Saturday, January 20, 2018

Recipe: Healthy Granola, Happy New Year

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard by J.Q. Rose
Mystery, paranormal
Click here to find JQ's books at BWL Publishing

Hello and welcome to the Books We Love Insiders Blog. My name is J.Q. Rose.

How are you doing with your New Year goals, resolutions, plans? Nearly three weeks have passed. All the "in" people tell us it takes 21 days to make your plan a habit. 

Happy New Year from J.Q. Rose

I believe it. Several years ago I resolved to write every day after lunch. No Internet. No phone. I took my time writing with no limits. Sometimes I played with the story for 15 minutes and sometimes I spent 2 hours on it. That's how I finished my mystery, Deadly Undertaking

I continue to keep that habit because it has proven to work well for me. That's how I penned Terror on Sunshine Boulevard, my latest release from BWL Publishing. Now, I look forward to that writing time after lunch and feel cheated if I'm unable to keep that appointment with myself.
Begin Now Quote
If one of your goals for 2018 is to eat more healthy foods, then I have a recipe for you. This granola recipe has all good-for-you ingredients, however, it must be eaten in moderation. I like it sprinkled on top of my Cheerios or yogurt. (not on ice cream, but just between you and me, it's delicious on ice cream!) Caution: It should not be eaten by the bowlful because it has calories and fat in it.

Cathy's Granola Recipe

8 c. oats uncooked (I use rolled oats)
1/2 c. + 1 T. olive oil
1 T. vanilla
1/2 c. + 1 T. honey

1/2 c. each of almonds, walnuts, pecans
1/2 c. each raisins, cranberries, dried fruit

Set oven to 325 degrees F.
Combine oats, oil, vanilla, honey. Spread in single layer on baking sheet. 
Bake 30 minutes turning and stirring every ten minutes. Add nuts after first 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Cool. Stir in dried fruit. Store in air-tight container.
Yield: 11 cups

Simple and yummy!

Click here to connect online with J.Q. Rose at her Focused on Story Blog.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Farewell to My Loyal Writing Companion, Zak by Stuart R. West

Click to See Stuart R. West's Books
Not too long ago, we lost our beloved dog, Zak. Zak sat at my feet non-stop while I wrote eighteen novels, the best muse a writer could ask for. The perfect sounding board with no mean criticism. 

More than that, he gave us ten joyous years of love, loyalty, and play, while the eleventh year was fraught with emotion, and at times harrowing as we saw him go through four major surgeries, one amputation, rehabilitation, and finally, loss.
Zak was an absolutely unworldly ball of energy finally done in by the limitations of his physical body. He simply couldn't be contained within his aging body. His high-level play did in his back legs.

He will be sorely missed. He is missed. This is the hardest blog post I've ever written.

But I don't want to mourn, but rather celebrate Zak's wonderful life.
Zak was a rescue dog. At six months old, we found him rummaging through trash cans, love at first sight! The first night we brought him home on a trial-basis, I found myself sitting on the kitchen floor, laughing hysterically as he licked me with wild abandon.

I said to my wife, "I really, really like him."

"Yeah," she answered, "we're keeping him."

And we were off! What an adventure we had...

Alas, because of Zak's breed--half pit-bull terrier (the other half never determined and it didn't matter to us one bit)--he faced a life-time of prejudice. My mom, brother, a good friend, even strangers on the street when I walked Zak, were terrified of our dog. We had to be extra careful with him.

Not that we needed to. Zak was the best-natured dog we'd ever met. The only threat from him came from loving you to death, smothering you in kisses. Everywhere Zak went--doggie daycare, the vet, the nail clipper gals at Petco, physical therapy--he received lots of compliments and made fans. Everyone fell in love with him, his good nature, his loyalty, his temperament. Even my mom finally came around (and she NEVER comes around on anything), proclaiming him, "such a sweet, good dog."

