Thursday, March 28, 2024

While You Were Reading (Behind the Curtain AKA an Author's Life) By Connie Vines #insider Author Blog,


Those Who Watched Murder She Wrote (television),  As Good As It Gets (1997 movie), or Misery (1990)

Discovered how exciting, unpredictable, and dangerous an author's life can be.




I must confess that after an all-night writing binge, I do resemble Jack Nickleson's portrayal of an obsessive-compulsive author: wild-eyed, questionable hairstyle, and talking semi-coherently to myself. 

I have also inadvertently sat on one of my pups, who claimed my seat when I refilled my mug with coffee. Thus, a snarling match was triggered to save me, which resulted in my baptism with semi-hot coffee. 

I encountered a "fan" during a meet-the-author event. She was upset when I asked her name and touched her book. I then proceeded to explain how a book signing event worked. It was touch-and-go for a few seconds but ended well for me. I learned later she'd purchased a second book. (I was autographing paperback copies. And yes, I'd have given her the second book if I'd known she'd desired a pristine copy.)

How does the author's life relate to the story?

When authors write, they are influenced by their past. Gender, race, and socioeconomic status also significantly impact their writing. Therefore, the more you know about the author, the better you can understand the messages central to their work.

We write what we know. 
We write about personal issues that happen in our lives. Everything an author has encountered, from personal relationships to world events, can influence how they present a story.
Questions for the reader:
📌Are your favorite authors like you? Or, are their stories completely opposite to what is familiar?
📌Do you prefer a particular genre? Or will you cross into different genres with your favorite author?
📌Have you ever attended an in-person/ online author event?
📌And lastly, when and where is your favorite time and place to read?
I read in the late afternoon, before dinner time.  I'm seated on the living room sofa, snuggled under an afghan in winter, with a snoring pup beneath each elbow.

Happy Reading,

My links:

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Have we lost all sense of etiquette? – by Vijaya Schartz

Find these and many of my other titles at BWL HERE

Raised in Europe, I remember learning to set a table as a child, and I hated all these useless conventions. Who cared about where the water glass or the wine glass went. How close to the plate, on which side, and in what order the knives, spoons, and forks should go. But knowing it served me well when writing historical stories.

The British still keep many rules of etiquette, from what temperature to serve tea, how to curtsy, or what “fascinator” to wear for each occasion… probably due to the Monarchy.

Japan still honors the “Tea ceremony,” a complicated ritual to make the perfect cup of tea to show appreciation for someone special.

Japan also adheres to a stringent etiquette and applies it to their business dealings. Here, again, maybe it’s a lingering remnant of the Samurai and of the Imperium. Like walking to the left of, and one step behind a superior, a teacher (Martial arts) or a husband (for a woman).

The Samurai cast used to not just bow and obey without question, but they would lay down their lives for the honor of their overlord… even committing Seppuku (ritual suicide) taking the blame to preserve their lord’s honor.

My mom used to say that punctuality was the politeness of the kings, their only way to show respect to others. Ever since, I like to be punctual, if not early for every circumstance. Maybe it’s a sign of self-importance on my part? It makes me feel like royalty.

In the US, however, except for a formal dinner at the White House, etiquette seems to have vanished from daily lives. There used to be a dress code to board a plane. Not anymore.

If I believe the dating sites, not showing up or showing up late for a date is common place. No one seems to care anymore. Is this a lack of respect for others? Or just a sign of the times. Our hectic lives give us all kinds of excuses to skip formalities.

I used to send good wishes to friends and family for the new year, a letter, a card. Now, they are lucky to get an email every other year. Still, some of my friends keep making hand-made cards and sending them in the mail for special occasions. She says she enjoys making them, and it’s like a relaxing hobby.

I feel guilty for not reciprocating, but who has the time? Still, I keep these hand-made cards, like precious relics of a tradition which will soon disappear. You can’t stop progress, but maybe we should sometimes look back and consider what we lost in the bargain.

I use many details of cultural etiquette in my books, even in Science Fiction, even with strong heroines and brave heroes. 

amazon B&N - Smashwords - Kobo 

Happy Reading!

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The animals in my stories—Tricia McGill


You can find all my Books We Love books here on my authors page

Most of my stories have at least one animal, be it a dog, cat or horse. I probably do it without conscious thought. Horses of course are essential in any story set in the past, without them or oxen to assist the pioneers how would most continents have been opened up for the settlers. On going through my backlog of books it even surprised me that almost every one of them contains at least one animal that played a vital part in the plot.

In Mystic Mountains, book one of my Settlers Series, horses and bullocks were essential for assisting the pioneers across large expanses of the Australian bush, and in this case across the Blue Mountains, which was a treacherous journey in the early 1800s. Then there were young Tim’s dogs who were his constant companions. Tim and his dogs appeared again in Distant Mountains, book two in the series and of course there were the much-required horses. In book three, Challenging Mountains, the month-long journey from Bathurst to Melbourne required sturdy horses and then there was Tim again with his trusty dog Bracken. Not so many animals featured in book four, Annie’s Choices, but the dogs and dingoes loved by the natives got a mention.

