Friday, September 17, 2021

Writing in Multiple Genres. The How's and Why's By Connie Vines #RR88, # BWLAuthors, MFRWAuthor, #WritingTip

 This month's topic:

What do I like to write?

"What calls to me?"

Native Americans say the story already exists. The story finds the Story Teller.  It is the Story Teller's duty to give it life.

I was reminded of this when I was facilitating a work shop given by Larry Sellers, Lakota Actor (Cloud Dancing, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman), Native American Historical Consultant, and Fellow for the Newberry Library Center in Chicago. The workshops were attended by the students enrolled in the Title IX Indian Education Program. 

Larry Sellers as Cloud Dancing, "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman"

During a break, we were discussing a project he was developing and he was answering my questions about his experiences in Native American Boarding Schools.

"You must write the story," he said.

 My dismay followed my swift retreat into panic, must have been visible on my face. 

Larry chuckled. "No have no choice."

He was right.  The story prodded at me. I encountered someone, then another someone who had a story to tell me. We went on vacation, I was given a carved buffalo by a craftswoman to help me on my journey. . .it took me five years to complete, Tanayia--Whisper upon the Water. 

The book was the most emotionally draining novel that I've written to date because I felt as if I'd lived the story. 

Other stories I have written have been fun, quirky, and a mini-vacation for me. My, Sassy and Fun Fantasy Series of novellas: Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow (currently available).

Also, my YA/MG and Children's nonfiction articles: Medicine and Magic in Ancient Egypt.A Candle in the Dark.  topic: the Salem Witchcraft Trials and written in diary format,  (Benjamin Franklin Education Series).  and biographical articles about historical figures: Bill Pickett--First Rodeo Bull-Dogger, and numerous others.

I've also been involved in three projects (boxed sets) with other authors. I enjoyed the interaction and the way our stories linked together.  

I completed an anthology "Gumbo Ya Ya". This was a challange because I covered different genres in each story. And each book had a different tone.  "Marrying Off Murphy", "Love Potion no. 9", "A Slice of Scandal", "1-800-Fortune". 

Book Trailer on my YouTube Channel:

Current projects:  2nd novella in my Sassy and Fun Fantasy Series, 3rd story in my Rodeo Romance Series, and I'm outlining several others.

Sometimes the 'story' is very determined.

I wrote the YA/MG article about the Salem Witchcraft Trials was written in diary form. The editor said she hated diary stories. However, she brought the story as it was written. And later became part of an Educational Series.

It took me five years to find a home for my Native American novel. It garnered awards and a National Book Award, nomination.

I write in multiple genres. I write contemporary, historical, paranormal/gothic, and quirky stories.  Where am I the most comfortable?  Where it's the least painful, of course.

My historical stories are painful to write. Why? Because times were hard and life was difficult.  And, since the writer is the venue for the story, the character's pain is also your pain.

For those who recall the movie "Romancing the Stone," the scene where Joan Wilder is crying when she types The End?  

Well, it's more like sobbing through the entire novel and feeling drained afterward.

Will I write another historical novel?  Perhaps. The research is so all-consuming but family history does nudge at me...

I hope you enjoyed my post.


Please visit these authors and read about their thoughts on this topic:

Marci Baun

Victoria Chatham

Skye Taylor

Connie Vines

Dr. Bob Rich 

Judith Copek

Rhobin L Courtright

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday Treats! Pumpkin Latte--Yay or Nay? By Connie Vines #TastyTuesday, #NotTacoTuesday, #TuesdayTreats, #PumpkinSpice #BWLAuthor, #MFRWAuthorBlog,


Tuesday Treats 

This week it's pumpkin spice.

Love it? Hate it? Or, so over it?

I must admit, until last year I avoided all things labeled "pumpkin spice".

Did my palate suddenly change? Or was I simply a victim of brainwashing?

I believe the 'powers that be' in the flavor-enhancing world, toned down the impact of the spices. 

How do I know this?  Because when I make pumpkin pie from scratch, I do not use the container of pumpkin spice from the market to season my pie filling. I have individual spices purchased in individual containers so that I may adjust to my taste.

This is also why my pumpkin pie vs. purchased pre-made pumpkin pie doesn't have me reaching for Tums.

If you read yesterday's blog post, you read a large (1 + chapters) teaser from my Halloween romance, "Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow".

