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Archive for the ‘Guest Post’ Category

Aside

Liars and Thieves (Book 1 in new fantasy series) by D.W. Peach—#Blogtour Book Launch


If you love fantasy fiction and enjoy descriptive writing at its best, D.W. (Diana Wallace) Peach is an author you won’t want to miss… If you’re like me and fantasy is not an auto-go-to genre for you, this is the perfect time to give it a try!  Diana, it’s wonderful to have you here today to give us a peek into the first book of your new series—Liars and Thieves (Unraveling the Veil series).  Diana’s writing is superlative!

Liars and Thieves (Fantasy Fiction) by D.W. Peach

 

 

Blurb

Behind the Veil, the hordes gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.

Three unlikely allies stand in his way.

A misfit elf plagued by failure—

When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.

A changeling who betrays his home—

Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.

A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—

Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.

When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.

Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.

Q & A

Why are changelings vegetarians?

In this series, changelings have the ability to transform into animals. Talin, one of my main characters, explains at one point that spending time as an animal has given him a greater respect for them. He’s personally experienced their lives: the freedom, the danger, instincts, and emotion. Changelings don’t see themselves as masters over animals, but as part of the vast diversity of creatures. In his own words, “There are consequences to shifting over time. You’ll see. After a while, you start understanding the beauty of animals in a new way, how they have a right to their lives as much as we.”

Liars and Thieves Book Trailer

Liars and Thieves Global Purchase Linkhttp://a-fwd.com/asin=B08FGQ2W3Q

 

Author Bio

Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.

Find D.W. Peach and her books

Dear Readers,

Thanks so much for stopping by to meet Diana and check out her latest book. I invite you to visit her Amazon book page and stock  up on some fabulous fantasy fiction from an author who knows how to keep readers turning the pages!

Happy Reading!

Bette A. Stevens

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

NEW BOOK IN SERIES (Prehistoric Fiction) Against All Odds by Jacqui Murray


I’m delighted to have author Jacqui Murray with us today as she launches her new book—Against All Odds, Book 3 of the Crossroads series. The trilogy takes readers on a journey into prehistoric times where survival is never guaranteed. Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes in this thriller you won’t want to miss! ~ Bette 

Book Summary

A million years of evolution made Xhosa tough but was it enough? She and her People finally reach their destination—a glorious land of tall grasses, few predators, and an abundance that seems limitless, but an enemy greater than any they have met so far threatens to end their dreams. If Xhosa can’t stop this one, she and her People must again flee.

The Crossroads trilogy is set 850,000 years ago, a time in prehistory when man populated most of Eurasia. He was a violent species, fully capable of addressing the many hardships that threatened his survival except for one: future man, a smarter version of himself, one destined to obliterate all those who came before.

From prehistoric fiction author Jacqui Murray comes the unforgettable saga of a courageous woman who questions assumptions, searches for truth, and does what she must despite daunting opposition. Read the final chapter of her search for freedom, safety, and a new home.

A perfect book for fans of Jean Auel and the Gears!

 

 

How did early man tell time?

Like today’s most primitive communities, early man didn’t care about hours or minutes. His metric was how much sunlight remained before he must find a safe place to sleep. Therefore, they indicated time in the future by pointing to a place in the sky where the sun would eventually reach. They might say, “Return by this point” and mean, “Return when Sun reaches this point in the sky.”

What are Others? And why capitalize it?

Others refers to all Homo species including Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and archaic Homo Sapiens. Capitalization indicates Xhosa’s respect for the individuals or their tribes. This is also true when animal species are capitalized such as Gazelle or Mammoth. If the characters refer to them in general terms, they aren’t capitalized.

Who are the “Hairy Ones” who Pan-do once shared a cave with?

These are Homo habilis, mostly extinct by this point in time. When you read Pan-do’s description of them, you’ll understand why.

Xhosa’s extraordinary prehistoric saga concludes, filled with hardship, courage, survival, and family.

Book information

Title and author: Against All Odds

Series: Book 3 in the Crossroads series

Genre: Prehistoric fiction

Available digitally (print soon) at: Kindle US   Kindle UK   Kindle CA   Kindle AU

About the Author

Jacqui Murray

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for  NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Book 2 in the Dawn of Humanity trilogy, Winter 2021.

Find & Follow Jacqui Murray

Chapter 1

The foothills of the Pyrenees

They came out of the mountains, hair frozen in sparkling strands, hands and feet wrapped in shredded pelts, ribs etched against their skin under ragged hides white with snow, faces haggard with fatigue. Blood crusted scrapes and gashes, many recent, others almost healed, reminders of the violent struggles endured on their journey.

Though their steps flagged, not one of these upright creatures exhibited a hint of defeat. All males and a few females carried at least one spear, some two, many with warclubs strapped to their backs. Despite the anxiety and fear of entering this foreign land, hope energized them today, that their migration might be at an end.

All of them—Xhosa and her tribe, Pan-do and his, Wind, Zvi, and Seeker—had been chased from their homes by enemies. In their flight, they found each other. It took time to work through their differences but now they traveled side by side, respected ideas not theirs, and called themselves the People.

