by Chris Pavesic
Is there anything better than homemade sweet and salty caramel corn? Not only does it taste delicious, the aroma that fills the air when you are cooking it is heavenly.
Baked Caramel Corn
Nonstick cooking spray
24 cups air popped popcorn
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine
2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup light or dark corn syrup
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Coat bottom and sides of large roasting pan with nonstick spray. Place popped popcorn in roasting pan.
In saucepan, slowly melt butter. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Heat to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda and vanilla.
Gradually pour over popped popcorn, mixing well. Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, and cool completely. Break apart and store in tightly covered container.
While you enjoy your treat why not read a good book? May I suggest one of the books from my LitRPG series The Revelation Chronicles? ?
In Starter Zone Cami kept herself and her younger sister Alby alive in a post-apocalyptic world, facing starvation, violence, and death on a daily basis. Caught by the military and forcefully inscribed, Cami manages to scam the system and they enter the Realms, a Virtual Reality world, as privileged Players rather than slaves. They experience a world of safety, plenty, and magical adventure.
In the Traveler’s Zone magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as Cami continues her epic quest to navigate the Realms and build a better life for her family. But an intrusion from her old life threatens everything she has gained and imperils the entire virtual world.
Time to play the game.
Above the tree line floats an airship close to three hundred feet long with a slightly rounded wooden hull. Ropes attach the lower portion of the ship to an inflated balloon-like aspect, bright white in color with an identification symbol, a red bird with white-tipped feathers extended in flight, inside a round yellow circle in the center of the canvas. The deck is manned with archers and swordsmen. There are two sets of fore and aft catapults.
What I don’t see are cannons or any other type of a gun large enough to account for the sound of the explosion.
The ship pivots in the air, coming around to point directly at what looks like an oncoming flock of five large birds. Or creatures. They are too big and too strange looking to be birds. They drift closer, flapping their wings.
A moment passes before I realize that they are not creatures either. They are some sort of gliders. A person hangs below each set of the feathered wings, which flap and move with mechanical precision in a sky washed out by the morning sun.
The archers nock their arrows and aim at the flock.
The gliders draw in their wings and dive toward the deck, covering the distance in a few heartbeats. Most of the arrows fly uselessly past the attack force and fall like black rain from the sky. The archers aimed and released the volley too late.
The forward catapult releases a torrent of small rocks at the lead glider. It is a scatter-shot approach that proves effective. There are so many missiles that it is impossible to dodge them all.
But at the moment the stones strike, the other four let loose with fireballs. Spheres of crackling flame spring from their hands, glowing faintly at first and then with increasing brightness. The balls of fire shoot from their hands like bullets from a gun and fly toward the ship, exploding. Pieces bounce off the hull and fall to the ground, throwing hissing, burning globs of magic-fueled fire in all directions, setting everything they touch aflame.
Chris Pavesic is a fantasy author who lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, steampunk, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.
Learn more about Chris on her website and blog.
by Sharon Ledwith
Spying is a catchy way of saying “do your research and stay tuned in.” Regardless of what you call it, it’s a mandatory part of being successful. It’s also a great way to build connections. There’s an old saying that to be successful you have to stop obsessing about the competition. I agree with that to a certain degree, but to be unaware of what other authors in your genre are doing is never a smart idea.
Regardless of what you write you need to be dialed into the competitive landscape. Knowing what others in your target market are doing, writing about, and promoting can be key to your success as well. Not that I would ever encourage copying, but being in tune with your genre and market can be a fantastic idea generator, not to mention it gives you the ability to stay ahead of certain trends that haven’t even surfaced at the consumer level yet.
First rule of spying: study your target market, the books as well as other authors in the industry. It helps you to also differentiate yourself from them in products, services, and pricing. Again, you don’t want to copy, you just want to be aware. Another lesser known reason for doing this is that if you’re struggling with your social media (like me)—both from the aspect of what platform to be on to what to say to drive more engagement—keeping these authors on your radar will greatly increase your marketing ideas. Living in a vacuum never made anyone successful.
Whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction, you want to know who else is writing on your topic or in your genre. Google search is a great place to start. The results will not just turn up names and book titles but also show you the best ways to interact with your reader.
