Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hiking Trails and a Short Stroll to Wales by Randall Sawka

The heat and humidity of Taiwan restricted outside writing to a minimum. As I prefer to write in the AM, the heat was already building. This drove me literally (literaturally??) in to air conditioned coffee shops. Those four and a half months were interesting but typical highs in the mid 30's C that felt like 42 were a bit much.

What a difference roughly 9704.66 Km makes!

Here we are in a tranquil setting north of the Cotswalds in England. The scene is quite similar to Vancouver Island.

Here we have returned to drinking the coffee hot.

Lush green hills and valleys and dozens of walking and hiking trails-and a short stroll to Wales. (I couldn't resist the rhyme.)  Of course, we will be moved indoors once the cooler weather hits in about 4 weeks. In the meantime, off we go to pick some plums and apples for a pie. I know, I know, not healthy, but so tasty.

Find Randall Sawka's latest release at Books We Love:

and find all his titles here:


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why is the word "Feminism" demonized? By Sandy Semerad

          As a writer I know the power of words, and I’m constantly searching for the right words to make my stories live.

But recently I discovered the word “feminism” has been misunderstood. I had no idea until daughter Andrea received a rude response after she admitted she was a feminist. Made me wonder, why has this word been demonized? defines feminism as “advocating social, political, legal and economic rights for women equal to those of men.” Merriam-Webster has a similar definition.

          The term feminism originated in 19 century France, I learned. A second-wave began in the United States during the early 1960s with Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique.

Friedan wrote this book after talking with friends, who had given up their careers to become housewives. These women felt unfulfilled in their domestic roles, Friedan claimed. She blamed women’s magazines, run by men, for encouraging women to become mothers and housewives, rather than career women. A different scenario existed in the 1930s, when women’s magazines featured confident and independent women with careers, according to Friedan.

More recently Harvard MBA and radio host Samantha Ettus wrote The Pie Life to inspire working mothers and help them let go of the guilt. All women should keep their feet in the workplace, according to Ettus.
          Regardless of what Ettus and others have written to encourage women, I found a plethora of negative on-line comments, misconstruing the meaning of the word feminism. Many were under the impression that feminists were men haters, and these same folks left vile comments.

I had to stop reading these negative remarks or they would have poisoned me. Words can poison as Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto has proven in his experiments. Our bodies contain mostly water, and with that premise, Emoto filled several bottles with distilled water. Then he taped words to the bottles. When he read the words aloud, the molecules in the bottles reacted.

Emoto photographed these molecules and discovered that positive words like “love” created beautiful formations. Negative words like “I hate you” produced ugly, violent images. Emoto has written about his experiments in his book The Hidden Messages in Water.

Other researchers have confirmed Emoto’s research. Words have the power to change our lives, they say. 

For example, in a Psychology Today article, authors Newburn and Waldman used several examples to prove this theory. They mentioned an experiment by psychologists at Missouri State University who designed an exercise for patients in pain. They asked the patients to identify their deepest values and meditate on them. When the patients did as instructed, they were able to reduce their pain and distress. 

Everyone can do this exercise, the article said, and we can involve our family and friends by asking: “What is your deepest personal value?”

Before we can adequately answer this question, however, we must relax completely, close our eyes for 60 seconds and listen for the word or words that express our sincerest values, according to the Psychology Today article.

Words like “peace” and “love” reduce physical and emotional stress, they discovered.

          I tried this exercise several times. Each time I came up with different words: Love, creativity, family, peace, health/fitness, faith, determination, bliss/happiness, achievement, patience, respect, compassion, growth, optimism, education, sincerity, abundance, inspiration, excellence, strength, trust, justice/equality.

          But getting back to the word feminism, Andrea wanted to know if I considered myself a feminist. I told her I didn’t like labels, but given the meaning, I had to say, “Yes.” I believe in equal rights for everyone, and regret this word has been demonized.

When I asked daughter Rene, “Are you a feminist?” she didn’t hesitate. “Yes, women should have the same social, economic and political rights as men,” she said.

