Saturday, August 20, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday US National Park Service, Tour Denali National Park with J.Q. Rose

On August 25, 2016 the US National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday. I've been celebrating this month on the J.Q. Rose blog with posts about the national parks we have visited. Today I am sharing one of the most awe-inspiring parks in the USA, Denali National Park in Alaska.  Please join me for a short tour of this gorgeous and historic place.

Happy birthday National Park Service!

Denali National Park and Preserve
We took our time driving the four hour trip north from Wasilla to the Denali National Park and Preserve. We traveled the highway surrounded by gorgeous scenery except for the occasional Mom and Pop businesses along the side of the road.  We arrived early in the evening. 

You may remember Alaska enjoys 22 hours of sunlight this time of year, so we could still site-see till 2 a.m. But we didn't. I was excited to actually be here in this magical place. I have heard so much about Denali Park all my life and Mt. McKinley . In August 2015 President Obama, using his executive power, renamed Mt. McKinley to the original Athabascan native name of Denali. 

We weren't fortunate enough to be part of the 30% who actually see Denali. Oh yes, it is there all the time...hard to move mountains...but because it is the highest mountain in North America, it's usually shrouded by clouds. Only on clear, sunny days will the cloud curtain disappear for a glimpse. The tourist area outside of Denali Park has beautiful blue T-shirts in all the souvenir shops which brag that the person wearing the shirt is one of the lucky 30%. I couldn't buy one of the cute shirts because the clouds covered the mountain when we there. My hubby was happy I couldn't purchase the shirt, but sorry we didn't see the mountain top.

Wilderness Access Center--Denali
This amazing stained glass mural is high on the wall of the Wilderness Access Center. We purchased our tickets here for the three hour ride on a green school bus into the park. Longer tours on the shuttle buses including a narrator are available. But we figured there is only one road that all the buses drive, so we took the less expensive shuttle. And, frankly, we didn't want the longer tours, especially bouncing around a mountain on a school bus for a day. No comfy tour buses allowed because they are too heavy for the one road that winds through the park. Private vehicles are not allowed on this section of the park.

TIP: There is no food in the park other than at the Visitors Center. So visitors must bring food and drinks on the bus..and consume them in the picnic tables for outdoor picnics due to trash and bears...!!! Before we left Wasilla, we shopped for lunch supplies at Walmart and carried them in a styrofoam cooler. We packed our lunches in the morning which saved us a LOT of money for meals.

We had a fantastic tour driver. He shared interesting tidbits and was alert for wildlife sightings, however, he depended on passengers to discover the animals too since the road through the park is not exactly a nice, paved two lane. It's more like a path in some areas, especially around Polychrome Dome. I had to hide my eyes at times and hold my breath while he negotiated the narrow road. Thank goodness they have some rules about who gets the right of way when the buses meet.There is no room for two buses on much of the tour. A thrill ride I'd say.

Here are photos of the sights we saw along the way. Hope you enjoy them.

This picture shows you how thick the clouds were, so no sightings of Mt. McKinley

What are these? Caribou. Do you know the difference between reindeer and caribou? Reindeer can fly!

So glad we found a camera with a 24x telephoto lens. Perfect for getting closer to the animals from the safety of the bus!!

Polychrome Dome--Notice the different colors of rock here. See that tiny road in the upper 1/3 of the picture? So glad our driver had 31 years of driving experience in Denali tours!!!

Yes, another mountain picture. I have a million of them!

Mama bear and two cubs. The bears were this tan color in the park. I was looking for black or brown. Surprised when I finally spotted these sweet things.

Dall sheep. They are only little white specks on the side of the mountain. Thank goodness for our powerful zoom.
Grand Denali Lodge--what a view from here.
 It poured rain the next morning, but we forged on in our plastic ponchos to see the demonstration of the sled dogs. Amazing animals. These are actual working dogs who patrol the park during the snowy winter conditions keeping the tradition of dog sledding alive.

Sled dog and puppy.

Look at this wildlife my DH captured in the lens. Oh, alright, it's really your trusty reporter. I just wanted to have proof that I actually was there in this fabulous park. 

TIP: If you are USA resident, pay $10. at the age of 62 and you have a lifetime pass to ALL the national parks. You better believe we plan to use this gift on future forays.

We spent the rainy day in the display areas in the park studying all the interesting information. We took in an informative movie and ranger talk, snacks in the park cafeteria, and shopping in the gift shop. Actually the rainy day turned into a welcome opportunity to learn so much about Alaska and Denali National Park.

