Saturday, February 4, 2017

Romance by Katherine Pym


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My dad landed a job at NASA in Houston. We moved from Wisconsin in 1965 and I went to school with the astronauts' kids. The change in environment was extreme but also exhilarating. Everything was new. I went from a strict Roman Catholic high school to a Public high school. A lot of the kids were from elsewhere. They were street wise, and new student numbers dwarfed the original kids who were born in that part of Texas.

One friend I'd made was Teri. She had one of those bodies all women wished for, and the boys craved, but she already had a steady. One day after lunch, she waved me over to where some kids were. 'Kathy,' she pointed to cute guy with dark hair and beautiful eyes, 'this is Ricky. You two will go to the prom and we'll double.'

Did I say she was also bossy?

We went to the prom and that began a four year, almost exclusive, friendship. We went everywhere together, skipped school and explored places we shouldn't have. We went to college, shared a lab table during Biology class.

The Vietnam War was at its worst. Men died every day. One beautiful spring day, the sky amazingly blue, Rick stopped me as I ran up the stairs of a campus building, headed for class.

'Kathy, I've quit school.' He gazed up at me and shrugged.

Me at an Army Post (USO) during the Vietnam War
I knew he'd be drafted and sent to war. I'd never see him again, and if he survived, he'd be irrevocably changed. News said how horrible it was in Vietnam. The guys couldn't trust anyone, not women or small children, who might carry loaded bombs. Life meant nothing, there. If Rick survived the brutality, it would forever damage his gentle soul.

I couldn't say anything but, 'Okay,' and continued into the building.

Life moved forward. I met a guy and we were to be married. Before this, I drove to Rick's house to tell him goodbye. The army had drafted him twice but after tests revealed he'd broken his neck in a car accident, he was deemed unacceptable.

I said goodbye and we kissed. His taste and smell were the same. I wanted to melt into his arms but I'd made a commitment.

Years later, after two boys and a nasty divorce, I found myself in Houston again. I did not know if Rick was still around or not, and if he were, was he married? My son and daughter-in-law took me to his house, where a tiny old lady lived.

My daughter-in-law said, 'She's old. She's really old.' Pause. 'Old is good. Old is really good. Go see if she's his mother.'

I got out of the truck and low and behold, Rick's mother stood at the door. When I bounced onto the porch my son said, 'Is he married?' (Might as well get to chase.)

She shook her head. 'That didn't work out.'

She let us into her house, showed us pictures of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The house was the same as all those years ago. Nothing had changed except she had a window air conditioner that pumped cool air. She gave me Rick's number which I called and left a message but later that night, when we turned off the television for bed, and he hadn't called, I figured he had another.

The next morning, around 8:30A, he called, excited. He told me of his life, that he now worked at NASA for the Space Shuttle. He was a physicist, a think tank. He measured the lack of air, calibrated the pool where the astronauts trained.

He was there when movies such as Armageddon and Apollo 13 were filmed, nudged elbows with the crews and ate lunch with them. He'd gone to Russia to calibrate spacesuits, while I worked at Boeing in Seattle and bought airplane parts.

We'd both been divorced about the same time, chose never to do so again, had sons, and both worked in the aeronautical industry. Once I returned to work after my visit in Houston, I found Rick's name in the Boeing directory. I was amazed. We hadn't seen each other for more than 30 years yet our lives had run in parallel. We thought the same and did much the same with perhaps, a dimensional path that kept us separated.

At Monterrey with Rick and our pup, Maya
Soon, we married and took up where we had left off. We explored places I didn't want to go alone, went into Canada, traveled down the seacoast to Cannon Beach Oregon, saw the redwoods in Northern California, explored Wyoming and New Mexico.

We went from being alone almost 24/7 to being together 24/7, yet the transition was amazingly smooth. Both our families accepted us with open arms, even our grown children.

I can say, now, life is really good.













Friday, February 3, 2017

IT WAS ALL GREEK TO ME



Since February is the month for romance, Diane Scott Lewis is sharing her Greek adventures...

February is a time for romance, though my story took place in early March, 1974.

I joined the Navy at nineteen to see the world. My first duty station (and last as it turned out) was at the Naval Communications Station in Nea Makri, Greece. How exciting, a foreign country with ruins, columns, sheep dawdling in the road, who could ask for more?



My very first day, I was chatting with my sponsor near the front gate. A motorcycle and rider roared onto the base. The man stared at me. He took off his helmet, revealing thick dark brown hair, and large brown eyes.

