Wednesday Writers– Excerpt from Exile of Elindel by Carol Browne

My thanks to author Catherine Castle for hosting me on her blog today

Catherine Castle

Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is author Carol Browne. Carol is sharing an excerpt of her epic fantasy novel The Exile of Elindel, The Elwardian Chronicles Book 1. Welcome. Carol!

Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.

Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.

A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.

When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.

There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their…

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Spring Flowers and Romance from Author Janis Lane

from Emma Lane

It is possible to gather flowers for your vases without deliberately planting a cutting garden. Possible, but much more fun to set up a section of the garden for bringing the blossoms inside. Harvesting these blooms will not denude your carefully planned perennial landscape.

In Spring, Tulips, Daffodils, and Peonies are perennial friends who return year after year. One of the best cut flowers is Gladiola. Staggered planting of the bulbs (which are fairly inexpensive.) will prolong the harvest. In temperate climates, gladiola bulbs will renew, but pulling them up and storing will guarantee next year’s bloom.

Other bulbs are simple and, again, fairly inexpensive. Asiatic and Oriental Lilies and other in the same family are excellent mid summer. Day lilies may be used if you understand the stem must contain more than one bud as they open and close in one day.

Sunflowers, Dahlias and members of the Rudbecia family are primo for late summer.

In the greenhouse we grow an exquisite plant, Lisianthus, for our commercial bouquets. Super valued for their longevity once harvested, they are not an easy plant to germinate. Grab a few if you find them at your florist or farmers’ market. They come in several colors: pink, rose, pastel yellow and deep blue. I love the two-colored ones that are white trimmed with blue. Last but certainly not least, Zinnias are an all-time favorite. Careful to choose the tall variety for your vases.

Enjoy your flowers out and inside!

In Whispers of Danger and Love, the heroine, a landscaper, meets a challenge to create an instant cutting garden for a lady whose knowledge of gardening is next to nil. Cheryl chooses gladiolas and stakes them upright. The ruse works and her client is happily able to harvest her own bouquets. I admit I enjoyed working on this novel as it allowed the gardener in me to “play in the dirt” while I wrote the story.

… which leads me to call attention to my latest Cozy Adventure/ Mystery, Whispers of Danger and Love.

The heroine is a landscape architect who speaks gardening. She struggles with a client who demands a cutting garden mid summer, (and a hunky detective who seems bound to destroy her plants.) I enjoyed relaxing in her garden even as I created it from my own imaginings. It was also fun to watch the sparks fly between a couple who knew each other as children but must readjust their thinking as adults.

 

Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes cozy mysteries as Janis Lane, Regency as Emma Lane, and spice as Sunny Lane.

She lives in Western New York where winter is snowy, spring arrives with rave reviews, summer days are long and velvet, and fall leaves are riotous in color. At long last she enjoys the perfect bow window for her desk where she is treated to a year-round panoramic view of nature. Her computer opens up a fourth fascinating window to the world. Her patient husband is always available to help with a plot twist and encourage Emma to never quit. Her day job is working with flowers at Herbtique and Plant Nursery, the nursery she and her son own.

Look for information about writing and plants on Emma’s new website. Leave a comment or a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.

Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out the things that make Emma smile on Pinterest.

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The Journey to Publication – by Author Sharon Ledwith

The journey to publication wasn’t easy for me. In fact, it took me a great deal of time and effort to get to where I am now. So, let’s go back in time to 1995 when I got bitten by the writing bug during a Planning Your Novel workshop I attended for fun at the local college. One of the exercises I volunteered for still sticks in my mind. The teacher handed me three pennies, and I had to throw them into a waste basket one at a time. I managed to get all three coins in, shooting at different angles and distances. My teacher, Tom Arnett—a NYT bestselling author—was surprised at my luck because the norm was usually two pennies in. He explained that getting all the pennies in would suggest your (writing) goals would be too easy because the person threw them from a close distance. On the flipside, one penny in (throwing too far away) suggested having unrealistic expectations/goals about a career in writing.

You could say that this penny exercise set the bar for me, and gave me some hope in a field I knew absolutely nothing about. I ended up taking Tom’s night course, Starting your Novel, and from there the writing games began.

Trying to get published looked something like this:

• Write a book (I choose a paranormal romance) which took about 2 years, including research and learning the basics.