Their charismatic Leaders—Xhosa, Wind, and Pan-do—were known as reliable friends to those who earned their trust and dangerous enemies to those who opposed them. Two wolves—Spirit and Black Wolf—journeyed with them. Though the People lacked the animals’ sharp claws, dense fur, and piercing teeth, each considered the other “pack” and would defend them to death.

The exhausted group straggled down the gently sloping flank, feet shuffling carefully over the slippery scree. The ground changed from talus to stunted tufts of grass, sparse and brown which made walking easier. Optimism shone from their faces even as their tired eyes flicked side to side in search of unexpected movement, ears strained for out-of-place noises, and noses sniffed.

Rather than continue across the meadow, Xhosa led the People into the shade of the edging forest.

“Do you smell it, Wind?” Anticipation filled her gestures.

She and Wind, pairmates as well as Co-Leaders, stood quietly, absorbing their surroundings. Light filtered lazily through the canopy, the shadowed ground dappled with patches of warmth. She sniffed in the essence of wet earth and rotting leaves, the mustiness of moss, and something else much more enticing.

“It’s there.” She pointed and strode forward, lengthening her stride.

An icy gust whipped down the hillside through the shadows and raised bumps on her arms but she ignored it. The forest gave way to open sky and searing heat. It was too hot for her thin pelt but she didn’t stop to remove it. Green stalks swayed as far as she could see, edged on one side by more mountains and the other by some sort of leaves and branches. Sunlight glinted off the rippled surface of a distant river as it curled over the terrain.

“Dung!” The scent overpowered every other odor.

Wind huffed to her side. “It’s been a long time since we smelled dung that wasn’t frozen.”

“We did it, Wind.” Her eyes glistened with relief.

For most of a Moon, dread gnawed at her courage and left her wondering if following the guidance of Seeker—a boy barely a man—was a mistake. But Seeker assured her in his ebullient way that once out of the hills, their new homebase would welcome them. Xhosa wanted to believe him because she wasn’t sure what else to do. Nor did she know what to do if it didn’t work.

Wind motioned, arms inclusive, “It’s beautiful, Xhosa.”

Siri, Pan-do, Ngili, the wolves Spirit and Black Wolf, and the rest of the People gathered around Xhosa and Wind, eyes locked on what lay in front of them.

Pan-do whispered, “We made it.” His eyes were moist, mouth open.

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, hands close to his body. “With all this grass, Gazelle or Mammoth must be nearby.”

Dust, the Lead Scout, trotted up, coming from a tall cliff far ahead on their forward path. “I think there are caves there.”

The People hadn’t slept in a cave since leaving Viper and the Mountain Dwellers. It would be a treat if true.

Xhosa looked behind. Shadows already stretched as far from the bottom of the rocky slopes as sunlight to the top. Daylight would soon end.

“We don’t have much time. Let’s rest and then see if those are caves.”

Ngili, the People’s Lead Hunter, motioned, fingers spaced out, palms up, “I’ll go with Dust to check.” He added a swift spread-fingered swipe with first one hand and then the other, followed by a quick bob of his head and a puff.

Xhosa brushed both hands down her sides. Go.

The People spoke with a complex combination of hand motions, facial expressions, body movements, and sounds augmented with chirrups, snaps, hisses, and whistles. By the time Ngili finished talking, Xhosa knew how many would join him, where they would go, and how long they’d be away. The People’s communication was sophisticated but quiet, a precaution especially in unfamiliar areas. Unusual sounds—voices, for example—stood out. All animals made noises but few as varied as the People’s. Why alert Others who lived here to their presence? Xhosa would do that in her own time, in her own way.

Dust, Ngili, and two scouts soon receded into the landscape, the only evidence of their passage a slight disturbance in the slender waving stalks. Despite the dung scents, the abundant plant food, and the glisten of a faraway river, Xhosa crossed her arms over her chest and paced.

Something is wrong.

She searched the forests and the rippling field that had swallowed up Dust and Ngili . Xhosa possessed the ability to see great distances in sufficient detail to find trails, footprints, movement, or the glitter of sun off eyes.

She saw none of those and that made her more uncomfortable.

With this wealth of food and water, Others should be here.

Wind motioned, palms flattened against his chest, “The mountains we crossed touched Sun. They’re cold and barren. Few can do what we did to get here, Xhosa. We are safe.”

Xhosa could hear in his voice, see in his gestures, that despite his bravado, Wind too felt uneasy about what they didn’t see and hear.

But she grinned. “I don’t know how I survived without someone being able to read my thoughts.”

She trotted over to a stream that fed into the river she had noticed. She stretched out on her belly, flat on the soft grass at the water’s edge, and took a long, satisfying drink of the sweet liquid. Thirst quenched, she collected handfuls of the tender shoots of new plants growing along the shore, ate what she wanted and tossed the rest into a communal food pile that would be shared with all the People. It was already filling up with fat fish speared from the slow-moving pools beside the river, tasty reeds and cattails, and even a handful of eggs plucked from nests not hidden well enough along the shore and in the roots of trees. The wolves snapped birds from the air and swallowed them almost whole, coughing up feathers.