It pleases me to know my daughters understand the true meaning of this word and identify with it, but others don’t apparently and need a clarification, which is why I like what actress Martha Plimpton has said:

“I take a lot of pride in calling myself a feminist, always have,” Plimpton wrote in an e-mail. “We’re going to have to insist on correcting bigotry as it happens in real time. And fear of women’s equality, or the diminishment of it, is a kind of bigotry. I think it’s important to remove the stigma associated with women’s equality, and as such, yes, normalizing the word ‘feminist’ and making sure people know what it means is incredibly important…”

My latest book, A Message in the Roses, is loosely based on a murder trial I covered in Atlanta. You may get a copy here:

                           A MESSAGE IN THE ROSES

To Read more about my work and life, please visit my website:

Friday, September 23, 2016

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Werewolves on Hockey In Canada

Click here to purchase from Amazon

Click here to purchase from Amazon

Werewolves on Hockey In Canada

The word, Lunacy, comes from the term lunaticus, “Of the Moon”. Myth and tradition have it that the world goes nuts on full moon nights. Just ask any emergency room attendant, police officer or hop framer. Oh, that’s a farmer, a hop framer is a new age arborist trying to make a mint on the next craze, making pictures from organic materials, other than the scare compound called wood. But then don’t tell them that every year the world grows another fifty two trillion board feet of lumber. You really wonder why the world wasn’t covered in several feet of plywood decades ago.
            Does the world go crazy on full moon nights? We do know that the earth is 75% water and that the moon has an effect on the earth by creating tidal effects. Science has yet to prove that while human bodies are also 75% moisture, that the moon has any known effect on us. I’ve never heard of anyone going to the doctor stating, “Doc, I’ve got one hell of a high tide coming on”.
            Several recent studies have been done on the correlation between full moon nights and: traffic accident rates, birthrates, homicide rates, crisis calls, natural disasters, suicide or any physical abuse calls, psychiatric admissions, epileptic seizures, unusual nursing home resident behavior, gunshots, stabbings, and sleepwalking. All have come to the same conclusion. The only lunatics are the myth makers.
            And for us writers or those of the more bizarre calibre of thinking, likewise studies on: bingo, lotteries and casino payouts, have shown the same thing. Zilch. Oh and sorry for those Canadians in the crowd, aggression by professional hockey players (Yes, some mad college students spent six years, thirty-five hundred pizzas, kegs and kegs of beer on this very learned subject, much to the chagrin of their professor). Darn, why didn’t I think of that one when I was in university?         
            And unfortunately for the Mary Shelley and Anne Rice fans in the crowd, no known increases in lycanthropy or vampirism. Although it is reported that there is a sharp rise in the amount of razors sold and barbershop shavings during a full moon. But no evidence has been recorded of patients needing more shaves on full moon nights. Although I don’t know about you, but I swear I feel hairier.
Oddly enough studies have shown that the percentage of cat and dog bites are nearly thirty percent higher to emergency room visits. PS. Don’t walk your dog on these nights and don’t every go walking your cat either. In fact don’t ever take your cat on a walk with a leash. I tried once and ended up with twenty stitches.
            It is known that lions tend to hunt more often on days after a full moon. So plan your next safari accordingly. It has also been reported that binge drinking and arrests for drunken driving at higher alcohol rates do rise on full moon nights. This is where the hop farmers are wringing their hands on potential beer sales. As for the framers, well maybe next decade or try switching to cabbage growing. I hear it has been discovered to have amazing insulation values.
            As for us unfortunate human beings, the only thing proven is that we do average about five minutes less sleep on these nights. Well, there goes my next novel idea, ‘Werewolves on Hockey In Canada’ out the window. I should retitle it to, ‘Bloodshot Eyes and Attack Cat Fever,’ instead.

 Thunderbird's Wake Cover (Soon To Be Released From Books We Love)

The back cover blurb below (if you thought this blog is mad, wait until you run into Charlie Stillwaters. He takes Lunacy to a whole new level and disproves all those scientific studies).

Agatha Christie, roll over in your grave, new sleuths on the prowl.  Haida shaman Charlie Stillwaters convinces Carol Ainsworth, a Vancouver detective, to join him as he breaks his way into a high security prison. The duo are determined to find out who killed the previous native elder before all lightning and thunder breaks loose. They encounter deranged inmates, mystical beings, ancient serpents, wood sprites and someone who should have been dead long ago.
Not your usual crime/mystery!
Not your usual criminal investigators!
You thought Jack Nicholson was mad in The Shining…
Wait until you meet Charlie Stillwaters in the Sweat lodge.

