Saturday, May 27, 2017


There is a cat in this story. Find all my BWL stories HERE

My kitty cat Jasmine, a princess in my mind, has a dramatic story worth sharing, and who better than me to tell it?

This is how I imagine Jasmine as a kitten
As a kitten, like all kittens, Jasmine was cute and cuddly. A nice family found her abandoned by a feral mother and adopted her. They called her Jasmine because of the yellow in her calico coat. They had a house with children, and a big guard dog. Jasmine was allowed outside and had a very independent life.

Curiously, without a mother, or another cat in the house to teach her how cats behaved, Jasmine never learned to play like a cat. Instead, she learned manners from the big guard dog. So, when a stranger approached the house, she growled warnings and thought it was her job to protect the house and its occupants.

At six months, before learning to be a cat, Jasmine became pregnant. Like all expecting mothers, she was very protective of her future litter. So, when the big guard dog challenged her, she faced him, hissing and growling, like a dog ready to fight. The big dog did not understand that she was protecting the little ones in her belly, so he stood his ground.

Jasmine attacked. Unfortunately, the six-months-old kitten was no match for the big guard dog. The dog caught her small head in his powerful jaw, clamped down, and shook the kitten like a rag doll.

The family ran to her help, but by the time they calmed the dog and convinced him to release his prey, poor little Jasmine lay there, inert, bleeding, unconscious. They rushed the kitten to the vet and left it there, saying, even if Jasmine survived her ghastly wounds, they could not take her back, because their guard dog had tasted her blood. It would be too dangerous for the kitten to return.

Upon examination, the vet discovered that the dog's fangs had pierced through the kitten's head, perforating sinus and bones. Jasmine needed extensive surgery, and there was no guarantee at all that she would survive. But the vet loved animals and suspected Jasmine had a strong will to live. So he took it upon himself to perform the first surgery... then the second... then the third. The unborn kittens did not survive, and the vet neutered Jasmine.

Geisha. Rest in Peace
That spring of 2007, I had lost my little companion of seventeen years, a mixed Siamese cat named Geisha. It took me months to finally decide to adopt a new kitty who needed a good home.

In September of 2007, After months in recovery, Jasmine was back among the living and up for adoption through HALO, a no-kill shelter. Among the kittens in the cages at PetSmart adoption center, she was the largest cat. Now nine months old, she was much older than the cute little fur balls playing with each other. She did not play, and despite her regal posturing, she had the serious look of those who have suffered.

Jasmine at nine months, when I adopted her

When I read the paper stuck to her cage, detailing her health history, my heart broke. She'd been up for adoption for a while without luck, and as a result, she was on sale. I took it as a sign that we were meant to be. So, I adopted Jasmine, and brought her home.

Jasmine quickly grew up to be a big cat
 Because of her pierced sinuses, she doesn't purr loudly like a regular cat. Her purr is imperceptible, but I know when she purrs. And she is susceptible to sniffles. Imagine my surprise when a writer friend came to the front door to attend my critique group, and the young cat started to growl low in her throat, like a dog.

Since Jasmine had lost her unborn babies, I thought maybe a kitten would keep her company, and she might enjoy playing with it and caring for it. When another writer friend of mine had a litter, I adopted a cute little tuxedo cat. Unfortunately, Jasmine did not like other cats, not even kittens. She wanted me all to herself. So she spent more and more time outside, where she watched the other cats in the neighborhood. When the new kitten played with the toys, she always watched from the upstairs landing, but never participated in the game.
She enjoys hiding in the patio jungle

As always, life interfered. Eventually, I left my house (and my husband), and I took Jasmine with me to live in a small apartment. She is now ten years old, and has become a plump cat. Some would call her fat, but my friends call her well-fed. She loooves her tuna. I taught her to play, but she still prefers watching me play with her toys. She also enjoys watching the outside world from her ivory tower on the patio of my third floor apartment.

This is a test. Can you see the cat?
 Jasmine learned the art of camouflage, and hiding in plain sight, like any good hunter. She particularly likes this blanket. Sometimes I look for her in my apartment and can't find her.

 She needs lots of cuddles and she is getting them. She has what she always wanted, me, all to herself. She is the most loving companion I could ever wish for. I hope we enjoy many more years together.

My love of cats transpires in my books. Except for my medieval series, there is a cat in most of my stories. Check them out.