Xhosa leaned back on her hands, sniffing the unique fragrance of each groupmember. Zvi was sweaty from wrestling with Spirit. Siri smelled sourly of hunger but she wouldn’t eat until Honey’s bleeding foot was wrapped in mulch and leaves. The females with new babies exuded the pleasant aroma of milk. Some scents jumbled together making them impossible to identify. When Xhosa became Leader of the People, before it merged with Pan-do’s and Hawk’s, the People had been small enough that she could recognize everyone by their odor. Now, she kept track of her tribe while Pan-do did the same with his. Wind helped everyone.

Done eating, the People sprawled on the warm ground, soaking up Sun’s remaining rays, chatting contentedly with gestures and the occasional sigh. Water dripped from their thawing bodies, soaking into the thirsty ground, as the remaining ice and snow on their pelts and in their hair melted away.

Xhosa and Wind sat apart from the others, on a log long ago softened by rot. She uprooted handfuls of grass and wiped the sweat from Wind’s body, as he did hers. The soft scratch felt good and the earthy fragrance reminded her of times long gone. When he finished, she harvested chunks of green moss from the log’s decaying bark and stuffed them into her neck sack. All the People wore one of these around their necks. Even the wolves did when they were migrating.

Finished, she leaned against Wind and closed her eyes. In a group of Others, her pairmate stood out. A Big Head, the People’s traditional enemy, the ones who drove Xhosa and her tribe from their long-established home, Wind had earned Xhosa’s trust by saving her life more than once and then, as a member of her People, sharing Big Head spear tricks and warrior skills with her Leads. Before long, each of them individually told her that thanks to Wind they could now defeat an attack which they couldn’t have done in the past. Whatever distrust her People harbored toward him faded away.

“Xhosa!” Dust panted up to her. “I found a cave. And we found trace of a herd. Ngili is tracking it.”

By the time Sun settled into its night nest, the People were ensconced in the cave Dust found. They had to squeeze together to fit but all were thrilled to sleep without waking to frozen toes and numb fingers. Stone and Zvi—the burliest of the People—lugged rocks in and Siri built a fire that quickly warmed the interior. The subadults gathered kindling to feed it and arranged who would be responsible throughout the night for keeping it lit.

Usually, the wolves slept scattered among the People but with Black Wolf close to delivering her pups, she dug out an opening in the back and claimed it as her den. Then she settled to her belly, one leg forward, the other bent back, eyebrows twitching.

Xhosa strode toward the nest she would share with Wind but stopped at the sight of Seeker, weight on his bottom, legs crossed in front of his body in the uncomfortable position he preferred. His pairmate Lyta curled next to him with their best friend, Zvi.

Xhosa approached Seeker. “You are not outside.”

Every night as long as Xhosa could remember, the enigmatic male lay on his back, gaze fixed steadily on the star-dotted sky, spouting what to Xhosa sounded like gibberish to whoever listened. Intermittently, he leapt to his feet and spun dizzying circles or bounced from one foot to the other, huffing and chirping. Lyta and Zvi would either join him or watch. He once explained to Xhosa that this was how he studied the changes in the night sky—the appearance and disappearance of particular stars or their movement in relation to each other—so he could guide the People accurately. This nightly process was how they had moved from the distant start of Endless Pond to this cave where Endless Pond seemed to end.

He didn’t respond to her statement, didn’t even acknowledge her. That worried Xhosa. She hadn’t been able to shake the feeling that danger lurked around them, somewhere. Seeker’s anxious look didn’t help.

She squatted at his side and added a question to her declaration. “The stars aren’t talking to you?”

To the side, Lyta wriggled, not comfortable in the seated position Seeker preferred but determined to try because Seeker liked it so much. Zvi crouched on the balls of her feet, the more traditional pose. She’d tried to sit on her bottom, legs crossed in front, but kept falling backward. Besides, it took her too long to rise from that position which meant if Lyta needed help, she couldn’t respond quickly. Squatting, for her, made more sense. Seeker didn’t care. He expected all to do what worked for them. Both his best friend and his future pairmate were long accustomed to his eccentricities.

Finally, Seeker offered Xhosa only a confused frown.

That’s not a “Yes they are,” and that raised the hair on her neck. Before she could ask more, Ngili scrambled through the thistle barrier the youngsters had placed around the cave’s mouth to prevent the entrance of intruders and hurried toward Xhosa.

He motioned, “I lost the herd’s trace in the dark. I’ll try again tomorrow,” and then raced toward where the hunters had gathered. They were all tired. Some would mate before sleeping but not Ngili. He hadn’t given up hope that his pairmate, Hecate, would come back.

After a final glance at Seeker, Xhosa joined Wind in their nest. She squatted behind him and teased the dirt and debris from his long head hair, occasionally focusing on a difficult tangle until her fingers could move easily through his hair. When she finished, he did the same for her.

As he groomed, he said, “I’ll join Ngili tomorrow. If there are herds, we will find them.”

“Pan-do and I will continue with the People.”

They said nothing more, both enjoying the calming feel of nails scratching on their skin and the intimacy of someone they trusted implicitly. Done, both fell asleep.