Frank Talaber
Frank Talaber’s Writing Style? He usually responds with: Mix Dan Millman (Way of The Peaceful Warrior) with Charles De Lint (Moonheart) and throw in a mad scattering of Tom Robbins (Even Cowgirls Get The Blues). 
PS: He’s better looking than Stephen King (Carrie, The Stand, It, The Shining) and his romantic stuff will have you gasping quicker than Robert James Waller (Bridges Of Madison County).
Or as is often said: You don’t have to be mad to be a writer, but it sure helps.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Card in a Box by Cheryl Wright

A dear friend recently turned seventy, and I knew I couldn't let that noteworthy birthday pass without a special celebration. 

Since we are two states apart, it was difficult to spend time with her, so I made her an extra special card instead. 

For many years, I have measured, scored, and cut these boxes by hand, but I recently purchased a die that cuts it automatically. It's made the job so much easier. 

Putting the inserts in can be quite fiddly, but I've almost perfected the process now. 

Here are some other views as it's difficult to see what the 'card in a box' is truly like front-on. 

I hope you've enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading, and I'll see you next time!


My website: 
BWL website: 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Come and Experience ArtPrize by J.Q. Rose

Come and Experience ArtPrize by J.Q. Rose

Come along with me to visit the most amazing art show on the planet! 
ArtPrize 2016 takes place September 21- October 9 and the entire experience is free to the public! 

What is ArtPrize? "ArtPrize® is a radically open, independently organized international art competition and a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization."

How I wish I could capture in photos the most amazing works of art presented at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. This international art competition is the biggest in the world with artists competing for $720,000 in prizes and grants in various categories.  The competition is open to any artist 18 and older. Half of the winners are selected by the public vote and half by a juried group of professionals. 

Today I share some of the amazing entries we encountered out of the 1500 + pieces entered in ArtPrize 2014. Please take a peek at the photos for a taste of the nineteen day festival held every fall in Grand Rapids.

This installation is made up of living plants. A great reminder to just step away, enjoy the festival's unique works of art, and breathe.

The author framed by flowers

These little colored pencil drawn ladies made me chuckle.

Brilliant lighted art piece of blown glass.

A 23 foot long panel of galloping mustangs created from all kinds of wood.

The "Chihuly-inspired" hanging is actually made of plastic bottles, not blown glass, painted by elementary students and put together by the art teachers. I appreciated its beauty even more after learning about the story behind the creation of this masterpiece.

A whimsical family of turtles. Smile...

The title of this piece is "Wind."

Grand Rapids Petroglyph--Fish carved and painted in stones 
that line the banks of the Grand River.
This river runs through the downtown area of the city.

A horse made of junk. Lots of car parts. Art fashioned from trash.
The venues are found downtown and throughout the neighborhoods of Grand Rapids. The artists display their works in museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, theaters, hotels, public parks, lobbies, buildings, walls, bridges, laundromats, and auto body shops. The outdoor installations are breathtaking, but even the little pencil drawings, and unique media used in creating all the original art, are mind-blowing. Street performers and musical artists add to the festive atmosphere of the event.
If you get the opportunity to attend ArtPrize, grab your hat and your walking shoes, and take in these amazing sights. West Michigan's magnificent fall weather is the perfect backdrop to feature these lovely,sometimes jarring, and often thought-provoking works of art.

The ArtPrize hosts describe it as "unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike."

About J.Q. Rose
J.Q. Rose is a West Michigan resident and author of mysteries that take place in Michigan. Her latest mystery is Deadly Undertaking, a romantic
Deadly Undertaking by J.Q. Rose
Available at Amazon
suspense that takes place in a funeral home. 
A handsome detective, a shadow man, and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life. Click here to connect online with J.Q. at the J.Q. Rose blog.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Writing Humor: I'll Be Here All Night, Ladies and Gents! by Stuart R. West

Laughs! Murder! G-strings! Clicky Here!

Humor’s very subjective. For the writer and the reader. Out of all the genres I’ve written, humor’s probably the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, I have a blast writing my Zach and Zora comic mystery series and I’m always proud of the outcome. The problem is I tend to write aiming at my funny bone. Not everyone shares it. Many readers found the first book in the series, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, “hilarious.” But one reviewer suffered through four pages and declared it “total trash,” the equivalent of having a tomato lobbed at me if I was on-stage doing a stand-up routine. Tough crowd, tough crowd. 

Of course everyone’s entitled to their opinion, the world would be very dull if that wasn’t the case. But clearly the reviewer didn’t understand the book was a comedy. You can’t please everyone. Especially regarding humor. Readers are very protective of their humor, I’ve found, and everyone has a different threshold and variety of likes.