I asked my sponsor who the man was.

She said, “That’s George Parkinson. He’s trouble, stay away from him.”

Trouble? What more does a California girl growing up in the 60’s have to hear? Plus, there was that motorcycle.



Days later in the Zeus Club, I was among a throng of young men far from home with few American women to date. I was the first radioman female to be stationed at Nea Makri. Only two other single young women lived on the base at this time.

I had Singapore Slings lined up in front of me the moment I sat down.

George Parkinson was there, laughing, talking with everyone. He’d been on base for three years before I’d arrived. Then I heard his horrible secret. He was married.

When I finally got to know him, he said he was legally separated, his wife back in the states. Instead of a dastardly rogue, he was shy and good at heart.

I joined him in his motorcycle group, flying down the road past ancient sites, Mount Olympus, Delphi, Sparta, through fragrant orange blossoms, eating calamari, thick brown bread and tomatoes swimming in olive oil, along with big hunks of creamy feta cheese. 

Only two months later, when he asked me to marry him, I said yes.

Then I was called before the Senior Master Chief, the highest enlisted woman stationed there, and told: “You know he’s married, don’t you?” The same with the female ensign, the same dire warning: I was dating a married man.

Finally, George contacted his mother back in Pennsylvania, she obtained a lawyer, and plans were in place for his divorce.

Of course it took a year. George and I did the unthinkable, we’d moved in together. My doctor told me to go off my birth control pills because they suppressed my ovaries, and guess what, soon I had a bundle of love on the way—and still no divorce in sight.

One day driving to the base, a Greek man decided to pass me on his motorcycle and smashed into the back of my little VW. He crashed, broke his leg and since I was American it was automatically my fault. I had to go to court and convince the Greek Judges why I shouldn’t be thrown in jail. My baby would be born in lock-up. Fortunately, they believed my story and the case was dismissed.

Then Turkey and Greece attacked the island of Cypress, both wanting possession. America refused to take sides in the conflict. Greek students rioted over the American military being on their soil. Each morning we had to check under our car’s wheel wells to make certain no bombs had been planted. The US Fleet was ordered to evacuate Athens. I worked in the Message Center, and frightening warnings of attacks on Americans buzzed over the teletypes.

At last everything settled down, George’s divorce came through, and I planned a wedding in three days.



I can’t say my adventure overseas was boring, and George and I will soon celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Books We Love 2016 Best Selling Authors


Books We Love 2015 and 2016 Best Selling Author

Tricia McGill

 Award winning author Tricia McGill was born in London, England, and moved to Australia many years ago, settling near Melbourne. Horses and dogs feature largely in her books. She’s had a succession of dogs in her lifetime and a few horses along the way.

The youngest in a large, loving family she was never lonely or alone. Surrounded by avid readers, who encouraged her to read from an early age, is it any wonder she became a writer? The local library was a treasure trove and magical world of discovery through her childhood and growing years. Tricia is a dreamerwho still dreams every night; snippets from those dreams have translated into ideas for her books.

Although her published works cross sub-genres, romance is always at their heart. Tricia finds the research entailed in writing historicals and her other great passion, time-travels, fascinating.

 Tricia's books are available exclusively through Amazon KDP.

 Visit her Books We Love author page to view and purchase any of her books.

http://bookswelove.net/authors/mcgill-tricia/


When Fate Decides (Challenge the Heart Book 1)A Heart In Conflict (Challenge the Heart Book 2)Kate's Dilemma (Challenge the Heart Book 3)
When Fate Decides (Challenge the Heart Book...
by Tricia McGill
A Heart In Conflict (Challenge the Heart Bo...
by Tricia McGill
Kate's Dilemma (Challenge the Heart Book 3)
by Tricia McGill
Lonely Pride (Beneath Southern Skies Book 1)A Dream for Lani (Beneath Southern Skies Book 2)Leah In Love (and trouble) (Beneath Southern Skies Book 3)
Lonely Pride (Beneath Southern Skies Book 1)
by Tricia McGill
A Dream for Lani (Beneath Southern Skies Bo...
by Tricia McGill
Leah In Love (and trouble) (Beneath Souther...
by Tricia McGill



The Laird (Wild Heather Book 1)Travis (Wild Heather Book 2)Amid the Stars
The Laird (Wild Heather Book 1)
by Tricia McGill
Travis (Wild Heather Book 2)
by Tricia McGill
Amid the Stars
by Tricia McGill
Maddie and the Norseman
Maddie and the Norseman
by Tricia McGill



