Saturday, March 11, 2017

Is The Font Information Publishers Use (and let the reader know) Necessary? by Karla Stover

Right now, I have four library books on my night stand: two published by Simon and Schuster, one by Putnam, and one by Random House. Random House included the information that the book was set in Dante, "a typeface designed by Giovanni Mardersteig (1892 - 1977) for his own printing business, the Officina Bodoni." I find the punctuation in this font hard to find, let alone read.

I read up on Mr. Mardersteig and then popped over to Random House, thinking I'd give them a call. Their website doesn't have a phone number, so I sent an email. In the meantime, I read that Random House was started by two men, one of whom was Bennett Cerf. When I was little, my folks watched What's My Line, and he was part of the panel. How nice to inadvertently run into an old friend.

I, of course, Googled around and found only three comments on including font information in books. Apparently, font facts aren't an issue with many readers--more's the pity, but here's what those three had to say:

1. Why not? It takes up only a few words out of the entire page of book info anyway. Besides, type nerds like me like knowing the font used, and the publishers probably got tired of telling people in their emails that the font used was.

2. There's a certain amount of guesswork on my part, but I suppose it has to do with copyright. Fonts can be copyrighted. Someone has to create them after all. Publishers hold the concept of copyright in very high regard, so it stands to reason that they would want to give the font creator due credit.

Product Details3. It brings peace and serenity to our minds in a world full of . . . Comic Sans.

I like knowing things such as fonts used and, getting back What's My Line, panelist Dorothy Kilgallen died a mysterious death while researching the Warren Committee's findings on the killing of President Kennedy. I read her biography. And I carefully researched my two murder mysteries. In A Line to Murder, the protagonist visits a former hippy commune. I visited an active commune. She goes to a psychic fair, so I did, too. She works with senior women in a retirement home and I do volunteer work at a soldier's home.

Murder: When One Isn't Enough takes place mostly on Hood Canal. My family has had summer homes there since the late 1950s. I know the area and the history. I've been to many Tahuya Days festivals and own a copy of Madame of the House, the book around which the story takes place.

Random House just responded to my email, asking which book I was referring to. If I get an answer, I'll post it. In the meantime, back to my historical fiction (but well-researched) novel.

Product Details

Friday, March 10, 2017

Update from Jude Pittman

I keep intending to get my Blog ready and posted, but there's always something getting in the way.  It seems for some reason my role as publisher for Books We Love is always getting in the way of my passion for writing mysteries.  Once again today finds me unprepared and playing catch up.

What's going on with Amazon?  Anyone have any ideas.  Seems like they've deserted the book world in favor of deploying drones, and of course who could miss Bezos' shining head and beaming smile as he basked in the attention of Hollywood.  Star struck I guess, no more time for those measly ebooks after he's already managed to force the price down so low that authors can barely afford to keep their software current.  Oh well, onward and upward.  Looks for our Books We Love books everywhere, no longer KDP exclusive you'll find us on Kobo, Apple, Smashwords, Overdrive, anywhere you find ebooks you'll find Books We Love.  So enough about the publisher side of things.

As you might have noticed Jamie and I struggled quite a bit with branding our new series that we're writing together.  Readers have been telling us that the story is so seamless they can't tell two authors are writing.  Probably as a result of Jamie and I struggling together with all the mysteries of publishing for the past 8 or 9 years.  In any event, we started with Kelly McWinter, who those of you that know my Deadly series will recognize as the lead character in all three of those books.  Both of us felt that Kelly would be easy to work with so we started out with the title "New Directions" for our new series, "McWinter Confidential" but after a couple of months we both realized that the title just didn't fit the book and we decided we needed to make a change.

That's s where the advantage of being a publisher came in, since we had to do the work ourselves we could change the title and re-release the book.  I won't mention what Michelle said about "once again" changing one of my covers.  She gets a bit touchy mid-week after dealing with hordes of teen students, but we did get the new cover, and of course we put a note in the description to warn readers who had already purchased New Directions that the new book was the same one only now called "To Kill A Songbird".  We tried it first  with a pseudonym (Jayme Lynn Robb) but decided it was too complicated to have yet another name, so we went back to using our own names.  It's not for sale right now, that's because we're waiting for Michelle to speak to us again and change the cover...LOL). 

