Dragons of Challon series

Dragons of Challon series
the novels and novellas in the series

26 December 2013

Happy Boxing Day!!


Happy Boxing Day!!

In the States Boxing Day is ignored, but I think it was one of the special times of my childhood holidays.  Christmas Eve was all magical and giddy with anticipation.  It was tinsel and toys, boxes and coloured lights...and the breathless wait for St. Nic.  Christmas Day was family time.  Everyone would come, bringing more boxes and covered dishes.  It was lazing day around television watching Christmas movies.  The men would talk politics, horses or show off cars.  TM -- lol (Typically Male).  The females fluttered around, preparing the meal and chattering.  It was good to catch up with your relatives, and meet the newest additions (either babies or newly wedded in-laws).

But Boxing Day was the venture out time.  It was a day to go around and gift people who were special to you -  friends, neighbors or those who had done services for you throughout the year.  You would be welcomed warmly, giving a cup of hot cider, punch or hot chocolate.  You got to see their Christmas trees and decorations.  I thought this was so much fun.  When we were kids, there was often snow.  My grandfather had several old fashioned horse sleighs.   We'd load them up with the boxes and trek around to friends.  It was so much fun.  Sadly, we rarely see a white Christmas any more.  The poor sleighs are dust covered and leather dry-rotting.  Times changes, but sometimes not for better.

So I am sending you Boxing Day Blessings...though I am sure many in the US think Boxing Day is when you take all the presents back for refunds! lol.

Hope your Christmas was full of joy and love


Hoping you have a wonderful Christmas, however you celebrate it.  I think it's so wonderful to hear the different traditions we keep, carrying them over from our childhood, and passing them on.

Merry Christmas to everyone and blessings in these closing days of 2013

24 December 2013

Kindle Christmas reads

 A novella and a short story for your Christmas Kindle enjoyment




Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Finalist for Best Novella.

Only 99 cents




only $1.49


Merry Christmas Eve


Merry Christmas Eve to you and yours...

I am not sure why, but Christmas Eve always seems more precious to me in memories than actual Christmas.  Perhaps it was the anticipation...decorating the tree, wrapping presents, waiting for the visit from St. Nic.  The candies and nuts...the scent of tangerines in the air.  There was baking to be done.  So giddy waiting to hear the sleigh on the roof.  Of course, there was the standard admonishes to get thee to bed else Santa might pass you by.  

As you age, some of the magic o f the holiday is lost, and it's harder to find the spirit and meaning of 'Peace on Earth Goodwill toward man', when you see shoppers having a slugfest over a pair of tennis shoes.



I recall one Christmas when the whole family gathered for Christmas at my grandfathers.  All the grand-kids where there.  It snowed so heavy!  We have over a foot of snow and the electric went out for days.  We heated the house with fireplaces.  My grandmother was always one to cling to old ways, so she had a wood burning stove she refused to get rid of.  Of course, that suddenly was in demand again to feed a household.  She never said a word, but "see, I told you' was in her flashing hazel eyes.  I can recall them cooking eggs and biscuits on the stove, the smell of mince and pumpkin pies baking in the old oven.   To keep the kids warm at night, they dragged the mattress downstairs and arranged us around the huge fireplace in the living room.  

The tree was in the parlor, and we were just bedding down, when we heard a commotion on the front porch.  One of my uncles dressed in a St. Nic robe!!  



The family rarely gathers like that now, too scattered and lives of their own.  What times we have gotten together lacks that child's magic.

Still, Christmas Eve is a special time.  So this night I am watching old Christmas movies, and trying to touch magic again...even if that magic is a wee bit tarnished...lol.

Wishing you each a wee dram of that special magic from the bottom of my heart....



21 December 2013

Yuletide breaks!


Winter arrived today just after noon, so the loss of daylight stops and we now begin to see the hours of light wax instead of wane.  The days will grow longer with each passing, and the hint of Spring is on the horizon.

I know this is the first day of Winter, but somehow, this day always felt more in keeping with the old pagan ways of being the midpoint in Winter.  So decorate your Yule tree (yes, it was a Yule trees centuries and centuries before it was a Christmas tree) and think of the promise is holds for a prosperous coming year.

Blessings to all on this Magical Day of hope.



11 December 2013

Sharing an letter from Authors Guild

https://www.authorsguild.net/tools/join.php


An Open Letter to My Fellow Authors

It’s all changing, right before our eyes. Not just publishing, but the writing life itself, our ability to make a living from authorship. Even in the best of times, which these are not, most writers have to supplement their writing incomes by teaching, or throwing up sheet-rock, or cage fighting. It wasn’t always so, but for the last two decades I’ve lived the life most writers dream of: I write novels and stories, as well as the occasional screenplay, and every now and then I hit the road for a week or two and give talks. In short, I’m one of the blessed, and not just in terms of my occupation. My health is good, my children grown, their educations paid for. I’m sixty-four, which sucks, but it also means that nothing that happens in publishing—for good or ill—is going to affect me nearly as much as it affects younger writers, especially those who haven’t made their names yet. Even if the e-price of my next novel is $1.99, I won’t have to go back to cage fighting.

