Saturday, June 18, 2016

Everything is coming up roses Nancy M Bell

It's been an early spring here in southern Alberta. The roses are beginning to bloom, the delphiniums are almost there with just a few blue spikes already showing. We had some really hot weather in May and then some cold weather in June. But that's springtime in Alberta, I guess. Last weekend we drove up to Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies and it snowed a bit while we were walking along the lake path. The lake was a very milky turquoise blue due to the snow melt, but still very lovely. The canoes were out in spite of the cool wet weather. Some of the trails were closed due to bear and wolf activity which is pretty common in the spring when the bears are just getting moving.

But back to the garden. I planted two new Echinacea plants, one is white bloom and the other a deep pink. They join the original one I planted a few years ago which gets a big seed head but no petals. Looks kinda funky, but I wanted to add a couple with actual blooms. This year I planted vegetables in containers on the front porch in the hopes that I can actually get some tomatoes to grow. It gets too cold at night as a rule, but I have then close to the house on the south side and sheltered, so I have got my fingers crossed.

Right now I have an adorable foster mommy cat with four kittens. She came in as a feral cat and was pretty hissy at first, but now she is so friendly and wants attention. The kittens are four weeks old and becoming more active. Two boys and two girls. The momma's name is Louisa, actually they named her Louie when she first came in as they thought she was a boy. There were a bunch of grey cats all looking the same. But ooops, no. Louie is a girl and pregnant! I brought her home and a week later she presented me with four babies. My husband loves the British show Doc Martin which is set in north Cornwall. Louisa is one of the characters, so we have named the kittens after people on the show. The boys are Martin - for Dr. Martin Ellingham played by Martin Clunes, and Bert for Bert Large played by Ian McNeice. The girls are Morwenna after Doc Martin's receptionist, and Ruth for Doc Martin's aunt. Life in our house is never dull.

I'm also fostering another cat at the moment. His name is Jackson. He came to us from Ponoka, AB, the victim of being hit by a car. Jackson had a broken pelvis and had to have his tail amputated. He is the most loving affectionate cat you could imagine. He spent 6 weeks on crate rest and has now been given the okay so he is roaming free with my other cats. He loves people, gets along with other cats and loves the dogs. He should get a good home very shortly. You always hate to see them go, but I can't keep them all. Knowing they are going to good homes helps a lot. The rescue is very careful about who adopts the animals which helps set the foster's mind at ease.

Last but not least, I am working on the third book in the Longview Romance series. Cale and Michelle are getting married at last, nothing can go wrong. Right? The second book in the Arabella's Secret series released recently. Arabella Dreams fills in some of the questions readers of the Cornwall Adventures series have asked about Laurel Rowan's Gramma Bella. I love the cover. Kudos to Michelle Lee for created the perfect cover.

Arabella Angarrick is heartbroken. Exiled from her beloved Cornwall, she must come to terms with life on the Canadian prairies and her arranged marriage to D’Arcy Rowan. She struggles to reconcile herself to life on a remote ranch with a man she barely knows. He knows he’s getting a two for one deal and Bella is thankful he is happy to welcome her unborn child into his home. D’Arcy is a kind man, but try as she might, Bella just can’t bring herself to love him. Her heart still yearns for Vear Du, the father of her baby. Will she ever stop dreaming of him?

Until next month, stay happy, stay safe!

Friday, June 17, 2016

J.C. Kavanagh My first ever blog!

Helllloooooo is my preferred greeting to friends, said in a song-like, near-soprano tone. Helllloooooo to you and thanks for visiting my very first blog.

Blog. Who thought up this word? I know it's catchy and short, though I would never call the word  'sweet' as in 'short and sweet.' Sounds more like a combination of swamp and dirt but what do I know. I've been told that if you can read and write, you can blog.

So, here goes.

I've always loved writing. Back in the last century, I began my career in the newspaper business as journalist and photographer and then worked my way up to the role of Editor. I had the privilege of helping to launch a small town newspaper where I reported local news and the ever-present political shenanigans (yes, they do occur in small towns, too). Many weekends were spent taking pictures of sports events and the occasional crotchety politician (yes, they are crotchety in small towns, too!) My focus later shifted to the private sector, where, for 20 years, I worked in communications and marketing. In 2014, an unexpected business restructuring put a halt to my career and with the support of my partner, Ian, I jumped full-time into creative writing - what I call my "word movies." Since then, I've written ten books: nine children's picture books and one novel for young adults called The Twisted Climb, published by Books We Love. I live in a small town in Ontario, Canada and find copious writing ideas from the wooded areas and wildlife surrounding my property. During the brief Canadian summer (don't blink), you can find me sailing the pristine waters of Georgian Bay in my sailboat, Escape Route II.