In his years of life, Zak only bit two people (not bad odds for any dog): one, a mower in the next yard, who definitely deserved it for taunting Zak; and two, a cable guy who I wanted to bite. Hey, Zak was just doing his job. Loyalty like his couldn't be bought. He took his protection duties very seriously. Just ask the mailman. Dunno what it was about the mailman, but it was pretty much the only person Zak never liked. Even on our walks, Zak could spot the blue uniform several blocks away and wanted to assure the postman stayed far away from invading our turf.
Zak shared with everyone a universal desire to be loved. And we did; we loved him so much that this has been a very painful farewell. Clearly Zak returned that love in bunches. Once, while I sat on the deck, he ran up to me, something draping from his mouth...two rabbit legs. He dropped the half-carcass at my feet. Wiggled his tail, golden eyes full of hope for kudos at his gift to me. A gift presented out of love. Unfortunately, I responded with girlish shrieks. But I understood the intent. It was the kind of dog Zak was. Very giving in many ways. Whenever my wife screamed at seeing a spider, Zak beat me to her rescue.

Oddly enough, Zak was never very food-oriented. Playing was his bag. And play he did, hard and fast and furious. When he was younger, he ran whip-fast, crazy-eights in the backyard. He'd actually pounce--pounce!--on his hind legs like a kangaroo. The first time I ever saw him "play" with another dog, I was horrified; it looked as if he wanted to tear the other dog apart, all growls, nips, rough and tumble worse than a no-holds barred Black Friday shopping spree. But I also noticed Zak never bit the other dogs. Even in the unrestrained passion of play, he withheld himself. When the other dog would take a bite, Zak would just back-off, tail wagging. He loved dogs, never met a dog he didn't like. Except for maybe my daughter's brat of a beagle. Which is weird, because they started as friends (my daughter insists it stems from an unseen backyard bone incident).
In his older age, Zak still maintained his energy and that's what ultimately did his back legs in. Both of them, one by one. We tried to repay Zak's unflagging loyalty. We did everything we could to save him. But my wife saw he was hurting. And the remaining back leg had developed another bone infection, one that antibiotics couldn't stop.
 Seeing that wonderful, loving, playful, force of great-natured energy stilled on the vet's table was hard. So very heart-rending.

Over the last six years, I'd spent nearly every minute of my life with my friend, Zak. As a full-time writer, I wrote eighteen novels with him always beside me. 

I'll miss him greatly. My friend. My companion. My dear loyal, furry love.

Here's to you, Zak. *Tink* I hope you're happily chasing stupid angelic rabbits and mailmen with wings.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

His Brother's Bride is now available in French ~ Nancy M Bell

I am excited to announce the release of His Brother's Bride in the French edition. This is the first title of mine to be translated and released in another language, so I'm a little chuffed. You can click on the cover to see it.

This has been a busy year with His Brother's Bride releasing in March of 2017 and then I was asked to take over the creation of the Manitoba book for this collection. I partnered with Margaret Kyle as my research assistant and go to source of all things Mennonite in southern Manitoba. Landmark Roses is the result of that collaboration and the title released in November of 2017.

Click on the cover for the buy link.

Elsie Nuefeld loves to sit on her porch and watch the children grow in the Mennonite community near Landmark, MB. Returning to the area after moving to Paraguay for a time, Elsie is happy to be living on the wild rose dotted prairie of south-eastern Manitoba. Her granddaughters are growing up and getting married, it's an exciting time. Secure in her long standing marriage to Ike, Elsie is content to observe the community from the sidelines and rejoice in the joys of the young ones. She often walks with her daughters and granddaughters through the graveyard abloom with wild roses and shares the stories of the ancestors sleeping there. It’s important, she feels, for the younger generation to feel connected to those who went before. Elsie hopes when she joins those resting beneath the Landmark roses the tradition of honouring the memory of the forebearers continues.

Then I also had a hand in the New Brunswick title, On A Stormy Primeval Shore. Partnered with Diane Scott Lewis, I served as research assistant and alpha reader for this title. It was a wonderful experience and everyone I contacted for obscure information was very helpful. We are hoping to do some events in New Brunswick this June. On A Stormy Primeval Shore just released on January 1, 2018.

