Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Virus Variants by Diane Burton

 


Right off the bat, I'm stating that I am not a scientist. But, holy cow! Are we being inundated by science. Actually, for nearly two years, we've been educated about how viruses work, and what they can do to us. My head is stuffed with too much information. I sure wish I didn't know all this stuff. Just call me an ostrich. 

I know the media and those in the business of public health are trying their best to keep us informed. They exhort us to get vaccinated, to wear masks, to maintain social distances. Still. Covid (and/or its variants) are on the rise again here in our "neck of the woods", as Al Roker says. Our local hospital is overflowing with covid patients, most of whom were not vaccinated. (I know there are vaccinated people who've gotten covid, too.) Federal health workers are heading to the Grand Rapids area to support local health workers. It's that bad.

Worst of all, we're heading into the season where we're around people, a lot. We just finished a grateful Thanksgiving with family. All of us are vaccinated and most have the booster, so we felt pretty confident that we'd be okay afterward. 


With our hospital diverting ambulances to other emergency rooms, what happens to those who have heart attacks, strokes, accidents?

I sound like doom and gloom. Well, these are scary times. Again.

When will it end? Just when scientists think they have a handle on covid, a variant pops up--delta, omicron, what next. 


Hubs and I got our covid booster shots. We also got flu shots in September. Hopefully, both will protect us through this winter season. Unfortunately, it looks like we'll be staying in a lot. And when we go out, we're masking up.


What are you doing to protect yourself and your family?


On a less serious note, wishing a Happy Hanukkah to all our readers celebrating.



Thursday, November 25, 2021

Being Thankful by Nancy Gideon


We made it to November 2021. Be Thankful! After the year we all had, enough said.

Of course, being a writer I couldn’t leave it at that. I have a list a mile long of people and things that have stuffed this year full of gratitude. Here are just a few of them:
  1. Family, all well and (mostly) together for the holiday after a year of isolation! Who thought eating together in a restaurant would seem like such a cause for thanks?
  2. A dream trip to Ireland for three weeks with writer friends,
  3. Starting a new project during above listed trip,
  4. The CDC and Anthony Fauci for getting us this far,
  5. My sister for housing my grouchy butt along with my grouchy son for the past five years,
  6. My cats for keeping me grounded and reminding me that my main purpose in life is to keep their bowls filled,
  7. My office’s window on the world – just treetops changing with the seasons and sky changing as fast as my moods . . . and sometimes hot guys roofing the family room!
  8. My virtual assistant who handles all the tech aggravations. THANKS, Florence, My Girl Friday (and every day!),
  9. My critique group who still supports each other after 30 years,
  10. Netflix.
  11. Food on the table, every day,
  12. HEALTH! (never to be underappreciated!),
  13. Higher brain function . . . even though finding the right word or where I left my phone sometimes becomes a Mapquest event,
  14. Community. I never realized how much I missed seeing neighbors (even when they host loud parties!),
  15. Going to the store (a loathed event now a celebrated occasion!), and, last but hardly least...
  16. YOU GUYS, for filling my month with inspiration (and sometimes a guilty conscience) along with the desire to get back to the keyboard!
That’s far from everything, but I have Thanksgiving Part Deux to get ready for. Hope it finds you healthy, happy, well fed, and surrounded by family or at least, memories to last a lifetime.

♚♚♚♚♚
Nancy Gideon on the Web




Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Those Darn People in My Head and in My House

 


I have a crowded house this week, not only with visiting family for the holidays but also a new set of characters from my recent release, The Three Widows of Wylder. The characters from all my books never entirely leave me, but my most recent books especially stick in my mind.

The Three Widows of Wylder is historical fiction but also women’s fiction in that a great deal of the story is about my characters’ internal journies. In this novel, set in the late 1800s, there are three main characters, with chapters told in alternating points of view.

Clara is a bit of a schoolmarm type of personality. She’s constrained by circumstances to follow her husband’s lead and never allowed to follow her own dream. This becomes evident in that her wish to become a mother is unfulfilled. She asks her husband for a divorce, hoping to start anew, but he believes their childless state is God willed and refuses to consider divorce. In the 19th century, divorce was very uncommon and difficult without a husband’s consent.

Mary Rose is a vain, spoiled woman who has been widowed twice by the age of twenty-two. She desperately seeks wealth and, for women in this era, this typically comes through marriage. She’s devious, ambitious and dangerous.

Emma is still in her teens, and the most level-headed of the women. She shoots straight, rides hard, and hunts for her own food. When the story opens, she’s been living on her own for months, traveling across country, and has learned that people are trouble.