Now, back to you.
Enough, now back to me. :)

My first foray into the publishing world has been positive and insightful. Last year, I wrote a mini-novel for mid-graders and it was a little under 13,000 words. When I sent it to the publisher at Books We Love, her request was to expand it to novel length and make it suitable for young adults. I gulped in fear, initially, but my creative juices said YES! I completed the novel, The Twisted Climb, some five months later and for the last few weeks, my editor, Nancy Bell, has been a God-send. She's opened a new world for me - the art of editing oneself. Quite possibly the most difficult thing to overcome.
Nancy: You have 284 variations of the word, look.
Me: Okay..... (make a few edits)
Nancy: You now have 281 variation of the word, look.
Me: Still too much?
Nancy: Sigh. Newbies!

 The Twisted Climb is available on Kindle and will soon be available in print. Order yours today!

I'm having fun figuring out how to weave my way through Amazon and Goodreads and Facebook promotions. Never stop learning!

I'll leave you with something you might not have heard of before.
The only scale-covered mammal, found in hot and humid areas of the world.
And they are being eaten to extinction.
I've written a series of children's books on these delightful creatures (Mama Pangolin, her son, Foleydota and Grandmother Javanica), but alas, Books We Love do not publish children's picture books. Therefore, I shall keep searching. I believe awareness of these gentle creatures will help halt their extinction.
I'll share more about me and my pangolin friends next month!
In the meantime, you can reach me directly at or via e-mail at or respond to this blog. My very first!

J.C. Kavanagh

This Writer's Imagination

Just remembered this is my day and I'm a bit late in posting but here you have a bit about my adventure on Tuesday,

Recently I experienced Robotic surgery and was disappointed that I couldn't see what they were doing. After all, they let me watch while I had a double knee replacement. Why? I am a writer and every experience goes into a writer's imaginative memory. Though I didn't get to see what they were doing I did have a vision. You've all read books where the heroine is slated for a ritual death to appease some god. My imagination conjured this scene.

Imagine the OR with the large ceiling light that could be considered the sun. They wheeled me in and transferred me to the table. Asked me what my favorite piece of music. I replied "tThe 1812 Overture" but I wasn't sure that was appropriate for the procedure. So I had "The Nutcracker." Now comes the imaginational part. First they put my right arm on a board and then my left hand. They were strapped down. Then my legs were positioned. That's when I lost consciousness. But in my mind I was the sacrificial virgin, though that doesn't really apply. But writers being writers, they are able to change things a bit.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Second International Day of Yoga

            On June twenty-first, yoga lovers will gather at the iconic Times Square in New York city, in sixteen Bulgarian cities, at the Al-Azhar park in Cairo, in Shanghai, China, and in many other places, both large and small, around the world to celebrate the Second Annual International Day of Yoga (IDY.)
            When the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), voted on December 11, 2014, in favour of a resolution declaring June 21 (the summer solstice, being the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and having special significance in many parts of the world,) it gave birth to the International Day of Yoga. Over 175 countries, including USA, China and Canada, co-sponsored the resolution, giving it the largest number of co-sponsors for any UNGA resolution of such a nature.
          The largest IDY celebrations this year are to be held in Chandigarh, India, where an expected 30,000 participants are to be joined by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Indeed, yoga has experienced an enormous explosion of interest in its country of origin. India has a Federal ministry of Yoga (and Indigenous Health systems,) and many millions of practitioners—civil servants, police forces, convicts and school children—are exposed to its teachings.
            In Canada, the festival will be observed in all major cities and scores of smaller places, with the largest outdoor gathering of yogis to occur in Vancouver, B.C. Last year, so many participants showed up that Burrard Bridge was closed. British Columbia premier Christy Clark’s government partnered with yoga-attire giant Lululemon and other businesses to stage was called the largest IDY festival outside of India.
            Interestingly, the IDY is becoming not just an occasion to stretch ones muscles, but also an opportunity to discover alternate health therapies, holistic philosophies, music and even cooking. For example, a special lecture series relating Yoga to the achievement of Sustainable Development goals is to be held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York this year.

            With IDY celebrations spreading throughout the world, it will be interesting how this special day will grow and change in the coming years.


