Friday, January 9, 2015

THE LURE OF THE PAST by Juliet Waldron

I love the study of history so much that I’ve always wanted to share that love with others. Like many before me, this longing leads to a desire to write historical novels, the kind which can pull the reader  into another (and often quite unfamiliar) mindset.  The first part of the job is research, a stage I often find easier than the actual work of writing, plotting and character creation. I often read all through and then around subjects, ones which are sometimes rather distant from my original focus.   A used bookstore with a stash of non-fiction can be a dangerous place for my pocketbook. My favorite finds are the sort with long bibliographies, appendices and a high reliance upon original source.

Recently, I picked up “Champlain’s Dream,” by historian David Hackett Fischer, an account of the earliest days of French Canada.  Champlain, a pragmatic, thoughtful French explorer of the early 1600’s, had emerged from the bloody violence of France’s religious wars with an open mind . He'd  made it his life’s work to induce people of varied backgrounds to cooperate for the common good. His belief in humankind, whatever their national origin or religion, allowed him to approach the Indigenous Sauvage with an attitude of respect and interest not shared by many Europeans of the time.

A dream is ordinarily an ephemeral thing. But here, because Champlain recounted his experience 400 + years ago in the forests near the lake now named for him, is one of his. With a war party of sixty Indians, he and two other Frenchmen traveled into the forbidden territory of the Iroquois, with who the Algonquins were eternally at war.  They traveled at night, and every morning, as they drew closer to the “Eastern Gate,” of the Iroquois, guarded the Mohawk, the chiefs asked Champlain “if he had dreamed about their enemies.” For many days, he did not.  Then, one morning, about 11 a.m., he awoke and called the Indians to him. At last, as they’d seemed to expect, the white captain had dreamed.

“I dreamed I saw in the lake near a mountain, our enemies, the Iroquois drowning before our eyes. I wanted to rescue them, but our Indian allies told me that we should let them all die, for they were worth nothing.”

David Hackett Fischer then adds: “The Indians recognized the place in Champlain’s dream as a site that lay just ahead, and they were much relieved…To Champlain’s Indian allies, dreams not only revealed the future. They controlled it.”

A few days later, the Mohawk encountered European firearms in battle for the first time. Surprised by the stunning sight of a man in armor and two sharpshooters wielding long-distance, deadly weapons stationed amid Algonquin ranks, they were defeated. Champlain’s dream, seen by his allies as prophecy, was a true one.

This is the sort of primary source tidbit that writers love, the kind which reveals a vital difference between the mental world of European and Amerindian. It also tells us something about Champlain.  There he was, with two white companions amid a war party upon whose goodwill their survival depended. They were moving through a gigantic, primal forest toward a dangerous objective. We learn that he stumbled into another kind of consciousness, one which transcended his usual understanding of linear time.  The chiefs were now confident of the battles before them and pleased that their new friend had dreamed so positively. Champlain, though he does not speak of it, must have been privately amazed by this rationally inexplicable experience. 

~Juliet Waldron

Books We Love


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Coming Soon from Kat Attalla, Jamie Hill, and Books We Love
The Prince and The Working Woman
The Desert Prince Series, Book 1 by Kat Attalla

Prince Hamid Khalid is not looking for love. Since coming of age he has watched a carnival-like parade of women vie for his attention. But they are more interested in his title and bank account than his sardonic personality.
Amanda Wilkes, abuse survivor and hard-core feminist isn’t looking for love either. Especially not with a sexy chauvinist like the prince. Opening an international community center under his direction in the exotic Middle Eastern country, however is a job of a lifetime.

While working in close proximity an attraction develops. The two decide to share a purely physical, unemotional, relationship. The affair works well until the unthinkable happened.

Available Jan. 31, 2015. Pre-order your copy now!
Time To Kill
Witness Security, Book 2 by Jamie Hill

US Marshal Jordan Burke is happy for her partner when he takes a month off for paternity leave, but she's not happy about her substitute partner. Nick Pierce worked for the Topeka Witsec office years ago and left under less than the best of circumstances. When he’s asked to fill in he hesitates, but curiosity about Jordan makes him accept the job. The minute he sees her again he doesn’t regret his decision. From Atlanta to Los Angeles, Jordan and Nick discover that danger, and help, can come from the strangest sources. While they struggle to protect their witnesses, the bigger challenge seems to be keeping each other alive. And there’s always the possibility that they might kill each other first.
“Ms. Hill has the gift of knowing what the reader wants and then hitting you with an ending you certainly don’t expect. Two thumbs up!” ~ Val, You Gotta Read Reviews

Available Jan. 31, 2015. Pre-order your copy now!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Outlaw In-laws by Gail Roughton

              In-laws. We all have some. And for better or worse, blessing or curse, we all are or will be somebody’s in-law.  Mother-in-laws, especially, get a bad rap. I mean, how many mother-in-law jokes have you heard in your life? So many that it’s a wonder in-laws aren’t just called out-laws in the first place.  That doesn’t apply to me, though.  My daughter found her other half very early in life.  Her husband first walked in our door when she was fifteen and he was seventeen and neither of them ever so much as seriously looked at anybody else. Even though they didn’t get married until they were twenty-two and twenty-four, they were a confirmed couple from that first meeting and everybody knew it.  I don’t even consider my son-in-law an “in-law”.  He’s a son, one of my boys.  Neither of my sons have found their other half yet, so I only have the one “in-law” I don’t even consider an “in-law”.  He’s just one of the kids. I’ve loved the boy for the last seventeen years.  Well, okay, the last sixteen.  That first year might have been kind of rocky. 

