Monday, July 24, 2017

"Classic Ginger" Life Behind Bars .

As I sit in the dank prison visitor's room, with a smudged pane of class between Carrie, my heroine from First Degree Innocence, and myself, I'm struck by the cold gray walls, the steel folding chairs on the visitor's side, and the lack of any hint of color to brighten the mood.  Nothing about this prison is inviting.  The smell of bleach mingles with food from past meals served, and instead of a sprig of parsley, I envision a individually-wrapped vitamin on each plate to keep the assorted germs at bay.  I wish I'd worn a plastic glove to handle the old black receiver I hold to my ear so I can hear Carrie's answers to my interview questions.  Lord knows who fondled the thing before me.

I turn my attention back to the wide eyes and cute face on the other side of the marred pane.  Under different circumstances, she'd be my next door neighbor's daughter.  Today, I decided to interview her in the early part of her story.  I'm not sure she knows I'm the author of First Degree Innocence or not.

Me:  "So, Carrie, what was your first thought when you arrived here?"

Carrie: "Holy shit, this isn't a nightmare.  It's real."

Me:  "You still claim your innocence?"

Carrie: "For what good it does.  No one believes me except..."

Me:  "Except who?"

Carrie:  "I'm not saying.  I don't want to get anyone into trouble, and I'm hoping that I'll get out of this hellhole pretty soon."

Me:  "I understand you were deemed guilty because there was an eye-witness who placed you at the bank the day it was robbed."

Carrie:  "That's the only reason they convicted me.  I didn't have an alibi.  They day they arrested me , I had called in sick from work, in fact, hadn't moved off the couch all day.  The detective didn't care what I had to say.  With the witness' ID of me supported by fuzzy bank surveillance, I suppose his word was stronger than mine, but trust me, I didn't have anything to do with the robbery.

Me:  "They identified your car, didn't they?"

Carrie:  "So, I have the same make and model car.  I'm sure I'm not the only one in the world.  My problem was I didn't have anyone to vouch for me.  Coincidence is a word for a reason and I got screwed by it."

Me:  "How has prison life been so far?"

Carrie:  *sits forward in her chair*  "How you do expect life is behind bars?  Take a look around.  It doesn't get any cheerier than this, and you're my first visitor."

Me:  "Have you made any friends on the inside."

Carrie: *chuckles*  "I guess you could call my cellmate a friend, although you can't ever be sure anyone in this place is being honest.  Suzanna sort of got railroaded too, and she's been a great comfort to me, but you always have doubts about everyone.  Jet especially."

Me:  "And who is Jet?"

Carrie:  "You know how you always hear about bullies in life?  Well, Jet is the bully that runs roughshod over everyone in here.  She seems to have found favor with the guards, and they look the other way where she's concerned.  For some reason, she's taken an interest in me...one that makes me very nervous."

Me:  "I feel a little responsible for the predicament you're in. You probably know I wrote your story, if not, I'll fess up.  Although I wish I could tell you how things will end, I can't give away the books ending.  I just wanted to meet with you today to give the readers a glimpse of where you are and how you're feeling.  I can tell you there's a light at the end of the tunnel."

Carrie:  "With my luck, it'll be a train."  *She leans back and sighs.  "I don't hold you responsible.  You're just telling...oh, excuse me, showing my story to your readers, and I can't fault you for that.  You get your inspiration where you can.  Just tell me one thing...is Jet a lesbian?  I'm a little worried about that...you know with this being all women..."

Me:  "That really the least of your worries as far as Jet's concerned.  Just stay strong."

Carrie:  "Gee, thanks for that bit of advice."

The sound of a buzzer echoes through the room and a voice booms over a loud-speaker, announcing that visiting hours are over.  Carrie rises, receiver in hand and looks at me with sad eyes.

"Just get me out of here,  please."

As I hang up the phone and scrub my hands down my pant legs, I feel a pang of guilt for the situation Carrie faces.  I know the ending to the book, but what happens between now and then isn't going to be easy for her.  I hope she can stay strong...and if you want to know more, too bad, you have to buy First Degree Innocence to find out.

The novel is published by Books We Love, and you can purchase it on Amazon for a ridiculously low price.







Saturday, July 22, 2017

What Do I Read?




What do I read?  This is the topic for this month's Round Robin discussion.

In my case, the questions should be, "What don't I read?

I read anything and everything within my line of sight.  If you show be a book, magazine article, odds are, I will ask if I can 'see' (meaning hold it so I can see the print).  If it is interesting, I will probably walk away absorbed.  Later, I will return the item.  I will apologize and offer you something  (pen, pencil, bookmark, perhaps a cookie).

However, this is not what Robin had in mind, I assume, when this topic was posted :-).

I never read a novel in the genre I'm currently writing.  This is because I read for enjoyment.  When I am working on a historical novel, I'm researching--therefore working.  This is way I do not read historical fiction during that time frame.

Right now I'm working on a contemporary novel and a fantasy novella.  So, I'll probably re-read Jane Eyre, or some historical time period via the Internet.  Victorian era, is likely or my personal fave, Ancient Egypt.

I enjoy print books and ebooks.  I can't quite get into the audio books.  I do have an old Kindle that does text-to-voice.  It is a robotic sound, but I do not find it distracting.  If I wish for sound effects, I'll turn in a movie or television show.  I do enjoy Podcasts--though this probably doesn't fall under the topic of reading :-).

I did peek at Dr. Bob's post and amended mine.  Dr. Bob doesn't write romance because of the 'romantic myth'.