Vijaya Schartz
  Romance with a Kick
  Amazon - Barnes & Noble Smashwords

Friday, May 26, 2017

A tale about a snake by Tricia McGill

Find all my Books We Love titles here on my Author page
I am primarily a romance writer, but in the past I have written some really odd short stories that are far from romantic. I blame my Muse who tends to go off on tangents of her own. But bless her (of course it’s a her) she helped me overcome obstacles along the writing path. My life has been blessed, so I blame her for some of my drearier stories.

I’m never sure what prompted me to write in the first place. If I couldn’t see to read or write I feel my life would have no purpose. People who don’t understand writers think we’re strange. How have you got the patience they ask? How can I answer them when I don’t know myself? All I know is that I often wonder what my mind would be doing if it wasn’t toying with new ideas. Perhaps I would have continued with my first love, painting. But the urge to paint was never as strong as the urge to write. When I read a book or a passage of writing that stirs me to strong emotions I yearn to have the same effect on a reader.

So, I hope you enjoy this little tale. Incidentally I love most of God’s creatures but I am sorry, snake lovers, but I can’t stand them.

All God’s Creatures

            “Leave it Red,” Joe warned the orange-tinted dog, and at the sound of the man’s voice the lizard scuttled off the rock where it had been sunning itself and disappeared down a crevice. With an adoring glance at its master the dog settled down for another nap. A water rat surfaced with a small splash, then, as it caught sight of the two fishermen and the dog, dived under the water, departing as swiftly as it appeared.

            “Snakes!” Willy announced, piercing another maggot with a hook and casting his line in to the murky water of the river. “If there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s them long scaly reptiles. Rats I can stomach--and I can put up with lizards--but them darned snakes I can’t abide!” He grimaced as he wiped his hands on a piece of dirty rag.

            Joe gave him a sidelong glance and chuckled. He knew what was coming; he’d heard this story so many times he knew it word for word. Quite used to being the listener rather than the talker he sighed resignedly as he stared at the bobbing red float on the end of his line. He could have a doze as Willy told his story in his soft monotone.

            Willy pushed his battered hat back a bit on his greying head as he gave his companion a quick glance to ensure he had an audience. “We were on our way to Queensland when I had the encounter with the old Joe Blake--face to face so to speak. Have I ever told you about how the bludger fell on my head?”

            Joe didn’t bother to reply; Willy would carry on regardless of his answer. “Lovely little spot it was, just outside Mackay. We were all set to spend a night at this caravan park, and I decided to nip in the loo. Good job I didn’t bother to unhitch the caravan before I went in there, for I was standing up doing what had to be done when this blessed snake--all of six feet long--fell off the rafters and hit me on the shoulder on its way to the ground.”

            The length of the snake had grown with each telling of the tale but Joe wasn’t about to interrupt his mate and tell him that once it was about two feet long, if that.

            “If I was ever going to flake from a heart attack, I would have done it then,” Willy went on, warming to his tale. “Then, what does it do? It slithers into a cubicle between me and the way out. I’m telling you, I didn’t have much choice about which way to turn; so I hops up onto the nearest toilet seat. Five minutes later I’m still yelling for help when I heard my Dot outside wondering what had kept me so long. I peered through the slats of the window high up the wall and told her to fetch help as quick as she could because I was sharing the space with a bloody Taipan.

            “I’m telling you, it felt like hours that I stood there waiting for Dot to come back, and I was watching the space under the door until my eyes were nearly popping out of my head, and also peering upwards in case the bludger had a mate up there waiting to join him. At last Dot came back and wondered where it was. I didn’t have a clue where it was, and I told her so as I poked my nose through the slat in the window.

            “Dot had brought the owner’s wife with her and this dear little soul was all of three feet high and was toting a rifle she could barely carry; it was so long and heavy. I got a bit hysterical then I suppose, for I began to yell a bit when I questioned her as to what she was going to do with the bloody weapon. ‘I’ll take a shot at it if I see it move,’ she tells me, and I thought, God, if the snake doesn’t get me she will. And the thought occurred that if she fired the blessed thing the recoil would knock her off her feet and she had a good chance of killing me before she ever hit the snake. Can’t you fetch your husband to see if he can catch it? I asked forlornly, but she informed me that he was out for the day. She seemed to have a sudden brainwave, for after mumbling something about fetching the snake man, she marched off.

