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  πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ πŸŒ  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!'  πŸ˜ž--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 πŸ’– 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


Monday, January 30, 2017

What Did You Call Me?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for…oh, let’s say the last three months…you’ve probably noticed that social media isn’t so social any more. It’s full of anger. And vitriol. And mud-slinging. Yeah, I don’t even want to sign onto Facebook some days. But, if you think that it’s only been in the last campaign that the mud-slinging and name calling started, yeah…no. I went on the Internet to find some of the best political insults out there. You may not want to be drinking anything while you read this. If you are—I am not responsible for any coffee, tea, soda, juice, or any other beverage spewed onto the monitor.

"Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." Mark Twain

"I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." Ronald Reagan, during a 1984 presidential debate with Walter Mondale. (Reagan and Mondale were two of the oldest candidates running for the office of president, with Reagan being the elder by a few years.)

"He can't help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth." Former Texas Gov. Ann Richards on misstatements made by George Bush, Sr.

"I don't want to be invited to the family hunting party." President Barack Obama, on revelations that he and Dick Cheney are eighth cousins

"I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers, and rubble, and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to America she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo-ops in the world." Stephen Colbert, mocking President George W. Bush to his face at the 2005 White House Correspondents' Dinner

"If ignorance goes to forty dollars a barrel, I want drilling rights to George Bush's head." Jim Hightower, former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture, referring to the elder Bush

"There they are. See no evil, hear no evil, and...evil." Bob Dole, watching former presidents Carter, Ford and Nixon standing by each other at a White House event

"People would say, 'We need a man on the ticket." Rep. Pat Schroeder, on why George Bush was unlikely to choose a woman as his running mate in 1988

"In a recent fire Bob Dole's library burned down. Both books were lost. And he hadn't even finished coloring one of them." Jack Kemp

"As Americans, we must ask ourselves: Are we really so different? Must we stereotype those who disagree with us? Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?" Dave Barry

"All that Hubert needs over there is a gal to answer the phone and a pencil with an eraser on it." —Lyndon Johnson on Hubert Humphrey, his vice president

"A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward." President Franklin Roosevelt

"He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met." Abraham Lincoln, referring to a lawyer

"He is a modest man with much to be modest about." Winston Churchill describing U.K. Prime Minister Clement Attlee

"He [McKinley] has no more backbone than a chocolate Γ©clair." Teddy Roosevelt


 "His argument is as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had been starved to death." Abraham Lincoln in pointing out the flaws in the logic of Stephen Douglas

 "“...the kind of politician who would cut down a redwood tree and then mount the stump to make a speech for conservation." Adlai Stevenson in referring to Richard Nixon

 "Garfield has shown that he is not possessed of the backbone on an angleworm." Ulysses S. Grant on James A. Garfield

"Filthy Story-Teller, Despot, Liar, Thief, Braggart, Buffoon, Usurper, Monster, Ignoramus Abe, Old Scoundrel, Perjurer, Robber, Swindler, Tyrant, Field-Butcher, Land-Pirate." Harper's Weekly on Abraham Lincoln (and this was printed by a Northern paper at the height of the American Civil War. Harper’s Weekly was in favor of George McClelland as President)

"A rageful, lying, warmongering fellow; a repulsive pedant and gross hypocrite who behaves neither like a man nor like a woman but instead possesses a hideous hermaphroditical character."  Thomas Jefferson in regards to John Adams

"A blind, bald, crippled, toothless man who is a hideous hermaphrodite character with neither the force and fitness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman." Thomas Jefferson on President John Adams, 1800 (as if Jefferson hadn’t been clear enough on what he felt for Adams by labeling him a “hermaphroditical character.”)

"Electing Jefferson would create a nation where murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will openly be taught and practiced." John Adams assessment of a possible Jefferson presidency

"General Jackson's mother was a COMMON PROSTITUTE, brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterward married a MULATTO MAN, with whom she had several children, of which number General JACKSON IS ONE!!!" Charles Hammond, editor of the Cincinnati Gazette, on Andrew Jackson (And, here most of us thought the “birther controversy” was something limited only to questions about former President Obama)

"Never ask me to support a twaddler and trimmer for office." Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens on Ulysses S. Grant

"Grant is as brainless as his saddle." activist Wendell Phillips on Grant



Saturday, January 21, 2017

Everyone Wants to Write a Book by Connie Vines #Round Robin

Topic for January: Everybody wants to write a book, but most do not. 
Writing is hard work. What got you started, and what helps you get through a complete story?