The first rays of daylight filtered into the cave. Black Wolf was already outside, padding back and forth restlessly, huffing uncomfortably. Wind left with Ngili and a handful of scouts, knowing Xhosa would leave a trail to wherever they settled when Sun’s light ran out. Though Spirit usually went with the hunters, today he stayed with Black Wolf.

Xhosa and Pan-do led. Dust copied their pace and direction but a distance away. With Ngili and Wind searching for meat, Xhosa focused on finding a cave large enough for the People. They strode onward, gaze sweeping the landscape, everyone grazing on berries, roots, and worms as they walked. Sporadically, Xhosa heard a faraway squawk or glimpsed a covey of birds as they exploded into flight, fleeing an unknown threat. It was the direction Ngili and Wind had gone, and told her how far they’d gotten.

The People rested by a waterhole. They searched its shoreline for prints but found none. Wherever the herds lived, they didn’t drink here so the People moved on, through copses of young saplings and around a bed of haphazardly-strewn boulders. The air tasted of flowers, warm earth, and the mild tang of salt, but the dung they found was hard and old.

Xhosa touched Pan-do’s hand and both stopped, eyes forward. “Do you smell that? It reminds me of Endless Pond.”

He pointed to his strong side and the direction they were walking. “From there and there. How can it be on two sides?”

Xhosa tingled. One of her People—Rainbow—had abandoned them long ago, taking many males and females with him. Others she and her People ran into while migrating here told her Rainbow traveled the same route she did but along the opposite shore of Endless Pond. For him, as for her, this was as far as he could go without folding back on himself.

If they got this far. If any survived.

She pushed aside those thoughts. Before searching for whatever remnants remained of Rainbow’s group, the People must find a homebase. All they suffered to get here—the interminable walking, the loss of Hawk, the death of groupmembers, Nightshade’s treachery—was for naught if they didn’t establish a home.

Spirit bumped her leg. Black Wolf panted at her mate’s side, her belly almost touching the ground.

Xhosa motioned, “Your mate’s pups won’t wait much longer. We will find a den for her.”

Spirit took off, his movements graceful and fluid with Black Wolf lumbering after him.

Not much later, Pan-do squinted ahead. “I think Spirit found a cave.”

Xhosa leaned forward, narrowing her gaze, and finally saw where Spirit stopped. He sat on his haunches at the base of a cliff, facing her, nose twitching, tail swishing the dirt behind him.

It took the rest of the day to cross over the craggy scrubland, up and down the deep ravines, and around the occasional spot of slippery ice. The cave proved too small for the People but not for Black Wolf’s needs. With much scuffling and panting, she created a nest for her pups and disappeared into the cool dark hole. The People settled outside, under an overhang that would protect them from rain and predators, and far enough away to not bother the new mother. As soon as Ngili and Wind arrived, shaking their heads that they hadn’t found a herd, they left again to search for signs of a trail left by former inhabitants of this cave.

Xhosa’s chest squeezed and her stomach knotted. Spirit padded up to her side, hackles puffed, nostrils flaring. He agreed. Something about this area made her tingle but for now, until Black Wolf finished, they must stay.

Wow! A great excerpt from Against All Odds, Book 3 of Jacqui Murray’s fascinating and well-researched “Crossroads trilogy.” I’ve recently finished Book 1,  Survival of the Fittest, and can’t wait to follow the rest of Xhosa’s extraordinary journey in Book 2 and Book 3. If you haven’t started the trilogy yet, I invite you to download the series. Here’s a blurb from my recent review of Survival of the Fittest—“As the first book in Jacqui Murray’s Crossroad trilogy, this believable story of the existential struggle of early humans for survival has me hooked! Highly recommended.”  ~Bette A. Stevens

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

Welcome to Day 8 of the “SIR CHOCOLATE AND THE ICE CREAM RAINBOW FAIRIES” Blog Tour! @bakeandwrite @4WillsPub #RRBC


Welcome to part 8 of the fondant cat parade

 

I am delighted to introduce you to Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook. This is Day 8 of the tour. Check out all the stops on this tour to learn more about author Robbie Cheadle’s awesome cooking and writing. Don’t forget to check out and enter Robie’s fabulous giveaway too. Welcome, Robbie! ~Bette A. Stevens 

 

GIVEAWAY:  (7 winners) Each will win a copy of her Sir Chocolate Story and Cookbooks. For your chance to win, please leave a comment below!

 

The fondant cat parade tells the story in limericks of Dinah the Kitten, daughter of Daddy Grey and Mommy Cat, who likes to sleep and escape to Wonderland in her dreams. While in Wonderland, Dinah meets a variety of brightly coloured and fun fantasy kittens. The fondant cat parade illustrates some of the wonderful fondant art that appears in all the Sir Chocolate books.

Today, you will learn about Rascal the Kitten.

Look out for part 9 of the fondant cat parade tomorrow when you will meet Pinky Lee the Kitten. You can download the full illustrative PDF of the fondant cat parade here: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/dinah-in-wonderland-fondant-cat-parade/.