• Attended a workshop where I met an agent, and handed her a query and outline, which eventually got her interest. This went back and forth for a time (about four years) until the agent admitted that my book wasn’t developing the way she wanted it to go, so we decided to go our separate ways. Sigh.

• Around 1998, I had a dream where I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an Indiana Jones feel to it. At that time, I was trying to get my paranormal romance published, and had no intention of writing in the young adult genre. But this idea kept growing in my mind, and wouldn’t leave, like some mystical force pushing me from behind. So, I thought I’d challenge myself to write a time travel series based on that dream, calling it The Timeliners, and later The Last Timekeepers.

• Had some luck with The Last Timekeepers when an agency and publishers showed interest. But their interest was short-lived. Rejection, rejection, and more rejection followed.

• In 2003, we sold our graphic trade business and house, packed up, and moved to our cottage in a popular tourist area located in Ontario. I decided to become a tutor for the local Literacy Council in the winter of 2004. While living pretty much off the grid (we had dial up internet), I started a teen psychic mystery series entitled, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, pulling from my experiences living in the wilds of cottage country.

• I enrolled in a two-year correspondence course geared toward writing for children and teens to beef up my writing chops.

• Then, I decided to try my hand as a participant in the 2005 Muskoka Novel Marathon, where previously I had helped with the organizational aspects of this event. The idea is to write a novella or novel in three days, and the winner gets a chance at publication. During the course of the marathon, our dog died suddenly and I left for the day, only to come back the next day to finish writing my manuscript in time to submit it. It was truly a bitter-sweet experience.

• My writing suffered after that, and I decided to enter the workforce as an animal care attendant at the local Animal Shelter for the next fourteen months. During this time, I finished my writing correspondence course, tinkered with Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, then finally woke-up and quit the animal shelter to get back to writing. I wrote a whole book out of my animal shelter experience, and geared it for my teen psychic mystery series. I sent in that manuscript and got rejected a lot, but one agent showed an interest. He later sent me a lovely rejection letter. Sigh.

• Finally, in 2010, I decided to dust off my time travel story, update the characters and give it a fresh voice. I sent it out—mostly to agents—and got rejected again, and again.

• By this time, I had decided to check out ebooks and how to go about publishing them. Since I owned a graphics business for over twenty years, I had some business background, and it seemed many authors were being forced to wear two hats in these changing times. So I started a blog in May 2011 to create an on-line presence.

• Then, I entered the 2011 Muskoka Novel Marathon with the idea of doing the prequel for The Last Timekeeper series. Two writers there had just signed publishing contracts, so this gave me some hope. I asked if I could use their names as a reference when querying their publisher. They said, ‘No problem,’ but I’d have to wait until September to query. After the novel marathon, we all exchanged social media info.

• This is where hard work and opportunity collide. One of those writers shared a link on Facebook, which I thought was the publishing company she had signed with. But it wasn’t. It was the link to a new epublishing company calling for submissions. What the hell, there was nothing to lose while I waited for September to roll in. I sent out my query the end of August, and got a reply within seven days—Musa Publishing wanted to see my manuscript. Excited, yet not getting my hopes up, I sent my young adult time travel manuscript in. They loved it, but wanted revisions. Actually, they wanted a huge, big-ass rewrite that included making the entire book only in one POV, instead of the five I originally had written. Each kid had their own chapter. This publisher only wanted one kid per book. So they offered me five books right off the bat.

• I signed the contract September 13th, 2011, with a release date of May 18th, 2012. Plenty of time for rewrites, and plenty of time to learn what’s expected of an author in this new paradigm of publishing. I followed up with the prequel to The Last Timekeepers series, Legend of the Timekeepers came out in August 2013.

• Time travel to 2015 when Musa Publishing closed their doors permanently, and Mirror World Publishing appeared to open their doors for me. Not only did they take on The Last Timekeepers series, but in 2017 added Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls to their young adult list of books. Woohoo!

Honestly, I’ve come a long way since 1995, and I’m still learning and growing in this crazy publishing business as it continues to evolve. Presently, I’ve got two young adult book series under my belt, both published through Mirror World Publishing. And I’d wager three shiny pennies that they won’t be closing their doors any time soon.

If you’re an author, what does your publishing journey look like? Did it take you a long time to get published? Would love to read your comments! Cheers, be well, and thank you for reading my post.