Google is packed with names of authors who write about your topic or genre. As you begin to compile your list, I want you to do one thing: ignore big brands because it’s likely that they can do anything they want and still be successful. If you’re a middle grade writer, names like Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull come to mind. These authors are big, powerful brands. You want the smaller names—the people you may not immediately recognize. Why? Because they have to try harder. If tomorrow Riordan or Mull decided to put out a book on poetry, while their fans might be surprised, they would likely still buy it. But if a lesser-known author did that they’d look like they have writer-ADD. Not good.
So start putting your list together, as you do sign up for their mailing lists, and follow them on Twitter and any other social media site they use. That’s what I do. Aside from the obvious reasons why you want to do this, I’m a big fan of supporting other authors in my market. Share their Facebook updates, retweet their great Twitter posts, and like their Instagram images.
One of the hidden gems of this research is it will also show you what social media sites to be on. If you’ve been struggling to figure out where your market resides, this strategy should really clear that up for you. Why? Because if you’re plucking names off of the first page of Google you know one thing: whatever they are doing to show up in search, they’re doing it right. Google has made so many changes to their search algorithms that you simply can’t “trick” the system anymore to get onto page one. Look at their updates. What are they sharing and why? How often do they blog? Are they on LinkedIn instead of Facebook? Is there much going on for them on Pinterest or Instagram? Really spend some time with this. Not only will it help you tune into your market but it will cut your learning curve by half, if not more.
Successful authors leave clues. Are you following their bread crumbs?
Here’s a glimpse into one of the books from Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, my teen psychic mystery series.
The only witness left to testify against an unsolved crime in Fairy Falls isn’t a person…
City born and bred, Hart Stewart possesses the gift of psychometry—the psychic ability to discover facts about an event or person by touching inanimate objects associated with them. Since his mother’s death, seventeen-year-old Hart has endured homelessness, and has learned ways to keep his illiteracy under wraps. He eventually learns of a great-aunt living in Fairy Falls, and decides to leave the only life he’s ever known for an uncertain future.
Diana MacGregor lives in Fairy Falls. Her mother was a victim of a senseless murder. Only Diana’s unanswered questions and her grief keeps her going, until Hart finds her mother’s lost ring and becomes a witness to her murder.
Through Hart’s psychic power, Diana gains hope for justice. Their investigation leads them into the corrupt world threatening Fairy Falls. To secure the town’s future, Hart and Diana must join forces to uncover the shocking truth, or they risk losing the true essence of Fairy Falls forever.
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her website and blog. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Smashwords. Look up her Amazon Author page for a list of current books. Be sure to check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page.
by Linda Lee Greene, Author & Artist
|BOOKWORM – Watercolor painting by Linda Lee Greene|
It is a fact that “Muse,” that mysterious and severe task-master chains authors to their writing instruments for weeks, or months, and sometimes years at a time. They aren’t allowed to eat, or brush their teeth, or bathe, or sleep. They almost never get to see other human beings. Muse makes them ignore the ring of the doorbell and the phone, and pull the drapes and close the blinds. Nothing, nothing, nothing must get in the way of scratching down those precious lines. At long last the book is done—finished—complete! And authors wait; they wait; they wait for feedback from readers, feedback that is the lifeblood of writers, that keeps them motivated, that keeps them sane, that rescues their self-esteem, and that very well might save their life!
Accumulating reader reviews of books is a huge hurdle for authors, and the truth is that without reviews, books don’t stand a chance of reaching a wide audience, even though they might be very worthwhile reads. Nowadays, by way of cyberspace, something like 4,500 new books per day hit the bookseller market, a large percentage of that number written and self-published by highly talented and fearless authors. The crushing heap of competition they are under demands that many good reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads is the best, and perhaps, the only way they can crawl out from under the pile and receive the notice they deserve.
A lot of readers would like to post reviews but feel intimidated by the process. You’re in luck. You can write something as simple as “I loved it!” or “This is one of the best books I’ve ever read!” or “I couldn’t put it down!” If you didn’t like the book, explain the reason in the review because that’s information the author needs to be a better writer.