How to make oat cookies

Ingredients

250 grams softened butter

500 ml white sugar

15 ml golden syrup

45 ml boiling water

10 ml vanilla essence

1 000 ml self-raising flour

1 000 ml oats

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius or 374 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Soften the butter and place in a mixing bowl. Cream the butter and sugar until they are well blended. Melt 15 ml golden syrup in 45 ml of boiling water and add the 10 ml vanilla essence. Add to the butter mixture. Add the self-raising flour and mix and then the oats and mix again until all the ingredients are combined.
  • Roll the mixture into large balls and flatten using your hands. Place on a prepared baking tin and bake for +- 15 minutes until golden brown.

BOOK BLURB

Join Sir Chocolate and Lady Sweet on a fun adventure to discover why the milkshake rain is pale and white.

Contains five recipes that children can make under adult supervision

 

 

AUTHOR BIO

Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with seven published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.

I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.

I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.

I have participated in a number of anthologies:

  • Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle;
  • Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley under Robbie Cheadle;
  • Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre under Robbie Cheadle; and
  • Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth under Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Robbie Cheadle

Roberta Eaton Cheadle

AMAZON OR OTHER PURCHASE LINKS

To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the author’s tour page on the 4WillsPublishing site. If you’d like to schedule your own blog tour and have your book promoted in similar grand fashion, please click HERE. Thanks for supporting this author and her work!

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Guest Author: Noelle Granger ~ The Last Pilgrim… A new book!


Check out The Last Pilgrim—historical fiction release from N.A. Granger. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genes and Granger is one of my favorite authors. Her Rhe Brewtser mystery series, set in Maine, is sure to keep you turning the pages. The Last Pilgrim is on my kindle and I look forward to a great story! Read all about Noelle and check out her books on Sue’s blog and grab a copy of her books today. You’ll be glad you did! ~Bette A. Stevens, https://www.4writersandreaders.com

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

The thin shoulders of the Pilgrim women bore much of the work to ensure the survival and growth of the early Plymouth colony. Despite the vital role these women played, historians and writers of historical fiction have largely ignored their contributions. The Last Pilgrim attempts to capture this.

Growing up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, I was steeped in Pilgrim history. Costumed in period clothing, I portrayed various girls and young women in the weekly reenactments of the Pilgrims’ progresses up Leyden Street. Under the direction of the indomitable Rose Briggs, I learned the goodwife arts of cooking on a hearth, making candles, and the washing, carding, spinning and dying of wool at the Harlow House. Then, after a year of studying for the role, I became one of the first tour guides at the re-creation of the early Pilgrim village at Plimoth Plantation.

I chose to focus on one woman, Mary…

View original post 2,384 more words

Aside

New Release from Toni Pike — BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE — an adventure for children aged 6-9


Multi-genre author Toni Pike popped by today to tell us a bit about herself and introduce her first children’s book—Brody Cody and the Stepmother from Outer Space. I have no doubt that it will be the first of a series of beloved chapter books for young readers. ~Bette A. Stevens

Meet the Author

Toni Pike, multi-genre author

I’m the author of several fast-moving thrillers: DESOLATION BLUFF, DEAD DRY HEART and The Jotham Fletcher Mystery Thriller Series. I’ve also written two non-fiction books: THE ONE WAY DIET, a guide to losing weight, and HAPPY TRAVELS 101, a short book of travel tips.

I live in Canberra, the capital of Australia, and firmly believe that coffee and long walks are an essential part of any day. Travelling is one of my main passions – but not at the moment! And I love spending time with family and friends.

“My latest release is something quite different — a funny adventure for children aged 6-9:

BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER

FROM OUTER SPACE.”

While hearing so much recently about children who were staying home to help fight Covid-19, I remembered a story I’d written several years ago. The time seemed right to unleash Brody Cody on the world, a boy who can’t help getting involved in all sorts of crazy adventures with the help of his friends, Kyle and Anastasia. I’m sure that it will be the first in a series.

Readers of my thrillers can now share my work with their children or grandchildren. It’s full of humour for those who like to read aloud – and even better for children to read by themselves. In the first book, Brody thinks an alien invasion might be about to start in his own home – just as his life starts to spiral out of control.

About BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE

Brody Cody is almost eight years old and definitely, absolutely, positively does NOT want a mother. His mother died when he was a baby but life with his dad is just perfect.

Brody is horrified when his father goes away to a publishing conference and returns with a wife, Pandora Smith, who is a children’s author. His life spirals out of control as he is forced to eat healthy food, do his homework and help with some chores.

Even worse, he and his friends suspect that his new stepmother might be an alien from outer space.

A hilarious adventure for children aged 6-9.

BRODY CODY AND THE STEPMOTHER FROM OUTER SPACE is now available on Amazon: USA  –  UK  –  Australia  –  Canada 

 

Where to Find & Follow Toni

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

#RRBC #RWISA #RWISARiseUp – Jan Sikes with a #Mother’sDay post (+ a great giveaway)


I’m delighted to welcome Jan Sikes back to 4writersandreaders to share a #Mother’sDay piece she’s written for the  2020 RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour! 