So before I share a few recipes, I thought we could share a bit of humor at the season of "Pumpkin Spice"! 🎃

Funny YouTube Parody to the tune of a Backstreet Boys Song. 

If you don"t already follow "Hungry Girl" for healthy, tasty, and low-cal recipes, here is a link to her website to try her Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe

Overnight Oatmeal: Warm, comforting overnight pumpkin pie oatmeal, is like eating pie for breakfast. 


1/4 cup pumpkin pie filling

1/2 cup whole milk (or any milk of your choice or Greek yogurt)

2 teaspoons maple syrup

3/4 cup regular old fashioned oats

Optional: 1 tablespoon of raisins, 1/4 cup of shredded coconut (I prefer diced apple), 1 tablespoon of protein powder.

Steps to Make It

 Whisk together the pie filling (I prefer pureed pumpkin), whole milk, and maple syrup in a medium-sized bowl until smooth and completely combined. Make sure there aren't any lumps of the pie filling.

Stir the oats and any of the optional ingredients into the pumpkin pie mixture.  Cover the bowl or put the oatmeal in small glass jars with lids.  Place them in the refrigerator overnight, or for at least 4 hours to soften the oats.

After it has sat overnight heat in the microwave if you wish, or just eat cold.  Oatmeal will keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. 

If you are in a hurry and just need a Pumpkin Spice pick-me-up, I recommend having a serving of good-old-fashioned Cheerios cold cereal, limited edition.  It's the only flavored cereal I have liked (children requested me to try other brands).

cheerios cereal limited edition

Where do you stand on Pumpkin Spice Latte or Pumpkin Spice anything? 

Post your opinion in the comments section. Smiles and frowns are emojis allowed.

Happy Fall,


Monday, September 13, 2021

Opening Scenes #Here Today Zombie Tomorrow By Connie Vines #BWLAuthor, #MFRWAuthorsBlog, #PumpkinSpice, #RandomThoughtsScatteredAbout,

Feature # 7

 Hello, My Lovelies, 

Autumn is almost upon us 🍂🍁🎃 

Pumpkin Spice Latte, sweaters, falling leaves, and yes--Halloween!

Opening Chapter + more from my Halloween inspired novella:

Here Today, Zombie Tomorrow

 “You and Elvis have done a great job on this house," Meredith said as her older sister led the way downstairs toward the kitchen where the tour began. “Sorry I couldn't get over, until now, but I've been sort of… well, busy."   Slipping her Juicy Couture tortoise-shell framed sunglasses into a bright pink case; Meredith crammed them into her black Coach handbag.  She hoped her sister didn’t ask her to define busy.  Becoming a zombie, and dealing with the entire raised from the dead issue over the past six months, was not a topic easily plunked into casual conversation.  

Pippa waved the comment aside. “I'm glad you like it. We had such fun decorating. Of course, we couldn’t do it all at once, but it's more satisfying putting it together treasure by treasure." 

Meredith glanced from Pippa’s impish features and short spiky black hair to the perimeter of the room.  Taking in every detail and nuance of Pippa’s decorating talent, she let her gaze rest on a collection of figurines by fantasy artist Jasmine Beckett-Griffith crouching at the top of the ebony stained cabinets.  A black arch-top fireplace mounted against the wall, flames flowing from a bed of clear river stones, and HOME SWEET HOME embroidered on a sampler with a tiny vine of blood-red roses tangling though out the letters completed the focal point of the room.   

Even though Meredith was in the best relations with her sister, she couldn't help but feel a sharp nip of jealousy.  It hadn’t been so long ago that she’d had her own happy home.  Unfortunately, she’d filed for divorce from Viktor, and then there’d been that bizarre little accident where she’d ended up dead, and then undead.  

While Pippa’s two kids, Ethan and Emma, played in the living room, to the accompaniment of a 1960s rock-and-roll musical on cable TV, Meredith sat in the kitchen with her sister, fiddling with the end of the teabag that dangled from the rim of her China cup.

Since her sister was contemplating the contents of a tin filled with Danish cookies, Meredith found herself cataloging the events that led up her ‘accident’. 

A charter member of the SoCal Arts Association, she’d been participating in the annual Zombie Walk Festival in Long Beach when it ‘happened’. Crowds always made her uncomfortable, but this particular event was to raise money, so she was obligated to attend.   And, it only went to reason; this year’s participation broke all past records.   