Please support authors by posting reviews of their books, especially at Amazon.com. All you have to do is go to Amazon and type in the name of the book. When the correct page comes up, click onto the space on the right indicating the number of current reviews. The reviews page comes up. You will see a series of five stars on the left side of the page. Click onto the star that corresponds with your rating of the book. The fifth star on the right indicates the highest rating. A dialog box in which to type your review is directly below the stars. And below that, a box shows in which to title your review. When you have done all these things, click “submit” at the bottom of the page. And wallah—you’ve saved the life of a hard-working and lonely author!
My crime thriller novel, A Chance at the Moon is on Amazon. I welcome your review.
Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind a man and a woman’s curious encounter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas? The cards fold, their hearts open, and a match strikes, flames that sizzle their hearts and souls. Can they have the moon and the stars, too? Or is she too dangerous? Is he? Can their love withstand betrayal? Can it endure murder?
While the cards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas fail to distract them from their troubled pasts, on the side, the actress and the gambler play a game of ‘will they won’t they’ romance. Meanwhile, an otherworldly hand also has a big stake in the game. Unexpected secrets unfold brimming with dangerous consequences, and finally, a strange brand of salvation.
Amid the seductions of Las Vegas, Nevada and an idyllic coffee plantation on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a sextet of opposites converge within a shared fate: a glamorous movie-star courting distractions from her troubled past; her shell-shocked bodyguards clutching handholds out of their hardscrabble lives; a dropout Hawaiian nuclear physicist gambling his way back home; a Navajo rancher seeking cleansing for harming Mother Earth; and from its lofty perch, the Hawaiian’s guardian spirit conjured as his pet raven, conducting this symphony of soul odysseys.
The Cast of Characters
Actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms escapes the shadow of her mother’s gruesome murder and the relentless demands of Hollywood and loses herself in the cards at Las Vegas casinos. But like hounds on the scent, the scandal tracks her. And true to her history, it shows up in the person of dashing Hawaiian gambler, Koa Kalua’i. Neither of them are strangers at taking risks and too often losing. Will they win in their chance at the moon this time?
In Hawaiian cosmology, Aumakuas are guardian spirits whom many believe to manifest in physical form. Koa Kalua’i knows the tenet to be true, because Raven has not only been his winged-pet since the earliest days of his childhood on his family’s coffee plantation on Hawaii’s Big Island, but also his Aumakua. They make a remarkable pair, dedicated to righting wrongs.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, and orphaned as little kids, twin brothers Nicholas and Tobias Plato grew up tough but tenderhearted, qualities they put to use as actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms’ bodyguards. Who knew that Nicholas would play such a pivotal role in Olivia’s life: her most trusted friend and guardian, and in the end, her savior?
Navajo rancher and computer geek, Sam Whitehorse uncovers a secret, terrorist stockpile of materiel burrowed in the side of one his people’s sacred mountains in Nevada. It is a threat that he and Las Vegas gambler, Koa Kalua’i must expose and eliminate, but potential government involvement in the matter complicates such an offensive. And why does actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms insert herself into the whole affair?
Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.
Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger, it was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a strong hold.
She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.
Visit Linda at her online art gallery and join her on Facebook. Linda loves to hear from readers so feel free to email her. Blog: http://Ingoodcompanyohio.blogspot.com
Blog Post Link: In Good Company: HOW TO SAVE THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR https://ingoodcompanyohio.blogspot.com/2019/12/how-to-save-life-of-author.html?spref=tw
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
by Yasmine Phoenix
|Photo coutesy of Vinay Tadepalli Unsplash|
For years I got up, showered, dressed, drove the kids to school, and then joined the masses riding the electric train to Chicago to work. Sweltering summers and below zero wind chill I walked to my office. Of course, I enjoyed city events during lunch time being in downtown Chicago was great. Then at the end of the day reverse commute back on the train, pick up kids, and then home to cook dinner. Friday was family pizza night.
Now I work from home, I don’t have to get all dressed up and drive in the insane Atlantic traffic. And my kids are grown. I’m also an author so sometimes I go to a local café or Starbucks. It’s an opportunity to get out of my four walls and interact on a somewhat personal level with people. In other words, listen in on random conversations.
