Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Ruby Brooch BLG12.24.2012

By: Kathryn Lowry Logan

Kathryn Lowry Logan introduces us to her Celtic Brooch Trilogy.  It is well written in the class of Ciji Ware and Susanna Kearsley.  She has mastered the characters and story line without insulting us with repetition and junior high level prose.  She begins with The Ruby Brooch that has been transporting members of the MacKlenna family for over 400 years.

Katerine "Kit" MacKlenna is a  paralegal in Lexington, Kentucky (2012).  She was found, as a new baby, on the MacKlenna's front porch wrapped in a blood soaked, lace shawl held closed with a ruby brooch.  She learns of the pin's powers in a letter from the man who raised her, upon his death.  It also explains the apparition she has seen since she was 10 years old.  She hopes going back in time will lead her to her true parentage and identify the ghost like image she sees.

She prepares her covered wagon, oxen and her thoroughbred horse.  She says the incantation and is transported through the amber light to 1852 Independence, Missouri.  Right away she meets her ghost, Cullen Montgomery, attorney, wagon train boss and the most incredibly handsome man she has ever met.  Kit baffles him with her beauty, brains and brawn.  She is inspirational in her fortitude while moving back and forth between the two centuries.  But this is a story of love of family, friends and the passionate love of Kit and Cullen that transcends time.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Gem of a Moment BLG12.4.2012

Over the years I have learned that the way one starts the day sets the tone for its entirety. Although most strive for that extra minute of sleep. Monks arise early to begin their day with chanting and prayer. Television shows of my childhood, like Donna Reed and the like of that era, portrayed families having a casual (full) breakfast. In these scenarios we see their days beginning serenely.

I, too, experienced great serenity when, recovering from an injury, I woke in the predawn hour, on the living room couch where my husband had made me very comfortable. A friend gifted me a large crock, McIntosch Apple candle and not wanting to turn the lights on so early I lit the candle. The soft, golden light was so soothing. From that morning on I rise early to light a candle, cuddle with my sheltie, listen to some music or just listen to myself. This time has become precious and joyous for me…my days start out serene and lovely.

I hope all who read this will try it, learn to nurture your soul.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Secrets of a Wedding Night BLG11.18.2012

by Valerie Bowman
I am so excited to read and write about this much awaited book.  Congratulations Valerie, it so reflects your vibrant, humourous personality!

Who knew a little pamphlet could become the Pandora's Box of this London season.  It is an informational booklet, written anonymously, about the horrors of marriage, specifically the wedding night.  It has spread fear in virgins throughout the city.  No one knows the author's identity...except Devon Morgan, newly crowned, Marquis of Colton.  He is sure it is his love of 5 years ago, the dowager Lady Lily (Andrews) Merrill.  Her one month marriage to Lord Merrill, 30 years her elder, was anything but happy and fulfilling.

Five years ago Colton and Lily had been in love and were planning to run away to marry in Gretna Greene.  Man-made circumstances prevented this from happening.  As a result, Lily was forced to marry Lord Merrill.  He died one month later and left Lily in financial ruin.  Meanwhile, Devon completed his education and silently made a fortune.  He is in need of an heir and decides to marry Miss Amelia Templeton, who cries off after reading Secrets Of A Wedding Night.  This infuriates Colton and he confronts Lily, demanding she write a retraction.  Lily did not fess up to being the author of this scandal rag.  Colton is sure it is her doing and "threatens" (for lack of a better term) that he is going to seduce her and show her how a woman is to be bedded and made satisfied.  He is tall, dark and insanely good looking, so why not!?!  Let's sit back and enjoy the ride.  So begins a colossal game of cat and mouse...but there is more than one cat in this game.  There is the interference and manipulation of both parents. 

Lord Merrill forgave Lord Colton (father) a large debt for his cooperation and assistance in keeping Devon from Lily, which he did by writing a note to her, as Devon, saying he was not coming to pick her up.  Lily's mother was so anxious for her to marry ($$$) well that she too wrote a note, as Lily, saying she had changed her mind.

Devon's best friend, Jordan Holloway, the Earl of Ashbourne does not believe in love and does his utmost to divert his attention away from marriage.  And Devon has a larger, more important secret.  All this deception, all these secrets create a light hearted, entertaining, sensual and fun read.  I am a Valerie Bowman fan and cannot wait for her next blossom on the bush.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Following the Senses BLG11.13.2012

Walking out of the kitchen door of my aunt’s farmhouse I am immediately enveloped in the cold dampness that preceeds the first snow of winter. I smell the ammoniated essence of pigs and cows. I do not smell the chicken coop as I pass by. Continuing towards the barn there is the sweet smell of alfalfa growing in the field on my right. The barn smells of rotting wood, oak a century old. It is full of hay that gives a fresh scent. During the twice daily milkings it smells of warm milk, like smelling butter. Achoo!