Twelve-thousand gleeful ghouls stormed Long Beach’s renovated Promenade.  The crowd became so large that it spilled out over Pine Avenue for an all-out downtown invasion.  Meredith didn’t recall much about the accident, nor who or what reanimated her.  She remembered overhearing a security officer informing a pungent-smelling zombie that he couldn’t purchase an alcoholic beverage (apparently he didn’t match up with his photo ID). Within moments, a shoving match between the two men ensured, quickly escalating into zombie chaos:  shouting, running, and chomping.  


At the time, Meredith thought it was all part of the festivities, perhaps a little odd and definitely crazy.  Just like the cornstarch-based zombie-vomit and fake blood, everyone had globed and smeared on themselves; but hey, it was an Arts event. Even after finding herself wedged in the center of the zombie mob, lunging and bumping along until they were in sight of the pier, Meredith wasn’t overly concerned.

In hindsight, perhaps she should have been extremely concerned.  Because the next thing Meredith knew, she was in a zipped body bag, feeling entirely not like herself. 

No.  She wasn’t going to dwell on the past.  Again. She’d just keep muddling on with her life and try to focus on the bright spots.

Pippa and her family were a definite bright spot in her life.

 “I wish you would let me help with dinner,” Meredith said, pulling herself back into the present.  “I feel guilty just sitting here doing nothing while you do all the work.”  Being a vegan, Meredith found her transition of zombie-hood, particularly exigent.  Brains, human or otherwise, had never been on her menu—now, protein, in fowl or bovine form was a requirement of her reanimated state.  Difficult though it was, she had to come to terms with the change.  After discovering an underground support group who met monthly in a banquet room of a coffee shop near the I-10, she was thankful she didn’t require human protein like most of the other Zombies.  However, consuming tofu with herbal tea (her lunch before reanimation), she discovered, had unfortunate, and unexpected, side effects. 

Pippa, turning from the stove with the pecan pie captured between two oven mitts, shook her head.  “Meri, don’t even think about helping me with the meal.  When Elvis’s mom and dad decided to take a paddleboat cruise up the Mississippi, I thought I wouldn't have anybody but my own offspring to fuss over on Thanksgiving Day.  You just sit there and relax."

 "I really appreciate the invitation," Meredith said, glancing out the window to catch a Monarch butterfly pick its way along with a lipstick red hibiscus blossom.  "Cooking turkey for one just isn't my style."

Pippa did a double-take at Meredith’s statement but didn’t comment.  Instead, she said, “You’re welcome to come for Christmas dinner too, you know."

"Thanks, Pippa, but Christmas is out.  I have to finish the new book by February so I'm driving up to Forest Falls tomorrow.  I'll be staying there for a month or so." 

"Christmas at the cabin," Pippa mused.  "That sounds nice.   Are you sure you want to be up there all by yourself?"

 "I’m not hiding,” Meredith replied.

 "I know.  You’re healing. . .” She left the words: and licking your wounds, unspoken.  “I just don't want you to be lonely."  

"I won't be,” Meredith reassured her.  “I'm taking Gertie with me."

Pippa laughed indulgently and shook her head.  "A hamster doesn't count."

"Don't say that when Gertie’s within earshot.  She follows me all around the house in her exercise ball.  We’re BFs."

 “Well, I'm glad you could join us for Thanksgiving," Pippa said.


Forest Falls, a town of one thousand year-round residents, was seventy-five miles due east from Los Angeles, in San Bernardino County.  Valley of the Falls Road was the main road, surrounded by the San Gorgonio Mountains and the gateway to the wilderness area. Forest Falls boasted the highest point in Southern California.  Furthermore, known as “Little Yosemite,” ninety inches of snow were common in the upper canyon. 

It was a second home to Meredith, who had been coming up every year since she was a little girl.  Her parents owned a cabin outside of town.  Five years ago, when she and Viktor got married, it had been their wedding gift to the couple.

As Meredith negotiated the sharp turns in Mill Creek Road, she tried to remember the last time she’d been up here.  Two years, at least. No, two-and-a-half.  She and Viktor had driven up for a week while the kitchen at the Ganesha Hills house was renovated.

She’d just finished writing her first novel, the one that hadn’t sold, and Viktor had been on leave from the Claremont Colleges.  A week of renovations stretched to three weeks.  It was the last time she could remember the two of them being completely happy together.