Every time we visit a national park, I want to thank the people who had the vision to set aside these areas for future generations. In this crazy, fast-paced world of technology, I pray the mountains and lakes, the moose, bears, sheep, and eagles will still be there for my grandchildren and future generations to see and experience the awe I felt being in Denali. We must be the caretakers to preserve this blessed land.

You need not go all the way to Alaska to experience national parks. Make it a point to find a national park, lakeshore, forest, etc near you. You will be amazed.

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Have you visited a national park? Do you have a favorite park--city, township, county, state, national? Leave a comment below and let us know.

J.Q. Rose is the author of the romantic suspense novel, Deadly Undertaking.
A handsome detective, a shadow man, 
and a murder victim kill Lauren’s plan for a simple life.
Available at Amazon

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at:

Friday, August 19, 2016

"Ooooklahoma, where the winds come sweeping..." Enough! By Stuart R. West

Well, I imagine there aren't too many Okies singing that beloved song now.
Last week, a devastating, incredible wind storm blew through eastern Oklahoma. Some of you, not from the Midwest, might be scoffing, saying, "Oh my, Stuart, what's wrong? Afraid your hair will muss?"

A) I don't have any hair; B) people underestimate the power of wind.

How strong was it? It blew over a semi on the Turner Turnpike. Over 87,000 people were without power. One of the water suppliers lost some of their pumps, putting their customers on rations. A mobile home with a dog inside it was flattened (miraculously, the dog's okay). Finally, everywhere you look, trees are down, houses destroyed, people's lives in turmoil. And the local tree trimmer guys are set for life. The remnants of a war-torn battle zone.

Sadly, my inlaws were affected. The storm plowed through Broken Arrow, next to Tulsa, in Nature's indiscriminate and bullying way. (All photos are from their yard).

They live on a vastly wooded three acres and over half of their trees are down, some having fallen on the house. Karma smiled on them, though. Miraculously, the house is undamaged. My mother-in-law was out when the storm blew through but my father-in-law was at home. Apparently, he'd had no idea it'd happened. Maybe he had his TV headphones on. I'm sure when he went outside, though, he was in for a shock. Anyway...maybe it's good karma paying them back for the nice things they do. But the clean-up, ay-yi-yi!

My wife packed up her loppers and headed down. Her brother brought the chainsaw, his wife supplied tea and lemonade making skills. Unfortunately, I couldn't go because I wasn't supposed to make long car trips. Recovering from "major" surgery, don't you know. (Whew. Dodged that bullet).

But the clean-up crew could only do so much. One of the downed trees was thicker than a giant's thumb. No chainsaws could even begin to bite the bark. 
My inlaws had an estimate. Crikey. I need to get into that line of work. Sadly, the guy says he'll have to cut down another tree to get his truck into the backyard. Headache after heartache for them.

Still, the house is intact. So is their health. Unlike many other Oklahomans. My prayers and well wishes go out to them.

Never underestimate the power of wind. You can't do anything about it, I'm just sayin'. (And I never want to hear that happy song about Oklahoma wind again.)

Speaking of Oklahoma, my book Ghosts of Gannaway may take place in the fictional town of "Gannaway," but don't be fooled. It's loosely based (minus the ghosts, natch) on the town of Picher, Oklahoma, another nature destroyed town. Read it and weep and pull the covers up over your head!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

It's August! How did that happen? by Nancy M Bell

Seems like it was just yesterday it was June and the light was growing stronger. Suddenly I realize it's the middle of August. The birds are starting to flock, the caragana peas are popping all over the place and the light is drawing in a little closer every day. Hours of daylight shortening as we move toward the longest night in December.

It's been busy. Last month I shared my lovely day at the Stephan G Stephansson House reading poetry and enjoying this amazing historical site. This month I have just returned from presenting and enjoying the Calgary writers festival When Words Collide. What a wonderful experience. Seven hundred writers and fans all crammed into one hotel for three days. So much creative energy. I did a Blue Pencil cafe for eight writers and totally impressed by the quality of the word I was presented with. If you feel inclined you should check out their site and consider joining us for next year.

One exciting thing that happened at When Words Collide is that Books We Love announced the upcoming series- Canadian Historical Brides. This is a series of thirteen books, one set in each province and territory. Each book has a different author who will chose a historical event to center her story around and a bride who figures in the story line. The cover art I have seen so far is marvelous.
My own contribution to the series is book four which is set in Ontario in the WW1 era. The title is His Brother's Bride and is based very loosely on elements of my grandparents' story. After all what do we know better than our own family stories. There is always bits and pieces we can pluck out, turn in our hands and use in our stories.

