The Lost Girls

kiana-bosman-vlHqSYYbJQw-unsplash(Photograph by Kiana Bosman; Unsplash)

As a female writer, I owe a great deal to women writers who have gone before me. They were the pioneers who frequently used male pseudonyms in order to get published. No-one took women seriously as authors and the few who did write successfully owed their start in life to benevolent men who believed women should have some kind of education. The Brontë  sisters are, of course, the leading example of this, having the education, time and financial security when they were girls to enable them to pursue their dreams of being writers. Nowadays, women writers are legion, as are the women who follow careers that once were only available to men.

A quotation I saw on social media a week ago set me to thinking more about this topic. It concerned how women are always expected to see the world through men’s eyes but men are never expected to see the world through theirs. There are too many women before me on the timeline to contemplate but I did try to picture them all, the millions and millions of souls who were never allowed to express themselves or reach their potential.

How many of them could have been writers, artists, scientists and scholars? Instead of which they ended up worn out with caring for children, cooking and washing and pandering to male egos, their only chance for debate a few snatched minutes gossiping in the marketplace. All those undeveloped minds, the wasted intellects, subjugated to menial tasks, poverty and neglect. Girls of every race, colour and creed were overlooked and denied education or advancement simply because of their gender. A handful of hormones determined how the world saw them.

All those life experiences and philosophies, the common sense and wisdom, of one half of humanity, all seen as secondary to the accepted doctrines of the other half.  So much compassion and intuition marginalised and ridiculed. So much never brought to light or nurtured that could have steered humanity onto a more sensible course.

What might the world have been now had all those girls when growing up been granted as much freedom of expression as men, as much right to achieve their potential and explore their creative abilities? Would a female perspective that was given equal value to that of men have taught humanity to treat the Earth with more respect?

We will never know what we have lost.

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Will You Accept this Rose? – Romance Author Catherine Castle Would Like to Know.

by Catherine Castle

You may not know this about me, but I’m a fan of the television shows The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

I’m not crazy about all the drama and some of the physical stuff that goes on, but I do like to watch and root for the stars looking for that one and only soul mate with whom they hope to spend the rest of their lives. Granted, most of them haven’t found that true love, but I still root for them. At the end of every show, most bachelors or bachelorettes ask their potential spouses, or hopefully by that time their fiancées, “Will you accept this rose?” This means they see promise in the relationship and believe they have found their special person.

No matter the season, the bachelor or bachelorette, IMHO, are looking in the wrong places for that true love. There’s always one guy or girl who is a troublemaker and for some inexplicable reason the bachelor or bachelorette keeps giving the rabble-rouser a rose. Go figure.

I’m a firm believer in true love. Zing goes the heart strings and all that stuff. But sometimes what the heart wants isn’t the best thing for either party involved. Besides love, there’s a practical side to choosing a life mate. A life-long relationship requires more than sex appeal and hormonal attraction. Love and hot passion lasts for a while, but the day-to-day stuff is what makes the living loveable.

For those looking for love, here are a few hints to help find that perfect man. These suggestions may seem tongue-in-cheek to you, but trust me, they are important. I know!

MAKE SURE YOUR INITIALS WORK.
You don’t want to make the mistake my mother almost did when naming one of her children. Thankfully, she discovered the initials of the name my father had chosen for their child spelled A.S.S. Not something you’d want monogramed on the towels in the guest bathroom. So, line up the first initial of the last name of your beloved with your first and middle initials. If it spells something embarrassing, you’d better change one of those names. His. Or yours, if you just can’t live without him.

MAKE SURE YOUR INTERESTS ALIGN.
You’ve heard about the golf widow or the football widow. I’m here to tell you there’s a widow for every interest out there. If you don’t know what your potential spouse is really fascinated by you could end up a widow long before he is six feet under.

My husband was an athlete who loved to run. Every night after work, he’d come home, put on his running shoes, and head out the door. He even ran a couple of mini marathons. For years he tried to get me to run with him. I’d lace up my running shoes and lope off with him, but every time I did I ended up face down on the sidewalk. Heck, I can’t even walk without tripping, so I don’t know why he thought I would be able to run. Finally, he gave up on me being a running partner. We found other things we could do together because we had a lot of common interests like singing, ballroom dancing (which I could do because he was holding me up), acting, and playwriting. So, pay attention to the hobbies and interests of your potential spouse. If he has nothing in common with your interests, or what he loves isn’t something you can work around, think twice before hitching your wagon to that person. Remember, the passion may fade, but most likely, the hobbies will remain.

