Saturday, November 7, 2015

“Grandmother, What Long Arms You Have.” Or “Excuse Me? But, Who Are You, Really?” by Tia Dani

This month we'd like to talk about characterization.

In 1916, author Charles Perrault may have inadvertently given a writing lesson when he penned his fairy tale, Little Red Riding-Hood. Listen as we hear the wolf’s answer to Little Red Riding-Hood’s statement of having long arms. “All the better to hug you with, my little girl.”

     The wolf was no fool.

He knew, in order to get close to the girl, he would have to act and talk exactly like Grandmother. If not, Little Red Riding-Hood wouldn't be tricked into undressing and climbing into bed with him.
Undressed? Climb into bed? Hmmm, do you suppose there’s the makings of a romance plot here? Granted, in Perrault’s story, the wolf’s objective was to eat Little Red Riding-Hood, but still, the possibilities are—

Wait! We digress. This article is supposed to be on characterization, not on Little Red Riding-Hood and the wolf’s hungry cravings.

Okay, let’s get back to characterization. Normally in fiction, there are male and female protagonists. And...the author’s gender is either male or female. So how can an author effectively portray a character’s gender opposite of their own?

Surprisingly the concept is not a contemporary one. Gender characterization was discussed in an 1898, New York periodical called The Munesy Magazine.

   In Wolf’s Clothing  
When women writers take to trousers and march through their novels as first person heroes—“I, George Wharton, a bachelor of thirty four”—it is amusing to see that every movement betrays the goddess. The more aggressively mannish the attitude, the more palpable the illusion. Their masculine valor, like that of a stage courtier, depends on the little outward signs, the swish of a stick, the crook of an elbow, or the angle of a knee. They smoke a cigarette and say “damn,” and think by that they have achieved masculinity. Yet the veriest hayseed in the top gallery grins at the masquerade.

It is the gait that betrays them. The average feminine mind trips lightly forward on pointed toes, with many little excursions and minute explorations to the right and left. The man, as a usual thing, stumps gravely along, leaving deep heel marks at wide intervals, and passing the details with blank indifference. Their respective ways of exchanging confidences show this better than anything. A woman tells what led up to an episode, just how it happened, and what he said, and what she had on, spinning a good hour of reminiscence out of a fifteen minute event. A man states the fact boldly, filling in the interstices with confidential silence and tobacco smoke. A genius can achieve this, rising superior to sex by the magic of intuition, but geniuses are rare among authors nowadays. The average woman rarely creates a man of men when she herself plays the title role. 

* * *

What is it with these 1800's men? Why is it that a woman can rarely create a man of men? What about a man creating a woman of women? Wouldn't he have the same problem?

Oh, never mind, we’re wandering again.

Characterization. We do understand Munesy’s point. If an author is female and she endeavors to write in a male character’s viewpoint, she must be absolutely certain that she doesn’t color it with her own feminine logic. The same, therefore, must go for a male author writing a female viewpoint.

One of the hardest tasks in writing is to write from a gender’s viewpoint opposite their own. And, get it right! An author would be wise to run his or her efforts by someone of the opposite gender. Ask if the character sounds like something a man (or woman) would say or do in that same situation. Also it’s best to keep some important things in mind when developing gender characters. Men tend to think in terms of hierarchies and women think in terms of groups. Men perceive a chain of command and the challenge for leadership. Women have a communal view. Everybody works together and everyone’s opinions should count.

Correct gender identification, however, isn't the only type of character development that is important. All fictional characters are normally human beings without a body, made entirely of words. You might say these characters live in a world of pure language or pure spirit. The trick is to make certain they come to life as believable, complex, living, human beings.

A successful author cam enter a character’s literary protoplasm skin and understand him. What makes realistic and memorable characters come alive, an author should define the character, master them, and, finally, create them. Though creating them is considered to be the most difficult, mastering is the most crucial. Mastering creditable personalities, sometimes means that an author has to step beyond the boundaries of what they perceive as normal, or believe what is right or wrong, especially if a character’s persona does not fit within a writer’s comfort level.

Unfortunately, an author can’t just snap his or her fingers and switch genders in order to understand what the other sex thinks, nor can they wave a magic wand over themselves and become a victim of abuse in one moment, and become a raving, psychopathic killer the next. To know either of those characters, an author might have to, as they say, walk the walk.

Granted, not everyone can, or is willing to, interact with a deranged killer, just so they can comprehend how a murderer thinks, or live daily with the life choices of an abuse victim. But what if you could? How far are you willing to go to understand your characters completely? Or, would it even be worth it?