Mystic Mountains (Settlers Book 1)Distant Mountains (Settlers Book 2)The Laird (Wild Heather Book 1)
Mystic Mountains (Settlers Book 1)
by Tricia McGill
Distant Mountains (Settlers Book 2)
by Tricia McGill
The Laird (Wild Heather Book 1)
by Tricia McGill
Travis (Wild Heather Book 2)Remnants of DreamsMaddie and the Norseman
Travis (Wild Heather Book 2)
by Tricia McGill
Remnants of Dreams
by Tricia McGill
Maddie and the Norseman
by Tricia McGill
Settlers (2 Book Series)
Settlers (2 Book Series)
by Tricia McGill
$5.98


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

FOOD FOR THOUGHT --- Priscilla Brown



Eating is my favourite part of food. Forget the shopping for it, the preparation, the cooking, just put it in front of me!

As the author of contemporary romances, I like my characters to eat well. I love doing the research for their meals since I don't have to cook these, and this research gives me an excuse to spend time in cafes. I delve  into cookery books, but only recipes with illustrations are any use to me; I collect recipes photographed in magazines, while wondering how anyone with a busy life and without a professional kitchen could possibly produce such concoctions.

In my stories, sometimes a character may go shopping for food but never with great enthusiasm: one or two have been known to resort to frozen dinners for one, and  a 'dateless and desperate' character went shopping on singles night at the supermarket where singles on the hunt used the signal of bananas pointing upwards in the cart. On a brighter note, frequently one character will cook specifically for the other, and in a romance novel this can be a huge turn on.
Picturing the food or entire meal in my head as I describe the particular setting, my intention is that the scene will bring the reader closer to the characters. Personality traits can be emphasised, and further aspects revealed (other than food preferences); the situation may be an occasion for drama, where tensions and conflicts are introduced, or maintained, or resolved, thus adding to the plot. Also, I'd like to think that a reader may vicariously enjoy one of the delicious meals some of my characters cook: in Hot Ticket, Callum makes yummy picnics and dinners for  Olivia, whose cooking is limited to whatever can be finished in under ten minutes. That is, until she prepares a meal for him that includes avocados, oysters, salmon and other seafood, aphrodisiacs all of it. Such is part of the lexicon for a romance writer! 

There are many food moments in literature of all kinds. A few of the best known instances may be in  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where the Mad Hatter's tea party offers tea, bread and butter; and in Through the Looking Glass, the walrus and the carpenter eat the oysters. The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 'dined on mince and slices of quince'. Dickens' Christmas dinner at the Cratchits includes includes roast goose with stuffing, apple sauce, gravy and potatoes, followed by Christmas pudding with flaming brandy. Shakespeare's plays are full of food, though Macbeth's banquet wasn't much fun. Antony and Cleopatra, Act II, Scene I: 'Eight wild boars roasted at breakfast' (for only 12 people!). The Winter's Tale, Act IV, Scene II: (The clown's shopping list for the sheep-shearing feast) 'Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice...saffron...mace...nutmegs seven, a race or two of ginger...four pound of prunes...'

Kissing Callum in his kitchen full of baking, Olivia jokes that she wants him for his food; George Meredith (1828-1909) wrote - Kissing don't last: cookery do!  What an old cynic!

 

 Enjoy your meal!

(As almost every waitperson says)


Priscilla







Sources: Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll); The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (Edward Lear); A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens); William Shakespeare Complete WorksThe Oxford Dictionary of Quotations; various web sites.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Curious Facts about Lobsters and Oysters in 18th Century North America

by Kathy Fischer-Brown

Eighteenth century America holds a certain fascination for me. An old mentor, who had a strong predilection for the spiritual world and reincarnation, once postulated that I had lived a previous life in that period. She told me she sensed it in my writing. (Whether or not this is true is not up for discussion here, but I thought it was pretty cool at the time that Norma thought so.) At any rate, I am drawn to the period, and now, as I call on years and years of previous research and knowledge, and travel new paths in preparation for writing a novel in Books We Love’s “Canadian Brides” series, I am steeped once again in discoveries.

Of the many details of life in a former age, we historical fiction writers find nothing too insignificant or mundane. In other words, everything has importance, from the fabric of the clothes they wore and how it was made, fastened, and laundered, to the way they lighted and heated their homes; how they traveled and where they stayed when away from home; the sights, smells, sounds; and, yes, the food they ate, and how it was procured and prepared.