LOOK FOR SOMEONE WHO FINISHES THE JOBS THEY START.
I loved my dad and so did my mother, but he had a bad habit of starting a job and not finishing it. Mom wanted a bathroom in the basement, so Dad obliged and put in a toilet. For years the lone fixture sat in the middle of the basement—no walls, no privacy, and no users. It wasn’t until they went to sell the house that Dad finished the project. Too late and too little. If you can live with that, fine, but otherwise, check out your future spouse’s follow-through abilities.

MAKE SURE YOU SEE EYE TO EYE ON FOOD.
There’s nothing worse than cooking two meals for dinner. One for her and one for him. Or leaving your favorite ingredient out of every meal because he or she, depending on who is the cook, won’t eat it.

Even worse, is the scenario I discovered upon my mother’s death when Dad began giving away all the home-canned green beans in the cupboard. Thinking he was reacting out of grief, just getting rid of things that reminded him of her, I said, “Dad, we aren’t going to take the food from your table.”

He replied, “I hate green beans. Always have.”

“But Mom served them every night. Why did you eat them if you hated them?” I asked.

“Because she served them,” he replied.

I was aghast and awed that he’d eaten a hated food every day for thirty-seven years without a single complaint. I immediately told my husband to let me know if I ever served something he hated. He has. And I’m okay with that.

So, if you must marry and you don’t see eye to eye on food, at least tell your beloved you do or don’t like a food before they die. Preferably, early on.

BE HONEST ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT SPORTS.
My Dad managed the church softball team, and he recruited my athletic spouse, who was my boyfriend at the time, to play on the team. Naturally, I went along to watch, cheering like mad whenever my boyfriend came up to bat. I even learned how to keep score so I could sit in the dugout near my honey. We dated for a number of years, and I was always there in the bleachers, even after we married and had a child.

After he quit playing softball and wanted to watch the professional games on TV, I wasn’t interested.

“I thought you liked sports,” he said.

“I liked watching you play sports,” I replied. “There’s a big difference.”

He didn’t get it. Imagine that.

MAKE SURE YOUR LIFE PHILOSOPHIES ALIGN.
There are a number of hot topics that can unhinge a relationship quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson.” Four of the hottest are religion, politics, money, and childrearing. If you don’t know where your beloved stands on these issues, find out. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time the person you marry will still be the same person when he hits retirement. His political standing will most likely remain either conservative or liberal. An atheist usually remains an atheist, and a religious person usually remains religious. The holes in a spendthrift’s pockets get bigger, not smaller. A tightwad’s fist gets tighter. And fighting over how to raise the kids benefits no one, especially the children. Discovering his life philosophy after you’re married is too late, because you can’t change the other person to fit what you need. Many women have tried and failed. So, find out before you marry. Life will be so much easier when you’re in sync with your partner.

DON’T CHOOSE THE BAD BOY.
The troubled soul may be the hero fictional heroines long for. The big, strong, brooding sexy man who can deck anyone, win any fight, or conquer any mountain is a common romantic figure. But in the long run, a man with such a dark side is probably not the kind of guy you really want to take home to Mother.

I once dated a guy who had the dark, handsome, sexy looks that would make a girl who met him in the night tremble and swoon with fear and excitement. He was a bit of what we used to call “a hood.” He left town for a while, and when he came back I jumped at the chance to go out with him again. Our first date on his return was at the drive-in theater—what they used to call “a passion pit.” A movie on a giant screen, watched in a car, in the dark. A perfect recipe for disaster.

When he tried to get me in the back of his station wagon, fitted out with comfy blankets and pillows, I declined. “So and so (the name omitted to protect the un-innocent) would do it,” he said, in an effort to convince me to do what I knew was wrong.

“Then go get her,” I replied. I spent the rest of the night fending him off and didn’t get to see a bit of the movie.

We never had another date, and that was just fine with me. He was enough to cure me of the bad-boy longing. Now I advise young women to go for the nerds. Not only are they nicer, but they will make more legal money than their bad boy counterparts and stay out of jail.

And last but by no means least: LOOK FOR THE NICE GUYS.
Nice guys, contrary to the old saying, do not finish last. Everyone loves a nice guy: the one who is respectful, doesn’t boast, opens doors for ladies, and keeps his temper in check. I’m sure you know him. He’s the man who has respect for himself, for you, and for others. He’s considerate and loving. Every other word out of his mouth is not a curse. His speech is tempered with wisdom. He’s the kind of man your mother hopes you’ll bring home. The kind of man who will love you more than he loves himself.

