Friday, September 23, 2016

Interview with Elspeth Margaret MacKay after Chapter Four

As a writing exercise, I interviewed my main character in the second novel, “THEIR HIGHLAND HOPE”.

This story is the life of Margaret MacKay…up until her tragic death, that is. Events in the story – The Battle of Culloden, The Appin Murders, the theft of the fortune from the ship The Bonnie Prince Charlie, as well as the family and birth and death of our heroine Maggie MacKay are real. The connection of these events to all my Cameron and MacKay kin are also real.

These are our family stories.

My fictional romance starts with Maggie’s death in 1762 and how she “drops” into Lord Brodie Cameron’s life. These two become soulmates who work together at something most of us do not get…a second chance in life.


I am sitting with Maggie, watching her fidget. She picks at her nails and then twirls her hair around and through her fingers.

What is on your mind, Maggie?

I’m stressed. So very stressed. (She sighs, then pauses so long in thought that I think she forgets that I’m sitting directly across from her. I drop my pen to capture her attention again.)

My family took a strong position in my country’s civil war. Father was the chieftain, leading his clan to many battles. Even my cousin was an infamous general. Now, I come to find that everything they believed in and lived for may be a ruse. His last wish was for me to protect the things he believed were important. I do not want father’s life allegiance to be in vain, but I am conflicted.

So, what can you do about that now?

I need to regroup…you know…glean all of the facts myself to decide what is the correct path for me.

What if that should go against your father’s last wishes?
I must have a better understanding why he felt as he did.

It seems that you are hesitant. Are you holding back at all?

Somewhat. I met Brodie Cameron, and he is putting a kink in everything.

How so?

Brodie makes me question what I thought I knew; however, his views are strictly one sided. It is this way or the highway – uncompromising, you see? His entire family is like this. It is not that I am blind to the reasons that he says and does things, but I am sure he does not have all of the answers either. He sees things only through his eyes, as do I.

Do you see your relationship with Brodie as a war?

Not as a war, but perhaps a battle. I know I can be annoying to him – even doing some things on purpose. But, he is exasperating - so danged hard-headed. I know that it is a little childish, but it gives me pleasure to frustrate him. (She stiffles a slight giggle here)

Why does it give you pleasure?

I don’t know, really. If I say anything, he will say the opposite. If I want to go left, he says to go right. If I like a certain food, he will say it is bad for me. If I say the moon is yellow, it is orange. When I support a cause, he says I am misguided.

Is that bad?

Like I said…he doesn’t have all the answers either. I’m sure of it. He was not there. I was.

Do you like this Brodie Cameron?

Ummm…I am not sure yet. He seems nice, and runs a small local business, so that is a plus. However, I do not know him well enough to trust all of his intentions. (I notice her moving her foot in a half circle around her chair.) One thing for certain, between us women? He is incredibly handsome and I find myself becoming giddy around him.

Are you afraid that your own life will be in vain if your beliefs are wrong?

Yes! My family history has been recorded for hundreds, if not thousands of years. My life was short and unaccounted for. I am already in vain. Being in control of my own life will allow me to make any needed changes. I do not know why, but I have been given a second chance at life…I do not want to mess it up.

Do you have any secrets…something that you would like me to know about you that you haven’t shared with anyone?

I have been alone for so long – mentally and physically. As a consequence, I have had to fend for myself and see to my own safety. But secretly, it would be nice to have somebody to lean on when I am not strong…somebody that I can depend on to see life as I do and act on my behalf.

On a much smaller note, I am slightly envious of the way his entire family gets along. I spent much of my youth alone, so having a family like his both scares me and thrills me. Families can be very influential. Again…father’s undoing.

Secretly, I want to be loved for who I am (she smiles here) ...once I figure that one out.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016


Need a quick blog or newsletter idea? Like searching for that special fishing hole in your favorite stream or lake, a well of inspiration can often be hard to locate…or even bone dry when you need to snag an idea.

HOLIDAY INSIGHTS, an internet site listing historic ordinary and bizarre holidays OR alternate Days to Celebrate, is a good resource. For instance, I learned that Star Trek debuted on TV in September 1966. Good for any relatable Trekie or Sci-Fi trivia warehoused in the mind?