I plot by the rules of "The Hero's Journey". (Dr. Joseph Campbell).  I can't say I believe in the Cinderella and the happily ever after, in a true sense, either.  What I do like is the 'magical' emotional world of a romance.  The need for emotional fulfillment is what a romance novel offers (though mine often deal with social issues).  When a woman works full-time while raising her family, married or unmarried, she is often emotionally worn-out.  Reading a romance or gentle fantasy novel (unlike an action/suspense/horror novel) will refill her emotional cup (fill and emotional void).  Providing her with the emotional re-charge to face the world the next day/ after a 30-lunch, etc.

Positive thoughts.

Sometimes we need to believe the world is/will be a kinder place, a simpler place, or a place with beautiful book covers (had to toss in my personal pet-peeve), to get us through a rough-spot, or give us a moment of inner piece.

I believe reading fiction provides a recharge.  Life can be so draining, physically and emotionally.

What harm is there in enjoying a happily-ever-after?  After all, you have spent several hours with your new-found friends, and you wish them well.

Happy Reading,

Connie

Please Blog Hop down the list and read what these wonderful authors have to say!


Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Anne de Gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog 
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com
Heather Haven http://heatherhavenstories.com/blog/
Fiona Mcgier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Dr. Bob http://wp.me/p3Xihq-11v
Kay Sisk http://www.kaysisk.com/blog
Skay Taylor http://www.askyetaylor.com/blogging_by_the_sea/view/542
Rachel Kosinki http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Anne de gruchy https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

Friday, July 21, 2017

Lucky 7 and Me



Everyone I'm Baaaack!
Due to a crashed PC and no wifi or internet I've been out of touch for a bit.

I'm back online and I'm sharing today's event!  I'm being feature in a Lucky 7 interview.

Lucky 7.
What is it?
What does it mean?
Stop by and find out.  I'm here with USA Bestselling author, Joan Reeves!

https://gemsintheattic.blogspot.com/2017/06/joanreeves-and-lucky-7.html

Hope to see you there!

Connie
#Lucky7
#BWL
#JoanReeves







Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Enter the Smartphone




Okay! Here I am confessing: I must be one of the last people in the US to switch to a smartphone. On a trip to Atlanta to see a stellar grand-girl graduate High School, I was overwhelmed by family--both kids and grandkids--demanding that I get a better phone. So—I caved at last, regaled with all the storied delights that awaited me once I owned such a device. I returned home with said phone tucked inside a pair of socks. We had been too busy with visiting back and forth, hanging out, and attending various graduation festivities to go searching for a case through Atlanta’s daunting traffic.   I figured this would be a good time to make the big change, as I’d have two sons, two DILs and a grand girl to instruct me in at least some of the major arcana.

I was once considered a tech savvy person, but those days are loooong gone. There’s a certain inverted pride in still using a bona fide IBM keyboard from the 80’s, hitched to an early 2004’s computer. It is, however, getting to be more difficult to lag behind than to “get with the program,” as software, and hardware too, endlessly morph. IMHO, (as I learned to say on USENET) I suspect that all the “updating” is simply an excuse to wring more $$ from hapless consumers. One of my friends has a fantasy about MS65, a program geared to seniors, which would be guaranteed to run without chronic episodes of silicon insanity (could I perhaps be alluding to MS 10??) and also guaranteed not to change or alter in any way for a decade. That’s about the right amount of time for many of us cotton-tops to learn a software program these days, I fear. 

Of course, stability/continuity is not what software developers are into these days—the more things fail to work as promised, I guess, the better it is for business, or something. Anyway, while I’m griping, what’s with their penchant for hiding the most commonly used operations three or four—or five--pull downs deep? Is it so we have to humiliate ourselves and buy the latest copy of “…For Dummies”? And what’s with that “Search” that leads you into Alice in Wonderland conversations with   ?? Couldn’t "search" just continue to do what the word indicates that it does?

This morning, I awoke to the sound of chimes—my new phone, of course. I’d set the alarm, hitched it to the wall socket and left it wakeful. Now, I leapt out of bed, and attempted to turn the alarm off without first putting on my glasses. Next thing I knew, I’d taken four blurry pictures of myself. It took a few more minutes of struggle before I managed to figure out how to put the camera back to sleep and find the clock + alarm again. 


How did I, whose first and foremost mental image of “phone” remains the graceful black candlestick apparatus in my grandparent’s living room, enter a world where a small slim box in my hand can deposit checks, take pictures, tell time, and connect me to the internet and thence to untold wonders of consumption? As Charlie Brown so often said, "It boggles the mind."



~~Juliet Waldron

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Developing Characters in Your Stories by Connie Vines

How do you go about developing your characters for a story?  

How much time do you spend or does it just happen in the writing process ?  What inspires you?

Thank you Rhobin, once again, for a great writing topic.

I believe development of my characters has a great deal to do with the type of novel/story that I am writing at the time.  Obviously, my novellas, for lack of work count, are not superficial by any means, but my information is given via dialogue or internal thoughts with visual clues.  My romantic suspense will have a lesser degree of character development, unless it relates to  the 'suspense element' that say, my traditional romance novels.

However, I do write character sketches for all of my 'people'.  I may sprinkle the info in the story, or simply keep in in the back of my mind for character motivation.