When you find one, ask him, “Will you accept this rose?” If he says, “Yes” hang on to him. You won’t be sorry you did. I know I’m not.

If you’d like a romantic comedy, with a touch of drama, where the heroine is looking for a fiancé in all the wrong places, pick up the award-winning novel A Groom for Mama by Catherine Castle. Here’s a peek.

One date for every medical test—that’s the deal. Allison, however, gets more than she bargains for. She gets a Groom for Mama.

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.

EXCERPT
With a sweep of his hand, Jack spread the photos out on the table in front of Allison and Beverly. “Here’s a few I just grabbed from the database. Any of them interesting?” He studied Allison’s reaction. She didn’t bat an eyelash as she scanned the men’s pictures. Then, without warning, she scooped them up and shoved them at him.

“I told Mama I wasn’t going to do this. It’s a stupid idea.”

“I’ll admit it’s not the ‘some enchanted evening, see a stranger across the room’ romantic way to find a husband, but it’s not totally unacceptable. Several of the couples my company has brought together have married.”

“And lived happily ever after?” she retorted.

“It’s a new company, Allison. I don’t have the stats yet.” He pushed the photos across the table. “Just take a peek. What harm can it do?”

Beverly grabbed the photo of a particularly handsome man. “How about this one? His coloring complements yours. You’d have beautiful children.”

Mama!” Allison snatched the photo away. “We’re not going to discuss my possible, yet unlikely, progeny in front of Jack.”

A flash of Allison kissing this guy flew through his head. He grabbed the photo from her. “He’s not your type anyway.”

“And just how do you know?” she asked.

“I dated you, remember? You ditched me for some suave, corporate hotshot. At least it’s what you said.”
“Allison!” Beverly exclaimed. “You never told me that.”

Allison shot him a fierce scowl. “I’m not comfortable discussing my love life with you, Mama. Besides, what’s done and over with should be buried . . . in the past.” She picked up another photo. “What about him? Or him and him?” She pointed to two nerdy-looking fellows. “They seem corporate.”

Mama leaned over and checked out the pictures Allison had indicated. “Too ugly,” she said. “He’s got to be handsome. Like Jack. I want to know my grandbabies will be as beautiful as you two.”

He grinned. “Thanks for the compliment, but I know I’m not your daughter’s type.” He laid a sheet of paper on the counter. “Fill this out. Then I can get a better idea of what you want in a husband.”

“I don’t want—”

“I know,” he interjected. “But, for your mom’s sake, just pretend you do.”

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Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. A former freelance writer, she has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit (under her real name) in the Christian and secular market. Now she writes sweet and inspirational romance. Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing, has garnered multiple contests finals and wins.

Catherine loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Learn more about Catherine Castle on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Catherine’s Amazon author page and her Goodreads page. You can also find Catherine on Stitches Thru Time and the SMP authors blog site.

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Living with Third Man Syndrome

B69aCarolcoverWhy I Wrote psychological Fiction

When I was recently asked to write a post about why my latest book is psychological fiction, I hesitated. After a lifetime of keeping quiet about my mental health issues, I was reluctant to shine a light on anything that might expose them to public scrutiny. They say you should write what you know, but that can often be disturbing. However, public opinion on such matters has shifted significantly in recent years and the stigma caused by any kind of psychological divergence from what is considered normal, is quickly fading as more people are open about their quirks and aberrations. And once you start researching this subject you find you are not as strange as you thought you were!

I have been there, done that, and bought the T-shirt when it comes to coping with OCD, depression, social phobia, and panic attacks, but years of living on my own brought on another phenomenon that was to inspire my latest novella Reality Check. The phenomenon is called Third Man Syndrome and it meant nothing to me until I was researching the book. In effect, it is when social isolation or trauma makes people imagine there is someone with them when there isn’t. At first, I didn’t know this had a name. I assumed it was like having an imaginary friend and that’s how I approached the book. I got so intrigued by this subject I thought, “What if a lonely person imagined LOADS of people who weren’t there? What if they lived in a house full of imaginary people and interacted with them?”

The imaginary friend phenomenon was the starting point but the book ended up being an investigation into the nature of reality itself as the main character tries to work out what is going on. Is this a symptom of madness? Are these people real or not? And what do we mean by ‘real’?  Reality itself has so many layers it might turn out to be impossible to define it with any certainty.

And when you think about it, this is what we writers do. We create loads of imaginary people and build worlds for them to live in. They are real to us and we hope our readers feel the same way. And if it’s a symptom of anything it’s the fact that we humans are doomed to live mostly in our heads. We are both blessed and cursed with boundless reserves of imagination and creativity.