When the three women meet, on the run from their pasts, they clash even while they help each other. By the end of the summer, none of them will be the same.

Good or bad, I love my characters, even naughty Mary Rose. While their stories end with this book, I still think about each of them, almost as though they are real people. Who will Mary Rose be at age fifty? What is next for Emma and Clara? They’re like extended family who I want to keep in touch with; frankly, I’ve spent more time with my fictional characters than extended family this year.

This is my eighth novel and so there are rooms full of characters in my head. I do wonder what a holiday dinner would be like if they all gathered together – such a disparate bunch! I think it would turn out to be a pretty dysfunctional family gathering, but it’s amusing to consider such an event.

Happy Thanksgiving to all who observe the holiday.



Here’s a bit more about The Three Widows of Wylder:

 

Tagline: Three women. Three terrible secrets.

 

 

Blurb:

 

Three women on the run.

 

After the death of her husband, Clara flees a hanging judge and seeks refuge with her brother in Wylder, Wyoming.

 

With secrets of her own and good reasons to flee, spoiled and vain Mary Rose joins Clara on the trek to Wyoming. Surely a suitable man exists somewhere.

 

Emma is a mystery. A crack shot and expert horsewoman, her harrowing past seeps out in a steady drip. She’s on the run from something, but what?

 

After the three women descend on Wylder, a budding romance leads to exposure of their pasts. As disaster looms, will any of them escape?




 

 

Excerpt:

 

Emma stood, legs apart, one hand on the pistol at her hip. The covered wagon was the type used years ago by pioneers, before trains tamed the prairie, and they still lumbered across areas where tracks hadn’t been laid. Two women sat side-by-side, too focused on their argument to yet notice the camp they entered. Their one horse, overmatched by the heavy wagon, was damp with sweat, its mouth flecked with froth. 

“We should have stayed on the main road.” The peevish one appeared much younger, curly gold hair topped by a large straw hat. She wore a light-yellow dress with lace at her wrists and throat, a perfectly inadequate outfit for travel. “Someone could have provided directions.”

The older woman had finely-drawn features, a few strands of gray threaded through her dark, uncovered hair. Dressed in sensible blue calico, she gripped the reins too tight and the poor horse gave a pathetic shake of its head. “The whole point was to avoid people,” she sniped.

Emma strode forward and seized the reins. “For God’s sake, you’re killing him.”

The two women gaped as though at an apparition. The horse, released from harsh hands, lowered its head and halted. Its sides heaved as flies drank at its sweaty flanks.

“Whomever let you two fools handle a horse should be whipped.” Tempted to dispatch the women to hell for their cruelty, Emma rested her hand on the pistol’s handle.

They two travelers spoke in tandem. “Who are you?” and “How dare you call me a fool.”

As Emma crooned into in the horse’s ear, her expert fingers undid the buckles at its shoulders and haunches. By the time the older of the two women climbed to the ground, the horse was unhitched and Emma led it to the creek.

“That’s our horse,” cried the one in yellow. “Clara, what is that insane girl doing? She’s stealing him.”

Emma halted, shoulders stiff. She turned and pointed the pistol at the one with lace at her throat. “I’m no horse thief.” She cocked the hammer. “Apologize.”

 

About the author:

Julie Howard is the author of the Wild Crime mystery series and Spirited Quest paranormal mystery series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. She is a member of the Idaho Writers Guild and editor of the Potato Soup Journal. Learn more at juliemhoward.com.

Website: http://juliemhoward.com

 

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/juliemhowardauthor

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18116047.Julie_Howard

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Julie-Howard/e/B07D6CS4NQ/

 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/julie-howard?list=author_books

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/_JulieMHoward

 

Follow her on Instagram: @authorjuliehoward 

 

 

Buy Links:

 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Three-Widows-Wylder-West-ebook/

 

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-three-widows-of-wylder/id1585169665

 

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-three-widows-of-wylder-julie-howard/

 

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-three-widows-of-wylder-the-wylder-west-by-julie-howard

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58903448-the-three-widows-of-wylder

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, November 22, 2021

Thanksgiving is coming and I'm Thankful! By Tena Stetler

I have to say this year has been difficult from beginning to end. But when I sit down and think about it, I have many things to be thankful for. While my hubby and I both contracted COVID in February 2021,(still have lingering effects), we survived. So I’m thankful! Then there is the first responders, nurses, doctors, and others, thank you, without all of you things could be a lot worse.

My wonderful readers are fantastic and I am so thankful for them. I sincerely hope my tales of paranormal creatures sweep them away from their ordinary world into a magical, romantic fantasy adventure or mystery if only for a few hours.  We all need fantasy these days. Don’t you agree?