After their return to the house, things started to go wrong.  What had caused the problem, even Meredith couldn’t say.  Oh sure, she condensed into a few easy remarks to Pippa, something about Viktor being a-know-it-all, but it was really just an abbreviated version.  The truth behind their breakup was much more complicated and much more heartbreaking.

Glancing at the highway sign indicating the Big Bear Lake turnoff was to the right; Meredith drove another three miles to the Forest Falls exit.

Competition, she realized.  There was no other explanation for what had happened between her and Viktor. Even though she was quick to blame him, it wasn’t all Viktor’s fault.  She was just as guilty, and just as much to blame.  

While she was busy writing The Isis Factor, he’d been hard at work on his own book about the Ottoman Empire.  Although their subjects were worlds apart, it should have been a time for sharing.  Unfortunately, it wasn't.  Viktor threw acerbic darts about romance novels, in general, and her failure to comprehend the basic laws of physics when he looked over her Steampunk stories.  She retaliated with barbs about antiquated college professors who didn't understand the public's taste in literature or the impact of pop culture on society’s future.

It started as a joke, a kind of verbal fencing that was only half-serious and which they both enjoyed.  However, soon the remarks degenerated into nasty little jibes.  Jibes neither bothered to take back nor apologize for making it.

Meredith had known, even then, the trouble between them was jealousy, pure and simple; except nothing between them was very simple.  Somewhere along the line, they had become been competitors instead of teammates, rivals instead of lovers.

What happened to the idealistic young couple who had met on a blind date, six years ago?  A girlfriend of Pippa’s had fixed them up, seeing that she knew they'd be perfect for each other. They were both so smart, so focused, so determined to be successful.  From the moment Meredith and Viktor had met, it was as if there had never been anyone else.

After a light Peruvian meal at Inca Trails and viewing the musical, Phantom of the Opera, at the Gardner Spring Auditorium on Euclid Avenue in downtown Ontario, she and Viktor stopped by the college to retrieve papers he’d needed for a lecture he was giving the next day.  They’d ended up talking until morning, which they’d only discovered when students began straggling in for classes.
In those days, she had still been working part-time, writing advertising blurbs for a local agency.  This allowed her to spend the remainder of her time on her blog and short stories.  

Back then, Viktor had been enthusiastic over her work, eagerly reading every line she wrote and offering gentle, yet insightful criticism.  She'd always been equally involved in his first literary effort, volunteering to do some of the footwork.  She’d spent hours at the College of Theology, fact-checking, and even more hours at the Pomona Library reading the blurry Microfiche on an old-school reader device.  They loved each other, and they loved their work. 

 Life was perfect.

Chapter Two

It was starting to get dark--it was nearly Winter Solstice after all, and Meredith flicked on the headlights of her Land Rover, illuminating the narrow road the skirted the few buildings that made up the town of Forest Falls.  There was still snow on the ground and the vehicle bounced down the asphalt road from one pothole to the next. 

She’d left a note on her iPhone last week, and now Siri was reminding her to stock up on foodstuff tomorrow at the Elkhorn General Store.  The chicken, liverwurst sandwiches and thermos of coffee she’d packed would do for dinner tonight, but Meredith didn't want to be snowed in without supplies.  Meredith had her injection last week and an EpiPen that promised to be reliable in case of emergencies, in her handbag. 

Beside her in the seat, Gertie sat upright, twitching her nose, unconcerned inside the protection of her metal carrier.  Meredith pushed a gloved finger through the wire mesh to adjust the water bottle. She’d heard one of the other patients in the doctor’s office (yes, she had discovered she was part of a subculture) talking about having her pet ‘turned’ (zombified). Glancing at the cute, pouchy-cheeked Teddy Bear hamster, Meredith shivered at the very thought of ‘turning’ her pet.  Gertie was Gertie, alive, messy, and happy.  Meredith still hadn’t adjusted to her new reanimated life, how could anyone even consider doing such a thing to a pet?

 “It's just you and me, Gertie,” she said philosophically.

She let out a prolonged sigh when the cabin came into view.  She had been behind the wheel for almost two hours.  Outside of bringing in her luggage and getting Gertie settled in, she wasn't planning to do anything else tonight.  Tomorrow was soon enough to start working on the new book.

Shoving aside memories that crowded to the front of her mind, Meredith focused at matters at hand.

The cabin was actually a rustic euphemism used to describe a comfortable getaway.  The cabin boasted two bedrooms and a small loft that served as her office, living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom.

