Saturday, October 31, 2015

Life's Path by Eleanor Stem

Me in a past life
What makes us chose certain things in life, or walk down a particular path? I married my high school sweetheart after some thirty odd years, but it took a long time for us to reunite. Apparently, he had things to do, and I know I had things to do. I married a completely different person, had two children by him. It was a difficult time. I was glad when he suddenly left. 

Back in high school, I told my sweetheart I wanted to write, but life got in the way, like the unhappy marriage and subsequent divorce. After almost a decade, I went from a homemaker to being suddenly thrust into the business world. 

Because of what I went through and the resulting memories, I loathed the area I lived in with the crime and heat. Suddenly, women started to knock on my door who said they thought my ex-husband would marry them after the divorce, but didn’t. “If you want revenge,” more than one confided, “I will help you.” 

Life experiences force us to learn. I wanted nothing to do with revenge, even though my ‘ex’ had one helluva mean streak. He played ugly mind games, manipulated others, and lied. I knew to seek revenge would only lower me to his level and harm my spirit. At any rate, he didn’t care how his actions affected me. Any karma he garnered, he would have to work out on his own. I would not help him. 

I said, “No thanks” to those women and closed the door. I changed my phone number, had it unlisted, then when it became too difficult to bear, I sold everything, lock, stock and barrel, and moved. During a weak moment, the ‘ex’ gave me permission to take my children out of the country for a year. This generosity didn’t last, of course. 

Me at the psychic's
The preparations to leave took a solid six months. I went to a psychic who told me we would live on a hill and I would find love. 

I retained a few things and sent them to my brother across country. Once school was out for the summer, I packed the boys in the car and followed my goods to my brother’s house. From there we flew out of the country. 

I made an effort to separate myself from the hurt, the betrayal. The long distance helped a great deal. The boys and I settled into our new home, far from the strife of rejection. I finally started writing that book. 

If one is on their correct life path, experiences come effortlessly, as if dropped from the sky. It was that way for the preparation to leave and relocate. The area in which we moved was in a recession. People were out of jobs. For lack of housing, grown children lived with their parents. Within a week, we found and moved into a furnished house located on a hill, the owners of which were on a year’s sabbatical in the country I had just left. Our paths had coincided. 

 I did what I had wanted to do all my life—write. The boys could run and play as I had done when a child, and as my parents demanded of me, I told them, “Return when the streetlights come on.” 

Yes, I may have run away, but the experience was liberating. I was no longer reminded of my ‘failings’, how ‘stupid’ or ‘slow’ I was. I could concentrate on my novel. I immersed myself in the past, walked the cobbled lanes, and fell in love with my hero.  

After a year, the boys and I moved back, but we went to the area my brother and his wife lived. I had started healing from an abusive marriage. I went to work, and my boys went to new schools. Life moved on and I eventually ran into my high school sweetheart. We are now married. 

My high school sweetheart & me
So what does this mean?

My high school sweetheart and I were meant to be together, but it took a while. Before we could be with each other, I had to put closure to a few past life experiences. One was the relationship with my first husband in a difficult marriage. Where I had once treated my spouse poorly, this life I was treated poorly by the same entity. I did not want to make this a cyclical matter (what goes around, comes around) scenario, just wanted closure to the bad Karma I had created. I forgave ‘ex’ but I’ll never give him another chance. I’ll never be with that spirit in another life. 