            I do, however, realize he probably cringes when he sees my name pop up on his cell phone as a call or text message.  And there’s a reason for that.  Most son-in-laws could expect their mother-in-law to text something like “Remember tomorrow’s Becca’s birthday!” Or I suppose they do, though in fact, I don’t really know because now that I think about it, most telephone communication between the two would probably be through their common link, the daughter-wife.

            Us though?  All bets are off.  My son-in-law’s a Deputy Sheriff who’s worked his way up the ranks from jail duty to patrol duty and beyond. He’s cut suicides down from a rope, he’s worked accidents that would make a blood and guts horror movie fan turn pale, he’s pulled alligators off county roads running near the local swamps. At present, he’s a K-9 drug interdiction officer specially trained to target drug traffic on the interstate.  I’ve been a paralegal for a few months shy of forty years now, so we have that “legal bond” thing going on wherein we can discuss the finer points of law and legal procedure in depth, something we can’t do with too many folks not members of those respective professions.  But even more than that, I’m a writer. Who writes suspense thrillers.  Can you say “marriage made in heaven”? An actual in-house source, as it were, for law enforcement procedures, particularly in a rural county big in area and small on population. 

            It never really struck me until the other day just how strange our text conversations would seem to someone who had nothing better to do than snoop into our phones (not that anybody’s doing that, of course, I just mean if anybody did they might wish they hadn’t). My son-in-law was invaluable to me during the writing of Country Justice.  I picked his brain mercilessly on such things as guns and what caliber bullets went with which, what type of damage each would do, how an experienced and trained driver would react to a sabotaged brake line to come out of a dead-man’s curve alive and what sabotage would have been used in the first place, what procedure would be utilized in accessing the evidence locker,  the average size of a drug shipment, ad infinitem on and on and on until it’s a miracle the boy would even talk to me.  Country Justice is dedicated to him, in fact, and nobody ever earned a dedication more.

            Well, guess what? I’ve got a current work-in-progress (that’s WIP in writer shorthand) and the merciless brain-picking has commenced.  The text messages are flying. How’d you like to get this text (reproduced with grammatical correctness rather than copied in text shorthand form for your reading convenience) from your mother-in-law?

      “Question. If the Department found a cadaver in the woods about two months old, no missing persons report, how would it be handled?  Would y’all just call the county Coroner who would transport to the nearest GBI crime lab or would one of their teams be called to the scene right then and take over?  And if there was suspicion these remains might be connected to an old cold case and y’all requested a priority, would the crime lab give it some kind of priority or just put it in line? Don’t you just love having me as your mother-in-law?”

            The response came in a few hours.  Bless his heart. He didn’t turn a hair. Or even try to arrest me.

            “First the coroner would get the body and would do the autopsy but the GBI and possibly even the FBI would be on the case from start to finish to oversee the local law. And yes they would check everything with priority because the person died under suspicious and unknown circumstances.  Sorry it took me so long, didn’t see I had a text.”

            I’ve got a resident expert and I’m going to complain about the length of time it took to get an answer? I think not.

            “No problem.  This is in a rural county where the mortician is the coroner and not an MD.  Do they do autopsies or call in an adjoining bigger county where the coroner’s an actual pathologist?”

            Yeah, I guess I am kind of single-minded when I’m in process on a work-in-progress, huh?

            “The local guy would do it with maybe the GBI or FBI present but other small agencies do ask bigger departments to help, like here if the City Police had that scenario they’d call us in  to work the case. And yes, they will sometimes send the body to a bigger city to be autopsied.

            “Got it! Thanks a million.  Title is Black Turkey Walk.” (Nice I finally threw in it was for a book, don’t you think?  Not that he didn’t know that from the start, of course.)

            “Sounds cool and very interesting.”

            A good son-in-law’s value is beyond rubies. It’s plot material.  Lord love you, darlin’, ‘cause I sure do!  To check out the results of this priceless in-house informant’s knowledge, click on my Books We Love Author's Page.  And coming Spring, 2015 – Black Turkey Walk.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Have You Considered Bone Marrow Donation? by Jamie Hill

The caption for the video below reads, "Less than 500 people in the United States have Diamond-Blackfan anemia, a life-threatening blood disease. One family in St. Louis County represents four of those cases, the children of Tim and Maggie Murry. All four of the Murry's sons, Sean, Patrick, Danny, and Timmy were diagnosed with the disease at birth. All of the boys will need bone marrow transplants as the only hope for living long, healthy lives."