It is 5 a.m. and the cows are anxiously awaiting their turn to be milked, all mooing, some acpella others solo. The pigs are grunting contently as they munch on last nights leftovers. There is an occassional squeal as a youngster tries to nudge in on the eats. Some older, larger pigs are lounging in a mud puddle and I can hear them crunching corn off the cobs. A litter of kittens follow me as if I were the Pied Piper, with light mews in hopes I will give them some of the cows fresh milk. I hear a faint, high pitched “whir” and see it is the wind blowing through the oats. Out in the barn is the “putt putt putt putt” of the milking machines, one “putt” for each tete., as they relieve the girls of their heavy udders full of milk and the “clang, clang” of the stainless steel 50 gallon milk cans. Lady, the collie, is barking as she herds the cows in from the back pastures.

Growing up in the desert southwest I am accustomed to the dry atmosphere. Here on the farm the air is cold and damp, the snow flakes melt on my face leaving little water droplets. Lady is damp and her coat is matted after long days work but she always has time to run her sandpaper tongue over my face, the perfect exfoliant. One of the mother pigs allows me to pet her bristly hair, much coarser than a horse tail. Her babies are soft, warm and cannot stop wiggling. I can feel the little grunts through their entire bodies. I love how they snuggle up to my neck and put their nose up to my ear. In the barn I fall down into the hay to hold the soft kittens whose mews are continuous, knowing there is an endless supply of milk. One of the cows had a calf last night so I go visit the holding pen. She nuzzles her cold, wet nose into my hand, her hair is still damp.

This is my first day on the farm, the first time in decades since I smelled the animals, the earth…the first time I felt an animal (other than a horse)…the first time, since my early childhood, that I felt snow or produce waiting to be picked.  It was the beginning of a love affair with the life of a farmer, the simplicity, the naturalaity….and best of all, the warm, loving arms of my extended family.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Writing Challenge BLG10.11.2012


A Risk I Took to Save Myself

Write about a time when you embarked upon something new and challenging, frightening, or even dangerous—as a way to find an answer, to rediscover something essential about yourself. Tell us about what you did—the adventure, the journey, the risks you took—what drove you there, and who you were when you emerged afterwards.

  1. Nancy Qualls-Collins
    Grade school through my junior year of high school was spent riding bikes and horses in the desert and mountains of west Texas and New Mexico. And of all my classmates and friends diving and having swimming races at Crystal Pool, the cool clear round pool that was large enough for a couple hundred bathers. That summer before my senior year my father’s job, as a retail window display designer, was transferred to Arizona. It was hot, dirty and most unfriendly. The high school kids were distant and the majority of them on drugs.

    That August we attended a family wedding in Indiana. My blonde, bubbly cousin, Connie (who is my age), set me up on a double blind date with my first love. My parents allowed me to remain in Indiana with my Aunt, Uncle, five cousins and fields of pigs and dairy cows. My parents and younger sister returned to the desert with plans to move up at the end of the school year.
    I had a new family, new school, new friends and a lot of animals.

    Some of the natives were not so friendly. A prospective girlfriend for my new boyfriend, and her friends, were not so welcoming and it took me time to determine who was friend or foe. I was made fun of for my Texas drawl and people stared at me. It was a small town and everyone knew I had arrived. If it were not for all my cousins, and having a well respected boyfriend, I fear I would have melted in the ice and snow. I learned about dealing with jealousy and benevolence to others feelings. My aunts and grandmother talked to me a lot and made it easy to reveal that which confused and frustrated me. It was impossible not to be happy around Connie.

    It was an adjustment to have so many ‘siblings’ with one bathroom and one car. There were cheer leading, choir and band practice, football and basketball games and family dinners interspersed with house and farm chores and dates. I shared a bed with Connie. My aunt and uncle were slightly more strict than my parents and required me get a Saturday part time job to help pay for my ancillary expenses. I never was forced to accept responsibility before. And Connie would do the grocery shopping while I worked developing films and sucking spittle in a dentists office.

    The whole experience was a true adventure, especially for one so young. I am thankful for learning responsibility for family, the animals and my life, and for communicating with my family both near and far. Most of all the massive, unconditional love and friendship of all my relatives after living in the desert with only my immediate family.

