Books Matter

When I was little and we had just come to Canada from Germany, my mother read to me often from “The Golden Book of Fairytales,” one of the important items she packed to bring with us. Books were important to her, and she made sure that her children also learned to appreciate them.

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My two younger sisters were already Canadianized by the time they were old enough to be told fairytales, so maybe they didn’t have quite the same attachment as I did to this particular book. One day when they felt creative and there was no other paper handy, they drew their pictures in the fairytale book.

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I remember being upset about it and judging by her reaction, so was my mother (although I’m sure now that she was putting on the horrified face mostly to show my sisters that defacing books was a No-no). My sisters might have been somewhere between three and five years old.

After that, when my mother read us stories from the big book, she sometimes clucked at the scribblings and shook her head, and I’m sure my sisters felt guilty while I put on my most self-righteous “older sister” look.

One day at storytime, when my sisters were about eight or nine and they commented on the scribbling in the book, my mother decided that it might be a good time to talk about how important it was to take care of your books. My sisters were genuinely sorry and to make it better, my mother suggested that they write an apology in the book.

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Now, 51 years later, we chuckle about it. The book is one of my special treasures, but more special is the memory of my mother’s reverence for books and how she taught it to her children. I will always love her for that.

Love and Loss

 I was shocked when my 92-year-old eyes took in the desolate location of our old homestead. Could hardly believe I ever lived here. Had forgotten how lonely it was out here on the prairie. I was sixteen then, and without friends or neighbours.

Tears prickled at the back of my eyes as I sat in the truck with my grandson, Jed,  and stared at the house where I gave birth to his mother and her brother. The log cabin was leaning impossibly, half sunk into the ground at the back corner. I remember the darkness inside the house, even on the brightest summer days. Jared said it wasn’t a good idea to put too many windows in the place because the winters were so severe. He was right about that. Thirty and forty below wasn’t unusual, and the windchill put the frosting on that cake.

Jared was handsome and ambitious. We were crazy in love. Why else would I follow him to a godforsaken place like this? Why else would he work his fingers raw to try to make a living for his family? But life was hard. Harder than either of us had ever imagined it could be.

The summer heat killed the rabbits and the winter cold killed my chickens. The cow stopped producing milk. The pigs got as skinny as the mangy coyotes that skulked around the edge of the windbreak trees. No eggs, no milk or cheese, no rabbit meat, and no bacon. 025a

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Jared rode the horse fifteen miles to town once in a while, to beg some credit at the bank and bring home some food for the babies. He loaded it all into the saddlebags. Couldn’t use the wagon since it broke down crossing the muck where the seepage made a slough out of the road in the spring.

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One day he left and didn’t come back. The early spring fooled us at first, but the day he went into town a sudden blizzard blasted in from Canada and the flooded banks of the Missouri River froze. I hunkered down and waited, watching  for him from the snow-covered window. Days went by. We chewed on a few remaining mildewed cobs of corn to stay alive.

After the children and I endured a month of near starvation, two farmers I knew from our church in town, came out to find me. They stood outside my door, caps in hand. “Lily,”  they said,”we have some very bad news for you.”

My knees buckled and they helped me sit down on the bench outside the cabin door.

“They found Jared and the horse, floating way downriver.” I didn’t hear any more until I woke up in the back of their wagon, my two children bundled up beside me.

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“Where has the time gone?” I mumbled to Jed. “I never thought I’d come back here, but before I leave this Earth, I had to see the place one more time. Where it all began.”

The Wind Weeps

Mad Song (excerpt)

by William Blake

The wild winds weep,

And the night is a-cold;

Come hither, Sleep,

And my griefs unfold.

How did Andrea’s life become so hopeless and full of grief that the crying of the wind sounded like it could be the theme music for the movie of her new lot in life?

In a remote cabin on the rugged coast of British Columbia, Andrea, a pretty and vibrant young woman, seeks escape from the man she has married. He was so handsome, persuasive, and charming. He promised to love her forever–and he will–“till death do us part.”

Her friends are far away in the town she and her husband left behind. They haven’t heard from her in a long while…. No Internet, no phone, no mail. They assume she’s happy.

How were they to know? It all seemed so idyllic at first.

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But then, Andrea is too remote for contact with them. Almost forgotten.

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And all the while, she is fighting for her survival against huge odds.