  • I often use astrological signs to help develop my characters and create conflict.  Rodeo Romance, Book 1, (LYNX).  Lynx Maddox is a Leo and Rachel Scott is an Aquarius.  Opposites attract but they also create great romantic conflict.
  • Birth Order is another way to develop your character(s) actions and outlook on life. Pairing a 1st born woman with the 'baby' of the family or vise-a-versa, will create writing inspiration.  
  • Ethnic background is also to be considered.  If one character is from a large immigrate family is dating a person who is an only child (4th generation) with have all types of expected things popping into picture.
  • If I am writing a historical novel, I often make a composite of historical people/clues in diaries and letters (WHISPER UPON THE WATER)
  • At other times, with all of my careful planning, the writing process flips my character into a secondary character or he/she evolves and I go back and edit/change several scenes.
  • Also physical attributes/challenges.  We all have them.  Did those dimples work in her favor?  
What inspires me?  Life.  People's hopes and dream.  Honor. Justice.  And sometimes, just the need for a good laugh.

Happy Reading!

Connie Vines

Stop by and see what the rest of this months' Round Robin writers have to say.








Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Angel Cat


Cat Woman, the GMA version


I was working a PAWS volunteer, every other Friday at Petsmart(c). Friday night duty was a slot they had trouble filling, but I was retired, and half sick, too, so I was never wanting to be out on the town. I am a long time cat lady, who has learned slowly and over the years about cats, and I know they need their space. I cleaned cages, scooped poop, cuddled when the cats let me, wrote notes for the folks in charge, took information, tried to get visitors to understand the PAWS rules.


I soon learned the potential adoptees were a lot more trouble than the cats. There were women who wanted to park kids there, or bring in a pushing mob + stroller. All those little voices were apparently tuned to screaming over the TV at home. Some of these rescue cats really weren’t up to that much humanity, especially when backed into cages in a narrow, walled in glass space. I put my foot down, as had others before me, and signs posted on the door by the store managers helped. “No kids without parents! No more than three people at a time!”

I’d been there for two years, taking my place behind the glass wall, sweeping the floor, cleaning cages, making sure there was food and water, that all feline were present and accounted for when I left, when my illness reached a critical point. I had Ulcerative Colitis and often there was the "I wanna collapse" level pain.

I was on the verge of my first ER trip, when they brought in a new litter of kittens. These were about six months old and mostly black. The head of our local PAWS had a husband who was a hunter, often over at his gun club. He was the one who’d spotted the Queen, hiding under the porch. He’d also heard the mews of tiny kittens, and he’d persuaded those who didn’t like cats to leave them alone until he went home and got the live trap. They were fostered for several months before they got to the store. Their now neutered Mama already had a forever home.



A cage full of kittens is a wonderful thing—all tumbling acrobatics, daring and sass. It was so much fun to lock the entrance to the space and let them out to play in front of the cages. Besides, nothing revs up potential adoptees more than kittens. I scattered balls and stuffed mice, got the feather teaser out, and began to enjoy the sight of them leaping around, chasing and tumbling crazily in the limited space. They batted balls, went sliding on the linoleum, and just generally had a big old time. They’d been given “sportsman” names because a gun clubber had rescued them from beneath the club house. They were  Blue Steel, Bullet, Smithie, Bowie, Archer, and Hunter. Several were tuxedos, adorable babies with round heads, neat white paws and full bibs. 


I stopped playing after a little and that was when I heard a soft mew behind me. When I turned, there was one who hadn’t joined the others on the floor. Totally black, this one was, with just a few white hairs on his chest, and an elegant, almost oriental head. I stepped close to the cage, and he simply climbed out onto my shoulder, then slipped down into my waiting arms. In the next moment, he began kissing me, and patting my face with his dainty feet.

He didn’t want to get down. He wanted to be held, to rub his face against mine and exchange vibrations. This is, as cat people know, is not the norm with kittens, especially when all your brothers and sisters are blasting nearby.  I was weak that night; my body just about ready for either death or cutting. I knew it was about my last tour of PAWS duty, that even two hours of serving the cats and the public was a stretch.  



When the baby was done kissing, I turned back his ear to see the number of his PAWS tattoo, and before I left that night, I left an application for adoption pinned on the cage. I knew I’d have an uphill battle convincing my husband to take in another—it had been part of the deal about volunteering that there were to be no additional cats—but within a week I brought him home—our beautiful boy from-under-the-gun-club. He crawled in bed with me that night and stayed at my side while I declined toward the bed-ridden and near-death experience of that year.

Sometimes, an "ordinary kitty" turns out to be nothing more or less than a gift from the Universe. This one, with the kisses and hugs which he bestowed upon me daily--like all little rays of divine light, he didn't manifest for long on this plane--was a full-on Blessing.






~~Juliet Waldron 

https://www.facebook.com/jwhistfic/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
http://bwlauthors.blogspot.com/

Monday, May 29, 2017

WHAT THE HECK???

MySpace Graphics - Attitude


When we come into this world, there should be a handbook rolled up in our little palm so that we have an idea of what to expect. Every milestone has been somewhat of a shock. I shall explain from the female's perspective, since I can't speak with authority for the other gender:

As a young girl, you wake up one day, get dressed, and discover that you have embarrassing bumps in your t-shirt. What fit perfectly snug against you one day, now looks like someone has glued peas to your chest. When you're cold, it's even worse. It really doesn't matter what you wear, the evidence of blooming is ever present. You try to ignore the boy's snickers.

As a teenager, you've gone from a t-shirt to at least a training bra, but now you face having a period every month. If your mother didn't tell you the facts of life, you go to the bathroom, discover blood, and think you're dying. If she did explain mother nature's calling, then you just FEEL like you're dying.