My high school sweetheart and I did what we had to do between high school and our empty nest years. I dance through life now because I truly hope the bad slate from a past life is scrubbed clean. As hard as it was, I feel my spirit is much brighter for it.  

~~~~~~~
Many thanks to Wiki commons, Public Domain

 


Friday, October 30, 2015

A Character in His Own Words: Arthur Darvey

by Kathy Fischer-Brown



I am not a monster! Think what you will. Actions are not the sole basis by which a man is judged. Like anyone else, I have feelings. I experience pain, I am amused. Sometimes I act upon these feelings in ways others don't understand. But that does not make me a monster!
 
Once my life was pleasant. I lived at “the hall” with Mama and Papa, and my half-sister Emma. Ours was a life of ease and extravagance, and I wanted for nothing.

And then one day, he began to cast aspersions on my dear Mama. He said he had reason to believe that I, who adored him, was not his son. He said their marriage was a sham, that it had been forced upon him, and that he was legally wed to another—albeit in a tawdry Fleet Street affair, without bans or a license—and that he’d been deceived into thinking the wretched woman was dead.

It all came to a head when his meddling lackey discovered the whereabouts of this woman and her bantling girl, Anne, who, he insisted, was his child by that dubious union. Papa petitioned for a divorce, though Mama had connections of her own in high places and promised to use them. She'd drag his name and reputaion through the mud before she'd accept his conditions.

While the battle dragged on in the halls of Parliament, Mama took me to live at rundown, draughty old Wollascott CottageI loathed it there—because she, the bastard, had taken her place in my rightful home. At Esterleigh Hall…as his daughter…with all the benefits and advantages that once had been mine.

Was I wrong to feel rejected, unloved? While she—ingrate that she was—appreciated none of his largesse and went out of her way to make my father miserable. Oh, she languished—poor Anne—mourning her mother’s death, harboring ill will for our father….

Before ever setting eyes on that whore's child, I detested her. I dreamed of hurting her…and worse. Much worse. But, I ask you, I was a child then. Why should I be held accountable for childish thoughts and whishes?

I must admit I was frightful at our first meeting. I was bored. Was it my fault? The encounter was unexpected, and I was not at my best. I'd been having a bit of sport with my new bow and arrows, and a mangy cur of a stray dog. Who cares about such things, anyway? They're more of a nuisance than anything else. But she took offense. Who could have imagined a low-born chit such as she to have been endowed with a bleeding heart?

Years passed before we met again. At the masked ball at Carlisle House in February of ‘73. I must say her costume was intriguing. Arria, a Roman woman married to Claudius Paetus, a senator or some such who, having been dishonored in the eyes of the Emperor, was presented with a sword with which he was to take his own life. The story is quite fantastical. When Paetus faltered, Arria took the weapon, plunged it into her chest, and then handed it back to him with the words, "non dolet," which means, "it doesn't hurt." What rubbish! There was a painting on display at the time...by Benjamin West, I believe. A heroic depiction of love and honor.  Quite popular among the romantic-minded...or the simple-minded. Being the dolt she is, she became infatuated. She made it herselfthe costumeout of old draperies and curtain ties, and a bolt of violet-colored silk. The color matched her eyes...such lovely eyes....

Enough of that. Let me just say it was a simple thing for us to steal away without drawing attention to ourselves. And she was far more trusting and naive than I ever expected. I was overjoyed to find her so...accommodating.

I could have killed her that night. I wanted to so intensely I could taste it. When I think of the opportunity wasted and the satisfaction postponed, I regret my hesitation most profoundly. I actually had my hands around her throat. Such a slender neck…. I could have snapped it like a twig. But I was a cat toying with a mouse. You can't imagine how the sensation empowered and invigorated me.

I do believe I frightened her, but she was too much the fool to show it or admit to it.

We met again a number of times over the next few years. She opened her soul to me. The fool. She took me into her confidence. Those moments, however, never proved auspicious.

The time will come, though. I vow on my mother’s good name. The time will come when I take my
Now BOGO direct from BWL
retribution on Lord Esterleigh’s daughter…and when I do, I will not squander the chance.

She will know then what it means to be afraid.

Non dolet, indeed!


Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels and The Return of Tachlanad, her newly released epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