    • Ilana
      Nancy- What a beautiful story. I love how you showed us the range of relationships and emotions; the distance of the other students, the unfriendliness of those who laughed at your drawl and finally the support you got from you family and boyfriend. A sweet story and well written. IM
      Laura Davis
      Nancy, it sounds like a wonderful, growing time in your life despite the challenges. Thanks for sharing this moving story with us.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Facing Dead Ends

An essay about a time that was true in life when you faced a dead end-but you really didn't

Those of us known as baby boomers were raised in a transitional period. Shorty after mid-twentieth century a “COMMA” marks the delineation of the life of our grandparents and parents and the new life that we baby boomers would learn to live.

Our fathers went to work and stayed at the same job for their entire working career. Life was good, a man would come home to greet his family, have a nice dinner and have a relaxing evening watching television and/or reading the newspaper. The men expected to have higher education were doctors and lawyers. That was until mid-century when employers started requiring man have a degree…COMMA...

Our mothers raised us to be housewives, homemakers and mothers. We were children of the “white picket fence” era. A girl would marry her high school sweetheart, or the guy she ended that summer after graduation with. We had every reason to believe we would carry on as our Mothers, Aunts and Grandmothers, keeping the home and raising the children.   In the 50′s and early 60′s we did not expect we would ever have to go to college, or even work once we started a family... …COMMA…

Two things happened to women. One, women’s lib and the concept that we no longer needed to be obligated to our husband’s for our living. Previously the men earned, and usually handled the money. Women started working and we were suddenly given the freedom to think and live our own lives…COMMA…

Two, society evolved and it became necessary for women, as well as the men, to work in order to survive in a reasonably comfortable way. Those of us born in the early 1950′s were brought up thinking we would live a life like our mother’s, and in high school when the counselor asked us which path we planned to follow, the standard or the college curriculum, we chose the standard. Little did we know that within a few years we would need a college degree in order to be “successful”. Women hit “the brick wall” the hardest because we were forced to make the biggest changes, maintain our home and family plus sustain a career.  But we baby boomer ladies broke through “the brick wall” and, not only became mothers and homemakers, became successful career women.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The American Heiress-For the Love of Money

by Daisy Goodwin

Cora Cash is the beautiful and very rich heiress to the Cash Finest Flour fortune. Her mother Nancy Lovett-Cash is the social climbing mother who lost her beauty when her light enriched dress and veil, meant to impress, at her daughter's come out ball, bursts into flames disfiguring the left side of her face.

Mrs. Cash arranges to go to England where Madeline Wyndham, the American connection in Europe to meeting and marrying titled aristocrats (for a nominal fee).  Cora, and her mother, are discreetly introduced to Ivo Maltraverse, Ninth Duke of Wareham, tall, dark and looking for a rich heiress.  They marry and on their honeymoon fall in love. 

Wareham's flamboyant mother, Fanny aka the Double Duchess, plays the evil mother-in-law.  She is now remarried to the Duke of Buckingham, but still carries on with the Prince of Wales.  Cora has to fight her at every corner for control of her own home.  Adjusting to the old world ways would be fairly easy if only the rules were spelled out, but they are not.  Cora is in a constant state of confusion and embarrassment and her husband, although forgiving, does not help.  Wareham has the typical English gentleman affliction of not being able to open up and share himself, even with his wife. He leaves no question that he loves her but does not help her adjust, and in some cases he aides in creating obstacles, and he uses his temper to control her...but he does appreciate her money.  Luckily her father allotted him a set amount upon their marriage but left her fortune in her control.

Her closest friend,  Lady Charlotte Beauchamp neice of Lady Fanny, is a wolf in sheep clothing.  Her husband, Lord Ido, nephew of Ivo, is the drunkard and letcherous teller of tales who imposes his slimey self on Duchess Cora.  Charlotte avails herself to the Duke Ivo at every opportunity while setting Cora up for humiliation at the hands of the infamous artist Loudain.  Then again at a dinner given for the Prince of Wales, where the new Duchess learns there is more to her husband's relationship with Charlotte.  It is then she realizes she is a pawn for her mother's social climbing and for her husband, who profits from her fortune and the son she gives him.  No one seems to truly care about her except the Prince and her childhood friend, Teddy Van Der Leyden, who finally declares his love for her and reveals he saw Charlotte and Ivo together at the station when he was leaving to sail to America to marry her. They seemed to be in a romantic haze together.  He talks her into running away with him to London.  Ivo intercepts her enroute and finally opens up to her about his past, Charlotte and his dead brother, Guy.  At last the barriers are down and the love flows in.