As an adult, you most likely give birth to a child. No one can describe the pain associated with that. The best I heard was a joke that said, "Take your bottom lip and try and pull it over your head." I think it's more like trying to get a school bus out of the garage using the doggie door, but that's just me.

As a middle age woman you notice lines and wrinkles beginning to appear. It happens overnight just like the t-shirt bumps. One day you have smooth skin, the next you don't.

Then it really becomes tense. Your breasts, once perky and upright, have developed magnets that seem to be attracted to the toes of your shoes. Whatever held up the skin on your neck has disappeared and someone fan-pleated your lips. Mother Nature thinks your hair needs a frost job, and the color isn't at all attractive. As a protective device, your body begins building a shelf to catch the boobs that are headed south. As if that isn't enough, your legs have more blue lines than a road map.

At fifty-five, you become eligible for a senior meal at Denny's. You order it and pray someone will card you. They don't.

Of course, this is just a 'thumbnail' of the horrors of aging, but wouldn't it have been nice to have a warning? Now I'm facing sixty-two. The year went by so fast, I didn't even get to say I was sixty-one. It's scary.

I went to the doctor today because my legs and feet have been swelling. Of course, I've put on a few pounds because I sit at the computer most of the day instead of exercising. I get up everyday and say, "Hmmm, jogging or checking my email... sit ups or writing another chapter?" Well you can imagine which I choose. So today, the doc tells me I need to walk more and he gives me a RX for a very strong water pill. I was so depressed over being weighed that I resolved to start walking.

There's a little park not far from his office. I pulled in and got out of the car and decided to walk the one mile track there. Let me just say... you should not try to walk a mile on your first attempt if the most exercise you've had recently is moving your fingers over the keyboard. Halfway around I thought I was going to die. Literally. My legs turned leaden, sweat was pouring from my forehead, and every step was torture. At the half mile turn, I spied my car. I focused on it, and forced one foot in front of the other until I got there. I collapsed in the seat. I had to rest a minute before driving, but once I got off my swollen feet I felt pretty satisfied that I'd actually done a half mile. I decided to go to Walmart and do some shopping. I'm pretty sure I did another half mile there.

So....it's 2:00 A.M. I just woke up with leg cramps that rival childbirth. I have never had my big toe lift off of the floor and point at me. Try walking like that. Try climbing the stairs to the kitchen to get some orange juice to restore the lost potassium with Charlie horses in both legs and your big toe standing at attention. Oh Lord. I'd rather have the swelling.

So, I've had my orange juice, I've bitched, but now I'm afraid to go back to sleep. What if it happens again? Growing old isn't for the faint of heart. I need a muscle relaxer. :) Actually, I need a good stiff drink. I can't wait to see what's in store tomorrow. Happy Birthday to Me, Happy Birthday to Me. Happy Birthday dear Ginger... Happy Birthday to me. And many mooooreeee. *lol*

Monday, May 1, 2017

Classic Ginger: Hell Finally Froze Over

MySpace Layouts - Cute



I think I muttered the cliche associated with hell when someone asked if I planned to live with my son and his family for long. Well, it's been a year and I'm still here, doing daycare for my grandson, cleaning, washing, shopping, cooking, and trying to find time to be an author, blog, myspace, bebo, you name it.

It's not easy living with another family, and I'm sure there are days when my daughter-in-law wants to kill me as much as I'd like to leave her body in a dark alley somewhere. But we've managed to survive. I've learned to have tunnel vision when I pass through their portion of the house, smartly ignoring the unmade bed, the stacks on her desk, and the spots all over her bathroom mirror. Okay, so my tunnel vision hasn't been perfected yet but I'm working on it.

She held a job as a Correction's Officer when I first came here and was on second shift. That sucked because she was like 'mother in abstencia', but now she has a new job and she's home evenings. I know because I hear her upstairs watching the soap operas she recorded during the day. *lol* I thought life would become more normal and the dust less thick, but I was wrong.

Now I have to contend with a whole new problem. DIL works for a company that services and fills money machines and those lovely games that your children yank you over to when you go into restaurants, Walmart and other places. Her company-provided van resembles like a 'carney' on the way to set up a booth at the local fair, but she works hard and long. She tells me everyday. *lol*

The new headache around here for me is the 'stuffed animal' hospital thats gathering in the corner of the dining area. Toys that are damaged in any way can't go into the machines, so as she finds them, she brings them home and tosses them in a pile. It's growing in frightening leaps and bounds. (emphasis on frightening) Right beneath the three-legged unicorn is a really scary broom-less witch, a three-armed Sponge Bob, and a myriad of other colorful plush that are torn, frayed, or disfigured. I'm hoping it's just special-effects for Halloween, but I'll let you know. I had a nightmare last night that I was attacked by handicapped plush animals and woke up fighting with my pillow. I thought dust and clutter in the rest of the house was bad. I think I'll entitle my next book, Lunacy on Lick Creek Rd.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Classic Ginger: Little Known Facts

In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted. Arms and legs are 'limbs,' therefore painting them
would cost the buyer more. Hence the expression,
'Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg.'

As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May and October)! Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs, so to clean them they would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term 'big wig.' Today we often use the term 'here comes the Big Wig' because someone appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.


In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The 'head of the household' always sat in the chair while everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one sitting in the chair the 'chair man.' Today in business, we use the expression or title 'Chairman' or 'Chairman of the Board.'

Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face she was told, 'mind your own bee's wax.' Should the woman smile, the wax would crack, hence the term 'crack a smile.' In addition, when they sat too close to the fire, the wax would melt . . . therefore, the expression 'losing face.'

Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and dignified woman, as in 'straight laced'. . wore a tightly tied lace.

Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades.' To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead.
Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be stupid or dumb because they weren't 'playing with a full deck.'


Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and bars. They were told to 'go sip some ale' and listen to people's conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at different times. 'You go sip here' and 'You go sip there.' The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and, thus we have the term 'gossip.'

At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the term 'minding your 'P's and Q's.'

One more: bet you didn't know this!
In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem...how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called
a 'Monkey' with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make 'Brass Monkeys.' Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, 'Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.' (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn't you.)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Reviews, Love Them or Hate Them? by Connie Vines

Victoria suggested this month’s topic. Reviews - Love 'em, hate 'em or totally ignore them. Amazon tells us the more 4 or 5 reviews the better of book sales.

I ignore reviews when I purchase a book.  I am more inclined to purchase a book that has won or was a finalist in a National or International contest:  H.O.L.T Medallion, National Book Award, Independent e-Book or  Romance Writers' of America Contest.  When peers honor you, it promises  a well crafted story.  Whereas reviews are subjective or give all the plot points, or, GASP, spells our the ending!

I’ve read books with horrible reviews because I know the author and ending up loving the books. I’ve read books by Best Selling authors with  🌠🌠🌠🌠🌠 reviews, forced myself to finishing the novel and ended up bemoaning my lost cash. When I’m looking at buying or reading, I check out the topic/setting,  author, the cover, the blurb and the first page.

When it comes to my writing and garnishing of reviews,  I do place effort in the endeavor.  I blog, guest blog, toss freebies out on social media, post Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.  I've sat at rodeos, powwows, book stores, libraries, and live podcast feeds.   All resulted I a respectable number of book sales, but few online reviews.  The small publishing companies expect you to get and publish your own reviews.  Sounds easy, especially when your sales are respectable.  Unfortunately, people are more inclined to post a 'didn't like it review' much quicker than, 'I love it!'  😞--especially if the book was a free read or only cost 99 cents.

While I welcome well thought out reviews, I find the chase takes away from my writing and at that is self defeating.  This year, I'll be focusing more on promotion and branding. I believe this will result in increased sales.

I wouldn't say I hate reviews (I like a good review as much as any other author) but I appreciate a reader who runs up to me or sends me an email.  A reader who quotes my heroine, loves my hero, and cries at the end of each of my novels. I am a story teller.  And every story teller is looking for a happy ending!  Making my returning readers happy, is the best review!

 I look forward to reading what the authors have to say. I hope you read their blog posts, too.

Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Dr. Bob Rich https://bobrich18.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/how-to-get-reviews
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea 
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
A.J. Maguire  http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com


Purchase here:  https://www.amazon.com/Connie-Vines/e/B004C7W6PE

                          http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/lynx-connie-vines/1114972573/2675952593078?st=PLA&sid=BNB_DRS_Marketplace+Shopping+Books_00000000&2sid=Google_&sourceId=PLGoP1948&k_clickid=3x1948

                          https://www.kobo.com/us/en/search?query=Connie%20Vines&fcsearchfield=Author
                          https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/205731.Connie_Vines
                          http://coldcoffeemagazine.com/lynx-by-connie-vines/ 
             

May Day Romance

She was moth to his flame...

An excerpt for May Day from the historical romance, My Mozart

...The forest was a living cathedral, the great columns bearing a roof of green. All the time we gradually ascended, following a path. In one place we forded a lively stream, balancing on mossy rocks that barely kept us above the chattering water.

Topping a final rise, we came at last upon the Waldhut. It sat in a small clearing, dwarfed by the biggest pine trees I had ever seen. Smoke trailed from the chimney and a fire also crackled out front, snapping sparks. From the greasy cloud rising from a blackened, steaming rock pile, I knew that a pig had already gone into the pit. There was another smell, too, the welcome fragrance of coffee.

Among the musicians and dancers were handymen and servants, all sharing in the cheerful equality of the day. As Barbara and I laid blankets at the edge of the clearing atop a thick blanket of pine needles, I spied, further back in the woods, a green tent. Stage shrieks emanated from it.

"Gott! The usual bawdy house atmosphere." Barbara took me by the arm and pulled me toward the fire. "You, Blumechen, are to stay far, far away from that tent."

The clearing had the look of an impromptu marketplace, with stacks of rugs and laden baskets. Three children suddenly bounded out the door of the summerhouse, pushing past like unruly dogs. Two boys and a girl, they wore bright lumpy peasant’s clothing.

Who did they remind me of, with their broad laughing faces and thick wild hair?

"Schikaneder's." Barbara answered my unspoken question. "Three different mothers, but look at them, alike as peas in a pod. He keeps a regular herd at some farm near Josephplatz."

Turks, I thought, weren't the only men to keep harems.

Going into the Waldhut with Barbara, we found a trestle table set with breads, butter, cheese and those expensive luxuries, coffee and sugar. With cups in hand we stood around the table with the Schacks, who were already inside eating. At last, in spite of the strong, sugary coffee and so many gay companions, I was sleepier than ever. Barbara and I, after looking at each other and yawning, agreed we couldn't keep our eyes open much longer.