            “Ten minutes later my legs were getting a bit shaky and it was growing mighty hot in that concrete block. When I asked Dot if she had any idea where she’d gone my dear better half decides to get smart by cracking that the woman may have gone to send a smoke signal to this snake charmer bloke. I quickly informed her that I didn’t see this whole episode as a subject for her cute jokes. My dignity was wilting, along with my temper after so long atop a toilet seat.

            “It must have been fifteen minutes before she came back with this joker who was covered from head to foot in red dust. You could barely see his tatty shorts for dirt and his singlet and hat were filthy. On bare feet as big as dinner plates he marched straight in to the toilet block and with not so much as a qualm walks out again with the snake’s head held firmly between a finger and thumb. ‘It’s harmless,’ he says. ‘You can come out now, it won’t hurt you.’

            “I didn’t care if it was as harmless as a new born babe, I wasn’t coming out until he’d fixed it, and I told him so in no uncertain terms. Ignoring me, he turned to the owner’s wife with a disdainful shrug. ‘It’s only a tree snake,’ he tells her. ‘You don’t want it killed, do you? They won’t attack you if you leave them alone. Even the venomous ones wouldn’t hurt you if you let them go their own way. Any snake that climbs is no threat to us and even the ones that crawl will not bother you if you stay calm and ignore them. They all deserve the right to live.’

            “She decided she wanted it killed, and despite this joker’s quaint ideas I thoroughly agreed with her. ‘It’s the fourth one I’ve seen this week, and they’re scaring my goats,’ she proclaimed, and I thought to myself: Bugger the goats, what about the guests! I could see he didn’t want to do away with the reptile but finally he whacked it on the ground until it stopped moving. I’ve never felt so relieved in my life, but I could tell he was upset. With a sort of pitying sneer at me he walked off.

            “Leave them alone, I thought sourly. What is he, some sort of a crank? I spluttered. It could have been venomous for all I knew! ‘No, he’s no idiot,’ she replied. ‘Just eccentric. He owns all this land as far as the eye can see. He loves snakes and believes that all God’s creatures have a right to live. I thought he’d take it home to join the others he has crawling about his house and garden.’ I shuddered. He was definitely a crank as far as I could see.

            “Anyway, off she went without so much as an apology, so quick smart I bundled Dot into the car and drove us out of there as fast as I could. The little old lady was peeping through her curtains. She should worry! We’d already paid her for the night’s rent in advance. As we passed the adjacent property we saw the snake man; driving a tractor around a paddock and sending up great clouds of red dust in his wake.”

            Willy sighed as he wound in his line. He shook his head at his empty hook. “I don’t like killing things any more than the next man,” he muttered, as he threaded another worm on his hook and tossed his line back into the water. “But snakes are killers and you have to get them before they get you, don’t you?”

            His float disappeared with a jerk beneath the water and he whispered excitedly, “I’ve got one,” as he carefully reeled in the taut line and landed the flapping fish. The silver and gold creature bounced, gasping, on the bank and Willy grinned. “Good one, eh?” he said as he disentangled the hook from the writhing fish.

            “What are you going to do with it; take it home for your tea?” Joe asked as they and the dog looked down on it.

            “Nope.” Willy grinned again. “I’ll put him back so he can live to fight another day. Besides, what with all this talk about pollution these days I don’t think it’s safe to eat them from this stretch of the river.”

            They both nodded sagely as with a flash of silvery scales the fish swam out of sight beneath the oily water.

Note from Tricia: This story was based on a true incident, and my husband was the one whose shoulder the snake landed on while on holiday in Queensland years ago. And incidentally, although Australia has some of the deadliest snakes on earth, this was the only close encounter we had with one on our many travels around this beautiful country. Although, one of our dogs did get bitten by one but luckily we got her to the vet in time and she was saved to live another day.   

Visit Tricia McGill's Web Page  

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Canadian Historical Brides series books being reviewed by Publisher's Weekly.

Excerpt from the first of the reviews we're receiving from Publisher's Weekly for the Canadian Historical Brides series.

For the Canada’s Historical Brides series, published to coincide with the 150th anniversary of Canadian confederation, Bell (Arabella’s Secret) competently takes readers to rural Ontario in the years leading up to World War I. Annie Baldwin is the youngest daughter of a large homesteading family from Ireland. She has much in common with her brothers and the orphan boys, George and Peter, who sometimes work on their farm, and little connection with her prim and proper mother and sisters or her father, a preacher and doctor. As the war encroaches on life even in rural Canada, with young men returning missing limbs or seriously shell-shocked, George decides he must enlist. He asks Annie to marry him when he returns. But George does not return, and Annie, now dangerously close to spinsterhood, must decide whether she and Peter can base a life together on their shared grief over George’s death. Plotting is strong enough to sustain interest, and there are good descriptions of the hard slog of farm life....