Yes, I do have an imaginary friend. I try not to talk to her but I can’t help myself. She’s only real in so far as she exists in my head. But if you live alone, eventually you must have someone to bounce ideas off. You have to be able to tell someone about your day. You must get advice from somewhere. How many other people experience this, I wonder? I have often seen lone shoppers in the supermarket talking to themselves about what to buy for their dinner. Perhaps they aren’t really talking to themselves but to someone only they can ‘see’. I expect they live alone like me and they can’t help it. So far I have resisted the temptation to talk to my imaginary friend in public, but it’s only a matter of time!

Here’s a brief intro to my psychological fiction book. I hope you like it.

Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.

But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.

Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?

As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.

Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?

EXCERPT

“Everything is energy,” I said, and swallowed down a lump in my throat. A lump composed of both unease and excitement in equal measure.

“Indeed. Just energy vibrating at different frequencies,” he said. “So while you think about that, here’s another interesting phenomenon that has been recorded many times, and it seems to me it has something in common with imaginary friends. Have you heard of the third man syndrome, Gill?”

I had to admit this meant nothing to me.

“Here’s an example of it,” he went on. “A mountaineer called Frank Smyth attempted to climb Mount Everest but had to turn back before he reached the summit. He reported that although he was completely alone during his descent, the feeling that someone was with him was so powerful he tried to share his Kendal mint cake with this person.

“The phenomenon is said to originate with Shackleton in 1916. While he was exploring Antarctica, Shackleton saw the apparition of a person alongside his two companions. There are countless reports of this from people who have survived terrorist attacks or extreme trauma. Some sort of threat to existence or even severe social isolation” — at this point the Professor gave me a knowing look — “can trigger this phenomenon. Some people might try to explain it with terms such as guardian angel or spirit guide, but could it be a hallucination or defence mechanism that switches on to help the brain deal with trauma and stress? It frequently happens that these apparitions offer comfort and support, and yet what of those cases where the third man not only gives advice but even leads people to safety when they find themselves in a life-threatening situation? That goes beyond mere imagination surely?” He raised his eyebrows, as if inviting a response, but his information had overwhelmed me. “I see I’ve given you something to think about. My advice is you go and do some research on this yourself.”

For a moment my mind slipped, stumbled, staggered about looking for something to grab on to. What was going on here? I looked at the Professor and he stared back, innocent as a kitten, waiting for me to speak. If I didn’t speak, would our exchange stop now? I was really talking to myself, for God’s sake. He can’t have done any research. He didn’t exist. I must have done it and either forgotten I had, or pretended to forget so it would all seem like new information.

Was I so needy I had to resort to these ludicrous mind games?

“You’re not real,” I said.

I stood and marched out of the room, my jaw clenched so hard it ached, my hands balled into fists. If there was no gin in the fridge, there’d be hell to pay, but, thank God, there was nearly a full bottle. Two stiff drinks were all I’d need for now, just to take the edge off.

Amazon Buy Links https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XBND96W/

Author Bio: Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.

Stay connected with Carol on https://authorcarolbrowne.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarolBrowne

https://twitter.com/@CarolABrowne

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Facing Our Fears by Author Anne Montgomery

FACING OUR FEARS

by Anne Montgomery

Most people are afraid of something. For me it’s tight spaces. I’m not sure when I first fell victim to this phobia, but it might have been on a high school Friday night when a bunch of us were going to a drive-in movie. (Remember those?) I was encouraged to get into the trunk of a car before we drove through the gates – something about too many kids in a car. In any case, I freaked, and clawed the underside of the hood and yelled until they let me out.

So, I’m claustrophobic, a malady that smacked me in the head one day when I was one hundred feet below the surface of the sea staring at a hole in the ocean floor.

I’d been told about the lava tube we would encounter. I glimpsed the small opening as another diver’s fins disappeared into the darkness. I paused, sizing up the mouth of the cave. It was not much wider than my wingspan and perhaps three-feet tall.

I turned to my sweetie pie, who was hovering by a woman who was uncomfortable diving. I pointed to the mouth of the cave and he shook his head. Then he took the woman by the hand and helped her swim above the tube.

I stared at that hole and wanted nothing to do with it. It looked so small and dark, but then I saw a light flickering inside and, without thinking, I swam to the opening and ducked inside. White sand flowed along the cave floor. I saw fins in front of me and followed. Then, suddenly, the fins and the light vanished, leaving me in total darkness.