Technology. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ to paraphrase Captain Kirk in Star Trek, Wrath of Khan who stole it from Charles Dickens. Writers are introverts and today’s technology is for us the best of times and the worst of times. We don’t have to leave our homes – almost ever. Everything we need is an App away from our finger. We can live our total existence – At. Home.
Want to move? You can sell your home online, buy another one online, and have a service pack and deliver your possessions to the new home. Online, folks.
We write, research, submit, publish, and promote our books from our desks. Gone are the days of submitting via snail mail, traipsing to the post office to mail synopsis, first three chapters, and query. We submit everything online.
It gets even better. Think about everything you can do from the comfort of your home, your bed, your car. Shopping malls are having a difficult time competing with online shopping and many stores are closing. When in Chicago, I go to Water Tower, sit, drink Starbucks, and watch shoppers, mostly young people, tourists, or city residents’ shop. I ride the CTA. Everyone is praying, their heads bowed, nope they’re staring down at their phones. It’s not just the young, older riders are playing games or are on Facebook.
How about attending a basketball or football game? Tickets are sky high, You have to be searched to get in. And it’s damn cold. Why not watch with friends? At. Home. The line to the bathroom is shorter. And of course – order food to be delivered. There’s Apps for that.
Hungry? Grocery shop? I hate walking down every aisle often impulse buying. Now I put together my Kroger grocery list, pay, and schedule a pick up day and time. And I don’t have to get out of my car. Whole Foods, Instacart deliver groceries as well. If I still lived in Chicago, I’d surely take advantage of this in the winter. At. Home.
Order out? Pick up or delivery. Restaurants, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell deliver. And we once believed the drive-thru was awesome. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Jenny Craig, online meal services that setup meals according to your dietary requirements and then delivered to your home. Even comes with cooking directions. Kroger and Publix have started meal service programs. Grub Hub, Door Dash are utilized by restaurants to deliver from a variety of restaurants. You can order Chinese, Thai, American, whatever and have it all delivered. Wait sixty minutes for a table? Late from work? Your family’s dinner can be timed to meet you at the front door. At. Home. And once we thought pizza delivery was a big thing.
Need a doctor? You can arrange – with an App a consultation with a physician via your smartphone. Your medication can be delivered. At. Home.
Need a car? In case you want to venture out of your home. There’s an App. When I lived in Chicago, I used Zipcar. I’d set up a location, day and time for a car. Car came with a gas card and a special parking space. I drove the Prius across the street from where I lived. I had a choice of vehicles luxury, compact. I test drove different makes in case I wanted to buy a car. Did you know you can purchase a car online and have it delivered? At. Home.
Don’t need a car? Lyft and Uber. I used both when I first moved to Atlanta because I had no idea where the hell anything was. Still don’t know, but being driven around gave me the opportunity to learn where places were and sightsee at the same time.
|Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|
Let’s not forget Amazon. Believe me I’ve tried. The bane of my existence and yours too, admit it. I’d probably ball up in a fetal position if it disappeared. From books, to toilet tissue, toys, small appliances, clothing, food, handbags (yeah I know), items you didn’t even know you needed/wanted can be found and delivered – free (Prime) to your front door. I’ve found myself staring at the Amazon delivery app following the delivery route as they make their way to my front door. I think that would be called stalking if I weren’t paying for the goods. It’s amazing how many empty Amazon boxes I see on a weekly basis in the recycle bin. Prime. When I needed a particular type of bandage after my knee surgery, I couldn’t find it at any nearby drug store. I looked it up on Amazon and in two days it was delivered.
When my daughter’s orders are delivered – I’m not saying she shops a lot on Amazon, but she shops a lot on Amazon. At first, I was concerned but I understand why. She’s a busy professional with an active child and little free time. Having it delivered she saves precious time. As a writer the same applies. Need notebooks, goody bags, and of course copies of your book. There’s Amazon self-publishing.