Click on the cover for the buy link.

In 1784, Englishwoman Amelia Latimer sails to the new colony of New Brunswick in faraway Canada. She’s to marry a man chosen by her soldier father. Amelia is repulsed by her betrothed, refuses to marry, then meets the handsome Acadian trader, Gilbert, a man beneath her in status. Gilbert must protect his mother who was attacked by an English soldier. He fights to hold on to their property, to keep it from the Loyalists who have flooded the colony, desperate men chased from the south after the American Revolution. In a land fraught with hardship, Amelia and Gilbert struggle to overcome prejudice, political upheaval, while forging a life in a remote country where events seek to destroy their love and lives.

All the titles in this series have been well received and garnered excellent reviews.

And to top it all off, my very first translated work!

until next post, stay well, stay happy, stay healthy

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Bit of Writing Advice - First Comes The Idea #MFRWauthor #Advice #Writing

The Aries Libra Connection (Opposites In Love)



For the next who knows how many months, I’ll be sharing writing tips I’ve garnered in my 50 years of being a published author.  The Aries Libra Connection is the first book I published electronically. It’s been retitled, revised, updated and now is published by Books We Love LTD. So now onto one of the things I’ve learned about writing.



Looking at writing your story from the Idea forward. What happens once that idea forms a seed in your thoughts? The idea can be anything that triggers you to want to write a story. You could read something and decide to from your own take on what you've read. How many stories are the fairy tales we've grown up with? Take Cinderella, Snow White, and a lot of other stories you've read or had read to you. How many tales share the themes of these stories?


The idea could be something you see. A couple embracing. A man and a woman quarreling. A child making mischief or being sad. What you see could be something like a milling mob, a merry-go-round, a speeding car. What you see can trigger the idea.


What you smell. Think of how you react to cookies baking or the aroma of spicy food.  You could find the scent of a place can trigger an idea. For me this can happen when I enter a hospital. The scents bring memories of my past as a nurse and often triggers an idea for a new story.


The idea could spring from something you've touched. A soft fur coat, the rough fabric of jeans. A rock, a bench, a brick. Any of these things could bring an idea to the fore.


Taste can also trigger ideas. We've all tasted something we think of as ambrosia or something that makes you ill. So let the ideas form.


Sometimes something you hear can trigger a story. The wail of a train at night. The sound of footsteps on the street behind you at night. The cries, screams of someone or even their laughter can form a seed for a story. I’ve had stories that hve come from reading something. Past Betrayals, Past Loves came from two readings. The first is Anna Karenina and the story with the unhappy ending. The other grain came from something I read in a book about Ancient Egypt. In a section on the time of chaos when there was no pharaoh came these words. A battle commander wished to be pharaoh. Mermeshu was his name.


But we all have these events in out life and ideas may form but once the idea is there, what comes next.  In the next few weeks, I'll be looking at the elements needed to make the idea into a story. Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Some people think only of the five Ws but for me, there's the How. After all, it does have a w in the word.


The idea takes root. For me, I take the idea and think about it while falling asleep. Sort of like a bedtime story, Usually after days of this story telling the book begins to take form.


I'll be sharing what I've learned and am still learning in the fifty years I've been a published writer.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How cold is it? by J.C. Kavanagh

Award-winning book, The Twisted Climb
I live in Ontario, Canada and in mid-January, it's mind-numbing, nose-curdling, freezer-freezing cold. How cold is that? Well, it's colder than cold. Colder than the North Pole. Maybe the planet Mars. OK, not Mars. The average temperature there is -63 C. But at -39 Celsius where I live, well, that's not too far off the temperature on the red planet. And then, out of the blue, Mother Nature plays the see-saw game. Last week, the temperature here actually rose to +11. PLUS eleven! That's a balmy event, usually referred to as the January 'thaw.' But within 24 hours, the temp reverted back to -25 C. We Canadians take it all in stride, giving credence to the adage of being hearty and hardy folk.