Thinking back to when I was able to meet my readers at book signings we had a blast! Hope to be able to do it again in 2022. Fingers crossed

Six years and fifteen books later, I still wake up and pinch myself every morning, thankful to be living my dream being a published author.  A dream made possible by my supportive, extraordinary husband of many moons and The Wild Rose Press my amazing publisher. My editor, Lill, well, let’s just say…SHE ROCKS! I’m so thankful for her patience and understanding. (Discovering new and creative way to screw up seems to be my specialty.) Yep, my face turns bright red every time I think about it. Oh, yeah, and I’m thankful for the helpful, supportive authors of The Wild Rose Press!  They’re always willing to lend a hand.

When my characters run amuck, the story plot flows in ten different directions and none of them what I had in mind AND a deadline looms, (yeah, I know you plotters never have that happen, but us pansters… well just saying), three little words, “You’ve got this” are music to my ears from my family and friends. I am eternally thankful for their encouragement and support.

I am thankful for the unconditional love of my chow dog, Mystic; spoiled parrot, Taco; and box turtle, Sammie. No matter how bad I feel or goof up, in their eyes, I’m darn near perfect. And I’m certainly not going to tell them any different!

Finally, a day never passes without my thanks to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces whose dedication keeps our great nation free. (I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I can’t help it. Comes from living in a military town all my life & marrying a soldier.)  We are one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. You may not agree with me, but that’s what is great about this nation.  You don’t have to.  I’m entitled to my own opinion, as are you. I can write books on any topic I choose without fear of a midnight knock on my door or being carted away. Unless of course my characters come to life, then we’re all in trouble. <Giggle>

While I have a lot more to be thankful for such as a roof over my head — About the roof over my head, I’m still waiting for a self-cleaning house. LOL January will bring a long overdue kitchen remodel. I can’t wait! I’m thankful to have enough to eat and clothes on my back.  What are you thankful for?

Having listed the biggies, I wish you all love, laughter and Happy Thanksgiving!

After the big dinner is done and you sit down to relax, I have a suggestion. A WITCH’S QUANDARY now out in audiobook.  Just put on those headphones and be whisked away!


What’s A Witch’s Quandary about you ask?
A Broken Engagement leads to the discovery of stolen magic and malice. Can they weather the storm?

Gale's engagement is off because she refuses to leave her thriving business in Ireland to follow Dillon to Scotland. Her family and friends are on the emerald isle. Yet, when Dillon returns with the whole story and asks for her help, she must follow her heart.

 Becoming a Solicitor, then partner in the family law firm was never Dillon's dream. Now it's his nightmare. Called to Scotland, his father demands he take his rightful place in the firm or be disowned and disinherited. Something is terribly amiss in the firm and family.

 During Gale and Dillon's investigation, they discover the enforcer for the Demon Overlord is also delving into rumors the firm is acting illegally. Magic has been stolen, someone is being blackmailed, and a member of the Witch's council is corrupt. If Gale and Dillon want a life together in Ireland, they have to unearth secrets threatening to destroy the firm and family in Scotland.

 Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Witchs-Quandary-Demons-Witch-Book-ebook/dp/B095291TGN

 Audible:   https://www.audible.com/pd/A-Witchs-Quandary-Audiobook/B09LXTG2SX?

Friday, November 19, 2021

The Naughty List is FREE on Amazon


FREE on Amazon

November 19, 20, 21, 22, 23


This isn't a typical Yuletide tale.



Murder, mystical artifacts, an invisible demon with anger management issues, and an overbearing cupid—not what Rosalie Thatcher wished for on her Christmas list.

The holidays had always been a magical time for Rosalie, but not this year. Her new manager at Penrose’s Department Store is determined to make this season the most profitable in history, even if it sucks the life from every employee. Enforcing arbitrary rules and forcing Rosalie into the stupid elf hat was the worst until she meets a real E.L.F. (Elemental Life Form) named David and gets lassoed into a desperate hunt for the stolen Naughty and Nice List.  Now Rosalie and David must dodge a murderous invisible demon and recover the missing artifact before hellhounds track them down. The couple race against time for without the guidance of the Naughty and Nice List the world will tumble into chaos.


Excerpt

Stephanie rounded the corner. She plopped a large cardboard box down on the counter. “I’ve decided on more festive attire for the staff to increase holiday spirit and, thereby, increase customer spending.” She pulled off the cover. Rosalie’s mouth dropped open. “What the hell is that?”

“An elf hat, of course. It’s festive.”

“It’s butt ugly.”