CEMETERY STREET


 


The first house I remember well was on Cemetery Street. The high windows of our little 1850’s brick house had a view of the historic local cemetery, complete with the sunken stones of the early settlers and poor folks, as well as Victorian obelisks and rich-family crypts. It was all sheltered by a fine stand of tall hardwoods—maples, beech, sycamore, Kentucky bean trees, and oaks. I often stood up on the couch and peered out the window across the street to see a funeral in progress, the black cars, the black dresses, hats and sad, slumped demeanor of the mourners.  At certain times of year, people arrived and filled the place with flowers—Memorial Day, particularly. We often walked there, Mother and I, with whatever dog we had, sharing the peace with our silent underground neighbors.



Always having an active imagination, I drew many pictures of the cemetery, my notions about  the underground life of the dead, so thickly tucked away just across the street. My parents, of course, found that a little odd, but it seemed perfectly straightforward to me. All those husbands and wives that I’d seen, their gravestones sitting side by side, I figured, were still there, only now confined to a spot beneath the ground. I always drew little rooms, with tables with decorative flowers on top, and sofas and chairs, a picture on the wall and, sometimes, even a pet. I thought it must be a little lonely and boring for them to never be able to go outside anymore, to be staying forever in that underground haven, which was all I could make out of the much talked about “heaven.”  It made perfect sense, when I first heard about ghosts, that the dead might wish to come out and walk around in the cemetery. I spent a lot of night times looking out the front window around twilight, hoping to see one. After all, I took walks there, under those aged trees, listening to the birds and breezes, and it was always pleasant.


(Here's an Egyptian queen enjoying her own little room inside the pyramid, playing Backgammon for eternity.)
 

For the early part of my childhood, I lived in that rural Ohio town, with a close-knit family around, which made all holidays great fun, but Halloween was special in its own way. My younger cousin, Mike, and I were often dressed to compliment each other—one year we were cowboy and cowgirl, on another we were Raggedy Ann & Raggedy Andy. Once we were Spanish dancers, complete with hats with bobbles dangling beneath the brims. My cousin, now a big time politician, had in childhood a pronounced lisp. I remember him carefully explaining to someone who’d asked that we were “’Panish-tan-sers.”  Our costumes were hand-made by grandmas and loving aunts and we showed them off at what seemed to us an exciting costume parade for children which was held annually at the high school.


 

I also remember one night of trick-or-treating with some older children who lived up the road, away from the cemetery. They were the kind who weren’t entirely to be trusted with a smaller kid who wasn’t a family member.  That night's costume had been spur of the moment, so my mother had turned me into a ghost in an old sheet with a pillow case head. The head, as we ran door-to-door in the darkness, kept slipping, so I couldn’t see.  I was gamely trying to keep up with their longer legs in the darkness, but they only laughed and ran ahead. I remember falling and rolling head-over-heels down the steep grade next to the last house on the block, splintering the warm popcorn ball I’d just been given. Then I had to untangle myself from the sheet. After I escaped from that, though, I was surrounded by night. The  only porch light seemed about a mile away.  It was so scary to be left alone in the darkness that I abandoned my goodies and ran home as fast as I could. 

 

~~Juliet Waldron


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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Actors and Others for Animals by Connie Vines

JoAnne Worley selling
me (Connie) 5-raffle
tickets.


I would like to believe that every human being on this earth has the desire to make the world a better place during his or her lifetime.  

I have tried to live my life by helping others in need.  Like many of us, I love animals.  I also participate in local community events to benefit children, animals, and to promote the joy of reading.  One fund raising event was held in a family owned theater on October 17 th.  The Kinsion family donated the venue, acted as stage hands and performers for the event, and ensured the night was 'pure theater'! 

This evening of entertainment, "Upland's Got Talent, A Furry Fun-Raiser," hosted by Jo Anne Worley and Fred Willard. Ms. Worley, Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In", is the Singing President of 
Actors & Others. 