Going into the yard, we collected our things and carried them to an area screened from the clearing by flowering trees. Here, close to the prone form of an ancient pine, we spread our blankets. Ferns and clusters of tiny white and lavender flowers dotted the ground. Barbara fussed at me to hurry and settle, but I spent time carefully finding a spot where the blanket wouldn't crush them.

"Shall I sing my little girl a lullaby?" Barbara leaned back against the fallen tree and kicked off her shoes.

"Yes if you please, Frau Gerl."

Behind us, the clearing grew quiet. There seemed to be a unanimous decision that it was time for a nap. While Barbara softly serenaded me with an old nursery song, I bunched up my shawl for a pillow. A root that felt like a big toe stuck into my side, so I moved my hips. The last conscious thought I had was that I'd never be able to fall asleep here...
 ~~~

I stood with a group of women among the pines. I could hear a bright tune, perfect for a romp, but my companions were still as statues. In their midst was a man, an angel of a man, a man I almost recognized.
Golden curls haloed his face and he wore a crown of laurel leaves, like Apollo. When he beckoned, one of my companions would rise and walk like a sleepwalker into his arms, where she would be embraced and kissed. Melting, the woman would crumple to the ground at his feet and remain there, eyes raised toward his shining face, apparently quite stricken with love..."


~~Juliet Waldron
MY MOZART:




See all my books @


                                                                 http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Husband in Kitchen...



                                     The hot dog, spicy chickpea, fresh cut pineapple lunch...an early effort.   ;)
                                                    

Every wife/working woman knows that after years of having her husband at his office all day, when he retires, things change around the house.  Mine retired and flopped around for several years before hitting on something to do with all this new time on his hands. I suggested that there were things he could do around here which would be helpful—instead of just micro-managing me, reading The Economist, and playing solitaire. Eventually, he took something up.

Typically—at least, I think it’s typical—the tasks he decided he’d like to take over were also the ones I most enjoyed most about housework—shopping and cooking. Somehow, women are always left with the scrubbing, mopping, vacuuming, and cleaning of bathrooms, the least favorite parts of the routine. We must have it written on our foreheads, or on some stone tablet with a curse on it somewhere:  “Woman, Thou Shalt Clean ***Toilets and Vacuum Cat Hair off the furniture to the End of thy Days.”







Anyhow, at last he took up doing something, so the food stuff is now mostly off my to-do list. I need to mention that he’s not much of a yard work or DIY guy either. Not going to launch into painting, or even mowing when it’s the season for that. I do half the mowing and at least half of the snow shoveling, so I’m standing by my man on those fronts, but I sometimes wish he had more of a bent for DIY. We’ve got a carpet in the unfinished basement that could probably qualify as a super fund site, but I digress.

First of all, he “learned shopping.” This, before he started cooking, entailed  annoyed calls from the supermarket to ask me what the hell my handwriting says, or what the hell is that ingredient and where the hell can that "weird-ass" ingredient be found? There’s a small locally owned supermarket that we’ve patronized for the last 30 years, so I pretty much have the place memorized.


There are pitfalls, however. The other day he returned with two sacks of yellow onions because they were a two-fer. I didn’t see how we were ever going to use two sacks. After all, there are only two of us! So they sat on the counter, withering, until this weekend I thought of a frugal solution: onion soup. Hating to throw anything away like a good Yankee, I suggested he chop them up. He, chef-like, has been working on his knife handling skills.

He chopped meticulously and produced an entire mixing bowl filled to the top with onions. Then with butter, salt, and low heat, I slowly stirred them over medium/high for a very long time, while they cooked down and down and down and finally changed color. Next came the chicken stock, added a little at a time, all the while cooking and cooking, reducing and reducing, and at the end, a LOT of Parmesan, quickly whisked in.  It took us about three hours, but eventually we’d produced about six bowls of very tasty onion soup. (Not yet ready for Chopped, I fear.) And yet, 3+ hours for onion soup...not the 30 minute meals that I spent my entire life putting together after I fell in the door after a full day at the office.


Now, however, he's begun a new obsession which is -- drum roll, please -- cooking Indian food.  The approach is singularly male. At least, I think it's gender oriented because it involves, first of all, the acquisition of lots of specialized tools and ingredients. First, he had to buy cookbooks. Second, he proceeded to map out all the Indian groceries in the area and scout them, recipes in hand. here, He stressed out all the barely English-speaking staff with questions about where to find the Kari Leaves...

We've acquired two large plastic tubs under the worktable (my stuff has, of course, been moved) filled with lots of little glass jars + lids  and an aluminum pot called a masala wala which contains six smaller pots. These are filled with genuine, direct from the Indian grocery spices--he now scorns Mr. McCormicks' offerings--as well as several 1/2 tsp. spoons with which to measure. The coffee grinder has been commandeered to process whole coriander, black pepper, whole cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. Serrano peppers are a regular on the shopping list. The mini-blender is permanently stained red pepper and tumeric orange.

When I do get into the kitchen to make something like an old-fashioned split pea soup in the slow cooker, or a pork and kraut supper, he simply doesn't eat it. So, I've resigned. At least he doesn't expect me to do the dishes for him--he tried to turn me into his dishwasher, but as he uses every single pot, pan, spoon, ladle, spatula we own for each meal he makes, I wasn't going to fall for that.  