I love the cover the Books We Love talented cover artist has created.

The first book in the series will release in October of 2016 and is set in Saskatchewan, book two releases in November 2016 set in the Yukon, book 3 releases December 2016 set in Alberta at the famously haunted Banff Springs Hotel. My contribution is book four and will release in February 2017. The rest of the series will release at two month intervals so keep your eyes peeled you won't want to miss a single book in this series.

Til next month, stay well, stay happy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

World Building For All Genres - Part 1 - Janet Lane Walters #worldbuilding #tone #voice


World Building For All Genres.

“Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly.” That’s how I feel when I start a new story. What a writer does is begin a web of dreams and invite readers to share their vision. No matter what your genre or subgenre you’ve chosen the need to make the dream as enticing as possible.

How many write strictly contemporary romance? Do you add elements of mystery, suspense or a touch of the supernatural?

How many write only historical with no additions? Do some of you add touches of mystery, suspense or paranormal to your stories?

How many write paranormal stories? Are there elements of mystery, suspense or romance in your tales?

How many write young adult? Do the elements mentioned above creep into your stories?

No matter what genre you’ve chosen with or without added elements, you need to spin your web of dreams with care. Why?

My contemporary, historical, mystery, or paranormal won’t be the same as yours.

This brings me to a point for you to take away with you. We hear a lot about voice and tone. Are they the same thing? I don’t think so.

Voice belongs to the author and is influenced by the author’s education, life experience, social status, where they grew up, careers and those symbols that reoccur in their stories. I once heard Debra Dixon speak on the writer’s voice and realized certain elements frequently crept into my stories.

Tone belongs to the story. Each genre or subgenre has a particular aura. After picking up a historical romance, in the first few paragraphs, a reader should be drawn into that particular time period. He or she should recognize the genre. I don’t mean the little heading stating Scottish Highlands, 1426. I mean words like Bagpipes droned. Kilts swirled. The clang of broadswords filled the air. These are the kind of words that shout, this is a historical.

I once read a blurb for a book that sounded interesting. Wish I could remember what attracted me to buy. The book was billed as a romantic suspense with a touch of paranormal. I seldom write suspense but I enjoy reading them. Three chapters into the book and I found no suspense, no mystery, no paranormal bits. I could have stopped reading after the first page. The pacing read like a cozy romance and a non-fiction tome on the television industry.

So let’s look at some examples of the tones of some genres. Some of the stories will be my own.

Liara closed the Lore of the Jewels. Everyone knew the ruling Jewel was Black. Her foster mother had given her the book on her last name day. Tana’s insistence that she learn the legends puzzled Liara. What use were these mythical tales to one who might never hold a Jewel?
            YA From The Quest For The White Jewel by Janet Lane Walters

Detective Sergeant Frank Malloy pushed his way through the crowd gathered at the entrance to the modest office building. Murder always drew a crowd in New Your City, even in respectable neighborhoods.
            Mystery from Murder on Lexington Avenue by Victoria Thompson.

When two gentlemen are closely related by blood, they do not exactly address each other with formality. In this case, however, the gentlemen in question were first cousins once removed. The younger had come from nowhere to inherit a title and fortune the older had assumed would be his and their relationship had been formally announced moments after they had come within a sword slice of killing each other.
            Historical from The Rake by Mary Jo Putney.

He crouched in the cemetery that embraced three sides of the hillside parking lot across from Bradley Memorial Hospital. A massive family marker shielded him from view, yet allowed him a clear view of the steps, the street and the doors of the Emergency Room. Dark clouds slid across the surface of the moon. Lights, set high on poles around the perimeter of the lot sent finger shadows groping among the cars.
            Suspense from Code Blue by Janet Lane Walters

Andrew Sinclair circled the room like a caged tiger. He tried to relax but one look at the bed and he felt a stab of guilt so deep it made him physically ill. He wanted to punish himself so he gazed again at the delicate lines of her naked form outlined beneath the white sheet. The morning sun cast an ethereal glow over her face that made her look like an angel. He brushed a strand of hair off her cheek. Her skin felt like satin.
From Caitlan’s Choice by Kat Attalla

On a world that was one of a number in an alternate time stream in a country known to its people as Khaddershai, there was a sudden shimmering in the air. It was late morning at the end of spring when a portal opened. Two men came through dressed in clothing that was hard to look at directly, riding non-descript bay horses.