 JoAnne Worley’s instinctive comedic timing and irrepressible laugh, and stage presence is impressive. She, as well as the other members (actors and others) donate their time, talent, and travel the freeways during rush hour to get to these events.  Local vendors donate baskets filled with goodies, gift-cards, and expensive recording and video equipment for the raffle items.  The Kinisons arranged the wine and cheese party before the performance for the patrons.  The billboard and marquee promised: lots of laughs, singing, dancing, surprises and magic!
I had a wonderful evening.  I mingled, made friends, and discovered everyone's story about becoming a member of Actors and Others.  JoAnne Worley spent time interacting with the audience and sold raffle tickets.  Michael Skrzek, tap-dancer on Broadway danced to “Singing in the Rain”.  Jay Johnson & friends (Tony Award-Winning Duo) left us begging for more.  While  Fred Willard and his Sketch Comedy Troupe The MOHO’s, Sherry Kinison and many others gave standing-ovation performances.

Bravo!

video
While I belong to this non-profit origination,  you may find a similar organization in your local community.

(BTW: I won a raffle prize!  I stopped recording when the person on my left tapped arm and said I was holding the winning ticket.)
 About Actors & Others
It all began in 1971 on one of Los Angeles’ busy freeways. It was on such a freeway that the late actor Richard Basehart and his wife, Diana, watched in horror as someone in the car ahead of them nonchalantly tossed a dog out of the car window to a grisly death. Both Richard and Diana were animal lovers and very aware of the daily cruelties that so many animals endured. Their shock and outrage that day motivated them to gather fellow actors and members of the community together to work to stop such inhumane treatment.
In 1971, our objectives were to provide proper care for and prevent the inhumane treatment and destruction of animals. The common belief of the day was to simply rescue and adopt. Then branched out into other services. By 1979 the services were provided throughout California.  

To find out more about Actors & Others, click: http://www.actorsandothers.com/

The Furry Fun-Raiser was a great success!

Visit my website to tweet or post to my blog.  I'd love to hear from readers sharing stories of the good works and community projects projects that benefit others.

Happy Reading,

Connie




Taking a curtain bow.
I donated the goodies to my children, grand children, and
friends.






click to purchase
http://www.bookswelove.net/authors/vines-connie/

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The barbarian hordes during the middle ages - by Vijaya Schartz

Hard at work on my next medieval novel, set in the middle east during the crusades, I thoroughly enjoy the research, as I always do. In Damsel of the Hawk, Book 7 in the Curse of the Lost Isle series, my hero is a barbarian of the Golden Horde. He is a Kipchak warrior from the personal elite guard of the Byzantine Emperor Alexios in Constantinople.

Recruited by the Byzantines to repel the Turks, the Kipchaks had a strong reputation for honor, unflinching loyalty, and courage in battle. They were the ultimate warriors of their time. They were among the early tribes (like the Huns) to sweep from the steppes and invade what is now Russia, down to the Caucasus mountains, between the Black Sea and the Caspian, all the way to Turkey.
Like the Caucasian people of the time, my new hero has golden skin, blue eyes, and long black hair. He rides a small dun-colored stallion at great speed, can loose an arrow from the saddle at a full gallop. Like all Kipchaks, he wears a silk armor with rectangular iron plates called lamelles, a pointed helmet, and a silver mask to cover his face in battle.

The date is 1204 AD, and this historical period is critical. Constantinople just fell to the Roman Crusaders who looted the golden city. Far in the eastern steppes, in Mongolia, a little known warrior named Temujin is uniting the tribes under his command. Soon, he will become emperor under the name of Genghis Khan, and his empire will stretch from the Danube to Kamchatka and even into China.

Although the tribes worshiped many minor gods, the principal deity of the warriors of the steppes was the sky god Tengri. In Tengrism, Shamans officiated through blood sacrifices, visions and prophecy. But if their prophecy did not come true, they incurred the risk of being killed... a good deterrent against false pretenses, attempts at manipulation, or abuse of power.

Tengri was known to make plants grow and the lightning flash. Since Tengri was omnipresent, one worshiped him simply, by lifting the hands upwards and bowing low, praying for him to bestow good mind and health, and to assist in performing good deeds. It was the individual's responsibility to initiate those good deeds, and to consciously live in harmony with natural law and the spirits of nature.