How many times have you heard someone say, “Someday I’m going to write a book?”  Many a time, I’m certain.  However, most do not.

Why? Because writing is hard work.

What got me started?  Like most children, I loved reading, drawing, and listening to the oral family history spoken by my grandparents.  I also like to write stories (not particularly good stories) but for a second grader I did have a handle on the concept of plotting.  Thinking back, I unnerved adults with my pointed interview questions, and thoughts about the meaning of life and life-after-death vs death-after-death.  Picture:  Tuesday Addams wearing glasses and constantly grumbling about receiving yet, another stupid doll instead of a filling cabinet for her birthday.

When, exactly, did I start and complete my first novel?

While I wrote short-stories, nonfiction articles for publication during my twenties, I didn’t get serious about completing a novel until thirties. My children were in school and I worked part-time.  That gave me a block of free time to write (vs the scribbling on 3 x 5 index cards when I was cooking dinner or a note pad during a child’s 1 hour nap).  I was serving on my church board when the choir soloist told me her sister was a co-president of the Orange County Chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America).  At the time, I hadn’t every thought of writing a romance.  I wrote for the YA and middle school market and dabbled in historical fiction, but Shirlee convinced me that the networking and workshops would be beneficial to me.  She was correct.

Attending monthly meetings/workshops, exchanging rough drafts with my critique members during lunch, and input from the multi-published members gave me the confidence to persevere.  It also made me crawl out of bed after my husband left for work (at 3:00 in the morning) and write before getting my children off to school.
I also discovered that I couldn’t give up my YA stories while I found my footing in a new market.

“So, what did Connie do?”  you ask.

I work two novels at once—which I still do to this very day.

Crazing making?  Yes!

Writing romance isn’t easy.  Strong, well-developed characters, good plot (and multiple sub plots), sharp dialogue, and emotion—lots of emotion.

Writing is addictive.  The story unfolds, the characters present themselves, and away the writer goes—into a new Universe.

What makes me complete my novel/story?

The best way for me to describe the feel is I am driven to finish the story.  Native Americans say the story chooses the Storyteller.  It the Storyteller’s responsibly to bring the story to life.

Happy Reading!

My Rodeo Romances (Lynx and Brede) are on sale this month (click on my Amazon Author Page link).
Everyone needs a little Zombie Valentine Romance, don’t they?  Free Read: “Here today, Zombie Tomorrow” on Amazon.com


Stop by each Round Robin participants’ blog.  Everyone has a tale to tell.

Connie










Tuesday, January 17, 2017

And Then They Came For Me...

Ringling Brothers announcement that they will no longer tour and are effectively out of the circus business should be a clarion call to every single one of us who love our dogs, love our horses, love our small bundles of fluff purring on our laps, and our other assorted pets. For those of you don’t know, when I’m not an author, I’m involved in dog shows. I raise and show collies.

Sea World was the first to fall when because of slanted and biased “reporting” in the faux documentary Blackfish, they were pressured to announce they would no longer be breeding orcas in captivity. For more than forty years, Sea World has never taken an orca from the wild and its pod. To attempt to habituate these animals to a life in the wild would be a death sentence. Sea World has been at the forefront of research and animal welfare for many sea animals.  

And then Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey fell. Under pressure from animal rights groups (PETA—People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the ASPCA—American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and H$U$--Humane Society of the United States) which used deceptive tactics and out-right lies, the circus became the center of hateful campaigns by these radical animal rights groups rejecting science-based animal care in favor of political agendas and self-proclaimed expertise.

People respond emotionally, most of the time, and these groups (among others) know that. Run a commercial with mongrel dogs shivering (despite the fact that every last one of those dogs bordered on “obese”), kittens with matted eyes, add a voice over by an actress using her best “desperation” voice and the money will pour in. Show pictures of a several ton animal being moved with a stick which has a blunted hook on the end (erroneously referred to as a “bullhook”) and most people cringe. Those who don’t usually are educated on how and why those tools are used. (Hint: It’s a word that starts with “S” and ends in “afety.”) Thousands of well-meaning but misinformed individuals joined the bullying and legislative campaigns to stop circus parades or even to prevent use of tools that humanely protected the safety of the animals and onlookers and made the public experiences possible.

Ringling Brothers was vindicated in federal courts after being falsely accused of cruel practices, and the animal rights extremists used litigation to pursue fraudulent claims against the circus. In 2012, the ASPCA paid $9.3 million to settle their portion of these damages to Feld. In 2014, H$U$ settled a Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) lawsuit for $15 million after it became clear that H$U$ and others had made false claims about animal cruelty by Ringling Brothers, including paying a witness to lie in court about animal care at the Ringling Brothers facilities.