Stephanie glowered. “No one asked your opinion, Rosalie. No one cares about your opinion. Attitudes such as yours prove me right. You need more holiday spirit.” She shoved the hat in her face. “Everyone wears one. Put it on.”

Fashioned out of bright green felt, the cone-shaped hat had Penrose’s written in glittery gold paint smack dab in the middle. On the pointy top dangled a pompom the size of her fist that jingled annoyingly with the slightest movement. The rim, trimmed with bushy fake white fur, did nothing to offset the huge elf ears stitched in as giant flaps on either side. Rosalie begrudgingly slipped on the hat. Immediately, her head began to sweat. The ears itched like crazy.

Stephanie beamed. “Perfect. I told all the assistant managers to stop by Customer Service and pick up hats for their departments.” She turned on her heel.

“You forgot yours,” Rosalie snidely called out. Of course, Stephanie ignored her.

****

David sunk wearily into a chair in the break room, cradling a disposable cup in his hands. He appropriated the stale coffee from the pot someone forgot to empty out and clean. He barely noticed the bitter taste. Ten minute break…ten minutes was all he needed. The caffeine would keep him on his feet another couple of hours. He rubbed his eyes, willing away the crushing fatigue. Night after night David wandered Penrose’s four floors in a fruitless search, pulling open boxes, checking under counters. Although the nagging pull continued to graze his senses, The Book was nowhere to be found. He’d come no closer to pinning down the location than when he arrived. The mystical connection now appreciably slackened under his mental touch. David’s stomach knotted up in fear. Soon the link would disappear forever. Something alluded him—some special storage area, some door he hadn’t opened. Why couldn’t he find The Book?

In frustration, David drained the last of the coffee. He flung the cup to the wastebasket, overshot, and hit the corkboard on the wall. A clipboard crashed to the floor. He stifled a curse. Bending down to pick it up, his eyes strayed over the top sheet. “Motivation Memo from Stephanie Crowder to all Employees,” he read. “Below are daily reports from Sneaky Shoppers.” Oh brother, Stephanie is a real piece of work. She has her own secret police. He snorted in amusement scanning the list of ridiculous infractions.

“Now, now, Rosalie Thatcher of Customer Service,” he muttered. “Two transgressions—you’ll never get off the Naughty List with that attitude. Imagine, not remembering to say have a special holly jolly holly-day at Penrose’s. I see you were also caught without an elf hat.”

Elf hat?

His lips twitched in an involuntary grin. His dad would appreciate the joke. As David replaced the clipboard, he suddenly remembered Rosalie. She was the girl he followed to the security office. The picture of the young brunette with a friendly natural smile popped into his mind. A smile like that couldn’t be faked. She liked people. She liked her job. He wondered how she felt about Penrose’s now.

David experienced a rush of guilt. All around the atmosphere had changed. He was super-sensitive to the yuletide. Magic in the air, holiday spirit, whatever—there was always something indefinably optimistic about this time of year. Even as a kid, before he understood family responsibilities, he sensed the truth. As easily as he now sensed the diminished effect of The Book. Whatever goodwill the season stirred up rapidly faded. Hard-working people like Rosalie paid the price of his stupid mistake.

The young man slipped out of the break room. He had enough time left to make one quick circuit of the first floor before staff trickled in. He worked from the front of Penrose’s to the back corner, ending up at Customer Service. For an instant, his spirits rose. A large box stashed underneath the counter wasn’t there the last time he checked. He ripped off the top, pawing through the contents. Fingering the garish green material, David didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The oversize ears stuck out like a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong. The lining felt like steel wool. Had the holiday spirit been reduced to this?

A wave of despair enveloped him. “I’m so sorry, Rosalie.” On impulse, David reached into his pocket. He pulled out a gold-wrapped chocolate bar saved for later, swiped from a stash hidden in the store manager’s office. David scribbled on a sticky pad and pressed the note to the wrapper. He slipped the candy under the counter just before a sudden murmur of voices broke the silence. The staff had arrived. He ducked behind a rack of clothing in the back as a girl walked up to the counter, an elf hat tucked under her arm.

“Ears, Rosalie.”

She halted in mid-stride. A sharply dressed twentysomething in a skin tight pencil skirt swooped down on her. To get a better view, David carefully eased back the clothes hanging in front of his face. He saw Rosalie’s fingers clenched around the hat. He chuckled to himself. She’s pissed, but hides her aggravation well. Sadhri would definitely approve of her self-control.

“Stephanie,” Rosalie stated calmly, “the hats are extremely uncomfortable. Everyone hates them.”

“Nonsense, they’re fine.”