In The Laird, book one of my Wild Heather series, the Laird’s dogs play an extremely large part in finding the lost Andrew. And in the sequel, Travis, the laird’s ever-present hounds were still around.

Lonely Pride, book one in my Beneath Southern Skies series features Pixie the horse that brings the young lovers together. Sam fell in love with Mac when he let her ride his horse early on in the tale. This story is set in Tasmania so other small creatures such as a platypus crop up now and then. In A Dream for Lani, book two, Lani’s horse Matilda causes conflict with Ryan. Lani also has a poodle named Tootsy. Then there is Ruff, a large shaggy dog owned by the family she becomes friendly with. Leah in Love, book three features a dog Josh that accompanies Leah in her work as a landscape designer.

When Fate Decides, book one in my Challenge the Heart series has Tess who owns Velvet a spaniel, who is her constant companion. In book two, A Heart in Conflict, Georgie adopts a stray dog she names Spot. Book three, Kate’s Dilemma has dogs but not of huge significance to the story line.

My Time-Travel, A Call Through Time, is set in 450 AD, so of course there were horses galore. There were no saddles about, and the bridles were fashioned from plaited leather thongs. Brys had a horse called Arthur, which he had to leave behind in his old life. The men back there in the past respected Brys’s knowledge of horses after he saved one from a bout of colic.

Ah, Amethyst. This one tickled my fancy as it was the sort of menagerie I seem to end up with. Amy has two adopted animals, a dog Jess—a cross between a wombat and a corgi, and her cat Goldie that travels about in the basket at the front of Amy’s bicycle.

In Laurel’s Gift, Laurel becomes the caretaker, then owner of her great aunt’s King Charles spaniel Charlie and the two cats Marmalade & Plum named according to their colours. Hanno, the large dog belonging to Rolf came in close to the end of Powerful Destiny. A terrier sheepdog cross called Peggy got a mention in Crying is for Babies, my story based on my sister’s life. Tiger, the big black dog was a constant in When Destiny Calls and even appears on the cover.

Sweet Bitterness contains another dog called Peggy, a kelpie Jake and a cross breed dog Spike. For the Love of Faith has a dog called Bob and a horse, Matilda, both appearing throughout the tale. A Troubled Heart features Danny Boy, Esther’s horse. And believe it or not the as yet unnamed book I am working on definitely has horses, but expect a dog or two to pop up somewhere along the line, I can’t seem to leave them out.

Just as a footnote, my current companion is a cat of many colours called Mitch, but I have had many dogs, horses and a cat or two over the years and cannot imagine life without at least one of them there to depend on for a smile or companionship.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Ideas for murder mysteries by Joan Havelange


For book and purchase information click this link

Ideas for a plot can come to an author at any time. Someone’s comment at coffee can lead you down a path. Or a person on a street who is acting in a certain way. An item on the news. Or a past event recalled.

Murder Exit Stage Right is a cozy mystery that comes from my past. I acted and directed in Little Theatre. I find writing a lot like directing; only my characters always show up on time and know their lines. Although sometimes they do go off in a direction, I hadn’t planned.

Acting and directing was fun. Yes, we loved the laughter from our audience and the applause; a standing ovation was great for our egos. But the most fun happened at rehearsals and off stage.

Our little theatre group participated in drama festivals. And I have to brag. We did quite well. In Murder Exit Stage Right, I do use snippets from on-stage and off. Of course, they are exaggerated. And there was no murder. Humour and mystery is what you will get when you dive into my cozy mystery.

Please enjoy a short extract from Murder Exit Stage Right.

Chapter One

The mud-spattered sports car turned into the Community Theatre Hall parking lot. Driving past the front of the hall, the car lights momentarily lit the theatre’s large main doors. Parking the car at the side of the hall, the driver quickly killed the motor. Did anyone see the car lights? Was anyone about? The late-night visitor smirked. It was unlikely. Little prairie towns like Glenhaven Saskatchewan rolled up the sidewalks long before midnight. But one could never be too careful. The black-clad figure closed the car door, shivering in the cool night air. It was April, and although the calendar officially proclaimed, the first day of spring had arrived. Winter on the prairies didn’t give up so easily. Flashlight in hand, the prowler quietly crept up to the side of the hall, shoes crunching on the frozen gravel.

The intruder came prepared with a set of burglar tools bought off the internet but didn’t need them. It was ridiculously easy to open the old side door. The interloper chuckled; who would ever want to break into this old hall? The renovated theatre held nothing of value except for the midnight caller.