People who love…or hate…Ketchup might compose a blog after learning the record for drinking Ketchup belongs to Dustin Phillips, an American who—on Sept. 22, 1999—famously sipped a 14 oz. bottle of it through a quarter inch straw in just 33 seconds. There’s a competition for that? Holy french fries! Doesn’t everyone have a good Ketchup story?

Memorable brain-jog-blogs that nailed me were special days for September 5 and 6: “Be Late for Something Day” and “Fight Procrastination Day.” I took the hint and decided to finally stow the Easter decorations on my fireplace mantel, then planned to write a blog about how I put things off—someday. Sept. 6th was also “Read a Book Day.” Fudging a little, I may have qualified for that one because hat was the day I completed—and sent back to my editor—the preliminary edits suggested for my new novel. I can read a book a day, but track-change-editing your own book will slow you down, even if you’ve read the book six times.

Lucky September 13 had three choices in a theme stream: “Defy Superstition Day, Fortune Cookie Day and Positive Thinking Day.” Fortune Cookies reminded me of candy conversation hearts—and the sweet series of Wild Rose Press stories—all titled for candy heart inscriptions. “Hot Stuff” was my submission about a crime, a cop, and a klutz! The only superstition I give cred to involves black cats and Halloween. (Keep those cats safe indoors!) “Positive Thinking Day” forged a new mantra of hope. I will have prints of my new novel for the holidays.

“Wife Appreciation Day” on Sept, 18 was an easy post on hubby’s calendar, though I think he’s got that down pat. I appreciate him more than ever as writing often drives me into an alternate time zone where I even need reminders to eat. “Wife Appreciation Day” also reminded me to appreciate all the wonderful reviews for my debut novel, “The Accidental Wife.” I always have a special day when someone reads my book, then clicks for a review on

September 19 was “Talk Like a Pirate Day.” Funny, this brought to mind a little scene from the newest novel:
Without using his hands, he snapped the bacon like a fish to bait and chewed thoughtfully. “Aye, but I’ll take my porridge straight, if you don’t mind.”
“Aye Aye,” Scout chimed in from his high chair, banging on his empty bowl with a spoon. “More,” he said, licking the last of the oatmeal from his chubby fingers.
We both chuckled at the mimic while I dished out more oatmeal. “Let me guess. You’ve been reading Goldilocks and his pirate books again…aye?”
Mitch sucked his lips into a straight line. “Oh aye, but Goldilocks?”
“She ate the bear’s porridge, and wanted more.”
“Cheeky little lass.”

September 23rd was designated as “Dog in Politics Day.” Lots of blog ideas there, even if you don’t own a dog. However, courage to write about political convictions could be dicey this fall, unless some unbiased doggie humor can be extracted from the unreality show that will end in an election.

My favorite alternate day to celebrate is destined to become a favorite for any blogger. A whole 24 hours on September 28th for “Ask a Stupid Question Day!” Are we ever too old to learn something stupid?

Finally, September 29th is “Confucius Day.” Lots of red meat here if you look up his quotes! I love the line quoted in the Pear/book picture, though I never credited it to Confucius. Research is such fun! And only a little trolling can net a basket of great ideas for blogging and newsletters.

Cj Fosdick,


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Writer blogs SOAPS

I am an avid reader of Soap Opera Digest and I contribute often to the Sound Off section. It's satisfying to have that forum to vent about my soap concerns, but the lag time between hitting send on the email and seeing it in print is frustrating. So I decided to use this forum instead.

I'm the author of three novels: Young Adult novels CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE PSYCHIC (TWRP) and GENIUS SUMMER, and a New Adult/Contemporary Romance CERTAINLY SENSIBLE (TWRP). They're all available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I've got a follow-up novel to CONFESSIONS coming out later this year with The Wild Rose Press, TEENAGE PSYCHIC ON CAMPUS. Yes, my POV character has grown up a little and is now in college.