It was for the wolf in Little Red Riding-Hood. And we all know how that story ended.

Happy writing!

                                                                   Graphics courtesy of  Ike's World

To find out more about the writing team Tia Dani and our books visit us at Books We Love: Tia Dani

Time's Enduring Love, our historical time-travel is a Books We Love Best Seller.

                                                                                  CALL DOWN THE DARKNESS                                                                 

Tia Dani is the multi-published writing team made up of good friends Christine E. Jones and Beverly Petrone. Together they create endearing and realistic characters, humorous dialogue, and unusual settings. And…best of all…they're having the time of their lives.


Friday, November 6, 2015

New Releases from Books We Love

Books We Love authors have been busy this fall, and we have several new releases to share with, including five new Christmas stories.  Remember, Books We Love is BOGO (Buy one get one Free) if you click the link to our store and purchase any of the books there.


Here are our newest releases.  We hope you're going to enjoy them.

                                                                                   Available Now

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Remembering Kat Jamie Hill

Kat's BWL Page
"Your candle burned out long before your legend ever did." ~ Candle in the Wind, music and lyrics by Elton John and Bernie Taupin.

Kathryn Butti Attalla died on October 26, 2015. To her friends she was Kathy, to her daughter she was Mom...and to the rest of us, she was Romance Author Kat Attalla.

Born in Englewood, New Jersey on January 15, 1957, Kathy grew up in Cresskill, New Jersey. She attended cosmetology school after graduating high school and worked as a hair stylist. At age twenty she traveled to Greece, going by herself because "it seemed like it would be an adventure". In Greece she made some new friends including an Egyptian man who she called 'her own romantic hero'. Fouad Attalla would later become her husband. They moved to Egypt so she could get to know his family but eventually moved back to the states. Their daughter Jasmin was born in New Jersey. 

When Jasmin was a baby, Fouad was writing articles for newspapers and encouraged Kathy to try her hand at writing. With his encouragement, she would go on to write and publish numerous novels.

Kathy, Fouad and Jasmin did lots of traveling to visit his family in Egypt and hers on the Jersey shore. Once Jasmin graduated from high school they moved back to Egypt, where Fouad passed away in 2008. Kathy and Jasmin eventually returned home to the Jersey shore, finally settling in North Jersey. was the creative artist behind several of Kat's most recent book covers, the four 'Prince' themed titles. 

On a personal note: I 'met' Kat online when she signed on with Books We Love to publish her back list and new romance titles. I can honestly say she was a joy to work with, funny, sharp as a tack and extremely talented. I love contemporary romance and romantic suspense and those were the genres she wrote. I enjoyed reading each of her books and truly loved the prince themed books more than I ever thought I would. Kat's characters are endearing. Her heroines are down to earth, spunky women. Whether her hero was a hunky detective or a spoiled prince, they drew me in and I devoured every word she wrote. 

I knew Kat was active in her local New Jersey chapter of Romance Writers of America, but it wasn't until she died that I learned how loved and respected she was among that group. Many, many people wrote on her Facebook wall telling how Kathy had encouraged them, helped them get past writer's blocks, laughed with them, cried with them, whatever it took. It was lovely seeing the outpouring from her friends.

I also enjoyed the photo on the right which I found on her FB page. It seems when Kathy went with friends (or perhaps her beloved sisters?) to a bar she was usually the designated driver, and could often be found sitting with a pen and paper, jotting down what the characters in her head were telling her.

Kat's death has hit many of us at BWL hard. She and I were close in age, and as I messaged back and forth with Jasmin to check details, I discovered how much we had in common. I also attended cosmetology school and worked as a hair stylist for several years. (Yikes, not for me.) I'm an M&M nut, and I asked Jasmin what kind of candy her mother liked. Turns out Kathy was diabetic and not supposed to eat sweets at all. She did have a thing for York Peppermint Patties (yum) and Jasmin has inherited that love.
Two of Kathy's favorite singers were Elton John and Billy Joel. They are two of my favorites as well. I chose quotes I thought were fitting from their music to accompany this post.

Kat Attalla was diagnosed with Myelodisplastic Syndrome, which is very similar to leukemia. She was being treated by oncologists and went through chemotherapy and radiation. She succumbed to complications from a stem cell transplant which they were hoping would cure her, but Jasmin admits they all knew there were risks.