 

DEPRESSION SOUP 

by Jan Sikes

 

She stood in a line her head bowed low

There was nowhere to run, no place to go

With clothes that were ragged

And shoes that were worn

There were millions just like her

She wasn’t alone

America’s Great Depression had stolen their homes

Took its toll on their bodies

Tried to squash their souls

But she squared her shoulders, raised her eyes

Fierce determination replaced her sighs

She’d fight to survive, that much was true

Although many times, she’d be sad and blue

Someday there would be plenty

But for now, she was caught in a loop

She held out her bowl

For another serving

Of Depression Soup

 

Born in Missouri in 1917, my mom, Marian Edith Clark, learned about hardships at a young age.

Her mother, my grandmother, Sarah Jane, was sickly. The household chores fell on my mom’s shoulders when she was still a child. She shared memories of having to stand on a box so she could reach the stove to cook their meals.

My mom blue eyes sparkled, and her smile could light up a midnight sky. She started school in Treece, Kansas. Her family were migrant workers. Anytime they found an abandoned house, even if it was spooky, they moved in. Eventually, they landed in Pitcher, Oklahoma, where her father found a job in the iron and ore mines. She was in the ninth grade when he had an accident in the mines, and she had to quit school to help make a living for the family.

Her father became a bootlegger in Oklahoma. He would often get caught and wind up in jail for six months at a time, leaving the family to fend for themselves.

They eventually moved to Arkansas, where they had kinfolk who were sharecroppers. They picked cotton, and in Mom’s words, “Nearly starved to death.”

When she was around fourteen, her dad took the family to the Texas cotton fields. The whole family could pick, and they would make twenty-five cents for every hundred pounds of cotton.

We found this story written in a journal after Mom passed away.

“My last school was in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, population around 2,000. We lived two miles out in the country. I went to a two-room school. A man and his wife were both teachers. He taught in one room and her in the other. The man teacher went crazy and tried to kill his wife. When she got away, she came to our house. I’ll never forget how bloody her head was. When the police found him, he had crawled up under their house. So, they put him in a mental hospital.”

The Great Depression hit America in 1929, wiping out any semblance of a prospering economy. It was during that catastrophic era that my mom and dad met in Sayre, Oklahoma. At the time, she was babysitting for one of Dad’s sisters, and living in a government migrant camp with her family.

She was only seventeen, but they fell head-over-heels in love and decided to marry.

Mom had no shoes to wear for the ceremony, and a woman next to them in the camp loaned her a pair of shoes.

On April 14, 1934, they said their wedding vows in a preacher’s living room and began life together.

There were no pictures, no fanfare, no parties, and no honeymoon.

They spent their first night as newlyweds, sharing a bed with some of my dad’s younger brothers and sisters.

Their first home was an old farmhouse with nothing in it but a wood stove, a bed, and a table. Mom had no broom to sweep the floors, and when snakes crawled across, they left trails in the dirt.

Through the years, she shared many harrowing stories of how they survived as transients. They stayed within their family group and moved from the strawberry fields in Missouri, to potato fields in Kansas, to cotton fields in Texas. Often, they had no shelter from the elements, sleeping outdoors under a shade tree. Other times, they managed to have a tent or share a tent with other family members.

Mom and Dad’s life together, began under this umbrella of hopeless poverty.

Hunger was a constant companion. My mom had an older brother who often would go out at night and steal a chicken or watermelon.

Enmeshed in daily survival, they could see no future.

Sometime around late 1934, they moved to Fort Smith, Arkansas not knowing it was in the middle of an epidemic. They were lucky enough to find housing in a WPA camp. My dad got a job digging graves for fifty cents a week, plus a small amount of food. A man working with him warned him to stay clear of the hospital; that no one came out alive.

However, the hospital laundry was the only place Mom found work. Automation wasn’t yet widespread, and especially not in Arkansas, so all of the washing had to be done by hand on rub boards.

A large scowling woman marched up and down behind the workers with a blackjack in hand. If she thought they weren’t working hard enough or fast enough, she’d whack them across the shoulders.

During this time, my mom fell ill with Scarlet Fever and they quarantined her. They kept her in a room under lock and key. My worried dad climbed to her window with food. It became apparent that they had to get out of there, or Mom would die. One night when all was quiet, she tied bedsheets together and lowered herself from the two-story window to the ground, where Dad waited.

They caught a ride to Oklahoma on the back of a flatbed truck, and Mom eventually recovered. They never went back to Fort Smith, Arkansas.

As the years passed, much of my dad’s family migrated to California, the land of milk and honey. But Mom and Dad didn’t go with them due to my grandmother’s failing health, and a younger sister who was inseparable from my mom. They all stuck together. My grandmother passed away in 1942 in Roswell, New Mexico. Pictures show a large goiter on her throat. She died long before I was born.

Mom gave birth to my siblings with help from family and friends. I was the only one to arrive in a hospital setting.

By 1951, the year I was born, Mom and Dad had settled in Hobbs, New Mexico, and purchased a lot on Avenue A. They stretched their tent and immediately started building a house. They put down roots and said goodbye to the transient life they’d known.

Like everything else in their lives, they built our house themselves. A place not too far from Hobbs, The Caprock, had an abundance of large flat rocks. Every day Dad wasn’t working, he’d head up and bring back a load of rocks to cover the sides of the house. That house withstood many storms, and still stands today.