Tim Murry was a classmate and friend of mine in elementary and high school. I wasn't aware of his children's disease until a few years ago when Tim asked for help organizing a Bone Marrow Drive in my town, (where he grew up and I still live.) I agreed and called upon several other friends and former classmates to help out. We held the drive at three local churches one Sunday morning. It was relatively easy, a matter of helping people fill out some simple paperwork and showing them how to swab the inside of their cheek. There's an age limit, donors must be between 18 and 55 years of age, so lots of people older than that donated money instead.

Later we found out that three matches were made from our drive, though sadly none for the Murry brothers. Their loving extended family continues to organize bone morrow drives across Kansas and Missouri in hopes of finding a match. I believe they told me that one match could help two of their boys with similar blood types (or something along those lines.) The boys are smart, sweet and stinkin' cute. How can anyone resist wanting to help after you watch the video below? (It's only two minutes long.)


My heart goes out to the Murry family. I'm proud to call Tim and his pretty wife Maggie my friends. I gladly swabbed and encourage everyone within the age bracket to do so. It can be done by mail in the privacy of your own home if there are no drives near you. Find the details at:

The goal is to save lives. With your help, that goal is possible. So com'on! Get swabbed!

Jamie Hill
Books We Love Author and Marketing Director

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Time is an Enigma by Katherine Pym

Wondering what the date is
We’ve just passed into a new year. By the Gregorian calendar, it is January 4, 2015. We are firm in this belief, and are happy with the algorithms that caused this. We trust the calendar. It is one of our rocks that anchor us to this world. 

But what if it weren’t always like this? How would people handle a moving, mushy calendar? I’d be nervous, and always wonder what the day was. I’d be afraid to travel, thinking wherever I went, the date wouldn’t match the place I left.

This was the case in England prior to 1752. Back then, they followed the Julian calendar when almost everyone else followed the Gregorian calendar. This differential caused problems within the government, amongst the merchants, or anyone who communicated with those abroad.

EXAMPLE: If you woke up in England January 1st 1700, according to the Julian calendar, the date would really be December 21st, 1699, since the Julian was a slug-a-bug, and trailed the Gregorian by approximately 11 days (all depends on who is counting). The dates would follow this lead until March 25, which was the New Year in the Julian calendar.

What if your country was at war with England and a treaty ensued? Would you lay down your arms on January 1st or December 21st? That’s rather a large gap of days. I can imagine war weary soldiers staring across the fox hole at each other, wondering what to do.   

Confused? Oh my, I do see exasperation in your eyes.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE: If you were born to English parents in France (Gregorian) on July 8, 1660, but returning to England, your birth date would actually be June 28 or 29, 1660 (Julian), again, depending on who is counting. 

If I were that child, I'd wander through life in a daze.

In September 1752, England finally succumbed to adopt the Gregorian calendar, but people fussed because they would lose days. How many, even the experts aren't certain. It ranges from 10-12 days.

One source I found gives the count of eleven days (or is it twelve?). The other day, I ran across a little booklet titled: Murders Myths and Monuments of North Staffordshire, by W.M. Jamieson. This booklet is a compilation of stories based in this lovely English shire. He entitled a short piece: 'Give us back our eleven days'.

This is what a good Staffordshire fellow did about the switch from Julian to Gregorian:

"William Willett was born in the early seventeen hundreds and lived in Endon where, according to local mythology he was something of a character... always fond of a gag or wager.  

"During the year 1752, ...the Government ordered that the days September 3rd to September 13th would not exist and people going to bed on the evening of the 2nd would wake up on the morning of the 14th.    

"...this appeared to be a government trick to rob the people of eleven days of their life and there were demonstrations outside Parliament demanding that the people were given back their eleven days.

"William Willet of Endon saw the possibility of a great joke and a profitable one, and also a chance to leave his indelible mark on Endon's history. He wagered that he would dance nonstop for twelve days and twelve nights and eagerly took bets from many of the villagers. 

"On the evening of September 2nd, 1752, William Willett started to jig around the village of Endon. Next morning, September 14th, he stopped dancing and started to claim his bets."

Good William Willet was pretty clever. Hopefully, the fair people of the village didn’t think too badly of his trick, and he made lots of money.

BUT I'm still confused on the missing days. Based on this story, England lost eleven days, when it seems to everyone, including W.M. Jamieson that William Willet danced for twelve days. 

Hmm, perhaps, this is a riddle better left unresolved.


Brides of Banff Springs by Victoria Chatham

AVAILABLE HERE   VICTORIA CHATHAM is a young-at-heart senior who has written short stories, newspaper and magazine articles on a...