Randall Sawka - Back from the Year Long Journey

Spring has us springing across much of Canada to be closer to family. When the notion of moving from the sleepy Vancouver Island community of Oak Bay to the bustling city of Toronto crossed our minds it caused shivers-shivers of apprehension. We enjoyed nearly three decades in a community where your neighbours were friends with whom you shared vegetables and fruit from your garden and tea on the patio. A short walk to the ocean was a given. On the stroll to the esplanade we would perhaps meet three or four cars. Everyone you met said hello. The "main" street was really an English "high" street. A difficult place to leave.

The draw. What would coax us to make the move? Once we mulled it over the emotions moved from trepidation to exhilaration. Of course, the main draw is living closer to family. From a five hour flight to a twenty minute walk. Far better that video messenger. We listed the other pluses and made the decision to do what was described many times as brave. That word was annoying at first. Later we lived what was included in my previous posts, the ultimate pressure cooker. Was it always smooth sailing? Of course not. Non-writing work ended. No place to call home. Numerous flights. Never knowing for sure where we would sleep the following month. Now we are three days away from our new high-rise home in the heart of a big city.

So the year-long journey ends and we are thrilled with what we did and excited with where life has taken us. The city offers us nearly endless options for entertainment, food, and travel. The new start has even energized my writing. I'm working on two novels. One is nearly done and is set in deep space. The second was inspired by our research in to big city life. Once we take that final thirty minute drive to our new home I know that the ideas will gather quickly.
We are almost home.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Writing with a Retiree - Writing or Spouse?

Writing with a Retiree – What takes priority?

Simple enough question, right? What takes priority? Writing – spouse?

Of course it would be your spouse...right? *smiles*

My husband and I couldn’t wait for the time when we could travel in a 5th Wheel, towing our fishing boat and free-wheeling where ever we decided to land for a day, a week, or a month…we’d make an adventure out of the visit.

That was our vision, our dream, our plan…but what happens when dreams change after the fact? *shakes head*

I resigned from my 8:00 – 5:00 job in 2000 and pursued a career in writing. I enjoyed some ghost writing, editing, short story writing, writing young adult fiction, articles, and spent a few years writing erotic romance (under a pseudonym I shall not name:).

I love writing, as all authors do; it’s something we’re lost without. And I can’t seem to live without it.

My husband officially retired in March 2016, although he stopped working in March of 2015. Let me say, it had been an up-down roller coaster for us, from “my” writing space in the house (which I had a favorite spot in a few rooms, depending on my mood), my time with grandchildren, our trips in the RV, to the television shows we watched. What was most important to my husband now that he had extra time on his hands, was rarely what was most important to me as I’d lived as a writer on my own in the house for fifteen years (until he’d come home in the evenings from his job).

Our house had gotten very small spending 24/7 together. *LOL*

We went on a few month-long trips in the RV, and then tried longer in Florida. After three months in the land of sun, I was ready to come back to Michigan – see my family. Three months was too long away from the familiar.

He had always been supportive of my writing, but there was an on ongoing tension/pressure at my not being readily available for him. I attempted to be creative while dealing with a myriad of interruptions, until we finally had a few heart-to-heart chats…and we updated our priorities. A little tougher than we figured, but it all shook out to a workable solution for both of us.

We gave up the 5th Wheel for a 34’ trailer and parked it at a lake about a half-hour away from our home.

It’s my husband’s fishing retreat and my writing retreat, close enough that my family can visit, or I can visit with them.