Alexa. She’s in a lot of homes. Yeah, mine too. Echo show. I tolerate her. Don’t trust her. My eight-year-old granddaughter has Alexa and damn if mine doesn’t respond quicker to her. Netflix and Prime Video. Replacing traditional networks. You can subscribe to individual networks. More innovative and interesting series – no commercials. Plus note only can you watch at home – wait for it – also on your phone, iPad, or Tablet.
Hotspots. Remember when we made fun of the name ‘iPad’ when first introduced by Apple? I just binged Good Omens on Prime. I’m a Terry Pratchett fan. Networks run the same programs over and over and over again. Boring. On Prime Video I can watch the entire Farscape and any other beloved series without commercial interruption. At. Home.
Have you experienced or watched someone when the Internet goes down? Panic, heart palpations, loss of appetite, loss of mind. The world coming to an end? You’re trapped in your home, you’re all alone, isolated you’ll never receive another email again – and that’s just the first ten minutes.
|Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay|
Physical proximity is no longer necessary. We have to make time to be out with friends. The smartphone, smarter than us. Tethered to this little beast that weighs four to six ounces. We text each other even if we’re in the same building. Attending a workshop and a friend is sitting on the other side of the room? Text them. We conduct our lives on the phone and sometimes it plays out like a soap opera with no filter. Who hasn’t heard conversations that belonged behind closed doors? We write on our phones, save the document, send via email, and edit. Or play Candy Crush.
Face it we’re trapped in our homes, and its paradise. Need to clean? Roomba.
Next time you’re out with friends, count how many phones are on the table. One of my Sophisticated Ladies makes me put my phone away when we are together. It must be in my purse. So far, she hasn’t slapped my iWatch on my wrist. I FaceTime my cousin. At. Home. All from our personal space – no pants required.
For my call center job, we have meetings in an online meeting room. Easy way to get one hundred agents from all over the country together. One day we’ll have dinner with friends, each of us in our home, chatting away to holograms of each other.
You can hire fitness trainers to come to your home. Or…. I just saw a commercial for a fitness program called Mirror. It’s an interactive exercise program. No more going to the gym when you can work out in front of a six-foot mirror with others, in front of their Mirror, in real time classes or take one of the videotaped classes and then log in and post your results. No social interaction? If your friends have Mirror it’ll be just like going to the gym. Except you’ll be At. Home. In my sci-fi novel, my protagonist tries to avoid her fitness coach who appears in her home via hologram to remind her that she’s missed classes. The future is now people.
Not to be morbid but the old tradition of viewing the deceased in their home could return. Never. Leave. Home.
Like I said, it’s the best of times, we should embrace the goodies, especially now in these scary worst of times. When life is better and the bans are lifted, put on clothes, get out, enjoy the arts, look at real people, eat food in a real restaurant, and enjoy the world. Besides your Amazon order will be waiting when you arrive home.
If fantasy and futuristic romance are your thing then Book Two in my Witches Brew series, a stand alone novel, is a perfect read while you’re at home. Here’s a peek.
When love stalls, who are you going to call? Red a mystical and magical red dress created to help women discover love and recognize their self-worth.
Delphine Richards is the founder and CEO of Plum Events a successful party planning company in Chicago. The holidays are the busiest and Valentine’s Day is the last one of the season. Her employees work hard to create spectacular parties and stay out of Delphine’s way. She hates this day for lovers.
Kevin Poe, her fiancé, broke up with her a year ago on Valentine’s Day. Since then she’s dedicated her life to growing her business. Love won’t destroy her again.
Kevin Poe loves Delphine but her constant interference in his teaching career drove a wedge between them. When one of Kevin’s students needed him, Delphine neglected to tell him. That was the final straw. If Delphine couldn’t stop trying to change him, then they shouldn’t be together.
Enter Red, a mystical and magical red dress sent to help Delphine rediscover love and realize she can’t control everyone and everything – including herself.
Yasmine ‘Yas’ Phoenix was born and raised in Virginia but calls Chicago home. She loves tennis, professional and amateur and plays in local leagues. Her writing block is the four major Grand Slams, Indian Wells, and other tournaments. No, she can’t tape then watch. Yas loves to read, especially murder mysteries. She is a Terry Pratchett, Discworld fan, and scans the news for potential plot ideas. Melding romance and paranormal in her stories is her goal. Yas always asks the question, “What if?” She is a sucker for old black and white movies like Casablanca on one hand, and Deadpool on the other. She believes her family is her greatest gift and support.