“If you simply try one on you’ll see—”

“I don’t have to. I know they’re fine. The hats put people in the holiday spirit and cheerful people spend more money.” Stephanie examined her perfect French manicure. “So close to Christmas is an awful time to be out of work.” Rosalie jammed the hat on her head without another word. “Excellent,” cooed Stephanie. “Keep that attitude up and your name will stop appearing on the Motivation Memo.” Without another word, she flounced off.

David knew he should dash-away. Every moment in the open was risky, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Rosalie in the idiotic hat. What would she do?

The young woman leaned against the counter glaring after Stephanie. She bobbled her head back and forth and spouted in a falsetto sing-song:

“I’m a special elf from Penrose’s

I wear the special hat

You are not a special elf

You’re a dirty rat

You don’t belong at Penrose’s

You don’t know how to play

Wiggle your tight ass out of here

Damn you, go away.”

David snorted. Rosalie stiffened and turned around.

“Who’s there?” she called

END OF EXCERPT

Buy Link

L. A. Kelley writes sci-fy and fantasy with humor romance and touch of sass. She's always on the Naughty List.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Some Spirited Holiday Cheer to go with Your Bird by Elizabeth Alsobrooks


Holidays is no time to count calories, in my opinion. If you feel a need to diet beforehand just so you can indulge, please do so! But when it comes to the holidays splurge away, and that includes with some holiday libations.  One of my all-time favorite cocktails is a white Russian. I rarely drink them as they seem pretty calorie heavy, but if you’re a keto do-gooder, this one’s for you. You can have cream on keto and this one’s got some thick, rich, heavy cream, so have at it.

Salted Caramel White Russian

Ingredients:

1 or 2 oz vodka (personal strength preference)

1 oz Kalua (or Bailey’s Irish Cream or Cream Caramel if preferred)

½ to 1 oz heavy cream

1 tsp caramel sauce

Kosher salt

ice


Directions:

Rim the top of a rock glass with caramel and lightly salt 

Mix vodka and Kalua in a cocktail shaker over ice and shake

Pour mixture over ice in the caramel rimmed rock glass

Mix remaining caramel and cream with a spoon until well blended

Using the back of a spoon gently ‘float’ the cream over the vodka and Kalua mixture

 

What Thanksgiving would be complete without some pumpkin? Not into pie? Need a little pick up? How about some caffeine with your pumpkin? Try this drunken pumpkin.

Drunken Pumpkin

Ingredients:

6 oz Pumpkin latte or pumpkin spice ice cream (if you’ve had enough caffeine for the day)

4 oz Whip Cream vodka

Whipped cream

cinnamon sticks

Ground cinnamon

Directions:

Pour pumpkin spice latte into cocktail shaker with ice.

Add vodka.

Shake vigorously, until the shaker starts to frost.

Pour into two glasses.

Top with whipped cream

Sprinkle ground cinnamon on whipped cream.

Garnish each drink with a cinnamon stick

  

Want something a little lighter and refreshing? How about something with cranberries?


Cranberry Mule

Ingredients:

2 oz cranberry juice

2 oz vodka

1 squeeze of lime juice, plus extra for garnish

3 oz ginger ale

1 few fresh or frozen cranberries

 

Directions:

Combine cranberry juice, vodka and lime in a shaker of ice

Shake well, then pour over ice in a rock glass

Top with ginger ale

Add whole cranberries and garnish with a lime wedge


Enjoy!

 

 


 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

How I Research for a Fantasy Story



Researching for a fantasy story sounds weird, right? It's not like I can pop over to the farmer's market and find a local Fae to double-check my world-building. I don't have a friendly neighborhood vampire or troll to phone up either. What I do have is mythology.

Peruse Some Mythology:

I think, oftentimes, we forget, or maybe it's just me, that we have hundreds of years of stories to pull ideas from. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, so much as we get to add our own imagination to the pot. 

When I sat down to work on The Curse Breaker, my debut novel, I pulled an old Irish folktale anthology off my shelf (one of those in-the-moment purchases that I couldn't bear to part with and vowed I would read one day) and perused it. I didn't make it through too many stories into that collection before I found the story that served as my foundational novel idea. 

I have done the same for other stories of mine as well. I've pulled mythology details from Korean and Japanese stories, Greek and Roman, as well as Scandinavian literature. There's seriously a treasure trove out there if you don't mind getting a little lost in the countless amazing stories that have been passed down over the ages. 

Google Image Search What World You Have in Mind:

Once you've got a pocket full of neat ideas, it's time to move forward in your story universe. The next step, for me, is to go search for some nifty images on the internet. 