The Wind Weeps

From August 22 until September 4,  over the Labour Day weekend, all my books will be priced at $1.99. Click on the book cover images for Orion’s Gift and Julia’s Violinist for the amazon link.

The Wind Weeps is available at most amazon outlets, including:

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can download The Wind Weeps through smashwords.com. Kobo, or Barnes and Noble.

Sophie’s Encore – by Nicky Wells

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Nicky Wells

A novel need not be a comedy to have content that gives you a smile or a chuckle. So it is with the novels of UK author Nicky Wells. You may remember Nicky from her other novels in the series on Sophie as she takes us through the lives and loves of her rock star friends.

Excerpt from “Sophie’s Encore

“Mummy,” he started, “I learned something today.”

“Did you,” I responded on autopilot, shooting Dan a meaningful look. As he knew only too well, this kind of announcement was often the opening gambit in a roundabout negotiation for a new toy. Not so today, however.

“You know snails?”

Did I ever? I suppressed a snort as I recalled my erstwhile fiancé, Tim, exterminating slugs on a rainy summer’s night by the light of a miner’s lamp. The neighbors had called out the police, and recounting the interlude to Rachel had cemented her intense dislike for my then boyfriend. Evidently, I had shared the story with Dan, too, because he muttered “exterminator” under his breath. I kicked his shin under the table.

“Yes, Josh, I know snails.” I encouraged my son to continue.

“Well, Mummy, did you know their eyes aren’t in their heads like yours and mine?”

I had never given this much thought before, but I nodded my agreement.

“How did you find that out?” Dan was genuinely interested.

“On the telly,” Josh explained, keen to get back to the key piece of information he was itching to impart. “But do you know where they keep their eyes?”

“Where do they keep their eyes?” Dan and I asked as one.

“Snails,” Josh started, jiggling excitedly on his seat. “Snails keep their eyes at the end of their testicles.”

Dan spat his mouthful of wine across the table, but hastily disguised his amusement in a severe coughing fit. I could feel my mouth twitch with urgent laughter, but I couldn’t allow myself to explode. Josh would be crushed. Slapping Dan’s back to maintain the coughing charade, I addressed my adorable offspring.

“Do they really keep their eyes at the end of their tentacles?” I voiced.

“Yes, mummy, they do, they keep them at the end of their—”

Tentacles,” I prompted, and “tentacles” Josh repeated carefully.

“Ten-ta-cles” Emily chimed in, never keen to be left out, and Dan stroked her hair.

“That’s right, my sweet,” he praised her. He raised his glass to me. “To your very excellent parenting,” he proposed, and I giggled.

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About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World! 

Ultimate rock chick author Nicky Wells writes romance with rock stars—because there’s no better romantic hero than a golden-voiced bad boy with a secret soft heart and a magical stage presence!

Nicky’s books offer glitzy, glamorous romance with rock stars—imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity, you’ll connect with Nicky’s heroes and their leading ladies.

Born in Germany, Nicky moved to the United Kingdom in 1993 and currently lives in Lincoln with her husband and their two boys. Nicky loves listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When she’s not writing, she’s a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor at Siren 107.3 FM with her own monthly show. Rock on!

 

Nicky’s books: Sophie’s Turn | Sophie’s Run | Sophie’s Encore | Spirits of Christmas

| Fallen for Rock

Join Nicky: Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Romantic Novelists’ Association | Sapphire Star Publishing | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest

Did you know? There’s a single out now by Nicky’s fictional rock band Tuscq come to life! “Love Me Better” is available for download from Amazon, iTunes and many other places.

Coffee, Tea, the Gypsy and Me

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Just for fun, Caroline James, my guest today, will add a bit of light humour to your day.

Caroline lives in the UK. Her novels have an element of restaurant and food preparation woven into the storyline.

Here is an excerpt from Coffee, Tea, the Gyspy and Me.

Jo hurried to reception and collided with Hattie who came out of the kitchen with a plate of canapés.

  “Look out!  Shite I nearly lost them!” Hattie cursed.

  “You’ve got pastry on your mouth,” Jo snapped.  She was reeling from the degrees of warmth and hostility she’d just encountered.

  “She’s a sour cow eh?” Hattie nodded at the beautiful silver fox fur coat piled on the office chair.