Anyway, that's where we are with the new series.  Both of us love the "To Kill A Songbird" title and the theme for the series, now we're busy thinking about book 2, which is going to continue with "To Kill A Ghost", McWinter Confidentia, Book 2,

Now if I could just get myself focused and motivated on my Sisters of Prophecy series, I'd get the next book in that one written finished.  Book 1, Katherine, is available in all markets, so if you're interested in a book that's a mix of mystery and romance with a paranormal twist you might enjoy "Katherine" the first book in the Sisters of Prophecy series.  If you do and you like it, maybe you can give me some thoughts on what you'd like to see in Irene, which is half finished and just waiting for me to get back to visiting those characters

Any authors out there reading this.  What does it take to get you motivated to start writing again after you've let a manuscript sit for several months?  Any tips.

If you'd like to read Katherine, now is a perfect time.  It's on Sale at Smashwords for their Readers Week, and it's only $1.50 to purchase.  From now on you'll be seeing my links to Smashwords where you can purchase the book in any format you like, and I'm just a bit ticked off at Amazon so not too interested in promoting their links anymore.  However, if you prefer, it is available there, for $2.99, until they discover that it's on sale at Smashwords and they'll lower the price too.

That's my ramblings for today.  Happy reading everyone.  Jude

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Something Shiny

Natasha's Legacy - The conclusion to the Natasha Saga

Listening to the news a short time ago, I heard a rather interesting statistic. Interesting may be the wrong word. I’ll leave that up to you. The statistic was on the average human attention span. My first thought was, seriously? Someone or a group of people are actually paid to monitor and record attention spans? 
It gets worse. 
Last year, the average attention span was 12 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly. So unless you’re a speed reader, I’ve already lost you. 
I’ll give my readers the benefit of the doubt. Readers are an intelligent bunch.
So, are you curious? Would you like to hear that we’ve improved? 
Drum roll please. 
I’m listening for the tap of your fingers to prove you’re still paying attention.
No-o-o, we’re flunking, and badly.The average attention span had actually decreased. It now sits at a dismal 8.5 seconds.
As if it can’t get any worse, a goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.

Yes, that is correct. We have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. 
Aren’t we proud!
Now the big question. How the heck do they measure what’s going on in the mind of a goldfish. Do they put the little orange critter on a plastic bed and give it a PET (brain) scan? 
I admit, I’m impatient, but to prove my attention span is longer than a goldfish, I will put my cell phone down and allow my computer to have a nap. I will play with the dog. Afterwards  I will initiate a conversation with my husband. Just like the good old days before cell phones invades our lives.

I guarantee, my dog has a longer attention span than a goldfish. She will sit and stare at me while I make my breakfast. Two big brown eyes with this, 'I haven’t been fed in forever' look while waiting for a piece of toast in the morning.
My husband's attention span is above average as well. But then again, oh, look, something shiny. 

Follow her on twitter

Are you still with me? 
Oh good. I'm thrilled to announce I have a new book coming out. A stand-alone mystery. You can be the first to see my new cover. Thanks to my cover artist, Michelle. I love it.

DONE  - coming soon

Constrained by the justice system, the judge voiced her regret as she pronounced sentence on the accused. Though relieved by the ‘guilty’ verdict, the prosecution was not in a mood to celebrate. Neither was the arresting officer. 
Corvin served his time, was released, and the legal system rubbed the slate clean. But knowing this abuser doesn’t feel remorse for his actions leaves Jenn furious. She has seen her fair share of criminals. She prosecutes them. 
Still, Jenn can’t accept that this sad excuse for a human walks the streets of her town. And she is not alone.

Will a desire for real justice create a vigilante?

Any Canadians out there - The Saga is on sale at Kobo. Check it out.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Life’s Little Inspirations: by June Gadsby

There’s no getting away from it. As we get older we slow down, physically if not mentally. It’s worse when one has had a long dry period, whatever that is due to. Writing has been put on hold while you struggle with other more important life events. The ideas keep coming, pouring into your brain like the glistening veils of a waterfall in full flood. You take copious notes and hope you will have sufficient years in which to turn them into novels, though you know that there are far too many storylines, even if you live to be a hundred and are still capable of sitting at a laptop with your fingers flying over the keys – hopefully writing stuff that makes sense.