You can also tag in Pinterest or Pixabay (which is a free image site and where this post's photo came from). I'm sure that there are dozens more that are just as great. 

Artists have such a fabulous way of taking dreams and turning them into something living and breathing; something shareable. I often look to artwork for world-building detail inspiration. Plus, this serves as an excellent way to actively work on your story on the days the words just won't come out. 

Add Your Own Spice to the Mix:

Inspiration is great, and there is lots of it. But the very best part of any story is what you, my lovely writer friend, add to it. 

There's no one else who can build a story like you. No other writer has the same voice or style as you. So use all the things that make you fabulous (of which there is a lot) and sprinkle it all over those foundational ideas.  

Just as it is the artist's heart that adds magic to their painting or sketch, it's your emotion that adds heart to the story you're writing.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

A Horse, A Horse...My Kingdom for a Horse...

 Or at least 225 horses in an in-line 6-cylinder engine. One of BMW's finest engines.

When I was growing up in the wilds of South Carolina, my mother was what I am today – a car nut.  In retrospect, I suppose I learned that passion at her knee. She traded cars every year, with some excuse or another, but I think she just liked having a different car when her passion faded.  Her favorite was Mercury made by the Ford Motor Company and now a defunct division.

Once, she had a 1964 burgundy Chevrolet Impala Super Sport with really fancy wheel covers.  The style at the time was to remove the wheel covers.  That was cool. So, cool that we were two girlfriends and I borrowed Mom’s SS and headed to Myrtle Beach to cruise the strip.  We didn’t meet any boys at ‘where the boys are’ but we had a wonderful time.

My particular affliction is the sports car, which love was fostered when my Dad helped me buy a Jaguar E-Type at the ripe old age of 18.

Does anyone remember "Dead Man's Curve" by Jan and Dean?

  Well, the last thing I remember, Doc, I started to swerve

And then I saw the Jag slide into the curve
I know I'll never forget that horrible sight
I guess I found out for myself that everyone was right
Won't come back from Dead Man's Curve.

The car they were talking about is, I believe, the E-type Jag.

That love affair has persisted to today.  I had 4 Miatas, (this is the last):


 then fell in love with the BMW Z3   (probably my favorite of all time).  Z3PO was my best buddy.  I then bought a 135i 



that I didn’t really love.  A new Miata came next, but my libido began to stir, and I started doing on-line searches for a Z4.  Wings here was the result.


When I wrecked my SUV (brief stint as an SUV owner), I did a search on a Z3, exactly what I wanted.  He popped up in Macon, GA.  My aunt and I drove down (about 4 hours), and I drove Zippy Z back.  He's  a 2002 Sterling Gray Z3 3.0i, and the love of my life. Zippy is an exact replica of Z3PO, except that this time I opted for an automatic transmission.

Happy Trails and Happy Holidays until we meet again...

Linda N.

~*~

I write across the genres in romance, particularly otherworldly heroes, and invite you to check out my books on my Amazon Author Page

Saturday, November 13, 2021

You Too Can Be Paranormal! by Marilyn Barr

 When I say I’m taking classes to specialize in my spiritual healing practice, I get strange looks. Many people believe you get “the call”, hang up your shingle in a remote area of a forest, and perform miracles within a few days. The reality can’t be further from the truth. Once you get “the call”, you embark on a lifelong path which includes studying under mentors for years. I am blessed to have two mentors who have been with me every step of the way. They have taught me how to help others and importantly, how not to hurt myself in the process.

Everyone can tap into healing abilities to better know their body. One of the first lessons in spiritual healing is to trust your intuition. Whether you call it your gut feeling, messages from God, your conscience (but please no singing crickets), or your intuition, we are talking about the same internal compass. In an age where information is at your fingertips and commentators tell you what to think around-the-clock, this may sound absurd. How do you learn to tune them out and listen to a wordless feeling inside of you? How do you trust this inner voice more than those people with fancy degrees and a seat on TV? Let me show you.


One of my first homework assignments was to look into a mirror for my inner truths, issues, and desires. First, I found all the flaws on my face, laughed at my silliness, and cried at my aging. It took many tries (and a box of tissues) to look beyond my physical body to my energetic one. I found I wanted a job where I created a physical product. The book I was writing for spite (dare from the husband) was actually for my highest self. Whoa. It blossomed into my author career and I’m forever grateful I could see past the shadows under my eyes from food allergies. What will you find? I dare you to try it.

My next homework assignment was to sit outside and experience everything. I repeat this every day when the temperature outside above 10 degrees Fahrenheit. (This spiritual lady lives in a physical body that can get frostbite!) Sitting on the ground (even snow), preferably barefoot, place your palms on the ground. Relax with your eyes closed and allow your other senses to take in your surroundings. You will find this difficult at first because our techie-savvy world has trained us to depend on our eyes and block out distractions.