  “Don’t you think you should hang that up?”  Jo began but stared with horror at the coat.  Two of the canapés were face down on the silk lining. Oily pesto oozed over the fabric creating a dark stain. “Hell! Jinny will kill us if she sees that.  For God’s sake, Hattie, do something!”

  “Well I’m not licking it off.  It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with warm soapy water.” Hattie disappeared to the kitchen as Jo stared with dismay at the expensive coat.

  “How’s it going, babe?” A man’s voice whispered.

  Jo spun round and in an effort to hide the damage, plonked herself on the coat.  Pete Parks placed his hands on the counter and leaned over.  Jo felt trapped.  She also felt a warm oily mess penetrate the back of her dress.

  “Oh, hello there…”  Jo said nervously.  “Did you want something?”  God he’s got incredibly blue eyes!

  “You know what I want babe.”

  Jo felt like a rabbit trapped in the headlights. Cornered with no where to go. The door to reception flew open and caught Pete on the forehead. He reeled back from the blow.  Oblivious, Hattie hurried through with a dishcloth in her hand.

  “What in God’s name are you sitting there for?  You’ll look like you’ve shit yourself!” Hattie tugged the coat from under Jo.

  “Oh hello, Pete, can we help you?” Hattie saw Pete steady himself. Dazed, he held his hand to his brow.

  “Have you tumbled?” Hattie asked “Not used to the champagne eh?”

  “Hattie!” Jo hissed, “Mr Parks was looking for the lavatory.”

  Hattie rolled her eyes heavenward.  She threw the dishcloth at Jo then guided Pete away.

  “Well the lav is on the left, you’ll not find it in here.”

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 To buy Caroline’s books, go to the amazon links below:          

Lightening Up a Serious Novel

I’ve invited British author Clare Flynn to show us how she has lightened up her  novel, A Greater World. Here is Clare to tell us about it:

My novel, A Greater World, is anything but humorous – my main character, Elizabeth Morton goes through all kinds of trials and tribulations as the story develops – but even the most serious of situations can be leavened with a little lightness of touch or a turn of phrase. This scene below takes place between Elizabeth, newly arrived in Sydney, and her landlady Peggy Little. Elizabeth is in an intolerable situation – having crossed the oceans only to find her father died a few days before she arrived and that now she is being pushed into an unwanted marriage with a man she barely knows. Elizabeth is bereaved and desperate – but Peggy’s earthy humor provides a counterpoint.

 Excerpt from “A Greater World”:

‘Peggy. Please. No woman should be expected to marry a man she doesn’t love.’

 ‘Love?’ Peggy sighed. ‘That doesn’t last long. They’re all the same really, men – farting, belching and snoring and taking up most of the bed. Sleep, food and their conjugals – that’s all they want. A wife’s just there to wash, cook, clean and service his needs in bed. Never mind her own needs! Yes there may be many as is more handsome than Jack Kidd, but there’s few as well off as him – and believe me Elizabeth – you won’t see what he looks like when the light’s out!’ She laughed. ‘We women have a lot to put up with young lady – and the sooner you realise that the better. At least in your case you’ll never have to worry where your next crust of bread’s coming from. The first two years I was married I never knew from one day to the next if I was going to be able to put a meal on the table. We were in love I suppose – but that doesn’t help when you’re hungry. By the time my Fred was making decent money we’d both forgotten all our romantic notions. But you settle into a steady old pattern. Get used to each other. Put up with all the shortcomings – and then there’s children to keep you busy and to care for. Jack Kidd may not be the man you dreamed of, but then the man you dreamed of wouldn’t be that for long either. At least if you’ve no high expectations, you won’t ever be disappointed.’

 Elizabeth rubbed at her eyes with her handkerchief – then saw that she held in her hand the rough-spun confection that Michael Winterbourne had given her the previous afternoon. She breathed through the coarse cotton and tried to recapture the scent of him – a mix of hay and warm tweed and the outdoors. Her stomach lurched as she remembered that she had arranged to meet him that afternoon. He may never want to see her again when he knew her story, but she had to take that risk. The clock showed it was already almost 3 o’clock and it would take her a good half hour to get there.

 She jumped to her feet, grabbed her coat and bade an astonished Mrs Little goodbye.

 ‘Where are you off to in such a hurry, Elizabeth?’

 ‘I promised to meet a friend I met on the voyage. I’m already late.’

 ‘I hope you’re not thinking of doing anything foolish my love?’ But Elizabeth was already out of the door and running along the street.