            From The Questing Road by Lyn Mc Conchie

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Oh, what a life.....

Summer time is such a refreshing time, isn't it? Hot, hazy days and cool, starry nights. I write this blog on my 36' Catalina sailboat, sailing away from the Bad River near the northern point of Georgian Bay. The Bad River is a good place, contrary to its name. It's one of my favourite sailing destinations - clear, clean water, cliffs, rapids and fish. Lots of fish. 'Course, none on my hook. Well, none big enough for a meal. That's OK. I'm good with catch and release. We've sailed about 150 miles in a week and it's time to re-supply ice and a few staples, in the quartz mountain town of Killarney. And a dash into the liquor store. Talk about convenient - the liquor store is located on the Bay and boasts a wooden dock big enough for a couple of boats AND a seaplane. One more week on the water and then back to reality.

My first book signing for The Twisted Climb

My adventures in the publishing world continue and sometimes I have to pinch myself to ensure I'm not dreaming. Last week, I held my first book signing at the annual Potato Festival near my home. The booth location was excellent - beside the Arts Council studio on the main street - and a feature article in the local newspaper helped drum up interest. When the day was over, I sold and signed one book every eight minutes. Oh, what a day!
The Twisted Climb is begging for a sequel, in my mind, anyway. The outline has been started and the tentative name is: The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends.

Hey, Books We Love bloggers - I did not get any advice about how to persuade family and friends to purchase the eBook. If you recall, in last month's blog I suggested the closed-wallet people were cheap tards. That's a tard without the bas.
What say you?

A pangolin life
A pangolin, the only scale covered mammal in the world, would probably have a great life, just hanging around and sucking up pesky ants and termites, if third-world countries would leave them alone. Pangolins are found in hot climates including areas in Africa, Thailand and the Philippines.  However, archaic, mumbo-jumbo superstitions, propagated by black marketeers, hold the pangolins' fate in jeopardy as they are slaughtered by the thousands. The creatures are being hunted and killed for their scales and meat and as a result, they are being eaten to extinction. It is my sincere wish to publish my picture book series about pangolins and I hope that my movie script will see the light of a movie screen projector and help save the pangolins.
They should have a life, too.

J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb

Monday, August 15, 2016

Books We Love's Tantalizing Talent ~ Author Betty Jo Schuler

ABOUT BETTY JO. Hmm . . . what can I tell you? I do what I love and love what I do, and for me, that would be? Write, of course.  I started out by self-publishing a diet book and became a very busy and happy freelance writer for magazines. There were many exciting moments, a Star photographer coming to photograph me and the food from one of the diets I wrote for them, TV interviews. I loved it but meanwhile I’d married and earned my degrees to become an elementary teacher. So, it was natural for me to write for children’s magazines and my first published book was Ice Cream for Breakfast.  That’s when I started writing YA books and my favorite genre yet, contemporary romance. And that’s when I took early retirement from teaching to pursue a career. And we moved from Indiana to sunny Florida.I’m happy to have found a “home” at Books We Love and its’ wonderful publishers and authors. I invite you to visit me there.

Contemporary Romance Novels:   Male Wanted, Love in a Small Town, Finding Freedom, Impossible Dreams, Betty Jo Schuler Special Edition

Young Adult and Tweens:   Heart Strings; No Rain, No Rainbows; Mystic Mansion, Dare to Dream, How Not to Date a Hollywood Star, Take My Family, Please.

I love romantic comedy. Hence, Male Wanted 

Taylor Gayle advertises in The Town Crier for a male to date, but Max Stuart misprints her ad to indicate she’s looking for a “sadomasochistic male to mate” and includes her address. To atone for his mistakes, Max becomes her live-in protector. Now, who’s going to protect this high school librarian from the unbelievably sexy newspaper editor? And who’s going to save Max from this feisty Plain Jane’s charms?

Take My Family Please 

Lacy Gingham’s family members are middle class eccentrics and Eric Vanderhorst’s are staid upper crust. Read “crazy” opposite “snooty” and add that Lacy and Ric get together under false pretenses, and get set for a bumpy ride to love when the truth comes out.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Weekly Winner ~ Get Fired Up For Summer Contest

Leslie Crosbie wins a copy of Heart Throb by Janet Lane Walters.