Now I can write uninterrupted and he can fish to his heart’s content. There’s a balance between us, having our own priorities and making them work…together. *Big deep sigh*

Halleluiah; )

DK Davis writes YA sci-fi, supernatural, and fantasy with a good dollop of all the relationships woven in between. When she’s not writing, editing, or reading, she’s hiking, RV’ing, fishing, spending time with grandchildren or her favorite muse (her husband) in Southwest Michigan. She also writes paranormal suspense-thriller romance as S. Peters-Davis, and all genre short stories as Susan Davis.
You can find DK Davis at these links: Twitter; FB; Website; Books We Love Ltd. Author Page; Amazon Author Page
Enter Books We Love Contest here:

Samantha’s dealing with a lot of emotional blow-back from her mother’s new marriage. Then she discovers a gifted creature living in Wolf Lake, and life suddenly becomes all about keeping his existence a secret, earning his trust. That is until his life depends on her saving him. But she won’t be able to do it alone…

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Home is Where the Heart is. by Victoria Chatham

For many of us writers, creating homes for our characters is par for the course. Think Downton Abbey, Tara in Gone With the Wind and the family hacienda, Las Tres Marias in Isabel Allende’s debut novel The House of the Spirits.

Elements of places we have lived or visited and loved, often form the basis of our fictional homes. Writing a book often means wearing many hats – one of them being an architect. Designing a home for our characters means that we, and the readers, know where in a house the stairs that the character might use are, where the windows and doors are so that if we involve a line of sight in our story, we know there will be no obstructions. Where are the bedrooms and how many of them, if a contemporary book, have an en suite?

Because I write historical romance, I have incorporated aspects of many stately homes that I have visited into building a home for my characters. The essence of my fictional houses, however, stems from my experience of living for eleven years in a 300-year old house.

My first view of it was in early April. Sunshine bathed its long roof, comprised of approximately 5-tons of Cotswold stone tile, and tall chimneys. In the garden, a profusion of daffodils danced beneath a row of cordoned fruit trees. For the non-gardeners amongst you, a cordon is a method of training the side shoots of the trees (usually apples and pears) at a 45-degree angle to promote support and ultimately fruit production. The lady of the house sat at her spinning wheel on the lawn, white hair drawn into a bun at the back of her neck and long, gray skirts spread out around her. It was like a vignette of the past, and I instantly fell in love with Ivy Cottage.

A cottage can be many things to many people. My impression of a cottage was a two-up, two-down home with a thatched roof. In Canada, what people refer to as a cottage is, to me, a house and so was Ivy Cottage. Its five bedrooms sprawled over a hodge-podge of levels. Two sets of stairs, one in the middle of the house and the other at one end, had different depth risers and half-landings in odd places. The house itself had started life as a stone build, but the second storey was of locally produced red brick. The windows and doors all needed replacing as none of them was a good fit.

I moved in in August, a long hot month when, once the windows had been pried open, dried the house out to the extent that wallpaper started peeling off the walls. There was much work to be done, but I was determined that the living room with its inglenook fireplace, parquet floor, and oak beams would be ready for Christmas. By then we were blocking draughts with heavy cotton velvet drapes at the doors with the additional application of kitchen plastic wrap stuffed around the window frames.

My family and friends thought I was mad for exchanging a comfortable, modern, double-glazed and centrally heated home for this unheated, draughty rural pile. People came and went, shaking their heads at my supposed detraction from what was considered the norm. I didn't care. There was room for my kids to play and explore. There was room to grow vegetables. I left the far end of the garden wild, so we were visited by rabbits and hedgehogs, and a fox made a path in the long grass beneath the hedge. I never cut it, letting what flowers and wild plants grow where they would which in turn attracted bees and butterflies.

I had robins and wrens nesting in the hedge, along with noisy sparrows. The teasels, that self-seeded and came up in different parts of the garden every year, attracted goldfinches. I fought the bullfinches and chaffinches for the fruit blossoms and fixed bacon fat on the bushes for the blue and great tits to stop them from peeling off the foil tops on the milk bottles to get at the cream. Woodpeckers and thrushes, both song and mistle thrushes, the latter helping to keep the garden free of snails, were constant visitors. A one-legged black bird became bold enough to perch on my hand for breadcrumbs.

All good things come to an end, and the end for me was coming back one year from a late vacation in Spain to find the house empty and cold. By then my boarders, as had my two boys, moved on, leaving my daughter and I and our two remaining dogs. I thought of all the work that had gone into the house and what still needed doing. At that point, I had neither the heart or the funds for further renovations and with much reluctance but all practicality, put the house on the market.

It is still there. I drive by every time I go home to England, noting the changes, my heart bleeding for some of them, but understanding that it is no longer my home and hoping that the current occupiers are as happy there as I had been.


There is a cat in this story. Find all my BWL stories HERE My kitty cat Jasmine, a princess in my mind, has a dramatic story wort...