(Another personal note: I have friends whose children were diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia, and I helped organize a Bone Marrow Drive for them a year or so ago. We're still getting reports of matches from that drive. I'm a registered donor and I hope everyone reading this is, too.  )

It's comforting to know that Kat was doing what she loved for as long as she was able, and that she had good friends and a loving family around her. For my part, I have a beautiful little keep box that she sent me after one of her trips to Egypt. I treasured it then and will even more so now, as a reminder of her kindness.

Kat Attalla's books will continue to be available for her fans and new readers to enjoy long into the future. Books We Love hopes to publish her final novel in 2016.

Find her Books We Love titles here:  But don't start one of her books unless you have a couple of hours to spare, because I assure you, you won't want to put it down.   

Thanks to Jasmin Attalla for help with the details of this blog post. Any errors are mine alone and all blame can be attributed to the tears on my computer monitor.

R.I.P. Kathy. You will be missed. ~ Jamie

"You've got your passion, you've got your pride, but don't you know that only fools are satisfied? Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true. When will you realize, Vienna waits for you? 

"But you know that when the truth is told, that you can get what you want or you can just get old. You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through. When will you realize... Vienna waits for you?" 
Vienna, music and lyrics by Billy Joel

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sir Jeffery Hudson, Small Person Extraordinaire by Katherine Pym

Sir Jeffery Hudson

I like reading about 17th century England. There’s all sorts of great info that comes from that era, like Jeffery Hudson.

Born in 1619 to normal sized parents, Jeffery was nineteen inches tall with proportionate features. As a child, there are all sorts of differentials on his actual height, from one foot, seven inches (48 centimeters) to three feet tall.

Being small had its disadvantages. Once when he washed his face and hands, he fell into the basin and almost drowned.

Jeffery with the Queen

He was, of course, bullied throughout life. One story recalls how some kids killed an old lady’s cat, skinned it then dressed Jeffery in the pelt. The old lady had guests at the time, and when Jeffery walked into her parlor, he brought the party into an uproar.  

Jeffery’s father worked for George Villers, the first Duke of Buckingham. Jeffery was introduced to the king’s court at the young age of eight dressed as a chick who popped out of a pie to the amusement of King Charles I and Queen Henrietta. The Duchess of Buckingham then offered Jeffery to the Queen as a gift. (Pretty heartless on the part of the parental units, methinks.) Henrietta was delighted, and that’s how Jeffery went into service for the Queen. 

Jeffery was pampered and made fun of, took part in Court entertainments. On occasion, he was matched with the Court’s giant, a William Evans who stood well over seven feet. Once, to the joy of the cavaliers, William pulled out a loaf of bread from one pocket and young Jeffery from another. William put the two together and pretended to eat. Many titters and polite applause met this trick.

With the English Civil Wars, Jeffery went into exile in 1643 with the queen where he resided in France. While there, he became a serious young man who no longer took teasing in stride. It was unlawful to duel in France, but as a joke, a gentleman challenged Jeffery to one. Full of fun, they were to fight their duel on horseback, the gentleman with a squirt full of water. He planned to douse our dear Jeffery, not kill him, but Jeffery was of a different mind. He shot the fellow dead which sent the French court into angst. His actions upset Queen Henrietta and he was expelled from France.

An attack by Barbary Pirates

While aboard a vessel crossing to England, Barbary pirates, who were known to roam up and down the coasts of Spain, France, England and Ireland, captured the ship. Jeffery was taken into slavery where he toiled in North Africa for twenty-five years.

After King Charles II’s restoration, his queen’s dowry included ports of call around Africa and into the East & West Indies. Charles sent a delegation to Algeria and Tunis to ransom captives. Jeffery happened to be one of those rescued. While in slavery he had grown an unprecedented forty-five inches and reached the height of nearly four feet. 

Christian Slavery

He was no longer an item of interest.

Once back in England, Jeffery’s life took a downward spiral. He was Roman Catholic in a non-papist England. In 1679, he was arrested and thrown in prison for three years while Titus Oates scavenged the land for pope followers.  Once released, he died a pauper at the age of 63. No one knows for sure where he is buried.

Many thanks to: 
Wallechinsky, David, Wallace, Irving. The People's Almanac, Doubleday & Company, 1975
Wikicommons public domain


 To Buy

Tuesday, November 3, 2015


Looking to find Books We Love books to load your reader this Holiday season. 

Click here to purchase direct from our Books We Love store (they're BOGO if you buy them there)


 Or, Click the labels and purchase them from your favorite etailer.

Monday, November 2, 2015

In celebration of the coming season Books We Love has just released five new Christmas novels

Books We Love Christmas Novels


Always Believe is a heartwarming story with all the enchantment of the holiday – a small town with stores like the Snickerdoodle Bakery and Wonderland Bookstore, a snow festival and children’s Christmas pageant, a touch of romance, and of course, a miracle or two.