Here’s a glimpse of the premises of both my young adult series:

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mysteries…

Imagine a teenager possessing a psychic ability and struggling to cope with this freakish power while trying to have a normal life. Now, imagine being uprooted and forced to live in a small tourist town where nothing much ever happens. It’s bores-ville from the get-go.

Welcome to Fairy Falls. Expect the unexpected.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventures…

Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial—five classmates are sent into the past to restore balance, and bring order back into the world, one mission at a time.

Children are the keys to our future. And now, children are the only hope for our past.

The Last Timekeepers Time Travel Adventure Series:

The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, Book #2 Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Book #1 Buy Links: MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Legend of the Timekeepers, prequel Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls Teen Psychic Mystery Series:

Lost and Found, Book One Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE ׀

Blackflies and Blueberries, Book Two Buy Links:

MIRROR WORLD PUBLISHING ׀ AMAZON ׀ BARNES & NOBLE

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, 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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One Step Nearer the Epilogue

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

The metaphor that likens life to a book is a common one. Viewing our progress through existence as a series of chapters appeals to our need to put things in boxes and compartments. Each chapter can be titled after a significant event or rite of passage: infancy; puberty; marriage; first job; and so on. There is no set number of chapters and each one may have different themes and moods. The length of each chapter is as variable as the length of the entire book; it is, however, generally assumed that a valuable lesson or learning experience should be included in the narrative.

The latest chapter in my own book of life is the one headed ‘Retirement’. I have longed to reach this chapter but I am fully aware of the potential dangers that lie within its pages. For many, retirement is the end of usefulness when we become a drain on society and not a contributor anymore. It can make us feel less important and rob us of our self-respect and purpose. We tell ourselves that we have nothing to look forward to but an eventual decline into infirmity. But, as with all previous chapters, we have a choice in how we approach this new status. It’s all a question of attitude.

We can embrace our new freedom because we have earned it, and we don’t have to let ourselves go or stop learning. We can still work if we want to, but now we can choose what work we do, and when. Retirement doesn’t have to mean bingo and chamber music, complaining about the younger generation, or behaving with dignity at all times. The contribution of the elders to society should be enormous because finally we have the time and financial freedom we need to change the world. It’s not just by doing voluntary work or becoming politically active. We are now more useful than ever before because we have a lifetime of knowledge and experience and we can use that to guide those who are still struggling through earlier chapters. I would encourage all my fellow oldsters to reject the idea that they are on the scrapheap, because the fun is only just beginning.

I’m hoping ‘the undiscover’d country’ is some way off for me yet, but when they come to write my epilogue I hope it will show me in a favourable light. I hope it will include my successes as well as my failures. I would like to think I had made a difference to the world and left it in a better condition than I found it, even if it’s in a small way. I have plans for this particular learning experience and trust that the epilogue will celebrate my success. Most importantly of all, once my book is finished, I hope those I leave behind me will give it a five-star review.

Just to prove to you sitting in a rocker all day is not in my future, here’s a peek at my latest epic fantasy. I hope you enjoy it.

His adventures in Elvendom left Godwin a changed man, and now bereavement has darkened his world. In another dimension, a new Elvendom is threatened by the ambitions of a monstrous enemy. But who – or what – is the Dark Lady of Bletchberm? And what has become of Elgiva? Reeling from the loss of their Elwardain, the elves ask Godwin for help. Transported into a strange world of time travel and outlandish creatures, will he succeed in his quest against impossible odds, or will the Dark Lady destroy everything the Elwardain fought to preserve?

EXCERPT His heart thumping in his throat, Godwin took in all the details of the goblin’s appearance. The creature was probably four feet tall at most and was wearing a sleeveless leather tunic and short leggings over his skinny frame. His arms and legs were hard with thin bands of muscle; sinews moved like taut wires beneath the scant flesh. Godwin fancied that the goblin’s skin had a sickly, greenish tint, but in the firelight it was impossible to be sure.

The goblin moved in an awkward manner, not upright like a man or an elf, but slightly stooped and with bent knees, as though on the verge of pouncing. The dome of his head was as bald and smooth as a pebble, and his very long, pointed ears were attached on either side like those of a lynx. His large eyes glittered like wet malachite and between them a long, sharp nose protruded with all the aesthetic attributes of a small parsnip.