Then there are the important ‘obligations’ – the stories you said [not promised – I don’t do ‘promise’] you would write for people who you had loved and admired and who would like their stories to be known. I have two of them. A surprise request from a fellow-writer and good friend of some thirty years, who sent me a beautiful short love story he had written and asked me to write it up as a novel. He wasn’t normally a fiction writer – wrote articles on naval subjects and historic places. He had been a marine during the war, serving his time in a submarine. The story was about a marine falling in love with a young woman while serving abroad. The couple lost touch when the war came to an end and he married someone else, but he never forgot his one great love. Then one day, attending a wedding, he recognised her across the church aisle…

Another wartime story I was told and asked to write came from an old French lady whose cousin had been a prisoner of war and escaped. He married and spent many years caring for his mentally sick wife. When she eventually died, he moved away from the family down to the south-west of France and asked his cousin, my friend, to visit him with his sister. Until then my friend had only memories of him as something of a mother’s boy. The visit was a happy success and the cousins fell in love, much to the horror of the family back in Normandy and a cold war was then declared between them….

These two stories have been at the top of my inspiration list for years, and I hope to write them up one day, but I have so many of my own inspired stories that are difficult to ignore. And it’s very often the new storylines that get written. It’s too easy to push the old storylines to the back of the filing cabinet in your brain and go with the flow of new material which is fresh and exciting. Now, I’m working on the edits of an old unpublished saga and hoping, soon, to get back to the thriller I had started before joining BWL. I’m trying to ignore the inspiration elves that are working overtime in my head, doing their best to distract me with new ideas that will take me sideways rather than onward. I can tell you, it’s not easy. Gone are the days when I could write creatively for 10 – 12 hours 7/7. My writing time now is a couple or three hours in the afternoon, but even in that short time I can get a lot done – if I don’t get distracted by my elderly husband and my even more elderly Yorkshire Terrier and her much younger brother who is missing his walks since I fractured my spine a few months ago.

I hope I will never lose my inspiration, my enthusiasm and my love of writing. It has seen me through so many dark passages in my life, allowing me to lose myself and my problems in the pages of my novels and the characters I create like true friends. And going back to those dark passages in my life – now there’s a story that my friends who know me well enough tell me that it’s so incredible nobody would believe it to be true. I’ve made a start on it, so maybe one day…one never knows.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Canadian Historical Brides Northwest Territories and Nunavut revealed

Nits’it’ah Golika Xah (Fly Away Snow Goose)

Visit the Canadian Historical Brides blog for more about this exciting new series of Canadian historical fiction novels

Our newest cover Fly Away Snow Goose will be released in December 2017. The cover was revealed by authors Juliet Waldron and John Wisdomkeeper on March 4.

About the Canadian Historical Brides - Northwest Territories and Nunavut

Yaotl and Sascho splashed along the shores of behchà, spears hefted, watching for the flash of fin to rise to the surface and sparkle in the sunlight. Tender feelings flushed their faces, so they laughed and teased one another with sprays of icy water. In the distance, the warning about the kwet'ı̨ı̨̀ (white Indian agents) sounds, but is unheard. 
Transport to the Fort Providence residential school is only the beginning of their trial, for the teachers intend “to kill the Indian" inside their pupils. Attempts to escape end mostly in failure and punishment, but Yaotl and Sascho, along with two others, will try. 
Wild geese, brave hearts together, it is do or die--homeward bound.

Monday, March 6, 2017

When It's Biscuit Makin' Time Down South by Gail Roughton

Actually, it's always biscuit makin' time down South, where making biscuits has evolved over the years into an art form. It's one of the things we're famous for, one of the things every good cook prides herself on. Mind you, I doubt sincerely any resident of any other region of the United States ever turns down a homemade biscuit at any time, either, but down South, biscuits are taken very seriously. For our present purposes, let's clarify that the word biscuit herein refers to the term as used within the borders of the continental United States and, I believe, English-speaking Canada where it means a small, round quick bread with a crusty exterior and a soft, flaky interior, about the size of a roll (see illustration below) and not as the word is used in England and Australia, where it refers to a hard cookie. 