I stopped abruptly. Then panicked and considered backing out, but turning around in that narrow space in complete darkness was problematic. The back of my tank caught on the top of the tube. The contact was slight, but was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I dropped to the floor and dug my hands into the sand in an effort to calm myself. I started sucking air, which was bad. The compressed air in a scuba tank is used up quickly on a deep dive. I had to move forward soon, but was frozen.

I raised my head and stared into the darkness. I held one hand before me but could see nothing. I dug my free hand into the sand and lifted the other, pulling myself forward, gripping the sand so hard my hands hurt. Slowly, I moved forward and down. The tube descended beneath the sea floor, angling deeper as I went.

Why had I not brought a light? And why had I been dumb enough to go in without such an important piece of equipment? I continued inching forward. How long was the tunnel? Why had I not asked? The questions swirled. I was tempted to reach to the side to see how wide the tube was, but was afraid to know the truth.

Sometime later, I caught a glimmer piercing the top of the tube, a broken spot in the ceiling that glowed with soothing blue light. I rounded a bend and was graced with an opening. Dim light flooded the the cave, illuminating walls that were startling close. I kicked hard and exited. My sweetie pie was overhead. He knew how I felt about small places, so he was concerned.

Later, after a hot shower and a strong, grown-up beverage, we talked about that deep, dark, watery hole.

Yes, I’m glad I tried to conquer my fear, still I don’t think I’ll do anything like that ever again.

Here’s a little from my latest women’s fiction book. I hope you enjoy it.

A woman flees an abusive husband and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.

Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.

Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.

Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?

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Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.

When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.

Learn more about Anne Montgomery on her website and Wikipedia. Stay connected on Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.

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Coming Soon – Exciting New Release from YA Author Leigh Goff.

An exciting Southern Gothic book from creative YA author Leigh Goff. Here’s a sneak peek for you.

Koush Hollow:
Where bayou magic abounds and all that glitters…is deadly.

After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother.

As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow.

 How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing?

As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.



Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).

Born and raised on the East Coast, she now lives in Maryland where she enjoys the area’s great history and culture.

Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern gothic set in New Orleans, will release on September 1, 2020 from The Parliament House.

Learn more about Leigh Goff on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

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New Release for Author Tina Ruiz

Congratulations to Tina Ruiz on the release of her 30th children’s book!

The story is about Peppa Roni and her twin brother, Reece A. Roni, who are having their 9th birthday party in the neighborhood restaurant. What makes this story different from any other children’s book, are the names which the author has given to her characters. Example: Tess Ding, Chris P. Bacon, Mr. Noah Lott, Harry Pitts, Miss Turi, Walter Melon, Judge Mental and his wife, Judy, etc…

The storyline is quite charming, and because you will try to figure out the double meaning of the fun names while you read, this is bound to become your child’s favorite book.

This delightful paperback book is another wonderful collaboration from writer Tina Nykulak Ruiz and illustrator Ishika Sharma. This creative duo knows how to put life and fun into children’s books to encourage young people to read. As with all of Tina’s children’s stories, there’s a moral at the end.

Tina Ruiz was born in Germany, but her family moved to Canada when she was in grammar school. She began writing children’s stories when her own were little. Through the years Ruiz wrote twenty-seven books. Most of those stories went into readers for the Canada Board of Education. Two did not. Mayor Shadoe Markley is a story about a ten-year-old girl who becomes Mayor for a Day through a contest at school.

Little did Ruiz know that story would “change the world.” The book came out at early January 1988. By the end of that same month, everyone was calling the mayor’s office at City Hall, trying to get the forms to fill out so their children could participate in the contest. Thirty years later that same contest is still runs at full speed. And not only in Calgary, but all across Canada. The Mayor’s Youth Council is now in charge of the celebrated contest and invites Ruiz to attend and meet the lucky winner. It’s usually followed by a hand-written thank you card from the mayor himself. Recently Ruiz was invited to be part of the Grand Opening of Calgary’s New Library where the mayor shook her hand and introduced her to the attendees.

Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children’s Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children’s books or intriguing romance.

Stay connected with Tina Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.

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Looking for a Good Read? Try this!

LOOKING FOR A GOOD READ?

by Sloane Taylor

Allow me to introduce you to two amazing writers, C.D. Hersh, who are the reason for bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. I only have time to read for pleasure when I go to bed. You have no idea how much sleep I lost because I couldn’t close their book. And I am not a paranormal enthusiast.