The goblin’s large eyes widened as they swivelled in Godwin’s direction, making his stomach curdle in fear and revulsion.

“Only two of you, then?” said the goblin with a smirk. “Not much of a challenge, is it?” He beckoned with his sword and others of his kind began to creep into the circle.

Godwin glanced around. There were six more of them, each carrying a sword of a curious design, the blade like a thin, metal spiral with a very sharp point. A visceral fear welled up inside him at the sight of these weapons, but he didn’t know why.

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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 but has also taken a plunge into non-fiction with Being Krystyna. This story of a Holocaust survivor has been well received.

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

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Why Age Doesn’t Matter – by Author Catherine Castle

Age Doesn’t Matter

Just Ask Abraham’s Wife Sarah

from Catherine Castle

I got a text from my daughter the other day. It read, “You’re kind of like Laura Ingalls Wilder. She didn’t get published until 65.”

I took a bit of umbrage to that statement, and pulled a bit of pride from it as well. I’d love to be an internationally well-known writer like Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was one of my favorite authors –as well as my daughter’s favorite author, now and when she was young. I wasn’t so crazy about the 65 bit, however. I was under 65 when my first book was published, and well under 65 in how-young-you-feel-and-look years. (And isn’t that what really counts?)

However, my daughter’s statement got me to thinking about how our accomplishments aren’t limited to age. I was actually in my early 40s when I began writing professionally as a stringer for our local town newspaper. I’d always loved to write and had filled a notebook full of poems, written dozens of short stories that never made it past the Mom-thinks-it’s-wonderful stage, and composed countless school essays that always made great marks. The writing assignments that other students groaned about, I relished. I loved everything about them, from the research, to the actual writing, and even the editing—things that serve me well now as a published author.

Writing and reading have always been my passions, along with singing and acting. As a teenager I wanted to be a rock-and-roll singer or act on stage. At the time, writing never even entered my realm of careers. It was only a hobby I loved. I never made it to the limelight of center stage, in spite of the many times I tried out for school plays or musicals. I got chorus parts, but never the starring roles.

Ahh, but never give up. There’s a time and a place for everything and, for some of us, that time comes later in life. Today, I’m a published author—both as a solo author and co-authoring with my husband. I sing onstage at church, praising the Lord who gave me my voice. I’m also co-writing plays for our church (with my husband), acting and co-directing in plays for our church. Granted, it’s not Hollywood, which I have decided I wouldn’t want to be part of now anyway. Nor am I on the New York Times Bestseller list, to which I still aspire. But I’m doing what I’ve always wanted to. I’ve discovered doing what you love, at any age, is satisfying beyond belief.

Here’s the interesting thing about how everything turned out: I believe I’m right where God wants me to be, at the time of my life he wanted me to be there. After all, if he could give Sarah and Abraham a child in their old age, at just the right time to begin His plan of salvation for the world, who am I to question why my bit of success didn’t come when I was twenty?

Mine is not to wonder why, but just to do and be satisfied. So, if you’re bemoaning the fact that you haven’t “made it” yet in the publishing world, or with any other goal you’ve set for yourself, don’t. Just keep working toward that goal and relish the success, no matter how big or small, when it comes.

Catherine achieved her goal publication and also won several awards with her debut book, The Nun and the Narc. Check out the blurb and read a sample on Amazon.

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

The Nun and the Narc is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Multi-award winning author Catherine Castle loves writing. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. She also lays claim to over 300 internet articles written on a variety of subjects and several hundred poems. In addition to writing she loves reading, traveling, singing, theatre, quilting and gardening. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances. You can find her award-winning Soul Mate books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama, on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Follow her on Twitter @AuthorCCastle, FB or her blog.

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Mamma Mia! – from Author Anne Montgomery.

MAMMA MIA!

I was so out of my league!

from Anne Montgomery

Sometimes we do things that, as Forrest Gump would say, “Just don’t make no sense.”

And I am guilty of such an act, mostly because I ignored the numbers and severely overestimated my abilities.

I have written about the fact that I performed in a community theater production of the musical Company in the past. Though it was initially terrifying, in the end I made friends and had fun. So, it seemed rational that I give it another try. Mamma Mia was coming up and I wanted to give it a shot.