Still, if it turns out that I’ve enjoyed the best the writing life has to offer, that those who follow, even the most brilliant, will have to settle for less, that won’t make me happy and I suspect it won’t cheer other writers who’ve been as fortunate as I. It’s these writers, in particular, that I’m addressing here. Not everyone believes, as I do, that the writing life is endangered by the downward pressure of e-book pricing, by the relentless, ongoing erosion of copyright protection, by the scorched-earth capitalism of companies like Google and Amazon, by spineless publishers who won’t stand up to them, by the “information wants to be free” crowd who believe that art should be cheap or free and treated as a commodity, by internet search engines who are all too happy to direct people to on-line sites that sell pirated (read “stolen”) books, and even by militant librarians who see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to “lend” our e-books without restriction. But those of us who are alarmed by these trends have a duty, I think, to defend and protect the writing life that’s been good to us, not just on behalf of younger writers who will not have our advantages if we don’t, but also on behalf of readers, whose imaginative lives will be diminished if authorship becomes untenable as a profession.

I know, I know. Some insist that there’s never been a better time to be an author. Self-publishing has democratized the process, they argue, and authors can now earn royalties of up to seventy percent, where once we had to settle for what traditional publishers told us was our share. Anecdotal evidence is marshaled in support of this view (statistical evidence to follow). Those of us who are alarmed, we’re told, are, well, alarmists. Time will tell who’s right, but surely it can’t be a good idea for writers to stand on the sidelines while our collective fate is decided by others. Especially when we consider who those others are. Entities like Google and Apple and Amazon are rich and powerful enough to influence governments, and every day they demonstrate their willingness to wield that enormous power. Books and authors are a tiny but not insignificant part of the larger battle being waged between these companies, a battleground that includes the movie, music, and newspaper industries. I think it’s fair to say that to a greater or lesser degree, those other industries have all gotten their asses kicked, just as we’re getting ours kicked now. And not just in the courts. Somehow, we’re even losing the war for hearts and minds. When we defend copyright, we’re seen as greedy. When we justly sue, we’re seen as litigious. When we attempt to defend the physical book and stores that sell them, we’re seen as Luddites. Our altruism, when we’re able to summon it, is too often seen as self-serving.

But here’s the thing. What the Apples and Googles and Amazons and Netflixes of the world all have in common (in addition to their quest for world domination), is that they’re all starved for content, and for that they need us. Which means we have a say in all this. Everything in the digital age may feel new and may seem to operate under new rules, but the conversation about the relationship between art and commerce is age-old, and artists must be part of it. To that end we’d do well to speak with one voice, though it’s here we demonstrate our greatest weakness. Writers are notoriously independent cusses, hard to wrangle. We spend our mostly solitary days filling up blank pieces of paper with words. We must like it that way, or we wouldn’t do it. But while it’s pretty to think that our odd way of life will endure, there’s no guarantee. The writing life is ours to defend. Protecting it also happens to be the mission of the Authors Guild, which I myself did not join until last year, when the light switch in my cave finally got tripped. Are you a member? If not, please consider becoming one. We’re badly outgunned and in need of reinforcements. If the writing life has done well by you, as it has by me, here’s your chance to return the favor. Do it now, because there’s such a thing as being too late.

Richard Russo
December 2013




10 December 2013

RIP Algie



My heart breaks today.  My poor Algie died.  I went out and found him, cuddled up in his bed.  It looked like he just closed his eyes and went to sleep.  I patted his head thinking he was still sleeping.

He so loved life and enjoyed running around.  Everything was a big game to him and he loved it here.









09 December 2013

Christmas shop at Amazon.com and give to charities at the same time



Even Grumpy Cat likes the idea!!!!

I just did some Christmas Shopping at Amazon.com and used the line

http://smile.amazon.com  
and my order created a donation for 

Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary Inc. Merry ho ho ho  

Amazon will make a donation to Blind Cat Rescue & Sanctuary Inc.
To support this charitable organization, always shop at smile.amazon.com.

If you use the http://smile.amazon.com URL to buy  you can, too, and give to your favourite charity!

07 December 2013

A sad moment in remembrance of those gone

(image USS Shaw Exploding in Pearl Harbor - source: Wikipedia Commons)

There are moments that tend to define a decade or a lifetime.  That single instant when everything stood still and then changed forever, something so momentous occurs to where you can never go back to an innocence of the time before.  In my childhood the 1960s was defined by the death of a young president that held so much promise.  Oh, there were other similar tragedies to follow –– the death of his brother, the assassination of Martin Luther King, but my childhood naive beliefs in life was shattered with Kennedy’s death.  I could never go back.  