Writing/editing novels takes a lot of time, and people tell me blogging does, too. So to save valuable time, I'd like to get straight to what I think is important: DAYTIME SOAPS!!! Yes, that's right, I'm a huge fan of both "Bold and the Beautiful" and "General Hospital." I've been watching GH since the Luke and Laura days, or actually a little before, but I didn't start watching BB until after "All My Children" was cancelled. I needed something to occupy my lunch hour in that time slot, but I didn't want to invest in another hour-long soap. I followed Jacob Young from AMC on a Friday to B&B on a Monday, and promptly got hooked.

So here's what's bugging me today: Steffy on B&B. She used to be one of my favorite characters, but lately I'd like to smack her. Is this a grown, married woman who is President of a major corporation? Because she's acting like a spoiled teenager. I get that she's got a hate on for Quinn, but when Steffy moved out on her husband (Quinn's son, Wyatt) and blamed Quinn, that's when I got angry at Mrs. Spencer. No, Steffy, no one is forcing you to jeopardize your marriage, and constantly saying "it's your fault" is the hallmark of adolescents. Her husband Wyatt is behaving a lot more responsibly, trying to save his marriage. When Quinn enlisted Ivy's help to distract Liam (Wyatt's brother/Steffy's true love), I had to agree with Quinn. Steffy is a married woman and has no business sharing intimate moments with another man.

Happy soap viewing!
Pamela Woods-Jackson

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Playing Favorites

One question I'm often asked by readers is, "Who was your favorite character to write?" Now, I don't like to play favorites. Most of the time I'll answer I love all my characters the same. While this is true, I will admit I'm most entertained by those characters providing comic relief in my stories. What can I say? I crack myself up.

In my upcoming release, Vessel of Power, the role of comic relief goes to Rune, the hero's best friend and cousin. The hero, Prince Destin, is intense, driven, and serious. So is the heroine, Lia. They needed the counterweight of humor, which the irreverent, smart-ass Rune provides with style. My favorite scenes are when Rune is bantering with the hero, heroine, or both, driving them nutty with his mercurial wit and sideways charm.

In my humble opinion, humor is a necessary element in any dramatic story line. Not only does it provide a break from intense action or darker emotional scenes, but humor can also be a way to view the story/characters in a different light, giving the reader new insights. In Vessel of Power, Rune gives his fellow characters and the reader an amusing new angle on the action and the motivations of those around him.

To learn more about Rune and the rest of the cast of characters from fantasy romance Vessel of Power, watch for this release on The Wild Rose Press ( and Amazon ( October 7th, 2016.

Michelle O'Leary
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Monday, September 19, 2016

The Origin of Silver War Badges

During World War I all good Englishmen were expected to contribute to the war effort. For most men, this meant enlistment in the military services. Many men were taken in
, served and then were discharged. Reasons varied from ignonimous to dishonorable to honourable to heroic. Regardless of how they left, upon exit they received a Silver War Badge to be worn on the lapel of their civilian clothing. The back of each war badge listed a Roman Numeral corresponding to reason for discharge. Originally this badge was to denote their willingess to serve. Later, it acted as a protection from fierce young ladies.

In the early 20th Century, courage was the mark of a respectable man. During WWI, if an apparently able-bodied man looked as if he had not attempted military service, he was branded a coward. Groups of young women would go around handing white feathers to men who appeared to be shirking their duty to King and Country.

If a young lady attempted to hand a white feather to a man and he pointed to his Silver War Badge, the shame then fell upon the young lady.

In The White Feather, or Hero James Cowper attempts to enlist, but is turned down as "unsuitable for service". Because of this, he is awarded a Silver War Badge for his willingness to serve... not that it does him much good. If anything, it brings him more trouble.

Heidi Wessman Kneale
Author of The White Feather

Friday, September 09, 2016

BULAHDELAH - A woman of Spirit by Kate Loveday

It’s the name of a town. A small rural Australian town, with a big history. 
Ask anyone about it and, unless they live nearby, or drive up the Pacific Highway regularly, it’s an even bet they’ve never even heard of it.
So much for fame!
When I first moved into the area I had no intention of using it as a setting for a story, or of writing a historical novel—let alone a series of them. All my previous writing was contemporary, but I’ve always loved history, so when a friendly acquaintance offered to loan me a book containing the letters of an early woman settler to her sisters, and describing her life there, I accepted it gladly. Rachel Henning, being quite well-to-do, had a very pleasant life here, and her anecdotes made me interested to learn more of the early days of this picturesque town. I started my search with the local Historical Society, and they made available to me all their records and photos of earlier times.