There's nothing better than a homemade biscuit slathered with butter. Different folks have their own preferences as to what else goes on their biscuits--jellies, jams, honey, gravy. Likewise, there's no rule as to what can go in a biscuit--cheese, ham, bacon, sausage, roast beef. There's no wrong way to eat a biscuit. There's no wrong time to eat a biscuit.  There are, however, several ways to make them. 

First, there’s the mix and pinch method.  My mother and several of my aunts employed this method, as did a few other great cooks I know, including the cook at the Courthouse Cafe, which real-life cafe served as the inspiration for The Scales of Justice Cafe in my novel Country Justice

Dump a pile of flour in a bowl. How much doesn’t matter.   Punch a hole in the middle of the pile of flour, a bowl within a bowl, as it were.  If it’s self-rising flour, that’s all you need, if it’s not, you need to add baking soda, salt, and if you like high-rising biscuits, some baking powder to the hole you’ve punched in the middle.  How much?  Heck, I don’t know.  A pinch, a dash, a splash.  Dip out, either by spoon, fork, or fingers, a dollop of shortening.  Like the flour, how much shortening doesn’t really matter, because if you’ve done it enough, you know how many biscuits any size dollop’s going to make.  And besides, you adjust the amount of shortening you’ve plopped in with the addition of buttermilk (buttermilk's preferable as a general rule though milk will do).  You pour in buttermilk, stick your hands in the bowl and start forming a goo by working your fingers in and out of the shortening and buttermilk.  Then you start working flour in from the sides.  This method is truly an art form, because you’re working by feel.  You keep adding buttermilk and working in flour until it “feels” right. 

What does that feel like?  Well, I can’t really tell you, though I can and have made biscuits by this method.  And I know it when I feel it.  You’re working for a proper consistency of dough that isn’t stiff, is still soft, and still feels – well – doughy.  When that consistency is reached, you knead the dough a few times, right there in the center of the bowl.  You know, grabbing each side of the dough ball, pulling it out, folding it back over, flipping the dough, and doing it again from the other side.  But you can’t work it too long or too hard or that’s what you get.  Hard biscuits.  The true connoisseur of this method (and I am not one), completes the process without ever turning the ball of dough out on a counter to knead and roll. 

They merely “pinch” off pieces of dough, shape them into little balls in their palms, slap them down on a greased baking sheet an even distance apart.  When the entire ball has been pinched and shaped and plopped down on the greased baking sheet (and here’s where the even distance apart comes into play), the cook employing this method of biscuit making slaps her hand down on the ball, flattening it into a round circle.  Some cooks prefer using the backs of their fingers.  Once you’ve survived all this, you pop the baking sheet into the middle rack of an oven pre-heated  to 500 degrees for ten minutes. Please note: ten minutes means ten minutes. Do not play around about it. This time and temperature is subject to adjustment as everyone's oven is slightly different.  And for Heaven’s sake, USE A SHINY BAKING SHEET!  A dark one burns the bottoms of the biscuits!

Now.  Here comes the fun part.  That ain’t the only method in town, ladies and gents.  This  second method is generally preferred by those cooks who prefer a “prettier” biscuit.  My mother-in-law used this method and nobody I've ever known or ever will know made better biscuits. It’s basically the first method up until you get to the kneading the dough in the bowl part.  Then it switches over to the “roll and cut” method.  The roll and cut method requires more equipment than the mix and pinch method since it necessitates the use of a rolling pin and biscuit cutters. (See author's personal biscuit making equipment on right. The wooden bowl, by way of further explanation, is handmade, complete with my initials carved into the bottom and was a Christmas gift purchased at a local craft fair many, many years ago. My daughter's already called dibs on same at the time of my demise.)

Cooks who prefer this method (I used to be one till I learned better but more about that later) have a mat of some type, either a wooden block, a plastic dough mat, even a floured kitchen cloth, waiting on the side.  They take the ball of dough as soon as it’s sufficiently formed and dump it onto the waiting – whatever it is they’re using.  Then they knead the dough a few times, sometimes adding a few judicial sprinkles of flour to maintain the proper consistency, and then roll it out on their mat of choice, about half an inch thick or maybe a tad thicker.  You don’t want it any thinner, you’ll have flat biscuits.  And you might as well have used the pinch method which in the hands of an amateur produce some pretty flat biscuits.  Then you cut with a biscuit cutter. I prefer a medium size cutter with a ruffled edge. 