  • Folding of both hands in the logo Symbolise Yoga, the union, which reflects the union of individual Consciousness with that of universal Consciousness, a perfect harmony between mind & body, man & nature; a holistic approach to health & well being.
  • The brown leaves symbolise the Earth element, the green leaves symbolise the Nature, blue symbolises the Water element, brightness symbolises the Fire element and the Sun symbolise the source of energy and inspiration.
  • The logo reflects harmony and peace for humanity, which is the essence of Yoga.

Mohan Ashtakala is the author of "The Yoga Zapper - A Novel" published by Books We Love, Ltd. . Facebook:

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The blog that isn' Sheila Claydon

My turn to blog and I haven't even thought of a topic. Why? Well for a start I've been too busy editing my next book. Remembering Rose, which is due out at the end of the month, is different from my previous books. Although it's still a contemporary romance, this time it also includes time travel and history, and it could even be considered a family saga, so it's complicated.That's not really the problem though. Writing and then editing a book has its own momentum and I know I'll finish in time for publication. What is really challenging me is trying to think up the title for a series.

When I started writing Remembering Rose, it was going to stand alone. It was still going to stand alone when I typed The End. Then I handed it over to the two readers whose opinions I value before finally sending it off to the Books We Love editor for checking. They both sent it back with the same comment. It should be Book One of a series because they want to know what happens to some of the other characters in the book.

My first response was a groan because writing a series isn't easy. Every fact has to be checked against previous books, and every character has to move on. I discovered this when I wrote my When Paths Meet trilogy. By the time I started Book 3, Saving Katy Gray, Jodie and Bella from Books One and Two were years older with growing families, and I had to remember this every time I referred to them. The other thing about a series is that it has to stand alone if it is to appeal to all readers because not everyone wants to invest in three books at once, so any reference to the characters from the earlier books has to be in context. Also, if on occasion a back story explanation is necessary, then it must be short, concise and relevant, because nobody who has read the earlier books wants to waste time revisiting the stories.

My second response was elation though. If my advisory readers were engaged enough to want to know more about some of the secondary characters in my book, then I had to listen to them. Keeping this in mind I re-read the manuscript, and soon I was listening to one of the characters as she told me her story. Yes, I know that sounds far-fetched, but it's sort of how it works. I start off directing the character and then he or she takes over and before I know it my story has changed.

So now here I am with a series to write but no title. How do I make it an interesting enough series title for readers to want to pick it up? How do I convey the overall theme in two or three words? How do I make it different enough to stand out? The stories are set in Mapleby, an imaginary village in England, and the characters are ordinary. No billionaires or high profile celebrities, just everyday folk living and loving as best they can. I only have a day or two to come up with something and send it to the book cover artist with an apology for asking her to revisit work she has already done.

So that's why I don't have a blog topic today.

On the other hand, I might just have come up with that elusive title. How about Mapleby Memories? I'll sleep on it and see how it looks in the morning. It might just be a winner though, so thanks for listening.

Sheila's books can be found at Books We Love and on Amazon. She also has a website and can be found on facebook

Monday, June 13, 2016

Road Tripping USA Part Six by Joan Donaldson-Yarmey

Author’s Note
I belong to Angels Abreast, a breast cancer survivor dragon boat race team in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. Every four years the International Breast Cancer Paddlers Commission IBCPC) holds an international festival somewhere in the world. In the spring of 2013, my team received a notice that the IBCPC had chosen Sarasota, Florida, USA, to hold the next festival in October 2014.
    We decided to attend and while the other members were going to fly down, tour around some of the sites and head home I wanted to see more of the country and meet some of the people. My husband, Mike, and I drove from our small acreage at Port Alberni, British Columbia, on the Pacific Ocean, to Sarasota, Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.
   Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the people I would meet nor the beautiful places I would see nor the adventures I would have on our ten week, 18,758km (11656 mile) journey. On the thirteenth day of every month in 2016 I will post a part of my trip that describes some of the excellent scenery, shows the generosity and friendliness of the people, and explains some of the history of the country. The people of the USA have much to be proud of.