For instance, I’ve never laughed at an Adam Sandler movie. Honestly, a crackly Jerry Lewis voice and vulgar humor doesn’t do it for me. And, psst! I don’t even like the Three Stooges. Blasphemy among my male peers who would probably want me to hand in my “Guy Card.” It takes a strange mixture of low-brow and high-brow to amuse me.

So, I started writing stuff I find funny. Going into the Zach and Zora books, I knew I might be the only one amused, my laughter the only barometer. Mark Twain said, “Humor is mankind’s greatest blessing.” While I don’t have such lofty ambitions as to be the Pope of humor, if I can make someone smile while reading my books, goal accomplished!

The road to the first book, Bad Day in a Banana Hammock, was a sloppy one, pocked with potholes of doubt and riddled with speed-bumps of hesitation. I didn’t trust that anyone might find it amusing other than myself. Then something happened…badda-boom! Everything seemed to come together.

True origin time! The book almost didn’t happen. I was gabbing with a writer friend one day, grousing about the same-ol’, same-ol’ books we’ve read. I said, “What if I came up with the dumbest lead character in history? How about…a really vain, vapid, stupid male stripper? Yeah!” She laughed, said, “I dare you!” I can’t turn down a dare, especially since it was a double-dog dare. Badda-bing!
So I started writing Hammock. One chapter in, though, I cheated. It became obvious Zach wasn’t strong enough to completely lead a book. So I created his super-competent, super-irritable, extremely pregnant sister, Zora (an ex security specialist), to bail Zach out of trouble when he wakes up with no memory or clothes next to a naked dead man. Hilarity ensues. (I hope). Did I mention Zora’s other three kids who have to tag along for the first part of the investigation?

The second book in the series, Murder by Massage, just released September 4th. When I accepted that challenge a while back, I had no idea the bet would turn into a series. And I’m having a ball with these characters and hope it shines through on the pages. (But what do I know?) I’ll be here all weekend, folks!

Murder by Massage once again finds Zach up to his g-string in trouble when he stumbles onto another murder. Zora to the rescue! There’re ex-radical hippies, the cult of “Furries,” a g-string chase through the streets, a dance-off, smart aleck kids, bewigged pastors, a dancing and singing detective, secrets, more murder and mystery and I hope laughs. Lotsa, lotsa laughs. And despite Zach’s rather unsavory choice of profession (“male entertainment dancer,” NOT “stripper” as he protests), the comic cozy books are not explicit. Rather chaste actually. Except for a g-string here and there.

You’ve been a great audience ladies and gentlemen!
Don't be left out! More fun and better for you than Pokemon Go!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

World Building Part 2 - Putting Your Reader Into The World

How do you start to build your dream world? If you’ve lucky and have chosen a world you know or one where you can find volumes of research. Then you rub those mental hands together and think this is a cinch. It ain’t necessarily so.

You’ve chosen today’s world in a town you can find your way around blindfolded. Your reader doesn’t know the world so you much provide them with information to draw them into the time and place you’ve chosen.

I often use a hospital setting in my contemporary stories. I’m a nurse so I’m familiar with the venue. Follow me back in time to the day I finished my first complete novel. The book was sent off. With the rejection letter came a helpful hint. “Your characters are existing in a vacuum/” I rewrote the book piling on the physical set up of the hospital, the unit and the patient rooms. Sent the book off again. Rejected again with this hint. "You definitely have shown me the hospital but your descriptions haven’t put me there. Try using the senses.”

I was fortunate. In those days editors wanted the full manuscript for fiction. Seldom happens today. So it’s up to you and me to create a setting the reader can step into.

One way to define a setting is to go from the large to the small.

Here’s an example from Wolfblade by Jennifer Fallon.

The hall was massive. Sixteen glorious cut crystal candelabras showed warm yellow light over the numerous arrivals. Musicians in a corner tuned their instruments. She caught a view of the handsome smartly dressed young men who had come to the ball.

As you’re establishing the setting, research is needed to help you focus on your world. Maps, descriptions and pictures of settings, houses, and furniture can be found in books or the internet. Since some of my stories are fantasies, I have copies of Archaeology and National Geographic to look for places and ruins I can use. Television programs can provide needed information.

I’ve published 2 books set in an alternate Egypt. They’re a cross between alternate world and pseudo-time travel. A documentary about camels taught me something I needed to know since I had first just wanted to use the ancient Egypt at the time of the Hyksos invaders. Wrong. Though there were horses present at this time there were no camels. I wanted camels so I created an alternate ancient Egypt.