At least, she wouldn't be cramped during her stay, and of course, there was always the scenic outdoors when she wanted a change of pace.  Her editor gave her a February 12   deadline for her novel.  Two days before Valentine’s Day but also the anniversary date of the 1931 Universal Pictures classic movie, “Dracula” starring Bela Lugosi (Meredith couldn’t help but notice the irony). 

After the book was finished, she'd started looking around for a new place.  Somewhere away from Los Angeles where there were just too many memories.   San Diego or La Jolla, without excessive amounts of rain or extreme heat, with just enough cloud cover for her peace of mind.  For now, this place would do nicely.

She didn't say anything to Pippa about putting the Ganesha Hills house up for sale.  She knew that her big sister only wanted what was good for her, but Meredith wasn't certain Pippa knew what that meant anymore.  Meredith wasn’t confident she even knew what was good for her right now.

It would have been Pippa’s cue to start wondering if the divorce was such a great idea.  She’d voice her opinion that maybe there was a chance Meredith could reconcile with Viktor.  It just wasn't something Meredith wanted to hear or even consider.  If pressed, Meredith was afraid she might break down and tell her sister everything. 
Inside the cabin, she pulled the sheets from furniture, folded them, and shoved them on the closet shelf.  Then, out of habit, she grabbed a pressed log and electronic log lighter to a fire started in the large stone fireplace.  Gertie, released from the confines of the carrying cage after the long drive, was inside her exercise ball rolling manically around the wooden floor of the dining room.
Reaching for her iPhone, Meredith pressed the food diary app.  After the tofu incident, she devotedly logged in all of her meals.  Adding 6 ounces of chicken and 4 ounces of liverwurst to the protein section and two slices of whole-grain bread under carbs, she eyed the other columns.  Fruit and vegetables were foods she consumed only by accident.  While water and coffee were a must! (Water and shark cartilage capsules kept her hydrated and her joints and bones together (literally); coffee, under no circumstances, undead or vegan, could she function without).

Meredith snagged a slice of roasted chicken and gnawed off a chunk.  Since she still considered herself a vegan, it was a blessing that she could barely taste it.  Much like Thanksgiving dinner at Pippa’s house, the flavors of food and drink were like a distant memory from childhood, faded and fuzzy around the edges.  Meredith could recall just enough pleasure from the act of eating to remind her, of how much she missed it.  After blotting her lips with a napkin, she poured her coffee into a mug and headed for the bathroom.

Water is the enemy of a zombie’s skin. Meredith discovered on an above-ground (yes, a play-on-words) weblog with surprisingly helpful information (password-protected login, of course). Shopping was a breeze (with three-day shipping, just like Amazon Prime!).  Cold cream-Shea butter-horse hoof cream combo, titled phantasm-cream, that kept her sweet-smelling and her skin supple.  Slathering the cream on from head to toe, she waited for about fifteen minutes for her skin to suck in the moisture.  Slipping on a pair of latex gloves, Meredith leaned over the basin to shampoo her hair.  

Bathroom ritual complete, she put on her favorite pajamas and slippers and placed Gertie in her large cage during the night.  While zombies, as a rule, don’t require a great deal of sleep, Meredith found, (pardon the pun) she slept like the dead.

Before turning in, she crawled onto the couch to enjoy the crackling fire and the sense of comfort it provided.  Enveloped in the memories of less complicated times, she fell asleep.

She awoke, confused and terrified, the sound of the front door opening.  Grabbing a poker she staggered to her feet just in time to see Viktor, white-faced, loaded down with suitcases, staring back at her with as much shock as she felt.

"Viktor, you scared me—almost to death!  What are you doing here?"

He dropped the suitcases and pushed the door shut.  "I was just going to ask you the same thing.  Last time we spoke you said you were going to Tahiti for Christmas."

The poker slipped from her hand, emitting a sharp ping upon landing on the stone hearth, and she gasped with relief.  "My plans changed.  What about you?  I thought you were spending the next couple of months as writer-in-residence at that institution in Maine."

Viktor slung his black wool coat over the back of the couch and sat down.  Flashing his leisurely grin that still tugged at her heartstrings, his gaze stroked her face. "Historical Institute,” he corrected.  “But no such luck.  The funding fell through.  It’ll take six months or more for the second grant to materialize."

