughter.

I'll admit I'm partial to men & women in uniforms, but at the same time, I write mystery/murder/romance. Someone needs to arrest the perpetrator, but it's not always who it should be LOL

Happy Reading & Stay Safe!

J. S.



Friday, January 6, 2023

Sleep Over at the Library, Anyone? by Eileen O'Finlan


Has anyone ever told you to picture your "happy place?" They want you to imagine a spot where you feel perfectly comfortable, tranquil, and at home. When I picture my happy place, one image that often comes to mind is my town library. Only in my imagining, I'm the only one there. I'm sitting in one of the comfy chairs in the section they have set up to look like a living room. I've got a mug of hot cocoa topped with mounds of whipped cream on the table next to me, my cat lounging nearby, and the whole library all to myself. In this fantasy, it's winter. The untrodden snow is piled up outside while a toasty fire crackles in the fireplace. I can read as much and for as long as I want completely undisturbed. Paradise!

As is probably obvious, I have a deep love for books and libraries. I'm especially fond of the old libraries often found in small towns. I recently had the thought that it would be fabulous if someone would turn an old library into a B&B, one where you can kind of camp out in the library. The thought was so delicious, I decided to Google it because, you know, if a thing exists, you'll find it on Google.

Sure enough, there are such places! Be still my heart! 

Here are a few I found especially inviting:

And this one in my beloved Vermont!

If you're reading this blog, you probably love books and libraries, too, so why not consider a library get away! Happy reading!

My experiences living on a converted liveaboard boat inspired the first chapter in The Immoral by Jay Lang


The Immoral

Jay Lang

Click this link to purchase book

       My inspiration for this chapter came from my years living on my boat, a converted liveaboard that I moored in Deep Cove, B.C. For the four and a half years I called the boat my home, I saw more natural beauty in the magic of nature than I ever saw while living on land. I really wanted to let readers see what I had. I found it very comforting to go back into my memories and create the setting to this chapter.

Chapter One

The sound was intentional, unmistakable. I am not alone. I slowly rise from the narrow cot and tiptoe through the small cabin, overwhelmed with the feeling of impending doom. With each doorway I pass, my breathing stops and my heart pounds as I anticipate someone lunging from the darkness. A sliver of light from the crescent moon casts a dusty blue glow through the grimy windows and illuminates the front door—freedom. Carefully, I glide forward. I’m almost there. Heart pounding and legs weak, I reach out and touch the small round doorknob. I’ve made it. Then, the floor creaks from behind and a wave of terror rushes over me. My back tightens and I freeze, as though a cold hand has clutched the back of my neck. Terrified, I turn to face my fate.

* * *

Semi-conscious, I open my eyes and take a deep breath. The air is thick with ozone. I roll onto my side and look out the window. Angry clouds churn above the small cove. Electricity fills the pilothouse and the hair on my arm stands on end. Instinctively, I grab my phone from the pillow and check for any texts. Nothing from Kara. I get out of bed, struggling to keep my balance as the boat rocks. The wind whipping across the bay generates swells that slap hard against the hull as I walk out onto the stern to check the ropes and set down extra buoys between the dock and the boat. Hard sprays of sea water sting my face as gusts of wind push against me. 4 Back inside, I wipe my wet face on my sleeve and sit at the settee to catch my breath. I glance at the clock and see that it’s 4 AM. Considering the storm that’s brewing, there’s no way I’m going to get back to sleep.

Since I have to be up at 5:30 for work, I decide to gather my things and drive to the 24-hour café in the village, where I’ll hang out until my shift starts. I work as an emergency dispatcher for the local police station. After thirty-seven calls and a half-pot of coffee, all before lunch, I’m running on pure adrenaline and caffeine. I can’t wait for the day to be over when I can climb onto my boat and into my bed. About an hour before my shift ends, a call comes in from a woman, requesting to speak with an officer. She sounds panicked. I ask her what the nature of her complaint is. The woman tells me her teenage daughter, Molly, has been missing for four days. She says she wasn’t worried until she went into Molly’s laptop and found a conversation between her and an older man.

I was inspired to write about Molly after learning about the overwhelming number of girls that are lured away from the safety of their homes by online predators.