 Road Tripping USA Part Six
After the dragon boat festival in Sarasota, Florida, Mike picked me up at the hotel and as we drove south he suddenly said. "Gee, I want to go shopping at that place. You don't have to listen to kids crying or fighting while you are shopping."
     "Sounds good,” I said. I looked out the window but we were already past it. “What was it?" I was picturing a grocery store or clothing store.
    “It's a Jack and Jill adult only superstore."
     “It would be a quiet place to shop,” I said. At home, we usually shop at The All Canadian Superstore for our groceries. I thought that, like some restaurants, grocery stores were now becoming for adults only.
     Then after smirking a bit Mike explained it was an Adult Only Superstore—kinky stuff. And no, we didn’t go shopping.
     We drove to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Mike wasn’t feeling well so I went alone. It was a lovely walk along the 2.25 mile (3.6km) boardwalk. I strolled above the wet prairie and into the pond cypress trees. The boardwalk zigzagged through the trees to the lettuce lakes which are covered in greenery that looks like leaf lettuce. Then I entered the world’s largest old growth bald cypress forest. Some of the trees, which are related to the redwood, tower 130ft (40m) overhead and are 25ft (7.6m) in circumference. Although this sanctuary is home to alligators, I didn't see any. I did however, see a mama raccoon and three babies.
     We drove to Naples and stopped at the Walmart to do some shopping. It was hot so we tried to find some trees for shade in the side area of the parking lot. I was on the overhead bed reading when I heard a noise that I thought was a knock.
     “Did you hear anything?” I asked Mike
     He went to the door and yelled. “What can I do for you?”
     There was no answer.
     He pulled aside the blind then pointed to me. I looked out my open window and saw a woman standing just below me by the passenger's door. She was nicely dressed and had a container of juice or water.
     “Can I help you?” I asked through the open window.
     She looked around.
     “Up here.”
     She still couldn't find me.
     “Up, up. Look up.”
     She finally did and saw me. "Do you have any cigarettes?" she asked.
     “I’ve never smoked and my husband quit years ago.”
     “Thank you.” She walked away.
     Mike thought she was a hooker trying to drum up business. I said her clothes didn't suit that type of job. She was dressed more for working in a store. He figured she probably went to every truck and asked for a cigarette.
     It was 82F (27.7C) at 10:30am as we headed out of Naples. I still couldn’t associate the temperatures with the fact that it was the end of October. If we were at home on Vancouver Island, it would be overcast, raining, maybe plus 5*C (41F).
     We were on the Tamiami Trail. The construction of this highway was begun in 1923 by a private citizen who put up his own money. In 1926, the state took over to complete it. It opened in 1928 and connects Tampa and Miami.
     We stopped at the Marsh Walk Trail. The walk itself is 1.1 miles (1.8km) but it was so hot that I only went about ¼ mile to the observation tower and looked out over the marsh. I saw fish swimming in the pond below the tower and birds flying around. Beautiful.
     We drove to the Everglades National Park. I went into the office to find information about taking the Ten Thousand Island boat tour. While I waited my turn to book a spot I wandered around the gift shop. I saw a number of women wearing the t-shirt that all team members had been given at the dragon boat festival.
     “I have one of those,” I said to one of the women.
     “Oh, what team were you on?” she asked.
     “Angels Abreast from Nanaimo. What about you?”
     “Breast Friends from Edmonton.”
     “Wow,” I gasped. “I belonged to that team from 2002 to 2004.”
     “I’ve only been on it for three years,” the woman said.
     “Did you take the islands tour?”
     “Yes, we just came back. We’re on a bus tour through southern Florida before heading home.”
     They left then a different woman came in. “I heard that someone in here once belonged to Breast Friends,” she said, loudly.
     “I did.”
     “Oh,” she said, looking at me. “I was told that we may know each other.”
     “I left in 2004,” I said.
     She shook her head. “I didn’t join until 2006.”
     We hugged and she left to get back on the bus. I booked to go on the next tour and went to the motorhome to wait.
     “This is where the Florida peninsula breaks apart into thousands and thousands of tiny pieces,” the captain said after the cruise boat had pulled away from the dock. “These clusters of mangroves form islands in this shallow estuary that is constantly fed by a flow of fresh rainfall into the Florida Bay. The number of islands depends on the tide.
     “The red mangroves of Florida are trees that can grow in saline or brackish water. They reproduce by growing cigar-shaped baby plants that drop into the water and float until they find land to cling to and root. These mangroves thrive because they can remove fresh water from the saltwater. Their tangled roots are above ground so they can breathe.”
     As we slowly wove our way through the islands, I saw pelicans in the water and eagles in trees. We went past a manatee zone but I didn't see any manatees. The captain took us to the farthest island, and we looked out at the Gulf of Mexico. On our way back dolphins came and circled around the boat. We spent a lot of time watching them playing and feeding.