The plot is well woven and kept me turning the pages long into the night. The characters are realistic even though all but two are shifters. They have all the qualities and faults of any normal human. Love Eli! It had to be difficult for C.D. Hersh to stay in his accent and never digress. The conflict is strong and fitted in smoothly. The love scenes are well written, filled with passion, but never step over the line. This is a book I highly recommend.

Be sure to check out The Promised One, the first book in the Turning Stone Chronicles series, you won’t be disappointed.

When month and day are the age that is the time
When day and month are the time that is the age
When time and age agree, trinity becomes unity

If a mark didn’t come out of the bar soon, he’d have to change his hunting spot.

Danny Shaw glanced at his watch. In the past hour, only two men—too big for him to handle—had staggered out of the Dew Drop Inn Bar and Grill. He needed someone rich and easy to take down. And soon. If he arrived late again, he’d get canned. And if he lost one more job, he’d lose Lulu.

The door opened, spilling crowd noise and blue haze onto the dimly lit street. He moved back into the shadow of the building. Waiting.

A slender woman walked by, her legs wobbling on spiked heels as the hem of her blue slinky dress swished around her thighs. Whiskey and perfume wafted on the air. As she reached to smooth back her blond hair, a prism flashed on her ring finger.

As his gut tightened, adrenalin pumped through him. Perfect. Tipsy and a rock too. A big haul could make this his last job this week, allowing him more time to spend with Lulu.

He pulled his ski mask down then took his gun from his coat.

Withdrawing a silencer from his left pocket, he screwed it onto the barrel, and stepped out. The woman didn’t notice him, so he scanned the street for witnesses. No one around. Closing the gap, he made his move.

Shaw jammed the gun barrel in her back and hooked her arm. “Don’t scream,” he whispered, “and I might let you live.”

Under his hold, she stiffened. Her high heels tapped rapidly on the pavement as he steered her into the dark, littered alley. When they were well into the shadows, hidden from passersby, he shoved her against the graffiti-covered building. “Gimme your purse and jewelry.”

The woman raised perfectly manicured hands above her head, her shoulder angling toward him as she started to twist around.

“Keep your face to the wall,” he ordered.

She mumbled something into the bricks and then lowered her left hand, dangling a bejeweled handbag behind her head.

“Now the jewelry.” He snatched the purse.

She unhooked her necklace, slipped off her watch and diamond ring, then held them out.

He stuffed them into his pocket. “The other ring, too.”

“That ring has no value. It’s costume jewelry my niece gave me.”

“Take it off.”

“You’ve got my cash and credit cards, and my diamond. Isn’t that enough?”

Damn. He hated when they resisted. “Give me the ring.”

She gave an almost imperceptible shake of her head. “No.”

He jerked her around to face him. “Dammit, woman. Give me the freaking ring or I’ll blow your head off.” He yanked on the band.

Without warning, she swung her hand up, connecting with his jaw. Stunned, he stumbled backward, still clutching the hand with the ring. They fell to the pavement. Her hands clawed at his, and her feet kicked his shins, scrabbling their legs together.

Fighting for control. Fighting for the gun.

Wrapping his legs around hers, he rolled her over and pinned her beneath him with his body. Freeing his hand from her grasp, he slammed her skull on the ground. Her head rolled to the side and she lay still.

Certain he’d knocked her out, he tried to remove the ring from her finger. Suddenly she bolted up, head-banged him, and grabbed his gun hand.

As he struggled to keep control of the weapon, the barrel twisted toward him. Heart pounding, he watched his life flash in front of him.

Abusive childhood. Lousy job. Lulu. The elaborate wedding plans she’d made. He didn’t want to die. Not now.

He wrenched the gun toward the woman. The metallic pfft startled him. Round-eyed shock reflected in the woman’s face.

Shaw’s heart stopped racing as she relaxed in his grip, then amped back up, pounding against his ribs. Shit. Assault, battery, and now . . . murder. Quick and easy money to pay for the wedding. That’s all he’d been after. They’ll put me away for life if I get caught. Lulu’s gonna be pissed if I screw up her wedding plans.

Pushing into a squat, he stared at the dark stain spreading across the dress front. He removed the ring from the woman’s finger. She should have just given it to him.

The woman stared at him, blood seeping from the corner of her mouth. “Return the ring, or you’ll be sorry.”

With a short laugh he stood. “Big words for someone bleeding to death.” After dropping the ring into his pocket, he gathered the scattered contents of her purse, and started to leave.

“Wait.” The words sounded thick and slurred . . . two octaves deeper . . . with a Scottish lilt.

Shaw frowned and spun back toward her. The pounding in his chest increased. On the ground, where the woman had fallen, lay a man.