When weaving word tapestries a light touch is good. Vivid words well chosen are a plus. Bogging the story down with volumes of data and description send a reader to find another adventure.

I judge a number of contests for unpublished and published writers. One was for the first chapter of a book. The first paragraph introduced me to a pair of intriguing characters. Then page after page the writer took me on a tour of a costal road detailing everything seen in glowing detail. Though the descriptions were vivid, nothing happened and earned the writer a low score.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A summer to remember

Helllooooooo all!
It's the 16th day of the 2016th year - is that supposed to mean something special? Personally, I think every day is special, each for its own reason, or, for no reason at all. Just being.

This summer has been one of the most memorable in all my 50+ years. Weather was hot and dry and for sailing, winds were strong enough to warrant plenty of 'wind warnings' in Georgian Bay. However, the fish were too shy for my liking. When I bought the Styrofoam container of worms at the Marina, the girl at the counter assured me they were well trained. She was wrong. But, fish or no fish, just being on the water was its own reward.

Promote promote promote!

Between sailing escapades, I've been promoting my book, The Twisted Climb. It's a book for young adults and, as I like to add, for adults who are young at heart. I have two events taking place next month: one is a signing event at a Chapters store near me, and the other is a 'Meet the Author' night, part of Ontario Public Library Week celebrating authors and books. I'm sooooo pumped! For the latter, I'm one of five invited authors who will read an excerpt from their book and then participate in a Question & Answer period.


I took to heart Jude Pittman's advice about configuring Amazon / Author Central for countries around the world. It's exhilarating to know that your book is available in another continent. And at £2.10 there is no excuse for my Irish family not to buy. Right?

Ball hockey girls are the best!

More summer excitement came from my ball hockey team. They've been great supporters in my writing / publishing journey and proved it with a congratulatory cupcake-cake. So it is true. Ball hockey girls are the best!


My son informed me that being an author means being a tweeter. Doesn't that sound ridiculous? But, apparently not. So, I've dipped my toe into the twitter-verse or whatever it's called, and I'm experimenting with this form of social media. I have a Facebook account ( which gives me free marketing exposure, so the next step, he tells me, is twitting. Or tweeting. Whatever.
Before I become a 'professional' with my twat or twit or tweet, I'm practicing under the following name: @JoanieJCK. Send me a tweet! I'll practice with my fellow BWL authors. Thanks for sharing my journey.

J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb
A book for young adults and adults young at heart.

Twitter: @JoanieJCK

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

When did you last puddle jump? by Sheila Claydon

I've been time travelling again, back into my past.  My companion is my two year old granddaughter who is on a nine week visit from Australia.

When did you last puddle jump? Or balance across a log? Or count pine cones? Or draw pictures in the sand? And why does the wind blow the leaves on the trees and make some of them flutter down to the ground? And why do we walk on the wide paths when the hidden ones made by rabbits and foxes are so much better? And what about shadows, and crows, and the aeroplanes that leave a trail across the sky? And bubbles. There is nothing better than blowing bubbles and then chasing them until they pop.

All this and much, much more and we are only three and a half weeks into the visit.

We don't really forget you know, we just need an excuse to revisit our own childhood, an excuse to arrive home wet, or sandy, or both.  And discussing the magic of the wind, or blowing bubbles, are very satisfying occupations once we remember how to let go of our own reality and fly backwards in time to the days when we were two and a little bit.

I remember reading somewhere that we are our memories. Nothing that ever happens to us, no experience, good or bad, is ever lost. Some of our memories become less accessible over the years of course, but they are still there, just waiting for the trigger that will awaken them. And this month my trigger has been a two year old who has taken me back to a world I once inhabited.

I have two more books to write for my time travel trilogy Mapleby Memories. It's not going to be an easy process because juxtaposing different centuries in one story is difficult. What I've discovered this month, however, is that it will be easier than I anticipated. I just need to find the magic trigger that will transport me to an earlier memory. It might well be my little granddaughter because I already know there will be children in the next book so inhabiting their world as I write is important.

There are small children in the first book, Remembering Rose, as well. Children from three different centuries, and although it doesn't say so in the book, I guarantee they all loved to puddle jump.

Sheila Claydon's books can be found at Books We Love and Amazon

She also has a website and can be found on facebook  and twitter