Once inside, the trespasser found the light switch and flicked the lights on. Another bonus, the theatre had no windows. The lights were startling after the darkness. The intruder waited until their eyes adjusted, looking around the old hall, marvelling at Glenhaven’s excellent job renovating the old movie theatre. The screen was long gone. But the sloped floor remained, and the ancient theatre seats looked newly upholstered. Heavy new burgundy curtains hung open, revealing the renovations had continued to the stage. New theatre footlights and the floor of the stage looked new as well. The old theatre was ready for the one-act drama festival to be held the following week. To the left of the stage was a set of stairs. The black-clad figure quickly ascended the three wooden steps that led to the stage, paused, and grinned. Glenhaven had restored the old movie theatre to its former glory, but the town must have run out of money.

Flimsy flats flanked the stage. There were two openings in the black painted wallboard, one on each side of the stage. The backdrop was a badly painted window on muslin. The stage was set for the Glenhaven Players. Stage left, a faded flowered loveseat that had seen better days. A green throw cushion hung precariously on the arm; a small oval-shaped coffee table sat in front of the settee. Stage right at the back of the stage, a brown cabinet made from chipboard, a blue and white vase crammed full of various plastic flowers set on top of the cabinet. The intruder’s eyes sparkled with amusement. What a shabby set, as shabby as the Glenhaven Players. The midnight visitor chuckled and exited stage right; it was time to leave a little surprise.


Sunday, March 24, 2024

My Poetry Moment by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey


My Poetry Moment

     Over my writing career I have had articles, short stories, travel books, and mystery, young adult, and science fiction novels published. And one poem. When that one poem was accepted for publication, I felt I had taken my writing to another level. I decided, though, that my contribution was going to be different, that I was going to take the poetry community by storm. I wanted to make my mark, to stand out in the poetry world. And to do that I came up with a new poetry sub-genre that I called Script Poetry. Just like a movie script I set up the scene and the tone for the poem and give some background of the story in the poem by using a script layout. It made the whole poem more visual and that way I could get right to the meat of what I wanted to say.

     I enthusiastically sent out my script poems and waited for the accolades to come in.

     Surprisingly, the publishers were not as galvanized about this new style of poetry as I was. No one accepted them for publication.

     But never underestimate the power of a script poet scorned. At the same time as I was planning my burst onto the poetry stage, I was writing my mystery novel "The Only Shadow In The House," the second book of The Travelling Detective Series. I gave one of my characters the career of a poet and her specialty was Script Poetry. Needless to say the publishers and critics in my fictional world were highly impressed with the poems. The poetry was very popular with the reading public and the poetress won many awards.

     To quote from my book: One critic wrote that her poems have an innovative, revolutionary style that is shaking the foundations of the conventionally staid poetry community, while another critic called them insightful and powerful.

     I have taken one of the script poems from that novel for you to judge for yourself.


Fade In

Act One

Exterior-Farm House-Night.

There is snow on the ground. Stars twinkle in the clear, night sky. A vehicle pulls into the yard and a woman climbs out. She stares at the house then takes a deep breath. She releases it in a vapour. With slow tread she climbs up the steps and enters the darkened house. Inside, she stops and listens.


There is no noise in my house, it is dark and silent.

Today, I buried you. Is this what it is like in your grave,

total quiet, total darkness?

I flip on the light and wander the house

looking at the possessions that

represented a life that never existed,

except in my own mind.

This has been our home for nineteen years

but it now feels alien to me.

Because from now on I know that mine

will be the only shadow in the house.

I must leave here soon.


End Act One

Fade Out


Fade In

Act Two

Interior-Farm House- Night.

All the lights are on in the house. The woman is in the kitchen. She pushes over the shelving holding plant seedlings and pots. She heads to the dining room and goes to a china cabinet with no doors. All the shelves hold figurines and dishes and knick knacks. They crash to the floor with a sweep of her hand. The ones that don’t break, disintegrate under her foot.


“Damn you, Ben. Damned you to hell!” I yell.

I want you to hear. I want you to know

the sorrow and the pain you have brought me.

I go from room to room, expunging.

I spray your shaving cream on the walls.

I dump your aftershave in the tub.

I grab a knife and shred your clothes.

Finally, there is nothing of yours left.

I feel some satisfaction.

You destroyed my life and now I have

destroyed everything that represented yours.

“There you bastard,” I say. “Rot in hell.”


Fade Out

End Act Two


Fade In

Act Three

Interior-Farm House- Night

The woman is standing in front of a picture on the living room wall. The furniture and floor are littered with debris. She takes the picture off the hook and stares at it a long time.


I find our wedding photograph on the wall.

I’d had it enlarged for our tenth anniversary

as my loving gift to you.

Were you as pleased as you said you were

or was that just a sham?

I smash the glass against the corner of the table.

I cut my finger removing the shards.

I look at you smiling back at me.

Were you an impostor in our marriage?

For now I wonder how many other

women did you see over our nineteen years.

I slash the picture with the knife. How symbolic.


End Act Three

Fade Out

Popular Posts

Books We Love Insider Blog

Blog Archive