You cut until you can’t cut anymore, mash the dough back into a ball, and start over, repeating the process until all the dough’s gone and you don’t know what the heck to do with the little bit that’s left so you either throw it away or shape it the best you can so it can be the ugly duckling on your baking tray.  The same actual baking methods still apply, 500 degrees for ten minutes on a shiny baking pan, mark and move!

All this sounds real messy, huh?  Well, it is.  And after you’ve done all that, you have to sift the flour that remains in the bowl before you put it back in your flour canister, elsewise, your flour canister will be full of hard little points of shortening that somehow escaped your notice at the time you thought the flour was okay to put back in the canister without sifting but wasn’t.

So why does anybody bother, you ask?  For a long time, I didn’t.  Pillsbury and Betty Crocker and five dozen other companies had come out with frozen biscuits (as opposed to canned biscuits) and you know what?  Those are dang good.  They’re not quite the same as a truly good homemade from scratch biscuit, there's a subtle difference in texture and the way the butter melts into their hot interiors, but for working mothers on the run chasing after teenagers throughout all their extracurricular activities, they're good enough.

Then one day four or five years back, I had a roast slow-roasting in the oven.  And no frozen biscuits in the freezer.  Well, heck.  It’d been years – literally – since I’d made biscuits from scratch, and though I surely wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of so doing, I pulled out the dang flour.  And actually read the recipe on the back.  Two cups of flour, it said.  Quarter cup of shortening.  Two-thirds to three-quarters cup buttermilk or milk.  Cut shortening into flour, add milk, mix and turn onto floured cloth, roll and cut.  Makes a dozen biscuits.

Like heck, I thought.  That ain’t no dozen biscuits.  So I doubled it and actually followed directions, which is something I'm not noted for doing, either in cooking or living life in general.  I’d never seen biscuits made that way, by actually measuring, and considered same to be total heresy because no southern cook ever, ever measured her biscuit making ingredients. But somebody must have done it for there to be a recipe on the flour bag, right?  And you know what?  Those proportions pulled in every bit of the flour from the sides of the bowl.  No excess to have to sift and return to the canister.  And measuring the shortening out with a spoon and cutting it into the flour with a fork kept my hands out of the mess.  Now, it did take just a tad more buttermilk to achieve the texture I remembered, but that wasn’t a problem, and the buttermilk mixed into everything just fine using nothing more than a fork.

I turned the ball of dough out onto my floured board and sprinkled more flour over it.  I kneaded it over a few times and it felt perfect, exactly the “feel” my fingers remembered.  I rolled and cut.  And there’s no way that original recipe would have made a dozen biscuits, not thick ones, anyway.  The doubled recipe only makes fourteen.  But it made fourteen perfect biscuits. 

And so I share with y'all the perfect recipe for the perfect homemade biscuit.  I'm pretty sure it's the recipe in use at the Scales of Justice Cafe in Country Justice and the folks in town really eat those biscuits up! Y'all drop in and see what you think, you hear?

Visit Gail At Books We Love, Ltd.
You can also drop in at her WebBlog,

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Childhood and Education in Early 18th Century England, Rosemary Morris

I have written three romance novels set in the reign of Queen Anne Stuart, 1702-1714.  Tangled Love, Far Beyond Rubies and The Captain and The Countess
Before I began the first chapter of The Captain and The Countess, I became interested in how children were raised and educated in the early 18th century. My research, included a worthwhile visit to The Foundling Museum at 40, Brunswick Square, London.

Childhood and Education. Boys
                                                       in early 18th century England.