It’s the first day of December, snow is in the air and Gracie Singleton Saylor is shopping for a Christmas tree, when she runs smack into Merett Bradmoore, her High School hero and his seven-year-old daughter. Seeing he’s not the happy-go-lucky guy he used to be, she’s determined to restore the gift of optimism he gave her fifteen years ago. But can she return his hope without losing her own?


As far as twelve-year old Quinn is concerned Christmas has lost its magic. Since his father’s death life has lost its sparkle. His mom is now a widow struggling to put food on the table. Quinn is no help, and the mysterious illness afflicting him only makes things worse. Even Christmas, complete with decorated trees, ribbons and bows have no meaning…then along comes Jazira.

Every Christmas Eve, Luke and Mary Cassidy’s friends and family gather to celebrate the holiday. From the kitchen wafts the scent of sugar cookies, fruit cake, and hot cider, not to mention all the other goodies. Gathered around the piano singing carols is a prelude to the Christmas Eve church service....
A match maker’s work is never done it seems. What better season than Christmas to give true love a tiny push?

Chantilly Morrison is set to launch Chantilly Frost, a new cosmetics line, by holding a “Dear Santa” contest to make women’s fantasies come true. But because of an error in the ad copy, she’s inundated with letters from children, whose scribbled wishes tug at her heart. She hires an investigator to find the letter writers so she can throw a huge Christmas party and make the children’s fantasies come true.



Here in Australia celebrating Halloween is not as popular as it is in the US. In fact, for people of my generation, we virtually didn’t celebrate it at all. The present generation are starting to get into it though, and I have noticed Halloween masks and costumes in many of the shops.

I write historical romance, no ghosts in my stories, but there are some strange, unexplained things that do happen in my novel, Lauren’s Dilemma. The really weird thing is that these occurrences or ones very similar did happen, according to my grandmother. I can remember as a child her telling my sister and I about some of the strange happenings to members of her extended family.

One of her stories dealt with a young cousin who was terrified of water and could not swim.  She was a sleepwalker and one night she disappeared from her bed. The parents went in search of her and found her swimming around in a water hole on their farm. The father jumped into the water to get her, the mother screamed out, and the young girl woke up and drowned before her father could rescue her. When she was awake the girl was afraid of water and couldn't swim, but when sleep walking she could swim quite well.

 My grandmother used to say, it was bad luck to bring peacock feathers into your house.  Another of her superstitions was regarding the wattle bush. It was said to bring bad luck and death if you brought it inside. The wattle bush, which is covered in small, bright yellow fluffy balls, flowers in early spring. It is very bad for you if you suffer allergies like hay-fever or asthma. Grandma used to call wattle the death flower because if you brought it inside your house, someone would die.  Needless to say we never picked it.

 Thinking about this as an adult, I worked out that it was a superstition based on fact, even if my grandmother didn’t know it. If you were an asthma sufferer in the 1890’s with no proper medication, if someone did bring in a bunch of wattle and put it in a vase on the sideboard, it could, and probably did trigger an asthma attack.

 Now back to Lauren’s Dilemma. This story is set during the 1st World War. Lauren’s childhood sweetheart, Danny, is killed at Gallipoli (in Turkey) in 1915. She mourns him but eventually marries another wounded soldier, Blair Sinclair, and they go to live on an isolated cattle property.

 On a couple of occasions, when Lauren (Laurie) has been in danger, she thinks she hears Danny calling out to her, and on these occasions she can always smell the herb thyme. Thyme grows wild on Gallipoli.

“One afternoon in November of 1918, Laurie was in the homestead alone. Her father and Blair had gone into town for supplies, and baby Daniel was taking a nap. The windows stood wide open in the sitting room to let in the early summer breeze. As she sat in an armchair she drifted between sleep and wakefulness.

“Laurie, Laurie.” She opened her eyes and Danny stood near the fireplace. He was in uniform. His head was bare, his brown curls just as windblown and unruly as she remembered.

“The war is over.” He gave a boyish smile. “You can be happy now.”

“Laurie, great news.” Blair dashed into the room and pulled her to her feet. “I heard it in town. They've signed an Armistice at last. The war is over.”

“I know.” She did a little jig.

“What! How could you?”

“Danny told me. He was here a minute ago.”

“Laurie!” Blair was shocked as he stared into her over-bright eyes. “There's only us in the room.”

“He stood over there, by the fire. I know it sounds crazy, but I saw him.”