911 affected the nation.  The Challenger explosion saw everyone glued to the television in hope, later in grief.  To my mother’s generation that defining moment was Pearl Harbor.  It was odd.  She was a small child when it happened and she didn’t know anyone that was at Pearl Harbor, but the day stayed in her mind, and in some way defined her consciousness.  Every year she would awaken me with the words “It’s December 7th ––Pearl Harbor Day.”  She never spoke of how it changed her, rarely mentioned it other than to say she heard the news on the radio.  Only, she never forgot how the whole nation held its breath and cried, and then how the sorrow and shock turned to anger.

My mum is no longer around to awaken me with that familiar phrase.  She died on December 2, 1987, and was much much too young.  When the anniversary of her death came around this year I was sad, but I chose to remember the good times with her.  Oddly, this day hurts me a bit more, for it was so much a part of her.  Thus, this day I will share a moment of silence in respect for the many who died on this day, and for my mother who never forgot.

06 December 2013

It's snowing!!


My poor carousel horse is getting snowed!!  It's coming down like crazy and we expect about 5 hours more of this at an inch an hour!!  So 5-7 predicted this evening.  Then we get hit tomorrow night again. Could be a couple more when that happens.  Look how HUGE the flakes are.









10 books that touched my heart and mind in some way


In no particular order, I thought quickly of 10 books that affected me, possibly shaped my view of writing in some manner.  There are a lot of others that I love for many reason, but off the cuff these came to mind, which means they touched me deeply in some lingering way, which stayed with me for years, sometimes decades.

  

1. Moonrise by Anne Stuart 

Anne Stuart is one of my all-time favourite authors - and for a good reason.  The resident genius of romance, I love her style.  No one is like her.  She is brilliant, an author that takes me through an emotional hell of loving anti-heroes, pure Gamma rogues that are bad boys to the core.  She is simply one of the best writers in romance and suspense - no matter what genre or period she is writing in.

2. Wildest Hearts by Jayne Ann Krentz

Jayne Anne and her host of pen-names have really been a comfort read for me.  Her books are quirky, fresh and always funny.  The hero Oliver simply made me fall for him, along with his Man Friday  Bolt.  I read this book years ago, but I have reread it many times since.  It's just perfection.

3.  The Terrible Swift Sword by Bruce Catton

Non-fiction historical writer Bruce Catton was not only an amazing historian, but an author he goes one step beyond all historical writers by making the history come alive.  I don't read Catton -- I experience his prose.  I am THERE.  He taught me that it's more than historical facts, it was the people that mattered.  A lesson learned and applied to my historical books.  Though I write fiction, I always keep the people the focus.  The history is merely the stage for the story.

  

4. The Deed by Lynsay Sands

Lynsay Sands burst on the romance scene with this book and has held it captive ever since.  She was a breath of fresh air to the "bodice ripper" historicals of that era.  She brought a wicked wit and a sense that historical romance could be laugh aloud funny.  A personal friend, I cannot thank her enough for the direction she pushed me to in my own writing.

5.  Angel Knight by Susan King

Likely the best Scottish Historical writer.  She breathes out the history, and spins it into Highland magic.  Much in the manner of Catton, she gives you history but arrays it as the stage for her mesmerizing historicals.  Angel Knight is her working her magic at her very best.

6.   The Judas Pair by Jonathan Gash (Lovejoy series first book)

I am big mystery fan and devoured them by the box load, loving John D. McDonald and his colourful Travis McGee, Ellery Queen, the lads of the 87th Precinct.  One of my top reads is Jonathan Gash.  He created the Divvy antique dealer Lovejoy.  Gash's books served for the launch of Ian McShane's long running series, but McShane's Lovejoy is not the same grungy, slightly shady art forger of the books.  Still has lovable.  May his escapades never end!

  


7.  The Crystal Heart by Katherine Deauxville aka Maggie Davis

Maggie Davis is a powerful author, steeped in strong craft.  Now matter the period, she is amazing in her research and details pertinent to her story.  One of those authors that should be on the best sellers list constantly, but through the vagarious of the publishing business it likely one of the most overlooked authors.  Another friend and mentor, she really helped me focus on the craft of writing.

8.  Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Shaara's soul bled the prose for the story about Gettysburg.  Picking up the mantle of Catton, he gives you history, but conjures life in the battle that changed a nation.

9.  Tell Me No Lies by Elizabeth Lowell

Wow wow wow - this is an amazing story.  Lowell opened the door on this book and dragged you into it.  Powerful writing that sizzles, that is alive.  This book, along with The Crystal Heart, made me want to write.  


10.  The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout (Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe)

I first read Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin in a novella.  I was so blown away by these
characters that I went out and immediately bought everything Stout had written.  Periodically, I will go back and revisit the brownstone, with the greenhouse full of orchids on top.  It just doesn't get any better than this.  I also tip by hat to Tim Hutton's series for A&E (and blow raspberries at the network for cancelling it!).  

Well that is my ten books that altered how I viewed writing.  What are yours?