 I quickly put her call through to an available officer. A nauseous feeling forms in the pit of my stomach. I’ve only been working at the police station for a year and although I never deal with the people face-to-face, some of the calls stay with me long after my shift ends. After I’ve signed out, I’m making my way to my locker when I hear my boss calling my name.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

The Cinderella Princess. Anne Stuart Future Queen of England Part One by Rosemary Morris


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

At heart I am a historian. Before I begin writing a #classi#historical#omance I research the background. I hope you will enjoy this month’s insider blog based on my notes.

When Anne, Stuart was born on the 6th February1665 neither her uncle, the second King Charles, nor her father, James, heir to the throne, imagined she would become Queen. The king’s seven illegitimate children proved his virility. There was every reason to believe he and his queen Henrietta Maria who he married three years ago, would not have legitimate heirs If they did not, James and Anne, the Duke and Duchess of York’s son would succeed. Unfortunately, he only lived for six months.

Infant mortality was high. Fortunately, Anne and her older sister, Mary, survived the Great Plague, which broke out in the year of the Cinderella’s birth. The little princesses grew up in their nursery but their brother James, a younger brother and two little sisters died. One can imagine the effects of these deaths on a small girl suffering from poor health, whose weak eyes watered constantly.

With the consent of Anne’s uncle, the king, her parents sent the four-year-old to her grandmother, widow of the executed first Charles, who now lived in France, to have her eyes treated.

A portrait of the Anne as a small girl painted by an unknown artist at the French Court depicts a plump, adorable little girl, dressed in brocade and playing with a King Charles spaniel. Yet her eyes, set in an oval face with a mouth shaped in a perfect cupid’s bow, are wary.


* * *


Rosemary Morris’ #classic#historical#romance novels set in Queen Anne Stuart’s reign – 1702 -1714


Far Beyond Rubies.

Tangled Love

The Captain and The Countess

The Viscount and The Orphan


With firmly closed bedroom doors, the reader can relish the details of emerging romances.


* * *



To purchase my novels choose an online click onto the book cover to choose an online bookstore at


To read the first three chapters please visit my website.

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

To Curmudgeons by Julie Christen

Here's to all the curmudgeons in my life, including the one you will meet in Nokota Voices coming in April.

Check out my BWL Author page

Julie Christen Author Page

To Curmudgeons by Julie Christen

I know a man who’s not what he seems.

On the outside, in fact, he looks downright mean.

His brow is all crinkled in the shape of a V.

His mouth is a grimace. He sure acts cranky.

Hands crammed in his pockets or crossed over his chest.

Stand-offish. Skeptical. Unimpressed.

Mad at the world? Just mad at you?

Mad about change and politics too.

A crabby old man, just mean to the bone.

Wishing that we would all leave him alone.

But …

Hidden in shadowy depths unseen

Lie stories of pain and places he’s been.

He loves with his whole heart. Mourns those he’s lost.

He’ll fight to the death for you - damn the cost.

His hands are gnarled, tender and strong

To pray, caress and work all day long.

Wisdom courses through his veins.

So much knowledge. Zero fame.

He’s been there, done that. Got the t-shirt and then some.

He’s a man with a story, not just a curmudgeon.

So next time you see him, maybe give him a chance 

To prove he’s much more than you see at first glance.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Editing essentials by donalee Moulton

 Editing essentials
Revising, reworking, revitalizing

Great writers don’t need an editor. They demand one. What first-rate writers understand is that another pair of eyes or a fresh pair of eyes are essential to successful communication. This second looks brings a new perspective, the distance that only time (even a little time) can offer, and renewed energy to improve content.

Let’s try this exercise. You’ll need a piece of paper, 8.5” x 11” if possible. Now transform that flat piece of paper into the world’s most wonderful flying machine. The goal is to fly as far as possible. Take a few minutes to play with different designs, then stand up and launch your creation. How far did it go?

Now let’s rethink, or edit, the exercise. What did your flying machine look like? Something similar to a paper airplane?

Let’s review the instructions, the language. Nowhere did it say to build a paper airplane. It said a flying machine. The goal was distance. What would be an easier way to build a flying machine? What would get us great distance?

Crumpling the paper into a ball would.