At first, you may hear birds or traffic, feel breezes, and smell your neighbor burning leaves. As you sit it will get deeper. Your inner voice will stop talking about the chores nagging at you and start talking about your inner sensations. Is your stomach digesting or asking for food? As you weed through these physical sensations, your emotional ones will rise to the surface of your consciousness. You will sense more because you will be grounded in reality. Your mind will be released from the world we have created with blinking artificial lights of phones, televisions, and kindles.


With your deeper understanding of yourself and a wider range of sensation practices, you are now paranormal. Welcome to the dark side. We have cookies – more specifically Russian tea cakes but more on that later. You will be able to sense things in your gut with no intellectual or logical basis. Just by looking at someone across the restaurant, you will be able to tell if they have money troubles, relationship woes, a secret worthy of a novel, a new hope to better their lives, or maybe you have the talents to know their whole live story. What have you tapped into? This is where finding a mentor is crucial because entering someone’s energy grid risks your health.

In Dance to Wylder Beat, I wrote a novel about a Shamanic Apprentice with fantastic boundaries, spiritual guides who keep him from harm, and a respect for his abilities’ consequences. However, not every intuitive is so responsible. In my new release, The Spy Who Loved My Russian Tea Cakes, Cassie’s mentor leaves her practicing alone over the Christmas holiday. Had Cassie stuck to managing the pain of the nursing home community they have served together; she might have been safe.


Instead, Cassie is drawn into a procedure she isn’t trained to handle. She bends the laws of consent to wake a handsome coma patient. In doing so, she wraps her energy grids with his but doesn’t realize the consequences before she tears her life apart. Knowing someone’s every secret may be embarrassing but what if they are a Russian vigilante on the run…


How did Cassie’s ego lead get her into this mess? Here is a snippet from The Spy Who Loved My Russian Tea Cakes...

“Of course, but I’m not a nurse. I’m the Reiki—”

“Yes, the spiritual healer. You are the one I meant to find. I knew it the minute I saw you.”

“Great, then lead the way.” I gesture to the stairs behind her and regret not asking her if she would prefer the elevator. Together we shuffle at a snail’s pace.

“My Sergei’s room is the first one at the top of the stairs, dearie.” She puffs with each step. I reach out to help her, but most of our residents find a helping hand to be a dig against their independence. I push open the door to the hall and wait for her to step through. She then waits regally for me to open the door to her son’s room. “Sergei is in bad shape. He needs you to wake him up. He’s in a coma, you see.”

“If he’s not consenting, then I don’t think I can—”

“He would want your help. I know it. As his only relative, I give consent on his behalf. You are his only hope.” She’s on the brink of tears. Her gnarled hands tangle handfuls of her sweater set like she’s wringing out a washrag. My heart pounds. Coma healing is a gray area in the number one rule of energetic healing. Never journey on someone’s behalf without their consent. Would Leslie fault me for calling her so soon after she left?

“Please, for a mother’s love.”



Oh boy, when a healer’s ego wants to save everyone, it is difficult for the most experienced to set appropriate boundaries. The lines of right and wrong blur. Poor Cassie never stood a chance. Now she’s plagued with dream walking, a treasure trove of government secrets, and growing feelings for a man with a dubious past. How will she get out of this? Find out on 11/30/2021 when The Spy Who Loved My Russian Tea Cakes hits your kindle after you pick your favorite online retailer here -  https://storyoriginapp.com/universalbooklinks/21443f24-21f0-11ec-96d1-ff537fc2cbb2




Wednesday, November 10, 2021

OF COURSE MONSTERS DON'T EXIST...RIGHT?

 


I know Halloween is over, but I wanted to share something I find fascinating. 

In my journey to become a full-time author, I’ve indulged in finding my place on social media. After all, no one wants to listen to a sale (BUY MY BOOK!) all the time. Even I get bored if that was the only crap I talked about.

“Post whatever interest you” is the standard advice. Heck, a lot of things interest me. Classic rock, a glass of savory red wine, a variety of TV/movies, and, of course, finding my next favorite author. While I might occasionally post things about those subjects, I wanted to do something a little different with my posts. Something that’s a little odd for a romance writer to tackle.

My latest hobby is posting tidbits about little-known monsters. Oh, everyone knows who Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Werewolf are. But what about the folks we hardly ever hear of? And not just those legends prevalent in Western culture. I try my best to include legends from around the world. So, every Thursday, I highlight “Folklore Thursday” (believe it or not, there’s actually a hashtag for that) on my social media. Much to my surprise, my monster posts are the ones I get more responses from than any others.