The 'red' planet, Mars with average
temperature of -63 Celsius
The average temp at the North Pole
in January is -10 Celsius
I'll be the first to admit that I'm a hardy soul and that I love the outdoors - any temperature, any season. You can find me and my partner, Ian, traipsing around our property in any weather. Actually, the harsher, the better. Yah, that sounds weird but we love extremes. Breathing in that cold fresh air, tinged with the smell of burning wood from our wood stove, is the best perfume money can't buy. We constructed trails on our property and we've recently taken up with snowshoeing. Going through the deep snow is no problem thanks to this footwear. We like to follow the animal tracks - apparently they like to 'walk' the trails too! We have deer, rabbits, wolves, coyotes, fox and even the elusive ermine. One actually scampered to our back window last week and looked rather longingly at the flames in our woodstove.
An ermine (part of the weasel family)

A hungry fox eyeballing the birdfeeder

A funky, snow-covered tree along our trail

Me and Ian being 'hearty and hardy' Canadians, eh?

I'm still working on the sequel to my award-winning book, The Twisted Climb, so I'll keep this blog short and get back to my writing. Stay tuned for the The Twisted Climb - Darkness Descends.

Take a moment and do something special today!
J.C. Kavanagh
The Twisted Climb
BEST Young Adult Book 2016, P&E Readers' Poll
A novel for teens, young adults and adults young at heart
Twitter @JCKavanagh1 (Author J.C. Kavanagh)

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Plan for Electronic Hygiene

By now, it’s clear that people can get addicted to the internet. If not careful, it can take hours out of one’s day. Internet addiction is defined as any online-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment: classic symptoms of any kind of addiction.

The numbers are staggering: It is estimated that there are 4.93 billion cell-phone users in the world today, as well as 3.58 billion internet connections. Studies suggest that 1 in 8 Americans suffer from problematic Internet use. Those estimates are higher in China, Taiwan, and Korea where 30 percent or more of the population may experience problematic Internet use. The vast numbers of new internet users are coming up in underdeveloped countries, where land-line connections are few and far between.

What do people get addicted to on-line? Video games and on-line role playing are prominent, but most cases of internet addiction relates to sexting and on-line sex addiction. It is a recent phenomenon, headlined by prominent stories in the media, but none should be surprised when the next politician or prominent personality gets caught sexting or admits to online porn.

The greater concern is not the hard-core internet addict, but the casual internet user who find the practice eating away more and more of his or her time. A Globe and Mail story[i] (published March 21, 2017) reported that on average, English Canadians surveyed spent 24.5 hours online per week in 2016, up about two hours from the previous year. But, it recounted, young Canadians between the ages of 18 to 34 spent even more time on the Internet — an average of 34 hours per week in 2016, or nearly five hours per day.

Clearly, everyone needs to look at his or her internet usage, and come up with a plan to regulate and control their on-line usage.

Here is an example of a plan for electronic hygiene, which I developed over time. I was not addicted to the internet, but became concerned at the increasing amount of time spent on-line. I am sure more researched ones are available, but this one has worked for me.

1)      Do not check the smart-phone upon going to bed nor upon waking up. Many people keep their smart phones on their bedroom nightstand, and this makes it too tempting to check social media at night or upon waking up. Best to charge the cell-phone at night in the kitchen or another room.
2)      Do not check the internet the first thing in the morning. Waking up is time to get ready for the day: brushing teeth, showering, cooking and eating breakfast, etc. Only when the morning chores are done, should the internet be checked.
3)      Examine the websites you visit. Most of them provide little or no educational, social or personal benefit. Wouldn’t you be better off avoiding them?
4)      Make a schedule for the internet. What works for me is one hour in the mornings, say between ten to eleven, and one in the afternoon/evening. This takes discipline, but so does any type of hygiene.
5)      Make one day of the week as an internet fasting day—no going online for the entire day. Sundays work for me: it is a day we end up doing family things.
6)      If you have children, do not give them computers for their own rooms. Up until a certain age, they should use a family computer located in the living or dining room. And use parental control settings.
7)      Finally, make sure certain activities such as dinners, or visits to friends, are kept electronic free.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Coming Sheila Claydon

For many reasons, but mainly because I've been looking after my 3 year old granddaughter, I haven't had much time to write this year. In fact make that 18 months what with journeys to Australia and Hong Kong to visit family and friends, and longterm guests at home. It's just been one of those times when writing has had to take a back seat because people, when all is said and done, are more important. On top of all that I've had trouble with my website and, with no time to fix it, have wiped that as well.