He wore the same slinky blue dress she had—the seams ripped, the dress top collapsed over hard chest muscles, instead of smoothed over soft, rounded curves. The hem skimmed across a pair of hairy, thick thighs. Muscled male thighs. Spiked heels hung at an odd angle, toes jutting through the shoe straps. The same shoes she’d been wearing.

The alley tipped. Shaw leaned against the dumpster to steady himself. He shook his head to clear the vision, then slowly moved his gaze over the body.

A pair of steel-blue eyes stared out of a chiseled face edged with a trim salt-and-pepper beard. Shaw whirled around scanning the alley.

Where was the woman? And who the hell was this guy?

Terrified, Shaw fled.

The dying man called out, “You’re cursed. Forever.”

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Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

The first four books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. Also a novella, Can’t Stop The Music, with twelve other authors from various genres with a book coming out each month in 2017.

They look forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Learn more about C.D. Hersh on their website and their Amazon Author Page.

Stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

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How Authors Can Find Their Comfort Zone

An Author’s Comfort Zone

by Sharon Ledwith

This post could have also been dubbed ‘Balance 101 for Authors’. It’s been almost eight years since the first novel in my young adult time travel series hit the cyber bookshelves. To this day, I remember that there was so much to do, and it felt like there wasn’t enough time to do everything. Sometimes, I still don’t. I needed a time portal just to get all my marketing and promoting put in place or at least a diary. This included getting a website up and running, ordering promotional giveaways, setting up blog hops (are they still a thing?), writing a multitude of blog posts, and joining the appropriate social media networks. The lists seemed endless, and when the date finally arrived for my book release, I was wearing my shoulders as earrings.

Needless to say, by the end of my first book blog tour, I was exhausted, spent, and bent out of shape. Even my eyelids ached.

What I learned from the whole experience years ago is that authors need to learn to structure their writing life, or their writing will take a nose dive. We need to learn to create balance so that the task of being a writer plus a marketer plus a promoter doesn’t wear us down. So, how do we do this when so much is expected of a writer nowadays?

Start with finding your comfort zone. Find your personal comfort level with promotion or marketing, do that and do no more. That’s it. Do it. Or you’ll get burned. If you don’t heed my advice, then sure as shooting, negativity will leach into your writing. And that’s the last thing a writer wants!

Need help finding your comfort zone? Go to the dollar store and buy a timer or download a timer app on your phone. It will be one of the most important investments (and cheapest) as a writer you will make. For less than two dollars you can purchase a piece of sanity to help you organize your writing life and keep you in your zone. Set your timer to check emails. Fifteen minutes? Twenty minutes? Then do the same for Facebook and Twitter. But keep in mind which activity will help you as an author in the long run. Apply the 80/20 rule. Write (produce) for 80%, promote and market for only 20%. After all—social networking is a marketing strategy—as long as you treat it as such. Then, once you have laid the timer law down, set it for how long you want to sit and just write, with no interruptions (unless the dog or you really need to pee).

So, stop pushing the zone. Relax. Let go. Breathe.

That doesn’t mean writers shouldn’t learn or try new things. By all means learn and try. Get your hands dirty if you must. But don’t burst a vein in your brain doing it. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself that you collapse into a quivering mass of writer goo. As writers, we must protect our work—and ourselves. It takes time to build an on-line (and off-line) marketing presence in this publishing world. Learn this, cut yourself some slack, and prosper.

Thank you for reading my article! How do you find balance as a writer? Do you use a timer, or have you tried other ways to create balance in your writer’s life? Love to read your comments!

Ready for a trip to Atlantis? Here’s a brief intro to one of my time traveler books.

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.

Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

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Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.

Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.

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History – the Most Important Timeline of All


Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Covid-19 is a game-changer in so many ways. It is making people rethink their lives, their jobs, their relationships, their aspirations, even their diets and the way they treat the planet they live on. The virus landed like a bolt out of the blue, illuminating the dark places in our lives and altering our perceptions. Many things that were thought of as important are now shown to be superficial and shallow. The way we structure our days has also come under intense scrutiny. Two areas of human activity in particular are undergoing a much-needed overhaul, and they are employment and education. People who can work from home during the lockdown can see the benefits of making this permanent. Meanwhile, many parents who have been home schooling their children are wondering if they should continue with it.

I was discussing this with a close friend of mine who has been working from home and is considering home schooling. She was concerned about peer pressure at the school one of her children attends and how it has had a detrimental effect on the child’s self-esteem. It is always hard to be different. It’s equally hard for an adult to do something different from what is considered normal. We often stick with the status quo for fear of being criticised. But, as the memes insist, the virus has shown us that normal wasn’t working. It’s time to create a new paradigm for living and my friend has seen the beneficial effects that home schooling has already had on both her children.