When I was around twelve, I distinctly remember watching Mom climb up and down a ladder with bundles of shingles to roof the house. And she did this alone.

I believe I can declare with all certainty that no two people worked harder than my mom and dad.

Mom was a fantastic cook, having learned from necessity at a young age. She had a sweet tooth and loved to bake. Her specialty was pies. She could make a peach cobbler that would melt in your mouth.

She never measured anything. She’d throw in a handful of this and a pinch of that, and it turned out perfectly every time.

Mom was not a worrier. Her philosophy was, “If I can’t fix it, there’s no need to waste time worrying about it.”

I’ve strived to adopt that same philosophy.

She lived by these seven wisdoms:

  1. Count your blessings every day.
  2. Don’t whine or throw a fit if things don’t go your way.
  3. Take whatever trials God sees fit to give you and make the best of it. Never sit down and give up.
  4. Believe in yourself and your dreams, and they’ll come true.
  5. Love life and live for God.
  6. Hard work never killed anyone. Try your best and don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t turn out the way you first thought.
  7. Treat everyone with dignity and respect.

I didn’t always see eye-to-eye with my mom, as you know if you’ve read my books. But I never forgot her teachings, her strength, and her determination. And for the last thirty years of her life, we were close.

She was the best grandmother my two little girls ever could have hoped for. She adored them as much as they loved her.

I watch my daughters now and see them practice some of Mom’s ways with their own children, and it makes me happy.

So, here’s to my mom – the strongest woman I ever knew.

Contact Jan Sikes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you for supporting today’s RWISA author along the RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour!  To follow along with the rest of the tour, please visit the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page on the RWISA site.  For a chance to win a bundle of 15 e-books along with a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment on the main RWISA “RISE-UP” Blog Tour page! Once you’re there, it would be nice to also leave the author a personal note on their dedicated tour page, as well. Thank you, and good luck!

 

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

Celebrating #Maine2020 through Poetry with Author John W. Howell


More Maine—Arts & Culture

  • Maine officially celebrates its  Bicentennial (200th birthday as an independent US state) on March 15, 2020.
  • The Pine Tree State (Maine’s official nickname)—provides a sanctuary for arts and culture—check out these famous Maine people (Arts & Literature) at Maine.gov.
  • Maine has been inspiring artists and art lovers for more than two centuries and continues to provide a cultural haven for residents and visitors alike. You’ll find a treasure chest of museums and galleries spattered throughout the state. Be sure to check out these “10 Must-See Maine Art Museums.”
  • Maine is known as Vacationland From pristine wilderness to pine forest mountain ranges to crystal clear waterways and majestic shorelines, Maine is a perfect place to spend your vacation.

Maine Watercolor by John Cable JOHN HOWELL

 

I’m delighted that John W. Howell stopped by to help celebrate Maine’s Bicentennial with a fine piece of Maine art that inspired his My Maine haiku poems! John is one of my Rave Review Book Club #RRBC author friends. I invite you to check out his bio and books— His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. Howell’s John Cannon series rank among my favorite mystery thrillers. ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

John Howell: “This is a watercolor by Maine artist John Gable. I bought it when I was on vacation at Kennebunkport, Maine. I had the pleasure to meet the artist and discuss some of his art while there. This painting has been with me since I bought it in 1981. If you would like more information on the artist here is a link to his website—John Gable Fine Art.”

My Maine

by John W. Howell ©2020

Before the parade,
A treasured water color. . .
Created in Maine.

Is a physical,
Reminder of such good times. . .
Which are forever.

The air and seashore,
Are still pondered in the heart. . .
Someday to return.

 

About John W. Howell

John W. Howell, author of suspense thrillers, short stories and poetry.

John began his writing as a full-time occupation after an extensive business career. His specialty is thriller fiction novels, but John also writes poetry and short stories. Howell’s first book, My GRL, introduces the exciting adventures of the book’s central character, John J. Cannon. The second Cannon novel, His Revenge, continues the adventure, while the final book in the trilogy, Our Justice, launched in September 2016. The fourth, Circumstances of Childhood a family life story published (2017). The fifth book, The Contract is written with Gwen Plano (2018).

John is currently finishing his sixth novel Eternal Road – The Final Stop, to be published in June 2020. All books are on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. The paperback versions are available in the Indie Lector store

John lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife and their spoiled rescue pets.

Follow the author and find his books on Amazon.

The Power of Poetry

How Readers & Writers of All Ages Benefit from Poetry

  • Improves Verbal Skills & Memory
  • Enhances Cognitive Function
  • Develops Empathy & Insight
  • Encourages Creativity

Bette A. Stevens is celebrating Maine’s 200th birthday as an independent US state on her blog all year long through her new release,  My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection). She’s inviting friends and readers to join in the celebration with their own photo and haiku creations highlighting The Pine Tree State.

Whether you’re a Mainer or from away, I invite you to join me as I celebrate #Maine2020 by submitting one of your favorite photos taken in “The Pine Tree State” and writing a haiku too! I’ll be publishing submissions here on my blog throughout 2020. Simply email me at bettestevens@tds.net  SUBJECT: “Maine Bicentennial Haiku.”