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A Greater World is available on Kindle UK 

and USA

 

Clare Flynn

Clare Flynn lives in the UK in West London, where she combines novel writing with running a successful management consultancy. “A Greater World” is her first novel – and nearly didn’t make it when a burglar ran off with her laptop containing 80,000 un-backedup words- and she had to start it all over again. Her second novel, Kurinji Flowers will be published later this year.

More about Clare and her novels at www.clareflynn.co.uk

Neurotically Yours -Bonnie Trachtenberg

Bonnie

My guest is author Bonnie Trachtenberg. Here she is to introduce her contribution to the Humour in Writing series.

“I love things that make me laugh, so it’s only natural that my books would include comedy. In fact, I find humor sneaking into things that I write that aren’t even supposed to be funny. It sure takes the sting out of the toughness in life! This is an excerpt from my second romantic comedy, Neurotically Yours.”

 

 

 

EXCERPT FROM NEUROTICALLY YOURS:

“You wanted to see me?” she asked.

“Yes. Please close the door and have a seat.”

Something in his formal tone told her this had nothing to do with outdated dairy products. She waited for him to open his mouth and breathe some fire her way, but instead, he opened a folder that sat waiting on his desk and shuffled through the stack of papers inside. It didn’t take long for Dara to realize the folder contained a collection of her printed columns.

He pursed his flaky lips and narrowed his eyes as he looked at her.

“I’ve read over your columns, Dara, and I’m very concerned.”

“Really? Why would they concern you?”

“I’ve never seen an advice columnist let loose on her readers the way you do. You’ve been writing this column for, what, almost eight years?”

Dara nodded slowly.

“I understand that a column will progress along with the columnist over a period of time. It’s only natural—but in your case…”

“Yes?”

“Well, I find the progression quite disturbing.”

“Disturbing?” she echoed with surprise.

 “Well,” he said, mustering professionalism, “early on, your column was more like a pep talk, more hopeful. That’s good. That’s what people want to hear, but lately…”

The Beast tapped his bony fingers on his desk while sighing.

“You can get to the point, Bob,” she said with some irreverence. The change in tone brought out the editor she was starting to know and hate.

“Telling people they’re better off on their own is not the best romantic advice.”

“It is if they’re dating a creep.”

“Last month you suggested that a forty-eight-year-old woman,” he shuffled through the file so he could quote her accurately, “‘would be better off with goldfish for company than the pathetic stream of misfits polluting her dating waters.’”

“Well, it’s true,” Dara defended matter-of-factly.

He pulled out another page with a huff and started reading. “And from March, you told Stymied in Santa Monica that, and I quote again, ‘Couples therapy would be a waste of time considering your fiancé’s obvious obsession with killing small, defenseless animals.’”

Bob looked sternly at Dara. “So he’s a hunter,” he said with annoyance. “Lots of people are hunters. That doesn’t disqualify such a person from couples therapy—or good relationships.”

“It does when the person does it every weekend instead of paying some modicum of attention to his fiancée. My God, they’re not even married yet, and he’s totally ignoring her, not to mention murdering innocent wildlife.”

“Well,” Bob added as he pulled Exhibit C from the pile, “at least you’re an equal opportunity offender. You told this man that his girlfriend was ‘clearly a narcissist who will play nice until she sinks her claws deep enough into your skin to hold you down and eat you alive.’ Then you quoted lyrics from a Hall and Oates song, ‘Maneater.’”

“Yes,” Dara commented coolly, “I’ve seen it happen many times with women like that.”

“You told him to ‘get over his hard-on for bitches unless he wants a life of pain and misery.’”

She nodded with assuredness. “Sound advice.”

The Beast huffed at her again and began to raise his voice, “First of all, you can’t diagnose someone with a personality disorder when you’ve never even met her.”

“Oh, come on, it’s so obvious though—” she started.

“And, second, if he breaks up with her after reading this, we could have a lawsuit on our hands!”

“We have a disclaimer, remember? This is only for entertainment purposes, blah, blah, blah—”

“That doesn’t mean someone won’t start trouble anyway! We live in a very litigious state.”

The Beast tried to calm himself with a deep breath.

“Dara, your column is way too… depressing.”

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Buy Neurotically Yours

Amazon: http://amzn.to/HY4PyF

Amazon UK: http://is.gd/e14qU0

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/KumteQ