As a modern day “foodie,” I love cooking (and eating) and trying recipes from other cultures, and even have dabbled in “receipts” from the era I find myself steeped in for the time it takes to research and write my book. So this sort of thing is right up my alley.

In matters of food, I am amazed at how trendy tastes can be. Take lobster, for example. Not to mention that I love lobster (boiled, broiled, baked, steamed, grilled, sautéed, stuffed, on a roll, in a salad or casserole…you name it), I was surprised to discover that back in colonial America, the lobster suffered from a terrible rep. The first settlers in New England went so far as to regard them as a problem. (Yikes, we should have such problems today!) Chalk it up to the lobster’s amazing abundance. They were so plentiful, for example, that following a storm, lobsters would be found washed up on beaches in piles up to two feet high. People literally pulled them from the water with their bare hands. And they grew to be humungous, some weighing in at 20 to 40 pounds and up to six feet long. (Imagine that tail, grilled, with drawn butter, garlic, and lemon juice.)

Of course, if you consider how stinky a pile of dead lobsters can be on the beach in the midday sun, you’d understand some of the 
An illustration by John White depicting Native American
men cooking fish on a wooden frame over a fire.
Library of Congress
complaints of our ancestors. Other reasons for their shunning, I’m still scratching my head over. Because people literally grew sick and tired of eating them, time came when lobsters were considered unfit for anyone except the abject poor, criminals, indentured servants, and slaves. And even those people complained that having to eat them more than two or three times a week was harsh and inhuman treatment. To add insult to injury, lobsters were fed to livestock or ground up and used as fertilizer. Native Americans used them for bait and ate them only when the fish werent biting.

These days, as David Foster Wallace wrote in “Consider the Lobster,” his excellent article published in Gourmet Magazine (August, 2004), “lobster is posh, a delicacy, only a step or two down from caviar. The meat is richer and more substantial than most fish, its taste subtle compared to the marine-gaminess of mussels and clams. In the U.S. pop-food imagination, lobster is now the seafood analog to steak, with which it’s so often twinned as Surf ’n’ Turf on the really expensive part of the chain steak house menu.”

Sad to say, this increase in price and prestige is due in part to the fact that the once monumental populations of these delectable crustaceans is in steep decline. In Long Island Sound, where my uncle used to skin dive for them, their numbers are almost at extinction levels.

Oysters—which for over a thousand years—had been a delicacy on European menus, are mollusks that can be compared in sheer numbers to those of the lobster. They too were more prodigious and larger on the seventeenth- and eighteenth century North American shores than those we’re used to seeing these days and those in the settlers’ countries of origin. A staple in the diet of Native Americans living in coastal areas, oysters then could reach nearly a foot in size. Liberty Island—the site of the Statue of Liberty—was named by the Dutch as one of three “oyster islands” in New York Harbor due to the local Algonquians’ preference for a place over-flowing with oysters. These were the same natives who taught the Pilgrims and Jamestown settlers how to cook them in stews to stave off starvation, and they soon became a common item in our ancestors’ diets. Stewed or pickled, oysters also became a popular trade item.

For any daring enough, here is a “receipt” from Vincent La Chapelle (1690-1745) in his The Modern Cooks and Complete Housewife’s Companion, (curtesy of Colonial Williamsburg):

TAKE some Chibbols, Parsley, and Mushrooms, cut small, and toss them up with a little Butter; put in the Oysters, season them with pounded Pepper, sweet herbs, and all spices, leave them with a little Flour, and add a little Cullis or Essence; then take your small French Loaves, make a little Hole in the Bottom, take out the Crum, without hurting the Crust, fill them with your Oyster ragout, and stop the Holes with the Crust taken off; place your Loaves so filled in your dish, with a little Cullis or Gravy over them, let them get a Colour in the Oven, and serve them up hot for a dainty Dish.

I’m sorry to say that, with the exception of Winter Fire, my historical romance, and The Partisans Wife (book 3 of “The Serpent’s Tooth” historical trilogy), I haven’t incorporated the food of the era as much as I would have liked. This will not be the case in Where the River Narrows, my Canadian Historical Brides book (with BWL author Ron Crouch) based on the history of American Loyalists in Quebec during the American War for Independence (pub date August 2018).