She smiled. Her face suddenly took on such a serene beauty the breath caught in his throat. She blew him a kiss. Laughing, he reached out and pretended to catch it.

After Laurie left for the nursery to attend little Daniel, Blair suddenly became aware of the bittersweet smell of herbs wafting around the room. Some instinct drew him toward the fireplace. There on the hearth lay a sprig of thyme.”



Sunday, November 1, 2015

LOST TREASURES by Shirley Martin


Gold!  My latest romantic fantasy, "Magic Mountain". centers around a hidden cache of gold. Princess Olwen must find the treasure to ransom her brother, held hostage by a neighboring warlike country. Olwen has read of a hoard of gold located in a country far away. She's determiined to find the treasure to free her brother.

But do such treasures exist in real life? No telling what you can find with a metal detector....

In 2009, Terry Herbert parked his car and walked across the road, where he opened the gate to farner Johnson's field. Metal detector in hand, Terry Herbert was looking for treasure, having first obtained the farmer's permission. Walking up and down the field, swinging his metal detector, he heard a buzzing sound. Digging into the soil, he found what at first appeared to be a brass object. From then on, the metal detector buzzed oontinuously, and he found more objects, not brass but gold!  A fortune in gold! Over time, he found 3,500 objects, 75% of which were gold. Jewels shone through many of these artifacts, gems that turned out to be garnets. There were no feminine or domestic artifacts found, only masculine, military objects and religious artifacts. .

Both the treasure hunter and the farmer knew this hoard was not theirs to keep. Terry Herbert's cousin contacted the Birmingham Museum, and soon a representative came to examine the artifacts. The treasure now had a name, the Staffordshire Hoard, for it was found near Staffordshire.

But how and why did the treasure come to be buried in the field? For the answer to that, we must go back almost two-thousand years.

The Romans conquered the island of Britain in the first century A.D., defeating the native Britons. (Celts.) Their rule lasted for several hundred years. But as the barbarians on the continent encroached on the borders of Rome, the Roman legions withdrew to help protect the Empire.

As the Romans left the island, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes moved in, having crossed the English Channel from what is present-day Germany. They brought with them their language, customs, and pagan religions. By the 7th century A.D, they had established their own kingdoms on the island. One of these kingdoms was Mercia (meaning "boundary":). King Penda of Mercia was a pagan warlike ruler who spent much of his time and energy battling neighboring kingdoms near and far.One of the kingdoms he preyed on was Bernecia, whose king was Oswiu, a Christian. In desperation, King Oswiu promised an incredible store of treasure and gifts for the price of peace. King Penda spurned the offer; only a battle would satisfy him.

Oswiu dedicated the treasure to God, should he win the battle. In 655, in one final, cataclysmic battle, Oswiu defeated Penda, who was killed. Oswiu kept his prmise to God, and this is how the treasure came to be buried in Mercia.

We owe this history to the Venerable Bede. (672-735.)

As found  nearly 1,400 years later, nearly all of the artifacts were bent or broken. This situation prevails in other treasure sites. Historians believe the custom relates to a religious ritual.

Tales of other treasure sites in England might pique our interest. In the epic tale of "Beowulf" we read of the hero's fascination with the treasure hoard guarded by the dragon. After Beowulf kills the dragon (not Grendel, another one), he lies dying of his wounds incurred in the struggle with the dragon. He implores his loyal thane, Wiglaf, to bring the treasure to him:

     Away you go; I want to examine
     that ancient gold, gaze my fill
     on those garnered jewels; my going will be easier
     for having seen the treasure, a less troubled letting-go
     of the life and lordship I have long maintained.

It's virtually impossible to give an exact replication of this old English (8th-9th century) epic. Many letters have accent marks over them,and we often see the "a" and "e" against each other with no space between. So the following is an approximation:

     Bio nu on ofoste, paet ic aer-welan
     gold-aeht ongite , gearo sceawige
     swigle searo gimmas,  paet ic oy seft maege
     aefter maddum-welan min aletan
     lif ond leodschipe,  pone ic longe heold.

Alas, it's doubtful if such a fortune could be found on the North American continent, unless the Spanish conquistadors missed a few places as they plundered the Axtec and Mayan empires. But who knows?  Now, if I just had a metal detector...

"Lost Gold of the Dark Ages" was my sourcbook for this article and my inspiration for writing "Magic Mountain."

Please check out my website:   I write historical, paranormal, and fantasy romances. My books are sold at Books We Love,Amazon, Smashwords All Romance ebooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, the Apple iStore, and other sites where ebooks are sold online.


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...