I started singing along to the Mamma Mia CD in my car in February. I thought I was ready. Even the cast descriptions didn’t deter me. Though, admittedly, the fact that the “elder” female characters were listed as “late 30s-early 50s” should have tickled my spidey senses.

This time around, auditions were very different. Four times the number of actors showed up. And there was improv involved. Still, I thought I had a shot at making the cast, until I arrived at the dance callbacks.

My first clue should have been the young lady spread-eagled flat on the floor, stretching in preparation. In fact, the stage was littered with bodies of those limbering up. I was a tad bemused, as I had seen the movie and didn’t notice too much complicated-looking dancing, at least not from the named characters. Had I considered that the stage version might be vastly different from the one with Meryl Streep and her pals, I might have been forewarned.

Those hoping for a spot in the cast filled the stage facing a thin, twenty-something with a high, tawny pony tail and black leggings. She announced that we would be learning a series of dance steps.

“OK! Face the back,” she said, reminiscent of a drill instructor. ” Now, hips left, then right, and spin to the front. And … right arm up high. Good. Now side step. And back. Other side. Full turn to the left and drop to your knees.”

My head popped up. Drop to my knees? Did she mean the ones that have functioned for the last 15 years thanks to the miracle of modern science, infusions injected with big-ass needles that always make me wince? Those knees?

Not wanting to stand out, I dropped to the floor. I almost bellowed like a moose giving birth, but managed to stop myself.

“Now roll over on your butt and jump up.”

In my case, said roll did not occur. I just stared at the choreographer.

“Now … leap!” She took to the air.

Leap? The thing about leaping is there always tend to be landings involved.

The choreographer encouraged us to leap in this fashion. Don’t you agree it hurts just to look at this picture?

“Those of you who want to can bend your leg while leaping. Like this.” She launched herself skyward again. “Point your toes,” she said, alighting gracefully. “Second line, move up to the front.”

Hoping no one would notice, I melted into the back, which would be my primary strategy throughout the ordeal.

After an hour, we took a break. To my horror, five minutes later we were at it again.

“Let’s do another one,” she said. “This one will be easy. Even I can do it.” She smiled prettily.

What I wanted most was to go all Tonya Harding on her kneecaps. “See what you feel like when you’re over 60,” I muttered under my breath, as I mounted the stage.

Another hour passed. I longed for my chiropractor.

I know what your thinking. Why didn’t I just go sit down? Pride, I suppose. Or maybe just plain stubbornness. A few other older women had taken seats. I say “older” here with a caveat. If I had to guess, with the exception of my friend Scott, there was probably no one over 50 auditioning. Clearly, I was pretty much alone as a mid-sexagenarian.

Mercifully, the dancing finally ended. But my humiliation was not over.

Scott appeared. “Hey! You need to go in the back.”

I heard women’s voices singing Dancing Queen from backstage. “Why?”

“The mothers are auditioning,” he explained, using the term applied to the older adult women trying out for a part.

Not knowing how I could have missed the others being called away, I leapt – OK, in my mind, I leapt – onto the stage and bolted through a curtain and down a ramp toward the piano, where about eight women were lined up single file.

“I am so sorry I’m late!” I shouted.

All heads turned toward me. A woman looked up, paper and pencil in hand. “Your name?”

“Anne.”

She scrutinized the document.

The director rose from his seat.

“You’re not on the list,” he said. “You were called back only for a dancing part.”

I suddenly realized that if getting a part hinged on my dancing skills, I would need other plans for the summer. “I am … so sorry!”

I fled.

I found Scott in the seats and chastised him. It wasn’t his fault, though. He simply assumed I should be back there with the others, which in retrospect was sweet.

The director soon dismissed those of us who wouldn’t be invited to participate in any further auditions. Totally dejected, I sneaked out the back door.

When I got home, my sweetie pie stared at me. “I’m sorry,” he said without asking what happened.

I wondered if he’d had a premonition, since he already had a glass of wine poured and waiting for me.

“Maybe they did you a favor,” he said a short time later, as I sat in my jammies feeling sorry for myself, rubbing my aching knees.

I sipped my wine and pouted. “Maybe.”

Later that night, wrapped in two cold packs and a heating pad, I licked my wounds and considered whether I would ever try out for another play.

I’m thinking about it. I’ll let you know.