In all fairness, he's making us quite delicious meals, spicy vindaloo, saag, and briyani. Today it was chicken tandoori, which was absolutely wonderful. This dish requires marinating in five spices and lemon juice, then basting with yogurt sauce and then baking.




Heaven help me, though, if he starts to order (online) Ganges clay in order to construct an authentic wood-fired tandoori oven in the backyard...



~~Juliet Waldron

18th Century and 15th Century novels, as well as 19th Century fantasy and rural romance

A Master Passion, Mozart's Wife, Roan Rose, Genesee & Hand-me-Down Bride aButterfly Bride
and many others.

See them all at:

http://www.bookswelove.net/authors/waldron-juliet/    and at:

http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi

also available  on Kobo, Smashwords, and itunes


https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-master-passion-the-story-of-elizabeth-and-alexander-hamilton



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Emotional Involvement in a Story by Connie Vines

Since I am still dealing with power outages, I can only hope this blog posts and doesn't disappear.
 

What a wonderful topic for this month's Round Robin Blog.  Thank you Dr. Bob!

Are you ever emotionally drained by writing certain scenes, and how real are your characters to you?

For romance novelist the emotional involvement is the 💖 of the story.  Whereas fear would be the emotional of a horror story, etc.

So, like so many other romance novelists of my era, I have one key movie and one key television series which spelled out emotion in capital letters.


  • The opening of the movie Romancing the Stone, where author Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner) is bawling because she has finished her book with a very emotional scene in her book. 
  • The television series,  Beauty and the Beast, starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Pearlman (as Vincent, the beast).  The opening music was enough to make my throat thick and my eyes teary.

 I've read meany books that brought me to tears (Jane Eyre, to name my favorite), and I must admit, I still cry when I re-read scenes in my own novels, too.  Talk that dark moment in Lynx, Rodeo Romance, Book 1, when Rachel turns down Lynx's proposal.  Or in Brede, Rodeo Romance, Book 2 when my heroine is willing to sacrifice her life to save Brede and his daughter.  Well, you get the picture , ,  

I plot my novels and short stories, however, I emotionally live my scenes.  Since my settings are places I have lived or visited, I have memories and sensory reactions. In real life, since  I can feel other people's emotions, which is difficult at times, and it helps for me to write it out through my characters.

Emotional draining? Yes.
Rewarding?  Of course.

Please stop by and see what these wonderful authors have to say by clicking on the links below.

Happy Reading!

Connie


Victoria Chatham 
Marci Baun 
Margaret Fieland 
Judith Copek 
A.J. Maguire 
Rachael Kosinski 
Dr. Bob Rich 
Heather Haven 
Beverley Bateman 
Kay Sisk 
Diane Bator
Skye Taylor 
Helena Fairfax
Rhobin Courtwright

Friday, March 17, 2017

Blogging in the Dark by Connie Vines

This was not the topic I'd planned for Thursday, but as you can see, my neighborhood is still without electricity and I'm writing by the light of one,very dim candle.

**i intended to insert a photo of me by candle light, except the camera feature will not launch :(. **

Yes, I've been without services before.  I've been camping and stayed for a week in a tipi (complete with overseeing the operation of a smoke flap) and participated in meal prep were several salmon were cooked over a pit fire.  I'm not even afraid of wild animals (except for opossums, squirrels, and an occasional raccoon) few venture into the quirky suburbs of Southern California; nor am I fearful of the dark.  I simply find it extremely I convenient, today & tomorrow, to have my carefully laid plans disrupted.

I have a Geek Squad tech scheduled to service and back-up by iPhone, iPad, and PC.  This will not happen if I do not have electricity. I also have a 7 a.m. service appointment the service my car.

So what? You are thinking.

 What if I oversleep?  5:30 a.m. Is not an easy time for me to be functional, I'm a night owl, remember.  What if my cell phone and my iPad have zero battery life?  

I had planned on working on my office tonight.  I have stacks everywhere because I'm setting up my files and purging my bookcases.  Not an activity to be attempted by flashlight or candle light.  I had also planned on writing my blog (I have accomplished one item on my list. If it posts).

It's 77 degrees, no rain.  I have the neighbor's solar lights which cast a faint shimmer on the cement side walk, so no one should trip and fall into the street if they venture out into the darkness.

I'm going to see if I can locate an unsented candle to light, because the floral fragrance is a bit over powering.  It's 8:11 by the light of my Fitbit tracker. . . Have a good evening everyone!

#www.novelsbyconnievines.com






Saturday, March 4, 2017

Not For Sissies




Years ago I first saw “Getting Old Is Not For Sissies” posted on the wall at my mother’s nursing home. It’s proved truer--and truer sooner--than I could have ever imagined. Here I am, suddenly (who knows how?!) into my seventies, telling a disease of the week kind of surgery story, just like my grandmother's friends used to. 

A decade back, I had life-changing surgery which ended five years of suffering from Ulcerative Colitis. That’s one of those “down there” diseases, like colon cancer, recently out of the closet of unmentionable ailments.  One of the worst things about UC—besides the relentless belly-aching (!) was being virtually housebound whenever the disease was active, which became progressively more and more of the time. I spent most of one year in and out of bed, fatigued, sick, and in all over pain. (At least, if you are having a tough pregnancy, you may, at the end of the trail, have something nice to show for it.) 

Finally, when I'd gone in for yet another scope, I came to in a hospital bed, with a kind Asian Gastroenterologist explaining that the look-see had been impossible because my gut was about to rupture. It was decision time. Either take a chemo-type infusion treatment that would reoccur every six weeks for the rest of my life, or big, cut-and-paste surgery. 

Being an old fashioned girl, I took "the knife." It's an awful phrase that smacks of melodrama, but there is a certain truth to it as well, because there are some glaring body-concept changes to face.  