Publisher: Mirror World Publishing; 1 edition
Publisher Website: Mirror World Publishing
Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. After retiring from her “real” job as an administrative assistant for the State of Michigan, Rita began doing what she always wanted to do…write and draw. Her stories are set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state. The Haunting Near Battlefield Ridge is the fifth book in her Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series. Rita now lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee.
Social Media Links:
Today The Parliament House is excited to present the mystical cover of author Leigh Goff’s KOUSH HOLLOW, which follows Jenna as she descends into a world of eternally beautiful socialites and mystical Voodoo women after being forced to move to New Orleans when family tragedy strikes…
After her father’s untimely death, Jenna Ashby moves to Koush Hollow, a bayou town outside of New Orleans, dreading life with her wealthy mother. As the sixteen-year-old eco-warrior is introduced to the Diamonds & Pearls, her mother’s exclusive social club, she comes to the troubling realization that secrets are a way of life in Koush Hollow: How do the Diamonds & Pearls look so young, where does their money come from, and why is life along the bayou disappearing? As Jenna is drawn into their seductive world, her curiosity and concerns beg her to uncover the truth. However, in this town where mysticism abounds and secrets are deadly, the truth is not what Jenna could have ever imagined.
About the Author:
Leigh Goff writes young adult fiction. She is a graduate from the University of Maryland, University College and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI).
Her third young adult novel, Koush Hollow, a Southern Gothic set outside of New Orleans, will release August 25, 2020 from The Parliament House.
Pre-order link: Parliament House Press Koush Hollow PreOrder
By Carol Browne
I know I was lucky when it came to education. Not only did I live in the UK at a time before austerity when the state paid for all our equipment, I also got to attend a grammar school. That meant I studied Latin for about the first four years I was there. At the time I didn’t see the relevance; none of my contemporaries did. It was a dead language confined to history. Something for academics and librarians and archaeologists. A difficult study for an English brain not used to complicated conjunctions and declensions. The concept that nouns had to beclassified into gender was bizarre. All the different word endings that had to agree with each other made my head reel. It seemed Latin was something you did to get a qualification—and I did. I achieved what in those days was called an ‘O’ Level. So, job done. Stick it on the CVwith all the others.
Image by Desi Maxwell from Pixabay
It was after I left school that I learned to love Latin and appreciate its value as a linguistic tool. More than that, I understood its historical significance, how it helped to shape the modern world we have today. How many languages have Latinate words as part of their lexicon? How many countries, corporations and institutions use Latin mottos? I’m thinking of a famous one here, E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) which appears on the Great Seal of the United States of America.Latin invaded Britain along with the Romans in the first century and it was clearly determined to take root as part of the language of the indigenous people because it became the language of the church for centuries. In 1066, when the Norman French invaded Britain, their Latinate tongue became the dominant language and married itself without ceremony to that spoken by the oppressed Anglo- Saxons.
In this way, Latin moved up to another level and its words formed a large part of what was to become what we now know as English. People wonder why in English there are so many different words for the same thing but the richness of the language is a result of having input from so many other languages brought to Britain by a variety of invaders.
Image by Photos for You from Pixabay
So from a living language spoken by the Romans, to an elitist language used by the church and the legislature, it evolved in many ways, even giving scientific names to plants, animals, diseases and body parts! And now it is supposedly a dead language because no-one speaks it anymore except for academics and historians. And yet how can you call it dead when it is so widely used? As a writer Latin isn’t dead to me. I can call upon my knowledge of Latin to help me work out the meaning of many words in use today. If I encounter an unfamiliar word, as long as it has had some truck with Latin during its evolution, I am likely to be able to recognise some part of it that will facilitate my understanding. Latin prefixes are extremely helpful: ex, inter, trans, sub, contra, for example. These are already pointing you in a certain direction. A submarine is obviously going to operate under the sea rather than above it! (And marine is also of Latin origin—‘mare’, sea.) Latin has also helped me translate words in other Latinate languages like Italian and Spanish, even though I’m not that acquainted with them.