This is a charming book that is slow at first but opens into a romantic mystery.  It is well written,  the characters and story line develops in an interesting manner.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Ties That Bind

The Ties That Bind


Rarely as adults are we fortunate enough to carry on the commradmanship of our fellow high school classmates as a collective group. Certainly one might have one or two lifetime friendships.  I am lucky enough to be amongst a large group that spans the six years from junior high through high school in the 60's.  The era of music and the feeling that life offered endless possibilities.  And now with the social networks we have the opportunity to renew old friendships temporarily put on hold, and have a cyber meeting place to reunite. 

Most of us went through elementary and high school together, and it was the 60's, a true bond formed.  I think one way we are unique was how the grades did not segregate ie: seniors hung around with seniors, juniors with juniors. Citizens of our school said hello to you even if you were in a lower grade.  We conversed with one another, we all joined clubs and did things together. 
After the initial reintroductions via the social media, we don't see the physical changes brought on over the years.  One's education and vocation are of little importance.  Now there are no judgments, no peer pressure.  The once handsome, popular quarterback now chats with the wallflower.  The most popular girl sends an email to the guy who used to sit in the corner of the cafeteria with his nose in a book, asking about his mother's health and sending her prayers.  We talk about our lives, our families and our opinions.  We congratulate successes and are truly happy for the good fortune of our fellow "Matadors". We still have school spirit.  It is reassuring to be secure with these old friendships, it is healthy.  These kids, these fellow classmates are here for one another whether it be some light advice or a shoulder when life becomes a little trying.  To know that this group will worry when there is an illness, or one of us is experiencing the terror of sending our child to war...we are there together with support and love through the decades.  How unique we are, such a large group, to still be in one another's lives.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Nothing But Time

by Angeline Fortin

In 1987, the Kim Basinger/Bruce Willis film "Blind Date" was a walk in the park when compared to the first date of Oxford biomed chemist Kate Kallastad and quantum physicist David Ferguson.  David bypasses dessert after their dinner for a ride in his new trans-space teleportation device.  Reluctantly she allows him to perform a little demonstration. Next thing she knows, she is in 1876 London.  David is thrilled, gets a house (including a room and wardrobe for her) and promises to build a new transporter to get them back.  Eventually she perceives David is not necessarily in such a hurry to get them back to the twentieth century as she is. He wants to get married and setup house. Kate decides to leave the house to work as a maid for the Earl of Harrowby, in hopes her absence will stimulate productivity of the transporter. The work is grueling. A few weeks into the job she is told they will be leaving London to go to Ramble House in Henly-on-Thames in Buckinghamshire, the country home of Brandon "Brand" Ryder, Earl of Harrowby.

Kate misses her parents and her sister, Ann, but works hard. One night, unable to sleep, she goes to the library to find something to read...and in he walks. Tall, dark, outrageously handsome. And so began a friendship, a passion that is taboo in this time, an Earl and a maid will never be accepted. Their chance meetings and conversations eventually lead to Kate becoming the nanny to the Earl's nephew, Nathan Ralston.  Her teaching methods baffle Brand but he can't argue with success, and he can't stay away from Kate. 

David has finally completed construction of the transporter and plans to leave within a week. Kate tells him she is in love and will stay with the Earl.  The day before he is to leave, Brand comes down with appendicitis.  In terror, Kate begs David to take Brand and she back with him immediately in order to save his life. He acquiesced and the transport was successful, the surgery was too.  But then the realization of being in the twentieth century becomes the focus for Kate and Brand.  This is a well written, charming and entertaining book that I recommend for a weekend read.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Foriegn Tongue-You Can Run But Why Hide

by Vanina Marsot

Where else but Paris could a woman, running away from a love betrayal, find comfort in the arms of old & new eclectic friends...accidently get a job translating a dramatic french, pornographic novel...and fall in love with a handsome theatrical producer!?!  Art imitating life, or life imitating art, either way our author and translator take us  through the streets of Paris not remiss of one taste of chocolat, pears or caffe, I enjoyed myself immensley and pay kudos for a well written novel.

If you're going to escape from questionable job security, and a Hollywood boyfriend who is unfaithful, then Paris is the place to go. And if you are hiding in Paris from said job and boyfriend...ex-boyfriend, then why stick your head in the Seine...you're in Paris!  Do not be thwarted because you do not speak French, for if you do you will miss out on a fun adventure in the "city of lights". 

Anna is staying at her Aunt Isabelle's 11th Arrondissement apartment. She is comfortable here where she spent her summers as a child.  She allows the city to embrace her with the help of some local friends left over from when she studied at the University.