Here’s a little from my suspense novel based on a true incident. I hope it intrigues you. As a Vietnam veteran and former Special Forces sniper descends into the throes of mental illness, he latches onto a lonely pregnant teenager and a group of Pentecostal zealots – the Children of Light – who have been waiting over thirty years in the Arizona desert for Armageddon. When the Amtrak Sunset Limited, a passenger train en route to Los Angeles, is derailed in their midst in a deadly act of sabotage, their lives are thrown into turmoil. As the search for the saboteurs heats up, the authorities uncover more questions than answers. And then the girl vanishes. While the sniper struggles to maintain his sanity, a child is about to be born deep in the wilderness.
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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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When You Can’t Make it Work on Paper

 by Carol Browne

Christianna Cassisaan artist friend, recently posted some of her paintings on Facebook. I love her art because she has a unique style and her work seems to have a life of its own that I can only describe as magical. Some creatives really do have a special gift for breathing life into their artistic concepts.

Here are three of my favorites.

















As usual, I remarked upon how much I love her paintings and how perfect and brilliant they are. Her response was that I hadn’t seen her failures, and I never would. Nobody would, because they are mediocre and fall short of her vision. She couldn’t make them work on paper.

She said, didn’t I as a writer experience the same phenomenon, where no matter what you do, you can’t make the medium you work with reflect the ideas in your mind?

The similarity between our two art forms struck me very forcibly then, yet it had never occurred to me before. One of the major frustrations of creative work is when a great idea takes root in your mind but you can’t do it justice in the physical expression of it.

For some months now I have been struggling with one of those great ideas. It is dark and unsettling and the perfect premise for an intelligent thriller. It’s an idea that won’t leave me. To discard it is unthinkable.

I wrote three different versions of chapter one and binned them. Likewise, characters have been introduced and quickly shown the door. Backgrounds changed colour and setting. Dramatic conflict between faceless characters led to long verbal exchanges that had no mouths to speak them. Only the idea, the central premise, remains, both egregious and ingenious, demanding manifestation.

And I can’t make it work on paper.

This idea is like a seed that is full of potential but in the hands of an indifferent gardener may never reach for the sun and bear fruit. It is too good an idea not to run with it, and yet it has no legs. I could wish this idea had been given to someone else. Let them sit and stare at the wall, trying to work out a plot! I have been infected with the germ of an idea for a great story, but so far it is peopled by phantoms and written on water.

At some point, I might have to tell myself to let it go. If that happens it will mean having to face the possibility that I’m not up to the job. I was given a good idea but it surpassed my abilities as a writer.  I’m not prepared to give up just yet because this idea is bold and brave. It is a commentary on our times. It has important topics to explore, essential truths to impart, observations to set down and questions to pose. But without a structure these themes float around like rudderless boats, seeking anchorage in a shared harbour. The harbour they are searching for is the book I have called Now You Don’t. It has a title so it should exist. But it doesn’t. It’s a non-book.

Because I can’t make it work on paper.

Here’s a little from my book that did work on paper.


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.

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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 writes both fiction and non-fiction.

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

 

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Introducing Next in Line – by Donna Marie West

next in lineHow far would you go to keep the world’s most explosive secret?

Released on 6th September, 2020, Next in Line is Canadian author Donna Marie West’s first novel.

Blurb
Alison Mitchell is a young American woman trying desperately to get her life back on track after the devastating death of her mother less than two years ago. She thinks she just might be taking her first steps in the right direction, when she meets Joseph de Lorraine. Joseph is the classic mysterious stranger with what might prove to be the most explosive secret in the world: he claims to be the legitimate heir to the sacred bloodline of Jesus Christ and his family has evidence to prove it!Joseph has come to the U.S. from France to study at Yale University, but when circumstances conspire against him, his path crosses Alison’s in the most unexpected way, resulting in near disaster for both of them. As Alison and Joseph grow closer and learn to trust each other, they realize that the choices they make will affect not only their own lives and families, but possibly the future of the entire world.

Author Bio
Donna Marie West is an educator, translator, author, and freelance editor. She has published over 400 drabbles, short stories, poems, and non-fiction articles in a wide variety of Canadian and American magazines, web sites, and anthologies. She loves the unusual and unexplained, and often finds ways to weave these themes into her stories. Among other things, she has always been fascinated by the history of the Knights Templar, and this interest inspired her first novel, Next in Line, freshly released in September, 2020. She spends her precious free time reading, writing, and doing research for her current projects, including the sequel to Next in Line. She lives in Québec, Canada, with her long-time partner and two beloved kitties.