That’s what editing does. As we write, whether for a reader or a listener, we dive in. Ideas flow. We create content. We think about our audience. We identify important points to make. We’re in the midst of our content, our characters, and our creativity.

When we edit, we take a step back. We come up for air. We have a different perspective – and a draft on which to overlay a fresh set of eyes. Even short pieces of writing should be edited. We need to think before we walk away. We need to give ourselves time to review and revise. To take one last read through (or think through). You’ll be surprised at what you missed or decide to revise.

Editing is essential to clear, concise, compelling writing. But editing isn’t just one thing. Just as pizza isn’t just one thing. There is deep dish pizza with red carnival spinach. Thin crust pepperoni and Bloomsdale spinach. New York-style pizza with Tyee spinach. Notice though that although the type of pizza is different there are common elements.

That’s also true when it comes to editing. There are three broad types: substantive editing, stylistic editing, and copyediting.

I thought we could spend a little time exploring these different types of editing in future blogs. Until then, I’d love to hear from you about your editing process, what drives you nuts, what makes your heart sing.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Happy New Year from BWL Publishing Inc.

 Wishing all of you health, happiness and prosperity in 2023.

Our new releases for 2023 reflect the optimism we at BWL feel about a brand new year.

A champion barrel racer disappears from her trailer on the eve of the Black Hills Roundup. Two hundred miles away, female remains are discovered at the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Doug and Jill Fletcher, assigned to investigate the crime at the national monument, quickly determine that the remains are the missing rodeo champion. Thrust into the unfamiliar world of calf ropers, bull riders, and barrel racers, they team up with the Belle Fourche police to investigate the murder.

A trucker reports seeing a ghost driving the victim’s pickup across Montana the night of the murder. Other witnesses report seeing a rodeo clown near her trailer. Fletchers locate the victim’s stolen pickup and horse trailer, but not her horse. The evidence seems to point to horse theft as the motive, but the complicated reports of ghosts and rodeo clowns leaves them feeling that there’s more to the crime than a simple horse theft.

The North Country Series invites the reader into the wilds of Canada’s Yukon Territory, with its men and their loyal sled dogs, both as rugged as the mountains in which they live. Strong-willed women bring a softer touch to the long, snowy nights under the grandiose spectacular northern lights.

Brooke faces challenges every day as the only vet in a Yukon town, where sled dogs outnumber people. Life becomes even more complicated when her husband is murdered and she finds he has emptied her bank account and racked up a mountain of debt.

Veterinary medicine was not her first career choice. On the verge of her becoming a physician, a hospital tragedy derailed her plans. She turned to treating animals, her next love.
The loss of her husband uncovers a web of intrigue that she had no idea existed all around her. Her new neighbor, Dexter Weiman, appears to know more than he lets on. She is attracted to the handsome stranger, but she cannot trust him, especially when he appears unexpectedly on the Iditarod Race trail, where she is acting as a volunteer vet.

Alone in Canada after her parents retire to Scotland, Sophie Grant is content to finish her degree without partaking in the rowdy university lifestyle. So it seems like Fate when at the single party her roommate Tessa forces her to attend, she meets the charming and chivalrous Brandon Chase. In a whirlwind, Sophie finds herself smitten and living with the man of her dreams.

Everything is perfect. Until Tessa is found dead.

Soon after, Sophie realizes her own studies have taken a backseat to Brandon’s strange lifestyle. She decides to escape from the web she’d not even noticed was entangling her. However, it isn’t until one horrific morning that she realizes how far he’d go to make her stay.

Our very best wishes for a wonderful 2023.

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Party Time by Priscilla Brown


Australian journalist Jasmine, stuck on a small Scottish island after a difficult assignment, finds herself learning reel dances at the local  Hogmanay party.  New Year's Eve had never, sexy...and is this stylishly kilted guy really who he says he is?


Find this contemporary romance at 


 As teenagers many years ago, my cousin Sally and I hated family parties. The worst were those at Christmas and New Year hosted alternately by my parents and by hers. Having survived the excesses of Christmas at one house, we metaphorically took deep breaths and braced the New Year scene at the other.