Ancient alien theorists would have a field day with this mythology. All the descriptions tend to indicate an omnipotent being from the sky in a vessel as large as a city, where he lived with all his subalterns. Albeit the fly away paradise. According to legend, Tengri terra-formed Earth when it was entirely covered with water. He brought dry dirt above the surface, and created all life, including man. Tengri gave a soul to each human being at birth. When a person died, their soul would fly like a bird to the "fly away paradise" of the great god Tengri. An 8th century inscription in the Orkon Valley in Mongolia says: "All human sons are born to die in time, as determined by Tengri."
It was believed that Tengri assisted those who revered him and who were active in trying to accomplish his will. Genghis Khan himself, like many other kings or "Khans" of the steppes, claimed he drew his power and his success from the blessings of the eternal sky god, Tengri. Some rulers even claimed to be the direct sons of Tengri.

Tengri is still worshiped in the modern world in a few small Mongolian societies. By the end of the middle ages in Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, Tengrism melded with Judeo-Christian and Moslem religions. In some places, like in Turkey, the word used for Tengri still means God. Remnants of Tengrism can also be found in Tibetan Lamaism. The word "Lama" itself has its source in the creation myths of Tengrism.

If you like the rich cultural diversity of the middle ages, you may want to give a try to the CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE series. The boxed set is a bargain, and the two latest books stand alone. They are available everywhere in all formats, but until the end of this month, all BWL eBooks are BOGO (Buy one, get one free) at the BWL store. Find my BOGO bargains HERE

 
CURSE OF THE LOST ISLE boxed set
Includes the first four novels in the series

In kindle here:
http://amzn.com/B00VGMYSCM
From history shrouded in myths, emerges a family of immortal Celtic Ladies, who roam the medieval world in search of salvation from a curse. For centuries, imbued with hereditary gifts, they hide their deadly secret, stirring passions in their wake as they fight the Viking hordes, send the first knights to the Holy Land, give birth to kings and emperors... but if the Church ever suspects what they really are, they will be hunted, tortured, and burned at the stake.
5 stars on Amazon "Edgy Medieval, yay!"
 
BELOVED CRUSADER
Curse of the Lost Isle Book 6

in kindle here:
http://amzn.com/B00W3T24PK
1096 AD - To redeem a Pagan curse, Palatina the Fae braves the Christian world to embark on an expedition to free the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem from the Turks.
Pierre de Belfort, Christian Knight of Lorraine, swore never to let a woman rule his life, and doesn't believe in love. Thrown together into the turmoil of the First Crusade, on a sacred journey to a land of fables, they must learn to trust each other. For in this war, the true enemy is not human... and discovery could mean burning at the stake.

"... a vivid look at what life could have been for Pagans and Christians alike. Palatina and Pierre are so lifelike, one could expect them to step out of the page, chain mail jingling and swords flashing." 5 stars (exceptional - crowned heart for excellence) Ind'Tale Magazine July/August 2015 issue.

HAPPY READING!

Vijaya Schartz
Action, Adventure, Romance with a Kick
http://www.vijayaschartz.com

Monday, October 26, 2015

Which comes first? Tricia McGill



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The age old question. Is it the chicken or the egg, or the other way round?


    But my query is, what comes first, the characters or the story? This is a question as a writer I am often asked. I always thought it was my characters as I believe my stories are character driven, but looking back I realize this isn’t wholly true.


    Taking my books one by one. Let’s start with Remnants of Dreams.


    This one was easy as the original idea was to tell my mother’s story. I was last to arrive into our large clan so my early years were filled with stories, related mostly by my eldest sister, of life through the difficult years before and during WW11. Alicia, the main character of course is based loosely on our mum. The last time I can recall her actually cuddling me was when I was really young, perhaps 4 of 5, so this tells you a lot about her character. Cherished by all her 5 boys and 5 girls, she was nonetheless not a woman to shower us with affection. But, she was always there for us and I cannot remember a time when there was not a meal waiting for me when I came home, when the fire was not already blazing in the fireplace when I rose on winter mornings when there was ice on the outside of the windows. Never was a woman so liked by her neighbors and those who knew her. My one regret is that she never talked about her early life or days before she met and fell in love with our father. There was a period when my sister and I even surmised that perhaps they never even got married as we had no tangible proof of a wedding. But we have this picture, which we presumed could have been taken on their wedding day in 1914.