When Queen Anne Stuart, niece of Charles II, ruled from 1702 to 1714 attitudes towards children and their education were very different to those in the 21st century.
Only one of Queen Anne’s seventeen children, The Duke of Gloucester, lived for long. His wet-nurse, who breast fed him, probably saved his life, for the fashion was to feed babies with pap. This food was preferred by mothers too afraid of losing their figures to suckle their infants.
The unfortunate little duke suffered from water on the brain. He found it difficult to walk and go up and down stairs without help. To cure him, the queen and his father, Prince George of Denmark, shut themselves in a room with him. George thrashed him so cruelly with a birch rod that from then on the child managed to ascend and descend stairs unaided.
Fussed over by ladies at court, and with boisterous children to play with, he drilled his company of boy soldiers. He reviewed them on his eleventh birthday, after which he became ill with scarlet fever that caused his death.
Few details are known about the lives of poor, illiterate children, who probably followed in their parents’ footsteps if they did not take advantage of charity schools. Boys whose families could afford the fees became apprentices and learned a trade, but not all of them were well-treated. Neither were the homeless waifs on the streets who begged for food and money.
The Duke of Gloucester was beaten, but what were children’s lives in well-to-do families like?
As it has been remarked, ‘they did things differently in those days’. New-born babies’ heads were bound, they were swaddled and given an elixir, that in the days when people were ignorant about hygiene might have added to infant mortality.
Relatives and friends came every day to admire the infant. Henri Misson, an entertaining French traveller, whose book was published in 1719, observed that babies were baptised soon after birth. After the ceremony, wine and a special cake, only made for christenings, was served. Papers of sweetmeats were given to the parson, for his wife and children, and to the female visitors before they left.
In an age of impure water, poor sanitation, smallpox and other diseases, infants were vulnerable. Nurses dosed fretful infants with ‘DUFFY’S FAMOUS ELIXIR SALUTIS’. It was advertised as ‘The Finest Exposed to Sale Prepared from the Best Drugges’, and available from the Hand and Pen in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, London, and many other places in town and country.
Dr John Pechy studied infants’ and children’s diseases. His cough mixture included horehound, liquorice, hyssop and other ingredients including powdered woodlice. There were medicines for worms and rickets. Teething was supposedly soothed with black cherry water mixed with three or four drops of Spirits of Hartshorn.
Desperate parents must have believed a necklace, which could be hired from Mr Larance’s in Somerset House near Northumberland House in the Strand, could cure fits in children caused by teeth or any other cause.
Probably, children in well-to-do families were brought up in the nursery, and by their mothers, until they were old enough to go to school.
Coral rattles with bells amused infants. Little is known about boys’ toys but they had cardboard windmills attached to sticks, and, possibly rocking horses.
Children had their own books such as ‘A Play Book for Children’ to interest them as soon as they could speak clearly. The pages were small but easy to read. The book cost four pence and must have been popular because the second edition was published in 1703.
Children learned the alphabet, both the lower and upper cases and the Lord’s Prayer from hornbooks, which consisted of a small sheet of paper, 4 inches by three inches laid on a flat piece of board with a handle. This was covered by a thin plate of horn fastened to the board.
Young boys didn’t sit exams and learn foreign languages. The advice given to The Mother in Steele’s Lady’s Library, if carried out should have ensured their children would grow up to be good men and women.
Boys enjoyed stories such as ‘Jack and the Giants’ etc., Aesop’s fables, Guy of Warwick and St George of England.
For older boys, tuition was available, and day schools and boarding schools existed. Young gentlemen learned English, French, Greek, Latin, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography etc. Although French, High Dutch and Italian were taught, it was the Classical Age and every gentleman was expected to be a good classical scholar.
In Queen Anne’s reign there were many free schools and charity schools. In 1713 at a public thanksgiving for peace, after the French were defeated in The War of Spanish Succession, the charity children sat in tiered seats from which they could see the queen go to St Paul’s Cathedral.
When I wrote The Captain and The Countess I drew on my research, and enjoyed writing about my imaginary Foundling Home based on fact.
* * *

https;// /ebook/dp/B01FCENLKE

Early 18th century novels by Rosemary Morris
Tangled Love,
Far Beyond Rubies 
Regency novels
False Pretences
Sunday’s Child   Heroines born on different days of the week. Book 1.
Monday’s Child Heroines born on different days of the week. Book 2
Tuesday’s Child Heroines born on different days of the week Book 3

Stillwaters Run Deep, Book One: Raven's Lament

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