American version of The Complete Housewife,by Eliza Smith
For my next blog, as I continue searching for the minutia of everyday life, I will post another snippet of the commonplace things that make eighteenth century North America so unique for me. So, please tune in again. And thanks for reading.

~*~

Kathy Fischer Brown is a BWL author of historical novels, Winter Fire, Lord Esterleigh’s Daughter, Courting the Devil, The Partisan’s Wife, and The Return of Tachlanad, her latest release, an epic fantasy adventure for young adult and adult readers. Check out her Books We Love Author page or visit her website. All of Kathy’s books are available in e-book and in paperback from Amazon, Kobo, and other on-line retailers.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Dejah Thoris Paperdoll



http://bookswelove.net/authors/waldron-juliet/
For more about Juliet Waldron's books and to purchase visit her Books We love Author Page


My mother was artistic, with all sorts of talents she never developed. One summer in the 50's, digging around in a box at the back of a closet in our Skaneateles house, looking for cast-off dresses in which I could play medieval princess, I discovered some treasures from her teen years that I thought were even more amazing than those old sequined party dresses.

Mother had dabbled in painting, pencil, charcoal, and watercolors, I’d known that because some landscape paintings were framed and up on the walls of the parental bedroom. I hadn’t realized, though, that she’d been pretty darn good at drawing the human figure, too.  Inside a letterhead stationery box I discovered a cache of hand-made paper dolls. (When “they” didn’t make what she wanted, Dorothy made her own!)

Neatly cut and colored in pencil and watercolor was an entire cast of romantic movie characters, some of whom I instantly recognized. Remember, these movies were TV staples during the early 50’s…First up was Robin Hood—Erroll Flynn, of course. There were even clothes, too, with tabs so fold over the basic figures, green robber’s attire, fur trimmed robes and/or mail were available for Robin of Locksley, and several dresses for Olivia de Havilland, as Maid Marion.  Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon in Wuthering Heights, Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind; each pair had several outfits, even hats. , too, for both gentlemen and ladies, those because these were small, they had, over time, grown a bit the worse for wear.

Wow! Needless to say, I was impressed.




At the bottom of the box, though, was a set which puzzled me. There was a woman dressed in a sort of scanty two piece bathing suit and wearing a long necklace of “diamonds,” which you could tell by the shape. Because of my father’s stacks of the founding S/F magazines, Astounding Fiction and Amazing Stories, I got the otherworldly gist of her outfit, but the real tip off was that her skin was bright blue. She also had slanted eyes, black hair and a crown. The odd little scraps in the bottom of the box proved to be a sword and shield. There was a mate for her, too, a sort of Tarzan looking dude in a loin cloth, but he was flesh- toned.

What they were, I had no idea. So, box in hand I went downstairs to find Mom, show her what I’d found and learn the identity of the buxom blue and rather shockingly undressed girl and her equally exotic companion.  While I’d expressed how overwhelmed I was at her skill, Mother looked a little cross. “Put them back,” she said. “They're the very last ones I ever made. I don’t want you to play with them.”

I could certainly understand how she felt about her handiwork, even after having grown up--and all that. I told her that I would put them away carefully. Then she relaxed a little and we sat down in the kitchen and looked them over, while she reminisced about the movies and those stars who still, I could see, shone pretty bright for her.

“Mother, who is this blue girl?” We’d got to the last paperdoll in the box.




“Why that’s Dejah Thoris. Don’t you know who she is? She’s from A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author who wrote Tarzan.

Now, I’d loved Tarzan and had spent a lot of time pondering whether you could actually teach yourself to read as had young Greystoke. Learning to read hadn’t been all that easy for me—years later, I came to understand that I’m more than a tad dyslexic.

“But why is she blue?”

“Well, she’s a Martian. She lays eggs instead of having babies.  We’ll have to look around and see if we can find you my old books. It was a series that I really liked.”

The egg bit seemed weird, but, you know, I reasoned—aliens! I didn’t think of it right away, but, if Dejah Thoris laid eggs, did she need breasts?   

I think I’m one of the few who really enjoyed the CG extravaganza of 2009, called John Carter, but maybe you have to get acquainted with this pulpy bit of fantasy when you are young. However, I remain suitably impressed by the memory—as that’s all that’s left after 60 years--of my mother’s truly excellent paperdolls.    

 ~~Juliet Waldron



 Historical Novels, from the Middle Ages to the Victorian era:

http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    Books by JW at Amazon
Alexander and Elizabeth Hamilton's story:


http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744






  

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...