Latin is timeless, as familiar in Shakespeare’s plays as in Hollywood movies. It has expandedits influence into popular culture without most people giving it a second thought—where would Hogwarts professors be without their Latin-inspired incantations? In the Marvel universe, what would Magneto be called without that ancient Roman language? (L. ‘magnes’?) All those horror films where the bad guys try to summon demons wouldn’t be half so dramatic if they didn’t use Latin to do it; likewise, exorcisms sound much more impressive in Latin. It is, I have come to realise, a rather beautiful language.Versatile too. You can have fun with Latin. In The Handmaid’s Tale, ‘nolite te bastardes carborundorum’ (Don’t let the bastards grind you down) is grammatically incorrect Latin with some made-up words and was a joke Margaret Atwood remembered from school, but it struck a chord with her audience and people actually have it tattooed on their wrists! Latin isn’t dead. It never really went away. Those ancient Romans gave us the gift that keeps on giving; even our planets are named after their gods and goddesses. Latin went global long before that concept even existed.The question must be, did we absorb Latin or did Latin absorb us! Whatever the answer, Latin is here to stay.Here is a little from my latest release for your reading pleasure. Yes, a little Latin has worked its way into this psychological thriller.
Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary. But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.
Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?
BLURB: Thursday, 26th March, 2015. My house is filled with people who don’t exist.They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof. Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.
I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary. Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings. At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern.
I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear.
And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh. I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when. If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk.
So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan. “Watch you don’t burn that,” she said. I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female. I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt… keep stirring… is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table.
Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.
And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me likea waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.I have no idea how this happens.Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.
Apples from Emma Lane
Such a gorgeous fruit. Fruit bowl on the dining room table lends a nice fragrance to the room; apple bobbing and caramel apples are for Halloween. Did you mom ever make fresh apple sauce? Nothing like the stuff they sell in the grocery store, is it? At my little Herbtique Shoppe here in Western NY, we sell Gourmet Chunky Rum Apple Sauce. The recipe is a state secret, but here are some hints to make the most of this delicious fruit. Select both soft and firm apples, ie Courtland is soft, Greenings are firm. One will cook down first leaving the other ‘chunky’. Stir frequently. Burned apples are not delicious and the softones cook rapidly. To peel or not to peel: We leave the peel on at home. Commercially we don’t. Both are good. Taste before you add sugar. Most times it isn’t necessary. Blend flavors: Buy as many different kinds of apples as you can. Not only is this tasty, but it’s way fun as well. As you peel, take a bite now and then to compare flavors.
Flavorings: You are probably familiar with cinnamon to taste. A very small dash of nutmeg and cloves is good too. Vanilla is a winner. One cap and then taste. Other flavorings are great too-here is a good place to experiment. Let your eye roam over the choices at the grocery store. My son swears root beer would be great; he could be right. Be careful with maple syrup; it gets too sweet fast. Baked apples are wonderful when you use a touch of flavoring with your brown sugar—vanilla is one of my favorites but you might find others. Regarding the RUM: If you are making apple sauce, add at the last minute with whatever flavoring you have chosen. It gives it a sort of butter taste. I am about to experiment with BRANDY. You might try it too. A neighbor just hinted to me that apple added to salsa is good. Can’t wait to try. Canning apple sauce takes expert knowledge. Please do not try it if you haven’t done quite a bit of reading. PH is a biggie. We use lemon juice and a ph meter. Enjoy the apple harvest. There are so many ways and I didn’t even mention: apple pie, apples andcheese, cocktail apples, home dried apples, apple pan dowdy, apple crumb cake, apple butter, etc, etc. Dried apples and apple pie are delicious any time. After you’ve mulled over all the apple opportunities may I suggest a peek into one of my Regency releases?