     We went into Everglades City for the night and the next morning headed back to the Everglades National Park where we took a boat ride inland through the Mangrove Trees. Captain Josh took us along nameless waterways into the dense swampy part of the everglades. On some channels the branches met overhead blocking out the sun. We saw two alligators and had to duck webs made by huge spiders. We watched for manatees but none came around the boat. In spite of that we had a really good trip.
     Back on the Tamiami Trail we turned east and entered Big Cypress National Preserve. This 720,000 acre preserve protects the fresh waters of the Big Cypress Swamp, the waters of which are essential to the neighbouring Everglades.
     We stopped in at the Ochopee post office, the smallest post office in the US. We bought some stamps and mailed a post card to my mother. The post mistress said that they are busy all the time and send letters to many parts of the world.
     Along the road we saw a sign for the HP Williams roadside park and pulled in. There was a short boardwalk alongside a canal. We saw alligators, turtles, fish, and a cormorant. The cormorant sat on the edge of the land then slid headfirst into the water. We could see it swimming under the surface looking for fish. When it caught one, it rose to the surface and swallowed it.
     Further down the Tamaimi Trail we stopped at the Kirby Shorter roadside park. I walked on the boardwalk that is a mile round trip. I started out through a prairie-like area that was dry land with tall grass. The further I went, the wetter it got and then I was in a swamp with tall Cyprus trees. The transition from the prairie to the swamp was amazing.
     As we drove we did see road signs for the Florida panther but never saw one of the illusive cats. When we passed the Oasis Visitors Center we looked in the canal beside the road and saw lots of alligators laying side by side on the banks. We stopped and took pictures of them.
     Alligators are the world’s largest reptiles and date back millions of years to the dinosaur era. They grow a foot a year for the first four years and then slowly after that. It may take a female 10 to 15 years to reach maturity at seven feet (2.1m) long and a male 8-12 years. They can live between 35 and 60 years. Alligators only eat 15 to 20 times a year.
     We headed towards the Florida Keys. Key is from the Spanish word Cayo meaning small island. The Keys are an archipelago of about 1700 islands which are exposed portions of an ancient coral reef. They are connected to the US mainland by Highway 1.
     We began at Key Largo, made famous by the movie Key Largo staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and the song Key Largo recorded in 1981 by Bertie Higgins. We drove over many channels and through many towns on our way to Key West. There were souvenir shops, marinas, museums, and bakeries along the highway. There were many places where we saw the Gulf of Mexico on one side and Atlantic Ocean on the other. We finally quit counting the number of Keys that we drove through. The scenery changed from trees to ocean views to houses to state parks. The most impressive part of the drive were the bridges. Long Key Bridge over Long Key Channel lives up to it name. It is almost 2.5 miles (4km) long.
     As we drove over the Seven Mile Bridge, built between 1978 and 1982, we saw the old original bridge beside it. That was known as the Knights Key-Pigeon Key-Moser Channel-Pacet Channel Bridge. It was constructed between 1909 and 1912 as part of the Florida East Coast Railway which ran to Key West. In the 1930s, highway bridges were being constructed to connect the Keys but in 1935 a hurricane hit killing more than 200 of the workers. It also badly damaged the railroad tracks and they were never rebuilt. The bridge became part of the highway system. Now it is falling apart and there are trees growing on it, but part of it has been fixed up and is used for people to walk on.
     At the Bahai Honda State Park we pulled in to book a spot for the night but there weren't any sites left. We were told to go to the Big Pine Key Fishing Lodge. We crossed the Spanish Harbour Bridge and were in Big Pine Key. I went in to book a place at the lodge. It was $64.00 for the night. I decided I wanted to camp on the Gulf of Mexico so I paid the extra $6.00 to be on the water.
     We still had lots of time so we continued our journey south. We saw small islands of mangroves in the water, and on land I saw lizards in the grass. We arrived in Key West and Highway 1 became Truman Avenue. The further south we went on it the narrower the street became until it was down to one lane. We saw a lot of the old section of the city. We reached Fort Zachary at the southern end of the key and work our way through narrow streets almost too small for the motorhome.
     At the corner of Angela and Whitehead we turned onto Whitehead and drove past the Ernest Hemmingway Home. It is now a museum and open to visitors. However, the streets were so narrow that we couldn't find a place to park our motorhome.
     We turned onto Truman Avenue again and headed back to our campsite.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Get Fired Up For Summer Contest ~ Next Weekly Winner

Nance-Lynn Greenshields wins a copy of Remnants of Dreams by Tricia McGill.

Nance-Lynn, please email 
to claim your prize. 


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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...