Despite these wins, the challenges for the circus continued. In 2016 alone, dozens of communities around the country sought bans on the use of bullhooks or animal acts based on misinformation by extreme animal protection groups.  Falsehoods about animal cruelty easily captured the imagination of a public with little animal experience or reference point to judge appropriate animal care.

The circus showed millions of Americans how humans and animals can bond and interact. It brought us a sense of wonder, it showed how interaction with animals can sometimes be unpredictable, and it gave us a chance to see animals we’d never see otherwise. Losing Ringling Brothers puts another brick in the wall that increasingly separates most Americans from interactions with a variety of animals. These interactions are built upon an understanding and respect for the fundamental differences between animals and humans, and it’s what makes the bond with animals so special.

As with Sea World and their orcas, Ringling Brothers circuses were notable because of their high level of commitment to scientific expertise, research, and understanding of the animals they worked with. They did not humanize elephants; they respected them. Through their elephant conservation centers in Florida and Sri Lanka, they devoted millions of dollars to elephant conservation and research and funded research worldwide to advance scientific understanding of the animals they sought to preserve. 

There is a HUGE difference between animal welfare and animal rights groups. PETA would rather all domestic animals be dead. In 2015, 97% of the animals taken by PETA were summarily euthanized. The goal of H$U$ is to completely end the human/animal bond. For the millions of dollars that H$U$ takes from donations, less than 1% of that money is ever given to local shelters. H$U$ doesn’t even own an animal shelter. At least the ASPCA has a shelter building. Pure-bred dog and cat breeders are next on the hit list of these groups—yet seldom are there pure-bred dogs and cats in their manipulative advertising. Less than 5% of animals in any given animal shelter are pure-bred.

Know who you donate to. Do your research. If you want to donate to help animals in your local community, donate LOCALLY. Educate yourself. 99% of the people involved with breeding pure-bred dogs and cats are ethical. We love our animals. We spend thousands of dollars health testing before we ever plan the first breeding. I had one person tell me it was easier to adopt a child that it was to be allowed to purchase one of my puppies. And, that’s the way it should be.

Sea World has fallen. Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey has fallen. Zoos, rodeos, and dog and cat shows are next. Imagine your life without your dog. Or your cat. Or your horse. Imagine a life without being able to take your children to the zoo to see an animal they would never see otherwise. Imagine a life when because of the attacks by these animal rights groups, all the money that places like Sea World, Ringling Brothers, and zoos worldwide isn’t being poured into research and conservation so there are no more rhinos, no more elephants, no more snow leopards, no more wolves, no more wild things. Try to imagine how empty our lives will be.




Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Feel Lucky?

Friday is the 13th. Oh, joy…There are two months this year with a Friday the 13th in them, the second month being October. I don’t know about you, but sometimes Triskaidekaphobia and Paraskevidekatriaphobia pull me up short. (That’s the fear of the number 13 and fear of Friday the 13th. And, yes, those are real words. Honest. I didn’t make them up.)

The tradition of Friday being a day of bad luck dates back centuries with some of the more common theories are that the Crucifixion of Christ occurred on a Friday (Good Friday and I will attempt to keep my father’s voice from sounding in my head with his in poor taste joke about what a way to spend Good Friday), Eve is rumored to have offered Adam the apple in the Garden of Eden on a Friday, and the great flood is also supposed to have begun on a Friday.


The Last Supper is the main source for the tradition of the number 13 being bad luck. Judas Iscariot was the thirteenth person to be seated at the table, and if you’ve read your Bible, you kinda know how that worked out not only for Judas but for Jesus.

Combine these two bad luck symbols and you get a day strongly associated with bad luck and misfortune: Friday the 13th.

One legend of the origin of Friday the 13th as being unlucky belongs to the Knights Templar. For almost two centuries, the Templars dominated medieval life. They protected pilgrims on the way to the Holy Lands, made safe the roads those pilgrims travelled, began a sort of banking system so a traveler didn’t have to carry massive stores and riches with them as they journeyed the less than safe roadways, and became so rich and powerful that they could and did challenge the authority of Phillip IV of France and Pope Clement V. Both men were deep in debt to the Templars. On Friday the 13th, 1307, Phillip ordered all Templars arrested and their property seized. The Templars were accused of witchcraft. Unfortunately for Phillip, many of the Templars had been told beforehand of his plans and they escaped, but not after hiding vast stores of treasure which the King’s men never found. (Supposedly, there is a huge Templar treasure hidden on Oak Island, somewhere off the eastern coast of Canada.)