Can an arrogant duke overcome his prejudice against a beautiful but managing female in timeto find true love and happiness?Miss Amabel Hawkins acknowledges her unusual upbringing, but she thinks James Langley, the Duke of Westerton, might be a tad unbalanced when he protests her efforts to right his badly managed properties. The duke, who has been away on the king’s business, demonstrates no respect for the beautiful but managing Miss Hawkins. Amabel has taken refuge at Westerton, fleeing from a forced marriage to a man who claims to be her relative in order to gain control of her young brother’s estate.The Duke arrives home to find his estate under the firm control of a beautiful but managing female. His suspicions are fueled by his recent task of spy-hunting and he wonders if Amabel Hawkins is just who she seems. While a dastardly spy lurks, a wicked man poses as her cousin threatening to take over the guardianship of her young brother. Amabel might be falling in love, but she knows for certain the duke would never approve of a meddlesome woman, and she decides to flee his estate. Will the duke finally realize the true value of the woman he loves or will his prejudice ruin his chances forever?
EXCERPT Fatigue and the effects of the brandy on top of the ale now gave his gait a distinct wobble. He chuckled, amused at his condition.As he reached for the portrait of great Uncle Barney, he lurched into the back of the red leather sofa in front of the cosy fire. “Deuce take it,” he exclaimed when a rounded arm rolled into view.He spotted the gentle curve of a hip and walked around to the front, where he spied a tumbled haze of dark curls hiding a face. It is indeed a female—a sleeping female.Who was she? The gown was too rich for his household staff. Curious, he knelt beside the sofa.“Only one way to find out,” he whispered and moved one dark curl. He sat back, satisfied when a handsome face swam into view. She sighed and rolled over, revealing a generous figure and a pair of rosy lips. She might be Sleeping Beauty—but not one of my relatives. He leaned over andkissed those tempting lips.As he lingered there, she sighed and came partially awake. He could not resist. He deepened the kiss and sounds of satisfaction like yum and umm came from those delicious lips. Her hand stroked his face, then reached around his head to pull him closer. Delighted with this turn of events, the Duke of Westerton complied enthusiastically and extended an arm around a slender waist. How much of the ale and brandy had he imbibed? Dizziness overcame his senses as he slid down on the floor and knew no more.
Emma Lane is a gifted author who writes under several pen-names. She lives with her patient husband on several acres outside a typical American village in Western New York. Her day job is working with flowers at her son’s plant nursery. Look for information about writing and plants on her new website. Leave a commentor a gardening question and put a smile on Emma’s face.Stay connected to Emma on Facebook and Twitter.
“Where do your story ideas come from?”
This is a question I’m often asked as an author and every time the same image pops into my head. The image is a map of seedling storms forming off the west coast of Africa as hurricane season begins. They cross the Atlantic Ocean, each seedling slowly developing into a tropical storm. They feed off energy from the warm waters of the tropics and some churn into hurricanes before making landfall or turning eastward into the Atlantic.
To me, my story ideas are those storms lining up in the distance, each waiting to feed on energy, time, and further imagining. Each desiring to become a full-blown, published novel. They consist of characters that need to be fleshed out, plots that need development, and settings that require delicious details.
My seedling storms start with imagination, inspiration, and maybe bits of memories from dreams or childhood experiences. I also make a conscious effort to tuck away all the goodies I come across—bits of interesting dialogue I overhear at a local shop, quirky personality traits or habits I might observe in strangers at a downtown restaurant, and historic facts I come across while researching. Then I start asking myself questions that might develop the story idea; questions like what happened before those ladies arrived at the pastry shop to stir that heated conversation? Why is that boy dunking his BBQ Pringles, one at a time, into his Diet Coke? What was the atmosphere like when an eighteenth century mob set a ship on fire in a waterfront part of town where I now buy fish tacos with extra guacamole?
As Neil Gaiman once said when asked where his story ideas come from, “I make them up. Out of my head.All fiction is a process of imagining: whatever you write, in whatever genre or medium, your task is to make things up convincingly and interestingly and new.” I must agree and I feel fortunate in knowing that hurricane season may only last July through November, but the hurricane of ideas forming in the ocean of my imagination keeps going.
If you would like to pick up a copy of Bewitching Hannah, Mirror World has ebooks and paperbacks available in their online store, or you can purchase them wherever books are sold! And this month, you can get this ebook for free from Mirror World Publishing with the promo code: COVEN.