"Why?" I'd wondered to the surgeon. My husband was only three years past a colon cancer operation. The female surgeon just shrugged her white-coated shoulders and said we'd been hit by diseases common to people with our history. We'd lived for a decade in farmland Connecticut, drinking from a well. The old run-down house in which we lived sat amid fields of corn, tobacco, and potatoes, all of which require a lot of Ag-Chem. Cancer and immune diseases go with the territory.


Surgery left me with an ostomy, but freed me from the burden of all those ruined body parts. Once again, with a bit of strategy, I could travel, go out to eat, go to the movies, or even just out to the mall. I could ride my bike to the farmer’s market and load the bags with vegetables, or hop up onto the back of my husband’s motorcycle and go out to admire the rural Pennsylvania countryside for hours, a pastime we both enjoy.

For three years I felt better. I could lug sacks of mulch around the yard, yank weeds that were hoping to settle in my garden. I was attending Silver classes at the gym and generally enjoying life again.





Unfortunately, post-surgical patients of my kind are digestive Rube Goldberg machines.
Lots of things can (and do) go wrong. I'd considered myself well-educated about possible problems this drastic re-engineering might create, but it turned out that post-op adhesions are a common occurrence. I'd probably read that somewhere before I made my choice, but now it was in my face--or remains of my gut, I guess is better--another blockage. 

So, once more, there was hospitalization followed by a dreary, kick-the-drugs convalescence. I was crestfallen, scarred, and physically weak.  It was far harder after that to imagine a nice seamless future.

So once again, I sucked it up, and bravely head “Onward, into the fog.”* which, I think is a pretty good description of the future.  Once again, I'm alive and well some years past surgery.

The beauty of the right-now-moment--hearing the voice of a grandchild or an old friend, seeing the blood red just-bloomed Christmas amaryllis, or enjoying the pleasant sensation of a lean-against-my-leg-please-pat-me from a fluffy cat—must take precedence over all those middle of the night "what if's?"  

Whatever it took to get to today, I’m thankful to have been given a little more time in which to celebrate the small shiny bits of life, those marvelous happenings of every day.


*R. Crumb's Mr. Natural



~~Juliet Waldron
http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    Historical Novels by JW at Amazon


http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion   ISBN: 1771456744
(Alexander Hamilton and his Eliza, their story)






http://amzn.to/1sUSjOH Angel’s Flight  ISBN: B0098CSH5Q
Adventure and romance during the American Revolution


Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Indispensable Man




Angel’s Flight  
A Revolutionary War Adventure  http://amzn.to/1sUSjOH


 I happened into the world on George Washington’s birthday. For many years I took real pride from sharing the day with the great man. After all, back in the ‘50’s Washington's birthday was still celebrated on the day on which it fell, which meant that I always had my birthday off from school. 

Pretty sweet—even if February in upstate NY meant we were buried in snow. It was fun to have a party on a school holiday. Friends came to sledding parties and for snow-fort-buildings, but, by the time I was eight or nine, costume parties were my favorite.   To have a costume party in the dead of winter was a little outre—remember, this is the ‘50’s in upstate farm country—but everyone got into the spirit, even if it just meant digging out last autumn’s Halloween costume again.


George Washington and Blue Skin, his favorite horse

But to return to Washington --Father of Our Country. Think about what it means. It’s pretty heavy stuff to lay on anybody who put his pants on one leg at a time. Still, when you take a look at his track record here’s a thumbnail of what you'll find:

Washington was Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army upon whose victory the thirteen colonies depended to secure their separate and equal station among the powers of the earth. In the summer of 1787, he presided over America's Constitutional Convention. His presence lent decisive significance to the document drafted there, which continues in force in the twenty-first century as the oldest written constitution in the world. From 1789-1796, he held the highest office in the land as the first president of the United States of America under this constitution.”  
 * The Claremont Institute via PBS website

Washington was “the man who would not be King.” Unlike almost every other popular Revolution since, our military hero did not become a tyrant imperfectly hidden beneath a variety of pious designations as did so many others:  Augustus Caesar, Hitler, Napoleon, Pol Pot, Stalin, Oliver Cromwell and Mao Zedong. 





After the Revolutionary War was over, he said farewell to his officers and went back to Mt. Vernon. Later, when his two terms as president were done, he quietly returned home again. George Washington was truly the “Cincinnatus” his contemporaries called him. Like that legendary Roman farmer, he left plowing his fields to assume a generalship in time of war; after his country's need was over, he went back to his cabbages, corn, and tobacco.

Historian James Flexner’s biography of Washington is called The Indispensable Man, for the excellent reason that the general did not use his overwhelming personal popularity to set himself up as a despot. 

"Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism..."

He wasn't a demagogue, stirring up division in a nation which, after a long, brutal war, badly needed healing. He did not make promises he didn't intend to keep. He did not set himself up as King or attempt to found a dynasty. He didn't use the power of his office to enrich himself or his friends; and he certainly operated within the rules laid down by the US Constitution--after all, he'd presided over the room, during that hot Philadelphia summer, where this pattern for modern democracy was conceived. 




~~Juliet Waldron

http://amzn.to/1UDoLAi    historical novels at Amazon

http://amzn.to/1YQziX0  A Master Passion, the story of Alexander Hamilton and Betsy Schuyler, from childhood, to the duel, and beyond.  ISBN: 1771456744


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