He cleared his throat.  "My contingency plans were to spend the next few months here.  Of course, I was going to call and ask about it, things being the way they are. . ."

Now that she had gotten over her fright, Meredith concealed her churning emotions with a spark of anger.  "I wish you had called, Viktor.  It so happens I'm going to be here until February.  I’ve got a book to finish."

I hope you enjoyed the teaser! 

Thank you for stopping by,

Monday, September 6, 2021

Classic Love Stories: The Mummy, Dracula, and More. Holding Out For a Hero! by Connie Vines BWLAuthor, #MFRWAuthorsBlog #RandomThoughtsScatteredAbout,

Weekly Feature # 6

 Hello, My Lovelies,

 The first week of the Month is
Paranormal/Fantasy or Gothic.

Last month I discussed Traditional Gothic novels and movies. 

The Universal Classic Monster movies (The Mummy and The Mummy's Curse are my personal favorites). 

As you know, almost every Classic Paranormal, Fantasy, or even Horror movie or story is really a love story.

No! you say?

Think again. 

Imhotep (played by Boris Karloff) 

Karloff played an ancient Egyptian priest called Im-Ho-Tep who was buried alive. After nearly 4,000 years, however, he is brought back to life when archaeologists discover his mummy and read a life-giving spell from a scroll in his coffin. As the contemporary Egyptian Ardeth Bey, he embarks on a quest to reunite with his ancient love. Years later he succeeds in resurrecting her, in the form of Helen Grosvenor (played by Zita Johann). However, Bey’s attempts to transform her into a living mummy fail when the goddess Isis answers Helen’s calls for help and kills Bey.

The Mummy is noted for the eerie and foreboding atmosphere created by Karl Freund, in his directorial debut; an acclaimed cinematographer, Freund had previously worked on Dracula (1931). Also earning praise was the dramatic costume created for Karloff by makeup artist Jack Pierce. The Mummy was part of a trio of horror films (with Dracula and Frankenstein [1931]) that made Universal Pictures famous in the 1930s.

💕 He loved this woman for 4,000 years.

The Remake:

Though I usually cannot sit through extremely violent/gory, movies; I did find the remake of the Mummy movie in 1999, a lively take on a Hollywood classic.  Though, while I enjoyed the humor, I did not like the extreme special effects and the "taking of eyeballs, and scarabs devouring people".

I found it interesting the way this version created a person named Ardef Bay as a protector.  (Arderf Bay, in the original version, was the "human' form of the mummy.)

Oded Fehr (Ardeth Bay)

1999 version

Other Classis Love Stories:

One of the first stories to combine romance and horror was The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, published in 1764. The Castle of Otranto is a drama and a love story where a peasant boy saves a Lady from marriage to a selfish Lord and becomes a prince in the process. 

Other gothic novels such as The Vampyre and Bram Stoker’s Dracula have a stronger horror element, as they feature men and women falling in love and becoming lovers with dangerous paranormal creatures. In Carmilla, a young woman is the object of a female vampire’s affection.

Horror movies, too, love to combine elements of romantic movies with horror both to satisfy the variety of desires viewers have and to juxtapose the two, making whatever horror we’re watching even more terrifying because two, making whatever horror we’re watching even more terrifying because it’s viewed against the backdrop of your mortality. 

Even Star Wars has a prominent romantic subplot. Come to think of it, so do King Kong, Shrek, and Beauty and the Beast.  Let us not forget, Phantom of the Opera.

In Francis Ford Coppola’s rendering of the famous Bram Stoker novel, Count Dracula—still reeling centuries later after his wife’s suicide and hell-bent on vengeance against God and mankind—travels to England, where he suspects he has found his wife reincarnated in the form of another woman. Roger Ebert sums up the film’s main paradox: “the vampire shakes his fist at heaven and vows to wait forever for the return of the woman he loves. It does not occur to him that after the first two or three centuries he might not seem all that attractive to her.” Keanu Reeves stars as Jonathan Harker, with Winona Ryder as Mina Harker, Gary Oldman as Count Dracula, and Anthony Hopkins as Professor Van Helsing.

The movie is intensely emotional. You can feel the prince's heartache for his wife.

Dracula Untold, 2014

Though this movie did not garner stellar reviews, I found it a more believable take (I know it's  Paranormal fiction) on a mortal's motivation and internal fight to hold on to a piece of his humanity after becoming a monster.