But this isn’t a blog about home schooling! When my friend and I were discussing different ways of educating her children, I reminded her of how we used to be taught history. We started as far back as the dinosaurs and moved forwards incrementally to the present day. As a result, I have had a mental image in my mind of every century down the ages with major events recorded on this timeline of history, so that I know where I am in the great scheme of things. I can see how mankind got to where it is today. It is like belonging to the timeline of humanity where everything makes sense, even the bad things, because wars have causes that can be traced back and great transitions, like the one we are experiencing now, can be anchored in time and better understood.

Do children still learn history this way? I meet so many young people who have no idea what happened before World War II (and don’t see the socio-economic and political factors that brought about that global conflict). Yes, they know about the Romans and perhaps the Ancient Egyptians but can’t pin them down to a particular era.

Photo by Fauxels from Pexels

And here in the UK how many of the people who are so proud to be British know anything about the history of the British Isles? Why do we use the words British and English; what’s the difference? We were a nation of immigrants long before the Roman occupation, during which time we really were British but not English. If everyone understood that we have all migrated here from other countries, would we rethink our current attitude to immigration? And if we knew more about our imperialist past with its horrors of slavery and oppression, would we see how racism developed and be better able to reject it?

Everything that happens is a lesson and the lessons of history will keep repeating on the timeline until we decide to take a stand and say no more. Only by understanding the timeline of the past can we see the need for change in the present. Allowing children to grow up without reference points or connections to ancestral knowledge, is not giving them freedom. It leaves them adrift in the modern world not knowing why things are the way they are. To teach children the lessons of history is to give them the tools they need to make their world a better place and create a brighter future.

History is important. In my book Being Krystyna – A Story of Survival in WWII I showed how intolerance for other people’s differences can lead to persecution and conflict. Krystyna herself always feared the Nazis would return, and looking at world events today I think she was right. One way to stop the resurgence of such evil is to make sure that the lessons of history are never forgotten. But first we have to learn them.

Here is a brief introduction to my book. Thank you for reading it.

It’s 2012, the year of the London Olympics, and for young Polish immigrant Agnieszka, visiting fellow countrywoman Krystyna in a Peterborough care home is a simple act of kindness. However, the meeting proves to be the beginning of a life-changing experience.

Krystyna’s stories about the past are not memories of the good old days but recollections of war-ravaged Europe: The Warsaw Ghetto, Pawiak Prison, Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, and the death march to freedom.

The losses and ordeals Krystyna suffered and what she had to do to survive, these are horrors Agnieszka must confront when she volunteers to be Krystyna’s biographer.

Will Agnieszka find a way to accomplish her task, and, in this harrowing story of survival, what is the message for us today?

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Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes fiction and is a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Being Krystyna, published by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016, is her first non-fiction book.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

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Gazpacho – Author Sloane Taylor’s Recipe for the Perfect Soup for Summer.

from Sloane Taylor

When the days are muggy and hot, cool down with this light and refreshing meal. Add a loaf of crusty fresh bread and a bottle of chilled, crisp white wine to make dinner complete.

GAZPACHO – Cold Fresh Vegetable Soup

Image by Яна Тикунова from Pixabay

1 large cucumber, peeled and chopped
5 medium Roma/plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tbsp. garlic, chopped fine or pressed
4 cups French or Italian bread chunks, crust removed
4 cups cold water
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tsps. salt
4 tbsps. olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato paste

Combine cucumber, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, garlic, and bread in a large bowl. Stir in water, vinegar, and salt. Ladle mixture into a blender or food processor. Be careful not to overload either appliance. Set on high speed until you have a smooth puree. Pour the blend into a clean large bowl and whisk in olive oil and tomato paste.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours minimum. Just before serving stir well to recombine ingredients. Ladle into a chilled tureen or large soup bowls.

May you enjoy all the days of your life filled with good friends, laughter, and seated around a well-laden table!

Sloane

Sloane Taylor is an Award-Winning author with a passion that consumes her day and night. She is an avid cook and posts new recipes on her blog every Wednesday. The recipes are user friendly, meaning easy.

Learn more about Taylor’s cookbooks, Date Night Dinners, Romantic Meals to Dine al Fresco, and Recipes to Create Holidays Extraordinaire on Amazon.

Connect with Taylor on Facebook and Twitter.

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