    But I have gone totally off the subject. It was easy to create Alicia. Mathew, her husband, was a figment of my imagination. Based loosely on my father, in that he worked for the gas company and was gentle, kind, and a loving husband, he differed in lots of other ways. There were so many other characters in this book, some bearing similar characters to members of my large family, but mostly created to suit the story line. That proves therefore that the story came first and then the characters—or does it? I’ll leave that one for you to sort out.

    Now Mystic Mountains was definitely story first characters second. I attended a creative writing class years ago when I had barely written one or two full length novels that had probably reached draft number two stage and the tutor at this class gave us a task to create an opening scene that featured a character arriving in Australia in the 1800s after being transported from Merrie England. That one scene turned into one of my most popular books. Bella was the girl transported for a misdemeanor against a man of the aristocracy, so it followed that Tiger would be the arrogant Englishman she detested at first sight who would become her allocated Master.


    Distant Mountains was a follow on. It was supposed to be the story of Bella and Tiger’s eldest son, but somehow Bella’s newly transported brother took over and so it became his story. It follows that his love interest just had to be a woman of quality whose father was a bigot who would never agree to his only daughter marrying, or even socializing with a convict.


    I’ve always loved Time-Travels so thought it about time I attempted to write one. Mine was destined to have a twist as I sent a couple, Andrew and Liz, who had totally opposing personalities back in time to meet The Laird. This Laird bore a striking resemblance to Andrew and so Liz half fell in love with him. Now in this book the story most definitely came first and the characters formed in my mind once the story line was set in motion.


    Travis, the Laird’s story, followed. It just had to as I was also half in love with the Laird, and could not just leave him there in the past without finding out how things panned out for him. But when Liz’s friend Beth ended up back in his time Travis was a changed man from the rogue Andrew and Liz left behind. So, story came first as I had to get Beth back there somehow.


    Now, Leah in Love (and trouble) still has me puzzled. I can’t for the life of me remember where this idea sprung from and can only attribute it to my Muse, who does tend at times to go her own way. Leah’s story is the only one I’ve told in first person, but once Leah had established herself in my psyche, what else was there to do but let her have her own way and tell us about herself and the trouble she gets in. Her real name is Violet and as that is a flower what was her occupation to be but a gardener, hence her eccentric aunt, who taught her all there was to know about flora, was born. Sean, her love interest just had to be a PI or how else would she have been involved in so much mayhem simply by working on his garden.


     A Dream for Lani was characters first. This was another one my Muse took control of. I knew I wanted a shy, introverted woman who has lots of money but not much love in her life. Ryan and his children provide her with all the love she requires—after a shaky start of course.


    Lonely Pride is set in Tasmania. I often holidayed in this magnificent state in my early days in Australia with my Tasmanian friend whose mother was one of those characters that once met you never forget. But, I digress. A few incidents that happened on one of my trips there formed the nucleus of this story. I guess I can say that story came before characters in this one.


    Maddie and the Norseman is another of my Time-Travels. I was going through a Viking phase and absolutely knew I had to set my story back in Viking times, and specifically in the period after they had finished invading, ravaging and ransacking in Britain and were in the process of becoming honest tradesmen and traders. York was the obvious setting as it was one of the first towns settled by them. So, Maddie and her Viking Erik came after the plot line had been established. I do have another Viking story on its way some time soon.


    So, there we are, I really haven’t proved anything. Sometimes it is simply an idea that appears in the first light of dawn and the characters have to then decide how they wish to fit into this plot we’ve decided on, and other times the characters rule and insist on going their own way. Whatever, you can bet we authors love letting our characters show us the way.
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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...