To celebrate, I want to share some of the monsters I’ve talked about this summer. I’d love to hear any suggestions on monsters I could use in the future!

THE HATMAN


By far, I got the most responses I’ve gotten has been about THE HAT MAN. According to legend, The Hat Man is not an unknown phenomenon. For about as long as written words have existed, “people have described a frightening nighttime vision that paralyzes them with fear and seems to suck the breath right out of them.” On the Sinister blog, in June 2020, they had a challenge for folks to draw The Hat Man. In their article, they stated that verifying the reality of The Hat Man was hard to do since there wasn’t any hunting gear that could produce viable evidence.

The history of The Hat Man has several religious and legendary beliefs about shades, shadowy spiritual beings or supernatural entities. Some ufologists believe The Hat Man can be an alien species observing people. Some folks describe the entity watching either from a doorway, closet, or corner of a room. Others claim The Hat Man hovers above their bed in the middle of the night. Still others say they’ve seen him during the day, which disputes the claim that the vision of The Hat Man is nothing but a sleep paralysis.

Your thoughts? Have you had a visit from The Hat Man?

MICHIGAN DOGMAN



According to Wikipedia, witnesses sighted the Michigan Dogman in 1887 in Wexford County. They described the creature as a seven-foot tall, blue-eyed, or Amber eyed bipedal canine-like animal with the torso of a man the fearsome howl that somehow sounded like a human screaming.

It wasn’t until the late twentieth century when the creature became well known. There have been several sightings reported in several locations throughout the Northwestern quadrant of the Lower Peninsula in Michigan. Near where I live.

So far, I’ve seen nothing like that. Not that I want to…

LA CEGUA


This is a Nicaragua shapeshifter folklore. According to Nicaragua Community, there was once a beautiful woman of mixed Indian and Spanish blood also called La Segua. She waits by the roadside for unsuspecting men riding along on their horses after they had a long night of heavy drinking in town. Attracted to the beauty, they would offer her a ride on their horse. But as they turnaround, instead of beholding a beautiful woman, they came face-to-face with a horrendous monster with a skull of a horse and fiery red eyes.

She is also believed to have superhuman abilities and can walk through solid objects and gravitate above the ground. She can also fly at extreme speeds to lure men into her trap.


MOTHMAN



This one you may have heard about since the movie came out starring Richard Gere in 2002. This legend is about a large, winged creature called The Mothman near point Pleasant, West Virginia, during 1966 and 1967. The creature was first cited by two couples who told the police they saw a large gray creature whose eyes “glowed red” when the car’s headlights picked it up. They describe it as “a large flying man with ten-foot wings”, following their car while they drove an area outside of town. For the next couple of days, other people reported similar sightings. Two volunteer firefighters who saw it claim it was “a large bird with red eyes”. According to John Keel’s 1975 book, he claims that there were supernatural events that related to the sightings, such as a connection to the collapse of the Silver Bridge that killed forty-six people.


JOROGUMO

This creature, ghost, or goblin is of Japanese folklore. Japanese villagers stated a Jorogumo (or spider-woman) is mistress of a nearby waterfall. A local legend tells of a visiting woodcutter who fell in love with a woman he met at the waterfall. He visited her every day, but grew physically weaker each time. A priest from a nearby temple suspected the woodcutter had been taken in by the Jorogumo, mistress of the waterfall, and went with him. When they arrived where the woodcutter normally met the woman, a spider thread reached out to encircle the man’s leg. The priest let out a thunders yell, and the thread disappeared. The woodcutter argued with the priest that he wanted to be with the beautiful woman, but the priest denied him. As the argument grew, the woodcutter became entangled by a series of spider threads and was quickly yanked into the water and never seen again.


WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

As humans, we have a tendency to reflect on our basic universal human fears: big things, things that are hard to hurt, things that want to eat us… you get the picture. Throughout our history we have lots of stories about giants, shape shifters, serpents/dragons, and generally stories about people who suffered curses because of their bad behavior. These legends are a way for us to explain the unexplainable and in a tantalizing story we aren’t likely to forget. It’s also a way for us to play with our darker emotions from the safety of our home and find out how we might respond to those emotions.

That’s not to say that I’m discounting any of our legends or folklores as non-truths. I’d like to think I’m smart enough to admit I don’t know what I don’t know. There are as many explanations for the monsters in the world as there are people who came up with the stories.

After all, I firmly believe the scariest monster in the universe is well known.

It’s us.