“A nature-filled land that enlivens the senses and soothes the soul
—to me, Maine is poetry.”
~ Bette A. Stevens

 

 

“See Maine through the eye of a poet…”

Grab a copy of My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons today! 

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

Celebrating #Maine2020 through Poetry with author Mae Clair


Welcome to Vacationland

  • Maine is known as Vacationland.  From pristine wilderness to pine forest mountain ranges to crystal clear waterways and majestic shorelines, Maine is a perfect place to spend your vacation.
  • Maine (nicknamed The Pine Tree State), has 6,000 pristine lakes and ponds for residents and visitors to savor  and explore.
  • Maine officially celebrates its Bicentennial on March 15, 2020.

 

I’m delighted that Mae Clair stopped by to help celebrate Maine’s 200th birthday! Mae is one of my favorite authors. I invite you to check out her bio, website and books—you’ll find mystery and suspense at its best. ~Bette A. Stevens, Maine author

Mae took this glorious photo in late September 2019 during her first Maine vacation. (Note: postcard frame and text added by me.) I think you’ll agree that Mae’s haiku is exquisite.

Outdoor cathedral

Sun fire and water as one

Tranquility speaks

More from Mae…

In late September of 2019, I had the pleasure of visiting Maine for the first time. My husband and I stayed in a beautiful A-frame overlooking Flanders Pond in the small town of Sullivan. We drove to Bar Harbor twice and spent a day in Freeport, but I think I enjoyed our moments on the deck watching the sun set, the most.

The photo I’m sharing today doesn’t quite capture the magic and fire of the sun when it sinks behind Flanders Pond, but the moments were spectacular—just like everything else we discovered in Maine. Naturally, we’re already talking about returning in the future. ~ Mae Clair

Mae Clair, Author
Mystery and Suspense, Flavored with Folklore
Website | Blog | BookBub |

Newsletter Sign-Up | Twitter | Goodreads

 

The Power of Poetry

How Readers & Writers of All Ages Benefit from Poetry

  • Improves Verbal Skills & Memory
  • Enhances Cognitive Function
  • Develops Empathy & Insight
  • Encourages Creativity

Bette A. Stevens is celebrating Maine’s Bicentennial on her blog all year long through her new release,  My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons (Poetry & Photography Collection). She’s inviting friends and readers to join in the celebration with their own photo and haiku creations highlighting The Pine Tree State.

Whether you’re a Mainer or from away, I invite you to join me as I celebrate #Maine2020 by submitting one of your favorite photos taken in “The Pine Tree State” and writing a haiku too! I’ll be publishing submissions here on my blog throughout 2020. Simply email me at bettestevens@tds.net  SUBJECT: “Maine Bicentennial Haiku.”

“A nature-filled land that enlivens the senses and soothes the soul
—to me, Maine is poetry.”
~ Bette A. Stevens

 

 

“See Maine through the eye of a poet…”

Grab a copy of My Maine, Haiku through the Seasons today! 

[Explore Bette’s Blog]

Aside

12 Ways to Develop your Child’s Writing Skills


GREAT TIPS from Nicholas Rossis for teachers, parents and adults everywhere! WE CAN ALL CONTRIBUTE to childhood literacy: Developing a child’s writing skills… ~ Bette A. Stevens, https://www.4writersandreaders.com

Nicholas C. Rossis

Getting people — and kids, in particular — to read and write has long been a passion of mine. You may remember my post, Reading Tricks for Kids of Any Age, originally written for Mom’s Favorite Reads.

Well, I recently came across an article by Abigail Elijah of Knowledge Isle with 20 tips for developing your kid’s writing skills which inspired me to write up a new post, this one on the subject of getting your child to write. I hope you find these tips useful!

12 Ways to Develop your Kid’s Writing Skills

helping your child write better - girl writing | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books

Seven out of ten children find writing particularly challenging. What can we do to support them and help develop their writing skills?

1. Read

One of the most important things you can do for your kids’ writing skills, is to encourage and develop their passion for reading.

Writing is different than speaking. Abigail…

View original post 1,540 more words

Brilliant Poetry: A Review


My sincere thanks to talented author and poet Balroop Singh for sharing her reflections on my latest poetry and photography collection, MY MAINE. I invite you to visit her website (link below) to read the entire review. While you’re there, be sure to check out Balroop’s inspirational books–you’ll be glad you did. ~Bette A. Stevens 

MY MAINE Wandering through woods COLLECTION

“There was a time when I didn’t understand Haiku. I thought anybody could write those three lines, which hardly evoke any emotion till I tried to write this form and stumbled; till I came across brilliant haiku! My prejudice fell apart, as I started exploring more about this form of poetry.

“The inspiration came from my blogger friend Bette A. Stevens who evoked my interest with her brilliant haiku that she keeps sharing at her blog. My Experiments with Haiku seem to fade into insignificance when I read My Maine: Haiku through the Seasons by Bette Stevens. There are some books that leave a profound impact on you, that stay with you long after you have read the last page. Bette’s new release is one such book and I would like to share my reflections about this book..”

Click below to read the entire review on Balroop’s blog

via Brilliant Poetry: A Review

 

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