Donna 2015

You can follow Donna on her Amazon author page: https://tinyurl.com/y3wg4wmr  or her public Facebook page under her name.

Buy Links
Amazon US  https://tinyurl.com/y29eyg2s

Amazon Canada  https://tinyurl.com/y2eerdyy

Amazon UK   https://tinyurl.com/y6as2gax

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A story about survival – an interview with the author of the book Being Krystyna.

A story about survival – an interview with the author of the book Being Krystyna.

This time of the year we have many World WarTwoanniversaries starting with 1stSeptember when in 1939 the Nazis attacked Poland and began the war. I think it’stheperfect time to sit with a book such as Being Krystyna – a story that connects the war times with our modern world, and two very different generations. A beautiful but also sad story. An account that gives hope even in the worst circumstances that one may findoneself.

What is one of the most surprising factsis that, had I eaten breakfast and not faintedin a gym a few years ago this book wouldn’t exist! No, the moral isn’t that unhealthy habits cansometimes begood for us.;), it’srather that everything happens for a reason. An ambulance was called to the gym and I met Chris Porsz, a paramedic and…

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Ledger Art by Catherine Castle

from Catherine Castle

I’ve discovered a new art form which I have claimed for my own artistic purposes — Ledger Art.

Ledger Art is an adaptation of Plains Indian hide painting that developed as buffalo hides became sparse.

Before the Plains tribes were forced onto reservations, they had a tradition of painting their personal stories on buffalo hides, shields, tipis, and clothing. The men usually painted representational pictures of life happenings. The women painted abstract, geometrical designs. After the Indians were forced onto reservations and buffalo hides became scarce Caddo and Indian Plains artists, began painting and drawing on paper, canvas, and muslin. Ledger art, also called warrior art, is traditionally done by men, and drawn in one-dimensional outlines and filled in with bright colors. As used ledger pages and other written-upon materials were passed to the Indian artists, they began to draw over the written words, not wasting any materials they could use as canvases.

In recent years Ledger Art has had a resurgence. Contemporary ledger artists, male and female, still draw and paint on antique ledger paper when they can find it, but they have added other sources of paper, including old maps, sheet music, railroad tickets, and other documents as their canvases. Often artists create juxtapositions between the paper’s content and what they have drawn. Many contemporary artists still use the flat, one-dimensional style of drawing. Others have begun to create more three-dimensional art on ledger canvases.

After reading about Ledger Art in one of my Native American magazines, I was captivated by the art samples I saw. I went on an internet search and found more examples. I’ve included a couple of links so you can see this fantastic work. I especially love Dolores Purdy Corcoran’s ledger art. You can view it here.

More of this work is available at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Although contemporary ledger artists often use ledger art to honor pre-reservation culture or comment on, or poke fun at the world around them, I found a new use for ledger art. Using my poetry, I have begun to create my own form of Ledger Art, placing hand-drawn images, or computer images of pictures I’ve taken or drawn, on top of the poems, which I place on blue-lined notebook paper. I haven’t access to antique ledger paper, although I have been on the hunt for it when I’m antiquing.

At first I struggled with using a form of art that claims to be an exclusively American Indian art form. Then it occurred to me I have Choctaw blood in my ancestry. I’m a little bit Indian. I can also draw those one-dimensional figures, and using my poems I can create my own ledger paper. Once I got that notion in my head there was no stopping the creative juices. I stayed up late several nights as the ideas for poem-related ledger art, and ledger art written on my own music compositions flowed from my brain. Granted, I might not have the artistic skills of some of the contemporary ledger artists today, and most of what I create will never see the inside of an art gallery, but what I’m creating is in the spirit of the art form, since many of the poems I’m planning on using have a relationship to things that have happened in my life and my family’s life. I think it will make a nice legacy for my daughter to have one day.

The only thing I need now is a few more hundred hours a week to create everything I want to write, draw, and compose. Ah, being an artist is such a problem. 

Have you ever seen Ledger Art? What do you think about this art form?

Here’s a peek at my award-winning romantic comedy with a touch of drama A Groom for Mama for your reading pleasure.

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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