In 15th-century Transylvania, Vlad III (Luke Evans), prince of Wallachia, is known as a just ruler. With his beloved wife, Mirena (Sarah Gadon), Vlad has brokered a prolonged period of peace and ensured that his people are protected, especially from the Ottoman Empire. However, when Sultan Mehmed II (Dominic Cooper) demands 1,000 of the country's boys, including Vlad's son, for his army, Vlad makes a deal with a monster that will enable him to defeat the Turks -- but cost him his humanity.


I'm a sucker for a good love story, what about you? 🧛💞

Do you have a favorite Classic Gothic Love Story?

Thank you for stopping by,



Monday, August 30, 2021

The Roaring 20's and the Louisiana 5 Jazz Band By Connie Vines #BWLAuthors Blog #MFRWAAuthor, #RandomThoughtsScatteredAbout # JazzBands #Jass Bands #AncestoryResearch

Weekly Feature #5
Hello, My Lovelies,

This week, as it is the 5th Monday of the month, it's Wild Card Monday 😮

We all have an interesting relative or two in the family tree...

Today I'd like to introduce you to my great-uncle, Anton (Tony) Lada. He was a composer, musician, performer, and one of the founding members of SAG.   

Lousiana Five Jazz Band

While all the promo material stated he was a Chicago native, he was actually from Prague, Czechoslovakia, and immigrated, with his parents and siblings (except my grandmother who was born in Chicago) as a young child. 

His family, though immigrates, opened a small business in Chicago and provided musical training for all of their children six children,  

Family members stated he was classically trained in an orchestra at the age of 14, however, I could not locate documentation to confirm this claim. 

I do know, and have records confirming:

 Drummer and bandleader Anton Lada's 1918 recordings with the Louisiana Five were among the very first commercial releases of music considered to be jazz. Lada had also drummed in an early version of the Original Dixieland Jass Band, nearly four years before it became the first combo in jazz recording history in early 1917

Also of note: with a personal consisting of Alcide "Yellow" Nunez on clarinet, Charlie Panelli on trombone, Karl Burger on banjo, Joe Cawley on piano, and Lada on drums the style of the band were unique to what is now considered the standard "jass" bands of the time. 

Whereas most featured a cornet as the lead voice, the Louisiana Five featured Nunez himself on clarinet leading the tunes. While this comes as a shock to many listeners of this pivotal group, one must remember that at the time there were no official guidelines as to how jazz ensembles should be made up. 

Their records for Edison, Columbia, Emerson, and Okeh are a treat to hear,. While the original combo broke up in the early 1920s Lada continued to record under the Louisiana Five name for a few years after that, even relocating to California, recording there too around 1925. The Sunset label promoted the ensemble as Anton Lada's Louisiana Lads. 

According to discographers, Lada's final recordings were made in the mid-'20s; however, his popular groups continued performing live. In 1941 Lada relocated to Hollywood, scoring motion pictures and developing into a Raymond Scott musical status.

A devout Christian Scientist, Tony Lada, he refused medical aid when he suffered from a ruptured appendix, passing away in his early 50s.

Anton (Tony) Lada,  co-wrote jazz and ragtime numbers with pianist Spencer Williams, notably "Arkansas Blues" and "Barcelona."

From the YouTube video link: Sadly, very little has been written about this important group, and even less reissued, and less than that played in its original style. In fact, the only major recreation that has occurred recently of this group's style was done by Dan Levinson's Roof Garden Jass Orchestra. Now,  for the first time in 98 years, David Jellema, Colin Hancock, Westen Borghesi, Dan Walton, and Ryan Neubauer recreate the sounds and style of the Louisiana Five before the recording horn, in their rendition of the popular period tune which is almost guaranteed the band played, "Ja Da (Ja Da Ja Da Jing Jing Jing)".

Thanks to the members of the band, as well as Jim Cartwright (of Immortal Performances...not Dynamic Systems [sorry, typo]!), John Knox, Benjamin Canaday, Tim Knapp, John Levin, the Hogan Jazz Archive, the Nunez Family, and the Louisiana Five for the fantastic music!

  • The First American Band to tour Europe
  • Preformed at the famed Troubadour
  • SAG card and his friends: Bing Cosby and Jimmy Durante
Hollywood Headshot


The woman on the left (standing in frnt of the car) is my grandmother)

Thank you for stopping by,



Romance Reviews

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