Located 145 miles north of Sydney, Bulahdelah sits on the banks of the Myall River, at the base of a great mountain, which, I learned, the aboriginal people named "Boolah Dillah", meaning the Great Rock, long before the white man came.
In the early days it was a significant timber cutting area, and gold and diamonds in the surrounding areas lured adventurous fortune-seekers.
There wasn’t much to Bulahdelah back then—a dusty High street, a general store, and the Plough Inn, a convivial gathering place--and not much else.

Learning about earlier days here made me realize life was hard for many people then, and made me wonder if all the women led as pleasant a life as Rachel Henning, and how life was for all women back in the nineteenth century.
And what I learned shocked me, for women were considered to be physically, emotionally and intellectually inferior to men. She was a second rate citizen. Not just in Bulahdelah, but everywhere.

The law in the era stated that when a woman married, all her assets became her husband’s property. And the law gave him the right to force her to obey him in every area of her life. This meant she was totally dependent on him for everything, both financially and emotionally. When she married all her property became her husband's on the day of their marriage, so she became virtually his chattel, to treat as he wished. No matter how badly he chose to treat her, she had no redress.

And that’s where the idea for my book ‘A Woman of Spirit’ was born. It’s about a young woman who rebels against the standards of the day, and the problems she meets when she decides to live her life outside the normal rules for women of the day.
Life, and love, was not easy for her.
And what better setting for this story than beautiful Bulahdelah.

Today Bulahdelah is a thriving country town of about fifteen hundred inhabitants. Timber cutting is finished, but it’s a popular tourist destination, known for boating on the river and lakes, fishing and scenic bush walks. It’s not known for a bright night life, but it has great eateries, and the Plough Inn is still there.
And the town is filled with friendly people .Who love reading stories that have immortalized their town in print.

In the town I’m known as ‘The Author’, and when I take coffee in my favourite coffee house, the Myalla Magic, I’m warmly greeted, and I’m often asked about their favourite character. ‘How’s Kitty?’ they ask. To them she is very real! And they ask about my next book, all agog to read the next episode in the Redwoods series.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Those darned dangling modifiers by Dee Gatrell

When I sold my novel a year ago, I was told it could take a year for it to be out. Really? No way.

Here it is a year later and I'm finally about to get my release date.

I have sold many stories to the confession magazines, one to Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various newspapers and magazines. I figured writing a book couldn't be much harder.

Wrong. Things the editor wrote to me: You have too many dangling modifiers. Really? Better google that one. Or, you need to watch out for filter words. Hmm. Better read about that, too.

The good thing about The Wild Rose Press is they have meetings on Tuesday evenings (online) and from that I learned lot. I also made new friends.

I don't have my release date yet, but should have it soon. Poor Myrtle Sue and Presley, my mother and daughter in my dysfunctional family book, had to learn to do things like threw an arm in the air, scrunch their face, or touch someone, have thoughts I hadn't thought about, and much more. I'm sure both my characters shook their heads many times wondering if this writer was ever going to get things correct so they could move on with their lives.

Myrtle Sue's dead husband finally quit talking to her now that she found a replacement for him.

Presley's abusive husband got ate by a gator while in one of his drunken stupors.

Sonja learned her mother would not quit her job and stay home with her baby.

And even her sometimes dim-witted son found love.

Hazel, the mother-in-law from hell, finally got placed in a home, the same one Zack's father is in.

Oh yes, Zack, the man Myrtle Sue met at church after Hazel whacked his father with her cane, turned out to be a really nice guy, one she decided could psychoanalyze

her entire family.

I hope you'll join Myrtle Sue and her family for a good homemade Southern meal once the book is out. Some of those recipes can be found in the back.

Dee Gatrell

(um, yes, we all have dysfunctional families that give us things to write about.)

Sweet Sunset Releasing in Dec 2016
Coming to Pre-order this October at all major online retailers