The Grandmaster of the Order, Jacques DeMolay was one of those captured. He was tortured and then burned at the stake. DeMolay refused to admit to any wrong doing and denied up to his dying breath he was guilty of witchcraft. One of the legends surrounding DeMolay’s death is that as he was being consumed by the flames, he cursed both Phillip and Clement, saying neither man would live out the year. Interestingly enough, both Phillip and Clement died within months of DeMolay.

Did his curse come to fruition or were Phillip and Clement helped along to their eternal rewards by Templars who had infiltrated the ranks and sought to avenge DeMolay and prove his innocence by making that curse come true? For what it’s worth, my money’s on the Templars.

Just to be on the safe side, this Friday I’m going to avoid ladders so I don’t inadvertently walk under one, my poor cat is going to have to live without me for a day (Teak is a black cat), I won’t touch a mirror so I don’t risk it breaking, and knock on wood, I’ll get through just another day on the calendar.



Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Best of Times; The Worst of Times

I apologize in advance for being late posting. The time that I usually write a post for “Dishin’ It Out” was spent with a medical emergency with a geriatric collie. He’s doing fine this morning. I, on the other hand, have a few more grey hairs on my head.

I was going to do a year-in-review kind of post and I’m sticking to that.

2016 was the year taken directly from Charles Dickens, because it was definitely the best of times and the worst of times. So many of the actors, singers, and authors I admired while growing up and even into my adult years passed away this year. I won’t even attempt to list all of them—just mention the few that deeply affected me: Alan Rickman, Glen Frey, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, David Bowie, Harper Lee. Somewhere, in another place, that universe is shining much brighter because of their presence. Ours just feels a little darker.

2016 saw political tidal waves that NO ONE in academia or the media saw coming—Brexit and then here with the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land. (This IS NOT a political commentary, merely an observation.) I can’t speak to Brexit other than what I have read, but there seemed to be a common denominator in both the vote by Britain to leave the EU and the election of Mr. Trump. In both cases, the population had grown tired of the status quo, tired of a bloated government that appeared tone-deaf, and a population tired of being told they don’t know what’s best for their own lives. Governing by fiat seldom—if ever—works in nations who believe in the democratic process and have chosen a constitutional republic for their governance. (Again, this is merely an observation, not commentary.)

2016 saw a rise in violence, both here in the United States and around the world. Violence may garner the attention of the “powers that be” but history has repeatedly proven that the majority of the time, violence does nothing to help the cause being violently advocated. All violence does is cause the other side to dig their heels in more and push back harder. Terrorism seemed to be on the rise—whether it was or wasn’t isn’t what’s under question here. It felt as if it was. And, instead of bombs, trucks driven into crowds of people now seem to be the weapon of choice for the terrorists. Let me make a suggestion to the terrorists—take a page from Gandhi and Dr. King. Peaceful, passive resistance can and does move mountains.

The best of 2016 is highlighted by a seventeen minute rain delay in Cleveland, Ohio on a chilly November night. At 11:54 PM (local time), Kris Bryant throw a bullet to Anthony Rizzo at first base and for the first time in ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHT FREAKIN’ YEARS the Chicago Cubs won it all. My beloved Cubbies became World Series Champions. Loveable losers no more. And, yes, I was a Cubs fan long before it was cool to be a Cubs fan.

I signed a contract to publish my fourth book with The Wild Rose Press—in my opinion THE best small publisher in the industry. When I first signed with TWRP, I was sent a welcome package that said at TWRP the authors are family. Over and over, Rhonda Penders, Lisa Dawn, and the other “higher-ups” have proven those are more than words to them. I also want to take this little corner of cyberspace to give a shout-out to my editor at TWRP, Anne Duguid. Anne rocks. Period. She takes my so-so writing and chips away at it, hones it, pushes me to be better, and turns that writing into something I am immensely proud of. And, honestly, she’s the reason both of the books she’s edited for me have been nominated for the RONE by Ind’Tale Magazine.

Another highlight of 2016 is that RONE nominee for Seize the Flame. I printed out that review and it hangs right next to the review that garnered the RONE nominee for Smolder on a Slow Burn.

2016 was a mixture of the very bad and the very good. I suppose, it was just like any other year. But, I’m looking to 2017. Onward and upward. Or, aiming to the second star on the right and on through the night.

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