Our mothers would sit at the kitchen table, their gossiping accompanied by rapidly depleting bottles of white wine and quantities of strawberry jam tarts. If a reason had ever existed for these specific edibles, it was lost in the annals of long ago New Year's Eves. If we took our clothes off and danced on the table, we doubted they'd have noticed. Our fathers occupied the living room, hers thumping away on the piano and mine making excruciating noises on his violin. Lucky the houses in this street were detached, so unlikely the neighbours would have their ears assaulted, but even so, anyone outside would surely cringe at the volume of noise. But the 'oldies' were having fun. 

For our 'fun,' and I don't remember how old we were, one year at my house Sally and I took from the wine rack a bottle of red wine which the parents probably thought they had hidden in a shoe cupboard, two glasses, and the few leftover mince pies. In my bedroom, we sat on the bed, disappointed there were no more pies, testing the wine while wondering how people could drink this disgusting stuff but nevertheless sipping away, and giggling over stupid boys in our respective high school classes. Neither of us felt at our best the next morning.

Chatting with friends about previous New Year's celebrations, mid-summer here in Australia, one described how his parents had hired a jumping castle to be installed in their large backyard for their extended family of children. Aged about ten, he and his twin brother had a fight while jumping, both fell off and each broke an arm. Another recalled how when teenagers their family joined with two others for a picnic in a park. She and a boy from another family ran a contest to see who could catch the most cicadas in ten minutes. Children nil, cicadas safe.

May 2023 be kind to you, with lots of good books to read. Stay safe. Priscilla. 

Friday, December 30, 2022

Poodle Talk by Eden Monroe


For book details and purchase information visit Eden Monroe's BWL Author page.

The much-celebrated poodle is the beloved national dog of France, but that’s not where the breed originated. It all began in Germany, the name derived from the German word Pudel or Pudlen. Duck dog, or Caniche, is what the breed is called in France.

That’s right, despite their pampered, diva-like appearance, poodles were actually bred to be working dogs. They’re superbly suited for their job as waterfowl retrievers, and their famous puffball haircuts in fact serve a very important purpose for that type of work. Their tight curly hair is meant to insulate them in cold water, but to promote freedom of movement, the neck, legs and tail were shaved. Carefully crafted pompoms remained, designed to protect their joints and torso (vital organs) in often frigid water.

Nevertheless their iconic cutaway hairdos are perfect catwalk coiffures and have become synonymous with this handsome breed. There are three acceptable styles when appearing before discerning dog show judges: continental clip, modified continental clip and English saddle. There’s also the puppy clip for baby poodles debuting on the show circuit.

Snowflakes, the tiny star of the romantic suspense, Looking for Snowflakes, is a toy poodle who has a thing or two to say about the sturdy stuff that poodles are made of. She is a force to be reckoned with and her typically sweet personality not only touches lives, but makes the most of whatever situation she happens to find herself in:

“Just then the back door opened and Luke Barker snuck in. He slipped a small package onto the top shelf of the closet before announcing he was home early because the office had closed.

Snowflakes was the first one to the back door to greet him, her tiny pink tongue lolling in a dazzling smile. And since there was no food in the kitchen, maybe this good-looking young gentleman might have a treat or two up his sleeve. So she sat back on her paws and giving it everything she had, pranced with her front feet. To her bewilderment her performance didn’t seem to impress him, the man just stared at her as though he couldn’t believe his eyes.

Next to arrive was Sarah. ‘Daddy!’ she yelled as he picked her up and swung her around before setting her back on the floor. ‘Look at my new baby dog! Her name is Snowflakes.’

Danielle Barker had now come to the back door as well, walking into the unblinking stare of her husband, the look that said why is there a dog here? We didn’t discuss this!

He first stared at the dog and then at his daughter, before his gaze swung back to his wife. ‘Danielle, have you got a minute?’”

Soft, white and curly, Snowflakes is the star of the show although poodle lovers, unlike fanciers of most breeds, have four sizes to choose from: standard, miniature, toy and teacup, as well as a myriad of hypoallergenic coat colours.

Playful but dignified, these dogs are friendly, devoted and keenly protective of their people friends. Poodles of every size and colour have been the favourites of some very well known pet owners: Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, Katharine Hepburn, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill and more, and all knew the joys of friendship with these versatile animals.