The memory and pain of Timothy is slowly pushed to the back of her consciousness as she takes a job translating a pornographic novel, by a mysterious author, and she meets Oliver Vallant, a theater producer currently in production with his current/former mistress. He patiently pursues her and in quickly, with the help of some french lingerie, she becomes the vixen, the minx, the sexual aggressor. As the sexually charged translation progresses, so does her sexual relationship.  But there is always the other woman, the star of his production, his muse.  There is also the mysterious publisher, Monsieur Laveau and the always illusive author.  

Where else but Paris could a woman, running away from a love betrayal, find comfort in the arms of old & new eclectic friends...accidently get a job translating a dramatic french, pornographic novel...and fall in love with a handsome theatrical producer!?!  Art imitating life, or life imitating art, either way our author and translator take us  through the streets of Paris not remiss of one taste of chocolat, pears or caffe, I enjoyed myself immensley and pay kudos for a well written novel.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Living Canvas by Karla Brandenburg

A chance meeting on a train...or was it?
A painting that holds visions...of love or insanity?
A necklace...is it the secret to her future or the answer to a missing girl two decades past?
Heart sore Audrey MacDougall, a PR event planner, meets the tall and handsome Greg Ellison, a freelance photographer, on a train from Manchester, England to Inverness, Scotland.  Both are from suburbia Chicago, Illinois traveling on business, but the similarity does not end there.  He approaches her with a familiarity that seems to have transcended time, and she feels it too.  But even her exceptional intuition will not explain the mysterious landscape painting that arrived upon her arrival home.  When she touches it she is enters the three dimensional world of the painting, and Greg is waiting for her, wanting her as much as she has wanted him.  In real life, when he does see her, the feelings are strong and heated followed by unexplained periods of absence. With the interference of her over-exuberant best friend and neighbor, Cynda, some signals are crossed that deter the progress of their romance.

 While on her trip her new boss, the pompous Braden Templeton, does a hostile takeover of Jefferson Jones and she is in constant turmoil waiting for her pink slip.  Meanwhile, he is showing interest in the necklace she wears, and so is Cynda's fiancee' Evan, who breaks into her home in search of it.  Templeton is also very interested in the B&B Audrey and Greg are purchasing. He has her followed.  Cold case detective Forbes is watching Audrey and the necklace also. He is waiting for Templeton to make a mistake that will implicate him in the 20 year old case of a missing girl.

I read this well written book in one sitting on a Saturday morning.  Our author presents us with a well constructed quilt that puts together pieces you would not expect, but present a beautiful piece of work.  Intrigue, time travel, mystery and romance and some dreams fulfilled for a cast of delightful characters. I am so pleased to be introduced to Karla Brandenburg.


BLG9.1.12 Virgin Tour

Although not a famous, published author (that I dream to be), I am one who thinks and writes every day. Truthfully, seldom do I have to make myself take time to write. I hear something on the television or read some idea or word that sets me off and I lean over to my bedside table and grab a journal. I have different types of journals for different types of writing I do. I have a pretty one for chronological lists of books by my favorite authors, and reviews of their books.
I have my green journal that has my research on the Jacobites and King James II, whom I fell a little in love with when I read Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Their plight so inspired me that I now find myself looking up everything I can, drawing maps and making boards of the Tudor and Stuart/Stewart family trees. It has been fun, and yes, it is considered part of my daily writing. One should not compartmentalize writing to just sitting and writing. I feel the research and organization of thoughts as part of the process.
My pink journal is for writing about my life. The stories about time periods or relationships, but it is just about me. In order to craft my writing skills I felt that perusing myself and what I perceive of how I changed and grew through a time period and or with a person/persons was most familiar, or is it? It is so interesting to read how I look at the past now and what I got out of it, and still do. When I was out working there was never time to such intra-spection. It is not only enlightening but sometimes humorous. I have actually sent a couple of old boyfriends notes apologizing for being a needy, thoughtless child.
There is a blue journal that I have yet to begin but it is prudent to have an extra on hand. “We who write” is a mantra of mine. I am not classifying myself as a published author, I am referring to any of us who make the conscious effort to think, research and write if only for the pleasure of writing. One of the little things that I enjoy is writing longhand on paper but tonight I became inspired reading another writers blog and I turned on my computer (plus I like this font).
Lastly is my flower journal that is actually a sketch pad of heavy paper and I have applied flower vellum paper to the cover. This is on my dresser and I write books I want to read, various notes about different subjects. I write in pencil and when I have used the information I erase it and the page is ready for another tid-bit, drawing or book just waiting for my attention in the not to distant future.