Leslie, please email 
to claim your prize. 


Books We Love

Find the contest details here


Get Fired Up For Summer with 
Books We Love!

Gremlins and the Big Countdown by Sheila Claydon

Eighteen months ago I spent almost half a year in Sydney, Australia. I was there to help care for my youngest granddaughter. She was six months old when we arrived and just a few weeks shy of her first birthday when we left.  During that time she made friends with my friends thanks to her almost daily appearance on my facebook page and then it was all over and, as with any family separated by thousands of miles, we knew it would be a while before we saw her again.

I left with far more than happy memories though, I left with material for the book which eventually became Remembering Rose (Mapleby Memories Book 1), published June 30, 2016. Although the story has absolutely nothing to do with my trip to Australia, some of the characters do. The heroine, Rachel, is a new mother, and at the start of the story, Leah, her little girl, is a few months old. Then there's Daniel, the new Dad.  None of these characters are my family, nor is the story anything like theirs, but watching them learning to become parents and adapt to the changes a baby brings to a partnership helped me to develop the story.

Now, with the book finished and out there, we are all going to meet up again, only this time in the UK. The whole family are coming to England for 9 weeks and we are beyond excited. Unfortunately our excitement has attracted the attention of the gremlins who lurk silently in corners, always on the look out for an opportunity to cause mayhem. With us they hit the jackpot and the past couple of weeks have been a chapter of incidents and accidents. First I cut the sole of my foot sufficiently badly to have to visit the Accident & Emergency Department at our local hospital to be stitched up. Then, while I was recovering, the gremlins moved in.

The first thing they attacked was the cooker. One day it cooked a fine roast dinner for six, the next day nix, nada, not a flicker.  Call out charges and repairs for a 12 year old cooker were deemed not worth it so we ordered a new one. Then they set their sights on the refrigerator, putting it into deep freeze mode so that not only was everything rock solid,  the ice overflowed onto the kitchen floor, so a new fridge it had to be. Finally it was the dishwasher's turn. A gremlin leak did it. Thankfully our local supplier has assured us that all three items will be delivered and fitted on Monday, three days before our visitors arrive.

With this problem solved we turned our attention to the bedrooms because we have to accommodate a cot plus two and occasionally four additional adults as well as sleepovers from older children. That's when we discovered the gremlins had moved upstairs and pushed the bottom out of one of the drawers in the chest-of-drawers. They had also broken the loft ladder and made sure the shower head sprang a leak in solidarity with the solar panels on the roof, so now we have to drain the boiler on Monday so the plumber can repair the roof. The other things we can cope with ourselves even though this now includes the garden pond which, with a little invisible help from our gremlin invaders, has suddenly decided to seep water, exposing a very unattractive plastic liner instead of its usual pretty pebbles and stones. Then, in what I hope was their final act before leaving, they pushed one of the kick boards under the kitchen units adrift and now it needs new fitments.

Everything will be mended or replaced before our visitors arrive but at this rate it would have been cheaper to fly to Australia ourselves! It's not as if we treat our house and belongings harshly either, so, gremlins apart, maybe it's an age thing. Almost all of the broken items were around 12 years old, dating from when we had our kitchen re-fitted. They have all been well cared for and look as good as new. It's just the innards that have perished, so does this mean that 12 is the optimum number of years we can expect from anything nowadays?

I'm not going to tempt providence and say there's nothing else left to go wrong. Instead I am going to sort out all the clothes and baby items my daughter has been storing in her loft for this visit. Already we have a baby seat in the car, a stroller in the porch, a highchair in the kitchen and a full toy box in the conservatory. The bathroom has plastic ducks and frogs again, and there are several drawers of freshly washed hand-me-down clothes waiting for our little granddaughter plus, most important of all for anyone connected with Books We Love, a big basket full of picture books. It's like a leap back in time to when our older granddaughters were babies, and before that to when our own children were young. Now all we need is the energy to run a full household again after years of being on our own.

My next book, a follow up to Remembering Rose, and only started in my head so far, will include young children, so I guess I am already expecting to pick up pointers from my youngest granddaughter for the book I will start in October when she returns to Australia. In the meantime I only have four days left in the big countdown but please don't tell the gremlins or they will find something else to break.

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

She also has a website and can be found on facebook

Stillwaters Run Deep, Book One: Raven's Lament

Stillwater's Run Deep  Book One Raven's Lament Frank Talaber, The Writer: Mad muse inside keeps my pencil writing...