Poodles are recognized as one of the most intelligent breeds in the world, and highly trainable. Just a few of their outstanding abilities include excelling at performance sports, working as guide and therapy dogs, and being natural entertainers are outstanding circus performers. Also adept at truffle foraging, they were often used together with Dachshunds who are low enough to the ground to easily dig out this prized edible fungus.

And they have proven themselves to have plenty of try too, a hallmark of their impressive ancestry over the roughly 400 years since the breed first appeared. Remarkably, a team that included standard poodles once competed in the grueling Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, an Alaskan event covering roughly 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome. The results were less than stellar for the poodles, but it was not the fault of those valiant animals. That annual competition now permits “only dogs suitable for arctic travel” (Alaskan Malamute, Siberian husky or a mixed breed like the Alaskan husky) to compete, because the icy climate can eventually overwhelm single-coated breeds like poodles who are not at all suited to such harsh northern conditions.

Poodles have distinguished themselves in other ways too, such as Montee from Idaho, the standard poodle who tipped the scales at an amazing one hundred pounds, and novelist John Steinbeck’s pal, Charles le Chien, was also a standard. Steinbeck and Charley were inseparable companions as they toured thirty-four states together in a pick-up truck on a 10,000 mile journey of discovery in 1960.

History also remembers outstanding poodles such as Sancho. Found on his master’s grave following the 1812 Battle of Salamanca in Spain (Peninsular war), he was adopted by Lord Worcester and taken to live in London. And Boye, also a standard poodle, was believed to belong to Prince Rupert of Rhine. During his Royalist master’s incarceration and later on the field of battle, Boye remained steadfast at Rupert’s side; a Royal mascot who held the honourary title of “Sergent-Major-General.”

There have also been famous miniature poodles: Aero, owned by Japanese figure skating star Mao Asada appeared in commercials with the popular Olympian, and Edward, a TV commercial celebrity and much-welcome fixture at A-list fashion shoots. Jinkee a toy poodle and red like Aero and Edward, is a social media magnet with more Instagram followers than her owner, food and travel journalist, Sofia Levin, according to

Poodles have been featured on both the small and big screen; immortalized on canvas, and made their mark in cartoons, including Cleo Diller, Penelope Poodle and did you know the immortal Betty Boop was originally depicted as an anthropomorphic poodle?

And then of course little Snowflakes from Stoney Creek has also been blessed with a generous dusting of poodle magic in Looking for Snowflakes:

“It had been a long day for Bob and as he neared the end of his deliveries he was looking forward to his easy chair in the living room of the modest home he shared with Sue. A quiet Christmas Eve in front of their lovely decorated tree. However when he climbed in and pulled the last Christmas box toward him, he was dismayed to see that its corner was torn. The foil was partially ripped away, and some of the meal missing. He was perplexed. How on earth could such a thing have happened? He certainly couldn’t deliver it in its present condition. Had Sue dropped it by any chance when she was helping him carry their precious cargo out to the van this morning? No, she’d never allow it to be loaded in that condition.

He could see his easy chair getting a little further away because this meal would have to be replaced. He couldn’t disappoint the last senior on his list who was eagerly awaiting his arrival. Sue would have to make up a new plate, but she could easily do so because she’d simply take from their own Christmas dinner to replenish the one that had been damaged. Vandalized? Good lord, were their rats in here or something? And then he spied a little white curly leg protruding from the back of the passenger seat. A dog had to be stretched out in back of the seat, sleeping!

Climbing all the way inside was no easy feat considering his painful arthritic hip. He pushed the curtain that separated the cab from the cargo area, all the way to the side. Snowflakes raised her head lazily, her eyes winking as she tried to come awake from a most wonderful nap.

‘Well what do we have here?’ he asked kindly. ‘I do believe I’ve picked up a passenger somewhere along the line. Hungry were you girl?’

Snowflakes was fully awake now and she cocked her head sideways and smiled her adorable little smile. Her tiny pink tongue lolled as if to say I’m sorry I stole some of that meal, but I just couldn’t resist. It was really good too by the way, my compliments to the chef. You wouldn’t happen to have an extra sugar cookie would you?”


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