I have had one thing going for me, however - Books We Love. Always there for all its writers, it has continued to give me an online presence as well as republishing 3 of the books I wrote in the eighties when the copyright unexpectedly reverted to me, so 2017 has not been entirely book free. Vintage romance! How did I get to be so old?

The republication of those books has been a boost to my writing morale too, especially the fantastic new covers courtesy of the wonderful Michelle (, and now it's time for a comeback.  January 2018 is definitely a time of new resolutions, although right at this moment the workload looks overwhelming.  A book to edit before it can be republished, a half-written book, Part 2 of a series, to revisit and finish, and a website which is still only a work in progress.  I'm enjoying rereading the story of Golden Girl though, the Vintage romance soon to be republished, and it has reminded me of how difficult writing used to be.

Golden Girl was my very first book. I wrote it by hand in notebooks and on sheets of paper at the kitchen counter while my children were at school, and then typed it (a top copy and 2 carbons) on a portable typewriter. I also had a part-time job.  When a publisher accepted it I blew the money on a holiday for the family, our first ever abroad and my first ever flight. I've done a lot more travelling since then but nothing has quite replaced the thrill of that trip to Munich although strangely enough, given that nowadays I hang my writing identity on a have pen/will travel persona, I've never written about it. In 2018, with a study, a computer and the Internet for reference, writing a book is much less onerous. Another big plus is that publishers now accept books online. No more printing, collating and packing up copies and making sure return postage is included. In 2018 the whole process is much more manageable.

Anyway, back to Golden Girl. The story is based on an experience I had when I was a young secretary and was asked to front the launch of a range of  new cosmetics. It only entailed a couple of days in London, nothing so exotic as Paris, which is featured in the book, nor did I meet such charismatic characters as Alain Matthieu and Paul Genet, the hero and anti-hero. The experience gave me the idea though and now that I am re-reading it prior to publication, it is reviving many memories.  Faces and names from the past have come back to me as I wonder what happened to all those people I used to work with. I have also remembered that part of the launch included sitting on a carnival float dressed as a French courtesan, something I had completely forgotten until now!  It was all very tame stuff compared with what the heroine has to put up with in Golden Girl though. And I remember it was fun. 2 days away from the office, free cosmetics, a new dress...what was not to like.

My Golden Girl heroine, Lisa Morgan, has it a lot harder and copes in ways I would never have managed myself. She also has to deal with the sexual politics of the 1960s which were very different from those of today. I got a lot wrong too. I wouldn't write a book now with so much sight-seeing detail, even though it has its uses. For anyone visiting London or Paris for the first time, following in Lisa's footsteps as she explores them offers a blueprint of where to go and what to see.  Maybe I'll go back one day and revisit those places myself but if I don't make it at least I have the memories.

My other Vintage Romances were republished last year. Set in Moscow, Hollywood and, more prosaically, an English town, they set me on the path of writing about faraway places when they were first published. In those far off days I was prepared to write about places I'd never visited, using reference books and travel magazines for authenticity. Now I wouldn't dream of doing that. If I haven't been there then I don't write about it. Since those early days as a writer I've learned a lot, but re-reading and editing them has been fun and the stories still stand up, so if you decide to read them to learn about a different time that is not exactly history but is still very different from the Twenty-first Century, then enjoy.

You can see all of Sheila's books Vintage, Contemporary and Series at:

They are available at:

And if you have time, then stop in and visit her at:

Recipe: Healthy Granola, Happy New Year

Terror on Sunshine Boulevard  by J.Q. Rose Mystery, paranormal Click here  to find JQ's books at BWL Publishing Hello and wel...